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In hopes of transforming Cullowhee into a more vibrant college community, a group dedicated to reinventing the lackluster area around campus wants the Village of Forest Hills to expand its town limits and annex a portion of the university and its surrounds.

The restaurants, coffee shops and bars typically found around universities are markedly absent at Western— witnessed by a standing joke on campus that “Cullowhee is a state of mind.”

One barrier to revitalization in Cullowhee is the lack of legal alcohol sales. Alcohol sales, from a six-pack at a gas station to a glass of wine with dinner, aren’t allowed by the county. Incorporated towns have the option of allowing alcohol sales, however, as do Sylva and Dillsboro.

If the annexation goes through, and if the Village of Forest Hills in turn passed a law to allow alcohol sales, it would help attract restaurants and a grocery store.

But there are other ways incorporation might benefit Cullowhee revitalization. Lacking town designation, the community is missing out on state and federal grants, from funding for sidewalks to sewer lines. If incorporated, the area would also be entitled to a cut sales tax revenue collected by merchants in the town limits.

Another option, and one that remains if the Village of Forest Hills decides not to expand, is for Cullowhee to incorporate as brand-new town of its own. But the process would be more arduous and complicated.

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To the Editor:

With the occurrence of each election cycle, more and more Americans are choosing to support and vote for candidates who do not have an “R” or a “D” after their name. That’s why it is not surprising that the Democratic Party of Jackson County disallows anyone unaffiliated with their party to participate in “meet and greet” opportunities (“Unaffiliated candidates denied access to party voters,” Sept 1 Smoky Mountain News).  

Denying independent candidates access to the voters has nothing to do with to whom the party itself is loyal (as Democratic Party Chair Kirk Stephens would have us believe). It has to do with the party in power scared out of their wits and that independent thinkers (in other words, someone with a brain) might actually appeal to the voters.

I, like many citizens, am hard-pressed to vote for candidates from either of the two major parties. I want to hear from independent candidates like District Court Judge candidate Kris Earwood and others who have the courage to challenge the status quo.

The presumption that the lack of party affiliation hurts an independent candidate’s chances may have some truth. There are (after all) a lot of people who wrongly believe that electing only a Democrat or a Republican is somehow preordained by God.

Voters have witnessed the downside of having one political party continually in power. I cannot really blame them, considering incumbents seem to be re-elected time after time. That’s our failure, of course, not theirs.

If “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom,” unceasing distractions are the way politicians take away our freedoms. The two major parties have found a new wrinkle — suppress our ability to choose better leaders by squelching the voices of independent office seekers.

David L. Snell

Dillsboro

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To the Editor:

Congressman Heath Shuler just sent out an email talking once again about the wisdom of his “S.A.V.E. Act” immigration bill. And indeed it is a good first step that, in his words, “expands an existing and successful system of employee verification, and turns off the job magnet that draws hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens across our borders each year.”

But here is the catch — Shuler can introduce such bills all he wants, but the leadership of the House that he himself voted to install has no intention of allowing any serious immigration bill to ever see daylight.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, are both far left members of the “Amnesty and Open Borders Club,” and they have long since sent Shuler’s bill to the shredder.  Neither of them would be in control of the fate of immigration bills if Democrats like Shuler had not voted to give them control over the U.S. House.

If voters want real immigration action, it’s time to vote for people like Jeff Miller whose votes for the leadership in D.C. on issues like immigration will match the values of the voters back home.

Robert Danos

Hendersonville

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To the Editor:

I want to thank the League of Women Voters in Franklin for holding candidate forums for our community.  On Aug. 12, the candidates for the North Carolina House and Senate running in the November election were invited to speak. These forums give voters a chance to hear candidates answer questions about what they hope to accomplish and their vision for the future, and for this opportunity I am truly grateful. It was disappointing, however,  to see only one Republican choose to attend the forum while the other two (Roger West and Jim Davis) failed to show up. A candidate that is too busy (or some other excuse) to meet with the voters and discuss the issues is not someone I want to represent us in the North Carolina legislature.

I also want to comment on a letter to the editor I read last week from someone who attended the forum. The only “solution” she heard from one candidate was to blame Bush for the economic crisis. It is not blaming.  Rather it is reminding people of the Bush economic policies that drove us into this Great Recession: Bush came into office with a huge surplus of $230 billion —  the biggest surplus in generations — and squandered it with reckless tax cuts for the very wealthy while at the same time fighting two wars. We’ve had these tax cuts for the wealthy for eight years, and they’re not working. Where are the jobs that are suppose to “trickle down” to the rest of us?  

Now the Republicans want to keep the huge tax cuts for the top 2 percent — the multimillionaires and billionaires — while the bottom 98 percent of Americans pay for it by raising the Social Security retirement age to 70.

In addition to some disparaging remarks this woman made about some of the candidates, she used the word “elitist” to describe them. I would have to ask her what policy could be more “elitist” than giving huge tax cuts to the mega wealthy — the elite of our country — and making the middle class pay for it.  Nice try, lady, but voters are smarter than that.  

Cindy Solesbee

Franklin

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Seniors will get a chance to see the Cataloochee elk up close and personal on Sept. 13. The Waynesville Parks and Recreation Department is offering the trip to everyone age 50 and above.

Learn some of the rich history of the area with a guided trip to a few houses and a barn.

The group will get a chance to see young elk and possibly baby elk. Bring dinner and a folding chair, along with a camera and binoculars to record some beautiful memories.

The trip leaves Waynesville Recreation Center at 2 p.m. and return by 8 p.m. $3 for Waynesville Recreation Center members. $5 for non-members.

828.456.2030 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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A group of wildlife lovers area has launched an initiative to make the Cashiers and Highlands area a “Bear Smart” community.

“Black bears can live with people. Can people live with black bears?” asked Bill Lea of Franklin, both a black bear expert and world-class nature photographer.

The “Bear Smart” project aims to educate homeowners on how to prevent bear conflicts, and how to handle them if they occur.

The Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance is heading up the initiative, which also includes members Wild South and the Highlands Plateau Audubon Society chapter.

“Bears are a valuable and important part of the natural world,” said John Edwards, project coordinator for Wild South. “As stewards of our planet we are beholden to our creator to protect bears and their habitat as well as all creatures.”

To join the effort, contact Debbie at 828.526.0890, ext. 320 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Matt Kulp, fisheries biologist with Great Smoky Mountain National Park, will be speaking at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, at The Plateau Fly Fishing club meeting in Cashiers.

Kulp will discuss “What’s going on in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park — an aquatics and fisheries update including where to find the brook trout.”

A raffle will be held featuring various fly fishing accessories and an Orvis five weight fly rod.

The talk will be held the Albert Carlton Cashiers Library. Everyone is welcome. 828.885.7130.

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Visitors to Western North Carolina’s mountains can look forward to a vibrant display of color this autumn, predicts Kathy Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fall foliage forecaster and associate professor of biology.

“It’s been a hot year in North Carolina, with above-average temperatures this summer. Rainfall has been slightly less than average during the spring and summer. These are two factors I look at when thinking about the timing and quality of fall leaf color change in the mountains,” Mathews said.

Mathews believes that the formation of ample yellow, orange and red pigments in the leaves seems to correlate with dry weather throughout the year and that the drier the climate, the more brilliant the fall leaves tend to be.

“I predict this fall color change will be variable throughout the southern mountains, but on the whole we should expect to see rich and attractive color change this season,” she said.

Although peak fall colors typically occur during the third week of October, the peak may arrive a bit later this year, perhaps more toward the end of October because of the warm temperatures.

“Peak color corresponds to the first frost date of the year,” she said. “If frost comes later than usual, so will the peak color change of the leaves.

“Look for the earliest color change to take place on the sourwoods and dogwoods, which both turn red, as well as the tulip poplars, which become yellow but tend to turn brown early,” Mathews said. “Colorful maples, with hues of red, orange and yellow, and birches, which turn yellow, bring us into the peak period. Finally, oaks turn orange and red to round out the later color change in the season.”

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host two volunteer trail projects on Saturday, Sept. 25, in recognition of National Public Lands Day — the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands Americans enjoy.    

The Park is currently recruiting volunteers for trail projects at the Cosby Nature Trail in the Cosby Campground, Tenn. and the Smokemont Nature Trail in Smokemont Campground. Work on both trails will involve installing waterbars, maintaining existing drainage structures, removing social trails, defining the trail tread and installing trail signs.  

Work will be conducted between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Volunteers must be at least 12 years old. RSVP by Sept. 17.

828.497.1949 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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A field trip to the Wykle family apple orchard in Macon County will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 9.

Learn about heirloom pommes, pick your favorites and press them into fresh cider. A home-made apple press will be set in front of a waterfall to make apple cider on the spot.

Bushels and pecks of apples will be available for sale.

The outing is part of the Gardening in Nature Series put on by the Friends of the Rickman Store. Meet at Cowee School’s parking lot at 6:30 pm to carpool. 828.349.5201.

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A cyclist who was seriously injured during the Blue Ridge Breakaway race last month in Haywood County is showing some progress, but a full recovery is not expected, according to his doctors and family.

Gary Williams, 62, from the greater Charlotte area, flew off his bike and landed on his head when coming down a steep and curvy road. It had been raining.

He was in a coma for several days. The swelling of his brain has begun to come down. He is responding to some commands, like wiggling his toes, squeezing his hand or moving his right eye. He will be blind in his left eye.

A metric century bike ride in Crowders Mountain State Park in Gastonia, N.C., on Oct. 10, will raise money for Williams’ family. Williams remains at Mission Hospital in Asheville, and the family is incurring expenses for food and lodging to stay near him. There are 62-, 37-, and 22-mile routes.

Williams has been a cyclist for 18 years. He is an ordained minister who has done a lot of charity work including ministering to the prisons and helping the homeless. He has two children and five grandchildren.

www.gastoncountycyclists.com

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A race for amateur paddlers will be held on the Tuckasegee River in Cullowhee on Saturday, Sept. 11.

