Hannah McLeod

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Students in Haywood County Schools will no longer be required to wear masks outside, where social distancing is possible. Administration made the decision after conferring with local public health officials. 

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Last year, Macon County Schools requested a nearly $2 million budget increase to fund additional staff positions. When the pandemic shuttered school doors during budget season last year, the request was dropped. But now, over a year into the pandemic, MCS has again requested the money to fill staffing needs within its schools. 

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Graduation ceremonies will be allowed as many spectators as school sporting events this spring, after the Haywood County Schools Board of Education authorized Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte to use spectator rules for non-athletic, end-of-year programs and ceremonies. 

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The sun was shining dry, white hot heat the day my mother and I found ourselves out of money, tired and hungry in a town we’d never stepped foot in before in Northern Spain — for the second time in less than a month. 

Maggie Valley may have the opportunity to create its own Tourism Development Authority for the purpose of promoting tourism in the town if House Bill 412 becomes law. Both the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen have expressed support for the idea. 

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Haywood County Schools Local Expense Budget is set to look very similar to years past, with the COVID-19 Pandemic causing only a few exceptions. 

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As much of Western North Carolina bounces back from the devastation of COVID-19 — lower case counts, rising tourism numbers , successful vaccination campaigns — schools in the region are looking toward a longer, more intensive summer school program to put its students back on track. 

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When we are taking care of ourselves and the people we live with, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, we can end up with a lot of scraps. Two ends, plus the skins, of every onion you eat, garlic peels, mushroom stems, carrot ends, cauliflower leaves, celery bottoms, parsley and cilantro stems, lemon and lime rinds, pumpkin and winter squash skin… the list goes on. 

North Carolina has about 1.5 million public school students, and according to a report from the Department of Public Instruction, 52.3 percent are minority students, while only 20.5 percent of teachers are minorities. 

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Maggie Valley Country Club Estates Property Owners Association has communicated intense opposition to the proposed Waterfall Park on 8 acres of town property off of Old Still Road. 

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North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Schools, Catherine Truitt, ended a tour of Western North Carolina Schools today, April 16, with a visit to the Haywood County School System. 

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Gathering violets for this Violet Gimlet will be the most time consuming part of the recipe, but it’s well worth it for a light and refreshing cocktail at the end of the warmer days to come.

Pasta is a very important part of life. It’s one of those necessities that lies alongside love, good conversation, music, books that envelope your soul, wine and rainy days. 

People who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things they had stopped doing because of the pandemic, according to the CDC. This includes gathering indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask, gathering indoors with unvaccinated people of one household without wearing masks and traveling within the United States without COVID-19 testing or quarantine. 

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As spring gets underway, Violet Season is officially here. Violets are some of my favorite spring flowers, for they signal the start to the seasons of abundance. The seasons when a walk in the woods can result in a freshly foraged salad.

J.D. Moore started his first year at Tuscola in 1999. He was an athlete, played football and basketball. He learned pretty quickly the parts of the school that he needed to avoid, parts where the rebel flag was more ubiquitous and racial slurs were directed at him more frequently. 

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Jackson County Schools Board of Education has selected Dr. Dana Ayers as its new superintendent beginning June 1. 

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Have you ever felt confused when looking at any of the several iterations of the food pyramid? You’re not alone. The servings seem at once mixed up, and more than most people eat in one day. I am a big bread person. I love making homemade bread, it’s one of my favorite foods. But even for me, the 6-11 servings of bread recommended per day in the 1992 version of the food pyramid seem like a bad idea. 

 

Jackson County Schools Board of Education has selected Dr. Dana Ayers as its new superintendent beginning June 1. 

For students in the nursing program at Western Carolina University, the Coronavirus Pandemic sauntered into their world during spring break 2020. On Wednesday of that week, the university informed students that the break would be extended by one week. By Friday, the news was more dire, students wouldn’t be returning to campus at all. 

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North Carolina State legislators have voted to send more students back to in-person learning with the passage of Senate Bill 220. Titled “The Reopen Our Schools Act of 2021,” the bill will require districts to offer full-time, in-person learning for K-5 students, where previously school districts could choose what plans to offer K-5. It also gives districts the option to offer Plan A, fully in-person learning, or Plan B, a hybrid plan with remote and in-person learning, to students in grades 6-12. 

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Lisa Leatherwood, Administrator at Silver Bluff Village, has had a unique perspective of the mayhem that is the COVID-19 pandemic — health care worker, nursing home administrator, mother. 

