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Haywood Habitat for Humanity (HHGH ) is providing a way for citizens to showcase their culinary skills, treat their taste buds, and support a good cause at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Maggie Valley Club.

Bring a favorite food sufficient to provide a small taste for 50 people and participate in the culinary competition to include “Best Appetizer,” “Best Dessert,” and “Best Presentation of  ‘A Taste of Fall.’”  Don’t want to bring food? Come as a taster. Every attendee will sample the entries and vote to select the prized winners.

The cost is $25 a person when bringing a favorite food for the competition, or $50 a person to attend as a taster.  The event will also include a silent auction. Recipes of all entries will be posted on

All proceeds will be donated to HHFH to support the ongoing mission to eliminate substandard housing.  HHFH partners with low income families to build affordable housing through no-profit loans.  

Checks should be made out to Haywood Habitat for Humanity and mailed with or without recipes to Haywood Habitat, PO Box 283, Waynesville, N.C., 28786. For information call the Habitat office at 828.452.7960.


The talents of Western North Carolina’s top traditional musicians and singers will be showcased during the 36th annual Mountain Heritage Day, coming up Saturday, Sept. 25, on the campus of Western Carolina University.

The festival’s newly named “Mountain” and “Heritage” stages will feature 22 separate musical acts that will provide constant free entertainment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., said festival coordinator Trina Royar.

“Our schedule of performers for the two stages includes bluegrass, old-time music, bluegrass-gospel, traditional Irish music, traditional and contemporary folk, and traditional country. If you like music in the ‘traditional’ genre, we’ve got you covered,” Royar said.

The entertainment lineup includes regional bluegrass favorites Balsam Range, Whitewater Bluegrass Co., Buncombe Turnpike and the Stoney Creek Boys, as well as the traditional and contemporary folk sounds of Phil and Gaye Johnson, old-time music by Jackson County’s Queen and Deitz families, and the Red Wellies, a traditional Irish band from Asheville.

Also, Mountain Heritage Day will feature four clogging teams, with two teams performing on each stage, Royar said.

Other musical performances are scheduled at the festival’s Circle Tent, a venue designed to provide visitors with a workshop kind of experience, Royar said. The Banjo Circle will feature area banjo pickers Mark Pruett, Junior Queen and Steve Sutton. The Fiddle Circle will highlight the talents of Trevor Stuart, Delbert Queen, Danielle Bishop, Beanie O’Dell and Arvil Freeman, and the Mandolin Circle will feature Adam King, Danny Bishop, Barry Clinton and Darren Nicholson. WCU’s own student group, the Porch Music Club, will lead an open jam at the Circle Tent at 3:30 p.m.

While the music and dancing is going on at the two main stages and in the Circle Tent at Mountain Heritage Day, a new performance area, the Children’s Tent, will offer younger festival visitors a wide range of activities, Royar said.


The traditional folkways of the Southern Appalachian Mountains will once again take center stage as the Western Carolina University community presents the 36th annual Mountain Heritage Day on Saturday, Sept. 25.

WCU’s annual festival offers a smorgasbord of traditional mountain culture, with a variety of music, dance, crafts, folk arts, contests and activities that is hard to find in a one-day event, said festival coordinator Trina Royar of WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center.

All Mountain Heritage Day activities, including stage performances, will take place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., with the exception of the 5-K footrace, which begins at 8 a.m., and registration for the woodcutting contest, which starts at 9 a.m. This year’s festival will be held on fields behind the Cordelia Camp Building, in parking lots and grassy areas around the Camp Building, and in the nearby Mountain Heritage Center, which is located on the ground floor of H.F. Robinson Administration Building.

Each year’s Mountain Heritage Day is the result of months of planning and work by a host of volunteers representing WCU’s student body, faculty and staff, and all that activity culminates with a busy festival day on the last Saturday in September, Royar said. “In particular, the event requires a big commitment by the university’s police force and facilities management department, but the payoff comes for everyone involved with the festival when they see the big crowds and smiling faces at WCU’s largest one-day event,” she said.

See also: Mountain Heritage Day to offer continuous entertainment, new Children’s Tent


Arts, crafts and food

Visitors at this year’s Mountain Heritage Day will find 80 booths of juried arts and crafts, providing a perfect opportunity for local residents to get in some early holiday shopping, Royar said. Items for sale will include everything from ceramics and wood carvings to basketry, jewelry and metalwork. Beginning this year, the layout of the arts and crafts vendor area has been redesigned to provide for a more pleasant shopping experience, with each vendor having a “corner” booth with two open sides. Fifty-nine percent of the arts and crafts vendors at this year’s festival are from Buncombe and other N.C. counties to the west, Royar said.

About 20 food vendors also are scheduled to participate in the festival, offering festival-goers tempting options such as Cherokee frybread, gyros, angus beef burgers, kettlecorn and ice cream.


Stickball and blowguns

The traditional Cherokee game of stickball has been a favorite attraction for festival visitors in recent years, and the Snowbird Stickball Team from Graham County will make its first appearance at Mountain Heritage Day to demonstrate that ancient sport. Before the two dozen members of the team begin play at 11 a.m., they will “take to the waters” of nearby Cullowhee Creek as an act of purification, said team leader Charles “Shorty” Kirkland.

Another Native American tradition will be demonstrated at 1 p.m. when team members join with their female associates in playing the courtship game of “Fish.” Male players use sticks to throw a ball up to hit a wooden fish that sits atop a 24-foot pole, while the female players are allowed to use their hands to throw the ball. Also, the females are allowed to physically harass the male players, “but the man has to be a perfect gentleman,” Kirkland said.

The Snowbird team also will demonstrate the use of traditional Cherokee blowguns at 3 p.m.


Music & clogging

For fans of traditional music and clogging, life doesn’t get much better than the two main stages of Mountain Heritage Day, which will offer continuous free entertainment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Royar said.

The newly renamed “Mountain Stage” (formerly Norton Stage) and “Heritage Stage” (formerly Traditional Stage) will present many types of traditional music ranging from traditional and contemporary bluegrass to old-time and folk music. A new act at this year’s festival will be the Red Wellies, an Asheville-based traditional Irish band. Visitors can expect to hear many local favorites, such as the bluegrass band Balsam Range, which includes three WCU alumni.

Clogging fans will want to check out performances by the Blue Ridge Highsteppers, the Rough Creek Cloggers, the Cole Mountain Cloggers and the Dixie Darlings, Royar said.

Festival music won’t be limited to the two stages. Visitors will have an opportunity to see some rapid-fire picking up close and personal at the Circle Tent, which will provide a “workshop” sort of musical experience, Royar said. The 11 a.m. “Banjo Circle” will feature Mark Pruett, Steve Sutton and Junior Queen, while a 12:30 p.m. “Fiddle Circle” will showcase the talents of Trevor Stuart, Delbert Queen, Danielle Bishop, Beanie O’Dell and Arvil Freeman. A “Mandolin Circle” at 2 p.m. will include Adam King, Danny Bishop, Barry Clinton and Darren Nicholson.

Other Circle Tent activities will include a 10 a.m. presentation on “The Building of the Glenville Dam and Lake: An Engineering Feat” by the Jackson County Historical Society, and a 3:30 p.m. open jam session of traditional music led by the Porch Music Club, a WCU student group.

Other musical performances that have been a part of every Mountain Heritage Day will take place at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., when singers from around the region will gather to demonstrate the sacred mountain tradition of shape-note singing. The singing will take place in the gymnasium adjacent to the Camp Building, with participants singing from the “Sacred Harp” and “Christian Harmony” hymnals.


Children’s Tent

Mountain Heritage Day organizers this year are putting more emphasis on providing activities for children, and a new Children’s Tent has been added that will provide fun and educational sessions all day, Royar said.

Heritage activities will be offered from 10 to 11 a.m., and during the afternoon hours musical programs geared toward children will be presented by Joe and Bill Deitz, Phil and Gaye Johnson, and the Whitewater Bluegrass Co., with the bluegrass band leading “play party games” and a “family dance.” Storyteller Bobby McMillon will entertain the kids beginning at 2 p.m., and more heritage activities will be offered from 3 until 5 p.m.


Plenty more

Other important parts of Mountain Heritage Day include the folk arts and living history demonstrations, an auto show, contests and the annual Mountain Heritage Awards for 2010.

These awards are given to one individual and one organization in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the preservation or interpretation of the history and culture of Southern Appalachia. That presentation will take place at 12:15 p.m. on the Heritage Stage.


Marian Wright Edelman will speak at the Lake Junaluska Peace Conference at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, at Stuart Auditorium.

The talk is part of the 2010 Lake Junaluska Peace Conference titled “Peace for the World’s Children” and is free. The three-day Peace Conference is Sept. 19-21.

Edelman is a lifelong advocate for disadvantaged Americans and is the founder and director of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), headquartered in Washington, D.C. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Edelman was the first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar. 

For more information about the Peace Conference, call 828.454.6656 or visit


A grand opening celebration of the Alzheimer’s Association’s office and counseling center in Cherokee will take place  2:30-5:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 20.

The facility will be in the Health and Medical Division Building, 43 John Crowe Hill. Principal Chief Michell Hicks of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will lead festivities. Tuesday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and coinciding with World Alzheimer’s Day, there will be a 1-mile “awareness walk” starting from the fairgrounds.

This new center will serve residents living in the state’s seven westernmost counties. It is the first Alzheimer’s Association facility of its kind in the nation to be located on a tribal boundary or Indian reservation.


The Boy Scouts of America is celebrating 100 years of scouting with a council-wide camporee and celebration at Camp Daniel Boone in Haywood County the weekend of Sept. 25.

All Scouts, leaders, families and guests are encouraged to come and partake in the festivities. Boy Scout activities include pioneering projects, rifle shooting, archery, scouting exhibits, old-time games, geocaching, horseshoes, volleyball, scouting museum, wisdom council, hot air balloon, heritage merit badges, patrol events, Dutch oven cooking, totem pole carving, walking stick carving, Cub Scout games, campfire program and more. Master of ceremonies will be Sherrill Barber of WLOS-TV.


Registration is now open for the 20th Annual Haywood County Memory Walk, which will be held at 3 p.m. Oct. 3 at Lake Junaluska.

There are more than 1,630 cases of Alzheimer’s disease in Haywood County, and that number is expected to increase as baby boomers age. Last year, more than 220 people raised money and participated in the walk around Lake Junaluska.

Search for Haywood County on or 828.254.7363 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


“Taking Care of You: Powerful Tools for Care giving,” is a six-week series created to educate those who care for chronically ill family members. The classes will be held from 1:30 to 4 p.m. every Thursday from Sept. 30 to Nov. 4 in the Conference Room of the Community Service Center in Sylva.

The program will focus on tools such as ways to reduce stress, guilt, anger and depression. The classes will also teach family members how to communicate effectively with doctors and other family members, as well as set goals and problem solve.

$6. Register before Sept. 27. 828.586.4009


Training sessions for those wishing to work as a respite caregiver will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, and those seeking a respite caregiver can attend training from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Haywood Community Connections, located at the Haywood County Administrative Building, 81 Elmwood Way, Waynesville.

Haywood Community Connections/Mountain Projects, Alzheimer’s Association, Haywood Regional Medical Center, 30th Judicial District Domestic Violence-Sexual Assault Alliance and Southwestern Commission Area Agency on Aging came together several months ago to develop a caregiver respite list.