Paddlers in the second-annual Citizens Race will canoe or kayak through 10 slalom gates on a flat section of river off Old Cullowhee Road. Canoes and gear will even be provided for those who don’t have their own.

The course will be set up for practice runs Friday afternoon. The gates are plastic poles suspended over the water, which paddlers have to pass between without touching.

A fundraiser for the Cullowhee Revitalization Endeavor, the race is sponsored by WCU’s Parks and Recreation Management program, Parks and Recreation Management Club, Base Camp Cullowhee and the Quality Enhancement Plan administration.

Registration is $5 per person. Forms can be picked up from Base Camp Cullowhee.

The Citizens Race is part of “Cullowhee Happening,” a cultural event to be held from 3 to 10 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Avant Garden farm in Cullowhee. The race awards ceremony will be held at the farm.

828.227.3844 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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A new video podcast emphasizing water safety for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now available for viewing.  

The podcast, “Water Safety and Day Hiking,” is a four-minute video that showcases creeks, waterfalls and rivers in the park and provides tips on safety around water while hiking — particularly the hazards of waterfalls.

It is one of several video podcasts produced by the Great Smoky Mountains Association and is part of the Reward Yourself Hiking Challenge project, made possible in part by a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation.

Check it out at thegreatsmokymountains.org/hike_smokies_challenge.

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Native American writers from the Southeast are invited to participate in the first-ever Southeast Indian Writers Gathering, to be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, and Friday, Sept. 17, at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee.

The free workshop includes group discussions and one-on-one sessions for Native authors. Registration is not required. The general public is invited to a free reading and book signing to be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the museum.

The event is intended to bring together writers from the original Southeastern tribes to share and discuss their work, said Robert Conley, Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies at Western Carolina University. Conley, an Oklahoma Cherokee and the author of more than 80 works of fiction and nonfiction, organized the event.

828.227.2306, 918.708.5476 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 828.497.3481, ext. 306 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Twenty-eight Carolina authors will be selling and signing their books at the Celebration of Books from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11 at the Highlands Civic Center.

There will also be workshops, readings, and entertainment for the whole family. The event is sponsored by members of the Cashiers Writers Group.

Anyone who comes dressed as a book character will receive a prize. In addition, door prizes will be awarded every 30 minutes.

With the growing interest in e-books, readers of all ages will enjoy learning about Storyrealm.com. Jesse and Janoah Rehmeier will be demonstrating the stories throughout the day from their reading website.

Young children can join in the fun of Cubby’s Corner from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and again from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., where they can hear stories and have activities. Josie Williams will be on the stage entertaining with Shert, her creative helping hand puppet.

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Lin Stepp will sign copies of Tell Me About Orchard Hollow from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville.

The novel tells is second in the Smoky Mountain series and tells the story of New Yorker Jenna Howell who spent many pleasant hours listening to her older neighbor, Sam Oliver, spin stories about his beloved home place on Orchard Hollow Road in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. This rural world is far removed from Jenna’s life in downtown Manhattan, but when several shocking events and marital betrayal come her way, Jenna — a previously sheltered girl — decides to take Sam up on his offer to visit his cabin in the mountains.  

The Foster Girls is the first of 12 contemporary Southern romances in a series of linked novels set in the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee.

828.456.6000.

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“Women’s Work Preserving the Past, Educating the Future,” will exhibit from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, at The Appalachian Women’s Museum, located at the Monteith Farmstead in Dillsboro.

The opening of the exhibit celebrates the restoration of the farmstead’s 1908 Canning House Kitchen. The museum will host a series of programs, demonstrations and hands-on activities showcasing the original purpose of the traditional canning house. The canning house was used as a supplementary kitchen located near, but detached from, the Monteith home, used during hot weather to avoid overheating the house while preserving food for the winter. The exhibit will include a tour of the kitchen, wood stove cooking, canning and preservation, as well as an exhibit on the evolution of the home canning jar. Past and present aprons and cookbooks will be on display. Be sure to stop by the Flower House to see the heirloom flowers and plants.

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The 6th annual Southeastern Tribes Cultural Arts Celebration will bring together master dancers, craftsmen, artists and athletes from the five main southeastern tribes:  Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole and Choctaw. The celebration takes place Friday, Sept. 17, and Saturday, Sept. 18, on the Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds.

This educational and entertaining event teaches and perpetuates the history and culture of these tribes through live demonstrations of traditional tribal dance, storytelling performances, craft demonstrations, primitive skills encampment and juried competitions.

Encampment demonstrators will set up living history exhibitions and illustrate primitive survival skills used by tribes in the 1700s and 1800s, such as building bark huts, cooking, fire-making, flint-knapping and carving arrowheads.

Dancers from each tribe will explain the history and significance of each dance prior to exhibiting performances of Stealing Partners and the Bear and Quail dance, among others. The Stomp dance, a strong traditional dance of southeastern tribes, will be performed by the Mystic Wind Social Dancers and their entire community. The Warriors of AniKituhwa will perform age-old dances that have been resurrected using wax cylinder recordings — including the Cherokee War, Buffalo and Ant dances.

More than 50 artists and craftsmen will be on hand displaying their indigenous talents. Master craftsmen from each tribe will provide live demonstrations of rivercane basket weaving, finger weaving with beads, mask making, stone and wood carving and stamped pottery. Artists will exhibit their works and participate in a juried art competition. Archery, blowgun and running contests will test the prowess of the best athletes and competitors from each tribe as they compete for thousands of dollars in cash prizes. Other special events include Cherokee Stickball demonstrations.

The original idea for the event was conceived by John Standingdeer Jr., who envisioned a special sort of “extended family reunion,” where tribes would come together to keep their traditions alive. This event is sponsored by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Cherokee Historical Association and the N.C. Arts Council.

828.497.3481.

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The Carolina Harley-Davidson Dealers Association’s 10th Annual Rally in the Valley will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sept. 17 and 18 at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds.

The rally features two days of great riding, live bands, The American Hellriders motorcycle stunt team, Smoky Mountain Championship Wrestling, Harley-Davidson Ride-In Bike Show and Bike Games, vendors and much more. For many, the trip to Maggie Valley to attend the rally is an annual pilgrimage to one of Western North Carolina’s most motorcycle friendly towns. $10.

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2006 Inductee Artimus Pyle from Lynyrd Skynyrd is coming to Maggie Valley on Saturday, Sept, 11, for the Thunder in the Smokies Motorcycle Rally. Also appearing are Thunderfoot, DB Bryant, Preacher Stone and Big Daddy Love. The rally kicks off at 11 a.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds.

The amazing motorcycle thrill show, American Hellriders, will ride the Wall of Death where motorcycles go a mile a minute on the World’s Steepest Racetrack. Tour rides, a bike show, bike games, vendors and much more during this three-day event. More than $1,000 in cash will be given away on Saturday. Free pancakes for everyone as long as they last between 9 and 10 a.m. on Sunday. Church services to follow. All ages are welcome and passes are available online.

A portion of the proceeds benefits the Clyde NC Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of North Carolina.

For more information about this event call 828.246.2101 or visit www.handlebarcorral.com.

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Two Haywood Community College Professional Crafts—Wood students brought home awards recently from the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. Joshua Janis and Melissa Engler took high honors in the biennial Design Emphasis student competition.

The contest draws entries from top design schools across the country, recognizing the rising stars in the woodworking field.  

Joshua Janis, a second-year student, received a Merit Award in the Commercial/Office/Hospitality category for his “Blue Wave” bench.  Melissa Engler, who graduated in May with an AAS in Professional Crafts Wood, took an unprecedented two of five first-place trophies, one in the category of Seating for her chair “Lift,” and another in Accent Furniture/Tables for her “Swallowtail” Desk.

828.627.4674.

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An all-star lineup of regional gospel performers will take the stage from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, at the Bridge Park Pavilion in downtown Sylva. Artists scheduled to appear are: Tim Jamerson, Skeeter Hindman, Promises and 3 or More for Jesus.

The show marks the end of Concerts on the Creek’s 2010 season.

Jamerson, of Calhoun, Tenn., performs throughout the Southeast and recently released a gospel album titled “The Story Behind My Praise.” Hindman is a singer/minister based in Cleveland, Tenn., while 3 or More for Jesus is a locally-based group featuring the vocals of Reba Elders of Cherokee and Steve McFalls of Haywood County.

Concerts on the Creek are co-produced by the Town of Sylva; Jackson Country Travel & Tourism; Jackson County Parks & Recreation; Downtown Sylva Association; and the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

800.962.1911 or www.mountainlovers.com.

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Pianist Bruce Murray and violinist Jason Posnock will play a program of classical music at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12, at Franklin’s First Presbyterian Church. Works will include J.S. Bach’s Sonata in G, Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor, and Mozart’s Sonata in B flat, plus a set of lyric pieces by Edvard Grieg.

Murray has presented hundreds of concerts as recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist with orchestra. He has played Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” on three continents and has given dozens of premieres. He now serves as the dean of the Brevard Music Center.

Posnock, Concertmaster of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, made his concert debut at age 10, and has since been featured as soloist with orchestras in the U.S., United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, and India.

Suggested donation is $7. Event sponsors Carol and Michael Vincent dedicate the concert to their friend Evelyn Manis, in celebration of her 90th birthday. The program is presented by the Arts Council of Macon County.

828.524.7683 or www.artscouncilofmacon.org.

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Arledge Armenaki, Western Carolina University associate professor of cinematography, is recipient of a Telly Award for his work as director of photography on “Wesley,” a historical movie about a co-founder of the Methodist church.

Armenaki won the bronze prize in the category of creative lighting, one of four Telly Awards given to the makers of “Wesley.” The motion picture, filmed in and around Winston-Salem and Morganton in 2007 and 2008, also received a silver award in the category of religion and spirituality production, and bronze awards in the categories of computer-generated imagery and special effects, and historical and biographical production.

Now in their 31st year, the Telly Awards honor the best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, top video and film productions, and work created for the Web.

Foundery Pictures’ John Jackman, director of “Wesley,” credited Armenaki with giving the movie an authentic look and feel.

