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It’s a sure sign of spring for Southern Appalachian communities along the Appalachian Trail: hikers loaded down with backpacks hitchhiking to town and back to stock up on supplies, eat that hamburger they’ve been craving, and knock back a few cold beers before hitting the trail again.

They emerge slowly at first, one or two early birds trickling by, and then turn into a steady stream just about now, with dozens a day filtering along the trail on the pilgrimage to Maine.

Last week, The Smoky Mountain News caught up with three thru-hikers who had taken a break in Franklin to refuel and were heading back onto the AT at Winding Stair Gap.

Kate Imp (“Ringleader”), her brother Brandon Imp (“Monkey”), and their friend Emily Ginger (“Lightning”) have set aside their normal lives to walk from Georgia to Maine this year.

“You only have so many chances in life to have big experiences with the people closest to you,” Kate said. “The AT is something known for the community experience more than just the hike itself.”

The three-person team stopped in Franklin for two nights, staying at the Sapphire Inn and eating at Mi Casa and Cody’s Roadhouse before stocking up on fresh food supplies at Ingles. It’s that type of involvement with the town that the Appalachian Trail Community designation was created to encourage.

Kate Imp said knowing that Franklin was a hiker-friendly community made it easier to decide to stop there.

“You’re less on guard. With trail towns there’s the assumption that 99 percent of the people you meet are interested in helping you,” Imp said.

Roughly two weeks into the trail, Franklin is a crucial make-or-break point for thru-hiker hopefuls. They’ve come far enough to realize how tough the journey will be, but not far enough to have developed their “trail legs” or fall into the true rhythm of the trail. The town’s official trail designation recognizes the symbiotic nature of the trail and the town.


Haywood Community College remains hopeful that the county will increase funding to the college, despite reluctance by the county commissioners to provide what they see as special treatment to HCC amidst across the board budget cuts.

“I view it as an unresolved issue at this point,” said HCC President Rose Johnson.

During the recession, commissioners slashed capital funding to the college and public school system by two-thirds, cut out nonprofits completely and laid off nearly 40 county employees.

The county had previously promised to pay for two new roofs and a major renovation at HCC with the annual contributions. But now, commissioners plan to dip into a special sales tax fund to pay for the projects.

The special sales tax was approved by voters specifically to fund expansions at HCC — not maintenance, according to college leaders. The college wants the county to restore its annual maintenance budget and reserve every penny of sales tax revenue for new construction and expansion.

Johnson met with county commissioners earlier this month to plead the college’s case and plans to meet with the board again soon.


Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, at its office in Waynesville.

The Friends office is still located beside Blue Ridge Osondu Books on Main Street, but an expansion of the bookstore claimed extra space that the Friends of the Smokies wasn’t using. The remodeled office is now accessed by going into the bookstore and heading toward the back left.

The drop-by event is also a chance to meet the new director of the North Carolina office, Holly Demuth, and the Friends President Jim Hart. Visit with park officials and learn about the latest park happenings including the elk, Cataloochee Valley, and the forthcoming Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

“I’m looking forward to meeting more of our members, neighbors, and hopefully a few Friends license plate supporters,” said Demuth. “To help show our thanks to everyone, we’ll offer some refreshments and a few door prizes, too.” or 828.452.0720 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


William and Mary Alice Fryar presented the Cashiers Historical Society with the 19th century Zachary family bible earlier this month.

The Bible belonged to one of Cashiers’ early pioneer families, that of Mordecai Zachary. From 1842 until 1852, Zachary constructed the Zachary-Tolbert House located on today’s N.C. 107 South. Included in the Bible are family birth and death records as well as the marriage certificate recognizing the union of Zachary and his wife, Elvira Keener.

Fryar is a direct descendant of Mordecai and Elvira. The Bible is an invaluable gift and will be a wonderful public resource for research into the early years of Cashiers Valley.


One of the region’s most beloved and authentic cultural traditions, Shindig on the Green, will present “A Celebration of Mountain Traditions” annual fundraiser with headliner Balsam Range plus Laura Boosinger and Bobby Hicks and the Cole Mountain Cloggers at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 20 at the historic Colonial Theatre in downtown Canton for an evening of traditional old-time music and dance.

The March 20th “Celebration of Mountain Traditions” fundraiser is a key element in securing necessary funding for the free and beloved Shindig on the Green summer Saturday evenings in Asheville. After a four-year relocation to make way for the new park construction, Shindig returns to its original location this summer in the heart of downtown Asheville at Pack Square Park’s Roger McGuire Green, on the new Bascom Lamar Lunsford Stage. Dedicated to the celebration and preservation of the region’s rich cultural heritage, Shindig on the Green’s 44th summer season is scheduled for July 3, 10, 17, 31; August 14, 21, 28; and September 4.

The concert has a $6,000 monetary goal, with all of those funds needed to help cover the “free” Shindig’s very real operating costs, which average $6,000 an evening. The Folk Heritage Committee’s produces Shindig on the Green and the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in order to support the preservation and continuation of the traditional music, dance and storytelling heritage of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Based in Haywood County, Balsam Range’s members grew up in the rich musical heritage of the Appalachian South, surrounded by culture and heritage steeped in traditions of The Grand Ole Opry, bluegrass, gospel and country music. Featuring Grammy award winner Marc Pruett on banjo, Darren Nicholson on vocals and mandolin, Buddy Melton on fiddle and vocals, Caleb Smith on guitar and vocals, and Tim Surrett on bass and vocals, Balsam Range is celebrating the success of its single, “Last Train To Kitty Hawk,” the title cut from the band’s second album, hitting No. 1 on the national Bluegrass Unlimited Chart in September 2009; the album itself reached No. 5 that same month. The band also recently took the stage for a live television taping of the popular PBS program “Song of the Mountains,” playing alongside Rhonda Vincent and the Rage before a sold-out audience.

Two of Western North Carolina’s more well-known and beloved musicians are pairing up to perform together. Laura Boosinger’s concert performance and recordings have earned her a well-deserved reputation as one of North Carolina’s most talented singers and interpreters of the music of the Southern Appalachians. Conventions, festivals, workshops and family concerts each provide a unique opportunity to showcase her talents as she features a variety of traditional stringed instruments, including old-time banjo, guitar, Appalachian dulcimer and fingerstyle Autoharp. Boosinger is also the Executive Director of the Madison County Arts Council.

Living legend Bobby Hicks is a self-taught fiddler who has played since he was nine years old. Originally hired by Bluegrass legend Bill Monroe in 1954 to play bass, Hicks switched to fiddle when fiddler Gordon Terry was drafted into the military. He joined up with the Ricky Skaggs Band in 1981, and throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s won multiple awards with the Ricky Skaggs Band and with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder. Today, whether teaching young fiddlers, making guest appearances all over Western North Carolina, or playing a hot fiddle streak on stage, Bobby Hicks continues to contribute to the enjoyment of fans everywhere.

The Cole Mountain Cloggers, dancers from Buncombe, Madison and Mitchell counties, has won multiple awards, including the Ruth Jewell Trophy for Best Dance Team performance, claiming championship of the 2009 NC State Fair.

Tickets are $20 for adults, and children 12 and younger are $10; group rates (10 or more adults) are $15 per person. For tickets call the Colonial Theatre at 828.235.2760 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; or to reserve tickets, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information, visit or call the Folk Heritage Info Line: 828.258.6101, x345.


The Town of Maggie Valley recently transferred the responsibility for building inspections to Haywood County. Now, Maggie is considering handing over soil and erosion control, too.

“We could really become a one-stop shop,” said Maggie planning director Nathan Clark.

Town officials from Maggie Valley and Clyde will meet Tuesday, March 23, with the Haywood County manager to discuss the potential takeover.

Both towns are also interested in exploring the possibility of adopting a county ordinance that regulates construction on steep slopes. Currently, neither town has such a policy.

The joint meeting follows a massive mudslide in Maggie Valley, which traveled 3,000 feet down the mountainside and damaged four homes.

Roads have been cleared, but up to 16,000 tons of unstable material still looms over the Rich Cove community.

Haywood’s steep slope ordinance allows the county government to force a property owner to clear debris from landslides. It can also coerce a landowner into stabilizing a slope that the county engineer deems unsafe.

If the Town of Maggie Valley adopts that ordinance, the county would have authority to deem the Rich Cove area an unstable slope, forcing Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park to take action.


The town of Franklin has been officially designated an Appalachian Trail Community. A new program of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy will highlight the value of towns along the trail.

Towns are more than waypoints along the trail for hikers to stock up on supplies. The trail can be a driver for sustainable economic development, while the towns serve as agents to help protect the trails complex of recreational, volunteer, educational and environmental resources.

To mark the designation, the Macon County Public Library is partnering with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to present a number of programs and events in the meeting room at the library.

• Monday, March 22, 7 p.m. — Appalachian Trail Conservancy Overview. Learn about the history of the Appalachian Trail and the role the Appalachian Trail Conservancy plays in protecting and maintaining it.

• Wednesday, March 24, 4:30 and 7 p.m. — Documentary: “America’s Wild Spaces – Appalachian Trail,” a National Geographic video highlighting the 2,175-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

• Thursday, March 25, 7 p.m. — “Hiking 101.” Day hiking planning, equipment, and local hiking. Bill Van Horn from the Nantahala Hiking Club will present information on day hiking planning, equipment and local options for hiking.


In today’s economy, people want to stretch their dollars to the max. What if you could actually double your money? Many in Jackson County are doing just that by contributing to the new Jackson County Public Library building fund at a crucial point in the campaign.

“We are drawing close to 90 percent of our $1.6 million goal and have an unprecedented opportunity,” said Mary Otto Selzer, co-chair of the campaign. “Through individual community members’ donations, we have matched over $185,000 of the $250,000 SECU Foundation grant. The next $65,000 raised will be matched by the Foundation. As has been true throughout the campaign, every dollar counts, but at this point, every dollar counts as two.”

No one realizes the importance of each contribution any more than Michelle Allison, office manager of JCPL. It was her awareness of the impact each dollar can make that inspired her and other employees at the library to create the Wall of Fame.

“We were talking about how we could bring attention to the campaign here in the library, and I thought of a Wall of Fame,” Allison said. “With each contribution someone makes at the library, we give the donor a certificate to post on our walls. We want to fill up all the walls with the certificates.”

“We put a jar on the desk and when people come up, we explain that everyone who puts a contribution in gets a certificate to go on the wall. We’ve gotten donations from a few cents on up.”

According to Dottie Brunette, head librarian, the response has been gratifying. “We really mean it when we say that every dollar counts,” she said. “We’ve had small children come in and contribute their allowances to the building fund, and it’s been so nice to see the pride they have when they mount their certificate on the wall. We’ve had strangers drop in to ask directions to Waynesville or Asheville, see our information about the Wall of Fame, and say, ‘Here, I’ll contribute.’ We’ve had contributions from a dollar and up, and it’s obvious to us that each and every one is from the heart. We really feel so supported by the community through this campaign.”

Of course the Wall of Fame isn’t the only way to contribute. Contributions can be made in person at the Friends of the Library Used Book Store, also on Main Street in Sylva, or mailed to: Friends of the Library, P.O. Box 825, Sylva, N.C., 28779-0825.

For more information call Mary Otto Selzer at 828.293.0074 or 828.507.0476 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee has saved a key tract from development along the Little Tennessee River near Cowee Mound.

The Land Trust bought three acres that were being marketed for an RV park. The low-lying land, which sits between N.C. 28 and the river, has 900 feet of river frontage and lies directly across the river from the Cowee Mound.

“This is a great acquisition that will support a community vision of heritage-based development in this historic landscape,” said LTLT’s Sharon Fouts Taylor. “With some modest investment it can provide a safe place for people to pull of the highway, park, and view the river and the mound.”

The purchase was made possible by a gift from Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury, key philanthropists for land preservation in the mountains.

In 2007, Cowee Mound itself was protected by LTLT in partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the state, now augmented by the protection of a near-by parcel.

The ancient Cowee Mound was at the heart of the principal commercial and diplomatic town of the mountain Cherokee in the decades leading up to the American Revolution. A council house on the mound seated hundreds. In the mid-18th century, Cowee was at the geopolitical center of the South due to its position in the principal trade route through the southern mountains into the interior of the continent.

An 1837 map of Cowee shows a bridge crossing the river at the site of LTLT’s new purchase.

“When the river was low during the severe drought two years ago, large squared boulders that must have buttressed that bridge were clearly evident in the river channel between this parcel and the mound on the opposite bank,” said Paul Carlson, LTLT’s Executive Director. “The Little Tennessee River and the largely-intact historic landscape of northern Macon County are the greatest local assets we have for future economic development as well as for enhancing the fine quality of life we enjoy in this area.” or 828.524.2711.


Fill a bowl, feed a soul, and help fight hunger with a warm heart and a full stomach. The second annual Empty Bowls Dinner is set for Friday, March 12, at Tartan Hall in Franklin. The fundraising event is a great opportunity for people to make a difference both in the community and abroad. It is hosted by Franklin High School’s Interact and Art Clubs, the doors open at 5 p.m., and the food, live music and entertainment will run until 8 p.m.

The basic premise of the dinner is simple: guests are invited to choose from any of several hundred handcrafted ceramic bowls, they are then served a simple meal of soup, bread, and dessert. The guests are asked to keep their bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls around the world. In exchange for the meal and the bowl, guests are suggested to make a minimum donation of $10. All proceeds from the dinner will go towards the effort to end hunger. Like last year, all proceeds will be donated locally to Care Net, and internationally to Partners in Health in Haiti (

As a result of the continuing economic recession, Care Net is under greater strain keeping their pantries stocked than in any previous years. Haiti currently stands as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and after the tragic earthquake suffered in January, the people of Haiti are in dire need of support, now more than ever. Empty Bowls offers the opportunity to pitch in a helping hand to real people.

Students in several art classes at the high school have been creating bowls all semester that are dinnerware and dishwasher safe. Parents, community members, and local businesses are making the soups, breads and desserts for the event. FHS’s Jazz Band will be playing throughout the evening, and Danny Antoine will be performing live karate demonstrations as well. There will also be Franklin High students handcrafting pottery bowls on the throwing wheel. In addition, there will be representatives on hand from both of the organizations receiving the donations to provide information about the fight against hunger. There will be disposable bowls available for families that wish to attend the dinner but can’t afford several bowls.

Empty Bowls began in 1990 as an international endeavor to fight hunger. The goals of this project are to raise money to help fight hunger, to raise awareness about the issues of hunger and food security and to help bring about an attitude that will not allow hunger to exist.

Local sponsors include The Noon Time Rotary, Daybreak Rotary, Ronnie Beale, and United. Tartan Hall is located at First Presbyterian Church, 26 Church Street in Franklin. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the nicest bowls go fast!

