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Candidate Mitchell Jenkins decided last week to revive arguably the most heated race in Swain County for one more round.

After coming in second in the Democratic primary for sheriff, Jenkins has called for a runoff against top vote-getter John Ensley.

Competing with a whopping seven other candidates, Ensley’s 28 percent of the vote was impressive, but insufficient to secure his win. A runoff can be held whenever the winner fails to get 40 percent of the vote.

Jenkins said he didn’t like the idea of a runoff from the get-go, but he received calls from more than 50 people, urging him to fight on.

“They said ‘You can’t back out now, you still have a chance of winning this thing,’” said Jenkins. “They more or less put me on the spot.”

Though Jenkins trailed behind Ensley’s 513 votes with 285 votes of his own, he expects that margin to be a whole lot closer this time around.

Ensley said he is disappointed about starting all over again but acknowledged Jenkins’ full right to call for a runoff.

“We’re definitely prepared to go the distance,” Ensley said. “I had hoped that our party would unite, that we could look towards the fall.”

Whoever wins will face Sheriff Curtis Cochran, a Republican who has held the seat for four years. In the Republican primary this year, Cochran won in a landslide with 525 votes, compared to his lone competitor Wayne Dover’s 156.

Ensley said it’s a shame the runoff election would cost county taxpayers, who will foot the bill for printing the ballots and manning the polls.

But in this case, the county was already planning a runoff between Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate when Jenkins signed up. Adding sheriff candidates to the same ballot won’t cost the county any more than it was already shelling out.

Another of Ensley’s concerns is the high chance of low turnout at a second primary.

“I think it’s going to be a challenge,” Ensley said. “We’re having to bring people back out to vote.”

While that is normally the case, in the primary earlier this month, Swain had a voter turnout of 28 percent, nearly double the state average, showing widespread interest in local races.

The runoff election will be held Tuesday, June 22, while early voting will take place from Tuesday, June 3, to Saturday, June 19.

To find out more, contact the Board of Elections.

Comment

A visitor in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park got nipped on the foot by a bear after getting too close last week.

The visitor was on a high-traffic foot path at the entrance to the park right outside Gatlinburg, Tenn. In an effort to photograph the bear, the visitor allowed it to approach within inches. The bear bit the man’s foot and left a puncture wound so small that it did not require medical attention.

The bear will be euthanized, however. It’s park policy to euthanize a bear that injures a person for fear the bear may repeat the behavior. The bear had been hanging out around the trail that day, based on sightings by other visitors. Park rangers were unable to catch it that day, but went back again the next day and found it.

Given the bear’s willingness to approach humans, park rangers believe he had grown accustomed to being fed by park visitors, and even got reports from visitors who witnessed the bear being fed. Bears that develop a preference for human food can become more aggressive in their attempts to get it, which usually ends poorly for the bear.

It is illegal to approach wildlife, but in this case, the visitor technically was approached by the bear rather than approaching it.

“Our regulation is for individuals who willfully approach within 50 yards of a bear or elk,” said Nancy Gray, a spokesperson for the park. “That doesn’t apply if there is an encounter on the trail.”

Bears are usually hungry in the spring. They’ve depleted their winter fat stores, yet few foods are available yet. Bears are particularly hungry this year. They typically fatten up on acorns in the fall, but the acorn crop was scant last year. Many bears are underweight and in poor body condition, especially yearlings.

All visitors are advised to be even more diligent in keeping their distance and securing food.

Comment

What is the enrollment audit?

A review of the nearly 14,000 people on the tribe’s roll to determine whether they qualify as being Cherokee. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians requires members to be one-quarter Cherokee by blood and to have a direct link to the Baker Roll of 1924.

An outside firm, The Falmouth Institute, was hired to do the audit. So far, the Cherokee have spent $746,000 on the audit, with another $100,000 budgeted for its completion, which is slated for September.

What is the Baker Roll?

The final roll of the Eastern Cherokee, prepared by United States Agent Fred A. Baker, in 1924. Termination of the Tribe as a government and political entity was the ultimate goal of the Congressional act that initiated the Baker Roll. After termination efforts failed, the Tribe continued to use the 1924 Baker Roll as its base roll. Descendants of those persons of the original Baker Roll are enrolled on the Baker Revised Roll, providing they meet the membership requirements of the Tribe.

What did the audit find?

The report found 2,251 “actionable” files, meaning that some action needed to be taken to correct their status. Most were only minor incongruities that were easily cleared up.

The audit turned up only 303 tribal members with no direct link to the Baker Rolls, the majority of them the result of missing birth certificates.

Perhaps the most crucial number turned up by the audit was the 50 enrolled members who were revealed to have insufficient blood quantum levels to meet the enrollment requirements.

What’s at stake?

Enrollment bring with it a host of benefits, including the right to own land in the Qualla Boundary and about $8,000 a year per person in shared casino revenues.

Comment

The Blue Ridge Parkway unravels gracefully across the landscape, at times suspended from high cliffs and etched into rocky crags, then deftly shifting gears to skim over hayfields and past log cabins bound by split-rail fences.

The road seems unfazed by mountain topography. Arched bridges skirt rugged crevasses and stone-faced tunnels bore through the mountainside itself, always coursing onward and never compromising its smooth, undulating curves.

The Parkway moves so harmoniously through the scenery and lays so gently on the terrain, it seems possible that perhaps the Parkway was there first, or at the very least born at the same time as the mountains themselves.

“I can’t image a more creative job than locating that Blue Ridge Parkway, because you worked with a ten-league canvas and a brush of a comet’s tail,” said Stanley Abbott, the chief landscape architect of the Parkway during its construction in the 1930s.

The task facing the early Parkway designers was enormous, with little more than vague parameters of where to put the Parkway. Blazing a scenic road through high and rugged mountain passes in the 1930s was an engineering and artistic feat. It also pushed the boundaries of competing American ideals.

The country was in the midst of a burgeoning national park movement, and many in the general public had already accepted a popular concept of preserving America’s grand landscapes. Meanwhile, a love affair with the automobile had likewise gripped the country. These two notions gave rise to the newfangled Parkway concept.

Yet merging the two was not easy.

“A road and a park are very different things,” said Ian Firth, an historical expert on Parkway design and professor emeritus in the College of Environment and Design at the University of Georgia. “Roads are meant to bring progress and development. A park is 180 degrees different. It is where you preserve something from progress and from development.”

Abbott, just 26 years old when he was hired as chief landscape architect for the Parkway, possessed both the skill and instinct to capture the Appalachian countryside and its sweeping mountain vistas from behind the windshield of an automobile. He often likened his approach to that of a cinematographer, training his camera on one frame after the next and eventually producing a 469-mile masterpiece.

While the Parkway’s design is often compared to art, Abbott and his colleagues applied a mathematical formula to achieve the serpentine line.

Abbott was a master of the spiral curve, a highly engineered and deftly calculated arc that eases cars gently into a curve and exits them smoothly. The turning radius broadens as you move through the curve, much like a spiral expands as it moves outward from the center. The Parkway owes its sweeping nature to the equation, which avoids the unpleasant centripetal force of standard curves.

The formula was perfected by railroads in previous decades.

“They had all these cars they were pulling, and if you didn’t have a gentle change in curve, you had lurches, bumps and screeches that were very uncomfortable for passengers and bad for freight and prone to derailment and accidents,” said Mary Myers, a Parkway expert on landscape architecture and chair of the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture department at Temple University.

Abbott deployed another geometric tool called the reverse curve, essentially two back-to-back spiral curves in opposite directions. Drivers barely exit one turn before they slalom into the next one. The reverse curve creates a rhythmic experience, as if swaying back and forth through the mountains.

“I don’t think you can find a better example of that beautiful line of grace,” Myers said of the Parkway. “The reverse curves do everything.”

Not only do they achieve a rhythmic motion, but they aim the car’s windshield toward the views, whether it’s a mountain vista on the outside curve or a rhododendron-capped boulder after rounding the bend.

While the Parkway often plunges in elevation from mountain peaks to rolling valleys, the grade is gentle, another area of careful calculation. There’s also one road feature markedly absent from the Parkway: no painted white lines at the edge of the pavement.

“They tried to make a very gentle transition between the road and landscape,” Myers said.

Abbott’s crew faced a great conundrum. Roads, by nature, scar the landscape, sometimes obliterating the natural topography, especially when forging a new mountain passage. Yet the Parkway’s success depended on protecting the scenery it passed through.

“As landscape architects they were very concerned about that,” Myers said.

Luckily, Abbott had hundreds of CCC men at his disposal to install the massive landscaping on the denuded road edges left in the wake of road builders. If a road bank wasn’t sculpted to his liking, he asked the CCC men to cart off more dirt and re-contour it by hand.

A bitter tug-of-war played out in the political arena over the Parkway’s basic route — mainly pitting North Carolina against Tennessee. Once North Carolina came home victorious, road builders and designers were left with little instruction on exactly where to put the Parkway aside from a few general mountain ranges. They embarked on a year-long reconnaissance mission through the mountains, arguing over which mountain ranges to pass over within the otherwise broad parameters of connecting point A and point B.

“Nobody came to the Parkway with a blueprint,” Firth said. “The design evolved and you can see it evolving as you read the correspondence and debates.”

Abbott didn’t set out to chase one panoramic view after another, fearing the high-elevation vistas would grow monotonous.

“Too much of any one thing becomes very boring,” Myers said. Even breathtaking vistas from mile-high mountain tops.