People who would like to work as a private respite caregiver can sign up at Haywood Community Connections. Those seeking a respite caregiver can also contact Haywood Community Connections. Caregivers can receive training developed by the group to help them with the hiring process.



Dog and cat owners will have an opportunity to learn basic emergency first aid for their companion pets in a hands on two-hour workshop with Dr. Tami Shearer of Shearer Pet Health Hospital.

Getting your sick or injured companion to the vet is important, but there are things you can do to help your pet until they can be seen. Some of the basics you will learn in the course include how to recognize an emergency situation, what to do if your pet has been hit by a car, how to treat for common poisons, choking, preventing shock in an emergency, how to perform CPR and the treatment and prevention of infections.

The workshop is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21, in the community room at United Community Bank in Bryson City. Workshop fee is $25 and will cover course materials and supplies. 828.586.3300.


College Night at Haywood Community College will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, in the auditorium.

Area high school students and residents will have a chance to talk with college representatives from more than 55 southeastern universities, colleges, and trade schools. All juniors and seniors in Haywood County are invited.



In an effort to revitalize the nation’s civic culture, veterans and schoolchildren from throughout Jackson County will gather at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18 in Cashiers, Sylva and Cherokee for a public reading of the U.S. Constitution.

The readings will take place at  Veterans Memorial Park in Cherokee, Poteet Park in Sylva and the Village Green in Cashiers.


To the Editor:

This year we have three county commissioners running for re-election in Jackson County. Brian McMahan is running again for chairman; Tom Massie is asking for our support again as  vice chairman; and William Shelton wants your vote to represent us as commissioner. All three representatives have faced challenges from our citizens and our economy over the past two years and have proven themselves to be reasonable in their deliberations, responsive in resolving issues in a timely manner and thoughtful in their approach to using data and facts to guide their decisions and manage our tax dollars (third lowest in the state).

McMahan, our current chairman, is a native of Jackson County. He is married with a child on the way and is a deacon in his church. He was recently elected President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. He has over 14 years experience in emergency services and brings family values and a community service focus to his deliberations.

Massie, our current vice chairman, is also a native son and has more than 25 years public service as a county planner and North Carolina Clean Water Trust Fund representative. He is a member of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation Board of Directors and Mountain Resource Commission. Tom brings the values of quality public service to the commission and county services.

William Shelton grew up in the Qualla community and is married with four sons. William was a supervisor with Jackson Soil and Water District before having his own farming business for the last 26 years. William brings the values of business management and conservative financial management to the commission and county services.

We have a choice in this election between these dedicated representatives, all of who bring reasonableness, responsiveness and thoughtfulness to deliberations affecting our neighbors, schools, mountains, streams and tax dollars. Or, we can choose untested Tea Party candidates who may have good intentions but whose only solution to complex problems is to experiment with the failed supply-side economic theory of cutting tax revenues and county services, letting those less fortunate fend for themselves and saying “No” to ideas outside their ideology.

Ron Robinson



To the Editor:

We write with deep concern over recent attacks on Muslims and Muslim communities in our country.

One of our principal readings for last year’s Lake Junaluska Peace Conference was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s fine book, What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America: A New Vision for Muslims and the West. In this detailed, scholarly, yet very readable book he outlines the ways Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, share an “Abrahamic tradition” that has come to critically support the democratic and pluralistic institutions we Americans hold so dearly.

Rauf, an American citizen with 35 years of leadership in American Muslim life, outlines in this book his “Cordoba Initiative” of interfaith dialogue to strengthen these democratic institutions and advance the work of interfaith cooperation so crucial after the events of September 2001. On the basis of these beliefs, he and others started planning an Islamic center for interfaith work in New York City. It is this center, whose very purpose is interfaith understanding, that is now the occasion for virulent attacks on Islam around the country, both verbal and physical.

With all our hearts we urge our fellow citizens, our political leaders, and other public influentials to work together to overcome our fear, anger, and ignorance in order to advance the very mission that Imam Rauf has so bravely undertaken. Please read his book. Study what other progressive Muslims like him are thinking and doing. Let us pray and work for an America in which all religious traditions can flourish and find a genuine peace. Imam Rauf closes his book with the words of a famous Muslim poet: “Love is my religion, and whichever way its riding beasts turn, that way lies my religion and belief.” St. Paul could not have said it better. It’s at the heart of the Golden Rule and central to all our religious traditions.

Garland Young, Chairman

Lake Junaluska Peace Committee


To the Editor:

Having been involved when Forest Hills sought to impose an ETJ on surrounding communities several years ago and having been a long-time critic of Chancellor John Bardo’s “vision” for both WCU and the adjoining communities, there is much I could say about the recent discussions about incorporation. However, I’ll limit myself to a simple question: has anyone from Forest Hills considered the first rule of politics? The rule — count the votes — would seem particularly germane when one considers that the proposed annexations would potentially add a population of students that far exceeds the existing population of the village.

What happens when all those students register to vote? What happens when an issue or issues motivates that population? And, given the involvement the political science department has shown in local affairs, is it really all that farfetched to consider the possibility that the governance of Forest Hills could become a kind of laboratory experiment?

Applying zoning regulations to university land could be trickier than anticipated since there are varying strictures about how a municipal or county jurisdiction may regulate state facilities. The obvious question, and one that has been addressed recently in The Smoky Mountain News, is whether Forest Hills is being used as a vehicle to bring alcohol sales closer to campus. If that is a primary motivation, then wouldn’t a referendum on countywide alcohol sales pose less risk? If the issue is providing a zoning or regulatory structure for the purpose of development, especially along Old Cullowhee Road, then wouldn’t a community-based zoning district like the one created by the Cashiers Development Ordinance offer the same opportunity?

I’ve never understood how getting bigger enhances a local vision of maintaining the charms of a small community.

Mark Jamison



To the Editor:

I have several concerns about the Forest Hills annexation after attending the second extended meeting between Forest Hills and Western Carolina University. Many good questions were asked and deflected with ambiguity.

I understand that WCU has yet to produce full documents of disclosure, and I anticipate an interesting read. My first concern is where is the study to prove that Cullowhee can economically support such a venture. It was stated that the “CAT” card proves that students will use this corporate Town Center. The CAT card is not reliable assessment of our local economics, and most of the students who are forced to have a CAT card are under the drinking age.

The university’s schedule creates a hardship for local businesses for almost four months out of the year between winter break, spring break and summer session, not to mention, these are students and they don’t have much expendable income.

Our second-home market goes dead in the water during winter, and as a Cullowhee resident, I do not see this being a responsible venture. Adding insult to injury, Chancellor John Bardo stated that the rent prices within the Town Center will be too high for local entrepreneurs, and local businesses will not have a fair chance of competing as alcohol sales will only be allowed within the Town Center.

I am begging Forest Hills to consider, at the very least, in writing, a contract for fair square footage rent prices allowing our locals a chance to truly enjoy the use of his Town Center and allow local dollars to generate locally and not only enhance some corporate bank account. I believe it is smart to embrace our growth, but we must be responsible about it. Otherwise, we will have a Town Center that lies empty, like the Sleep Inn in Sylva that deteriorates as I type. That is an empty eyesore, a blemish to our viewshed benefiting no one.

Robin Lang



To the Editor:

The article titled “Creeks now flow clean through Waynesville and Sylva” (Sept. 8 Smoky Mountain News) described the decline in fecal coliform pollution in Scotts Creek. While this is unequivocally good news, it does not mean that Scotts Creek is all cleaned up and that now we can all turn our attention to other environmental problems.

Water monitoring and cleanup is team effort and a community challenge. The Jackson County Health Department has brought in the state’s Waste Discharge Elimination Program (known as WaDE) to help homeowners finance repairs to septic systems. TWSA continues to assess and fix up broken sewers in the Sylva system. This fall students in the Environmental Health Department at WCU will be monitoring for fecal sources in nearby Savannah Creek.  

Other types of pollution continue. Scotts Creek has very high levels of sediment during storms, and the resulting mud settles in the stream suffocating the invertebrate life and upsetting the stream ecology. Data from the Sylva Mud Meter will help us document those levels. WATR’s Watch our Water team will be looking for mud sources in Scotts Creek and elsewhere in the Tuckasegee River watershed in effort to reduce erosion. More volunteer help is always appreciated

The community response is essential too. When the community and individual landowners become accountable for our septic systems and our stream bank buffer areas, then we can take the positive steps needed to improve water quality. Litter problems persist, and litter cleanup is also an indicator of involvement and concern. WATR volunteers assist the Town of Dillsboro by regularly removing litter in Scotts Creek at the Monteith Farmstead Park, and Sylva’s mayor just announced that LifeWay Church will be cleaning litter from Scotts Creek in the Bridge Park area.  

So the good news of lower bacteria levels in Scotts Creek provides us with cautious optimism. People with open sores or weakened immune systems probably should not wade in Scotts Creek because bacteria are still present and actual amounts are still uncertain. But conditions have significantly improved and will improve more as we stay vigilant and active in protecting our creeks and rivers.

Special thanks go to the Division of Water Quality’s Ed Williams, who supplied information for this letter.

Roger Clapp

Executive Director,

Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River


To the Editor:

I would like to respond to the Cindy Solesbee letter to the editor in the Sept. 8 Smoky Mountain News where she presumed that I “failed to show up” because I was “too busy (or some other excuse) to meet with the voters.”

The League of Women Voters in Franklin contacted me fewer than three weeks before their forum for North Carolina state senate candidates. For more than six months, my only vacation during the campaign was scheduled for the week when I was in Colorado, making it impractical to return for their event. The League graciously allowed me the opportunity to respond to their submitted questions and to those presented at the forum, which I did.  Those responses were printed in the newspapers that requested them.

I am eager to meet with voters to discuss the issues and do so several times every week. I invite citizens to visit the campaign website,, to check the schedule for times when they can share their concerns and ask questions. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify this matter.

Jim Davis

N.C. 50th District Senate candidate



A 5K race will be held in conjunction with Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25.

The race starts in front of the McKee Building on Central Drive on campus. The race is put on by the WCU Sports Management Association with proceeds going to the endowed scholarship fund.

Registration begins at 7 a.m. Entry fees are $15 before Sept. 23 or $25 on race day. $10 for students with a valid identification card.

Racers get a T-shirt, bottled water and fruit. Runners with the best times receive an award.

828.227.3548 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


A day packed with outdoor activity will be held at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, in recognition of National Hunting and Fishing Day.

Activities include fly-fishing casting, fly tying, outdoor cooking, archery, pellet rifle range, interactive kids’ hunt camp and tree stand safety.

There will also be tours of the fish hatchery. Inside are showings of an award-winning documentary on natural history and wildlife diversity of the mountains. Exhibits include five aquatic habitats with live fish, frogs, salamanders and snakes.

The Pisgah Center is located on U.S. 276 south of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Transylvania County, about 55 minutes from Waynesville. 828.877.4423.


Mast General Store will host representatives from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation at their stores on Saturday, Sept. 18, to help connect people with the organization.

The Foundation supports special projects on the Parkway that enhance visitors’ experience, from restoring historic buildings and preserving scenic views to funding ranger-led programs and Kids in Parks excursions.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway is undoubtedly a special place,” said Fred Martin, vice president of the Mast General Store. “With so many of our guests and employees sharing an affinity for the Parkway, it is important that we do what we can to ensure it’s there for enjoyment in the future.”

