Hannah McLeod

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Proposed revisions to Macon County’s flood damage prevention, soil erosion and sedimentation control, and water supply watershed protection ordinances have resulted in a flood of input from the public, many of whom cite the deadly Peeks Creek disaster of 2004 as a reason to keep strict restrictions in place. 

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Macon County Commissioners already decided that the quarter-cent sales tax referendum would be back on the ballot this November, but at its May 14 meeting, the board expanded the opportunities for how that money can be spent if voters approve the measure. 

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Thanks to a partnership between the Macon County Economic Development Commission and the Career and Technical Education department, Macon County high school students can look forward to the opportunity for paid internships next school year. 

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In its final week of classes, Western Carolina University became the subject of a video that went viral on social media in which a trans woman was filmed inside a women’s bathroom on campus. 

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Neither Jackson County nor Swain County commissions have agreed to approve the changes Macon County proposed to the Fontana Regional Library agreement, citing legal and logistical concerns.

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The Town of Sylva will not see a tax increase for the coming budget cycle, but with work looming on N.C. 107, staff are preparing for falling revenues over the next two to four years. 

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After a botanical survey identified the location of several invasive species in Jackson County’s Pinnacle Park, work has begun to manage the ecologically threatening pests. 

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The Catamount School, a laboratory school operating on the campus of Smoky Mountain High School, will relocate to the campus of Western Carolina University next school year after Jackson County Public Schools approved a relocation plan due to the need for more space at Smoky Mountain High School. 

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The Academy, an alternative service for middle grades students, will return to Haywood County Schools in the coming year as one of the school system’s budget expansion priorities. 

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Two projects will come to fruition this month that honor the lives of those who were victims of incarcerated labor in Western North Carolina during the Jim Crow era — a highway marker in Dillsboro, and an exhibit at the Mountain Heritage Center in Cullowhee.

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Sylva Town Council voted last week to extend term limits on local boards, allowing for the renewal of veteran members on the ABC board.  “The only two boards we have that this affects is the ABC board and the planning board,” said Mayor Johnny Phillips. 

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Macon County Schools may have to wait until the end of the summer for a decision on the athletic division restructuring coming down the pipe from the North Carolina High School Association. In the meantime, the board continues to hear from Macon Early College families who want to remain a part of high school sports in the county. 

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The towns of Sylva, Webster, Cullowhee and Cashiers are all connected by five lanes of chaos, better known as N.C. 107. 

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After the Sylva Town Council denied Sylva Pride’s road closure application for the annual Pride Parade, the community organization has decided to hold “Chalk About It,” to talk to community members and garner input on the best path forward. 

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Emergency federal funding provided quick relief to school systems burdened by costs incurred during the COVID-19 Pandemic. For Macon County Schools, some of that funding provided the opportunity for additional art teachers. Now, with that federal funding coming to an end, those additional art positions could be in jeopardy. 

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This summer will be 30 years since Lauren Calvert opened the doors to In Your Ear Emporium, downtown Sylva’s record store. Over the years, the way in which people consume music has changed drastically, but the heart of Calvert’s business has not. 

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After extensive input from Macon residents who wanted to see the old Pine Grove School remain available for community use, the county commission has decided not to sell the old school building. 

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Natalie Newman has been serving her community on five different boards and associations for the past several years, but announced suddenly over the weekend that she was stepping away from it all. 

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The season for farmers markets, with all their fresh produce, local vendors and community engagement, is right around the corner, and in Canton, the Mill Town Market is embarking on its second year at Sorrells Street Park. 

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Almost 100 high-paying jobs are expected in Macon County with the expansion of Duotech Services, LLC. 

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The memorandum of understanding between Jackson County Public Schools and the Catamount School is up for annual review, and this year, JCPS is reconsidering the agreement that permits the Catamount School to operate on the campus of Smoky Mountain High School, where it occupies valuable classroom space in a system that needs all the room it can get. 

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The North Carolina General Assembly passed the Parent Bill of Rights in August of last year, and now school systems in the state have found a potentially life-threatening oversight in its language. 