“I asked Arledge to create a classical, naturally-lit look like the Renaissance painter Caravaggio, and he succeeded beyond my expectations,” said Jackman.

While serving as director of photography on the movie, Armenaki also guided 16 WCU students in the motion picture and television production program who worked as crew. WCU students and faculty also were cast in the movie.

Other winners included programs by National Geographic, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, NBC Universal, and other prominent networks.

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Auditions for the fall production of the classic Broadway play, “The Little Foxes,” by Lillian Hellman will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, and at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12. The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre production is being directed by Wanda Taylor and will open on Nov. 5.

The show has great roles for six men and four women of various ages. Set in 1900 in the Deep South, this is one of the greatest plays of the American stage. It is full of twists and turns that make every role a jewel. The play was turned into a major film in the 1940s starring Bette Davis in a role originated by the great Tallulah Bankhead.

Actors will be given scenes to read from the script. Anyone interested in working backstage on the production is also encouraged to come by during auditions to sign up. Auditions will be held in the Feichter Studio of the HART Theatre, 250 Pigeon St. in Waynesville.

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Local acting talent is being sought for Haywood Community College’s fall semester short film project called, “The Pond.”

Casting takes place from noon until 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, and from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Sep. 13, in the Charles Beall Auditorium on the college campus. Those cast into the project will receive screen credit.

“The Pond” is a story by David Blanton, developed into a screenplay by David Blanton with Cassidy Haynes and Ryan Robinson. The film is about five lifelong friends in their mid- to late-20s who set out on a routine camping trip only to find out one of them is not what he or she seems to be.

Cast of characters include:

• Dylan – the outdoorsman, the quiet one

• Matt – the pretty boy, rich, spoiled

• Brody – serious, mature, the leader of the group

• Linda – the “girl next door”

• Jamie – the party girl

HCC film and video students plan to enter the film into several student film competitions and festivals at the end of the year including the Cannes and Sundance student film festivals.

HCC Film & Video Production Technology students will assume all the major production roles for the film — from art design to director of photography to chief editor. Instructor and program coordinator Cheryl Fulghum will oversee the production, serving as producer.

“We began pre-production of the film the first day of class and have a tight schedule for the production. But with local talent and easy location access, I have confidence we’ll finish by our end of semester deadline. I’m thrilled with the work they’ve done so far and I expect their enthusiasm to continue. They clearly own this project as a team and crew, and that is a producer’s dream,” Fulghum said.

828.565.4280 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Gunpowder, furnaces and kilns are used by three featured artists in the “Fire and Heat by Three” exhibit, which opens on Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Bascom in Highlands. Experience traditional and innovative uses of materials glass artist Alex Bernstein, mixed media artist Mira Lehr and ceramist Tom Turner.

All three are known for their bold, unique perspectives. Lehr has been described as a visual poet. She uses nature-based images to explore the possibilities of painterly experiments. Turner, whose work focuses on classic, ageless beauty, is known for beautiful thrown forms with complex and difficult glazes. Bernstein explores visual form and storytelling with the impact and optical quality of glass. The exhibition is a fusion of their creative visions explored through multiple media.

Other exhibitions now at The Bascom: Kick-start! American Motorcycle Design; Small Works Challenge, Bascom Members; Selected Works from the Bascom Collection, Patrick Dougherty’s Do Tell environmental sculpture; and On View: Artists in Residence and Three Weavers.

828.526.4949, ext. 100 or www.thebascom.org.

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Gunpowder, furnaces and kilns are used by three featured artists in the “Fire and Heat by Three” exhibit, which opens on Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Bascom in Highlands. Experience traditional and innovative uses of materials glass artist Alex Bernstein, mixed media artist Mira Lehr and ceramist Tom Turner.

All three are known for their bold, unique perspectives. Lehr has been described as a visual poet. She uses nature-based images to explore the possibilities of painterly experiments. Turner, whose work focuses on classic, ageless beauty, is known for beautiful thrown forms with complex and difficult glazes. Bernstein explores visual form and storytelling with the impact and optical quality of glass. The exhibition is a fusion of their creative visions explored through multiple media.

Other exhibitions now at The Bascom: Kick-start! American Motorcycle Design; Small Works Challenge, Bascom Members; Selected Works from the Bascom Collection, Patrick Dougherty’s Do Tell environmental sculpture; and On View: Artists in Residence and Three Weavers.

828.526.4949, ext. 100 or www.thebascom.org.

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What happens when a smart, talented young man desires to serve God, but is mostly driven by his fear of death and Hell? How is a conflicted heart torn by love and desire? And what happens when that heart finally discovers grace?

The historical movie “Wesley” — about the co-founder of the Methodist Church — will answer those questions and more.

The film will premiere at Western Carolina University in high definition at the Fine and Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27.

The premiere will honor the faculty and students who worked on the independent movie as actors and crew, with proceeds from ticket sales benefitting a fund established to help students in WCU’s Motion Picture and Television Production Program with the cost of producing their senior thesis films. The screening will be introduced by director John Jackman from Foundery Pictures and followed by a panel discussion.

In the historical drama set in the 18th century, John Wesley, played by Burgess Jenkins, grows from a young Anglican priest struggling spiritually into a leader of the Methodism movement and a champion for causes such as prison reform and anti-slavery. Events from Wesley’s life portrayed in the film include his rescue from a house fire, survival of a near shipwreck, struggle with a star-crossed love affair and calm in the face of violent mobs.

“‘Wesley’ is quite a beautiful film with really powerful performances, and the screening at WCU will offer outstanding picture clarity on a jumbo screen, ” said Arledge Armenaki, WCU associate professor of cinematography and director of photography for the movie.

“It’s such a great story, and we all did our very best to make it into a wonderful film,” said Armenaki.

Sixteen WCU students got hands-on experience as crew for “Wesley” during filming on locations in and around Winston-Salem and Morganton for two months in 2007 and two weeks in 2008, including a sold-out red carpet premiere.

With coaching from Armenaki, students served as a unit production manager, assistant directors, construction coordinators, set dressers, carpenters, boom operators, grips, camera assistants, wardrobe managers, office manager and script supervisor.

Kristen Philyaw, a 2008 WCU graduate with a degree in motion picture and television production, said she valued the high-intensity, hands-on experience she gained helping coordinate props for “Wesley.” “It often felt like we did not have enough hands among us or hours in the day to get the sets dressed, props made or pieces coordinated,” said Philyaw, who works at a financial institution in Charlotte and recently co-founded a small production company with her fiance, Robert Cassidy, a WCU alumnus who also worked on “Wesley.”

As crew members, they helped find, manage and build sets fitting for the 18th century and in line with the storybook feel that Armenaki and Jackman wanted to create. Some even helped build a re-creation of the HMS Simmonds ship inside an old gymnasium at Methodist Children’s Home in Winston-Salem, and a 50-by-20-foot blue screen, which required a lot of sewing and lighting, to hang behind it.

“Getting everything ready for a scene was quite a production in itself – like dressing a museum diorama,” said Armenaki.

The students’ assistance was critically important, said Jackman. “We couldn’t have done the movie without them,” he said. “We were trying to accomplish a very ambitious picture while operating on a very restricted budget, and their help was just invaluable.”

WCU students and faculty also were cast in the movie. In addition to Harris, actors with WCU ties in the film included faculty and students who were extras; Peter Savage, visiting lecturer of theater, who played Mr. Williamson, the man betrothed to the woman Wesley loves; and Terry Nienhuis, retired professor of English, who played gardener James Locke. Part of the challenge was researching the history in order to prepare for their roles. When advised to use a rough country Yorkshire dialect, Nienhuis eventually called a fellow faculty member from England for help. “He said, ‘It’s funny you should ask because I have a friend visiting from that area.’ I brought a tape recorder over, asked his friend to read my lines and then studied the recording,” said Nienhuis.

Tickets cost $10 each or $5 each for senior adults at least 60 years old; WCU faculty and staff, students and children; and groups of 15 or more. To purchase tickets, call the box office at 828.227.2479 or visit www.wcu.edu/fapac online.

For more information about the movie, check out the Web site at www.wesleythemovie.com. For more information about the Motion Picture and Television Production Program, contact program director Jack Sholder at 828. 227.2324 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

It could take months or even years for lawsuits over a massive landslide in Maggie Valley to be resolved, leaving affected property owners in limbo over who is financially responsible for the damage to their homes.

The landslide originated from Ghost Town in the Sky, a mountain top amusement park, where a giant system of terraced retaining walls gave way. N.C. Geologist Rick Wooten does not believe the slide was solely due to natural causes, but could not be more specific.

“We are not ready to make any kind of statement on that or jump to any conclusion on that yet,” Wooten said.

The retaining walls have been a source of consternation for Ghost Town over the years, according to those familiar with the amusement park’s history. When the park was built in the 1960s, the top of the mountain was leveled off and dirt pushed over the side. The terraced system attempts to hold that dirt in place.

It has occasionally slumped in places but a major section gave away in 2007. Ghost Town hired an engineer and contractor to make repairs to portions of the terraced slopes.

But some of the old walls — constructed out of railroad ties — were left in place.

Last Friday night, heavy rain exacerbated by melting snow triggered a landslide that started at the retaining wall. The question is whether the old portion of the railroad tie walls or the new walls constructed in 2007 were at fault. The slide took out some of both.

“Obviously there is a responsible party, but I am going to let the engineers and attorneys figure that out,” Ghost Town CEO Steve Shiver said. “We are not going to make any comment about liability.”

Pat Burgin, a local engineer hired by Ghost Town, said the work performed in 2007 was not properly engineered nor constructed by Caroline-A-Contracting of Maggie Valley. The company disputes that, however.

“It is the contractor’s position that there is nothing that they did which resulted in this slide,” said Rusty McLean, a Waynesville attorney providing legal counsel for Caroline-A-Contracting. “They repaired the portion they were hired to repair.”

Ghost Town chose to leave some of the old railroad tie sections in place, “against the recommendation of the company,” McLean said.