The Mast General Store will donate 10 percent of sales on Sept. 18 to the Foundation.


A fall field photography workshop based in Haywood County will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday mornings from Sept. 22 through Oct. 13.

Field excursions will include elk rut season in Cataloochee Valley, rushing mountain cascades and waterfalls, Blue Ridge Parkway high vistas and changing color in the national park amongst others. Classes to review and critique the photographs taken will be offered Tuesday evenings.

“Included in the program will be composition, exposure, lighting, and presenting subjects in a way that has the greatest impact,” said Bob Grytten, the program leader and an award-winning photographer. “Also included are segments on the computer and digital work.”

The program is hosted by the Waynesville Armory Recreation Center, where the class will meet to take a van to the field sites.

The program is designed for photographers with digital SLR cameras and tripods.

Program orientation will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21. Field shoots are $30 each and Tuesday night sessions at $10 each.

There is a 20 percent discount is offered to those taking all eight sessions. 828.627.0245 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


It’s harvest time, and what to do with the garden’s bounty can be a little overwhelming.

A talk on long-term food storage and preserving the harvest will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17, at the Creative Thought Center in Waynesville. If you don’t have a garden of your own, it’s also a good time to stock up on fresh local food at the farmers’ market and put it away for winter.

Kathleen Lamont, an organic grower, will share how to create stores of wholesome nutritious food. Learn how to pack and store grains, beans, and rice for the long term, plus learn the art of canning, dehydrating, root cellaring, vacuum sealing, and freezing processes, including which foods lend themselves to which method.

For more information visit Lamont’s websites at 828.456.9697 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The Creative Thought Center is located at 449 Pigeon Street/U.S. 276.


Learn how to attract birds and butterflies to your garden while helping the ecosystem during a “Gardening with Nature” talk at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, at the historic Rickman Store in Macon County.

Botanist and gardener Jean Woods will share how to use native plants and where to find them. She will also cover garden pest control, soil stewardship and wise water use.

Woods will have pictures of native plants incorporated in the home garden as well as several handouts about the soil and light requirements for species.

Woods is chair of the Education Committee for the North Carolina Native Plant Society. She is a frequent speaker at events and garden clubs and a leader of wildflower walks.  The Rickman Store is on Cowee Creek Road, seven miles north of Franklin on N.C. 28 next to Cowee Elementary School. 828.349.5201.


The Watershed Association of the Tuckaseigee River will hold its annual dinner at 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Sapphire Mountain Brewing Company in downtown Sylva.

Come celebrate a good year and share a meal with others concerned with the health of mountain rivers and creeks.

WATR will highlight projects from the past year and future initiatives.

WATR monitors water quality in the Tuck and its tributaries and promotes public awareness and advocacy for water quality.

Cost is $15. RSVP to 828.488.8418 or to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Volunteers are needed to help scoop trash from Richland Creek in Waynesville as part of the statewide Big Sweep from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, in Haywood County.

Haywood Community College’s students in the Natural Resources Department will lead the effort. Meet at the Bi-Lo’s Grocery Store parking lot off Russ Avenue in Waynesville.

The cleanup is part of the Big Sweep, an annual statewide event where volunteers take to the waters and shorelines to pull litter. Since its inception in 1987, more than 252,000 Big Sweep volunteers have retrieved more than 4,400 tons of debris from North Carolina’s waterways.



Join Bryson City Bicycles for “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day” at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Deep Creek Picnic area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park outside Bryson City.

Bryson City Bicycles welcomes young riders who want to have a fun day on their bikes, learn biking skills and make new friends. All participants get snacks, beverages and a goody bag.

Bicycle safety and proper trail etiquette will be covered before the ride. Rangers from the National Park Service will showcase their patrol bike. The ride will be led on Deep Creek Trail and Indian Creek Trail. Bring water and snacks or lunch.

Bryson City Bicycles has a limited number of kid’s bikes and helmets to rent for $15 for the event. First come first serve. Register in person at Bryson City Bicycles on Everett Street in downtown Bryson City or call 828.488.1988.

The ride is part of a nationwide Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, supported by the International Mountain Bicycling Association.


Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, ecologist and author of Mountain Nature: A Seasonal Natural History of the Southern Appalachians, will appear at noon on Friday, Sept. 17, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva. The lunch with the author program is devoted to the natural history of the mountain area.

Frick-Ruppert is associate professor of ecology and environmental science at Brevard College. Her new book explores the animals and plants of the Southern Appalachians and the webs of interdependence that connect them. The book is organized around the seasons, giving readers a full cycle of the year in the mountains.

Hikers and readers interested in nature and ecology are encouraged to attend this informal discussion and reading. Attendees may bring their own meal.



Bestselling author Cecil Murphey will sign books from 2 to 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17, at Dalton’s Christian Bookstore in Waynesville.

Murphey has authored or co-authored 112 published books in more than 30 years.

The book he wrote with Don Piper, 90 Minutes in Heaven, has been on the New York Times bestseller list since October 2006 and has sold more than four million copies.

Gifted Hands, written with Dr. Ben Carson, premiered in a TNT movie starting Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr.

Murphey also published When Someone You Love Has Cancer: Comfort and Encouragement for Caregivers and Loved Ones, When God Turned Off the Lights and Christmas Miracles.



Students can soon receive instruction in banjo, fiddle, or guitar in the traditional way mountain music has been taught for generations.

Registration for the Junior Appalachian Musician program will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at Central Elementary School in Waynesville. JAM instructors will be on hand to assist beginning students with instrument selection and rental.

Classes are held each Tuesday afternoon from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Central Elementary School, starting Tuesday, Sept. 28. A string band class is offered to advanced students by instructor referral only.

Beginning its eleventh year in Haywood County, the JAM program is designed for children in 4th grade and older. All students in Haywood County are eligible for the JAM program, but students in adjoining counties may participate on a space available basis.

New this year is a JAM blog and special performance opportunities for students. In spring 2011, Haywood County’s JAM program will host a regional JAM camp where instructors and students from eleven other programs will converge on our county to learn from one another. In May, the year will come to a close with a JAM picnic and performances for family and friends.

$90 per child for the school year. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 828.452.0593.


Dr. Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17, at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin.

After 55 years in the business, Stanley’s still one of the best banjo pickers and tenor singers in bluegrass. As a recording artist, he has performed on more than 170 albums, tapes, and CDs. He’s also written many songs himself and with his brother, the late Carter Stanley.  

In addition to the many honors Ralph has received as a bluegrass musician — including membership on the Grand Ole Opry — he is also active in his local community.

Fans can make it a bluegrass weekend and stay for the Del McCoury Band at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18 at the Center.

$15 for Stanley. $15 to $20 for Del McCoury Band.

Buy tickets at 1028 Georgia Road in Franklin, Dalton’s Bookstore in Franklin and Waynesville, or 866.273.4615.


The Pulitzer Prize winning drama, “Doubt” by John Patrick Shanley will return to Haywood Arts Regional Theatre for three final performances, Sept. 17, 18 and 19. The play will run at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17, and Saturday, Sept. 18, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 19.

“Doubt” tells the story of a Catholic priest accused of improper behavior by a nun. The play presents the dilemma of who to believe and the consequences of that verdict. The show won the Tony Award for Best Play and was made into a major film. HART’s production is being directed by Suzanne Tinsley.

“Doubt” was one of HART’s biggest hits during its winter Studio Season. The production sold out its run and featured performances by many of the area’s favorite actors, including Barbara Bates Smith, Art O’Neil, Julie Kinter and Becky Stone.

$8 adult, $5 student. 828.456.6322.


Several local and regional choirs, including the Womansong Community Chorus of Asheville, the Waynesville Middle School Chorus, and the Carolina Concert Choir of Hendersonville, will perform at the Lake Junaluska Peace Conference.

Womansong will perform at 7 p.m. during the Sunday, Sept. 19, evening session. This community chorus, directed by Debbie Nordeen and assistant director, Althea Gonzalez, is known for quality performances, high energy and creativity, and for assistance to women in need.

The Waynesville Middle School Chorus and the Carolina Concert Choir of Hendersonville will perform at 7 p.m. during the evening session on Monday, Sept. 20.

Directed by Dr. Janna Brendell and accompanied by Mary Neill Rogers, the Waynesville Middle School Chorus of 6th, 7th and 8th graders has a long history of excellence. During its Monday performance, approximately seventy students will showcase a delightful variety of vocal talents.

The Carolina Concert Choir of Hendersonville, under the direction of Bradford Gee, began in 1979 as a madrigal group of ten to twelve vocalists. The current group of forty performs classical and contemporary pieces and has, by invitation, performed in the prestigious Spoleto Festival.

The Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, “Peace for the World’s Children,” will feature children’s activist Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, Dr. Jeni Stepanek, Bishop Kenneth Carder, and Dr. Luther Smith. Stepanek will meet with children, youth, and adults on Sept. 18 and 19. Bishop Carder will speak on Sept. 19, Dr. Edelman on Sept. 20, and Dr. Luther Smith on Sept. 21. or 828.454.6656.


“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” will be performed on Thursday, Sept. 23, as a benefit for Haywood Animal Welfare Association.

Proceeds will help HAWA continue to provide very low-cost spay/neuter surgery for Haywood County pets. So far this year, HAWA is on target to meet its challenge goal of 2,010 surgeries. More than 38 percent of them are fully subsidized, costing HAWA $35 for male cats and $50 for all other cats and dogs. HAWA’s regular price is $30 per pet, which costs HAWA $20 for most animals.

The benefit is sponsored by the Haywood Regional Arts Theater through gifts from Nadean McArthur, Ron Frendreis and Nila Wilber.  

$35 ($20 for college students and children under 12). Ticket includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine and soft drinks

828.452.1329, 828.400.6768 or visit the HAWA office 145 Wall St. from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, at the Dog House in Waynesville and starting Sept. 20, at the HART Box Office.


Eldred Spell, professor of flute at Western Carolina University, will present a recital at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, as part of the School of Music’s Catamount Concert Series for 2010-11.

The free performance will be held in the recital hall of WCU’s Coulter Building.

Accompanied by pianist Andrew Adams, Spell will perform “Sonata Arpeggione” by Franz Schubert, “Hungarian Peasant Dance Suite” by Bela Bartok and “Sonata” by Paul Basler.

The seldom-heard Schubert piece was written for the arpeggione, an unusual cross between guitar and cello that was briefly popular in the early 19th century.  

Bartok, a musicologist as well as composer, collected folk music from his native Hungary and elsewhere, and those melodies are reflected in the arrangement to be performed by Spell.

Basler composed his “Sonata” specifically for Spell, who has performed it worldwide. “Though thoroughly modern, the piece is audience friendly,” Spell said. “With an extraordinarily wide emotional range, the work presents moments of extraordinary beauty, technical fireworks and everything in between.”

A frequent performer at musical venues across Western North Carolina, Spell recently was featured as soloist and master teacher at the Central American Flute Festival, held in the Costa Rican National Theatre in the capital, San Jose.



Cullowhee, named for the community where its sound was born, will reunite for a concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, in Hoey Auditorium at Western Carolina University.

The band began in the 1970s as a folk trio and evolved into a six-man mountain rock band featuring former WCU students Terry Edwards, Mike Clark, Sandy Flynn and Thom Jenkins, as well as Fred “Rick” Hubbard and Woody Jenkins. Members wrote and performed music including “Bring Back the Magic,” “Old Man of Sylva” and “Peace on the Mountain.” Cullowhee last toured in 1984.