(Lauren Stenger, a senior at FHS, and I got the Empty Bowls Project underway at Franklin High School in fall 2008. The first Empty Bowls Dinner was a tremendous success, drawing well over two hundred people. With the help of Joan Lansford, FHS art teacher, and several other students, we have been working diligently with high hopes of building upon the success of last year’s event. We are able to accept cash and checks only. But remember that the donations are tax-deductible. Anyone who can’t make it to the dinner but would like to support the cause should contact Joan Lansford at the high school or at 828.506.9318. Checks can be made out to Empty Bowls and sent to the school. )


Landmark Learning based in Jackson County offers 80 courses a year providing wilderness medical training to 2,000 people across all sectors of the outdoor and medical industry.

Many of the courses are held at their campus in Cullowhee and around Western North Carolina, but they also regularly offer training at sites around the Southeast.

Justin Padgett and his wife, Maurie, launched the wilderness instruction company in the late 1990s as a side venture while they were both in grad school.

“When we stared Landmark, she thought it was a hobby,” Padgett said.

Now they have a sprawling outdoor campus, five full-time employees and a contract pool of 35 instructors.

“We even made an agreement when we started that we were only going to grow to where we had 10 people outside of us. We now have 40 people including us,” Padgett said. “We never wanted to pay insurance to anybody or get real like that, but we’re doing that.”

It takes one entire staff person just to be in charge of gear. They make sure all the equipment is clean and functioning before heading out into the field, and that the right gear gets to the right place at the right time for each course. The program coordinator does everything from scheduling venues for the courses to purchasing plane tickets for the instructors.

Landmark prides itself on the expertise of its instructors.

“Folks teaching wilderness medicine with us are active in the rescue community. They work for fire departments, they work for EMS, or they work in hospital settings. Some of our staff are surgical assistants,” Padgett said. “Our instructors are professionals and dedicated to doing this. This is their living.”

Padgett is a senior paramedic and ambulance driver for WestCare hospital in addition to his work with Landmark.

Landmark is affiliated with NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School. It is the largest NOLS affiliate nationally and the only affiliate in the Eastern U.S. Those who graduate from Landmark have certification bearing the name of NOLS Wilderness Medical Institute.

Landmark has a host of other affiliations and credentials as well.

• N.C. Office of Emergency Medical Services for EMT courses.

• American Canoe Association for swift water rescue and courses for whitewater instructors.

• American Heart Association for First Aid and CPR courses.

• Starfish Aquatics Institute for Lifeguard and Wilderness Lifeguard courses.

• American Mountain Guides Association for Climbing Instructor courses. or 828.293.5384.


Two plays crafted by Sylva writer Gary Carden will be presented at Western Carolina University in March to benefit the new library fund of the Friends of the Jackson County Main Library.

Carden’s “Birdell” will be staged at 7 p.m. Friday, March 12, in the auditorium of WCU’s Coulter Building, while “Nance Dude” will be presented Friday, March 19, at the same time and location. Both presentations will feature actress Elizabeth Westall and are being co-sponsored by WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center and School of Music, the Jackson County Arts Council and the library Friends.

The Friends organization is engaged in a fundraising campaign to raise $1.6 million to purchase the furniture, fixtures and equipment for the new Jackson County Public Library Complex, currently under construction on Courthouse Hill in Sylva. The campaign has collected more than $1.4 million so far, and among the contributions is a $250,000 challenge grant from the State Employees Credit Union Foundation.

Both plays are one-act monologues that portray the authentic voices of Appalachian women. “Birdell” is based on the lives of families who lived on Hazel Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains until the coming of the national park, and is told from the perspective of the fictional character Birdell as she reflects on her long life. Carden based his play “Nance Dude” on the book, “The Legend of Nance Dude” by Maurice Stanley. Both play and book depict a Haywood County woman who was convicted of killing her granddaughter in 1913.

A native of Sylva, Carden earned two degrees at WCU and for more than four decades has presented traditional mountain culture to the public as a teacher, storyteller, novelist, historian, screenwriter and playwright. WCU recognized Carden’s body of work in presenting him with an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2008.

Westall, a Yancey County native who earned degrees at Berea College and Duke University, taught English and drama before her retirement in 1985. Since then, she has acted and directed in numerous regional productions.

Tickets prices for the shows are $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $5 for students.

Volunteers are needed to help set up, sell tickets, act as ushers and perform other jobs. E-mail Betty Screven at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to sign up. For more information about the March 12 and 19 presentations, contact the Friends of the Library at 828.507.0476.


A community-wide open house celebration featuring a full day of entertainment and cultural events will mark the 85th anniversary of the historic Rickman Store from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 6.

Festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a Barter Day in remembrance of the first exchange at the store. On March 3, 1925, the store’s first customer, Ms. Eva Bryson, traded three eggs for a spool of thread. Last year’s bartering event was a great success and rekindled the tradition of exchanging goods without money. Everyone is invited to bring items to trade. Included will be a children’s table for youngsters to learn about fair negotiations.

At 11 a.m. the Nikwasi Dulcimer Players will join the celebration. The Nikwasi Players have been among the most dedicated supporters of the Rickman Store.

At noon, stories about area mountain life and traditions will be shared by Gary Carden and Dave Waldrop. Storyteller, playwright, and novelist, Gary Carden has deep roots in the Cowee Community where he spent summers at his grandmother’s farm.

The afternoon will feature even more music at 1:30 p.m. when the band “Deep Woods Frolic” performs and provides a great opening for a Music Jam where everyone is invited to bring an instrument and join in the celebration until 4 p.m.

The T.M. Rickman General Store was built by John Hall in 1895. It was purchased by Tom Rickman in 1925. A year later Tom married Fannie Holbrook who became his partner in business and life until her death in 1982. Tom Rickman continued operating the store until 1992. The store changed hands twice after Mr. Rickman, and in August 2007, The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee purchased the store for preservation.

Located on Cowee Creek Road, seven miles north of Franklin by Hwy NC 28, next to the Cowee Elementary School, the Rickman Store has become a focal point for cultural, educational, and entertainment activities designed to preserve and honor the traditions of the Cowee-West’s Mill Historic District and Cowee Community.

For more information on the celebration and the day’s events, contact Elena Carlson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Vertigo Jazz Project will drop their second full-length studio album on March 12 at Emerald Lounge in Asheville.

VJP’s new disc ‘Paragon’ is almost one year in the making and showcases the band’s expansive growth since their debut on the Southeast’s music scene nearly two years ago. Full of original music, this record is VJP’s first real musical statement as a cohesive unit.

The band features two Waynesville musicians: bass player P.J. Thorstenson and keyboardist Justin W. Powell, who attends Western Carolina University’s jazz program; as well as guitarist Preston Cate and drummer Sean Mason.

VJP tries to bridge the gap between multiple genres of music such as jazz, funk, Latin, rock, jam, avant, classical, world, and country; while always maintaining a distinctively recognizable element of jazz.

Supporting VJP is Tyler Cates’ (formerly of Afromotive) new band Taste. Based in Atlanta, Taste is music born of the ether, and brewed with arpeggiators, distorted guitar wails, fatback drums, and gut rattling bottom end.

Also joining VJP on this night is the always raucous Tennessee Jed. Start with a strong dose of lyrical singer-songwriter acoustic folk. Add a helping of catchy hooks mixed with modern rock arrangements and searing, soulful vocals. Then package everything in a hot-rod Americana string band format featuring some of the Southeast’s finest bluegrass pickers and rockers. The finished product is Tennessee Jed.

Find out more at Cover for the CD release party is $5.


When John Miele, co-owner of the Golden Carp, left a social media class recently taught by Western Carolina University students, his Dillsboro business had a new home. Now, visitors can find information such as the store’s hours and location on its official Web site, as well as subscribe to the Golden Carp’s news and updates by becoming a “fan” of the business’s Facebook page.

“I wanted to know what Facebook was all about and how to properly use the media of the moment,” said Miele.

The social media class at WCU was held as part of the Dillsboro-Western Carolina University partnership effort to support community revitalization. At the class, WCU public relations students Lauren Gray, Garrett Richardson and Ashley Funderburk led business owners step-by-step in how to use Facebook pages.

Participants learned to upload photos and business information, create events, set privacy controls and post status updates. In addition, they discussed tools such as email and Twitter, and the effectiveness of using social media tools for marketing.

Miele said it is important for the Golden Carp to have an online presence. He noted that about 75 percent of customers of the 20-year-old business, which specializes in accessories for the home, fine art and unique gifts, are tourists, and many conduct online research when they plan their trips.

In the week after the class, the town of Dillsboro’s fan page on Facebook increased by 63 fans and experienced nearly triple the activity and visits to the page. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 828.227.3804.


For the outdoors lover, stepping into NOC’s Great Outpost in Gatlinburg is like being a kid in a candy shop.

The outdoor gear and paraphernalia is as extensive as that found in major stores like REI or Bass Pro, but has a distinctly mountain feel similar to that found in Mast General Store.

“We wanted to be known as an experiential retailer. We wanted the store to be as much about having an experience in the store as the merchandise itself,” said Sutton Bacon, the CEO of Nantahala Outdoor Center.

Inside the front door, you’re greeted by a two-story climbing wall rigged with ropes and harnesses for the public to try. The layout of the store is well–organized: hiking, camping, fishing, climbing and paddling all have their own sections. There’s an entire floor dedicated to footwear and outdoor apparel from brands like Patagonia, North Face, Columbia and Keen.

The store is designed with kids in mind, too. They can climb through a rock tunnel into a “cave,” and bounce over a swinging bridge strung above the first floor of the store. There’s even a kid’s section for youth outdoor gear and outdoor toys.

A “Base Camp” area offers a passport to outdoor adventure, where you can sign up for rafting trips, learn-to-kayak classes, guided fishing trips and hiking or nature tours. Like an outdoor concierge service, staff can also offer hiking and camping suggestions for those trekking on their own.

“We have folks trained to assist anyone with any question,” said Brian May, NOC’s outreach manager.

It has outdoor gifts and souvenirs, from trinkets like old-fashioned candy and locally made soaps to more substantial finds like a national parks’ version of the Monopoly board game.

The store has quickly become popular with Appalachian Trail hikers. The AT passes through the Smokies at Newfound Gap, about 8 miles from Gatlinburg. The Great Outpost has free shuttle and Internet for hikers, and runs the shuttle three times a day to take hikers back to the trail. The Outpost also serves as a mail drop for hikers — a point along the trail where hikers send themselves care packages stocked with supplies for the next leg of their trek.

It’s fun for other guests at the store to see the hikers coming and going with their full-loaded packs.

“It is connecting us with a very authentic experience in the park,” said May. If hikers happen to stock up on supplies like camping fuel while at the store, all the better, but “It is not a hard sell. They can come in and just hang out,” May said.

NOC has been recently recognized by The New York Times as the “Nation’s Premiere Paddling School,” “The Best Place to Learn” by Outside Magazine, and as “One of the Best Outfitters on Earth” by National Geographic Explorer.


By Mark Singleton • Guest Columnist


Even in times of crisis, we’re called to take the long view to preserve our national heritage — because in doing so we fulfill one of the responsibilities that falls to all of us as Americans, and as inhabitants of this same small planet.

— President Barack Obama, April 16, 2010


Over the weekend President Obama took in the sights and tastes of Asheville. Sure is good to see a sitting President vacationing in our region, experiencing the great outdoors and hiking along the AT with the First Lady. They now know what all of us who live here know, that Western North Carolina is one of the last great places where the quality of life and access to the outdoors remain very high.

Aside from remarkable scenic vistas, the outdoors and public lands are an important component of our economy as well. The Outdoor Industry Association, an industry trade group, reports that outdoor recreation contributes $730 billion and 6.5 million jobs to the national economy. In North Carolina alone, outdoor recreation contributes $7.5 billion to the state’s economy and supports 95,000 jobs.

Our national parks, forest service lands, wild and scenic rivers and wilderness areas are all an essential part of our shared national heritage of treasured landscapes. These are the places where millions of Americans connect with nature. Those of us living in Western North Carolina are extremely fortunate to have such quick access to such areas in our backyard.

Ten days ago I had the good fortune to participate in the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors. Four administration officials — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and White House Council on Environmental Quality chair Nancy Sutley made statements at the event. Plus, the Commander and Chief himself, President Obama, addressed a mixed group of conservation interests, ranchers, farmers, timber and mining executives, agency staff and recreational users.

In his speech at the Interior Department, President Obama said he intends to build upon “a breathtaking legacy of conservation that still enhances our lives.” He said the tradition began with Theodore Roosevelt, whom he described as “one of my favorite presidents,” although he added “I will probably never shoot a bear.”

In more than 20 years of public policy work on tourism and outdoor recreation issues, I have never heard or seen a sitting President place conservation and stewardship as a priority in the national agenda and challenge such a diverse group to create a collective strategy for our public lands. To launch the initiative, President Obama signed a memorandum outlining policy goals the administration prioritizes over the next few years: forming coalitions with state and local governments as well as the private sector, encouraging outdoor recreation by Americans, and connecting wildlife migration corridors.

Sitting in the chair that I occupy as executive director of a national nonprofit that focuses on river conservation issues, I have a couple of comments on shaping the 21st Century Strategy for America’s Great Outdoors.

First, that conservation and outdoor recreation are mutually dependent. Whether it is catching tadpoles in streams as a child or kayaking rivers as an adult, time spent interacting with nature forms the basis of the American conservation ethic. Outdoor recreationists need natural landscapes, and those landscapes very much need outdoor recreationists to act as stewards of those resources.

Second, public land managers should not alienate visitors in meeting other goals. Recreation is often viewed by agencies as just one more impact to manage; something to be tolerated rather than encouraged. Rules are often inequitably applied in a manner that allows resource extraction but discourages recreational use. As a result, citizens are turned away and small businesses like kayak instructors find it easier to lead trips to other countries than to nearby public lands. Administrative direction in support of agencies encouraging human powered outdoor recreation could improve this problem.

And third, rivers should be universally recognized as valuable open space suitable for human powered recreation. Rivers and streams offer a free, existing and vast network of close-to-home, public, nature-based recreation opportunities. The federal government has authority to regulate and support public recreation on rivers and streams but does not do so.

Increasingly, private landowners are allowed to close rivers to public enjoyment. While a piecemeal approach is now delineating blueways or water trails, simple expression of existing federal rights could assure that every citizen, and every family, has a nearby venue for outdoor recreation.

It’s been exciting to see the President and First Lady in our neck of the woods. What’s even more encouraging is that the First Family seems to be practicing what they preach by taking in the great outdoors as part of an active vacation agenda. Our collective national heritage is too important an issue to get caught up in partisan politics. It’s not an issue based on red or blue. Rather, it’s a question of what you want to leave behind for your grandchildren.

(Singleton is Executive Director of American Whitewater, a national nonprofit river conservation organization headquartered in Sylva. He is also the Chairman of the Outdoor Alliance, a coalition of six national, member-based outdoor recreation organizations unified by a common conservation and stewardship ethic. Organizations include: Access Fund, American Canoe Association, American Hiking Society, American Whitewater, International Mountain Bicycling Association, and Winter Wildlands Alliance. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)


The US. Forest Service has banned alcohol use at 11 recreation sites in the Nantahala National Forest.