Instead, he brings the road to the cusp of a sweeping view, lets it hang there for a moment and then retreats, perhaps diving into a rhododendron tunnel or ducking behind a grassy boulder-strewn knoll. The compression and re-emergence of vistas creates surprise and intrigue.

“The physiognomy of the eye dictates that your eye has to be constantly scanning to stay alert. The Parkway does that very well,” Myers said. “Within each quarter mile, you have a variety of scenery. There is a sense of anticipation of what is to come.”

But when passing through the Craggy mountains and Plott-Balsams in the final 100 miles of the Parkway, Abbott was forced to get creative to break up the tedium of vistas. The best asset became the rock cliffs themselves, with the road often passing so close that it seems you can reach out and touch them from the passenger seat.

And, of course, tunnels.

“The tunnel produced a wonderful drama when you emerge from it,” Firth said.

The majority of the Parkway’s 26 tunnels occur on the southernmost section, starting in the Craggy Mountain range and continuing through the Balsams, where sheer rock faces leave few other options for passage other than boring into the mountain itself.

Tunnels preserved the natural contour of the ridges, avoiding a massive excavation that would gouge up the mountainside and mar its silhouette from a distance.

“When you travel in the valley below and look up, you don’t see the Parkway,” said Carlton Abbott, the son of Stanley Abbott, who, like his father, became a landscape architect.

Geology occasionally posed an impasse, however.

“They started to excavate tunnels and the roof collapsed,” Firth said. Some tunnels were abandoned and the mountain subjected to significantly more excavation instead.

When it came time to tackle the finer points of Parkway design, Abbott and his team worked in 10-mile sections, walking each one and staking three potential routes before picking one. Then they drew plans for each quarter-mile section, detailing every inch of the landscape for the 469-mile road.

Up to 50 landscape architects, many of them students, worked under Abbott to hone the drawings. They diagramed split-rail fences and rock walls. They mapped out how many trees and shrubs to plant and of what species. They labored over the placement of boulders and how wide the grassy areas should be before giving way to the tree line.

Gary Johnson, the chief resource ranger at the Blue Ridge Parkway, often consults those maps — 850 sheets in all — as the guiding management vision.

“It is a landscape that is very labor intensive,” Johnson said. “You can’t just let it go back to nature.”

Ironically, images of Appalachia were one of the most highly orchestrated elements of the landscape. Abbott’s vision of varying landscapes relied on pastoral farm scenes — not merely in the distance, but enveloping the road with split rail fences, rows of corn and grazing cattle. The National Park Service certainly couldn’t be tasked with farming hundreds of acres along the roadside, but nor could the land be left in the hands of farmers for fear it would one day be sold. So the Parkway bought the land, then promptly leased it back to farmers for $1 a year to keep on farming it as they had been, giving rise to the practice of agricultural leases still used in 400 sites along the Parkway today.

To complete the idyllic scene, the Park Service rounded up log cabins and put them on display as if they’d always been there.

“It has been criticized for being such a selective view of Appalachia,” Firth said.

But the distortion was deliberate, intended as a powerful symbol of American ingenuity and self-reliance during the Depression when a reminder of human perseverance from days gone by was an important message.

The scenes of early Appalachia on the Parkway look like archetypes, according to Ted Coyle, an anthropologist at Western Carolina University.

“There was a time in American history when we made these kinds of scenes,” Coyle said. “At that time in history, we wanted to mythologize our past. I’m not saying that because it is false we should get it rid of it, but it is important to point out that it is not the actual history.”

It was a departure from most national parks, however, including the nearby Smokies that attempted to wipe out signs of human presence on the land in favor of nature. Once again, Parkway designers made a conscious decision to set up landmarks such as old mills for future generations to see.

“They were concerned if they didn’t, this fragile image would disappear from the landscape,” Carlton Abbott said.

That farm scene has changed. Tractors have replaced the draft horse and plow. The hand-baled haystacks that once stood as sentinels along the Parkway are gone, with tight, machine-rolled bales in their place.

The notion of Abbott penning the Parkway’s design in one fell swoop is far from the truth. Abbott plugged away dutifully from 1935 to 1944 until he was called into service for WWII. By then, only two-thirds of the road had been completed. Construction resumed immediately after the war and continued in sections until 1967.

“It is amazing it was completed because everything had changed so much after the war,” Firth said. “But the Parkway was always a blue-eyed boy and got certain preferential treatment.”

The final missing link around Grandfather Mountain wasn’t finished until 1987. Given the duration of road building that long outlasted Abbott’s tenure, it is amazing that the Parkway design retained its unity.

Abbott briefly took up the reins as the Parkway’s landscape architect following the war, but it was Ed Abbuehl, Abbott’s one-time college instructor and right-hand man in the Parkway’s early stages, who remained at the helm another 20 years.

“You find him saying ‘This is the way we have always done it, and this is the way we should do it.’ He was one of the forces saying ‘Let’s keep the original design going,’” Firth said.

The job of chief landscape architect continued to be passed among co-workers and handed down to apprentices for four decades—providing a continuous line from Abbott’s founding philosophy well into the 1970s.

“Apprenticing is the traditional way landscape architects learn,” Myers said. “It’s the design knowledge being transmitted from one generation to the next.”

Bureaucratic institutions like the National Park Service also served to protect the continuity of parkway design over the years.

“People work there for a long time — you don’t have radical changes,” Myers said.

Tim Pegram, a former park ranger who has hiked the Parkway, likens the scenic motorway to Michelangelo’s statue of David.

“The day it was finished is the finest it will ever be,” Pegram said.

The statue of David was subjected to the elements for three centuries. His base was struck by lightning, angry rioters broke off his left arm, and a mad artist took a sledgehammer to his left toe. Even conservators tasked with the statue’s care erred terribly by washing it in hydrochloric acid and gooping it up with protective wax.

“The same thing has happened to the Parkway,” Pegram said.

Views are being undermined by development, landscaping carefully selected by Abbott 75 years ago is showing its age and rockslides continually reduce sections of the road itself to rubble.

“It is being chipped away a little a time,” Pegram said. “Even the Parkway managers have messed it up in places.”

The Parkway is a labor-intensive landscape and lacks the workforce to keep pace.

“If you really look closely, you can tell we are not maintaining the Parkway as we once did,” said Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis. “Overlooks are growing up. The mowing along the road shoulders is not as wide or manicured as it once was. Many of our historic buildings are suffering from neglect.”

The Parkway blames federal funding shortfalls. In the past decade, the Parkway has watched its maintenance staff shrink by more than one-third.

So they make compromises—the most striking is not keeping trees cut at overlooks. Many are so grown up they are hardly overlooks at all. An old signboard telling visitors about a view beyond the tree branches is the only clue it was once a vista.

“The number one, primary reason that visitors come to the Blue Ridge Parkway is to be able to look out from this table where they can see the mountains and drink in the views,” said Gary Everhart, a former Parkway superintendent in the 1990s. “It comes down to a simple little thing called dollars. Unfortunately the Parkway has been struggling with enough money to do all the things that need to be done.”

Ornamental trees and shrubs planted by CCC workers 75 years ago are now dying, and the Parkway must embark on a round of new plantings. Some specimens even require pruning by hand.

“Things change gradually,” Francis said. “It is like watching your kid grow. If you are the parent, it happens incrementally.”

Another challenge is rockslides, which are endemic to mountain roads, particularly those with the Parkway’s elevation. A year rarely passes without a rockslide or two, some knocking out sections of the Parkway for months during major slope repairs, while others may take just a few days to haul off a pile of debris.

There have been close calls — a boulder landed in a woman’s backseat — but no deaths or injuries from the slides, Francis said.

The constant barrage of minor repairs to Parkway infrastructure requires extra thought. Maintenance crews keep a stockpile of weathered and gray fence posts for repairing split rail fences. When the roof of an historic cabin springs a leak, park rangers spend their days splitting logs to make wooden shingles that will match.

Gary Johnson, the chief of resource management on the Parkway, is often torn between stop-gap measures versus more costly but permanent repairs. When a stone wall starts to crumble, he can slap some mortar in the holes and stuff the falling rocks back in place. But in the long run, the wall needs to be rebuilt on a better foundation.

A batch of federal stimulus money is allowing the Parkway to rebuild 31,000 feet of rock wall this year, which posed its own dilemma: balancing the historic character of the stone walls with a modern safety design. At two-feet-high, the rock walls aren’t terribly effective as guard rails, but Johnson is debating how high to make them without compromising their charm. The other question is whether to use traditional, dry-stack techniques versus super-strength mortar.

Park managers have learned to balance aesthetics with safety. For example, the historic wooden guardrails along the Parkway are reinforced by steel banding on the back that are not visible from the road.

When Johnson came to the Parkway in 1994 as its chief landscape architect, he was humbled by the footsteps he followed in. Nothing is taken lightly, he said.

“I often have the thought when we are making a design decision and are doing something differently than in the past I think, ‘What would Stan do?’” Johnson said. “Afterward I think, ‘I hope Stan is not up there somewhere looking down and thinking ‘Boy they are really messing this thing up.’”

Comment

Sylva Commissioner Sarah Graham will step down from the town board at the end of June because her family has decided to move outside town limits.

Graham said she and husband, Bill, had been looking at homes that offered more land for their growing family, when they found a perfect place on Fisher Creek Road.

“Because the house isn’t in the town I have no choice but to resign my position on this board,” said Graham, who lived downtown and loved being part of its vibrant scene.

As a result of Graham’s announcement, the four remaining board members –– Chris Matheson, Danny Allen, Ray Lewis, and Stacy Knotts –– will be left with the task of naming a replacement in June. Mayor Maurice Moody only votes in the case of a tie.