The Sept. 18 event will be the group’s third reunion concert at WCU to benefit the Cullowhee Revitalization Endeavor, a nonprofit working to help revitalize the community along Old Cullowhee Road.

“We were proud of where we came from,” said Flynn before the first reunion show to benefit CuRvE in 2008. “We called our music mountain rock, and spread the name Cullowhee around the country and world, playing to audiences from 10 to 20,000.”

Past reunion concerts have raised several thousand dollars used to support beautification projects, including a recently installed student-painted mural.

“I’ve been floored to see the following that the Cullowhee band has,” said Christopher Blake, co-chair of CuRvE and assistant professor of English at WCU. “We’ve received dozens of notes along with their ticket requests telling us their memories of attending concerts more than 20 years ago and thanking us for bringing them back.”

“Students leave the concert amazed at the depth of the group’s musical talent, as members rotate between multiple instruments during the concert,” said Blake.

$25 reserved seats; $15 open seating. For tickets,; by mail at CuRvE, P.O. Box 1322, Cullowhee, N.C. 28723; or at the door before the show.

For info,, 828.399.1529 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


More than 190 million CDs feature their music. John Michael Montgomery and Garth Brooks have made their songs No. 1 hits. Come face-to-face with three successful songwriters during a 7:30 p.m. show on Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Balsam Mountain Inn.

Richard Fagan spent five years in Los Angeles, where he had a pop record deal on Mercury Records and got his first cut, “The Good Lord Loves You” by Neil Diamond. His songs are in six feature films and on more than 30 million records. Fagan has had three No. 1 country singles: “Be My Baby Tonight,” “Sold, (The Grundy County Auction Incident),” and “I Miss You A Little” — all by John Michael Montgomery. He’s had six Top 10s and 18 charted country singles. Fagan’s songs have been cut by George Strait, George Jones, Hank Williams, Jr., Shania Twain, Clay Walker, Patty Loveless, Collin Raye, Ricochet, Shenandoah, The Crickets, The Blues Brothers Band, and many others. Most recently, Fagan has a cut on the new Jason & The Scorchers CD, “Halcyon Times.”

Hailing from East Tennessee, Amanda Williams grew up in the music business as the daughter of legendary songwriter, Kim Williams. The first song she had recorded was the 2002 Grammy nominated release “Beer Run,” recorded by Garth Brooks and George Jones. Since then, Amanda has written more than 500 songs for releases on up and coming artists such as Todd O’Neil, Tyler Dickerson and Jessie James. Her new release “Little Red Hen” is now available exclusively at live performances.

Kim Williams won the ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year Award in 1994. His songs have been on more than 131 million CDs and tapes. He is excitedly watching the career of his talented singer-songwriter daughter Amanda with whom he wrote the Grammy nominated “Beer Run,” a duet with George Jones and Garth Brooks.

With Garth Brooks he has had four No. 1 singles: “Papa Loved Mama,” “It’s Midnight Cinderella,” “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)” and “She’s Gonna Make It,” as well as numerous album cuts.

In the past 15 years, Kim’s No. 1 singles include “Three Wooden Crosses” by Randy Travis, which was No. 1 in both country and Christian genres and winner of the CMA, CCMA, GMA, NSAI, and ACM song of the year.

Kim has had Christian No. 1s with “One Perfect Son” and “A Little Bit Of Faith” by Jeff Silvey.

$39 includes show and dinner. Buffet starts at 6 p.m. with seating’s every 15 minutes., 800.224.9498 or 828.456.9498.


Seniors can stay fit with a basic belly dancing class now offered from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. every Thursday at the Creative Thought Center in Waynesville. The classes are ongoing until Thanksgiving and will resume after Jan. 1.

“Exercise and Movement for Middle Eastern Dance” is a basic class that offers stretching, strengthening and a breath-focused approach to learning the forms of the belly dance. It is geared toward mature women or anyone who wants a gentle, fun workout.

The art of Middle Eastern dancing, or belly dancing, has been used from ancient to present times for the purposes of celebration, artistry and therapy. Not only does it create an avenue of expression that is joyous & uplifting, but it is also soothing and energizing for the body, mind and soul.

Instructor Damira/Pamela Norris, CMA (Certified Movement Analyst) has been studying the dance for more than 33 years and teaching for 30. She has studied, performed and taught ethnic dance styles from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Persia and Turkey. Damira has been leading dance and exercise classes for seniors since 1995.



The inaugural Autumn High Tea will run from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 26, at Country Traditions in Dillsboro. The event will raise money for Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping heritage alive.

In England, where having afternoon tea is traditional, a high tea is usually for special events only. High tea, as it is now used, occurs on weekends, at parties, or on special occasions.

Served at the high tea will an old-fashioned tea called Gun Powder Green Tea, Raspberry Black Tea and Earl Gray, along with scones, lemon curd, petit fours and other typical tea fare. Mimosas will be available for purchase.

“Hats and gloves are optional for the ladies,” joked Janet Chinners, owner of Country Traditions.  

Authors who have been published by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia will be present. The nonprofit has published more than 45 books written by people who either grew up here in Western North Carolina or now work and live in the region. Books include “My Mountain Granny,” “Aliens in God’s County,” “Laughter Was God’s Idea,” “The Legacy of Bear Mountain,” “Little is Much,” “A History of the Bible,” “Johnny, My Favorite Mouse,” “Learning to Fly,” and more.

$7.50. 828.586.1600 or


Heritage Crafts Weekend, a celebration of Southern Appalachia traditions, will be held Sept. 25 and 26 at The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville.

The event, now in its fifth year, features craft demonstrations and juried crafts vendors, plant sales and musical performances from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days in the Heritage Garden, Baker Exhibit Center and Education Center.

Vitally important to the Western North Carolina’s craft heritage is the close relationship between crafts and the plants used in their production. Much of the fiber, color and artistic expression of mountain craft is inspired from the character and nature of plants.

The Heritage Garden showcases plants used in the multimillion-dollar craft industry of Western North Carolina, including those used for handmade paper and brooms, baskets and dyes.

Visitors can explore the many plants that support crafts, understand how they are grown, prepared and used, and appreciate their value to the industry.

They will have a chance to explore the new Green Garden Shed, a demonstration exhibit that provides real-world and affordable examples of how to infuse sustainable practices into an existing shed structure.

Admission to Heritage Crafts Weekend is free for members or with the parking fee of $8 per personal vehicle.

Crafters and musicians interested in participating in The N.C. Arboretum’s Heritage Crafts Weekend may email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for an application form. or 828.665.2492.


Artist Laura Davis will demonstrate and discuss her glaze techniques from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16, at the Swain Center of Southwestern Community College.

Davis, who has been working with clay since 2002, owns Core Clay, a pottery studio and supply store in Cincinnati, Ohio. Much of her pottery is highly textured and features her signature transparent glazes. Her work can be seen at the Core Clay website, at the Pottery Festival in Dillsboro on Nov. 6, and in the book 500 Vases.

Students who want to try glazing techniques should bring up to two bisqued pieces, cone 6, maximum size three pounds each, to the class. Textured pieces are recommended. Participants will have an opportunity to glaze a piece, which will then be fired. The pieces will be critiqued during the second night of the workshop.

Free for enrolled students of the Heritage Arts Institute at SCC; $10. Bring a potluck dish to share.




Town board

Seats up for election:    2

Total seats on board:    4

Carroll Mease (I)    103

Jim Trantham (I)    95

Alan Trantham    42

Registered voters:    780

Voter turnout:    127 (16%)

Village of Forest Hills


James Wallace (I)    49

(running as write-in)

Mark Teague    22

Town board

Seats up for election:    2

Total seats on board:    4

Clark Corwin    56

Carl Hooper    55

Registered voters:    344

Voter turnout:    72 (21%)

Bryson City

Town board

Seats up for election:    2

Total seats on board:    4

Stephanie Treadway (I)    28

Tom Reidmiller (I)    28

Registered voters:    1,046

Voter turnout:    30 (2.87%)


Mayor, four-year term

David Wilkes    376

Don Mullen (I)    104

Town board

Seats up for election:    2

Total seats on board:    5

Gary E. Drake    330

Amy Patterson (I)    229

Hank Ross (I)    186

Registered voters:    893

Voter turnout:    429 (48%)


Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band has been awarded the prestigious Sudler Trophy, the nation’s highest and most-coveted award for college and university marching bands.

Formal presentation of the award, which has been called the “Heisman Trophy” of the collegiate marching band world, was held at halftime of WCU’s home football game against Wofford College on Oct. 24.

Western Carolina is the first institution in the state of North Carolina and the first member of the Southern Conference selected for the award. Past recipients of the honor include the universities of Texas, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Alabama, and Ohio State, Louisiana State, Penn State and Auburn universities.

Established in 1982, the trophy is presented to a college or university marching band that has demonstrated the highest of musical standards and innovative marching routines and ideas, and which has made important contributions to the advancement of the performance standards of college marching bands over a number of years.

WCU Chancellor John Bardo said the award is especially meaningful because it recognizes an extended record of excellence achieved by the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band under the leadership of band director Bob Buckner. Bardo called the band “one of the most important emissaries of WCU for more than a decade.”

The Pride of the Mountains is widely regarded as one of the top marching bands in the Southeast for its elaborate field shows. Often called “the world’s largest funk-rock band,” the unit performs a crowd-pleasing medley of up-tempo pop tunes, with electric guitars, singers and other musical elements not typically associated with marching bands.

The 360-member Pride of the Mountains Marching Band is performing an entirely new show in 2009 – “Born to Be Alive,” featuring the music of the Black Eyed Peas, Pearl Jam, Kanye West, Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees, Maroon 5 and Patrick Hernandez.

For more information about the Pride of the Mountains, visit or call 828.227.2259.


High school bands compete at WCU

Western Carolina’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band recently hosted the Tournament of Champions annual invitational competition. Each year, more than 3,000 high school musicians from Tennessee, Virginia, and North and South Carolina come to E.J. Whitmire Stadium at Western Carolina to compete. Twenty-two bands from across the Southeast took part in this year’s event. Carl Harrison High School marching band of Kennesaw, Ga., was named grand champion. Pisgah High School of Canton took second place in Class A. Tuscola High School of Waynesville also competed.


In an unusual election storyline, voters in Webster cast ballots for a total of 21 write-in candidates because too few candidates signed up to run for the five available seats on the town council.

When the new town council convenes, three write-in candidates — Mark Jamison, Alan Grant and A.J. Rowell — are expected to be sworn in along with incumbents Billy Bryson and Jean Davenport. Larry Phillips will replace long-time mayor Steve Gray, who also did not run for re-election.

Jamison, the Webster postmaster and a former member of the Jackson County Planning Board and the former chairman of the county’s smart growth task force, was among the write-in candidates who won a seat. Although he did not actively campaign, Jamison was asked by several citizens if he would agree to serve if elected.

“Several people had asked me to run for either mayor or a council seat, and I felt because of my job that I didn’t necessarily want to file. But they asked if I would serve if I was a write-in winner, and I said yes,” Jamison said Tuesday night.

“I’m looking forward to serving. I’ve been active from the sidelines for a while, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to address some of the issues,” Jamison said.

Jamison is a federal employee, but he said that since the town election is non-partisan there are no issues with the Hatch Act, which governs the political activities of federal employees.