Verlin Edwards of Maggie Valley was the engineer for the 2007 work and his son, Colin Edwards, an excavator, performed the work. However, in fall of 2008 they sued Ghost Town for failing to pay the full bill. The suit claimed they were still owed $28,866.

Ghost Town filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a few months later, however, and the suit is on hold pending the result of bankruptcy proceedings.

Meanwhile, Ghost Town filed a counter claim arguing the wall was “not property constructed, designed and compacted,” and, therefore, the company shouldn’t have to pay.

One of the old walls built from railroad ties sat at the top of the mountain. If it failed first, it would naturally take out the newer section below it. But if the newer section failed first, it could have yanked the support out from under the older walls above and caused them to collapse. Photographs of the slide clearly show it started at the retaining wall.

Lawsuits are imminent, ones that will likely pit the insurance companies of Ghost Town, the contractor and the homeowners against each other.

Which section of wall failed first — the old portion or new portion — ultimately might not matter in court, however.

“By general statute, the property owner is ultimately responsible,” said Haywood County Planner Kris Boyd.

A third option is that the landslide will be deemed a natural disaster, known in legal terms as an “act of God,” meaning no one is at fault. It also means that damage to homes in the slide’s path won’t be covered, as homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover natural landslides. No insurance companies offer separate slide policies, either.

“It’s a horrendous problem,” said N.C. Rep. Ray Rapp, D-Mars Hill. Rapp points to an arrangement between the state and insurance companies to provide hurricane coverage for coastal homeowners as a solution for landslides.

“I think if we could do that for property owners on the coast, we should be able to work out a similar package to induce insurers to provide coverage for land movement in the mountains,” Rapp said.

Ghost Town has not made a profit in two years. It hopes to pull through bankruptcy, but has been forced to operate on a lean budget. It has more than $12 million in debt.

“Financially, their hands are tied. It costs a lot of money to move dirt,” said Burgin.

Even after repairing large sections of the retaining wall in 2007, Ghost Town brought in another contractor in 2008 to make more repairs.

“They have been very proactive in trying to deal with it,” Burgin said. “Ghost Town is between a rock and a hard place.”

State codes require a building permit for retaining walls more than four feet high. But it does not appear Ghost Town got a permit when the new portions of wall were built in 2007.

“We could not find any permits directly related to the retaining wall,” said Town Manager Tim Barth, who looked back at building permits from the time period.

Ghost Town CEO Steve Shiver could not say whether they ever got one from the town.

“That would be the responsibility of the contractor,” Shiver said.

However, the state code actually places the onus on property owners to secure necessary permits. Even if Ghost Town had gotten a building permit for the retaining walls in 2007, the permit merely requires the work to be conducted per an engineer’s plan, which was done anyway.

More to come?

The majority of the retaining wall system is still in place.

But the slide undermined the integrity of the remaining sections, making it all vulnerable to another slide, Wooten said.

“There is a lot of unstable material at the top,” Wooten said. “If it should fail in a catastrophic way — which we don’t expect but we have to prepare for it as a contingency — where would it go? For the most part we hope it would follow the path that is there now.”

Meanwhile, residents in the area are advised not to return to their homes. Wooten said it is fortunate there weren’t more homes in the direct path of the slide or the situation could have been far more catastrophic.

Everyone who’s seen the slide — emergency responders, geologists, evacuated residents and even casual observers looking up at the dark swath on the mountain from the valley below — share disbelief that people weren’t killed or injured by the massive wall of fast-moving dirt.

“It is a thousand wonders,” said Marc Pruett, Haywood County Erosion Officer.

Following a major landslide in Macon County in 2004 that killed five people, the state embarked on a major project to map areas vulnerable to landslides. Known as landslide hazard mapping, the state is funding the effort at the pace of two counties per year. If funding remains steady at past levels, Haywood is in the queue for mapping in 2011 or 2012.

It is unclear how helpful the mapping could be to residents in landslide prone areas, however. Wooten, the state geologist, said the mapping is designed to pinpoint areas where the naturally occurring slopes and soil types are landslide prone. But it would not account for sites where excavation and earth-moving have created an artificial risk, Wooten said.

Nonetheless, those who know they live in a vulnerable area could chose to spend the night elsewhere when major rains are forecast.

Comment

A proposed four-lane highway through a mountainous region of Graham County has suffered a setback.

The N.C. Department of Transportation was nearing the final planning stages and hoped to start construction in a few years on what is commonly known as Corridor K. But the project has been sent back to the drawing board to consider whether a two-lane option could achieve the same purpose as a new four-lane highway.

The roadblock has come from the Army Corp of Engineers, which has to sign off on various environmental permits for the highway. The Corp ruled that the DOT did not properly consider all the alternatives, however. The Corps wrote in a letter to the DOT that “upgrading and improving existing two-lane roadways should be given full consideration as a practical alternative.”

The DOT was supposed to weigh the pros and cons of various options in an environmental analysis — as required by federal law for projects of this magnitude — but a two-lane highway relying partially on existing roads was not included in the 2008 study.

“A massive, four-lane highway through the mountains of this region is overkill, both in terms of the price tag and environmental harm. It’s great news the agencies are considering more reasonable alternatives,” said DJ Gerken with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Asheville.

The idea for a four-lane highway through the counties west of Asheville had been on the books for decades and is mostly completed except for a missing link of 17 miles through Graham County — the most remote and rugged stretch.

At public hearing on the road last fall, critics of the new highway far outnumbered supporters. They cited the environmental impacts of a new four-lane highway and loss of historical rural character of Stecoah Valley.

But to supporters, the highway would bring sorely lacking economic development and benefit commerce in a county that currently has no four lanes roads leading in or out.

In North Carolina, the DOT’s own studies show that improvements to existing two-lane highways will easily handle the projected traffic for decades to come.

“They can’t ignore an alternative that costs half as much and avoids paving through an environmental treasure. Federal law is clear on this,” Gerken said.

Only 10 miles of the 17-mile missing link are currently in the planning stages — a section leading north out of Robbinsville over Stecoah Gap. The 10-mile section would cost $378 million and cut a more than half-mile long tunnel under the Snowbird Mountains, requiring excavation of 3 million cubic yards of rock.

“A new four-lane highway through sensitive mountain habitat would have unacceptably destructive impacts to wildlife habitat and water quality,” said Hugh Irwin with the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition in Asheville. “Upgrading existing highways has always made the most sense.”

Chris North with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation cited the impacts to public lands, including trails, trout streams, hunting areas and campgrounds.

Environmental organizations are lauding the Army Corp for not rubber stamping the project but instead requiring due diligence by the DOT.

“We are grateful that the Corps has heard our voice and the voices of others in the region,” said Lucy Bartlett, chairman of WaysSouth, an organization solely focused on reducing the footprint of new highway construction in the mountains.

The DOT could still theoretically get approval for the four-lane highway after going back and analyzing the two-lane option if they can prove the two-lane would not do the job.

Comment

By Karen Dill

The ancient oak tree is bare. It stands majestic in the yard of our old two-story farmhouse. Our house sits on a small knoll and is surrounded by magnolias, dogwoods and mountain laurel, but it is the oak that I see first as I walk up the narrow road from the post office on this cool evening in January. Winter is here and the air is crisp and cold in late afternoon and the sky is grey. I pull my sweater closer and breathe in the clean mountain air.

The mountains are shadowed and silhouetted in shades of charcoal. There’s a hint of snow in the winter air. The old mountain folks watch the birds and listen to the trees when the weather changes. My daddy swore this method of watching and listening was more reliable than the local weatherman with his slicked back hair who came on the six o’clock news. If the crows line the branches of the oak tree like soldiers headed into battle, stoic and silent, and if the surrounding trees appear to huddle together in quiet communion, there is snow on the way.

As I trudge up the hill, I look for signs as I peer down in the small village of Webster, but other than the chill in the air, I’m clueless. I fear that while I may have lost the gift of mountain weather prediction, my respect for the trees and the surrounding landscape of the mountains is neverending. As a native mountain girl, I learned from an early age that our earth is more valuable than progress.

My father was a true mountain man with little formal education, who made it his mission to fight the state highway department in an effort to preserve an old oak tree on the property of my childhood home. It seems a road needed to be built and trees would be sacrificed, but my father, armed with his shotgun, met the offenders on the front porch of our small frame house and proclaimed in no uncertain terms that he was willing to die for the oak tree. I never knew if that was a bluff or not, for the men fled and the oak tree was saved. It had protected the land for generations of mountain dwellers and my father arose and fought for its protection. My father died in 1980, but the oak tree is still there, gnarled and twisted, still protecting the surrounding earth.

The oak tree in our yard is well over 200 hundred old and has protected our family during the 25 years that we have lived in this old farmhouse. It has provided shade for family weddings (my husband and I exchanged vows on a June morning) in our front yard, limbs for tire swings used by our children, and steady companionship during the cold winter months. It stands erect now in the dusk, its long bare limbs reaching for the sky and provides solace in the chill of the evening. I look lovingly at the light from lamps in the windows of our house and long for the warmth of the kitchen and meal ahead.

Winter means a fire burning brightly in the fireplace, heat bellowing from the old furnace in the basement, and the smells of hot food wafting from the kitchen. Tonight I’ve revived an old Southern comfort dish, chicken and dumplings accompanied by winter vegetables and a sweet potato pie. Although the foods are standard fare in the mountains, I try to add distinct flavors to the dishes that I’m preparing.

Chicken and dumplings is a standard mountain dish and tends to warm the body rather than excite the spirit. There’s great debate in the South about the merit of the Civil War, the right to bear arms, and the consistency of the dumpling. Many prefer the soft puffy variety that resembles summer clouds on a warm day; others swear by the flat chewy kind that most resemble flat clouds on a cold and grey winter day. One melts in your mouth, the other requires a bit of work.

My friend and colleague Pat Wishon is most like I imagine a sister could be in my life. We are both only children, were reared in the mountains of North Carolina during the same decades and both had fathers who ran a bit of moonshine in dark moonless nights on dirt mountain roads. We know that we are some sort of soul sisters because we argue about most everything but in the end agree that we are both right, hug, and continue to finish each other’s sentences. We both love to cook, but of course we disagree in the great dumpling debate.