The board underwent a similar process last December. Moody was a sitting town board member when he ran for mayor. He won, but still had two years left on the town board, leaving a vacant seat to be filled on the board.

During that process, Moody was instrumental in searching out his own replacement, Chris Matheson, and ensuring she had the support of the entire board before she was nominated, although he technically couldn’t vote except in a tie.

“Chris has had a unifying effect on the board and has done a good job, and I would hope to find the same type of candidate this time,” Moody said.

Graham said she wanted to serve until the town’s budget for next year was finalized, which means serving until the end of June when the fiscal year ends.

The town board has been divided on the some budget issues for the past four years, most notably over whether the town should make annual financial contributions to the Downtown Sylva Association, a cause particularly close to Graham’s heart.

Moody commended Graham for her work as a commissioner, particularly on issues directly affecting downtown.

“I hate to lose her, but I think when someone is putting their family’s best interest first, you have to support them,” Moody said.

In leaving, Graham said she felt the town is moving in the right direction, and she will continue to work in its best interests.

“I think the town is moving in a great direction and that, given the state of the economy, the town is in a great financial situation,” Graham said. “I look forward to serving Sylva in any way I can.”

Graham served as the director of the Downtown Sylva Association before being elected commissioner. She was instrumental in the revitalization of Bridge Park, a downtown green space and concert venue.

Comment

The Friends of the Jackson County Main Library have completed their remarkable effort to raise $1.6 million to outfit the interior of the new library under construction on courthouse hill in Sylva.

The Friends announced this week that a $200,000 grant from federal stimulus money given out by the U.S Rural Development Program had pushed them over the finish line. The Fontana Regional Library system applied for the grant on behalf of the Jackson library project.

Mary Otto Selzer, co-chair of the capital campaign, credited the hard work of volunteers and the generosity of hundreds of donors for the campaign’s success. The grassroots fundraising campaign began in May 2008.

The Jackson County Public Library Complex is a $7 million project to renovate the 1914 Jackson County Courthouse for community uses and build a 20,000-square-foot addition on the back to serve as a new library. It is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2011.

“This grassroots campaign has been successful because hundreds of individuals, foundations and companies have shown their support through various levels of giving,” Selzer said. “Children have brought in their piggy banks; patrons have joined the Wall of Fame at the library; many young readers, through the Books for Bricks summer reading program, raised over $6,300; merchants have donation boxes on the counters in their businesses; companies wrote generous checks; and grantors have been charitable in providing funds.”

Of the total $1.6 million, about $1.15 million came in the form of large grants from institutions, charities and organizations.

Dr. John Bunn of Sylva, co-chair of the fundraising committee, said the iconic nature of the courthouse that’s even visible when passing Sylva on the highway made it possible to raise money for the project during a recession.

“You’d be talking to a foundation somewhere away from here and they’d say ‘I’ve seen that courthouse!’” Bunn said.

Bunn said the successful fundraising drive allowed for the addition of special features, like the outdoor reading patio that will rival the famous sunset patio at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville.

“They’ll have to eat their hearts out,” Bunn said.

He said the new library and courthouse restoration will be a point of pride for the community.

“If you had guests from out of town you normally wouldn’t say ‘Let me show you our library,’” Bunn said. But Jackson County will be an exception.

— By Giles Morris and Becky Johnson

Comment

A downtown Waynesville project that would put a live entertainment venue, a microbrewery and a pizza restaurant together in the old Strand Theater on Main Street has been awarded a $300,000 grant. Gov. Beverly Perdue will visit Waynesville this Friday (May 28) to see the project firsthand and to talk with other Main Street businesses.

Waynesville businessman Richard Miller owns The Strand, and he credited Downtown Waynesville Association Executive Director Buffy Messer with encouraging him to apply for the grant.

“I give her all the credit for bringing this to our attention,” said Miller.

Miller will partner with other entities to pull off the project, including Headwaters Brewing Co., which is owned by Kevin and Melanie Sandefur. Headwaters Brewing Co. was just last week named the winner of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce’s Business Start-up Competition, which comes with an $8,000 award.

Miller said the grant will be awarded to the Town of Waynesville, which is then obligated to give it to the developer who restores the building where the new businesses will be located. The money can’t be used for furnishings or business equipment, he said, only for permanent building upgrades.

In a best-case scenario, Miller said the project would be open for business by summer 2011.

The partners in The Strand project include the town, the Downtown Waynesville Association, The Strand Dynasty LLC, Headwaters Brewing Company, Delano’s Pizza Company and the Haywood County Arts Council.

In addition to Waynesville, seven additional communities will receive a total of $1.95 million through the state’s Main Street Solutions Fund. The grants are earmarked to “assist planning agencies and small businesses with efforts to revitalize downtowns by creating jobs, funding infrastructure improvements, rehabilitating buildings and finding other growth opportunities.”

“We know that some of the most creative and innovative economic development work is being done through small businesses and other economic partners in our downtown areas,” said Gov. Perdue. “Main streets can be at the heart of North Carolina’s economic recovery with the right support and investment. For every $1 invested by the state, an additional $4.72 will be invested by the local community."

Comment

The traditions of spinning, weaving, quilting, caning, blacksmithing, sewing, hand stitchery, and other folk arts have survived in the Appalachian culture through the generations.

At the Patchwork Folk and Fabric Festival, these skills will be showcased and honored, demonstrated and shared. The festival will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 5, at the Jackson County Recreation Center in Cullowhee.

During the week before the festival, sponsors have taken the arts and crafts a step further by offering classes to the public. Not only is this an opportunity for interested people to learn an old-time craft, but also share time and tales with the instructors.

• Annie Lee Bryson, age 88, will be teaching corn shuck doll making.

• Pat Purdy will make available the art of Red Sock monkey dolls.

• Dot Conner takes you to yesteryear with old-fashioned tin punching.

• Judy Rhodes will be teaching the skill of ballad singing.

• Nan Smith shares crocheting.

• Judy Chliger’s students will quilt a “Rail Fence” wall hanging

• Krista Robb will teach cross-stitching from Seizing the Moment, a book of stitchery showcasing wild flowers found on the Blue Ridge Parkway

• Betsey Sloan teaches gourd art.

• Doreyl Ammons Cain will lead a botanical drawing class, encouraging wildflower art

• Ron Yount will teach wood-carving.

On the morning of the festival, Anne Lough will teach a two-hour class on the dulcimer. The students will assemble a sample dulcimer and learn to play.

Appalachian Homestead Farm & Preserve will also host an after school “Children’s Cultural Activities” class from 3:15 until 5:15 p.m. each day from June 1 to 4.

All products produced during all of the classes will be exhibited during the day-long Patchwork Folk & Fabric Festival Call 828.293.1013 to register for the children’s cultural activities class. For all other classes, call 828.399.0958 to register. For more information on the festival call 828.293.3053.

Comment

Catch the steepest and deepest in high-adrenaline outdoor sport films when Radical Reels Tour comes to Asheville on Monday, Sept. 13.

Hurtle down steep untouched powder, feel the cold spray of stomach-dropping kayak first descents, fly high with the world’s wildest BASE jumpers, and much more in extreme mountain sports.

The annual Radical Reels Tour showcases 10 short films that capture some of the most progressive talent in action sports including mountain biking, skiing, whitewater kayaking and other mountain sports. The film tour will hit only 15 states.

The screening is being hosted by REI to benefit Wild South, a regional environmental organization.

Cost is $20 with $5 going to Wild South. The screening will be at 7 p.m. at Carolina Cinemas. Doors open at 6 p.m. To get tickets, contact REI at 828.687.0918 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

Landscape design, botany, horticulture and gardening will be the highlight of “Landscaping and Gardening With Native Plants” conference held in Highlands on Sept. 10 and 11.

Hundreds attend the annual conference featuring two days of fieldtrips, workshops and speakers. Get inspired to use native plants in your garden. Learn new concepts in ecology and conservation. Gather tips on design principles. Come away with a list of native perennials, shrubs and trees that work best in our region. 

The annual conference is put on by the Highlands Biological Foundation and will be based at the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center in Highlands. The proceeds will benefit the Botanical Gardens at the Highlands Biological Station, a refuge and demonstration garden for over 500 species of Southern Appalachian plants.

There are nine fieldtrips to chose from on Friday, including The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with herbalist Ila Hatter, garden tours with landscape designers, photography and landscape design workshops, and hikes to Lonesome Valley, Devil’s Courthouse and Satulah Mountain.

Dr. John Pickering, an ecologist at the University of Georgia and creator of Discover Life, a web-based interactive encyclopedia of known species, will give a talk Friday evening on “Nurturing the Ecosystem in Your Own Backyard.”

A native plant auction will be held on Saturday afternoon where bidders can acquire rare and unusual native plants.

Saturday features a line-up of well-known speakers in the horticulture field, including: Peter Loewer of the Wild Gardener and author of over 30 books; Richard Bir, formerly of the NC Cooperative Extension Service; Dr. Sean O’Connell, microbiology professor at WCU; and landscape photographer Kevin Fitzpatrick.

The registration fee for the entire event is $135. 828.526.2602.

Comment

A 5K race will traverse the front nine holes of the Old Edwards Club in Highlands on Saturday, Sept. 11, serving up a tranquil setting and a twist on the typical 5K route through town streets.

“Doing the PAR 5K on the Old Edwards Club golf course gives the ‘weekend warrior’ a chance to conquer hills of over 4,000 feet in elevation,” said Dave Linn, race organizer. “Everyone can run the street, but how many run the golf paths that roll up and down the mountain side?”