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Maggie Valley will soon decide whether or not to develop a waterfall park on a property it has had in its possession for over 17 years. 

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Jackson County Schools Board of Education has selected Dr. Dana Ayers as its new superintendent. 

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Waynesville Art School will celebrate its second anniversary this April 27, and as anyone with young children now understands, turning one, and then two, in the midst of a global pandemic is less than ideal. 

The American Association of University Women was founded by a group of female college graduates in 1881 to advocate for women and help open the doors of higher education. One of the group’s first research endeavors involved an 1885 study disproving the prevailing myth that college impairs a woman’s fertility. One of its more recent studies? The economic impact of workplace sexual harassment. 

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Maggie Valley town officials are cautiously optimistic about the coming budget year after preliminary reports show the pandemic did not have the devastating financial effect many had originally feared.

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The American Association of University Women was founded by a group of female college graduates in 1881 to advocate for women and help open the doors of higher education. One of the group’s first research endeavors involved an 1885 study disproving the prevailing myth that college impairs a woman’s fertility. One of its more recent studies? The economic impact of workplace sexual harassment. 

On the first day of Women’s History Month, North Carolina legislators filed the RBG Act, or the Removing Barriers to Gain Access to Abortion Act. The bill is named for the late, great Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who believed a woman’s right to bodily autonomy is paramount equality. The bill is intended to reduce barriers to abortion in North Carolina, by repealing prohibitive legislation. 

Eating, whether you’re food obsessed like me or not, is a huge part of our lives. At least three times per day, every day we are alive, we get to decide what we put into our bodies. Influencing that decision are taste buds, hormones, cravings, nutrient needs, cooking and baking impulses, culture, friends, family, location, money and more. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Foxfire has been collecting stories, memories, photographs and artifacts related to the experiences of people in Appalachia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Blue Ridge Public Radio is partnering with the project to help expand its reach and focus on collecting stories from Western North Carolina.

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The Town of Maggie Valley recently decided on several upgrades and changes to the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds this month. The town purchased property that will be used for additional parking, purchased a gate to be installed along the western side of the grounds and changed the amplified music noise ordinance. 

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“Giovedì gnocchi, Venerdì pesce, Sabato trippa”

NAACP chapters in Jackson and Haywood counties have created a joint task force to help mentor public school teachers who want to learn about racial equity work. The project is possible thanks to a $25,000 grant awarded to the Jackson County branch of the NAACP. 

The Smoky Mountain District of the First United Methodist Church has created a Justice and Reconciliation Team to take on the work of understanding and healing discrimination in Western North Carolina. 

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Today, Wednesday, Feb. 10, is one of those unseasonably warm winter days. The days that invoke a yearning for spring, a yearning for the feeling of walking outside without tension gripping your entire body. These unseasonably warm days will increase in frequency as we move toward the end of March, into the new season. 

Last week, North Carolina officials recommended that all schools return to in-person learning as soon as possible. 

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Cullowhee Valley School will no longer be represented by the Rebel mascot, which is personified by an old, white, confederate general.

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Concentration and productivity have always been important for work and creativity. But now more than ever, with people working from home, (aka in the same environment as family, roommates, babies, toddlers, children, pets, your refrigerator, etc.) concentrating on work and being productive can seem like a far fetched goal. 

Last Wednesday was a day women have been waiting for, working for, speaking out of turn for, making trouble for — for hundreds of years now. 

On Jan. 20, 2021, Kamala Harris was sworn in as Vice President of the United States of America. She was given the oath of office by Justice Sonya Sotomayor, the first Hispanic, Latinx member of the Supreme Court. Later in the ceremony Jennifer Lopez performed “America the Beautiful” and the youngest ever inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, recited her inaugural poem. 

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Wednesday was a day women have been waiting for, working for, speaking out of turn for, making trouble for — for hundreds of years now. 

Like any organization that brings people together, Folkmoot USA had a difficult 2020. Without the ability for travel or gathering, there was no chance for the annual international festival or any of the other in-person programming planned throughout the year. During that time of cutbacks, former Executive Director Angie Schwab resigned to begin other work. 

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For many, the issues of race, injustice and reconciliation of our violent history seem insurmountable. How do we solve problems of such complexity, such depth, problems that have pervaded our nation since before its founding? 

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The Haywood County School Board and central office administration will undergo unconscious bias training on Tuesday, Jan. 26. The training has been scheduled as part of the plan, created by Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte in response to the situation created by a Facebook post of Nolte’s last year. 