The sites include: Balsam Lake Recreation Area, Big Choga Dispersed Camping Sites, Bristol Fields Campground, Cheoah Point Swimming Area, Dry Falls Recreational Area, Fire’s Creek Hunter’s Camp, Fire’s Creek Picnic Area, Jackrabbit Recreation Area, Pine Ridge Dispersed Camping Sites, Wayah Bald Tower and Picnic Area, and Whiteside Mountain Recreation Area. All sites are within the Tusquitee, Cheoah and Nantahala Ranger Districts.

Several sites have been vandalized in association with alcohol consumption. Law enforcement officials have been called out for related incidents. Broken beer bottles in streams pose safety concerns for barefoot children and adults in adjoining creeks. Cheoah Point Swimming Area is the only public, free swimming on Lake Santeetlah and brings large numbers of visitors.

For more information on recreation sites across the forest and Ranger District contact information see the Carolina Connections publication online at /connections/Connections2010.pdf or call 828.257.4258.


North Carolina’s 47th District Senate seat represents Haywood, Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, Avery and McDowell counties. Republican voters will choose between Andy Webb, Ralph Hise, and Tamera Frank in the May 4 primary, and the winner faces incumbent Democrat Joe Sam Queen in the November general election.


Andy Webb, McDowell County Commissioner

Experience: Andy Webb is a small business owner and three-term McDowell County Commissioner who served as chairman for six years. Webb is also a trustee of McDowell County Community College. His wife Vicki is an elementary school principal.

Platform: Webb is running on a platform that touts supporting education, preserving jobs, and trimming the state budget by cutting from the top down. He has pledged to work with legislators on both sides of the aisle to change the climate in Raleigh. Webb is a social and fiscal conservative.

“Western North Carolina mountain folks are independent, hard-working, biblical and family-focused community minded, and supportive of their neighbor. Let’s not lose this way of life through a liberal worldview in Raleigh,” Webb said.


Ralph Hise, Spruce Pine, mayor

Experience: Ralph Hise is institutional assessment and planning officer at Mayland Community College and the second-term mayor of Spruce Pine. A 33-year-old native of Mitchell County, Hise would be the youngest member serving in the North Carolina Senate. Hise worked for the NC Victory Campaign under the North Carolina Republican Party in the 2004 and 2006 elections. He has served as the chairman and vice chairman of the Mitchell County Republican Party.

Platform: “We need to increase jobs and opportunities by lowering the tax rate, not through the one billion dollars in additional taxes Senator Queen supported this year. The backbone of our economy is small business, and we must create an atmosphere for them to develop and thrive, rather than be taxed to death. We must look to reduce government.”

“I am a strong conservative, and I pledge that bringing jobs and economic opportunities to Western North Carolina will be my greatest priority as your representative in the North Carolina Senate.”


Tamera Frank

Experience: Tamera Frank graduated from Mars Hill College and has spent time in the U.S. and overseas as a career Air Force wife. She worked as a waitress, a journalist, an adoptions social worker and an airline agent, among other jobs, before being appointed to the Department of Social Services Board of Directors in 2008.

Platform: Frank is running on a platform of small government and upholding constitutional rights.

“As your senator, I will work for lower taxes, limited government and the preservation of our individual rights...those freedoms given to you and me by God and backed up by the good old Constitution,” said Frank.

A self-styled political outsider, Frank has pledge to bring more jobs to Western North Carolina and bring back what she terms “mountain values.”

“I am, at the very core, a strong, Constitution-loving woman, hard-core on principles and values. I stand tough against political corruption; I am pro-life, pro-God, pro-Constitution, and even own a gun (yes, I believe I ought to be able to carry one and use it if I need to!).”



Donnie Dixon: “I can’t rightfully say he’s done a bad job. It could reflect the commissioners’ doings...I have nothing against the man. I’m not going to point a finger.”

Janice Inabinett said the county must rely on an evaluation system to make sure county employees know what their expectations are.

Judy Miller: “I think that he’s doing a good job, that he’s in a difficult situation and we need to work together to deal with a lot of issues at this point.”

David Monteith said King has been doing an “OK job” with what he’s had to work with, adding that there’s always room for improvement.

Steve Moon: “You can’t please all the people all the time – I’m sure Kevin had ruffled some feathers along the way. If you do your job, you will.”

Raymond Nelson had no comment on Kevin King’s job as county manager.

Robert White said he’s heard more positive comments than criticisms of Kevin King.

Billy Woodard: “I heard he runs the county as he wants to, but I don’t know that because I’m not in there.”

Tommy Woodard: “Most of the time, in the heat of emotion, I’ve had several people say that Kevin King was one of the first people that needed to be fired...It is not any part of my plan to clean house...I’ve been given several different reasons why people think he should go. I’m still in the process of educating myself on everything.”



John Herrin: “I’m not sure that Mr. King devotes 100 percent, but he’s the manager of a clown show, so he’s doing the best he can...The county manager is a direct reflection of the board of the commissioners. If the county manager is doing a poor job, then the county commissioners are doing a poor job.”

James King said Kevin King is his cousin, and that he should keep his job as long as he fulfills expectations. “I feel like the five commissioners should be running the county and not the county manager.”

Andy Parris: “As a person, I like him. His reputation is horrible. Can I actually point to any specific thing that he’s done? No. He only has the authority that people place in his hands. Any gripe anybody has with them could easily be alleviated by other people stepping up to do their jobs.”

Jerry Shook: “I think as a county manager, he has done a real good job. He tries to stay educated and updated on things.”


It is past time someone looked closely at just what is going on with the Evergreen Foundation, because apparently those in control of a whole lot of what should be public assets have strayed very far from their original mission.

The nonprofit Evergreen Foundation was established way back in 1977 as a sister organization to the Smoky Mountain Center. Its mission is to bolster mental health and substance abuse services in the mountain region, and it carried that out by being the property holding agency for Smoky Mountain. At that time, state mental health entities like Smoky Mountain could not own property, so the foundation took possession of facilities like the Smoky Mountain Center in Webster and other facilities. It rented them back out to mental health and substance abuse providers.

According to Evergreen officials, the nonprofit has almost $20 million in assets. According to a recent audit, at least $14.5 million in state and county funds have flowed into the foundation over the years.

The Evergreen Foundation has its own board and is led by Executive Director Tom McDevitt. McDevitt was pressured to resign as director of Smoky Mountain in September 2008 amid revelations about his large salary, his family members profiting from work for Smoky Mountain, and because he was earning a salary of $42,000 from Evergreen Foundation while, according to records, performing only eight hours per week work for it.

In March 2009, Evergreen board members told The Smoky Mountain News that on Jan. 1, 2009, McDevitt was awarded a two-and-a-half-year contract of $308,724 to operate the Evergreen Foundation. That amount was for general administration, accounting, budgeting, and investment coordination, as well as overhead. McDevitt’s own salary would comprise most of the budget, but what portion is not clear.

Now, members of the Smoky Mountain Center board and its executive director want answers about what the Foundation is doing with its assets, and they also want the Foundation board members to be appointed by the board of the Smoky Mountain Center. SMC Executive Director Brian Ingraham said: “We are talking about state funds that now exist within an organization that has no affiliation within Smoky Mountain Center and chooses to do so whatever they want with it.”

The SMC board has asked the state attorney general’s office to look into the situation, and county boards in all seven counties in the SMC original coverage area are expected to pass resolutions asking that the Evergreen Foundation come back under the control of the Smoky Mountain Center board. Let’s hope this can happen without a nasty legal battle. It is past time to rein in what has become a renegade foundation.


The 50th Senate seat represents Jackson, Macon, Swain, Clay, Graham, and Cherokee counties, along with a portion of Haywood. Republican voters will choose between Jim Davis and Jimmy Goodman on the May 4 primary, and the winner will face Democratic incumbent Sen. John Snow in the November general election.


Jim Davis, Franklin, dentist/orthodontist

Experience: Jim Davis has practiced as a dentist and orthodontist in Franklin since 1974. He is a sitting Macon County Commissioner representing Franklin and serves as liaison to the Macon County Board of Health. Davis and his wife Judy have two sons. Davis has also served as a deacon and elder in the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Platform: Davis is running on a platform that espouses individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise, and personal responsibility. A fiscal conservative, he is adamant about the need to reduce taxes.

“Your economic well-being is my number one priority and why I want to serve as your senator in the North Carolina Legislature,” Davis said.

He also supports enacting a protection of marriage between man and woman. Davis wants to reduce the state debts and cut out school system bureaucracy.


Jimmy Goodman, 51, Franklin, cabinet shop owner

Experience: Jimmy Goodman owns a cabinet shop in Macon County. He served on the Macon County Planning Board for four years. This is Goodman’s first time running for political office, but he successfully lobbied the Macon County board to change its meetings to evening start times so more people could attend. He is a founding member of Freedom Works in Macon County.

Platform: Goodman is running on a platform that emphasizes smaller, more open government. He wants to reduce all types of taxes and eliminate over-regulation. As a small business owner and political outsider, Goodman said his top priority would be increasing jobs in Western North Carolina.

“Are you are fed up with politics as usual, a government that refuses to listen, uncontrolled spending, excessive regulation and taxation, attacks on our Constitution, personal freedoms and rights, politicians who promise one thing until they get elected then fall right in line with the status quo? Well so am I,” Goodman said.


Early voting began last Thursday, April 15, and runs through noon on Saturday, May 1. As of press time Tuesday, here’s how many people had voted early so far.



119 voted in the Democratic primary

54 voted in the Republican primary

3 voted in unaffiliated ballot for the judge’s race

176 total early voters

41,717 total registered voters

0.4% early voter turnout

Breakdown of registered voters:

Democrats    20,322

Republicans    11,898

unaffiliated    9,470

Libertarians    27



142 voted in the Democrat primary

29 voted in the Republican primary

171 total early voters

9,434 total registered voters

1.8% early voter turnout

Breakdown of registered voters:

Democrats    4,377

Republicans    2,435

unaffiliated    2,610

Libertarians    12



157 voted in the Democratic primary

20 voted in the Republican primary

27 voted on unaffiliated ballots

204 total early votes

26,469 total registered voters

.6% early voter turnout

Breakdown of registered voters:

Democrats    11,869

Republicans    6,961

unaffiliated    7,617

Libertarians    22



114 voted in Democratic primary

86 voted in Republican primary

1 voted on an unaffiliated ballot

210 total early votes

24,275 total registered voters

.8% early voter turnout

Breakdown of registered voters

Democrats    8,402

Republicans    9,722

unaffiliated    6,138

Libertarian    13


To find out where you can vote early, call the board of election in your county.

Haywood    828.452.6633

Jackson    828.586.7538

Macon    828.349.2034

Swain    828.488.6177


From buttered trout fillets to a trout race, all things trout will be celebrated during the 21st annual Great Smoky Mountain Trout Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 1, at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds.

The festival grounds will be filled with vendors selling arts, crafts and other wares, as well as festival food booths. Performing on stage will be the Hominy Valley Boys and the Caribbean Cowboys band.

Other happenings at the festival include:

• An environmental education tent featuring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Haywood Waterways Association, N.C. Wildlife Commission and numerous other environmental agencies and nonprofits.

• Talks by Rob Gudger, a biologist who raises wolves, and by Jim Casada, an expert fly-fisherman and renowned outdoor writer.

• Casting demonstrations and fly-tying demonstrations by the Waynesville Fly Shop.

• Casting contest for ages 16 and up.

• Project Healing Waters, dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled servicemen and veterans through fly-fishing, will have a booth.

• Kids activities and games, like making your own kite.

• Bean bag toss contest for teams of two at 10 a.m. or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Free fishing clinics for kids

Two free youth fishing clinics will be held in conjunction with at the Great Smoky Mountain Trout Festival in Maggie Valley May 1.

The CATCH clinics Ñ Caring For Aquatics Through Conservation Habits Ñ are designed to teach young people how, when, and where to fish as well as aquatic ecology, water safety, fishing ethics and respect for the outdoors. Kids will wade in the stream to collect and identify aquatic bugs and test water quality, plus try their hand at fishing..

Program is for ages 6 to 15. Equipment is provided. Kids who have never fished or explored a stream are particularly encouraged to participate. The clinics are sponsored by the HCC Natural Resources Department, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Haywood Waterways Association and the town of Maggie.

The morning clinic will be from 9 a.m. until noon and requires registration. An afternoon clinic will be from 1 to 4 p.m. and will be first-come first-served.

To register, call 828.926.0866, ext. 117.


Three District Court judge seats are up for election in the seven western counties. The race for judge isn’t partisan, so candidates aren’t distinguished as Republican or Democrat on the ballot.

Candidates have to designate which of the three seats they are running for. The top two candidates for each seat will advance to the November election.

Seat 1

There are only two candidates running for this seat. Both will automatically advance past the primary. In-depth profiles and coverage of these candidates will appear in the run-up to the fall election.

Danya Vanhook, a sitting judge based in Haywood County

Vanhook currently serves as a judge. She was appointed to the seat just last year by Gov. Beverly Perdue to fill a vacancy.

Donna Forga, Waynesville attorney in solo practice

Forga has practiced all manner of law, mostly criminal and family law, including child custody, divorces and the like. She has also worked with Legal Aid, which provides free representation to victims of domestic violence.

Seat 2

Greg Boyer, 60, attorney in Franklin with Jones, Key, Melvin, & Patton

Experience: Boyer hails from Florida originally. He moved to Franklin part-time in 1999. He became a full-time resident and began practicing here five years ago. Boyer has done all types of law: criminal, family “pretty much the things we see in District Court.”

Why run: “I’ve always enjoyed practicing law. I really enjoy it. I love it.”

Boyer is particularly fond of District Court.

“I have always enjoyed that type of practice which is heavy on people and spending a lot of time with different folks ... This past year I started thinking about giving a little bit back.”

Philosophy: “The members of the practicing bar here are good and honest and try very hard to do a good job. If a lawyer said something to me, I could normally trust that. In big cities, there is not that flavor. I appreciate the caliber of the people I get to work with here ... The key thing I have seen is a caring about people in the court system. They aren’t just a number or a cog in the wheel. That is what I really think District Court is about.”

Kris Earwood, 32, Sylva attorney with firm Lay and Earwood

Experience: Earwood went to law school at Regent, Va. She interned with the district attorney’s office for a few months while in school.

Upon graduating, she joined the firm of Frank Lay, where she is now a partner. She focused on criminal defense for three years, then spent two years doing family law with the Department of Social Services. She briefly served as a prosecutor in tribal court in Cherokee.

Lay said in her seven years, she has had vast “in the courtroom” experience.

“I spend more time in District Court than in my office,” she said.

Why run: District courtrooms are regularly packed to the gills with all walks of life, with all manner of violations and every type of dispute imaginable.

“Either you love District Court or you don’t. I really love District Court. There are a lot of attorneys who don’t ... I love the case law. I love the precision of it. I love the statutes. I hope the ultimate goal of any judge is to seek justice.”

Philosophy: “District Court is the place where a judge can really have an impact on someone’s life, whether it is a criminal defendant or a DSS case ... The average voter isn’t well-versed in what goes on in District Court, but it’s where you go if you get a speeding ticket or are getting a divorce. It is the meat and potatoes of our court system.”