Pat and our mutual friends Ravenna and William will join us tonight for the meal. Pat will bring ingredients for her preferred flat chewy dumplings and I will fix the preferred and better (in my humble opinion) puffy dumplings. We will let our guests decide which they prefer. Pat and I have quietly agreed that this may be the Great Mountain Chicken and Dumpling cook-off. We have also agreed that no matter the outcome, we will all be winners as we will enjoy great food, wine and company.

We decide to make the dumplings together, as the base for the dish contains the pretty much the same ingredients. I’ve stewed a couple of chickens most of the morning with herbs, celery and carrots and have skinned and deboned the bird. These are free-range organic birds purchased from a local grocer (www.greenlifegrocery.com) so all of us animal lovers will hope that prior to our dinner’s demise they led a good life, as much as chickens can have a good life.

Pat and I will prepare our separate dumplings then with separate stock pots containing the same basic broth, we will drop the dumplings in and serve them up separately in the last stage of preparation. I add a couple of extra ingredients to my broth and, in the spirit of sisterly competition, I will not divulge my secrets to Pat. Chicken and dumplings must be served immediately and must be hot. I have prepared some winter turnip greens that continue to grow in our neighbor’s garden year round if they have some protection during freezes. I add turnips stored in our root cellar to the greens as well as some bits of bacon, vinegar and red pepper flakes for warmth.

Greens just can’t be served without a few corn muffins so I mix up batter and pour into the old iron muffin tins. I’ve baked a sweet potato pie with a touch of bourbon for dessert. As a child when money was tight and times were lean in the winters, we would eat some variety of the sweet potato most every day. Sweet potato pancakes, sweet potato biscuits, sweet potato casserole and just the plain old baked or boiled sweet potato with farm fresh butter. It all sounds wonderful now, but trust me, it got old. I learned to avoid them as I grew older as they reminded me of poverty and desperation, but I find now that I enjoy their sweet buttery taste again. A pie with that old winter standby will be a perfect finale for this winter inspired dinner.

We dine comfortably in front of a fire that Tom has built earlier in the evening. We all agree that the dumpling cook-off is a success and because we are all opinionated people, we passionately argue the merits of both the soft and the chewy dumplings. A passerby might think we were discussing politics or religion. But no, it is just the dumpling debate. Our talk turns to mountain tales and I relate the story of the old oak tree still standing in the yard of my childhood home in Bethel. We laugh about the antics of our fathers and other old mountain men who wore pride like armor. We reminisce about the favorite foods of our childhoods: fried chicken, field peas, butter beans, biscuits. I don’t mention the sweet potato. We each recall the favorite trees in the yards of our childhood homes and wonder if they still stand. We also ponder what we might do to protect them from time.

As we sit around the dining room table, watching the dying embers of the fire and enjoying the quiet warmth of good company, I watch the oak tree from the window and feel its protective spirit. Would I arm myself with a weapon (the fire poker perhaps, as we don’t own a shotgun) as my mountain father once did and protect the tree and mountain traditions against the outside demands for growth and development? I most likely would, but tonight I sigh peacefully for the oak tree is safe. Mountain traditions remain and are preserved in the hollows of the hills, in the warmth of our kitchens and in our souls. The food tells the stories of our souls while the trees sway bravely in the cold night with approval, ever protecting us as we will no doubt protect our earth. Ever vigilant.

Comment

By Buffy Queen • Guest Columnist

As the middle school girls trailed out of the classroom one morning last spring, I began packing up my materials after sharing my last “Safe Dates” session at their school. My Safe Dates topic for this fourth, final session had been “How To Avoid Sexual Assault.”

I noticed a folded-up piece of paper on top of my stack of folders. I opened it and began to read a handwritten note that two girls must have passed back and forth during class. The note started out innocently enough and I smiled as I read it, thinking it must have fallen on the floor and someone had picked it up and put it on my folders, believing I must have dropped it.

“What do you think of .... ”

“I think he’s cute. I think he likes you.”

“Really? He talked to me today before school.”

What I read next stunned me, though. This part must have been written during the time we were discussing date rape and how to be safe.

“I was assaulted yesterday. I want to cry.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“I don’t know what to do. I feel terrible.”

“You should tell someone. If you want to talk tonight, my number is ....”

“I won’t be home till eight. You can call me, too. My home number is ....”

“Thanks, I’ll call you later.”

Okay.”

The classroom was now empty. I sat down in one of the student desks and took a deep breath. I realized that it was no accident that someone had put the note where I would find it. I finished packing up and left the classroom, quickly finding the guidance counselor with whom I had been working. After she read the note and I shared with her how I had gotten it, she calmly began to follow through. Although we had no names on the note, the school secretary was able to enter the phone numbers in the school database and matches came up with the names of two of the students who had just been in my class.

Later that day, the counselor told me she had called the two girls into her office and, with great sensitivity and concern, discovered what had happened. She found out that one girl had been molested after school by two boys the afternoon before. She was not raped, but was assaulted. The principal and parents were informed and the boys who committed the alleged abuse were interviewed by the police. I don’t know if they were prosecuted or not, because they were juveniles.

But I do know that the young teen who was assaulted would probably never have had the courage to share her story with a friend, and the friend wouldn’t have had the courage to leave the note for me to “discover,” if the “Safe Dates” class hadn’t been held.

Teen dating violence is a serious, hidden occurrence in our middle and high schools and is receiving special attention by the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has this posted on their Web site: “The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that destructive relationships during the teen years can lead to life-long unhealthy relationship practices, may disrupt normal development, and can contribute to other unhealthy behaviors in teens that, if left unchecked, can lead to lifelong problems.”

The CDC’s 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey indicates that “adolescents who report being physically hurt in a dating relationship were also more likely to report that they engage in risky sexual behavior, binge drink, use drugs, attempt suicide, and participate in physical fights.”

Further on, they added: “Policymakers can play a role in preventing teen dating violence. At least seven states have laws that urge or require school boards to develop curriculum on teen dating violence. States have also adopted teen dating violence awareness weeks or months, in an effort to draw the public’s attention to a national campaign that promotes prevention, safe dating practices and offers information and resources. In 2009, at least five states — Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Utah — declared a prevention week or month in February.

Twenty percent of 13- to 14-year-olds in relationships said they knew friends and peers who had been kicked, hit, slapped or punched by a boyfriend or girlfriend. If the teen is even aware they can get protection from the abuser by getting a 50B or Domestic Violence Protective Order, they must get an adult to sign it. If the abuser is in school or class with them, it gets very messy changing schools, class schedules, lunch schedules, required classes, etc.

People who use violence with their dating partners as adults often began doing so during adolescence, with the first episode typically occurring by age 15. Young women between the ages of 14 and 17 represent 38 percent of those victimized by date rape. Rapes by acquaintances account for 60 percent of all rapes reported to rape crisis centers.

Across the United States, there are currently seven states that have laws urging or requiring school boards to develop curriculum on teen dating violence. I believe North Carolina should seriously consider that also.

Although my fourth session for these students was “How to Avoid Sexual Assault,” my third session was “How To Help A Friend Who’s Being Abused.” Talk about timing. There’s no way to know what future trauma may have been avoided by the quick intervention of the counselor and principal. It provided the young teen a chance for the healing process to begin. It provided a serious “wake-up” call to the boys. And it provided the teen survivor’s friend with positive recognition for the courageous, compassionate action she showed when she put that note where I would find it.

(Buffy Queen works with REACH of Haywood County as its Community Educator. Feb. 1-6 was National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week.)

Comment

Chicken and Dumplings:

1 chicken, about 3 pounds

2 Quarts water

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Pepper

2 Cup All-purpose flour

1/2 Teaspoon Baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

3 Tablespoon Shortening

3/4 Cup Buttermilk

A dash of sherry

Place chicken in a Dutch oven; add water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour or until tender. Remove chicken and let cool slightly. Bone chicken and cut chicken into bite-size pieces; set aside. Bring broth to a boil; add pepper and a dash of sherry. Combine flour, soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, stirring with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead lightly 4 or 5 times.

For drop dumplings, pat dough to 1/4” thickness. Pinch off dough in 1 to 2-inch pieces; drop into boiling broth. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 8 to 10 minutes or to desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken. To make rolled dumplings: Roll dough about 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough into 4- x 1/2-inch dumplings. Drop dumplings, one piece at a time, into boiling broth, carefully stirring after each addition.

Serves 4 to 6.

 

Corn Muffins

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin pan or line with paper muffin liners. In a large bowl, mix together corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add egg, oil and milk; stir gently to combine. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

 

Turnip greens:

Ingredients

* 2 1/2 lbs turnip, collard or mustard greens, washed and chopped into 1-in. pieces

* 3 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

* 2/3 cup chopped onions

* 1 or 2 dashes cider or red wine vinegar

* salt and pepper to taste (start with 1 tablespoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper)

Directions

1. Fry the bacon in a pot large enough to cook the greens.

2. Add the greens along with onions.

3. Cook on low heat, stirring with wooden spoon, until greens are coated with bacon fat (about 2 minutes).

Pour off excess fat.

4. Cover the greens with water and season with salt and pepper.

5. Bring to boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat, and simmer until tender (time will vary, about 1 hour).

Stir occasionally and add water if they threaten to scorch. When done, increase heat to med-high, stir often. Boil off nearly all the cooking liquid.

6. Add vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Serve very hot.

Serves 4

 

Sweet potato pie with bourbon, pecan topping and bourbon sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes

1/2 cup bourbon

3 eggs

4 tbsp softened butter

1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 (9-inch) uncooked pie shell

Pecan topping:

1 1/4 cup sugar; 1 1/4 cup dark corn syrup; 3 eggs lightly beaten; 3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened; 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract; 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1 pinch of salt; 1 1/4 cup of chopped pecans

Bourbon Sauce (Optional but yummy):

1 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream; 1 cup of milk; 1package of vanilla pudding mix (4 servings size); 3 tablespoons bourbon; 1 teaspon vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat oven to 325° F. Combine all ingredients. Using a wire whisk, mix ingredients thoroughly. Pour mixture into the pie shell. Top with pecan topping. Bake for 60 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and center is just set. Top with bourbon sauce.