Linn hopes the race will become an annual staple and the new “must do” 5K in WNC.

Linn worked with the golf course to reassure them runners would stick to the paths and not damage the fairways.

Linn, an avid athlete, participates in races up and down the East Coast. He tapped into his network of race friends through Facebook to recruit runners. Rooms in the Old Edwards Inn sold out early due to the influx of out-of-town participants registering for the race and began spilling over to other local hotels.

“Many of the racers saw this as a chance to leave the big city and enjoy the cool Blue Ridge Mountain air for the weekend,” Linn said.

For Linn, who is typically in the starting line-up of races, cheering others on from the sidelines as the race organizer will be a change of pace.

“Boy, is it hard to sit back and not race in a race that you helped design and know every curve and straightaway,” Linn said.

Linn said support from the Highlands community has been very strong. Prizes were donated by restaurants and merchants who hope to see the race bring people to town. Each year a different charity will be chosen to receive the proceeds of the race. This year it is the Highlands Literary Council.

A Southern breakfast of buttermilk pancakes, applewood smoked bacon, scrambled eggsand local stone ground grits follow the race and are included  in the registration fee. The breakfast will be held at the Old Edwards Club and is open to the public from 8 to 11 a.m. to raise money for the literary council.

Cost is $35 on race day and includes a T-shirt and the breakfast. 828.421.7637 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also wee setupevents.com.

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With guns now allowed in national parks, red tape faced by hunters crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway en route to a hunting spot has been lifted.

Hunting is still illegal in national parks, but this year it became legal to carry loaded guns in parks.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, a national park unit, used to require hunters crossing the parkway with their guns to get a permit ahead of time. That way, rangers would know the hunters weren’t hunting on protected park land but just using the parkway to reach other public lands where hunting is legal.

Now, hunters will no longer need to get those permits since loaded guns are legal.

But hunters who shoot an animal and want to cross back over the parkway with it will need to contact a ranger.

“Under the new procedure, anyone taking game is directed to transport it in a way that does not cross park lands or use the parkway,” said Steve Stinnett, chief ranger for the Blue Ridge Parkway. “If the parkway is the only reasonable access for removal of game, hunters must request permission.” Contact a park ranger or call 828.298.2491.

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A Low Impact Development FastTrack Certification will be held at Haywood Community College on Wednesday, Sept. 15 through Friday, Sept. 17.

The course will give an overview of low-impact development from a holistic perspective and covers design, planning, implementation and maintenance. It is geared for planners, engineers, landscape architects, realtors, surveyors, local governments, and anyone interested in environmentally friendly, cost-efficient developments.

Low-impact development is an approach that caters to the landscape and terrain. The faculty of North Carolina State University’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering will instruct the class. Find out more or register at www.bae.ncsu.edu/topic/lid/workshops.html.

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A workshop on bringing local farm produce into the schools will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at Shelton Family Farms in Jackson County.

Participants will learn how to integrate school gardens, farm field trips, classroom cooking and locally grown food into the school curriculum and cafeteria. It is geared for elementary school teachers and school dieticians, and others with an interested in school nutrition.

The Farm to School Project in Jackson County is a partnership of Western Carolina University, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and the Jackson County Public School System.

Transportation to the workshop will be provided, if needed, and the event will conclude with a locally grown lunch. The cost is $10 and includes lunch. Cost waived for WCU students. To sign up, contact 828.236.1282 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Fox sightings in town are on the rise, including residential suburban neighborhoods and they have even been reported on busy town streets.

Simply seeing a fox is not a cause for alarm, according to the N.C. Wildlife Commission. Nonetheless, don’t approach them, especially a den or pups.

If a fox has made a habit of hanging out in your yard and you don’t want it there, try yelling, banging pots and pans and setting off legal fireworks to chase them away. Be aggressive and repeat until the fox leaves.

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Western Carolina University psychology professor Hal Herzog will celebrate his new book, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals, with an appearance at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.

While Herzog’s book draws on his scientific expertise, it is a aimed at the general reader. Published by HarperCollins, the book has gotten rave reviews from major public and scientific figures. Herzog has been investigating the complex psychology of our interactions with other species for more than two decades.

WCU’s Anna Fariello will offer a program based on her recent book, Cherokee Basketry: From the Hands of Our Elders, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10, at City Lights.

Fariello is director of the Craft Revival Project, a website and digital archive at WCU’s Hunter library. Fariello’s book looks at basketweaving forms, functions, and methods, and she records the tradition’s celebrated makers.

828.586.9499. www.citylightsnc.com

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Alan Jabbour and Karen Singer Jabbour, authors of Decoration Day in the Mountains: Traditions of Cemetery Decoration in the Southern Appalachians, will appear at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City.

Decoration Day is a late spring or summer tradition that involves cleaning community cemeteries, decorating them with flowers, holding a religious service in the cemetery, and having dinner on the ground. Little has been written about this tradition, but it is still practiced widely throughout the Upland South, from North Carolina to the Ozarks and beyond.

Through interviews, first-hand narrative, photographs, and extensive field and library research, the authors illuminate the meanings behind the rituals.

The Jabbours have many photos and new insights that are not found in their recently published book. The presentation at the library will include more than 90 photos and fresh perspectives.

828.488.3030 or www.fontanalib.org/brysoncity.

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Start your Labor Day weekend with free live music at the Concerts on the Creek series in downtown Sylva. The Porch Music Club, an old-time string band, will play a two-hour show beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, at the Bridge Park Pavilion.

The Porch Music Club band evolved from a Western Carolina University student group that plays music every Thursday at the Mountain Heritage Center on campus. The band plays a variety of old-time and bluegrass music. Some of the famous acts they cover include the Avett Brothers and Doc Watson.

Members of the band include fiddle player William Ritter of Bakersville, guitarist Andrew Payseur of Lincolnton, banjo player Patrick Brady of Cullowhee and guitarist Benjamin Rudolph of Asheville.

This was scheduled to be the last show in the summer-long Concerts on the Creek series, but a bonus performance has been added for Sept. 10. That night an all-star lineup of area gospel acts will perform.

Concerts on the Creek, held every Friday since Memorial Day weekend, are co-produced by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Jackson County Parks & Recreation, Downtown Sylva Association, Jackson Country Travel & Tourism, and the Town of Sylva.

800.962.1911 or www.mountainlovers.com.

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Western Carolina University will mark five years of art and entertainment at the Fine and Performing Arts Center with a gala featuring art, music and a theatrical revue of songs by George and Ira Gershwin on Friday, Oct. 22.

Tickets for the event will go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 7.

The gala will begin at 6 p.m. with an outdoor cocktail reception held under tents in the FAPAC courtyard. Reception guests will experience the unveiling of WCU’s new outdoor sculpture exhibition and have the opportunity to preview a Fine Art Museum exhibit of contemporary images of Appalachia by photographer Mike Smith.

Festivities move indoors at 7 p.m. for a performance by WCU’s resident Smoky Mountain Brass Quintet, followed by a 7:30 p.m. curtain time for “’S Wonderful.”

The new off-Broadway revue transports the audience to different places in different decades with scenes set in New York in the ’20s, Paris in the ’30s, Hollywood in the ’40s and New Orleans in the ’50s. Musical numbers include classics such as “Swanee,” “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Nice Work if you Can Get It,” “Summertime,” “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

Tickets are available in several price tiers. A ticket to the Gershwin revue plus entry to the cocktail reception costs $100. Orchestra seats for only “’S Wonderful” cost $50; club seating costs $35; and balcony seat tickets cost $25.

828.227.2479 or fapac.wcu.edu.

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Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and producer Brett James, along with Ginny McAfee, will perform on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Haywood Community College auditorium. Doors open at 6 p.m. Money raised from this evening’s concert will support art, music and literacy in local schools.

James, one of the most prolific and versatile songwriters in Nashville, has had more than 200 of his songs recorded by major recording label artists. He has become a fixture on the Billboard Country Chart with seven No. 1 hits and scores of Top 10, 20, and 40 singles to his credit. In 2009 alone, he posted three No. 1’s: “With Its America” by Rodney Atkins; “Our Last Night” by Kenny Chesney; and “Casanova Cowboy” by Carrie Underwood and charted eight overall singles including Billboard No. 2 hit “Summer Nights” recorded by Rascal Flats.

A few of the artists who have recorded James’s songs include Jon Bon Jovi, The Backstreet Boys, Chicago, and Leona Lewis. He also had two No. 1 songs in Europe and Worldwide Top 5 Latin hits.

He also appeared on Billboard Magazine’s Top 10 Country songwriter’s list for five consecutive years.

McAfee’s repertoire is an eclectic blend from country, soft rock, bluegrass and pop, plus gospel and the original Western North Carolina music that is written by her mother.

Concert presented by the Guild of the Haywood County Arts Council. 828.452.0593. $20 adult, $10 student, and $5 children 12 and under.

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A string band, an all-male chorus, irreverent sketch comedy and an environmental writer with a question fill the bill for the 2010-11 Arts and Cultural Events Performance Series at Western Carolina University.

The series entertainment is as follows:

• Doxita, 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, A.K. Hinds University Center theater. Doxita, a traveling festival, highlights diversity of nonfiction short films. Free.

• The Carolina Chocolate Drops, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center. Members Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson sing and trade instruments, including banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, snare drum, bones, jug and kazoo, to produce music in a style that Rolling Stone magazine has called “dirt-floor-dance electricity.” $10 ($5 for students).