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The Jackson County Department of Social Services has faced incredible challenges over the past year associated with placing children in foster care. Now both the state and the county are providing funding to try and alleviate that problem. 

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Macon County Early College student athletes took to the public comment period during the March 25 school board meeting to speak out against the possibility of not being allowed to play Franklin High School sports, as has long been the norm. 

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The Sylva Pride celebration will look a little different this year after the Sylva Town Board denied the group’s road closure application for its fourth annual Pride Parade, despite support for the event from much of the downtown business community. 

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Overcast skies didn’t deter a large crowd from coming out to witness the unveiling of the sculpture “Sowing Seeds of the Future,” on Saturday, March 23,­ in downtown Franklin. 

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When Pactiv Evergreen announced it would close its Canton paper mill last year, Haywood County Schools was already facing a host of other challenges, among them a declining student population, costs incurred from damages caused during the Pigeon River flood in 2021, and the impending end of COVID-era relief funds. 

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Macon County residents will see the quarter-cent sales tax referendum on the ballot this November after commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to put the decision to voters again. 

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Haywood County Schools has increased the number of people it employs to care for and monitor students’ mental health this year, largely due to increased funding from the county commission that allowed for additional school resource officers. 

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The Macon County Commission will see one new member seated in December after Barry Breeden beat incumbent Paul Higdon to represent district three. 

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The Haywood County School Board approved several personnel recommendations last week that saw the return of a previous finance director and new principals for two schools.

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Jackson County Schools will install over 100 new security cameras throughout the school system after it received over a quarter of a million dollars from the Center for Safer Schools’ Safety Grant Program. 

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Incumbent Wes Jamison and newcomer Gayle Woody have won the race for Jackson County Board of Education.

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The Macon County Commission will see one new member seated in December after newcomer Barry Breeden beat out incumbent Paul Higdon to represent District 3.

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The Development Finance Initiative has conducted a housing needs assessment for Jackson County, and while the findings won’t be surprising to anyone living in the area, they do outline critical housing needs.

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The Town of Sylva is embarking on a five-year plan to revitalize Mill Street with updated façades as part of the design pillar of the Main Street Sylva Association. 

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Josh Brooks will return as head coach for Franklin High School football after players implored the school board to reinstate the recently resigned coach.

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Capital needs are at the center of Macon County’s budget process for fiscal year 2024-25 and the county is in a good position to fund several big-ticket items. Even so, commissioners are considering another look at the quarter-cent sales tax option. 

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This election season, there are four candidates vying for two seats on the Jackson County Board of Education. With Chairman Elizabeth Cooper choosing not to seek reelection, the board will have at least one new member after votes are in.

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The Town of Sylva passed an ordinance addressing panhandling last week by a narrow margin after extensive and contentious discussion on the topic. 

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The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has hired Kevin King as the new manager for Jackson County. 

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A facilities study for Jackson County Schools that will help inform capital improvements for years to come found several schools in the county are overcrowded, something administration and school board members hope a traditional middle school will help alleviate.  

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The Macon County School Board has approved a policy for emergency use of naloxone, an opioid inhibitor, within the school system.

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Students in Haywood County who want to be educators will have a new opportunity that could help pay for college after the school district was chosen for a new Teaching Fellows pilot program that emphasizes local recruitment. 

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Macon County is one step closer to a new Franklin High School after state leaders awarded $62 million for the project. 

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Sylva began its budget process last week with presentations from department heads about what they need in the budget, as well as what they want to see in the budget.

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The Town of Sylva is once again considering a solicitation ordinance for the streets and sidewalks section of its code of ordinances, and now the public will have a chance to weigh in. 

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Marianna Black Library is set for a major expansion and renovation thanks to funding from several parties, including a large allotment in the state budget. 

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In a rare split vote, the Haywood County School Board approved the hiring of a new head football coach for the Pisgah Bears — Rick Brindley.

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After the last school year, Haywood County Schools held onto its seventh-place ranking in the state, out of 115 school districts, in academic performance. The school system first attained this historic high-water mark during the 2021-22 school year, prior to which it was ranked 10th. 

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