While Jamison and Grant were clear winners with 23 and 20 votes, respectively, fifth-place finisher Rowell collected six votes, and two others tallied five. All results are unofficial until canvassing by the county board of elections.




Larry Phillips    35


Town board

Seats up for election:    5

Total seats on board:    5

Billie Bryson (I)    26

Jean Davenport (I)    26

Mark Jamison (write-in)    23

Alan Grant (write-in)    20

A.J. Rowell (write-in)    6

Registered voters: 445

Voter turnout:    40 (9%)


The Blue Ridge Parkway will kick off its 75th anniversary celebrations this month with several historical, symbolic and entertaining events, even though the official anniversary isn’t until next year.

• A program called “Natural Resource Stewardship – An American Indian Legacy and Model for Our Future” will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Cherokee High School. The talk will be given by Gerard Baker, superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Memorial who was featured in Ken Burns recent national parks documentary, along with former and present superintendents of the Parkway, Dan Brown and Phil Francis.

• Ceremonial Torch Passing will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 13, on the parkway outside Cherokee. A torch will be passed from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which celebrated its 75th anniversary this year, to the Parkway. Both park superintendents and Eastern Band of the Cherokees’ tribal leaders will deliver remarks. The Warriors of AniKituhwa dancers will perform. Park at the Cherokee Transit Lot on U.S. 441 just outside the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to take a shuttle to the site of the torch passing.

• Guided history tours in partnership with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian will be given by Cherokee storytellers at noon on Friday, Nov. 13, with several stops along the southern portion of the Parkway. Cost is $20 per person and includes a boxed lunch. 828.497.3481.

• Parkway History Day will be held on Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Folk Art Center on the Parkway outside Asheville.

There will be craft and music demonstrations and special exhibits. A panel discussion at 10 a.m. will examine the history and lasting impact of the decision to route the Blue Ridge Parkway through Western North Carolina. An interactive session will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Parkway issues, challenges and initiatives, including design guidelines for adjacent lands and preserving view sheds.

• A concert by Nanci Griffith will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, in Asheville. There will also be a performance of the one-time-only collaboration of The Blue Ridge Bluegrass All-Stars showing their support for the Parkway, including renowned musicians: Doyle Lawson, Sammy Shelor, Bryan Sutton, Tim Surrett, and Jim Van Cleve. The Cherokee Warriors of AniKituhwa will also perform, and the entire evening will be hosted by Asheville’s own Grammy award-winning musician David Holt. General seats are $35 and patron seats are $75. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.


The Fund for Haywood County recently handed out $16,000 in grants to county nonprofits providing services for recession relief.

The Fund for Haywood County, an affiliate of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, was established in 1994 by a group of local residents as a permanent endowment and resource for charitable efforts that benefit Haywood County.

The grantees are:

• The Community Kitchen — $2,600 to support a food ministry that provides hot, nutritious meals and food boxes to poor and struggling individuals in Canton.

• Crabtree, Iron Duff, Hyder Mountain Community Development Club — $1,400 toward emergency assistance with heating and utilities to keep residents safe and warm in their homes despite economic hardship.

• Fines Creek Community Association — $2,000 to purchase a freezer, increasing storage for the distribution of nutritious foods through the federal Emergency Food and Assistance Program, especially for seniors and mothers with children in this rural community in Haywood County.

• Good Samaritan Clinic of Haywood County — $4,000 toward operating expenses including medical supplies, staffing and other necessary expenses to continue the free medical clinic serving uninsured adults.

• Long’s Chapel United Methodist Church — $2,000 toward the Open Door program that provides food and emergency assistance to families struggling with basic needs as a result of the recession in Haywood County.

• REACH of Haywood County, Inc. — $4,000 toward operating expenses of the emergency shelter providing housing to women and children displaced from their homes due to domestic violence

To help The Fund for Haywood County, donate online at or by mail to The Fund for Haywood County, P.O. Box 627, Waynesville, NC, 28786. Contributions of any size are welcome and are tax-deductible. For more information, contact 828.734.6791.


It’s the end of another year, and everyone knows what that means — a deluge of countdowns featuring the year’s best releases, of course. While every expert in the world pieces together a list of the best books, movies and music released in 2009, The Smoky Mountain News asked authorities in Western North Carolina to compile their own Top 10 lists for the year. Check out their recommendations below. Happy listening, watching and reading!



By Leigh Nelson • Bryson City movie buff

Without any rambling, here is my list of the best movies of 2009 (in my humble opinion):

10. He’s Just Not That Into You

In this tell-it-like-it-is film, both men and women try to make sense out of the opposite sex by pursuing the wrong one in the wrong way. With hilarious quirks, and often, heartbreaking outcomes, the star-studded cast precariously steps through the world of attraction.

9. Taken

This action-thriller is sure to get your heart pumping. Playing an underappreciated father and ex-“preventer,” Liam Neeson allows his 17-year-old daughter to follow her favorite band around Europe with a disastrous outcome. Neeson will stop at nothing to get his daughter back alive.

8. The Young Victoria

Emily Blunt (also in The Devil Wears Prada) stars as a woman who knows what she wants, as she tries to find her footing as a future queen and overcome her mother’s choking grasp. Two men vie for her attention — one for her heart, the other for her crown. She must decide which is more important, her image or her happiness.

7. Zombieland

Grossly hilarious, Zombieland runs as a “how-to” in surviving a zombie-infested country. Though the characters can barely tolerate each other, they find they just might need to stick together if they don’t want to end up among the undead. You have never experienced Woody Harrelson to the fullest until you’ve seen this film!

6. Up

Don’t forget your tissues! Up is an animated film about a boy who needs someone to believe in him and an old man who realizes there’s still time to achieve his dreams. Both end up unwittingly on a nonstop adventure that is sure to bring laughter and tears!

5. Julie & Julia

An ageless delight, Julie & Julia is a tale of two strong women who love to cook. Julie decides to cook all of Julia Childs’ 524 recipes in one year and blog about it. As we see Julie in the present and Childs through the years, we are faced with their heartaches and triumphs, and fall in love with their tenacity.

4. I Can Do Bad All By Myself

Tyler Perry outdoes himself with this powerful drama-comedy about the importance of family. With Gladys Knight and Mary J. Blige, the voices of this film empower you to feel the loss, regret and forgiveness that family can bring.

3. Avatar

You’re in for a visual feast with this futuristic movie. Earth has depleted its fossil fuels and seeks natural treasures on the planet Pandora to survive. However, the indigenous Na’vi people don’t appreciate the humans trying to destroy their existence, especially since they can’t possibly understand the unique connection the Na’vi have to their surroundings. The Na’vi must find a way to protect their home and send the foreigners packing.

2. Inglorious Basterds

This fictional tale of World War II Jewish vindication is definitely a gore-fest, but you won’t want to miss a second of it by shutting your eyes. “The Basterds” are a group of Jewish soldiers who are intent on destroying the Nazis in a cruel and painful way, and they aren’t the only ones. The Jews will have their revenge, and “The Basterds” will give it to them.

1. District 9

District 9 is a phenomenal alien film set in present-day Johannesburg, South Africa. If you find that setting odd and a bit leading, you are on the right trail. The story of how the aliens get detained “for the greater good,” leads to a hair-raising battle for their survival. Throw the word “apartheid” in there, and you’ll quickly understand the moral to the story.



By Chris Cooper • Sylva musician

In no particular order ...

1. Album that we shouldn’t have liked:

Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johannson’s “Break Up.” Recorded in 2006, but released 2009. A great pop album. Scarlett redeems herself after her first horrible solo album.

2. Howling Bells — “Radio War”

Mix of country-noir and alternative pop/rock. Also check out their 2006 self-titled debut.

3. Passion Pit — “Manners”

Boston-based electronic indie pop band. Incorporates sounds from Animal Collective and Mercury Rev to Prince and New Order.

4. Andrew Bird — “Noble Beast”

The singer-songwriter-violinist moves away from his previous sound to create a more cinematic album.

5. It Might Get Loud

Documentary that features three generations of rock guitarists: Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. A creative rock documentary that does not get boring.

6. Angela Faye Martin — “Pictures from Home”

Martin, a Macon County musician, released one of the better local releases of the year. Produced by Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse.

7. Music at the 10th annual Play for Peace

An all-day music event in Sylva that also raises awareness and funds for veterans suffering from PTSD. Some of the best local bands play the event for free every year.

8. Music at Guadalupe Café in Sylva

Fantastic place to hang out and hear local bands. Saving grace of downtown Sylva.

9. Jeff Beck — “Performing This Week ... Live at Ronnie Scott’s”

(CD and DVD). 72 minutes and 16 tracks featuring the blues-rock legend. Also includes Eric Clapton and Imogen Heap. Really fun to watch and sold very well, a sign of hope that people still like guitars.

10. The Derek Trucks Band — “Already Free”

A mix of rock, blues, jazz, and Eastern music. Amazing, you’ll never get sick of it.



Compiled by the staff of City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

This is a novel comprised of letters beginning in 1946 between a single author in her mid-30s named Juliet Ashton and a Guernsey Island farmer by the name of Dawsey Adams. When Adams finds her name in the back of a secondhand book, he writes a letter to Ashton, and they begin a correspondence. Juliet Ashton is drawn into the world of this man, and he in turn invites his neighbors and friends to write to her with their stories. She learns all about their island, what books they read, and the powerful and transformative impact that the German occupation had on their lives. The warmth of these characters draws the reader in and makes you feel so thankful that you got to know them!

— Bookseller Margaret Spilker

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls's magnificent, true-life novel is based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hardworking, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town — riding five hundred miles on her pony, all alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car and fly a plane, and, with her husband, ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette's memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.

Bon Appetit, Y'all: Southern U.S.A./French fusion recipes by Ellen Silverman and Virginia Willis

Bon Appetit, Y’all is my favorite cookbook of the season. It’s fun to read, the illustrations are mouthwatering, and the recipes I’ve tried are delicious. Virginia Willis is from Georgia, spent some time in France and has combined recipes from her mother and grandmother with her own experiences to create a satisfying blend of new and old. The recipe for Cheddar Cornbread alone is worth the price of the book. And I love having recipes for Fried Fatback and Boeuf Bourguignonne just pages from each other.

— Bookseller Joyce Moore

Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

The sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is also pretty dark, with our heroine (a 21st century, grown-up Pippi Longsocking) the lead suspect in a triple murder. Prostitution, a biker gang and a blond giant provide plenty of menace in this Swedish mystery. Sadly, the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, due out next year, will be the last in the series as the author died shortly after turning in the manuscripts for the three mysteries.

— Bookseller Chris Wilcox

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

A trilogy. Seriously. There are going to be two more! Those were my thoughts after the first round through The Districts, The Tributes and of course, The Arena. I sank right into this second book in the Hunger Games trilogy knowing that every spare second of the next maybe two days would be spent with Katniss Everdeen. Bliss.

— Bookseller Emily Wilson

D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor

Beevor's latest book, D-Day, is a thorough and quick-paced account of the Allied invasion of France. He uses letters, diaries, interviews and museum archives to create a stunning book with vivid images and crisp details. Beach by beach and through every patch of the bocage, witness the strife and struggle of not only the soldiers of both sides but the citizens living in the towns and villages devastated by the bitter fighting. I rarely hesitate to read a book about WWII, but this one holds a special place on my shelf.