What else: Earwood wants to uphold the tradition of even-temperament and sound decisions the 30th judicial bench is known for.

“Everybody we have had up there had common sense life experience and legal experience.”

Justin Greene, 30, Bryson City attorney with Moody and Brigham law firm

Experience: Greene went to law school at N.C. Central. He did an internship with Moody and Brigham while still in school and came back to his hometown to work at the firm after graduation in 2006. Greene said he has handled the full gamut of case work.

“We are a small firm in a small town so you do what needs doing.”

He has also been an attorney advocate for the guardian ad litem program.

Why run: “I have always had an eye for the bench since I was a little kid.” He remembers a field trip to the local courthouse in second grade. All the students took turns sitting behind the judge’s bench. Ever since, he’s wanted to be a judge.

Philosophy: “I think I can help people. I think I can understand the way people are and what some of the problems are that people in this area have ... I can see both sides of issues. When you can relate to the people you are serving that is a huge help.”

Greene said his youth, or the age of any candidate, isn’t an issue.

“It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.” But he admits there are big shoes to fill.

“I have always had great pride about practicing where I practice and being an attorney in WNC. It is the best bench in the state and always has been.”

What else: Unlike the heavy concentration of candidates from Haywood County, Greene hopes “one thing that might set me apart is I am from the western part of the district.”

David Sutton, 34, Waynesville attorney with Kirkpatrick law firm

Experience: Sutton went to law school at N.C. Central. He has practiced law for five years at the firm of James “Kirk” Kirkpatrick.

Sutton has practiced in most areas that come up in District Court, but has done less on criminal and more on the civil side and domestic arena, including family law, divorce, child custody, child support, and the like. He also has done many property disputes, a big item in District Court.

Why run: Sutton was an elementary teacher for two years before he decided to go back to law school. Once in law school, he decided fairly quickly he wanted to be a judge one day.

“One day arrived,” he said.

“The majority of the cases in District Court affect families and children, be it criminal or domestic cases. I think it is a good opportunity to provide a safe, neutral environment for families to resolve their differences.”

Philosophy: “I feel like I can be fair and objective in applying the law. Those who know me in the legal community know I won’t get out of control on the bench and would maintain an even keel, that I am fair I would listen to all sides before making a determination. Those are promises I will make.”

When it is necessary I will not hesitate to send somebody to jail if it ensures the safety of the public.”

What else: Sutton’s father died when he was a baby, and his mother remarried. He grew up in a blended family with half-brothers and sisters and step-brothers and sisters, allowing him to related to the mixed family dynamics of those landing in District Court for domestic issues.

Sutton is active in the Haywood County Democratic Party. While the race is non-partisan, Sutton has used the normal routes within party structures to garner support for his candidacy.

Caleb Rogers, 30, Waynesville attorney in solo practice

Experience: Rogers went to Wake Forest for law school. Upon graduating in 2005, he practiced at the firm Brown and Patten for four years before starting his own practice last year with his wife, who is also an attorney.

Rogers says he has done all the types of cases that would come before the district court bench: criminal and civil, including wills, estates, elderly guardianships, property disputes, and landlord-tenant fights. He has done family law, though not a whole lot. He estimates that he has done hundreds of real estate closings.

Why run: “Being a judge is being a servant. It is one of the highest forms of public service...I can do the job. I have the intellect, the knowledge of the law and strength of character necessary to serve on the bench.”

Philosophy: “A judge must be able to listen to and comprehend the breadth of every case before him and listen to all the facts and treat each case as important and then apply the law in a way that is fair to both sides. That promotes the equality of our system and protects the freedoms we all enjoy.”

Rogers advocates “severity where needed and second chances where appropriate.”

What else: He was valedictorian of his class at Pisgah High School. He is president of the Haywood County Bar Association.

Seat 3

Steve Ellis, 60, Waynesville attorney in the firm Brown, Ward and Haynes

Experience: Ellis went to law school at UNC-Chapel Hill. He worked for three years as a prosecutor with the district attorney’s office. He spent several years as an attorney for the Department of Social Services doing all manner of family law, including child custody, child abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, child support, etc.

Why run: “This is as close to the people’s court as we have.”

Whether it is a speeding ticket or divorced couple trying to split their assets, “it is the court that probably affects the lives of more citizens” more than any other realm.

Ellis also wants to help fill a void being left by long-time judges.

“It was clear there would be an enormous change in the court system. I saw a need for an experienced person on the bench ... I have always been drawn to public service. This is a chance to step forward and do that.”

Philosophy: “Be courteous to everybody, starting with the people who come before you as the parties in the case and their attorneys, but also including the clerks, bailiffs, and witnesses.”

Ellis said a judge should not berate those who come before the bench or look down on others in the courtroom.

“If the judge acts courteously toward everybody, it creates an atmosphere for the courtroom.”

What else: Ellis was the top nominee for a vacant judge seat that opened up last year. When there is a vacancy on the bench, all the local attorneys come together and vote for three nominees, whose names are sent on to the governor to make the final selection. Ellis overwhelmingly received the support of attorneys in the seven western counties comprising the judicial district. He got 54 votes, while the attorney who came in second trailed with 25. However, the governor opted for the second runner-up.

“It was puzzling to a lot of people,” Ellis admitted.

Rusty McLean, 63, Waynesville attorney with solo practice

Experience: McLean went to law school at N.C. Central University. He has had law partners over the years, but mostly has operated a solo practice. McLean has 34 years experience in the civil and criminal arena. He says he has tried more than 2,000 criminal and civil jury trials and twice that number of non-jury trials.

“That is a pretty substantial difference from some of the candidates,” McLean said.

Why run: He decided to join the race again this year partly out of concern over the high turnover of experienced judges the bench has seen in the past few years, and with this election in particular. McLean said he is concerned about the level of acumen some of the younger candidates have.

“Judges don’t need to have on the job training.”

McLean said civil experience is just as important as criminal.

“Most people don’t end up in criminal court but they do have business disputes and collection disputes and property disputes, and those issues are important to people all over Western North Carolina.”

Philosophy: “A judge is not an advocate for either side. A judge has the duty and responsibility to listen to both sides and render a decision solely based on the evidence and apply the law correctly.”

What else: McLean ran for judge four years ago but lost in the primary.

McLean said he has taken more than 500 cases to appeal, the grounds for which are perceived mistakes by the judge. McLean said he became so tuned in to detecting potential judicial mistakes when trying cases that he would be less likely to make them himself if he was on the bench.

McLean has taken two cases all the way to the Supreme Court.

Roy Wijewickrama, 34, Waynesville attorney serving as prosecutor in Cherokee

Experience: Wijewickrama went to law school at Cleveland State in Ohio. He was a prosecutor with the district attorney’s office in the seven western counties for seven years. He went into private practice for a year to spend more time at home following the birth of his first child. And for the past two years, he has served as the prosecutor in tribal court run by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

While his expertise is clearly on the criminal side as a prosecutor, his year in private practice gave him experience in family law and civil cases.

“By no means do I consider that to be a lifetime worth of experience handling family law cases, but nevertheless, I am familiar with them and the law surrounding family law.”

Even as a prosecutor, he was involved in family law if allegations of child abuse or domestic violence were a part of the case.

Why run: “Most importantly I feel I will be serving my community, the community I was raised in. But also I feel like given my experience and given the fact that as a prosecutor especially I’ve had to make very difficult decisions, I feel I am well-suited to serve on the bench.”

Those decisions include when to offer a plea bargain, what evidence is admissible, whether charges are likely to stick, and how to deal with cases where children are serving as witnesses.

Philosophy: Wijewickrama said there are two primary qualifications for judge.

“Experience, and by that I mean time spent in court and the number of trials they have taken part in. And also temperament. That is very important.” Judges need to be tough and firm, but they also need to treat people with respect.

What else: Ellis does not see age as a strike against a candidate for judge. The long-time judges stepping down were young themselves when they were seated on the bench.

“We’ve had several judges over the past 25 years that have been appointed in the late 20s and early 30s, and I think they have been outstanding judges and I think the legal community would agree we have been very lucky to have them serving on the bench.”


Democratic candidates, pick four

Steve Moon, 59, owner of a tire shop, incumbent

Moon is finishing up his first term as commissioner and has served on the school board for six years. Moon said he’d like to be re-elected to make sure the interest from the North Shore road settlement is used wisely. “I wouldn’t want to hand the reigns over to anybody else.”

Tommy Woodard, 51, owner of construction company

Woodard said his main goal is to represent the interests and desires of Swain County residents. Woodard freely admits that he would like to bring his Christian values and ethics to the board of commissioners. “Whether you agree or disagree, it would only be fair to you that you know where I stand.”

Raymond Nelson, 63, retired U.S. Navy officer

Nelson said politicians should stop pointing fingers and start tackling problems. His main goal is to save taxpayer money through efficient use of county employees and equipment. For example, he’d like to use county engineers and workers to repair a sinkhole in front of the jail rather than paying for private labor.

Donnie Dixon, 64, tool and dye maker/machinist

Dixon was a commissioner for one term in the early ‘90s. He’s running to provide good leadership during tough economic times. Dixon would like to bring high-paying jobs to the county, create a more open government with televised meetings, and focus on setting long-term goals.

Robert White, 70, retired school superintendent

White says he has spent countless hours working on budgets, communicating with both staff and community and creating a strategic plan for Swain’s schools. He would like to create an ad hoc committee of citizens to look at the Swain’s future needs, help create a strategic plan, and guide commissioners in their decisions.

Judy Miller, 62, retired psychotherapist

Miller would like to see staggered terms for county commissioners and the school board race made nonpartisan. Miller advocates creating a long-term plan for the county and closely involving citizens in the process.

Janice Inabinett, 68, retired social worker

Inabinett said her chief goal is to inspire citizens to participate in government. “People are apathetic because they are not asked to participate.” Inabinett says she’s in favor of starting a department of community involvement to create more leaders in Swain.

David Monteith, 63, schoolbus driver, incumbent

Monteith hopes to bring more jobs to Swain County and better promote tourism. Building the North Shore Road would have brought 714 federal jobs to the area, according to Monteith, who was the sole commissioner to vote against the cash settlement. “We need to make sure we do not allow the federal government to continue to take over Swain County.”

Billy Woodard, 63, construction worker and supervisor

Woodard says he will bring much-needed leadership to the county. For Woodard, the biggest issue facing Swain now is the lack of jobs in the area. Woodward’s priority is help citizens establish small businesses in the county.


Republican candidates

John Herrin, 49, project manager for construction company

Herrin’s priorities are to establish an open government, create an active job creation program, and provide full support to the school system. Herrin says the county government would stay within budget if it was profit-driven like the private sector.

Andy Parris, 35, insurance agent

Parris hopes to bring a more transparent government to Swain County. “I want to see if we can do business on top of the table instead of under it.” Parris said commissioners seem to do what they want once they’ve been voted in. “I think it’s time that people had a say-so. That’s what a representative does.”

James F. King, 57, owner of a local meat butcher facility

King would like to keep property taxes as low as possible and curb some county spending. “I feel I can help people of the county, maybe address what people of the county wants instead of what the government thinks they need.”

Gerald (Jerry) Shook, 48, delivery driver

Shook would like to quit following the “old partisanship ways” and make choices for the common people of Swain County. Shook also wants to curb waste on the county’s expense accounts and make cuts to the budget.


Big names in paddling will dish up their best stunts and tricks in the NOC Freestyle Shootout kayak rodeo on the Nantahala River this weekend, April 17 and 18.

Freestyle kayaking, like skateboarding or snowboarding on a half-pipe, involves technical tricks and highly-stylized moves — including spins, turns, cartwheels and flips that often involve the boater going completely airborne.

The NOC Shootout is one of only six events in the country where paddlers can get points toward the USA Freestyle Kayaking national championship series. Paddlers are hoping freestyle will be recognized as an official Olympic sport for the 2012 games.

The NOC competition begins late Saturday morning and runs throughout the afternoon. The top five paddlers in each class advance to finals on Sunday. Awards ceremony is Sunday evening with $10,000 in cash and prizes.

Throughout both days, visitors can enjoy a festival-like atmosphere with DJ Terrence Young. Saturday evening, The River Bottom Nightmare Band featuring members of Asheville’s Firecracker Jazz Band will perform at The Pourover Pub at NOC.

The wave feature on the river will be lit up for an “open surf” on Friday evening, April 16, after which Eric Jackson, founder of Jackson Kayak, will give a talk on the rules, moves and scoring of freestyle kayaking at The Pourover. or 800.232.7238.


Test the newest boats in the market

Nantahala Outdoor Center’s Demo Days is Saturday, April 17, where more than 60 kayaks and canoes will be available for free test-paddles on the river.


Democrat candidates, pick three

Raymond L. Brooks, 59, owner of trucking company

Brooks has worked with citizens for more than 30 years as a preacher at Waynesville’s Bible Baptist Church. He wants to reduce the county debt and be more careful with spending. Brooks would also like to bring in more jobs and help the education system.

J.W. “Kirk” Kirkpatrick, 41, attorney, incumbent

Kirkpatrick has served as county commissioner since 2002, and became chairman of the board in 2008. He says his experience will be helpful in successfully managing county funds. Kirkpatrick would also like to continue work on the Wal-Mart renovation project and see good and reasonable use of the Haywood Community College’s quarter-cent sales tax.

John C. McCracken, 66, retired assistant superintendent and finance officer for Haywood County Schools

McCracken wants to hold the line on spending until the economy improves and keep the tax rate as low as possible. He said as a former Board of Education member, he’s already learned a lot about how the county budget operates.

Rhonda Schandevel, 45, dental hygienist

As a parent of a disabled son, Schandevel is a long-time advocate for children with special needs. She wants to work with the economic development commission, tourism development authority and local chambers of commerce to bring jobs with good wages and benefits to Haywood County.

Michael Sorrells, 53, owner of service station, convenience store and café

Sorrells has served on the Haywood County School Board for six years. He oversaw the construction of a new school in Bethel and flood repairs. No burning issues drove Sorrells to seek office, other than hopes to move Haywood County forward with better leadership.

Bill Upton, 65, retired superintendent of Haywood County Schools, incumbent

Upton is nearing the end of his first term as county commissioner. Education is his first priority, both in the public school system and at Haywood Community College. Upton vows to keep the tax rate as low as possible, pointing out that 83 of the state’s 100 counties have higher tax rates than Haywood County.

* Frank “Danny” James will appear on the ballot but dropped out from the election last week due to personal reasons.

Republican candidates, pick three

David Bradley, 44, sales

Bradley hopes to create a diverse economy with stable jobs, especially for younger generations. Bradley says Haywood should focus on more than just tourism and create policies that are friendly to entrepreneurs. He hopes to create a strategic plan for the county with specific goals and objectives for the next 15 years.

Tom Freeman, 52, building contractor

Freeman says his children and grandchildren have already been burdened with the commissioners’ out of control spending and the county’s high taxes. As commissioner, Freeman would like to work on getting the county debt-free by slowing down spending and putting an end to borrowing.