Comment

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy will hand out mini-grants for projects in the region that benefit the long-distance hiking trail.

Grants can include trail work, conservation projects and trail promotion and education. Past projects have included:

• Efforts by the Nantahala Hiking Club to help the town of Franklin become an official “Trail Town.”

• Construction of a trail on the grounds of Cartoogechaye Elementary School in Franklin.

• Construction of a trail on the grounds of Summit Charter School in Cashiers.

• Trail maintenance and improvements to trail shelters.

• Bear cables at backcountry trail shelters.

• Controlling invasive, exotic plant species.

• Eforts to keep the bald on Roan Mountain from growing up, including a roving goat herd.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy will give out $25,000 in grants, not to exceed $5,000 per grant. The grants are funded through proceeds from the specialty AT license plates, which raised $116,000 last year for the AT Conservancy.

Applications are due by March 5. Go to www.appalachiantrail.org/ncgrant.

Comment

Chronic wasting disease, a deadly disease that affects deer, elk and other hoofed animals, has been detected in white-tailed deer in Virginia.

The discovery has ramped up concerns about the disease migrating into North Carolina. Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disorder that affects the brain of deer and elk. It causes the animals to become lethargic, lose weight and eventually die. Chronic wasting disease is now found in 15 states.

It originated on deer farms and is mostly found in Western states. It was detected as close as West Virginia in late 2005 and apparently took four years to migrate into Virginia.

The N.C. Wildlife Commission banned transport of deer, elk and other hoofed animals across state lines in 2002 to reduce chances of the disease spreading into North Carolina. There is no way to test an animal for chronic wasting disease without killing them and getting a tissue sample from the brain stem. It is possible for deer and elk to carry chronic wasting disease without showing signs.

Other than West Virginia and Virginia, the next closest states to have chronic wasting disease are Oklahoma to the west and New York to the north.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission tested about 1,400 free-ranging white-tailed deer for the disease in 2009 and all came up clean.

Taxidermists in the state cannot accept heads for mounts from states where chronic wasting has been detected. Restrictions on transporting deer parts across state lines ban hunters from bringing back any portion of the deer’s head or spinal cord.

Comment

Kituwah is a concept much larger than the mound site proper, which is recorded with the state register of historic places. The name signifies the mothertown of the Cherokee, a kind of original community with which all Cherokees identify.

“The boundaries of Kituwah aren’t confined to the area. It’s intrinsic to the heart and soul of the Cherokee people,” said Tom Belt, a professor of Cherokee Language and Culture at Western Carolina University.

Belt explained Cherokees as far west as Memphis would have identified themselves as Kituwah during the 1600s.

But the tribe lost control of the Kituwah village in the years preceding their forced removal from their ancestral land in Western North Carolina.

During most of the last century and a half, the land has been under agricultural cultivation as part of a tract called Ferguson’s Field.

The Eastern Band bought 309 acres around the mound site in 1996, and an archeological survey the following year discovered a 65-acre village site that confirmed the long term of settlement.

The mound, 170 feet in diameter and five feet tall, formed the base for the council house where the Cherokee conducted some of their most sacred ceremonies.

Belt explained that the concept of the Kituwah mothertown for the Cherokee would encompass the entire area within a day’s walk of the council house. But Belt said the actual valley and its mountains play crucial roles in spiritual ceremonies held on the solstices and in the cosmology that support the tribe’s clan structure.

“On those days if you stand at the mound where the council house was, the very place the light hits first is on the seven peaks on that mountain where the substation will be built,” Belt said.

Comment

The term “off-the-grid” means living in a self-sufficient manner without the services of a public utility. Wikipedia estimates that in 2007 there were around 250,000 off-the-grid households in the U.S. that supplied their own water, electrical and sewer systems.

Living off-the-grid has been characterized by the sustainable living movement as the ultimate step towards reducing energy consumption. It’s more affordable these days than in the past, because of dramatic improvements in wind, water, and solar power mechanics.

In the U.S. “going green” has become increasingly scientific and less and less ideological, but the roots of the environmental movement can be found in the back-to-the-land movement that ran through the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The American back-to-the-land movement was a migration from urban to rural environments that created a blip on the country’s demographic trends in the latter half of the 1960s and the early part of the 1970s. The values of the movement are exemplified in Helen and Scott Nearing’s book Living the Good Life, which chronicles the couple’s self-sufficient lifestyle in a Vermont farmhouse. Published in 1954, the book cites the economic pressures of the Great Depression and the influence of the writings of Henry David Thoreau as driving inspirations.

The back-to-the-land movement drew on both the pragmatic self-sufficiencies celebrated in rural America during the Depression and on the literary and philosophical celebration of the American continent. Also, a growing discontent with government policies and rampant consumerism drove members of the counter culture to search for a divergent set of values, which they found in rural communities that had been resistant to change and maintained closer contact with nature.

Comment

There’ll be a movie for every taste at the third annual Short Circuit Traveling Film Festival this year. The festival’s selections include both fiction and documentaries, with experimental and animated films also in the mix.

This festival is the only one to highlight short films created by filmmakers living and working in the Southeastern United States, The 2010 festival features work by filmmakers from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee.

Each of the 12 short films is selected for their artistic merit by a panel of esteemed media arts professionals.

Short Circuit Traveling Film Festival is a program of the Southern Arts Federation, a nonprofit regional arts organization making a positive difference in the arts throughout the south since 1975. It is presented locally by the Haywood County Arts Council and Haywood Community College, among others.

The Southern Arts Federation presents, promotes and produces Southern arts and cultural programming; and advocates for the arts and arts education. The organization works in partnership with the state arts agencies of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

For more information on the Southern Arts Federation and its programs, visit www.southarts.org.

For more information about the Haywood County Arts Council’s screening of the Short Circuit Film Festival or other arts programming visit the Arts Council Web site at www.haywoodarts.org or call 828.452.0593.

This project received support from the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources, and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

Comment

Back in early January, I found myself waking early to pack for a day-long excursion into the backwoods of Chunky Gal Mountain with a friend who was home from graduate school in Forestry. It was close to 10 degrees up in Cowee Valley where I live in Macon County, and I seriously questioned my judgment as I drove in to Franklin to meet him. However, since he is only in the area about once a year, and being one of the most knowledgeable people I know about forests, I was anxious to go out with him regardless of the weather or my judgment.

We were going out to look for old growth forest, a shared passion that has bonded us for many years, and I knew that I would be pushing through difficult terrain along frozen ground, into the area’s most inaccessible coves — the reason that areas such as these were never cut to begin with.

Chunky Gal Mountain runs roughly north out of the Southern Nantahala Wilderness, along the Clay/Macon county line, with steep western slopes that drain into the Hiwassee River Valley and more gentle eastern slopes that eventually drain into the rugged Nantahala. That there is any old growth at all on this mountain is somewhat of a miracle. Ritter Lumber cut most of the surrounding area in the early 20th century, divesting their cutover and degraded land to the U.S. Forest Service for bargain prices beginning in the 1930s. Though the Forest Service was able to buy most of Chunky Gal mountain during this period with annual appropriations from Congress at established prices ranging from $3 to $10 an acre, they could not quite acquire it all, and a significant 53-acre tract sitting square in the heart of it remained in private ownership until last year when the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee acquired it from a willing seller.

Without this important acquisition, the area could have very well faced a fate similar to the Tusquitee Mountain range just several miles to the west. Private developers there are seeking to build a road into a small in-holding completely surrounded by national forest land, a tract that sits adjacent to the popular Fires Creek Rim trail which is heavily used by hunters, fishermen, and horseback riders. Similarly, the Chunky Gal tract lies directly on the Chunky Gal Trail, an outstanding hiking trail that connects the Appalachian Trail to a larger trail system to the north which includes the Fires Creek Rim trail and other trails around the Tusquitee area.

Fortunately, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee has an opportunity to protect this area and add it to the Nantahala National Forest through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This fund, established in 1964 and funded through offshore oil leases and royalties, is at long last receiving an increase in funding, and Chunky Gal and three other North Carolina projects of similar importance are the Forest Service’s priorities for the upcoming budget year. Two of these are in Caldwell County and will be added to the Pisgah National Forest, and one is in the piedmont’s Uwharrie National Forest. With support from North Carolina’s congressional delegation these four important places can be permanently protected.

As we bushwhacked our way across the mountain through the Chunky Gal tract at the end of that very cold day, I was able to at least take some comfort in the possibility. Write your congressional representatives today and ask them to support these acquisitions and to support the full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Brent Martin works for The Wilderness Society out of Franklin. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

By Chris Cooper

Kea was a filthy, grease-covered little miscreant when she was found by In Your Ear Music Emporium owner Lauren Calvert some 16 years ago hiding in some random machinery (in the snow, no less). Sixteen years ... that’s enough time to make an impression on some kids that aren’t exactly kids any more. Some of whom wound up on the receiving end of Kea’s — ahem — somewhat notorious lack of patience in regards to unruly children, and still carry the “scars,” if you will. Legend has it that there were actually two cats living at IYE in the early days, one significantly larger than Kea. Apparently, she made it clear — through all manner of fur flinging and claw-flailing butt kickings — that she wasn’t sharing such an ample space with another feline. The other cat, fortunately, found a new home before she got really angry.

At one point, Kea was kidnapped. Yes folks, abducted in an act of revenge by an irate shoplifter that managed to get himself caught. But of course, she was found and brought home.

Before IYE had actual benches out front, there were hay bales that provided a convenient perch for Kea. Sometimes the act of watching Sylva’s passersby got a little boring, so she would head up to Spring Street to see what was happening, inciting a bit of panic in the music store staff.