— Bookseller Eon Alden

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

Reading Pat Conroy is like smelling honeysuckle on a warm summer night. South of Broad, his first new novel in some years, is a welcome return to Charleston and to the complex characters that live there. Leo King, son of an ex-nun and a gentle father, is a senior in high school in 1969, nearly 10 years after the devastating death of his beloved older brother and he’s finally ready to put his shattered life back together. The friends that are a part of this rebirth, remain an important part of his life for the next two decades and it is the story of these friendships that provides the foundation of the book. I really enjoyed this book, both for the story and for Conroy’s incredibly lush narrative.

— Bookseller Joyce Moore

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

In her dazzling new novel — her first in more than a decade — Moore turns her eye on the anxiety and disconnection of post-9/11 America, on the insidiousness of racism, the blind-sidedness of war, and the recklessness thrust on others in the name of love.

As the United States begins gearing up for war in the Middle East, twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, the Midwestern daughter of a gentleman hill farmer, has come to a university town as a college student, her brain on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir.

Between semesters, she takes a job as a part-time nanny. The family she works for seems both mysterious and glamorous to her, and although Tassie had once found children boring, she comes to care for, and to protect, their newly adopted little girl as her own. As the year unfolds and she is drawn deeper into each of these lives, her own life back home becomes ever more alien to her: her parents are frailer; her brother, aimless and lost in high school, contemplates joining the military. Tassie finds herself becoming more and more the stranger she felt herself to be, and as life and love unravel dramatically, even shockingly, she is forever changed.

Commandment by Mary Adams

English professor at Western Carolina University. According to Ron Rash, “What makes Mary Adams such an exceptional poet is her ability to fuse formal elegance and profound sentiment. Few contemporary poets can match her combination of craft and feeling, which makes this new collection all the more welcome. She is a poet of the first rank.”

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

This piece of extended journalism is simply fun to read, even for non-runners. Midway through Born to Run, I thought, anybody who has ever gone for a jog would have fun reading this book; by the time I finished it I realized that even folks who never ran, or ran loathing every step, would find plenty to enjoy. Encompassing the world of long-distance running, the focus is the Tarahumara Indians who have fun running continuously for a day or two through the rugged, scorching Copper Canyons of Mexico ... wearing homemade sandals!

McDougall visits the reclusive tribe and compares them to the competitors in ultra-marathon races — often 50-100 miles in extreme environments such as Death Valley or the high Rockies. He cites convincing studies which conclude that modern humans evolved as long-distance runners. Whether this hypothesis is correct or not, the book is a fascinating peak into two misunderstood groups of people brought together by running.

— Bookseller Chris Wilcox


The Smoky Mountain News is paying homage this week to some of the newsmakers of 2009 by dishing out our annual awards.

Few would chalk up 2009 as a year they want to remember, given the generally gloomy pall cast by the recession over nearly every facet of life in Western North Carolina. We feared the year-end trip down memory lane wouldn’t be quite so much fun as it usually is.

But once we started plowing through back issues, they revealed a hefty share of humdingers: the funny, the astonishing, the dismaying. Some will live in infamy, others we’d rather forget but probably won’t.

For those who made the list, hats off to you for giving us something to write about this year. For those who didn’t, there’s always 2010.


Elmer Fudd Award

For the man who brazenly shot at elk in Cataloochee Valley this fall, the words of Elmer Fudd would have been sage advice: “Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits.” But in the idyllic valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a shot ringing out across the meadows at 10:30 a.m. on a Friday morning was a dead giveaway something was amiss.

Another visitor who happened to be in Cataloochee Valley at the time got a description of the man’s vehicle and his license plate number. The illicit hunter was tracked down at his home in Granville County five hours away and admitted to shooting the elk. A litany of charges against him are still being crafted by park authorities.

The dead bull elk, which was sporting an impressive antler rack, was left lying in the field in Cataloochee by the poacher. A bull elk can weigh up to 800 pounds.


Holding the Bag Award

When Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this year, it had a trail of unpaid bills — owing $2.5 million to some 215 companies. Local electricians, contractors, building supply stores, sales reps for souvenir merchandise — even newspapers that had run ads for Ghost Town — filled the long list of those never paid for their goods or services. But they aren’t the only ones still holding the bag.

Ghost Town employees never got their final paycheck at the end of the season. Cash flow was so tight all year, the park often couldn’t make payroll on Fridays and instead relied on revenue from weekend ticket sales to pay employees the following Monday, and occasionally still fell short and had to make up the difference the following Monday after another weekend of revenue came in. Employees are still waiting for their last two weeks of pay from October.

The park was plagued this year by lagging ticket sales due to the economy, the primary rollercoaster ride being inoperable most of the season, and expensive repairs to update the aging theme park. The park was forced into bankruptcy after falling behind on its $9.5 million mortgage, but CEO Steve Shiver maintains that the park will reorganize and pull through, including repaying the small businesses and employees who are owed.


Biggest Loser

Western North Carolina might not be on prime time yet, but the local version of this reality show could be a real cliffhanger. One mega-development after another has bitten the dust this year. The few left standing have probably escaped thanks to a foreclosure triage of sorts: the banks who hold their loans simply didn’t have the time, money or wherewithal to pursue so many foreclosures at once.

The market for high-end second homes plummeted in mid-2008, shooting holes in the business plan of many a developer. Their plans had looked something like this: take out a big loan, buy a big chunk of land, build roads, maybe a golf course, sell lots, pay back the loan. The formula didn’t work out so well when the demand for lots tanked — as did American’s 401Ks. No lot sales meant no way to pay off those loans, and foreclosure and bankruptcy followed suit.

Balsam Mountain Preserve in Jackson County has been among the most high profile, followed by Legasus, also in Jackson County. The financial status of Wildflower, a mega-development in Macon County, has been publicly questioned of late as well. Further afield, Seven Falls in Hendersonville is in foreclosure and Grey Rock at Lake Lure is in bankruptcy.

Stalled development plans run the gamut from Big Ridge, a Cashiers development under federal investigation for a mortgage fraud scheme, to Cataloochee Wilderness Resorts, where developers never owned even a scrap of land despite crafting a master plan for some 4,000 acres. The faltering real estate and development industry created a tidal wave that crashed through nearly every facet of the mountain economy this year. Exactly what the banks will do as the proud new owners of hundreds of foreclosed lots will be the subject of next year’s awards.


Most in need of a N.C. geography lesson

It’s about 300 miles from the Smokies to Raleigh. Always has been, always will be.

Sure it’s a long way, but last we checked, the mountains are still part of the great state of North Carolina. Nonetheless, Gov. Beverly Perdue decided not to attend the opening ceremony of the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “It’s so far out of the way,” a spokesperson for the governor explained.

Making matters worse, the event was billed as a two-state governor’s proclamation, intended to draw attention to the shared status of America’s most-visited national park straddling North Carolina and Tennessee.

Perdue’s staff cited unnecessary travel expense amid a state budget crisis, rubbing many here the wrong way. Mountaineers have long suspected their metropolitan counterparts down East viewed them as lowly red-headed stepchildren, and the perceived snub led some to wonder: “Are we too far out of the way to pay state taxes?”


Flaming Pants Award

Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina got national headlines for shouting out ‘You Lie’ during one of President Barack Obama’s speeches about health care reform on the House floor. But this award goes to another Congressman, our very own Heath Shuler caught in a lie in November. Shuler was investigated by the House ethics committee after a lakefront resort he owned a stake in negotiated a land swap with the federal Tennessee Valley Authority to give it better shoreline access. The probe focused on whether Shuler used his influence in the deal. Shuler was cleared of wrongdoing, but a TVA report later confirmed that the Congressman had lied when he told media he had had not contact with TVA. Since he escaped formal censure, the least we could do is say, “Heath, you lie.”


Black Cloud Award

At long last, the historic Haywood County Courthouse was restored to its former grandeur and retrofitted to accommodate county offices with fancy modern conveniences, like, oh, say, fire sprinklers and the Internet.

But no sooner had the last touches of paint dried, than the contractor for the project sued the county for $2 million. The lawsuit hit just days before the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new building. The lawsuit came on the heels of nearly two years of drama between the county and the contractor, KMD. The county accused KMD of floundering deadlines and substandard work. The contractor claimed it wasn’t their fault, and instead blamed the architect for inaccurate blueprints.

At one point, commissioners even fired KMD, but the county’s bonding company that assumed responsibility for the project hired none other than KMD yet again.

The lawsuit isn’t settled, and it will likely come down to a dispute between the contactor and architect with the county caught in the middle.


Stop, Drop and Roll Award

Without any official fire protection, homeowners on pricey Buck Knob Island in the middle of Lake Glenville might have to resort to this basic technique if a blaze should ever strike.

Homeowners demanded fire protection and even threatened to sue nearby Cashiers-Glenville-Sapphire Volunteer Fire Department for not extending services to the island they call home.

Jackson County had its hands tied since the final decision rested with the volunteer fire department’s nonprofit board of directors, though the county does contribute significantly to its budget each year.

In September, the state fire marshal stepped in to provide recommendations for fire service. Since then, the Buck Knob Homeowners Association and the volunteer fire department continued to work together to resolve the hot-button issue.


The Badass Award

Crews for the North Carolina Department of Transportation have started 24-hour shifts to clean up the aftermath of a colossal October rockslide on Interstate 40.

They’ve spent months hand carrying thousands of pounds of explosive up the slope to blast apart mammoth boulders then haul them off to a national forest site.

The contractors have already hauled away 7,000 dump truckloads of rock and dirt. They labored on despite snow and are now working in subfreezing temperatures through the night.

Crews started work in late October, but NCDOT officials say it could take anywhere from March to May to blast apart and haul away the massive boulders.

The rockslide shut down a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 40 in Haywood County, a main artery for thru traffic between North Carolina and Tennessee, dealing a heavy blow to roadside restaurants, gas stations, motels, and other tourism businesses throughout Western North Carolina.

In the meantime, the Haywood Tourism Development Authority and state tourism officials worked zealously to let visitors know WNC is still open for business.

Somewhat luckily, the latest rockslide struck at the end of fall foliage season, unlike the summer rockslide in 1997, which effectively ruined peak season for many tourism businesses in WNC.


Barely Legal Award

A nightclub for teens became a focal point for controversy in Sylva in December when an enraged parent found a flyer that encouraged high school students to come to the club “as wasted as you want.”

Parents petitioned the town to shut down the club after finding out that the club’s owner, Nathan Lang, had a son serving jail time for statutory rape and discovering that the club’s MySpace page showed pictures of young women in lingerie pole dancing. Lang considers the club a form of youth mininstry and claims he is reaching out to at-risk teens by accepting the realities of their life. Despite the inuendos of what goes on inside the club, the town board said it could not shut down the club without proof of bona fide illegal activity.


Day Late, Dollar Short

A massive mountainside development on Cowee Mountain in Macon County got the attention of nearby landowners when one of its main roads gave way, triggering a serious landslide below. Further investigations by the North Carolina Geological Survey showed the development’s roads had a number of flaws that could trigger more slides in the future.

Wildflower, the subdivision owned by Ultima Carolina LLC, received its permits from the county in the laissez-faire days before county development regulations. Macon has since implemented a subdivision ordinance, stipulating road standards and requiring a bond to guarantee the infrastructure is sound. But Wildflower is exempt from the ordinance and could leave the county holding the bag on a erosion-plagued mountainside, making Macon County leaders very much a “day late and dollar short.”