Jeanne Sturges Holbrook, 48, self-employed

Holbrook would like to stand up to state lawmakers who push state mandates on counties. She would also like to address the high percentage of the county population dependent on public assistance. Holbrook said she would be independent and objective if elected as commissioner.

Denny King, 52, engineer

King said he decided to run because he believes the commissioners are spending too much money. King is a strong advocate for property rights and running a smaller, constitutional government. He opposes the proposed health board rule, which carries a maximum penalty of a misdemeanor for creating a public health risk by improperly storing trash.

Michael “Hub” Scott, 45, maintenance supervisor for Canton paper mill out on disability

Scott plans to hold down taxes, spending and regulation. He hopes to provide incentives to keep established businesses running and attract new ones. Due to a brain tumor, Scott is now on disability. He promises to donate his salary as commissioner to the community kitchen in Canton.


By John Beckman • Guest Columnist

If Alexander Graham Bell were alive today he’d probably be carrying an iPhone. Based on Samuel Morse’s first telegraph sent via “Morse Code” in 1838, Mr. Bell and others began working on a “speaking telegraph” for voice communication over wires. On March 10, 1876 the 29-year-old Mr. Bell uttered his famous words; “Mr. Watson, come here — I want to see you!” He would be amazed at how far his invention has advanced and the many functions it can perform beyond calling to your assistant in the next room.

We chuckle today at the thought of turning a crank to contact Mabel at the switchboard and asking her to take our wire and plug it into another person’s connector so that we could chat. The automated switchboard put Mabel out of work when any customer could dial directly from their special number to any other number, as long as a wire had been stretched that far. When millions of miles of wire had been pulled across deserts, over mountains and under oceans, the touch-tone keypad replaced the rotary dial and all those old phones joined Mabel and the hand crank in the dusty pages of history.

Old man Bell would have been shocked in 1973 when the first “portable communication device”, based on two-way radio technology for taxis and police cars, made its first call from Motorola headquarters to AT &T’s Bell labs. The chunky “bag phones” with giant batteries, coiled cord and desk phone handset look downright prehistoric when compared to the sleek, compact designs of today. But the idea of bouncing your words off a satellite whirling around in space to anybody anywhere (who had a bag phone), well, that was downright Buck Rogers stuff for a country full of Richard Nixon, sit-ins and Vietnam.

Technology has continued its relentless march to where most elementary school kids can show you how to change the settings on your phone or download the latest “apps.” I was slow to adapt to cell phones, preferring to use the corner payphone when I was away from home and felt the need to “reach out and touch someone.” When I started spending a good bit time in the hills of Jackson County in the mid-1990’s, my wife insisted I get one in case of emergencies. I got an analog “candy bar” phone, and of course, it wasn’t long before analog was no more and I had to adapt to this fancy digital system, with a lot more buttons to consider and try to understand how they could help me.

Fifteen years have passed and still I have failed to keep pace with the constantly changing world of handheld communications. I’m still using the same phone I got for free when I switched plans years ago. It doesn’t take pictures, play music or text (which I’ve still never done). It pretty much just makes calls, which is why I thought I got one in the first place. I’ve never used the calculator or planner, and the “To Do Scheduler” remains empty — a reassuring reference when the rest of my plates seem overflowing with projects. My techie friends have often tried to convince me of the advantages of the latest technology, urging me to abandon my Luddite ways and catch up to the present. I remind them that I still cut my own firewood, keep chickens and grow a lot of my own food, and believe I have little use for a Droid, a Blackberry or whatever comes next to “simplify” my life. I’ve become accustomed to shrugs of disbelief and headshakes when the topic comes up in conversation.

I was visiting with some friends who are all about cutting edge phone apps and was amazed at what these little slick boxes can do, for other people that is. By now, most folks know that they can control the lights in your house, adjust your thermostat, and start the bath water from their phone. Of course you know that you can also do your banking, find anything anywhere, get yourself un-lost, learn a new language or trade commodity futures in foreign currencies by mashing a few buttons. You can unlock your wife’s car from anywhere when she loses her keys (press the unlock button on her spare set into your cell phone while she holds hers next to the car). Feeling nervous? No problem, you can snap virtual bubble wrap on your phone until you calm down. By blowing across your phone and fingering the screen you can create your own live music, along with thousands of other “useful” functions. In theory, these time-savers free up precious moments for us, allowing us more time to gaze across the mountains, probably thinking lofty thoughts, and of more things our phones can do for us.

With phones being able to do just about everything, I’m sometimes nervous about the future utility of men. But I reassure myself that until there is an “app” to take out the trash, lift heavy objects, and remember to put the toilet seat down when we’re finished, that there will still be a use for us in the world, as long as we have a signal and our batteries can still hold a charge.

John Beckman is a farmer, builder and part-time technophobe living in Cullowhee.


Nine bat species across the South are at risk from a deadly fungus decimating certain bat populations known as white-nose syndrome.

The disease has now been confirmed as close as Tennessee and Virginia. Susan Loeb, a leading bat expert with the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station, says it is just a matter of time before white-nose syndrome is detected in North Carolina where nine bat species are presumed at risk.

“Little-brown bats and Indiana bats are among the most threatened by white-nose syndrome — meaning their populations could either be seriously decimated or become extinct,” said Loeb. “Historically, little-brown bats were quite common, but the species appears to be especially susceptible to the fungus and is being hit hard in the states where WNS has taken hold.”

White nose syndrome affects bats that hibernate in caves and mines. The disease received its name because of the white fungus often seen on the noses, muzzles and wings of infected bats. More than a million bats have died as the result of white-nose syndrome.

So far, white nose syndrome is confirmed in 11 states from Massachusetts to Virginia. The first case of the disease in the United States was reported in New York in 2006. Some experts believe the disease originated in Europe.


Looking for a high-energy spring art evening that’ll make your jaw drop, open your eyes and please your palate, give a vantage point to view creation, and make you eager to come back the next year?

It’s time for Waynesville’s ninth annual QuickDraw, giving you front-row access to art in the making. QuickDraw’s lively art-while-you-watch event and benefit auction combines a window on the creative process with a fun way to help art teachers inspire students.

Forty professional artists set up studios in one location to create original art on the spot as guests watch the engineering process.

Half the artists volunteer to race against a 60-minute time clock in a traditional quickdraw challenge, while others create at a more relaxed pace. Following the timed art race, silent auction, and hors d’oeuvres buffet, the art is auctioned to benefit art in schools and fund scholarships.

The event is an annual draw for area visitors and art fans to watch and meet prominent regional artists hailing from Asheville to Andrews.

One-hour challenge artists who create start-to-finish in full view include watercolorist painters Ann Vasilik of Asheville and Gretchen Clasby of Knoxville (formerly of Waynesville). Oil painters include Sarah Sneeden of Cedar Mountain, Luke Allsbrook, and Jo Ridge Kelley of Waynesville. Bob Martin of Canton will paint sumi-e landscape (sansui).

QuickDraw attracts regional fine artists and artisans with a public showcase for their creative techniques, a challenging exercise to create ‘fresh’ work (freed from second-guessing), and a way to visibly show support for art in schools.

Guests gain a rare vantage point to watch artists construct their works from start to finish. ‘One-hour challenge’ artists race the time clock, using watercolor, oils, acrylic, pastels, colored pencil, metal, and mixed media. Artists carefully prepare for the challenge of intense, focused execution within the time window.

“There’s an excitement and energy about the evening that I enjoy. The challenge lies in getting done in an hour, on a painting that would by rights take me hours to do,” said Joyce Schlapkohl, an oil painter and Quick Draw volunteer artist. The first year as a participant, Schlapkohl recalls, onlookers would greet her as she worked. “I tried to talk back,” she said, “but soon realized you needed every minute to paint.”

In preparation for the event, pastel artist and QuickDraw volunteer artist Robbins Richardson sets up her studio space to replicate conditions of the QuickDraw moment.

“The easel on a table, my pastels, my coffee, even my kitchen timer. I chant ‘On your mark, get set, go!’ and I see what happens,” said Richardson. “Hopefully, I get it pretty close. I was still nervous last year; it’s anxiety-producing! Can I do the piece well enough in one hour so that someone will want it to take home at auction?...At the end of QuickDraw, back at home, I’m still vibrating, like my finger’s been stuck in the light socket.”

This year, Sarah Sneeden, oil painter, QD volunteer artist plans to execute a sunflower motif in oils at QuickDraw. She doesn’t mind the distractions of a watching crowd. “I have painted in some of the worst places in the worst times,” she laughed, “one hundred degrees, when they’re tarring roads. I’ve learned to roll past things.”

Alongside, demo artists create in process-intensive media at a less intense pace, letting them converse with strolling QuickDraw guests. Demo artists include metal and clay sculptors, potters, woodcarvers, textile artists and quilters, as well as mixed media, collage, leather, gourd, and basket artisans. After the high-energy hour, artists and patrons break for a reception to wind down, frame the fresh works, bid on silent auction art, and preview the live auction art. As the buffet winds down, the new art is matted and framed, and ready-to-hang. Live artists introduce their art on the auction block, adding humor and a backstory as they describe their marathon to a friendly audience.

At evening’s end, bid winners go home with art they can really talk about, art teachers get supplies on their project shelves, students win new creative outlets, artists have new exposure and new friends, and the audience has a vivid impression of step-by-step creation.


Want to Go?

What: 9th annual QuickDraw live art event & auction. 40 artists work live, including 60-minute race-the-clock challenge

Benefits: art teacher grants and college scholarships

When: Saturday, April 24, 5:30 pm

Where: Waynesville Inn Spa & Golf Resort

Tickets: $50 advance only, order early.

To order by phone, call 828.452.2432. Buy with PayPal at Buy in person with cash or check at these Waynesville and Sylva galleries: It’s by Nature on West Main, Sylva; in downtown Waynesville at Gallery 86, EarthWorks, Leapin’ Frog Gallery, Ridge Runner Naturals, Textures, Cackleberry Mountain, and Twigs & Leaves Gallery.

More Info: Visit or call 828.734.5747.


Quickdraw schedule

5:30 p.m. Terrace Social (cash bar) Get your bid number as artists get ready, get set ...

6:15 p.m. GO! QuickDraw’s Signature Live Hour Race-the-Clock Challenge Silent Auction begins.

7:15 p.m. Heavy Hors d’oeuvres Buffet Live Auction Art Preview. Nosh and chat as artists catch their breath, frame their works. Buy silent auction art, review your Live Auction faves

8:15 p.m. Live Auction The gavel rises on a fun, fast-paced auction, where artists describe the challenge and results.


There are six Republicans vying for a shot to run against Congressman Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, this year.

The six Republican candidates share similar platforms on all the salient talking points: they are against the health care bill that passed, they want smaller government, they want to reduce debt and they all pledge to “get the country back on the right track.”

But they have vastly different backgrounds. And despite sharing the standard Republican agenda, there are differences that set them apart, with some further right than others.


Jeff Miller, 55, small business owner

Miller runs a dry-cleaning business with 24 employees that was started by his parents. He is married and has a 17-year-old son.

Miller founded Honor Air, a program that charters airplanes to bring groups of WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., at no cost to see the WWII monument before they die. His plan was initially to reach all the veterans in Henderson County. But the project took off and by the end of the first year of the project, he had flown 800 veterans to D.C. Last year, the Honor Air network under Miller’s supervision flew 18,000 veterans to D.C. from 35 states.

Why did you decide to run?

“I had never talked about it, never thought about it, but I had a lot of people asking me to do it.”

Those people happened to be what Miller called “bookend generations” that each meant the world to him — his 17-year-old son and WWII veterans who he works closely with through Honor Air flights. They convinced Miller he was the type of common sense leader people were looking for.

What do you hope to accomplish?

“The number one thing we have to do is drive down the national debt. I like to call it beginning the deconstruction of big government.”

What separates you from other candidates?

“I understand the pains and challenges of running a business. I know what it’s like to sign the front of a payroll check and have to back it up. I think right now if there is anything the country needs it is people who have had to balance a budget.”

Miller is more moderate that some candidates.

“I am not a far right-winger. I think both parties have a piece of this mess we are in.”

He avoids bashing the President or the Democratic Party, and he admits there are “some good things” in the health care bill.


Greg Newman, 48, attorney in Hendersonville

Newman is a partner in his firm and practices every type of law, from criminal to civil. He also served as a prosecutor in the 1990s. He served as mayor of Hendersonville for four years. He is married and has three kids ranging from 9 to 20 years old.

Why did you decide to run?

“I saw the fear and worry people were starting to experience. There are a lot of people beginning to think the government is too large, and our kids and grandkids are going to have an enormous tax burden on them. It is that lack of confidence that motivated me to want to get into this thing.”

What do you hope to accomplish?

“I want to restore people’s confidence in our future. We have to make some very bold actions about what we choose to fund in this government.”

What separates you from other candidates?

“I want to be honest with people about what it is going to take to get our fiscal house in order.”

On that note, Newman suggests axing the federal departments of Education, Energy and Homeland Security, considering them a duplication of existing departments or failing to provide any vital services.

“I am the only one who has been bold enough to state specifically what I intended to cut.”


Dan Eichenbaum, 67, ophthalmologist in Murphy

Eichenbaum has been a leader in the Tea Party movement and the 9/12 Project in the mountains. Eichenbaum was formerly registered as a Libertarian and ran for county commissioner in Cherokee County in 2002 on the Libertarian ticket. He said he became a Libertarian out of frustration at the direction of the Republican Party at one stage but was “never a big ‘L’ libertarian.”

Why did you decide to run?

Eichenbaum is fed up with government interference in his life and business.

“It got to the point where for the past year or so I have been screaming at my television set and yelling at my satellite radio in my truck.” He even found himself giving political speeches in the shower.

Last spring, he went to the Tea Party in Atlanta on tax day with a homemade sign with a single word: Liberty.

“We get there and there are 20,000 people. I was inspired and empowered.”

He came home and started a chapter of the 9/12 Project that grew from half a dozen to 600 members by the end of the summer. He inadvertently became the leader of a movement, and was ultimately convinced to run by those around him.

What do you hope to accomplish?

“I’ve had a platform from day one: limited government, individual freedom, personal responsibility, fiscal restraint and free market economy. Those are my five tools and my tool belt is the Constitution of the United States.”

What separates you from other candidates?

Eichenbaum said he is more knowledgeable than all the other candidates and has won straw polls at every Republican debate he has been in, which he credits to his ability to define a problem and pose a solution that will work.

“I can speak to those points on any issue anyone will ever ask me about. I am starting to hear my own words come back to me now from some of these other candidates.”

Eichenbaum is sick and tired of top down politics in Washington and RINOS, Republicans In Name Only.

Ed Krause, 63, attorney in Marion

Krause is married and has five grown children and an adopted teenager still at home. He has written three novels set in a fictitious small town in the rural Southern Appalachians. He is a fan of model railroads.

Why did you decide to run?

“I am concerned and upset about the bad economic situation and the government’s inability to solve the problem.”

What do you hope to accomplish?