• Chanticleer, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center. A blend of 12 male voices, from countertenor to bass, Chanticleer was founded in 1978 and has performed around the world. $15 ($10 WCU faculty/staff and senior citizens, $5 students) and go on sale Friday, Oct. 1.

• The Second City, “Fair and Unbalanced,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center. From the Beltway to Hollywood elite, “Fair and Unbalanced” explores the foibles of politicians, celebrities and even significant others. The 50-year-old Second City comedy troupe is improvisation-based with 11 touring ensembles and theaters in Chicago and Toronto. $10 ($5 students) and go on sale Tuesday, Jan. 4.

• Alan Weisman, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, Coulter Building recital hall (part of the 2011 Spring Literary Festival). Weisman’s 2007 scientific bestseller, “The World Without Us,” examined humanity’s effect on the environment by posing the question, “What would happen to the Earth if humans vanished?” The work was named Time magazine’s best nonfiction book of 2007 and was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction.

For tickets, 828.227.2479 or www.wcu.edu/fapac. For more information, 828.227.3622 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Modern country artist Corey Smith will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, at Western Carolina University’s Ramsey Regional Activity Center.

Smith is a Georgia-based singer/songwriter who has sold an impressive 150,000 albums and 700,000 singles to date — all without the help of a major record label or radio play. “Keeping Up With the Joneses” landed at #1 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Album chart.

Growing up on food stamps in rural Georgia, Smith’s story is very much that of an underdog. The independent artist, now grossing millions of dollars a year, beat the odds and has carved out a niche for himself as a sought after headliner at clubs across the nation.  

“Smith comes across something like a Southern-fried Jack Johnson, or maybe Dave Matthews with a country-music jones,” according to The Washington Post.

The concert is sponsored by WCU’s department of residential living and the A.K. Hinds University Center.

Students: $15 floor seats, $10 arena seating. Nonstudents & door prices: $20 floor seats and $15 arena seating.

828,227.7722 or 866.WCU.FEST or www.wcu.edu/ramsey.

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Wild Bill Turner will play the Sunday Series at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, at the Haywood County Public Library in Waynesville.

Wild Bill will show off his mastery of jazz skills on the saxophone, clarinet and trumpet, offering an exciting entertainment selection for all the big-band lovers out there.

A native of New York, Wild Bill was playing on Broadway by age 19. Soon after, he took his show to Las Vegas, along with his band, the Turner Band. From Broadway to Vegas lounges to television to the local library, Wild Bill Turner has never disappointed an audience.

The free concert is sponsored by the Friends of the Library and The Haywood County Arts Council.

www.haywoodarts.org.

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The Seventh Annual P.A.W.S. Wine Tasting and Silent Auction — benefitting the only animal welfare organization in Swain County — will be held on Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Lands Creek Log Cabins “Harmony Hall” in Bryson City. Doors open at 7 p.m. and bidding ends at 9 p.m.

The auction features about 250 items ranging from handcrafted jewelry to weekend getaway packages to restaurant gift certificates and more. Six North Carolina wines will be featured.

“This is our largest fundraising event of the year,” said Ellen Kilgannon, director of P.A.W.S. “It costs $165,000 each year to operate the shelter and the money goes directly toward caring for the animals, providing food, medical supplies, vet services and a low-cost spay/neuter program for the community.”

P.A.W.S. has provided financial assistance for more than 9,000 neuter/spay surgeries and has found loving homes for over 2,500 abandoned dogs and cats. All of this is done through fundraising, private donations, grants and sales from their thrift store. The Humane Society of the United States recently dubbed P.A.W.S. as “The Little Shelter That Could.”

Tickets $20. For directions, 828.488.9793 or  www.landscreek.com. Contact P.A.W.S. at 828.333.4267 or www.pawsbrysoncity.org.

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David Newell, also known as speedy deliveryman Mr. McFeely from public television’s “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” will appear at the Canton Public Library on Sunday, Sept. 12, and at the Waynesville Library on Monday, Sept. 13.

Newell played the role of Mr. McFeely on the long-running television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” from 1968 to 2001. His signature line was “Speedy Delivery!” and he often brought short films or videos to Mister Rogers to show children how things such as macaroni or plastic combs were made. Newell now travels the country and talks about what he learned working with Fred Rogers for 34 years. He keeps the character of Mr. McFeely alive for fans of all ages.

The Canton Library will host an adult oriented program at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Newell will talk about working with the legendary Fred Rogers through the years.

On Monday, Mr. McFeely will host special storytimes at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the Waynesville Library. Children of all ages are welcome to visit with Mr. McFeely and enjoy a very special story time.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Haywood County Public Library. Contact Carole Dennis at 828.452.5169 ext. 2511, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.haywoodlibrary.org.

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The Smoky Mountain Knitting Guild is offering free “Learn to Knit” classes — for both adults and children — on Tuesdays at the Waynesville Library. The adult class meets from 1 to 2:30 p.m. starting Sept. 7, while boys and girls ages 8 to 12 meet from 5 to 6 p.m. starting Sept. 14. Startup supplies are provided to both classes at no charge.

The Smoky Mountain Knitting Guild also hosts small informal weekly knitting circles for every level. Get together to knit, share small talk, patterns, trade tips and experience.

Registration required for beginner classes. Call Joanne at 828.246.0789. For more information call Mary at 828.246.4651 or visit www.smkguild.com.

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The next Sylva After Dark — held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, in downtown Sylva — offers an evening of art, music, food and shopping.

• Signature Brew Coffee Company will offer a free sampling of its new line of products by Audrey’s Whole Foods. Audrey’s features organic, fair trade, wheat free/gluten free, and vegan snacks and sweets.

• Papou’s Wine Shop and Bar will host a wine tasting with Nick Demos.

• Heinzelmannchen Brewery features its own beers paired with food from Spring Street Café from 5 to 8 p.m.

• Annie’s Bakery’s offers bruschetta served on its baguettes until 8 p.m.

• Live music at The Village at Sapphire Brewing Company.

• It’s by Nature features musical guest, Robin Whitley, along with wine and cheese.

• Spring Street Café has music with Los Dos. Eric Hendrix, Rafael Ridao and Pete Cortese come back for another lively evening from 7 to 9 p.m.

• Nichols House has 20 percent off the entire weekend starting at Sylva After Dark.

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Canton’s 104th Labor Day Celebration will run from Thursday, Sept. 2, to Monday, Sept. 6, at the Recreation Park.

The Band of Oz, a famous beach music band, will hit the stage from 7 until 10 p.m. Saturday.

This year the carnival rides will not open on Thursday but will begin Friday at 6 p.m. They will be open until 11 p.m. or until the crowd subsides. The rides will open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, close from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and then be open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, rides will open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., close from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and then open at 6 p.m. Monday, rides will open after the parade ends, close from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and then be open from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.

Wristbands for $20 are available each day that allow unlimited ride access.

“Pickin’-N-the-Park” will lead off the Labor Day festivities at 7 p.m. Friday night. Sunday, there will be gospel music from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday, there will be live entertainment from noon until 9 p.m. Bring chairs and enjoy the entertainment each day.

In 1978, the Band of Oz recorded and released its first single “Shaggin.” This was followed by “Star of My Life” in 1979 and national radio airplay. In 1995 they released the hit single “Shama Lama Ding Dong,” the People’s Choice Song of the Year at that year’s Cammy Awards, and one of the most requested beach songs of all time. In 1997, the band was inducted into the Beach Music Hall of Fame.

The Labor Day Parade will kick off at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 6. Any group that would like to put an entry in the parade or have a food or craft booth can call Denise at 828.235.2760.

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Submissions are now being taken for the 2010-11 edition of Milestone, the biennial art and literary review published by Southwestern Community College. All residents of Jackson, Macon, Swain counties and the Cherokee Indian Reservation, as well as SCC students and alumni, are eligible.

To celebrate the review’s 12th anniversary, the Milestone staff will publish a commemorative edition of the magazine. Along with new material from local artists, this special issue will provide a retrospective of the past 12 years of publication, tracing the history of the project through its stages of growth, and will also recognize the contributions of all individuals and organizations that have supported the periodical since its inception.

First- and second-place cash prizes will be awarded in three categories: poetry, prose (short story or nonfiction works), and visual arts, including photography. In addition, one cash prize will be awarded for cover art.

Literary submissions must be postmarked by Dec. 1, and sent to SCC Milestone; Attn. Owen Gibby or Toni Knott; 447 College Drive; Sylva, NC 28779, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Submissions in visual art must be postmarked by the same date and sent to the same address, Attn. Bob Keeling, or via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Monetary contributions to Milestone may be made by check, payable to the Southwestern Community College Foundation. Donations may be sent to Sonja Haynes, Director; SCC Foundation; 447 College Drive; Sylva, NC 28779. Contact Owen Gibby at 828.339.4314 or Toni Knott at 828.339.4325.

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Browse through a line of classic cars, muscle cars, hot rods and special interest cars at the third-annual Highlands Motoring Festival, held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, in downtown Highlands.

Al Scudder of Scudder’s Galleries will be auctioning off donated vehicles at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. All proceeds from the auction will benefit local charities.

Festival admission is free and there will be hamburgers, hot dogs and beverages for purchase.

For anyone interested in registering a pre-1980 car for judging or donating a car for auction, contact festival chairman Marc Pittman at 828.342.1898 or the Highlands Chamber of Commerce at 828.526.5841.

Registration forms are also available at www.highlandsmotoringfestival.com.

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Care to dance? Take the floor for ballroom dance lessons from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays beginning Sept. 2 through Oct. 7 at Western Carolina University.