Whether she was an effective mouser I couldn’t say, but she had an unusual fetish for cardboard (well, paper products in general) and more often than not the morning opening process included sweeping up the remnants of what used to be a box, newspaper, magazine, and so forth.

And so it was: over a decade and a half of morning friskies, gravity-defying leaps onto CD racks and counters, scratches behind the ears from literally thousands of customers, and the earning of a place in the heart of every single IYE employee and many Sylva locals. Tourists would make a point to stop in each year to check on “that little store kitty.” That’s enough time to make anybody with a soft spot for animals decide that immortality is a viable option.

In the five years I spent with Kea, the aging process didn’t seem to kick in until the last year or so. At 11, she acted and looked all of 3. Once she knew you, you were guaranteed a tail flick/grunt greeting almost every day. I had the honor of being one of the few that she let flip over on her back and carry around like, well, a baby I guess. Except that I’m terrified of babies ... but that’s a whole different thing.

Around the end of 2008, things began to go wrong. Kea was diagnosed with a tumor that affected her kidneys. She began to have seizures that started with “mild” and grew to “not so mild.” Her cognitive functions seemed affected by these seizures; she would stare at a spot in the distance for unusual amounts of time, appeared confused and lost in the place that had always been her home. But never was she cranky — the purr motor was functioning perfectly. If the stars were aligned properly and she had the energy, she would go into one of the silliest kitty soccer games ever with a little balled up piece of paper. But her pace was slowing. There was no denying it. Everything that could be done to keep an animal Kea’s age as healthy and happy as possible had been done, but by the beginning of the new year there simply was nothing more we could do.

“Is that a real cat?”

“Is that cat deaf?”

“Did you know she’s got one green eye and one blue eye?”

These were the questions we fielded every day. “Yes, it’s a real cat.” Occasionally, the answer was “No, she’s a robot. I’ve got the remote control right here.” No, Kea was not deaf. She did exhibit a talent for ignoring people that didn’t interest her, however. But cats with differently colored eyes apparently have a propensity for deafness. Who knew?

It’s the next question that’s the hardest to imagine crafting an answer for over the next few weeks,

“Where’s the kitty?”

Little Kea, we’ll miss you terribly. Here’s to hoping there are copious amounts of freeze dried shrimp, plenty of cardboard to keep your claws sharp, an endless supply of gentle scratches on top of the head, and a sunny spot to nap in that never fades ... wherever it is that you are now.

Chris Cooper

In Your Ear Music Emporium

Sylva

Comment

Jackson

The Jackson County board consists of four commissioners and one chairman. This year, the two commissioner seats and chairman are up for election. Commissioners must live within their voting district to seek election, but the county chairman is elected at-large.

After a year of controversy centered on a number of high-profile decisions on the part of the Jackson County board, three key members are up for re-election in November.

Chairman Brian McMahan, Commissioner Tom Massie, and Commissioner William Shelton have all said they will seek re-election.

The commissioners have been dogged by controversy over the past four years — some by their own design but some clearly landing on their doorstep uninvited.

McMahan said his decision to run was based on his desire to solve problems he inherited when he came on the board.

“Obviously we inherited some problems. I wasn’t part of creating those problems, but I will be past of solving those problems,” McMahan said.

The costly Dillsboro Dam fight, a controversial salary raise for top level county administrators, a tug-of-war over the county airport, and ongoing fallout from the implosion of the county’s economic development commission have kept county commissioners in the news.

However, McMahan cited the board’s ability to keep the tax rate among the lowest in the state while accomplishing key capital improvements as a measure of their success.

Some in the development and real estate industry are still angry over the passage of stringent mountainside development regulations four years ago, crafted during a five-month moratorium on new subdivisions. However, pro-development interests failed in their bid to oust Commissioners Mark Jones and Joe Cowan when they were up for election two years ago, suggesting the regulations were supported by the general public.

Commissioner William Shelton ran for his first term on a platform of environmental stewardship and responsible growth. After helping the county develop widely lauded development ordinances, Shelton said the faltering economy and some long-standing issues took center stage.

“I feel like in my first term the board has delved into some growth issues and we need to continue on and finish what we started for when the economy starts to grow again,” Shelton said.

Commissioner Tom Massie said he wants to run again to finish what he started.

“Most of the issues I originally ran on have been completed but not all of them,” Massie said.

Massie said he sees the next term as an opportunity for the board to move past the issues they inherited when they came on four years ago.

“We’re starting to get some things wrapped up and put behind us and now we’ll have some more time for projects that would move the county forward,” Massie said, citing the Jackson greenway and affordable housing.

The current members of the board are all Democrats. Jackson County GOP chair Dodie Allen said the party tried hard to find candidates to run, and thought they had found one, but the person changed their mind. As of now, Allen said there are no Republican challengers for any of the commissioner seats that she knows of.

The county heavily leans Democratic, which means the Democratic primary in May decided the final lineup of the board — which would be especially true if no Republicans even run.

Comment

Cecil Groves, president of Southwestern Community College since 1997, informed the board of trustees and college faculty and staff that he will retire at the end of this academic year.

“As for everything and everyone, there is a season. My season has now come,” Groves said.

Groves thanked the SCC family for its “support, encouragement and, most of all, friendship.”

Before becoming the fourth president of SCC, Groves served as chancellor of the Texas State Technical College System, president of Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Colo., president of Austin Community College in Austin, Texas, and executive vice president/provost for Delgado College in New Orleans, La.

Conrad Burrell, Chairman of the SCC Board of Trustees for the past 10 years, put Groves’ career in perspective.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Dr. Groves on college business and as a friend. He has had the full cooperation of the trustees, the faculty and staff and the community, which is very rare for any president. We’ll miss his leadership - and humor- not only on our board, but in the community,” Burrell said.

Burrell said Groves has greatly increased the viability and reputation of the college “which is now established as an institution of the highest quality and recognized for teaching excellence.”

In addressing the faculty and staff about his departure, Groves called the college’s achievement during his tenure a collective effort.

“Collectively, we have accomplished many critical benchmarks important to the future of our institution, our communities and our students,” he said.

Some of those accomplishments include national and statewide recognition for excellence, the expansion of campus facilities throughout the Western North Carolina region, new partnerships with the public schools, innovative and first-of-a-kind degree programs, and recognized leadership in instructional technology and online learning.

“The momentum of the college will not be slowed down during the transition,” Groves said of his departure.

Groves’ last day will be June 30, and the college expects to have a new president in place by Aug. 1.

Comment

• The mill is operating within state pollution limits on most counts. The current permit allows a variance in two areas: temperature and water color. In the new permit, the mill is again seeking a variance for temperature, but not for color.

• The mill proposes to reduce color over the next four years from 42,000 pounds a day allowed under the current permit to 37,000 pounds a day within four years. The state doesn’t have a hard and fast limit on color but uses a subjective measurement, and has deemed that 37,000 pounds is acceptable.

• The improvement is small in comparison to the major reductions made since the late 1980s, when the mill discharged 380,000 pounds of color a day.

• Under the temperature variance, the mill can raise the water temperature by 25 degrees when measured half a mile downstream from the mill compared to upstream temps.

• Water would be sampled and monitored less frequently under the new permit. Evergreen does the monitoring itself and submits the stats to state regulators.

Comment

Haywood Waterways Association recently gave out 2009 stewardship awards to several people and organizations that have worked to protect and improve the waterways of Haywood County.

n Volunteer Organization of the Year went to Mike Gillespie and the Richland Creek Streamkeepers. Gillespie, a local dentist, organized a group of students to adopt a section of Richland Creek around Vance Street Park in Waynesville. The Streamkeepers conducted several cleanups in 2009 and removed over 36 bags of trash.

“It is important to expose our youth to the pollution issues affecting our waterways, not only so they appreciate our water but also understand ways they can help protect it,” Gillespie said.

Other groups participating in Haywood Waterways Adopt-a-Stream program in 2009 were: Best Buy, First Baptist Church of Clyde, Gateway Club, Haywood Community College Wildlife Club, Tom Anspach, Vine of the Mountains Church, Wal-Mart and Waynesville Fly Shop. Anyone interested in adopting a stream should contact 828.627.9589 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

n Partner of the Year went to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Wildlife commission officers help every year with Haywood Waterways’ “Kids in the Creek Program,” a field trip that exposes students to aquatic life and the effect of pollution on water. The Wildlife Commission also helps with education events at the Maggie Valley Trout Festival each year, constructed handicap fishing access piers on Richland Creek in Vance Street Park and on the Pigeon River in Canton, and is a valuable member of the Haywood Waterways Technical Advisory Committee.

The Wildlife Resources Commission is leading the Pigeon River Recovery Project. This project is restoring native fish and mollusk populations downstream of Canton, and is a collaborative effort with many organizations and agencies. They’ve even set up educational aquariums at several local schools.

n The Pigeon River Award went to a state program that eliminates sources of raw sewage going into streams. Failing septic systems and in some cases straight-piping funnel raw sewage from homes into creeks. The program, under the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, helps identify culprits and provides funds to fix the problem when it involves a low-income household.

The program is currently surveying the entire Richland Creek watershed to identify problem spots.

Ed Kelley from Ridge Runner Naturals Gallery and Studio in Waynesville provided the awards for the winners. www.haywoodwaterways.org.

Comment

Ricky Skaggs, the legendary, fourteen-time Grammy-award winning country and bluegrass artist, will be featured at Lake Junaluska’s 10th Annual Appalachian Christmas this December, in addition to two Lake Junaluska Singers concerts and the Christmas Craft Show. Skaggs and his talented family will perform the “Skaggs Family Christmas”, a well-loved show that is entertaining and enjoyable for the entire family.

In addition to claiming his own rightful popularity in the country music world, Ricky Skaggs has performed with such famed artists as Flatt and Scruggs, Emmylou Harris and good friend Keith Whitley, and also led bluegrass group Boone Creek which featured well-known Dobro talent Jerry Douglas. He won the prestigious Entertainer of the Year award from the Country Music Association, one of eight awards received from them in addition to his fourteen Grammy recognitions, eight Academy of Country Music awards, two Dove awards, and eleven International Bluegrass Music Association awards, among others. Skaggs was the youngest member to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1982 when he joined at age 28, after his debut solo album “Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine” topped country charts the previous year. After founding his own record company, Skaggs Family Records, in 1997, Skaggs has continued amazing listeners and peers with award-winning albums, tours, songs, and awards, including Grammys for eight out of the ten albums he produced through the company.