Democracy Inaction

Apathy can be a major issue in municipal elections, particularly in small towns like Webster in Jackson County. After only two candidates met the sign-up deadline for the town board election, it wasn’t at all clear that Webster was going to be able to produce a full board during the November election.

But you can’t ever write off the spirit of a small town or the power of word-of-mouth organizing. On election day, the town board ballot boasted over 20 write-in candidates. With only 40 people voting, half the people those who turned out to the polls ended up being on the ballot themselves


Easiest Shoes to Fill

Maggie Valley fired its festival director, Bill Cody, in May after a mere three and a half months on the job.

Cody failed to attract a single festival during his brief stint though he was hired precisely to book events for half of the weekends during peak tourism season from May to October.

Cody also dreamed up the idea of developing a DVD promotional packet but never got started on the project.

The town must’ve been traumatized by Cody’s failure because it didn’t rehire a festival director until December.

Maggie’s new festival director, Audrey Hager, faces an easy road ahead of her when it comes to exceeding the low expectations Cody set during his short tenure with the town.


Albatross Award

Jackson County commissioners ended up with more than their fair share of baggage this year. Jackson politics is marked by a handful of simmering controversies that all seemed to boil over and land in the commissioners’ laps, whether invited or not.

First there was the Economic Development Commission, a floundering entity the county commissioners took hold of in an attempt to revive it. But the director resigned, calling the organization dysfunctional on her way out. Four of the nine board members later resigned. Then an accountant hired to conduct a back audit failed to deliver, citing murky financial records for the four-year period in question that made the task impossible.

The episode bears an uncanny resemblance to the airport authority, which despite a power struggle with the county always seemed to turn up hat in hand at budget time. Despite pleas by pilots and small plane owners, county commissioners have been philosophically opposed to spending tax dollars on the airport’s upkeep, leaving its long-term viability in limbo. Commissioners seemed to be subtly undermining the airport by refusing to appoint members to the airport authority, leading to dwindling numbers on the body that manages the small runway.

But in a surprise move, the commissioners decided to appoint none other than themselves to the airport board, effectively taking control of an entity some of them seem to loathe.

Commissioners even got dragged into the debate over whether to build a controversial new highway on the outskirts of Sylva that would bypass the main commercial thoroughfare of N.C. 107. They didn’t think up the highway, or even wade into the fray by choice, but were forced to weigh in when asked to endorse a laundry list of long-term road building projects being sent to the DOT in Raleigh that included the hot-button highway.

And of course, there’s the never-ending tug-of-war with Duke Energy over the fate of the Dillsboro dam, which is altogether deserving of its own award.


Most Elbow Room

Swain County had grand ambitions for the $10 million jail it opened last December. The county envisioned it would be easy to fill up the jail’s 109 beds with overflow prisoners from outside Swain — even though other counties made it clear they planned on building bigger jails of their own.

But Swain went on ahead with its dreams of raking in big money from jail fees charged to out-of-county inmates. As it saw the number of overflow prisoners from many counties plummet, Cherokee prisoners served as the last lifeline for the overbuilt jail, which carries a $450,000 annual loan payment.

But that was before Cherokee received a whopping $18 million grant from the Department of Justice to build its own jail, too.

And just when one thought matters couldn’t get any worse, a sinkhole recently cropped up on the hillside right below the jail. Fixing it will scoop another $20,000 out of Swain County’s already depleted pockets.


Whack-a-Mole Award

State legislators thought they’d stamped out video poker with their 2007 ban, but that was before the gambling industry got creative.

It took advantage of a loophole in the state law to come up with cyber sweepstakes terminals, which only “simulate” games of chance, according to the gaming industry.

Customers buy phone or Internet cards before playing slot machine-style games. They can walk over to the register and receive payouts from the storeowner if they win.

These technically legal machines have proliferated across the state virtually unchecked by regulations.

N.C. State Representative Ray Rapp, D-Mars Hill, grew exasperated with the video gaming industry, stating that it would find a way to circumvent every law that the legislature passed.

But some local governments have decided to put an end to the industry’s free ride. Towns like Maggie Valley, Franklin and Canton have taken up the task of placing zoning restrictions or imposing hefty business license fees on the machines.


Morrison Sisters Lifetime Achievement Award

The sweet, elderly sisters on “The Andy Griffith Show” — who ran a moonshine still in their greenhouse — paled in comparison to the large-scale operation of Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who cranked out batches of 1,000 gallons at a time.

Popcorn committed suicide this year at the age of 62, just days before he was supposed to report for an 18-month prison sentence for making moonshine.

Sutton spent most of his life trying to outrun revenuers. He was never secretive about it, however. He often bragged that he “ran more whiskey than Jack Daniel” and detailed his brew-making exploits in a book and self-produced video. He’s even been known to autograph Mason jars of moonshine.

Undercover agents eventually built a substantial case against him over the course of a year and raided his home in 2008, seizing 800 gallons of the illegal liquor, three stills with 1,000-gallon capacities, hundreds of gallons of moonshine-making ingredients such as mash and several guns.

Sutton could have gotten as much as 15 years in prison, but got off surprisingly light — relatively speaking — with just 18 months.

While some will always revere Popcorn as the ultimate renegade and a homespun folk hero, others found his crass, dirty and crude manner less than ideal for being a poster child for the Southern Appalachians.


Finding Love In All the Wrong Places

We’ll never know for sure what motivated Anita Vestal, a Swain County jailer, to spring a suspected murderer from his cell and run away with him.

But according to at least one former jailer, the sheriff had been warned of growing intimacy between the guard and inmate witnessed by note passing and frequent long chats, including an afternoon watching the Daytona 500 together in a jail common area.

In the hours and days following the escape, Swain County residents weren’t taking any chances. Many locked their doors and slept with loaded guns on their bedside table, frequently phoning relatives to make sure they were OK.

While many feared the jailer could be in physical danger from the sprung inmate, they both turned up alive and well in California after a month on the lam.

Vestal, 32, was a short woman weighing 275 pounds. Jeffrey Miles, 26, was a tall, lanky black man. Miles was one of six people charged in a double-murder of two Swain County men.

Vestal apparently provided Miles with a key, told another guard on duty he could take a break, then enacted an escape plan. Miles let himself out using the key and hid in her vehicle until she could run out and join him a few minutes later.

The two were caught in Vallejo, Calif., a city where Miles had sent a letter during his stay in the Swain jail, leading authorities to alert police there to be on the lookout.


Most Past Due Account

Can this really be happening to Swain County? For 66 years, Swain County has been the victim of a broken promise by the federal government to rebuild the North Shore Road.

The 30-mile road once led from Bryson City to Tennessee but was flooded by construction of Fontana Lake in the 1940s. The once populated countryside was ceded to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With no one living there anymore, the federal government didn’t seem inclined to make good on its signed contract with little ole Swain County to rebuild that road.

Swain leaders fought tooth and nail for the road for decades, but finally gave up their quest for the long-promised road and agreed to settle the matter once and for all with a cash payout of $52 million in lieu of the road. The seemingly odd dollar amount is based on the value of the road at the time it was flooded plus interest and inflation.

The National Park Service — a lead player in the dispute since the park now owns the land where the road would have gone — adopted the number and ran with it, using it repeatedly in a six-year environmental assessment of the unbuilt road and eventually selecting the cash settlement as its preferred solution to the festering dispute.

When it came time to ink a new deal, however, Smokies Superintendent Dale Ditmanson was suddenly uncomfortable with such a big number and contended in negotiations that it was too much.

Swain County leaders felt betrayed for coming to the table under the auspices of $52 million, only to have the rug pulled out from under them yet again.

U.S. Congressman Heath Shuler, a Bryson City native, is trying to right the wrong through Congressional channels. Days before the end of 2009, Shuler announced he had scored $12.8 million for Swain County as a “down payment” on a hopefully much larger total to come.


SOL award

Thrill-seeking motorcycle riders and sports car drivers better cross their fingers when traversing the Tail of the Dragon next year. Anyone who wrecks on the challenging, curvy road might have sit tight for 45 minutes, waiting for a Swain County ambulance to amble on up to the accident scene.

That’s because the road that leads to the world-famous Dragon, an infamous stretch of U.S. 129 that sports 318 curves in 11 miles, also led to a tug-of-war between Swain and Graham counties this summer.

Graham County traditionally provided prompt rescue service to the area for free, just because it could get there quicker. The Tail of the Dragon lies in the Deal’s Gap area, a satellite territory of Swain County that is surrounded by Graham.

But Graham grew weary of providing increasing rescue service to Deal’s Gap and demanded compensation from Swain for its neighborly service. Graham set its eyes on annexing the territory or receiving $80,000 per year to cover the cost of responding to complicated and serious wrecks on the road.

Swain refused to budge an inch, deciding to take over rescue services at Deal’s Gap itself, starting Jan. 1.

Swain originally hoped Graham would continue to provide the service since Swain ambulances routinely transported Graham County patients staying in Swain’s hospital at no cost to Graham.

When Swain takes over rescue service at Deal’s Gap, the difference in response time to wrecks could run up to 30 minutes.


Most Unlikely Poster Child

Maureen Lackey, a 45-year-old Franklin resident, sought to expose the Macon County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly mistreating her while she was in custody.

Lackey, who suffers from epilepsy, claimed jailers denied her medicine after she was arrested for a DWI in January. She said they refused to allow her to use the bathroom and humiliated her.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office denied any wrongdoing and said Lackey was carrying the unmarked prescription pills in a vitamin B bottle.

Lackey sued Macon County and the Sheriff’s Office for discrimination, hoping to receive compensation for the medical costs.

When it came to the DWI, Lackey claimed total innocence and said the person she’d paid to drive her home had run away after they’d gotten into a car accident. However, Lackey could not name the runaway driver.

Shortly after filing the lawsuit, the unlikely poster child was charged with another DWI, writing bad checks, simple assault contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and misdemeanor child abuse.

A federal judge dismissed her civil lawsuit not on its merits but because of technicalities. Lackey should have sued the sheriff, rather than the county and the entire Sheriff’s department. The judge also said the sheriff could not be forced to provide Lackey with medical care when she is no longer in custody.


Survivor Award

When the hospitals in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties decided to join forces, they knew they could only take one CEO with them.

The choice was between Haywood Regional Medical Center CEO Mike Poore and WestCare Health System’s CEO Mark Leonard.

Poore and Leonard publicly downplayed the intense competition, drawing attention instead to the benefits of affiliating.

They said MedWest Health System, a new hospital company that will represent HRMC and WestCare’s two hospitals in Sylva and Bryson City, could buy supplies in bulk and attract specialty physicians.

In addition, linking up with Charlotte-based Carolinas HealthCare System, which runs 29 hospitals in North and South Carolina, would allow MedWest to gain expertise in hospital management.

While the agreement goes into effect on Jan. 1, the new MedWest board unanimously selected a new CEO for the company by early December.

Following Carolina HealthCare System’s recommendation, the board crowned Poore its new CEO. Leonard says he will pursue other opportunities.


Novel Idea Award

Alcohol and gambling? Who knows what Harrah’s Cherokee Casino will think of next. The casino finally took the revolutionary step forward this year and began serving up an array of beer, wine and mixed drinks to its gamblers for the first time.