“We have to pay back the debt. We are mortgaging our children and grandchildren.”

What separates you from other candidates?

“We are all the same. There are only minor differences between us all. I stress that I am a problem solver. I am not a flashy person or eloquent person but I can get the job done.”


Kenny West, 52, insurance salesman in Hayesville

West is a representative for Liberty National Life Insurance company focused on businesses accounts and works strictly on commission. He is the eighth ranking salesperson out of 6,800 insurance reps, even though he has only been on the job three years. Before that, he was a regional director with a large company overseing 160 employee that published church directories around the Southeast.

Why did you decide to run?

“When I looked at things going on and the choices being made, I told my wife, ‘This is not the America Kenny West knows.’ I think we forgot about our founding fathers and the principles they stood for when they fought and died for our country.”

West invited over his pastor and friends over to pray and talk about whether West should run while sharing a bucket of chicken wings in his basement one evening.

What do you hope to accomplish?

“I submit to you there is a lack of character in Congress. If we don’t put God and character back in this county, it is over for my children.”

What separates you from other candidates?

West has made his belief in God, his family values and strong Christian principles a central part of his campaign message. He is surprised how absent God is in the other candidates’ platforms.

“I have already been called a theocrat by one of them. Am I a zealot? No, but I am a Christian. All blessings come from God.”

West, a Baptist, represents strong family values. He’s been married just once, never smoked or drank, and doesn’t cheat.


James Howard, 72, Franklin

Howard grew up in New York as one of 11 children. He retired to Franklin from Florida in 2002. In Florida, he was a commercial helicopter pilot, but also worked in law enforcement for a stint and owned a real estate title company.

When asked his age, Howard refused, saying it wasn’t an issue in the campaign. “That is the problem with reporters,” he said, and then insisted he was 39. His real age was obtained from his registration information at the board of elections, however.

Why did you decide to run?

Howard filed a class action lawsuit against Congress in 2009 following the passage of the stimulus bill. He filed it without a lawyer, “on behalf of himself and the American taxpayer,” according to the suit.

He claims Congress was “derelict in their duties” and “conspired collectively to undermine the people who hired them with their vote.”

In a nut shell, that’s why he decided to run.

“I am not going to stand by and watch our great country destroy itself under the present leadership of the current Congress,” Howard said. “I am going to give it more than a college try.”

What do you hope to accomplish?

He pledges to always put the interests of those who elected him first.

“They hire me, they elect me, I serve them when I get to Washington.”

What separates you from other candidates?

None of the others have the right experience in the “trenches” of the Republican Party. Howard cited his work as the executive director of the Broward County Republican Party in Florida.

Howard said even if one of the other candidates gets elected, they won’t know what to do when they get to D.C.

“That person will be buried for two years and won’t be able to take his hands out of his pockets. It’s a fraternity up there,” Howard said.


The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail has added a new stop on the map for anglers — the Raven Fork trophy water on the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

The fly-fishing trail leads fishermen to 15 different fishing spots in Jackson County, from narrow mountain streams to wide rivers. The Jackson Country Tourism Authority came up with the idea last year as a way to harness the potential of touring anglers.

“The Raven Fork trophy water enhances the trail’s overall experience because it provides a type of fishing not found anywhere else,” said Julie Spiro of the Jackson Country Tourism Authority. “It’s thrilling to catch fish on that stream. There are a lot of large trout in there.”

The 2.2-mile stretch is regularly stocked with large rainbow, brown and golden trout. It’s common to catch fish 20 inches or longer, and there are a number of trout that exceed 30 inches. Access is available through several pull-offs along Big Cove Road with paths that run along the stream.

The scenic Raven Fork replaces the Horsepasture River as spot number 6 on the WNC Fly Fishing Trail. Public access to the Horsepasture River is becoming increasingly limited, which prompted the change.

Raven Fork is designated by the Cherokee as catch and release fly-fishing only. Anglers wishing to fish Raven Fork need to purchase a $20 special use permit and a $7 daily permit from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.

Local guide Alex Bell, who helped create the trail, often has anglers request a trip to Raven Fork.

“Cherokee wants to be a destination east of the Mississippi River that every fly fisherman knows,” Bell said. “They have different strains of trout coming in and have great vision for their fishing program.”

The Raven Fork trophy water in Cherokee and the Tuckasegee River above Dillsboro are two of the most rewarding stretches for trout fishing in the region.

“Those are the two big boys. And they’re both on the trail,” Bell said.

800.962.1911 or go to


A pair of endangered peregrine falcons has established a new nesting spot on Whiteside Mountain near Highlands, forcing a relocation of the climbing route on the face of the mountain.

Whiteside Mountain has been home to a nesting pair of falcons for years, but this year they have moved their nest from the west to the east side of the cliff.

“This year, they’re mixing it up a bit,” said Chris Kelly, Wildlife Biologist with N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and coordinator of the peregrine falcon monitoring program. “It’s hard to say why they moved to the other side of the cliff, but we do know that a new female is on territory this year.”

The move could also be a response to disturbance in 2009. The closure was violated last year, and the nesting attempt failed for the first time in 11 years.

“Peregrine falcons do not respond well to disturbance,” says Kelly. When falcons are tending eggs or nestlings, the presence of people near the nest may cause the adult birds to spend time away from the nest, leaving eggs or nestlings exposed to the elements and delaying food deliveries.

A young bird flushed off the nest will fall to its death. By adhering to the closure, climbers can help ensure that the birds will be able to finish nesting in a timely fashion. If they are disturbed, they will attempt to re-nest, which will delay opening of this cliff significantly, as was the case in 2009.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest that the falcons nest undisturbed,” said Kelly.

The east side of the cliff will be closed to climbers through August 15 — specifically the cliff face east of the “Mainline” climbing route. When facing the cliff, east is to the right. The west side of the cliff will be open this year for a change.

The Forest Service has updated the proper climbing routes in the trailhead kiosk and is posting signs on the trail.

Whiteside Mountain Trail remains open for hiking. The cliff is so enormous that the birds do not respond to hikers up top. Visitors may catch a glimpse of the falcons from the trail as the falcons wheel around chasing vultures and hawks and swooping after prey. or 828.524.644, etc. 424 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist

Plunging public support for Obamacare accelerates presidential efforts to convince the nation that great health care savings are in our future. However, common sense leads most citizens to conclude that giving services to more people requires more dollars.

People’s common sense conclusions are reinforced by the words of Timothy Cahill, the state treasurer of Massachusetts. In a Wall Street Journal article he reminds us that Presidential adviser David Axelrod hailed Massachusetts’ universal health care as the “template” for Obamacare. This is not reassuring, as the state’s program was supposed to cost taxpayers $88 million a year. Since adoption in 2006, however, costs have exceeded $4 billion. Cahill explains that MassCare, as it is called, survived only because of Medicaid reimbursements and federal bailouts.

Cahill forecasts that Obamacare will cause health care inflation and grow federal deficits to “frightening” levels. This rebuts the Congressional Budget Office, which said the legislation would reduce the budget deficit over 10 years by $138 billion.

These conflicting forecasts are explained by the role of the CBO. The “scores,” or cost impact studies, provided by CBO for proposed legislation reflect only what Congress says it intends to do. The “scores” are not based on independent assessments of political and economic realities. For example, when Democrat lawmakers sought the CBO’s score for the proposed health care legislation, Congress said it would cut Medicare spending by a half trillion dollars. The CBO was required to assume this reduction would become a reality, but this spending cut is as likely as a snowstorm in Miami in July.

In spite of the CBO’s favorable “score” of Obamacare, its forecast for the future is disheartening. A $1.3 trillion deficit is expected this year after last year’s $1.4 trillion deficit. It assumes lower deficits thereafter but predicts a doubling of debt from 2009 to 2020 to a total of $15 billion, or 67 percent of GDP. Interest expense will triple in the decade ahead. Some analysts see even more debt unless political leadership changes.

The United States government is embarking on an extended term of indebtedness without equal in our history. Financial markets reacted in late March to this reality as sales of U.S. Treasury debt encountered wary buyers.

The status of financial affairs at the state level also portends future grief for taxpayers.

In its December 2009 “Review” of North Carolina’s budgeting affairs, the Civitas Institute of Raleigh reported that in the budget periods from 2004-05 through 2007-08 the state collected a $3.4 billion surplus. However, only $787 million was left in the “rainy day” fund by 2008. The budget years that followed increased taxes on citizens while legislators failed to make necessary spending cuts. As in Massachusetts, a federal government bailout made a great difference. In our present budget cycle, the state will spend a total of about $20.7 billion, but more than 8 percent will come from the federal government and over half of Washington’s dollars will be spent on Medicaid and childcare subsidies.

Spending attitudes at the local level also reflect a disconnect between taxpayers’ burdens and public officials’ wants. Readers of this paper recently learned that Haywood County Community College proposed to spend over $10 million for a new complex for teaching arts and crafts. Taxpayers and county commissioners coping with a deep recession and a 11.2 percent state unemployment rate are right to question this expenditure.

For decades, the big spenders of both parties skillfully manipulated the political system. Entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare offered great benefits to the elderly as a declining number of the young labored. Agricultural subsidies and increasing federal aid to states and cities concentrated the benefits of public largess on a few while the costs were dispersed upon the many. It could not last.

Public apathy has been replaced with citizen activism. Middle-class Americans have seen their future, and the futures of their children and grandchildren, erode before their eyes. Thousands of citizens have protested publicly. They will not shut up and go home. Last week in this paper, Bruce Gardner made a compelling case why Haywood’s 9/12 Project and the Tea Party Movement will change America.

But there is also another transformation. A new Republican Party has emerged. It is young, dynamic and will not compromise its fiscal integrity (full disclosure: I am a member of the Haywood Republican Executive Committee.)

On the national scene, articulate Republican Congressmen like Eric Cantor of Virginia, Mike Pence of Indiana, and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin are fighting for fiscal reform, as is former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, the primary frontrunner for a U.S. Senate seat.

On the local scene, the Republican primary offers a lineup of qualified conservatives. Our standard-bearers will bring real change.

Stay tuned. The best is yet to come.

(Kirkwood Callahan is retired and lives in Waynesville. He has taught government courses at four southern universities. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)


A malicious prosecution lawsuit by a woman accused of misappropriating flood relief donations was dismissed by a federal judge last week.

Denise Mathis, former director of the Haywood County Council on Aging, claims she was wrongly accused of mismanaging the finances of the agency she once led. Mathis lost her job and was charged with 14 counts of embezzlement in 2006 for allegedly misappropriating $100,000 in aid in the wake of massive flooding along the Pigeon River in 2004.

In an attempt to clear her name, Mathis sued District Attorney Mike Bonfoey and Waynesville Detective Tyler Trantham for malicious prosecution and accused them of inadequately investigating her case. She also sued them for conspiracy and making false public statements.

But a federal judge disagreed that Bonfoey or Trantham set out to malign Mathis. They were acting in their official capacity and cannot be sued simply because the target of an investigation doesn’t like the outcome.

“To do so would subject every prosecutorial decision, every investigation that leads to charges, and every decision of a grand jury to be second guessed by a federal court,” Federal Magistrate Dennis Howell wrote in a recommendation that laid the groundwork for the dismissal by the judge.

The embezzlement charges against Mathis were ultimately dropped. While the $100,000 in question did not make it into the hands of flood victims as donors intended, Mathis used it to cover expenses of the nonprofit agency rather than personal gain, Bonfoey said of his decision to drop the charges.

Mathis could appeal the case.


Soccer coach Nathan Trout recalled, with a tinge of jealousy, the four “unbelievable” sports parks in his Florida hometown, including six soccer fields.

“It’s almost embarrassing for the community to not have nice facilities for their kids,” said Trout. “I’m just surprised that there’s not a piece of land where they can build it all.”

Trout said he doesn’t understand why the county can’t accommodate athletes from multiple sports in one convenient location.

Trout, who coaches a traveling girls’ team for Carolina Mountain Soccer Club, says he’s had trouble convincing other teams to come to Haywood County.

“Here, we’re so limited,” said Trout. “Obviously, baseball is facing the same problem.”

Currently, the county has no regulation-size soccer fields, and the facilities that are around are either not well-maintained or not publicly available after hours. None of them are striped for soccer, according to soccer coach Geoff Chitea.

Not infrequently, slack mowing schedules allow grass to grow too high for play, while fields remain wet long after rainfall.

Some field owners bar access after hours due to potential liability issues, and others drag the goals off the field to specifically discourage soccer games after hours.

“They don’t want the grass messed up,” said Chitea, who likened playing soccer without goals to playing basketball without a backboard.

Both Trout and Chitea argue that developing soccer fields at the Jonathan Creek Park would benefit more people than the community realizes.

Trout estimates that 600 kids play soccer in Haywood County alone, while Chitea emphasized that adults like to play casual games all throughout the year. On most evenings and weekends, about 15 to 20 people regularly show up to play pick-up games of soccer.

“We’ve had nights during the summer where our numbers swell up to 30 people,” said Chitea.

While football and baseball enthusiasts pack up whenever their season ends, Chitea says there’s really no such thing as a soccer season.

“You see soccer players out on those fields all year long whenever the weather’s nice,” said Chitea.

Trout and Chitea said they are disappointed with the three options presented by the recreation board at the last meeting.

“Obviously, soccer really took a backstage to baseball/softball,” said Chitea. “They all look like we built a baseball facility, not a community park.”

Chitea says the multipurpose field seems more like an afterthought, with restrooms situated much closer to the baseball fields in all three options. Kids who play anything other than baseball or softball will face a much longer trek to the bathrooms.

Chitea says he does appreciate the walking trails at the park, and hopes that the multipurpose field will at least be Astroturf to allow for soccer play year-round.

Meanwhile, Trout would like to see the Haywood County community readjust its focus. Citizens placed too much stress on the park’s ability to drive revenue at the first public meeting, Trout said.

Rather than chasing athletes from other towns, the county’s primary concern should be taking care of the youth at home.

“I think there’s too much focus on worrying about tournaments and driving revenue, rather than taking care of the kids and the community that presently play here,” said Trout.


Limit prior to 2008: .08 parts per million

New limit set in 2008: .075 parts per million

New limit pending in 2010: Between .06 and .07 parts per million

How WNC stacks up

Ozone levels have improved gradually in WNC over the past 10 years. They can vary widely from year to year depending on weather, however. Wetter and cooler summers see fewer bad ozone days that hotter, drier ones.

To determine whether WNC meets the new ozone limits, an average of three years worth of ozone readings — from 2008 through 2010 — will be used.

Here’s the levels for ozone monitoring stations in the region based on the three-year average from 2007-2009. Ozone is worse at higher elevations and surprisingly consistant across the mountains.

Waynesville    .068 parts per million

Bryson City    .064 parts per million

Asheville    .069 parts per million


High elevation sites

Purchase Knob    .074 parts per million

(near Hemphill Knob above Jonathan Creek in Haywood County)

Frying Pan    .074 parts per million

(near Mount Pisgah off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County)

Mount Mitchell    .074 parts per million

(highest elevation on the east coast)

• A monitoring station has been recently installed on Barnet Knob on Cherokee Indian Reservation and will be providing data this year.