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At a Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12, The Swag was voluntarily annexed into Maggie Valley. 

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When the world gets crazy, I often turn to food for comfort. Cooking is one of those spaces where my inner dialogue switches off and the worries and stresses of the outside world melt away. There is something truly cathartic about chopping vegetables, stirring risotto until it slowly soaks up all its liquid, or coaxing bread ingredients into one, live mixture of warm, rising dough. 

But it’s two fold. Once you’re done with the part that relaxes the mind and carries you off somewhere, you get to sit down with the people you love and enjoy good food — one of the finest parts of life. 

So far, 2021 has given us a run for our money. It’s not like we weren’t prepared. Despite the importance we place on New Year’s Eve, there is no invisible barrier that will allow us into the new year and keep out our trials from the year past. There is no filter to protect us from everything we have caused, and everything that has happened to us the year before. We have started 2021 full to the brim with challenges presented to us throughout 2020. 

It is disheartening. The time of year that we normally get to unwind — recover from a bustling holiday season, and figure out what it is we want out of the coming year — has been ripped from under our feet. Instead, Covid-19 continues to worsen with each passing day. The transfer of power in our democracy was put in serious danger, and it seems like everywhere you turn, people rely on conflicting sets of truths to uphold their beliefs. Their identity. Hatred seems abundant. 

All the while the world is still burning down around us and world leaders are far too distracted, rightly so, with the present threat to think about long-term solutions to that absolute threat. 

Nothing pasta and red wine can’t fix, right? Wrong. But it may be the greatest form of medicine right now. The ultimate comfort food to share with the people we love. Those we are able to be with and hold close during this tumultuous hour. 

I’m usually a fan of making homemade pasta. It’s incredibly simple and the noodles are silkier and more flavorful than those out of a box. This, however, is just a recipe for sauce. Creamy butternut squash pasta sauce is simple and comes together quickly. It’s comforting, delicious and completely plant based. Any substitutions and additions can be made as this is an easy recipe to get creative with. 

 

Recipe: 

½ small butternut squash (about 400g), roasted with olive oil salt and pepper

4-5 garlic cloves (more or less depending on  your garlic preference)

1 cup Almond milk (or other milk, plant or dairy. Add more or less milk for a thicker or thinner sauce)

½  broth (or water)

¼ cup pasta water

1 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)

1 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Pepper

2 tsp. Sage  

2 tbsp. Lemon juice 

1 tbs. Apple cider vinegar

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast butternut squash and garlic together (drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and sage) until very tender, 30-45 minutes. 
  2. Boil pasta, reserving ¼ cup of pasta water.
  3. Combine roasted squash, garlic, almond milk, broth, pasta water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, Apple Cider Vinegar and additional salt, pepper and sage in a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy. Add more milk for preferred consistency. 
  4. Reheat in a saucepan prior to serving.
  5. Top with any array of ingredients. I topped this batch with pepitas and fresh arugula. Try with your favorite toasted nuts or seeds, sausage or other spicy or salty meat/ meat alternative, or any fresh greens. 

The holidays are over and we are one week into our new year. This is the exciting “honeymoon” phase of our year during which we set goals and relish in possibility. Savor this time. 

At a school board meeting Monday, Dec. 14, Haywood County School Board members were split on how to pay for renovations to the new central office building. 

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During the holiday season we seek out certain types of food. Those that are based in tradition, or that we only have on special occasions. Roasted meat, rich sauces, fancy sides, an array of food in one meal. This Pomegranate Apple and Mint Salad is a decadent addition to any holiday meal. Combining just these few ingredients will leave you with a unique, sweet and tangy salad that will bring another dimension to a holiday feast. Serve it on its own, or atop a leafy green salad. 

 

Ingredients:

1 Pomegranate

1 Granny smith apple

1 Bunch of fresh mint

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1 Tbsp. Honey

1 Tbsp. Lemon juice 

½ Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

 

Directions

  1. Seed the entire pomegranate into a bowl.
  2. Chop apple into small pieces and add to the bowl
  3. Mince mint and add to the bowl
  4. Add cinnamon, honey, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar to the bowl and stir
  5. Serve as a side and enjoy!

Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, many of us had a notion of what “frontline” or “essential” workers meant. Who they were, what their jobs looked like. But, for many around the world, this pandemic has clarified, and majorly expanded the definition and understanding of these roles in our society. 

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