Instructor Heidi Turlington, who has degrees in dance and physical education, is a former competitive dancer and experienced instructor. Participants will learn dances including the waltz, tango, cha-cha, swing and fox-trot, as well as the basics of leading and following in social ballroom dance. Participants are welcome with or without a partner and should wear comfortable, soft-bottomed shoes.

The classes, sponsored by WCU’s Educational Outreach Division, cost $59 and will be held in Room 134 of the Cordelia Camp Building.

828.227.7379 or http://learn.wcu.edu.

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Enjoy a stroll through working studios and galleries on Main Street, Depot Street and in historic Frog Level during Waynesville’s Art After Dark from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3.

Festive flags identify participating galleries such as: Art on Depot. Music on the street will be provided by guitarist Stan Wester.

Burr Studio will feature local photographer Robert Ludlow during Art After Dark. Meet the artist and enjoy refreshments while viewing his work.

Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86 announces a new exhibit of wearable art titled, “Toni Carroll: Fantasies in Fiber and Fabric.” The show features garments and accessories in silk, felt and velvet with embellishments of beads, pearls and sequins. In addition are Carroll’s one-of-a-kind clay dolls. Meet Carroll at the artist’s reception on Friday.

Artists Ed and Jo Kelley will be at Ridge Runner Naturals with new releases in limited edition giclees of recent paintings and nature photography.

Twigs and Leaves Gallery will feature pastel artist Kate Thayer from Flat Rock and piano music by Jeannette Shackelford. Taste the last picnic of summer snacks while strolling through the works of more than 170 artists.

www.haywoodarts.org or 828.452.0593.

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A two hour workshop in Intercultural Communication will be taught by John Stiles, a Jackson County native who is the U.S. Director of International Relations and Development for Hannam University in Daejong, South Korea.

The workshops will be held from 10 a.m. until noon on Sept. 15 at the Senior Services Center in Sylva and on Sept. 16 at the SCC Cashiers Center.

From his extensive travel to all seven continents and more than 40 countries, Stiles will share his passion and his own attempts to actually live and communicate inter-culturally.

“If a student wishes to broaden his mind and experience, sincerely taking the time to listen to and have empathy for people who are not like us — that is, ‘foreigners’ — then it will be challenging. The rewards, however, are amazing, fulfilling and exciting,” said Stiles.

$20. The program is presented by the Plus 50 Program at Southwestern Community College. Register at 828.339.4000 or  www.southwesterncc.edu.

To learn about the Plus 50 Program, blogs.southwesterncc.edu/plus50.

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Gary Carden’s third Liar’s Bench at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva will feature Mark Twain impersonator Marvin Cole, renowned folk artist Eric Legge and musicians Billy Norton, Steve Brady and Dave Brewin.

The evening of storytelling, music and poetry begins at 7 p.m. on Sept. 4 and is free.

Cole is a former university president and professor who has been performing as the humorist Mark Twain for nearly 20 years. He is a member of the Asheville Storytelling Circle, the Southern Order of Storytellers in Atlanta and the National Storytelling Network.

Legge is a renowned folk artist from Dillard, Ga., whose work has won national acclaim. His artwork will be on display at City Lights.

In addition to the musicians, also appearing are storytellers Nancy Reeder and, of course, Carden.

The Liar’s Bench is held the first Saturday of each month at City Lights and organizers are looking for local talent that would like to be a part of this event. For information contact Carden at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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A unique evening featuring an array of songs from musical theater’s most infamous cads and adored scoundrels — combined with a performance of composer Kurt Weill’s rarely staged masterwork “The Seven Deadly Sins” — will open Western Carolina University’s 2010-11 Mainstage season.

The University Theatre production will stage for two shows only, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, and a 3 p.m. matinee Sunday, Sept. 12, in WCU’s Fine and Performing Arts Center. The show is recommended for mature audiences because of its content.

The first half of the program will spotlight musical theater selections representing the seven deadly sins of sloth, greed, lust, pride, gluttony, anger and envy.

Performed by students from WCU’s School of Stage and Screen and accompanied by a live orchestra, songs will include “Lazy” from “Holiday Inn,” “I Want It Now” from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “I Love to Go Swimmin’ with Wimmen” from “Love Birds,” “A Little Priest” from “Sweeney Todd,” and “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from “Les Miserables.”

The second half of the production is a performance of Weill’s haunting mix of ballet and opera, “The Seven Deadly Sins.” Written on the eve of World War II in Europe, the one-act opera is an exploration of good and evil that tells the story of two sisters, Anna I (the singer) and Anna II (the dancer). The sisters leave their small-town roots to seek their fortune in various big cities, where they encounter the titular seven deadly sins.

Western Carolina’s version of the show is set in contemporary Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast oil spill.

$20 for the general public; $15 for senior citizens and WCU faculty and staff; and $5 for students.

Season tickets also are still available.

828.227.2479 or  www.wcu.edu/fapac. Contact the School of Stage and Screen at 828.227.7491.

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Mountain music, dancing and tradition will be on display on the shores of beautiful Lake Junaluska as the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival, now in its 40th year, celebrates the culture and heritage of Western North Carolina.

As in years past, spectators will be treated to performances by more than 200 mountain dancers and musicians at the 2,000-seat historic Stuart Auditorium on the grounds of Lake Junaluska. Each night will feature open tent shows on the lawn beginning at 5 p.m. with main stage performances at 6:30 p.m. The entertainment will continue well into the night with the last performances ending some time after 11 p.m.

The festival is one of the longest running and most authentic folk festivals in the South, and offers spectators the chance to experience a wide variety of the region’s best traditional performers. Scores of the region’s finest fiddlers, banjo players, string bands, ballad singers, buck dancers and square dancers will be in attendance. Visitors will also be treated to the unique regional sounds of the dulcimer, harmonica, Native American flute, bagpipes and spoons, even a bowed carpenter’s saw.

While the festival is sure to entertain the thousands of people who attend, it also serves as a venue to preserve the mountains’ legacy of traditional music and inspire a new generation of artists as they swap tunes and licks, song and stories, under the open tents on the lakeshore.

“Our Appalachian identity with its music, stories, song and dance is something we can be proud of and must share with others to keep it alive. It is an identity that enriches all who experience it,” said festival director Joe Sam Queen.

The Smoky Mountain Folk Festival had its beginnings as a collaboration between Queen and a master fiddler named Earnest Hodges. Queen’s grandfather had passed away shortly before and Queen and his family sought to celebrate the music and dancing his grandfather had loved so much.

“My grandfather Sam Queen made mountain music and dancing such a big part of this community’s life, we wanted to carry on this family tradition and share it with the community just as he had done,” said Queen.

Queen and Hodges put together those early festivals in the high school gymnasium of what is now Waynesville Middle School. They worked together to contact and lineup an extensive collection of mountain artists to perform. The festival was a success for the community, attracting hundreds of visitors and locals each night.

Now a tradition with decades of history, the festival has established itself as a family and community gathering with many performers returning each year to see old friends and make new ones. Families return each year with new generations to enjoy what is one of the richest cultural events of the year.

Main show tickets are $12 at the door, $10 in advance, with children under 12 admitted free. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Haywood County Arts Council at 86 North Main Street in Waynesville or at the Administration Building at Lake Junaluska.

And of course, in keeping with tradition, there is always a complimentary slice of cool watermelon available to all who attend.

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To the Editor:

The League of Women Voters is to be commended for conducting a forum in Franklin on Aug. 12 for N.C. State Senate and House candidates for the 2010 election. This allowed constituents to listen to the candidates in person. Although written questions were collected from the voters, time constraints prevented candidates from responding.

After the forum, I spoke with Rep. Phil Haire and Sen. John Snow, asking each how they proposed to bridge the budget gap of roughly $3.5 billion in the 2010-11 state budget.

I was shocked by their elitist attitude and overbearing manner. Rep. Haire, especially, was extremely argumentative and condescending. His only “solution” to the budget deficit was to blame Bush rather than addressing out-of-control spending and unsustainable financial commitments.   

If their replies had been videotaped, they would each have starring roles on You Tube. I advise everyone to speak with elitist incumbents only if someone is video-recording the encounter. Hopefully, the presence of a camera would encourage them to respond in an appropriate manner.

Gail Chapman  

Otto

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To the Editor:

The move towards sustainability is of paramount importance for the future of our local communities, our nation and this planet. 

To this end, the development of the proposed Creative Arts Building at Haywood Community College plays an integral part.  Some opponents have questioned the effectiveness of renewable technology. Solar powered electricity was discovered in the 1800s and photovoltaic solar energy has powered satellites since the 1950s. Solar electric and thermal are tried and true processes.

As an owner of a solar thermal system, I laugh all the way to the bank every time the sun shines! The model of renting/leasing PV systems from companies as they collect the revenues from the energy produced is already used in several states, including California. This is the same business model used by cell phone companies: you get the phone for a low cost as long as you sign a contract for service.

In addition to the immediate educational and sustainable benefits of the project, the construction will generate many local jobs.  The building will attract interest from all over the country and add to the beauty of the community.

Thus, from a local and global standpoint, construction of the Creative Arts Building presents a win-win situation. Moreover, there are other positive effects such as minimizing our pollution contribution to the area and planet. Perhaps in discussions about the payback for using renewable energy, the benefits (health and otherwise) of not emitting sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, lead, mercury, radioactive material etc. into the air, land and water should be factored into the equation!

The most intelligent choice for the future is to promote cottage industry plus sustainable technology and energy. Keeping this mind, the Haywood County commissioners should move ahead with the project to build the new Creative Arts Building at HCC.