In 1980, Gov. Jim Hunt signed a proclamation declaring Franklin as the “Quilting Capital of the World.” That tradition has been preserved and is being expanded in a major way. Maco Crafts — a nonprofit cooperative that operated from 1969 until 2001 — produced many quilts, but three unique creations have continued to draw admirers and promote Macon County.

These three quilts, after many years, are now reunited in Franklin, and will be welcomed home at a special showing on April 17. “Patterns of our Heritage” will feature the quilts, but will also have various exhibits that show not only how the quiltmaking tradition is being preserved, but how it is expanding and evolving into an important part of the economy.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “Quiltmaking is a $3.3 billion industry today, with 27 million enthusiasts.” These quilts can play an important role in attracting folks to Franklin and Western North Carolina. The Folk Heritage Association of Macon County is developing plans for a Living Heritage Center that will showcase the way of life in these mountains. The quilts will ultimately be displayed there, but in the interim, they can be displayed at many locations around the area.

The Original World’s Largest Quilt was created in 1980 and has been a “roving ambassador” for Franklin since that time. Measuring 18-feet by 21-feet, it was displayed on the “World’s Largest Bed” at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tenn. In addition to appearing at many fairs and festivals, the quilt hung in the John F. Kennedy for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. for one month. A bus was chartered to take the quilters, the mayor of Franklin, and many local folks to Washington where they were hosted by Rep. Lamarr Gudger and his wife. The Friends of the Kennedy Center held a reception for them.

Some other major appearances of the Big Quilt were at the Master’s Golf Tournament, the Southern Living Show in Charlotte, and in New York City.

In 1980, Philip Morris Corporation began assembling the “North Carolina Collection” of North Carolina crafts at their cigarette manufacturing plant in Concord. The design firm of Chermayeff and Geismar Inc. in New York contracted with Maco Crafts to produce a giant wall hanging for this collection. Made up of 333 different traditional patchwork patterns, it is 10-feet high and 38-feet wide, with the colors blending from one to the next in a rainbow-like effect. When the Philip Morris plant closed in 2009, they chose to return the big wall hanging to the place of its creation, donating it to the Folk Heritage Association.

The third quilt in this trio was in the process of production when the 9/11 tragedy occurred. Originally designed as just a celebrity autograph quilt, the focus was changed to “The Celebrate America Autograph Quilt.” Centered by a hand-painted American flag and the motto “Out of Many, One,” the quilt is bordered with autographs of heroes like emergency medical workers, firefighters and law enforcement officers. In addition, there are around 40 celebrity autographs from all walks of life; for example, Kenny Rogers, Maya Angelou, Richard Petty, Alan Jackson, Bill Friday, Dean Smith, Elizabeth Taylor, and Tom Glavin. The quilt was given to KIDS Place, a local center for child abuse services, to use as a fundraiser. The winner of the raffle, Linda Tyler, chose to donate the quilt to the FHAMC so others could enjoy it.

Co-sponsored by Folk Heritage Association of Macon County, the Town of Franklin and Macon County, the event on April 17 is designed to do four things:

• Recognize the role of quiltmaking in the cultural heritage of Western North Carolina’s mountains and in its future.

• Showcase three priceless examples of this art form.

• Honor those who created these unique, incomparable treasures.

• Appreciate those who so generously made these quilts available to the Folk Heritage Association and the people of Macon County.

It is easy to forget the hundreds of hours of work that went into the creation of these treasures, but on this day, the guests of honor will be those women who worked so hard. Sadly, many of them have died, but any family members present will be recognized.

During the event, attendees will be invited to take part in the design and creation of another quilt, “Macon County Treasures.” When completed, it will become part of the Macon County collection of quilts.

Throughout the day, music will be provided by Macon County’s own Ronnie Evans. Playing his classical and steel string acoustic guitars, he will perform pieces that range from pop standards of the past to bluegrass and easy listening.

For more information, call 828.342.0644 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


N.C. House District 119 represents Jackson, Swain and portions of Haywood and Macon counties. In the Democratic primary, incumbent Phil Haire faces challenger Avram Friedman. The winner will face Republican candidate Dodie Allen of Jackson County in the November election.

Phil Haire, 73, attorney in Sylva


Haire has served five terms as a state representative. He is chairman of the N.C. House Appropriations Committee. Haire served in the U.S. Air Force and obtained the rank of captain.


As chairman of the appropriations committee, Haire has seen the state’s budget crisis firsthand. He is running on a platform that features bolstering the economy, preserving jobs and balancing the budget.

“My number one interest is maintaining the fiscal integrity of the state. Let’s keep us strong without having to cut employees and services,” Haire said.

Haire points to his voting record on environmental issues — sponsoring steep slope development and clean air bills and promoting farmland preservation –– as proof that he is a champion for keeping the mountain region pristine.

“My people go back 250 years in the mountains, and I’m a mountain person, so it’s one of the first things I think about –– protecting this place,” Haire said.

Haire also emphasizes his record of helping critical local development projects –– like the Jackson County Senior Center in Webster –– and his advocacy for Southwestern Community College funding as evidence of his attention to detail in his district. His tenure has given him clout to help gets things done that a newcomer would not enjoy. He has pledged to keep education strong, and he said he will continue to press NCDOT to get I-40 open as soon as possible.

“I never get into finger-pointing,” Haire said. “I just run on what I’ve done, and if people like it, I hope they’ll vote for me.”


Like many of the stakeholders in the argument, county commission chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick wishes the county could build enough fields for both sports. He played baseball in college, and his daughter is currently a soccer player.

But if he has to pick, Kirkpatrick believes the baseball and softball community is next in line for an upgrade, citing the county’s recreation master plan showing a greater deficit of softball fields than soccer fields.

The county’s Allens Creek park — constructed nine years ago — elicited a similar debate between soccer and softball. Ultimately, it was designed as purely a soccer park since the need for soccer fields was greater at the time. It has three playing areas, although none are regulation size required for hosting tournaments.

Baseball/softball advocates argue it is their turn now. The county doesn’t operate any baseball or softball fields. Instead teams rely on private fields, town fields and school fields available for teams.

“The main thing that I see is the lack of county-owned baseball fields, but that’s why I also support a multi-use field out there,” said Kirkpatrick, who is also a member of the recreation board. “It’s just hard to get a full-sized soccer field or a full-sized baseball field in the mountains.”

Kenny Mull, assistant commissioner of Mountaineer Little League, is in the same boat as Kirkpatrick, having also been parent of soccer players. But he says the opportunity of having a county-owned baseball/softball facility has been a long time coming.

“I don’t have anything against soccer, but I’ve been with the Little League for 35 years,” Mull said. “It is our time, I think.”

For nearly the entire existence of Mountaineer Little League’s boy’s baseball and girls’ softball programs, games and tournaments have been hosted on fields owned by private civic organizations like the Elks and the American Legion.

The result has been that Mull and other Little League administrators have had to undertake field maintenance on their own, adding a huge amount of cost and labor to the league’s operations.

“It’s really something we need badly and we’ve never had the opportunity to get,” Mull said. “We’ve never even had the chance to push for it until now.”

What Mull is pushing for is a county-owned and maintained tournament caliber baseball/softball complex for the more than 500 boys and girls ages 8 to 16 in the Mountaineer Little League system.

The plan they favor calls for a “wagon wheel” four-plex field setup that would accommodate the new Little League field specifications. As the game has developed, the regulation distance for fences has been moved from the old distance of 200 feet to 225 feet.

Mull said a “wagon wheel” field setup at Jonathan Creek could allow the Little League to hold regional tournaments with four games going simultaneously. The facility could also be a home for adult softball tournaments, though softball fields require 300-foot fences.

“If you had a field like that, you could host Little League tournaments and traveling tournaments any weekend you wanted to,” Mull said.

Mull explained that the Mountaineer Little League currently hosts tournaments among a variety of locations, making it hard for out-of-town visitors to enjoy the experience because they are rushing from one site to another.

He sees the potential for a centralized tournament complex as a revenue boost for the county.

“It’s a great moneymaker for the county, because it brings people into the hotels and restaurants and everything,” Mull said. “It’d be a really good thing. I hope it works out.”

Lee Starnes, past president of Mountaineer Little League, has attended the planning meetings and looked at the proposals. For Starnes, the proposed baseball/softball complex would provide much-needed practice space and solve a longstanding problem.

“Because of our location in the mountains, we simply don’t have the available space and what is available is expensive,” Starnes said.

Like Kirkpatrick, Starnes said he wished the county could build both tournament soccer and softball facilities, but he knows the county budget won’t allow it.

“I’m in for all of it,” Starnes said. “It’s for the kids, and whatever we can do for the kids is great.”


By Dr. Robert H. Spiro Jr. • Guest Columnist

Friday, April 6, 1945, is a day emblazoned in my memory. Sixty-five years ago this week, off Okinawa in the East China Sea, a Japanese kamikaze plane crashed into the port (left) side of my destroyer (called by sailors a “tin can”), penetrating the hull and exploding on the opposite side of my ship — the USS Morris. The bow was almost severed from the ship, and the explosion was catastrophic. When it was over, 24 men were dead and 44 wounded, almost 30 percent of the ship’s crew.

America and its allies landed 182,000 soldiers and Marines on the southwestern coast of Okinawa Gunto, a small island in the Pacific Ocean just south of Japan’s main islands. I was aboard Morris as supply and disbursing officer, a lieutenant (junior grade) in my eighth Pacific campaign of WWII.

More than 2,528 ships descended on Okinawa in a last, devastating amphibious operation envisioned as the final onslaught before invading the Japanese home islands in October to end the war.

I recall the tension aboard the Morris on the eve of Easter Sunday, April 1. Before midnight, in the pitch dark, USS Morris and ships nearby quietly moved forward to be ready for the pre-dawn bombardment and landings. Dozens of destroyers were stationed about 14 miles offshore to intercept the expected attacks by swarms of desperate kamikaze planes.

April 6 was the most momentous day in the history of USS Morris. This was no accident, for the admiral who commanded all Japanese forces in the East China Sea (Admiral Toyoda) began his Operation Ten-Go in earnest that day, trying to stem the American tide. He had available 699 aircraft, 355 of them kamikazes. This was to be the first of 10 massed kamikaze onslaughts called kikusu, or “floating chrysanthemums.”

A total of 182 Japanese planes in 22 groups attacked the U.S. Navy off Okinawa that day. Seventeen American ships were sunk or damaged by swarms of planes. Morris survived unscathed ... until just 38 minutes before sunset. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison noted that a Japanese plane, later identified as a “Kate” torpedo bomber carrying either a heavy bomb or a torpedo, appeared out of the setting sun, skipping just above the waves, and crashed into Morris midship. Fires spread rapidly and ammunition exploded. The fire main forward was severed. Fire hoses had insufficient water to stop the blaze.

I was at my battle station in the combat information center when it happened, with about a dozen shipmates, perhaps 20 to 30 feet from the explosion. We were knocked violently to the deck and the CIC was engulfed in total darkness. Dazed but uninjured, we dashed out on deck to find total chaos, with terrible damage to the forward half of the ship. The scene was one of dark wreckage, twisted metal, oil, fire and the noise of wounded and dying men. We pulled the wounded to safety, administered first aid, manned the fire hoses, organized rescue parties, and tried to save the ship.

Another destroyer and a destroyer escort finally arrived to help with the wounded and to fight fires. We thought that the ship would have to be abandoned as it developed a severe list (leaning) to the port side. But with the help of other ships and the heroic efforts of Morris’ surviving crew, it was saved.

About midnight, six or seven hours after being struck, the official action report notes that Morris slowly limped into the nearby anchorage archipelago of Kerama Retto:

“Underway with port engine ahead one-third, starboard engine ahead two thirds, maneuvering with the left rudder because of a large section of the hull bent outboard on the starboard side-at a speed of seven knots. Steering control in after steering with directions from bridge over JV circuit. Commenced pumping A-4 and A-6 to remove a 5 degree port list.”

The repair officer at Kerama Retto recommended that Morris be towed to sea and sunk, because it was “junk.” But during two months at anchorage, by incredible efforts of the surviving crew, Morris was patched up and set sail, returning to port in San Francisco’s Hunters Point shipyard on June 18, 1945.

American casualties in the Battle of Okinawa (65 years ago this week) were the highest of any campaign in WWII’s Pacific War: 49,151, including more than 12,000 killed or missing and more than 36,000 men wounded. The Army alone suffered 4,482 killed and 19,099 wounded. Navy and Marine losses were also high. The United States lost 36 ships sunk and 368 damaged. Japanese losses were staggering, with approximately 110,000 combatants and service troops killed. More than 42,000 Okinawans also perished.

Following the carnage, President Truman ordered two atomic bombs, and the terrible war was ended by Japan’s unconditional surrender on Sept 2.

(Dr. Robert H. Spiro Jr. left active duty in the Navy after the war, but remained in the naval reserve, retiring as a Rear Admiral in 1978 after 37 years of service. He earned a doctorate in history and served as a university professor, dean and president, Undersecretary of the Army, and National Executive Director of the Reserve Officer’s Association. He has served his country and his community in many other capacities over the years. A native of Asheville, he now lives in Charlotte. His son, Jay lives in Jackson County with his wife and their children.)


When I took my morning walk with our miniature dachshund to the mailbox to get the mail last Friday, I wasn’t really expecting much — a couple of bills, maybe a movie from Netflix, the usual mix of junk mail. I found all of that, along with an oversized padded envelope, the sort of thing you get when someone is sending you an “official document” and wants to be sure it arrives unharmed. I checked the return address and saw that it had come from my Aunt Janie.

On the way back to the house, I thought about what it might be. Maybe a newspaper with an article about one of our relatives in it? Maybe a magazine she wanted me to know about for some reason? I hadn’t heard from her, so obviously I wasn’t expecting anything. When I got back inside, I opened it up and beheld a bright purple folder, bulging with whatever was inside. I opened that, and saw what must have been two dozen photographs, along with the original funeral “programs” from my grandparents’ funerals, one for my grandmother, who we lost in August of 2001, and one for my grandfather, who died when I was just 9 years old, in March of 1971.

In those days, it was pretty common to have the viewing in the home, and I remember standing in the large entry way leading into the living room, watching as Papaw’s children, including my father, went up one at a time to see him once more before they shut the coffin lid. My mamaw sat at the kitchen table, with just the slightest trace of moisture in her eye.

That was the only time I can ever remember my dad crying. I may not have understood death exactly, but I knew then that no one is immune from pain and suffering and loss. I knew that something had changed and that things would not be as they were before, that the family would not, that my mamaw — in spite of her incomprehensible strength — would not, that I would not.

I shook out of this reverie and spread the photos over the kitchen counter. Some of them I knew already, including one of my dad and his four siblings, including Janie, that I have always cherished. It was taken when they were all still in their 20s or early 30s. Somebody — my mother probably — somehow convinced my dad to wear a suit for the photo, although his older brother John R got away with a green button down shirt that looks as if it could be flannel. But they all look good in it, and it occurs to me that this is the way I think of them, my aunts and uncle, because I have seen this same picture on the walls of various houses since I was 5 years old. Now it is going up in mine. This is them. It will always be them.