In June, tribal members voted to allow alcohol to flow freely at the casino, but nowhere else in Cherokee. No longer would poker players and avid slot machine patrons be left thirsting for a stiff drink. No longer would Harrah’s Cherokee be the only casino in the Harrah’s chain to deny its clients alcoholic beverages.

But not so fast.

The tribe had to clear up legal questions with regulators and settle on an ABC supplier before serving drinks. Eager to partake in the lucrative new venture, a new Bryson City-Sylva ABC board was created specifically to deliver alcohol to the casino.

Beer and wine finally hit the hotel, restaurants and lounges in late November, but the casino was only able to bring cocktails to its floor in December, six months after tribal members gave the casino their go-ahead.


Long Shot Award

There’s no other way to describe Jackson County’s most recent tactic to save the Dillsboro dam from Duke Energy’s wrecking ball. The county hopes to use the power of eminent domain and take the dam for themselves — an amazingly simple yet incredulous move when battling a political heavyweight and Fortune 500 company like Duke.

Counties can legally take property to create public parks, and lo and behold, Jackson County commissioners decided the Dillsboro dam and surrounding banks along the Tuckasegee would be the perfect place for a river park, replete with fishing piers, benches, boat launches, walking paths and picnic areas.

Duke, however, agues that it is immune from eminent domain, claiming a different standard applies since it is a utility. Furthermore, Duke hopes to hide behind the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has OK’d tearing down the dam.

At times, it’s hard to remember what started the brouhaha. It wasn’t merely the goal of saving the dam, but the belief that Duke was short-changing the county. Duke is supposed to compensate the public in exchange for saddling the Tuckasegee with its hydropower dams. Tearing down the antiquated Dillsboro dam to restore a section of free-flowing river was the lynchpin of its mitigation package, but somehow didn’t feel like much of a perk to Jackson County’s leaders.

Turning the dam into a park seems to be their last and only option to save it, after losing round after round of legal challenges and appeals on the federal and state level. If successful, Jackson will show it held the trump card all along.


Showcase Showdown

Bob Barker wasn’t exactly invited to “come on down” to Cherokee, but it didn’t seem to stop him. Barker faced off against the Eastern Band this year over the living conditions of black bears kept in three small zoos.

Barker, an avid supporter of animal rights, was upset about bears kept in concrete pits for tourists to gawk at, a relic of sorts from a pre-animal rights era. Barker’s visit included press conferences, picketing at the bear zoos and an appearance before tribal council.

The controversial group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals piled onto the debate, but as Barker knows, not every contestant can be a winner. The Cherokee leaders didn’t take kindly to his demands. The tribe cited compliance among bear zoos with local ordinances and federal laws and sent Barker packing.


Close but No Montecristo Award

Property owners in the upscale Balsam Mountain Preserve development nearly did it, but the $16 million in commitments they raised to bail out their beloved developer from a pending foreclosure fell short of what the unwavering lender was owed.

Balsam Mountain Preserve, a development on 4,400 acres sporting a scant 350 lots in Jackson County, was caught in the lurch by the tanking real estate market. Lackluster lot sales prevented the developers from paying off a $20 million loan, thrusting the property into foreclosure proceedings.

Affluent property owners pieced together commitments of $16.3 million in an effort to stave off foreclosure by lenders, preferring to keep the original developers known for their environmental ethos at the helm. But the lender, a private equity real estate investment firm, wasn’t willing to make a deal if it meant a loss.


Filibuster Award

A handful of dedicated county watchdogs took up permanent residence at Haywood County commissioner meetings this year, poised and ready to speak out on most any topic up for discussion on the agenda.

First came the proposed nuisance ordinance, with angry citizens accusing the county of communist rule. The momentum rolled over to budget time, when a 1-cent property tax increase once again demoted commissioners to the role of punching bags to blame for this year’s economic hardships. The equal-opportunity critics chastised the county for its propensity for landing in lawsuits and analyzed nickels and dimes in the county’s budget, from a multimillion dollar landfill expansion to the purchase of office supplies.

Chief among them was Johnnie Cure, who spoke up at nearly every commissioners meeting for months. Her speeches usually took commissioners to task for what she considered excessive spending and earned her a primetime spot on the county’s government access channel where the videotaped proceedings are aired repeatedly in the days following the meeting.

Commissioners tolerated and accommodated the crowds, but expressed frustration at the time-consuming nature of drawn-out public comment at the outset of every meeting.


Best Disguised Logger

Ron Cameron didn’t exactly talk like a logger. He didn’t walk like one either. But when it came to declaring amnesty from the county’s erosion control laws, a logger he was.

When Cameron built a one-and-a-half mile road through a 66-acre tract in the Camp Branch area of Waynesville, he claimed the road was for logging. Loggers are held to laxer erosion standards than developers, namely because the cost of complying with more stringent standards could discourage forestry, which naturally carries smaller economic returns than subdivisions.

The county argued that Cameron was merely hiding behind the logging exemption, however. The county claimed Cameron’s real intention was to develop the property, witnessed by the creation of a development master plan, registering a subdivision name with the county and applying for a septic tank evaluation. He never did any logging other than cutting trees that lay in the path of the roads he built. And the cost of building the road was twice the value of the timber.

Cameron won a lawsuit claiming he was being held hostage by an overbearing erosion enforcement officer. The county settled out of court for $75,000.

Before the ink was dry, Cameron had put the tract up for sale. It was billed by his Realtor as perfect for development. One of the selling points listed in ads: “Roads already in.”


Western North Carolina has a plethora of environmental groups, making it easy to find the one that best matches up with your own passion. Many groups rely on memberships not only for financial support. More members also give an organization clout when pushing for public policy initiatives.


Water quality groups

Watershed Association of the Tuckaseigee River

A group that works to protect the Tuckaseigee River and the watershed that feeds it. The group has been active in finding ways to reduce sediment and pollution entering Jackson and Swain counties waterways. 828.631.1500.

Haywood Waterways Association

A nonprofit dedicated to maintaining and improving the water quality of the Pigeon River and Pigeon River Watershed — primarily that of Haywood County. The group promotes and advocates for water quality with local governments, does environmental education in the schools, performs public outreach, conducts water quality monitoring and sampling. 828.456.5195.

Little Tennessee Watershed Association

A conservation organization that protects and restores water quality and habitat in the Upper Little Tennessee River and its tributaries upstream of Fontana Lake. The group advocates and promotes water quality and stream protection, and performs water sampling and monitoring. 828.369.6402.


Land trusts

Land Trust for the Little Tennessee

A nonprofit dedicated to conserving rural lands, forests, and waters in the six western most counties. The land trust has saved several thousand acres of farm and forest land from development in the region — sometimes by buying the land outright, but more commonly working with private landowners on conservation agreements. 828.524.2711.

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

Works across Western North Carolina to save land from development, protecting the natural, scenic, recreational, agricultural, historic and cultural resources of the region. Land trusts help private landowners place their tracts in conservation agreements or occasionally purchase special tracts outright. 828.253.0095.

Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust

Saves land from development in the Highlands area by securing conservation agreements with private landowners and sometimes buying special tracts outright. 828.526.9938 ext. 25.


Environmental advocacy

Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance

Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance is a grassroots organization whose mission is to address environmental issues affecting the Highlands-Cashiers area through education, advocacy, hands-on initiatives and collaboration with like-minded organizations. 828.526.9938 ext. 320. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Wilderness Society

Since 1935, The Wilderness Society has worked nationwide to protect America’s wilderness, not as a relic of the past, but as a thriving ecological community that is central to life itself. Above all, The Wilderness Society’s mission is to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. The national group has a field office in Franklin dedicated to the Southern Appalachians. 828.369.7084.

Canary Coalition

A statewide air quality advocacy group based in Sylva. The group has worked to keep air pollution and global warming at the center of public awareness. The Canary Coalition is also a player in the political arena. Its lobbying efforts have helped shape state policies.

Wild South

Formerly the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, this group is a primarily a watchdog for the national forests. It’s mission includes fighting logging and road building in national forests, protecting rare and endangered species, protecting against damaging forms of recreation such as ATV-use, and advocating for a healthy ecosystem. Regional office in Asheville.

Southern Environmental Law Center

This group fights for environmental issues through the court system. Whether it is challenging violations of the Clean Air Act by utilities, stopping logging that threatens endangered species, or fighting irresponsible road construction, this group consistently rights environmental wrongs when legal action — or the threat of legal action — is the only recourse. Regional office in Asheville.

Chattooga Conservancy

Dedicated to protecting the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River watershed and corridor. Lobbies against more intensive recreational uses in special areas of the Chattooga River, such as high-impact horseback riding or paddling, and advocates for proper care by the national forest service.

WNC Alliance

An environmental action group operating throughout the region, the group brings concerned citizens together to address critical environmental issues facing local mountain communities, from sustainable development to the plague of exotic plants on the ecosystem. Local chapters in Haywood County and in Jackson County, and elsewhere in the region. 828.524.3899.


National Park supporters

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This group supports the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by providing funds for projects the park otherwise couldn’t afford. Some projects include the reintroduction of elk, installing bear cables at backcountry campsites, restoring historic structures, protecting hemlocks from invasive bugs, building a new visitor center on the N.C. side of the park, and funding salaries for extra park rangers. 800.845.5665.

Friends of the Parkway

A nonprofit that works to preserve, protect and promote the Blue Ridge Parkway and its surrounding scenic landscape. Like Friends of the Smokies, the organization plays a vital role in aiding the park service with needs that go unfunded by the federal government. 800.228.7275.

Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation

Another major fundraising arm for the Blue Ridge Parkway, making possible visitor outreach, preservation of land adjacent to the Parkway, and programs for school children. 336.721.0260.

National Parks Conservation Association

This group fights to safeguard the scenic beauty, wildlife, and historical and cultural treasures of the entire National Park system — whether it’s stopping construction of the North Shore Road through the Smokies or limiting snowmobiles in Yellowstone. 800.628.7275.


Folkmoot USA, North Carolina’s Official International Festival, has locked down its first presenting sponsor.

Evergreen Packaging has partnered with the Festival as its presenting sponsor for 2010 through 2013, becoming the first international corporation to develop a multiyear relationship with the nonprofit.

Based in Waynesville, Folkmoot USA operates a two-week folklore festival hosting approximately 350 musicians and traditional dancers from all over the world.

“This means a lot to the festival,” said Folkmoot USA Executive Director Karen Babcock. “In tough economic times, it’s good to have someone step up and make a multiyear commitment.”

Revenues from ticket sales do not cover the costs associated with hosting the festival. The nonprofit must pay Folkmoot performers’ room, board, and transportation expenses, as well as cover the cost of renting performance venues.

Evergreen Packaging, with facilities in Canton and Waynesville, employs more than a thousand people in Haywood County, home to Folkmoot USA. Evergreen produces paper and packaging products in operations worldwide.

“The fact that we are an international company made sponsoring this festival a particularly good fit,” said Jody Hanks, Evergreen vice president and general counsel. “We’re looking forward to helping bring people from all over the world to experience being in Western North Carolina.”

The 2010 Folkmoot Festival will take place July 22 – August 1 throughout ten counties in Western North Carolina. Folkmoot has been presented annually longer than any other traditional international folk festival in the U.S. and is considered one of the best festivals of its kind in all of North America.

Grand Opening and Candlelight Closing Tickets are now on sale. Call 828.452.2997 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for tickets.

For more information, visit or call 877.FolkUSA.


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