Rudranath Beharrysingh

Sylva

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A debate about how adolescents — and even pre-adolescents — dress these days is a topic that covers a lot of ground, ranging from self-expression to familial relationships. One thing, though, still holds true — public schools should use whatever means reasonable to ensure that students and teachers spend as much time as possible on their studies.

Tuscola High School in Waynesville unveiled a new dress code this year that had some students crying foul. On examination, however, we found that Tuscola’s new rules are not nearly as strict as some other schools in the region and are, by almost all measures, very reasonable.

There is not an adult alive these days who hasn’t seen young girls who, for all intents and purposes, dress like strumpets on a street corner. Excuse the language, but it’s the truth. By the same standards, the rear-end showing pants with belts tightened around their thighs worn by teenage boys are just crude. Couple those with shirts with the sleeves cut off and slit down to the waist, and it’s too much.

Those are harsh judgments, but they are mostly true. If adolescents or adults want to dress that way as they go about their business each day, it’s no one’s business but their own. In a public school, however, it is entirely inappropriate.

This idea of public schools cracking down on inappropriate dress is not new. A generation ago it was guys wearing their hair long and girls forgetting their bras. Each generation has their standards and has to find the right remedy.

Look, it’s a tough road for public schools these days. The job of educating adolescents has never been easy, and distractions that come with too-short shorts, cleavage-showing shirts and pants torn to shreds just make it more difficult.

For the teachers, a dress code that leaves too much to interpretation is an even bigger problem. Tuscola’s approach makes enforcement simple, and it takes the onus off teachers who have enough to do already.

This issue is by turns comical and extremely sensitive. It is also very important. School should be about the education. Needless distractions should be eliminated when possible. Teaching adolescents how to conduct themselves in different social settings is a valuable lesson, and that’s just what a well thought out dress code can help accomplish.

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By Natalie Smith • Guest Columnist

One of the most commonly asked questions in life is “Where are you from?” Nowadays when we ask this question to a stranger we get exotic and interesting answers. Home is a relationship. It gives back to you. As you put into it your labors of love, self-expression, and protection, it in turn gives you freedom, shelter and peace of mind. These things are essential to all people everywhere.

These things are what the first European settlers of our homeland killed, deceived, and robbed some of us over — for a place to create their homes and their well being.  This is what people throughout the world are still fighting other people over even as you read this article.

I am always curious to find out just how far people are from their homes when they come here to visit. In the reverse, I also find it satisfying to tell strangers where I am from, that I live among the oldest mountains in the world, where water never stops, where there are unidentified species of life, where magic lives, and where my people have always been.  Then, it usually leads into slightly more detail when they remark that they “thought all Cherokees were in Oklahoma now because of the Trail of Tears.” I very simply say that some of us managed to stay behind in the Motherland where I was born and where the Eastern Band of Cherokee is still living to this day, and that it is where all Cherokee people call home.

Then I enthusiastically top it off with a description of how members of each of the Cherokee groups come home each year to the Mother-town of Kituwah to remember home and remember each other. Most often I run out of time to explain to them the answer of where I am from just the way I want to, or I opt to keep it simple as for not wanting to outdo them because chances are, their answer is not going to be as elaborate. 

Whatever the answer I choose to give the moment that someone asks me where I am from, I often receive their sincere interest or awe. If they are really comfortable with me, sometimes they say, “Man, I wish I was part of a tribe. I can ‘t say WHERE my ancestors are from. I just know that I’m XYZ, PDQ, and ABC.” And that’s when I follow up with “Well, it’s kind of like having a huge family. You get little to no privacy, and you get a big responsibility to make sure your people are OK and that you are OK with your people, and that’s hard to live with sometimes … no, all the time.” 

Nevertheless, I KNOW and appreciate the fact that I am a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, the fact that I HAVE a huge family therefore and therein, I KNOW where my ancestors are from, in fact I know the very piece of land that we started from. For a brief 150 years or so it was used by various farmers and was not for us to freely walk upon or to gather together upon, but it was made just for us by us so it was never truly taken from us. 

Now today we farm there again, we pray there again, we learn there again, and at least once a year, our Oklahoma family comes back home again so we can pick on each other, joke, pray, eat, laugh, flirt, gossip, pinch each other, tell secrets, let our kids run around and get dirty, eat more, laugh more, reminisce, clean up together, laugh even more, and we do this in a way that only we can do. The most amazing part of it is that we do it exactly where our entire tribe started thousands of years ago. The very soil at Kituwah literally has our ancestor’s blood, sweat and tears in it. Our DNA is down there!

And when I go there among you (my people), or among my ancestor’s spirits there, I am home. I am as home as any human being can ever be, and home is everything.

I wish to give a sincere thanks to all (Cherokee and “non”) who support the ongoing efforts of the EBCI governing body, the United Keetoowah Band governing body, and the Citizens to Protect Kituwah Valley and Swain County in our responsibility to secure our home at Kituwah, and see that it is loved, protected and respected for generations more of our people to come. Please visit savekituwahvalley.com for updates, information and to make donations.

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Robert A. Levy, a nationally known expert in the field of constitutional studies, will deliver a talk titled “How the Supreme Court has amended the Constitution” at Western Carolina University.

The free presentation will take place 3:35 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, in the Catamount Room of A.K. Hinds University Center.

Levy is chairman of the board of directors for the Cato Institute, a public policy research organization that conducts independent, nonpartisan research.

Levy’s latest book, co-authored with William Mellor, is The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom.

828.227.7475 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Eduardo Duran, a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with the legacy of historical trauma and Native American healing, will visit Western Carolina University to deliver the Biannual Public Lecture on Indian Health

The lecture, “Healing the Soul Wound,” will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, in the Grandroom of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center.

Duran defines historical trauma as trauma that occurs in families and is passed on to the following generation. Only when the trauma is dealt with will the cycle come to an end.

Duran has focused on creating effective intervention strategies for prevalent problems such as substance abuse, intergenerational trauma and internalized oppression.

He is the author of Healing the Soul Wound: Counseling with American Indians and other Native People, Native American Postcolonial Psychology, and The Buddha in Redface.

A reception and light refreshments will follow the lecture. Contact Lisa Lefler at 828.227.2164, 828.497.7457, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Everything from the authors of the Bible to religious extremism will be covered in two upcoming courses at Southwestern Community College.

“Who Wrote the Bible,” held 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays from Sept. 7 to Oct. 26 at the Jackson Campus. The class will cover archeological discoveries and the translation of newly-discovered languages that have altered perspectives on the Bible’s origins. Students will examine these changes and learn what they mean for people of faith across several religious traditions. The cost is $40.

The second course, “Religious Extremism: From Faith to Fanaticism,” will be held from 10 a.m. until noon on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at Southwestern’s Cashiers Center. The cost is $20.

“What is it that makes a person go from religion to aggression, even extremism, and how can this problem be addressed? That’s the main focus of this two-hour course,” said instructor Nicholas Altman.

828.339.4000.

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Are you battling the bulge or want to lose a few extra pounds before the holidays arrive? Take advantage of an eight-week weight management program in Waynesville or learn how to cook healthy meals in Sylva.

• The Cook Smart, Eat Smart Cooking School will offer classes from 9 a.m. until noon on Wednesdays, Sept. 8, 15, 22 and 29, in Sylva. The curriculum teaches cooking techniques that can be used to build a repertoire of entrees and side dishes to encourage preparing and eating more meals at home. Participants will be involved in hands-on food preparation and get to taste the variety of meals created each session. $35. Register at 828.586.4009 by Sept. 30.

• An eight-week weight loss class will be offered at noon and 5:15 p.m. on Mondays in Waynesville. Classes run from Sept. 27 to Nov. 15 and will consist of a 15 minute confidential sign-in period, a 40-45 minute presentation and a 15-20 minute optional walking routine that will be inside and can vary from gentle to moderate. Prizes will be offered to participants.

$20. To register, contact Jean Burton at 828.456.3575 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Sept. 20.

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Finding the sweet spot in government regulation, like on a wooden baseball bat, is often difficult. It’s the place where people are protected from the inherent dangers that go hand in hand with many large industrial enterprises while those same businesses are able to make a healthy profit that provides benefits to individuals, local communities and the government to whom it pays taxes. Finding a balance between these often competing interests is challenging.

In fact, in many cases it is left to the business itself to do the right thing. Often owners are so conscientious of their responsibilities there are not any problems. Sometimes those owners are more interested in profit than the safety of their workers or the environment. Other times, human error turns good intentions into unintended — and sometimes catastrophic — results.

The last few months has left many residents in the Allens Creek community of Waynesville wondering if the proper balance has been found between government regulations and free enterprise. The Allens Creek rock quarry owned by Harrison Construction wants to expand operations and is seeking state approval to do so. Residents complaints on several fronts — dust, explosions, the size of the quarry, and sediment runoff — have led to revelations that neither the state nor the federal government is doing a thorough job keeping tabs on the quarry. State officials say their manpower is stretched thin and that they are doing as good a job as possible with the resources they have.

Many people look at a company like Harrison and try to put them in the same league with larger corporate bad guys. That’s a mistake that doesn’t do any good. It’s important that we look at this quarry as an individual entity that is trying to operate within the parameters set forth by state and federal laws.

The real problem is that state regulators aren’t looking out for the well being of those who live near this quarry. It appears from this newspaper’s investigations that the agencies charged with making sure the quarry stays in compliance with state regulations may not be doing a good job. In some cases existing regulations are not strict enough or don’t exist. More than ever, citizens in the Allens Creek community and elsewhere are dependent on regulators and inspectors to look out for their interests.