While a few of the other pictures were nearly as familiar, most of the photographs were completely new to me, including various photographs of my dad as a child. In one of them, he is 9 years old, hair still blonde, swept over — but not really combed — from one side to the other as he posed for what appears to have been a school picture. He is not pleased to be in the photograph, although his countenance is one more of studied indifference than a scowl. Is it over? OK, then.

In the next photograph, Janie is standing in the yard, waving at whoever is taking the picture. In the background is the “old house,” which was once directly across the road from the house they built and moved into in the mid 1960s. Janie has written a pretty extensive message on the back of this one, part of which is that she and her sister Louise were born in the old house, and that Lillie’s two daughters were brought home there, and spent their first few years of life in that same house.

It may be that my earliest memories were of that house, not so much when people still lived in it but rather as an old, mostly empty house across the street where we would steal away and play inside. I remember the rusted tin roof, the creaking floors, the strange feelings I had being in there with my siblings and cousins.

In another picture, taken from the porch of the old house, Janie and Louise stand in front of a boxwood tree — the two of them no more than 4 or 5 years old. But it’s the background that startles me. There are all the buildings I remember from boyhood. The chicken house, the granary, the pig pen, and finally the barn.

All of these buildings are long since gone. The pond that used to be down below the barn, where we fished for bream with a Zebco 33 and caught tadpoles in mason jars, has long since filled in and grown over. As far as I know, I have never seen a single photograph of any of these buildings, which existed until now only in my memories, these memories.

Watching my grandmother reach underneath chickens in the chicken house and magically come out with eggs. Climbing on bales of hay in the barn and leaping over cow pies while she milked the cows. Tossing apples from the ground at ones still attached to the big apple tree, trying to knock them loose. Teasing the bull from the safety of the barbed wire fence. Picking gooseberries, huckleberries, and chinquapins, eating more than we put in the bucket. Hunting under rocks in the creek for crawdads and lizards. Digging out big holes in the bank across the road, looking for shiny quartz or mica. All of this comes back with a force I can no better understand than the force I could not understand as a 9 year old, watching my father cry over his father. But here it is. His childhood, my childhood, somehow all collapsed into one thing and one place.

As I have grown older, I have become less certain about my earliest memories — what is real, what I might have dreamed or imagined. I believed I could make it out, yes, but sometimes have struggled to find my way back there. Now that Aunt Janie has delivered this map, this portal in a purple folder, the going is much easier. And it’s a place I still need to go, will always need to go.

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Haywood County. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)


Join children’s advocates from across the United States at the third annual Lake Junaluska Peace Conference September 18-21, 2010, as we seek to create “Peace for the World’s Children.” With keynote speakers and leaders such as Marian Wright Edelman and Jeni Stepanek, the plight and promise of children will be featured during the 2010 Lake Junaluska Peace Conference.

“Ministry to children has been an important mission of The United Methodist Church and Lake Junaluska. We are proud to once again offer a venue for peacemakers to come together, this time to explore peace for the world’s children,” said Jimmy L. Carr, Lake Junaluska’s Executive Director. “This year’s conference promises to be exciting and unique, incorporating a Peace Celebration for Youth and Children in addition to its annual Peace Conference. We hope that children, youth, and adults grow as peacemakers during their time together.”

Keynote speaker presentations led by Edelman and other notable children’s advocates, as well as hands-on workshops will prepare participants to be strong advocates for children in every arena of their lives. Over twenty workshops are planned, dealing with topics such as The State of the World’s Children and the Church’s Response, Forming Children as Peacemakers, Advocacy on Behalf of Children, and many more. Coupled with Marian Wright Edelman’s emphasis on national issues, other speakers at the conference will help participants take a hard look at global challenges. Edelman is a renowned children advocate, as well as founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund.

For the first time, the Lake Junaluska Peace Conference includes a Saturday - Sunday session specifically for children, youth and their adult leaders, led by Jeni Stepanek. The Peace Celebration for Youth and Children will encourage and show youth how they can become peacemakers themselves. Celebration participants will engage in hands on learning experiences with various organizations that are working for peace and that are meeting the needs of youth and children throughout the world. Jeni Stepanek is a noted advocate for children’s and families’ needs in health and education, and she is a motivational speaker on topics ranging from disability to hope, peace, and spirituality.

“No segment of the world’s population suffers more from war and poverty than do children. At the same time, hope and promise for the future burns brightly in the lives of the young,” said Garland Young, the Chair of the Peace Conference Committee. “We want to be advocated for and collaborators with the children and youth of the world.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the conference, and the Lake Junaluska Peace Committee hopes that many of those coming for the Sunday-Tuesday conference will arrive in time for a “bridging” of the two sessions on Sunday afternoon during the first annual Peace Walk around the lake and Festival of Peace, which will be led by youth and children. For more information and to early register by July 1, call 828-454-6656 or visit


Steve Lloyd, executive director of Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville, has been honored with The Herman Middleton Distinguished Service Award, given by the North Carolina Theatre Conference for service to the state’s theatre community.

Lloyd has worked as an artist, director and performer in North Carolina and has served the theatre community at large through many years of dedicated service, including chairing the state’s Community Theatre Festival. Lloyd has been the driving force of this festival, reaching out to other theatres across the state, encouraging participation and shared resources. He has served on the NCTC Board of Directors and is a past President of the organization. Lloyd is one of the field’s most articulate and passionate advocates for community theatre funding and development.

The North Carolina Theatre Conference is a statewide organization whose mission is to improve and enhance the environment for quality theatre in North Carolina through service, leadership, and advocacy.

The Herman Middleton Distinguished Service Award is named after one of the founders of NCTC and is one of the organization’s highest honors.

The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre, founded in 1985, is a volunteer-based community theatre showcasing the talents of the people of the region. HART, under the leadership of Executive Director Steven Lloyd, has grown into one of the most active theatres in the Southeast, producing a year-round schedule of plays and musicals from its home, The Performing Arts Center at the Shelton House in Waynesville.


Haywood Heritage Trail: Quilts of Bygone Years opening Wednesday, May 12, will feature traditional quilt squares for sale by area quilters and quilting guilds. In addition, several full-sized and heirloom quilts will be displayed alongside tools of the quilting trade like frames, antique sewing machines, and more.

The Haywood County Arts Council gallery show runs through Saturday, June 19.

A special artists’ reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 4, at Gallery 86. The reception is being held in conjunction with the Waynesville Gallery Association’s Art After Dark where shops, galleries, and businesses remain open until 9 p.m. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m,, Monday through Saturday.

Participating artists include members of the Cruso Quilting Guild, the High Country Quilting Guild, and the Shady Ladies Quilting Group, among others. Members of both the High Country Quilt Guild and the Shady Ladies Quilting Group are donating proceeds from the sale of their quilt squares to the Haywood County Arts Council for the Haywood County Quilt Trails project.

The gallery exhibition not only helps reinforce the rich tradition of quilting in Haywood County, it also raises awareness of the newly-launched Haywood County Quilt Trails project. The idea is to develop heritage trails comprised of painted quilt blocks that have been installed on barns and buildings throughout the county. Each block tells a unique story about the location or family history. The Shelton House Museum will receive the first quilt square on the Haywood County trail later this summer.

For more information, visit


By David Huskins • Guest Columnist

Much of the talk nationally, as well as locally, has been centered on how to get our economy moving again. Policy proposals and local budgets are being measured by whether they will create jobs and stimulate spending.

While a contentious debate about the right policy rages in Washington, D.C., there may be an answer that is much less controversial, easier to implement and, best of all, could yield better results right here in Western North Carolina.

I’m talking about investing in our travel and tourism economy.

Many people don’t realize it, but the travel and tourism industry is one of our most important economic drivers.

Nationally, travel and tourism is responsible for $704 billion in direct spending, 7.4 million direct jobs, $186 billion in payroll and $111 billion in tax revenue. There are few industries that can compete with this kind of output.

The story applies locally. Here in Western North Carolina alone, travel and tourism in 2008 was responsible for 27,100 jobs, $509 million in payroll, $2.4 billion in expenditures, $99.7 million in local tax receipts and $119.3 million in state tax receipts (N.C. Department of Commerce).

Simply put, when people travel either for leisure or business, the economy grows, jobs are created, and tax coffers filled.

So how can we in WNC invest in this precious resource and leverage it to bring our economy back?

Here are some ideas:

Promote meetings and events. Meetings and conferences are essential to business productivity. We need to support them. Corporate meetings are a major driver of local jobs and a boost to local spending. When these meetings dry up our communities’ small businesses and workers suffer. So we need to do what we can to support the meetings and events industry, and encourage more businesses and associations to bring their meetings to Western North Carolina. We have some of the nation’s finest resort and convention hotels right here in our backyard.

Promote WNC as a regional tourist destination. Our 23-county region has everything a leisure traveler wants. With the nation’s two most visited national park units — Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway — and the the two highest recreation-user-day national forests (when snow skiing is excepted) — Pisgah and Nantahala — we’re an outdoor Mecca. Our natural resource base provides some of the most popular warm climate snow skiing, fishing, hunting, backcountry hiking and camping, bicycling and whitewater recreation areas in the nation.

We’re the home of the Cherokee, the most recognized Native American Indian Tribe in the world. Our craft, culture and heritage are significant, bringing us recognition by the U.S. Congress as the 23rd National Heritage Area — the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. And just last month, our Nantahala Gorge was chosen by the International Canoe Federation in Budapest, Hungary, as the site of the 2013 World Canoe Freelance Championship (the X Games of canoeing and kayaking). That event will attract 500 competitors from 50 countries and 100,000 spectators over 10 days, garnering WNC unparalleled international sports media coverage.

It’s time that we help our local tourism organizations understand the value of working more closely together and allocating some of their resources to promote collectively WNC as a true regional destination. It’s time that we help our local economic development organizations understand the value of the travel and tourism industry to our regional economy and how to engage it and support it in their various initiatives.

Attract international visitors. When people travel from other countries, they tend to stay longer and spend more when they are here — a windfall for our local retailers and other small businesses. A national communications and marketing program called the Travel Promotion Act was just passed by Congress, which will invest in marketing to these visitors. That is great news for us since tourism research studies indicate that European and Asian leisure travelers identify our Blue Ridge-Smoky Mountains-Cherokee region as their favored destination for a trip to America.

On a final note, we need to make sure our local, state and federal elected officials understand the value of travel and tourism to our regional economy. And we need to make sure they are recognized when they go to bat for travel and tourism. Our regional economy is beginning to turn around, but we need to continue to invest in the recovery.

The week of May 8-16 is National Travel and Tourism Week. It’s a great opportunity to let our elected officials know that we support and appreciate everything they are doing to get people moving again.

(David Huskins is the managing director of Smoky Mountain Host of N.C., a regional travel and tourism promotion and development organization created in 1987 for the state’s Smoky Mountains region of Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Clay, Cherokee, Graham and Swain counties and the Cherokee Indian Reservation. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)


Enjoy plow demonstrations, food tasting, sack races, live music and more at the 10th Annual Strawberry Jam starting 10 a.m. Saturday, May 15, at Darnell Farms in Bryson City. The event is hosted by The Swain County High School Future Farmers of America and the Swain County FFA Alumni will be hosting

Musical groups will include BeanSidhe, Paul Cataldo, and the Darnell Farms Band. All organized entertainment will end at 11 p.m. with an open jam session at that time. There will be several vendors present, including a shaved-ice snow cone machine and a bouncy gym for young children. The festival will go on rain or shine.

There are still several spaces open for local vendors and performers, but time and space is limited. For more information, visit or call 828.488.9803 during the day. After 5 p.m., call Robert Lowe at 828.736.6911 or Afton Roberts at 828.736.9882.


An election night glitch in McDowell County led to some votes being counted two or even three times instead of just once, skewing the results in the Republican primary for a state Senate seat spanning six mountain counties, including Haywood.

The winner remained the same after new vote totals were in, but the second- and third-place candidates switched places. Normally that wouldn’t matter, since the top vote getter is the only one to advance to the fall election.

But in this case, Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine got less than 40 percent of the vote in the primary, which entitles the second place winner to a runoff. When Andy Webb of Marion thought he was that second-place winner, he had called for a runoff. The new second-place winner is Tamara Frank, and she said she won’t be calling for a runoff.

“I have always fought hard against petty politics,” Frank said in a written statement, pledging to throw her weight and energy behind Hise.

Hise, the 33-year-old mayor of Spruce Pine, will take on Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, in the fall.

Frank trailed Hise by 700 votes in the primary. McDowell County’s election glitch happened when transferring electronic results from one computer to another. Results are sent electronically from polling locations to county election headquarters. At headquarters, they are transferred from one computer to another. In that process, votes from some precincts were transferred multiple times.

Webb, who ultimately didn’t fare as well as it appeared on election night, hails from McDowell County.

— By Becky Johnson


While the summer bounty of tomatoes, corn and green beans are still a couple of months away, there is still plenty of local grown food items to be found as local farmers markets gear up for the season.

Markets are overflowing with spring greens and lettuces right now. The markets are a great place to stock up on vegetable and herb starts for your garden, and perennials and annuals, as well as hanging baskets. Other all-season staples found at many markets include locally grown eggs, herbs, jams, with some even offering local meat, cheese and fish. All markets listed have opened for the summer unless otherwise noted.

Haywood County

• Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market. 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday. Located in Waynesville at the HART Theater parking lot on Pigeon Street (five blocks off Main Street from the Exxon station.)

• Waynesville Tailgate Market. 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday and Friday. Located in parking lot of American Legion on Legion Drive (Turn beside Bogart’s on Main Street.)

• Canton Tailgate Market. 8 a.m. to noon on Tues. and Thurs. Town hall parking lot on Park Street in downtown Canton. 828.646.3412.

Jackson County

• Jackson County Farmers Market. 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Downtown on Mill Street in the parking lot next to Bridge Park.

• Cashiers Tailgate Market. Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. In the parking lot of Cashiers Community Center on N.C. 107 between Cashiers and Highlands.

• Blue Ridge Farmers Co-Op. 8 a.m .to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Not a farmer’s market per say, but a year-round co-op where local farmers bring their bounty. Located at 3111 on N.C. 107 N between Cashiers and Glenville. 828.743.5106.

Macon County

• Franklin Tailgate Market. 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Located at West Palmer Street across from the old post office, between the barber shop and the antique store. (Opens first week of June.)

• Friends of the Rickman Store. 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays. Located at the T.M. Rickman General Store, seven miles north of Franklin on N.C. 28.

Swain County

• Swain County Tailgate Market. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.

Located in the parking lot beside Fred’s Market Take Bryson City Exit 67, go to the second light, take right onto Old Hwy. 19 West.100 yards on left. When: Fri., 9 a.m to 1 p.m. (Opens in June.)

• Cherokee Farmers Tailgate Market. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. Located on Acquoni Road in downtown Cherokee. (Opens mid-June)


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