“We are honored to have such a talented and respected musician as Ricky Skaggs joining us for our Appalachian Christmas celebration here at Lake Junaluska,” said Executive Director Jimmy L. Carr. “His and his family’s music has been an inspiration to many for years, and we sincerely look forward to experiencing it here in our own community.”

Lake Junaluska’s Appalachian Christmas weekend will begin Friday evening, December 10, at 7:30 p.m. with the first of two Lake Junaluska Singers’ concerts. Led by Dr. Melodie Galloway, the Singers will perform an entertaining collection of holiday favorites, as well as spiritual songs. On Saturday, December 11, events will include the Christmas Craft Show from 8:30 a.m. to 5:o0 p.m., and another Lake Junaluska Singers concert at 2:30 p.m. The Skaggs Family Christmas concert will take place at 8 p.m., with a special Meet and Greet opportunity at 7 p.m.

Please join us for any or all of our special Christmas events. A detailed schedule and more information about the events and performers can be found at http://www.lakejunaluska.com/christmas . Tickets will be available on August 1, 2010 at www.shop.lakejunaluska.com. Lodging reservations can be made by calling 800-222-4930.

Comment

By Bruce Gardner • Guest Columnist

The Tea Party movement is sweeping the nation and has found its way through the media and into almost everyone’s living room. It is not a political party; it is a frame of mind. It is a grassroots organization unlike anything in our lifetime.

Quoting Richard Viguerie in his editorial in the Investor’s Business daily: “The Tea Party Movement not only brings millions of new people to the political process, it also brings more energy, enthusiasm and excitement to politics than we’ve seen in the last 100 years. I have been working and waiting 50 years for this populist, principled and constitutional groundswell against big government and the quasi-socialistic, crony capitalistic establishment institutions that have been abusing power and trust at the expense of hard-working Americans, their children and their grandchildren. In just one year, the Tea Party has become the fastest growing political movement perhaps in history.”

TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already. It represents the historical dumping of the tea into Boston Harbor in protest of the Stamp Act of 1765. Basically this was a revolution against taxation without representation imposed by the British monarchy of the time. This movement is uniquely American.

Today, people in America are upset with both political parties. They are outraged at the massive spending, oppressive debt, self-serving, arrogant behavior of Congress as well as the current and previous administrations. The Tea Party brings focus to these issues.

Professional politicians in both parties have created careers for themselves by mortgaging future generations to finance their own reelection campaigns through earmarks, closed door dealings and “selling” their votes to party leaders in exchange for re-election campaign funding.

Taxpaying, working Americans are fed up and are now demanding that elected representatives listen to the voices of the people who are paying the bills.

What do the Tea Partiers want? It’s easy to see what political issues they are against, but what are they for? They are for smaller government, substantially lower taxes, term limits, rot reform, individual liberty restoration, less intrusion by government, a fair tax code for everyone, transparency and accountability in government, respect for the Constitution, elimination of earmarks, a balanced budget, a strong defense, elimination of waste and fraud in government, state’s rights as defined by the Constitution, social programs that create independence rather than dependence on the system, and a no nonsense criminal justice system that favors the victim.

At first, the mainstream media ignored the Tea Parties. Now, the national media would have the public believe that this is a radical right wing movement. Look at the list above and ask yourself if anything on that list seems radical to you. The Tea Party is made up of folks that live in every hometown. They are Middle America — not extremists.

The Constitution was written to protect our individual liberties and order the structure of the federal government. The federal government was to be empowered by the states to provide for the states those things that were needed in common such as national defense. Over the years the federal government has expanded its role, enslaving the states through mandates in almost every area of our lives. The expansion of government and the unconscionable spending of the last 10 years have financially crippled our children and all future generations. This expansion has led to the near bankruptcy of our country and the degradation of our dollar around the world. The legacy we are leaving for future generations is the direct result of political greed and a total disconnect from and disregard for the American public.

Much of the strength of the Tea Party movement is in the fact that it is totally decentralized. There is no national leader or common set of talking points. Each group concentrates much of its efforts on local and state issues. These groups are challenging candidates for every elected office that affects their area. It’s all about policy and philosophy. Political party affiliation is of no consequence.

Every area seems to have a different organization with a variety of names. The common thread is the mindset found in the Tea Party movement. In Haywood County, the Tea Party movement is represented by the 9/12 Project. This nonpartisan group has grown tremendously in the past year and is extremely active through monthly meetings, Saturday morning coffee gatherings and events featuring speakers and candidates for office. Contrary to anti-Tea Party sound bites repeated by the national media, the Haywood 9/12 Project is made up of Democrats, Republicans and Independents who feel that government is out of control.

The Haywood 9/12 Project will be announcing an initiative to inform the voting public which candidates best represent the ideals of the Tea Party Movement at all levels: local, state and national. Any candidate for any office belonging to any party will be invited to participate. Watch for additional details or get involved with the 9/12 Project to learn more.

For information about the 9/12 Project and the Tea Party movement in Haywood County, visit the Web site at www.912wnc.com or call 828.506.5007 for meeting information or for ways to get involved.

(Bruce Gardner lives in Haywood County and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

Comment

In a record year for landslides, yet another one struck this week, this time along U.S. 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The slide occurred Monday near Newfound Gap, about a mile from the Tennessee state line. One lane of the road is open to traffic. The park hopes to reopen two lanes by commandeering a portion of an overlook parking area for a travel lane.

U.S. 441 between Cherokee and Gatlinburg is one of the only routes between North Carolina and Tennessee that is passable. Three other highways between the two states are closed due to rockslides of their own.

• Interstate 40 has been closed for five months now near the state line.

• U.S. 64, which runs between Murphy and Chattanooga, is also closed due to a rockslide.

• U.S. 129, which leads from Robbinsville to Maryville, Tenn., is also closed due to a rockslide.

There have been four other landslides in the region: a major one in Maggie Valley that forced an evacuation of several homes, one that took out a road and a lot in the Water Dance development in Jackson County, one that took out a road and a lot in the Wildflower development in Macon County, and one in Macon County that could be partly to blame for destabilizing a home foundation.

Moreover, there have been two more rockslides on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Comment

A conference that connects faith and the environment will be held at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center April 8 through 11.

Caring for Creation, now in its fourth year, imparts a message of stewardship and responsibility for people of faith when it comes to caring for the earth.

The conference offers a series of workshops and talks on a variety of topics, including some big name speakers.

In addition to workshops, on- and off-site tours will include visits to a solar farm, an oil-to-biodiesel conversion facility, a green home, Junaluska Wetlands and Corneille Bryan Native Garden. Guests also have the option of doing a “pre-experience” in which they’ll spend 24 hours in a sustainable environment prior to the conference.

Keynote speakers for the conference include:

• Sen. Marc Basnight, the president pro tem of the N.C. Senate.

• John Hill, director of Economic and Environmental Justice for the General Board of Church and Society.

• Rev. Ms. Pat Call-Beck Harper, editor of God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action.

• Rita Harris, organizer for the Sierra Club in Memphis.

• Derek Arndt, monitoring board of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lake Junaluska joined the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Green Initiative Project in 2009. As a part of the initiative, Lake Junaluska is focused on being energy efficient, recycling and creating a sustainable environment.

“Lake Junaluska is continually striving to promote environmental awareness,” said Jimmy L. Carr, executive director of Lake Junaluska.

Workshops include:

• Theological Foundations for Creation Care

• Mapping Your Ecological Footprint.

For more information about the conference and workshop schedule, go to www.lakejunaluska.com/caring-for-creation or call 828.454.6656.

Comment

A group of activists arrested for civil disobedience during protests of Duke Energy’s new coal plant last year have been let off the hook for a second time.

Activists were arrested for trespassing in two separate demonstrations last year, one in front of Duke’s headquarters in Charlotte and one in front of N.C. Governor Beverly Perdue’s mansion in Raleigh. Civil disobedience was a planned part of both protests challenging the construction of a new coal plant in WNC by Duke.

One of the organizers behind both events was Avram Friedman of Sylva, the executive director of the Canary Coalition, a statewide air quality advocacy group. Friedman is also waging his second run this year for state political office with a challenge to Rep. Phil Haire, D-Sylva.

Prosecutors this month dismissed the charges stemming from the protest in Raleigh. The charges stemming from the Charlotte protest, which involved 43 people on Earth Day last April, had been dropped as well.

Those arrested were preparing a “necessity defense” to prove their action was justified, Friedman said.

“The ‘necessity defense’ holds that defendants intentionally committed a crime in order to prevent a much greater harm,” Friedman explained. “Duke Energy and cooperating state officials are perpetrating great and unnecessary harm against public health, the environment and the economy of all North Carolinians by constructing a new coal-burning power plant that will produce massive quantities of toxic air and water pollutants for the next 50 years.”

The exonerated defendants maintain that the Cliffside plant is not needed to meet North Carolina’s future energy demand, but is only being constructed to increase Duke Energy’s profits at the expense of the citizens of North Carolina, Friedman said.

Friedman points to expansion by Duke Energy last year outside its core service territory. Duke signed a contract to provide 1,000 megawatts to five energy co-ops in South Carolina and has another contract in the works to provide 600 megawatts outside its service area in South Carolina.

The new coal plant, if completed, will provide only 800 megawatts of capacity. The sale of power outside its service area shows that Duke Energy already has a huge surplus of power and is merely building the new plant to fuel expansion and increase profits, despite the negative economic and health impact of the plant, Friedman said.

North Carolina ratepayers face an increase in their utility bills next year, partially to pay for construction of the new Cliffside power plant.

Friedman is running for office to bring the issue to public light, including complicity of state officials and leaders to allow the plant’s construction.

Comment

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