As this recession lingers, declining tax revenues are forcing the state to take drastic budget measures. There’s little chance more “bureaucrats,” i.e., government regulators and inspectors, will be hired. That’s an unfortunate situation, one that will make fixing this situation more difficult.

Some in the Allens Creek community may wish this quarry did not exist or that it would close. Not us. What we want is for it to be held to the highest standards for operations of its kind. Until that happens, neighbors have every right to keep making noise.

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Motorcyclists

Maggie Valley business owners have seen an uptick in motorcycle enthusiasts with the opening of the Wheels through Time Museum.

Brenda O’Keefe, owner of Joey’s Pancake House, says many more motorcyclists are rushing to the Smokies to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Dragon and other twisty roads.

More motorcycle rallies in Haywood have attracted bikers, but they’re not the kind of bikers most would expect.

O’Keefe said while convertibles were the go-to vehicle for the wealthy in the past, it’s now motorcycles that are the status symbols.

“We see doctors, lawyers, more upper-class people riding expensive bikes,” said David Huskins, director of Smoky Mountain Host, a regional tourism organization.

Moreover, motorcycles aren’t only for males. More females are riding their own bikes rather than taking a backseat.

Visitors who stay

With beautiful environs situated relatively close to major metropolitan areas, WNC has long attracted second- and third-homeowners from Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and other Southeastern states.

Many of these part-time residents visit before buying. The second-home market especially spiked in the mid-1980s and continued to grow — until the recession stopped it in its tracks.

“This is the first recession that actually hit the luxury market,” said David Huskins, director of Smoky Mountain Host, a regional tourism organization. “Previously, they’ve been immune to that.”

Karen Wilmot, Swain County Chamber of Commerce director, testified to a surge of second-home buyers there in the past five years. When folks in Atlanta realize they can get to WNC in three hours, the area shoots up in popularity.

But the Swain Chamber doesn’t deliberately advertise the area as an ideal place for a second residence.

“We don’t really push it as come and live. We push it as come and stay,” said Wilmot.

Word of mouth is the best marketing tool by far, according to Wilmot.

Foreigners

The Smokies have witnessed a noticeable rise in foreign visitors in the last decade. Favorable currency rates and concentrated international marketing have brought more Germans and Brits to the region than ever before.

Many international tourists are flying into Washington, D.C., picking up the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, getting off in Cherokee, then flying back out from Atlanta.

More Scandinavian and Swedish tourists are beginning to join their German, English, Irish and Scottish counterparts in the Smokies.

Fishing

After Maggie Valley and Waynesville were designated Mountain Heritage Trout Waters cities two years ago, more families are coming to the area to take kids fishing. The designation means anyone can pick up a three-day fishing license for just $5 and check out equipment at discounted prices.

Jackson County has also seen a rise in visitors after instituting a fly-fishing trail and ap two years ago. Visitors are coming from as far away as Texas and Montana for the first time.

Cherokee has also become a fly-fishing Mecca after opening catch-and-release sections on Raven Fork and the Oconaluftee River stocked with trophy trout.

Fido-friendly

Jackson County is seeing more tourists traveling with pets – so many that it has added a pet icon to its visitor guides to let tourists know which accommodations allow pets.

Julie Spiro, director of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, said it may seem like a minor trend, but traveling with pets is becoming more important than ever to consumers.

Over in Macon County, the new Smoky Mountain Performing Arts Center in Franklin has led to a rise in traveling concert-goers. Visitors from outside WNC are now heading to Franklin to see their favorite musicians perform.

Comment

Hikers and map geeks will revel in poring over a new map of the Bartram Trail being released this week.

The map covers a 75-mile stretch of the Bartram Trail that winds through the Nantahala National Forest of Macon and Swain counties. The map labels campsites and springs for water sources, scenic vistas, prime wildlife viewing areas, picnic areas, canoe access and sundry other points of interest.

“When creating the new map, day hikers, backpackers, exercise runners, nature photographers, wildflower enthusiasts, and area history buffs were all kept in mind,” said Ina Warren, a member of the N.C. Bartram Trail Society.

As a perk, the map has driving directions to many of the trail heads, and phone numbers and locations of forest service ranger stations.

Topo lines are at 50-foot intervals. The map’s scale allows for smaller creeks and finger ridges — ones that usually go unnamed on most maps — to be labeled.

The full-color, two-sided map features heavyweight, glossy paper that will hold up to being hauled in and out of your backpack pocket.

The long-distance trail follows the 1775 route of William Bartram, an early explorer and naturalist, through the region.

Plant collecting in new lands was all the rage during Bartram’s time, often funded by the royal crown back home. Bartram’s journey was popularized at the time in the book Bartram’s Travels. In addition to collecting plant and seed specimens, Bartram described the landscape and the Cherokee Indians with admiration.

In keeping with Bartram’s spirit, the map features native flora and fauna notes from along the trail.

“We hope this attractive, colorful and informative map will excite folks enough to plan a recreation outing or hike in their national forests and gain many years of enjoyment from the map.”

A grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area laid the ground work for the map project and was matched by substantial contributions from the Highlands Biological Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Nantahala Outdoor Center, private donors and members of the Bartram Trail Society.

The Bartram Trail Society has given out over 1,000 free maps to schools, public and college libraries, summer camps, chambers of commerce, visitor centers, nature centers, museums and other groups.

The map goes on sale this week at local outfitters and forest service ranger stations. It may also be ordered online at ncbartramtrail.org or by mailing a check for $12 (which includes postage) to NC Bartram Trail Society, P. O. Box 968, Highlands, NC 28741. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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When asked how he felt about the catastrophic BP oil spill, Robert Young paused for the first time during the interview, visibly moved.

“It’s depressing...don’t make me cry,” Young said before walking over to his desktop and opening up a recent home video of his sons enjoying a vacation on the Florida Panhandle.

The water is crystal clear, the sand pure, and his sons are laughing, one riding a boogie board for the very first time.

“I was that boy,” said Young, who heads Western Carolina University’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. “The guys are just dying to go back again...We can’t. We can’t go back now.”

Like many others, Young is finding it difficult to find an outlet for his anger.

“It’s not very satisfying getting angry at a multinational corporation,” said Young. “I can’t not buy gas at the BP station in town. It’s locally owned...We can’t hurt BP. That’s what’s so hard.”

Even with no chance of a do-over on the Gulf Coast crisis, Young and his team of coastal scientists at WCU have gotten actively involved in its aftermath, hoping to make a positive impact.

An unusually vocal scientist, Young’s opposition to the current plan of attack — which calls for building sand berms to block oil from reaching the shores — has earned him national attention.

Young has made the rounds, speaking to NPR, Newsweek and the Rachel Maddow Show and writing an op-ed for The New York Times, actively opposing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s push to construct the sand barriers.

Young said there’s little evidence the barriers would work. They would be susceptible to erosion before the project is even complete, not to mention the slim chance that they would survive the impending hurricane season.

Moreover, the sand berms would alter tidal currents, leading to the erosion of natural barrier islands that protect the coast from hurricanes, Young said.

Even with the EPA speaking out against it, the project is moving ahead with the construction of test sand berms. Young is devoted to continue monitoring the process.

Meanwhile, coastal scientists at WCU’s Shoreline program, including two Western grads, Katie McDowell and Adam Griffith, have captured aerial photography during flyovers off the coast of Louisiana.

Last week, Griffith returned to the state to scope out the damage done along the coastline, accompanying two volunteers from the environmental nonprofit Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

What Griffith witnessed upon reaching the beach at Isle Grand Terre left him horrified.

“Oil in large pools was evident on the beach. Hermit crabs wandered around next to bubbles of oil while dolphins frolicked in water that wasn’t quite the right color. Foul fumes were ubiquitous and oil could be seen oozing out of the wetlands,” Griffith wrote in a guest blog entry for LA Bucket Brigade.

That oil will undoubtedly gush to more and more locations. Griffith’s goal, like that of the Bucket Brigade, is to amass a large-scale collection of images to archive the environmental disaster as it unfolds in specific locations.

“Hopefully, these images will help remind us what the land should look like,” Griffith writes in closing his blog entry.

Griffith said the BP oil spill has the potential to be one of the most polarizing moments in our lives, almost like an environmental version of the Sept. 11 attacks.

As a coastal scientist, McDowell said she can clearly grasp how the oil spill will impact the ecosystem for years to come.

“You realize how big-scale it’s really going to be, how devastating it’s really going to be,” said McDowell. “You realize how fragile the ecosystem is.”

Though McDowell hasn’t been back to Louisiana since the flyover in April, she would like to devote every single day to studying the oil spill.

“Everyone wishes they could do more than what they’re doing,” said McDowell. “It’s hard because I think about it all day long.”

Western’s internationally renowned program

Unlike most other programs of its kind, WCU’s Program for the Study of Developed Shoreline houses the oft-separated fields of science and policy under one roof.

That places PSDS scientists in a uniquely difficult position.

“The people who solely do policy and management often think we’re naïve scientists who don’t really have a grasp of the intricacies of politics and policy,” said Young. “The scientific community quite frequently decides not to take scientists who communicate regularly with the public as seriously as scientists who sequester themselves in a lab somewhere, and slip their results under the door.”

But since so many scientific programs receive grants — which are funded by taxpayers — Young said it’s imperative that scientists talk to lay people about their findings.

With few scientific journalists left standing, it’s up to scientists to communicate directly to the public, Young said.

For that reason, the coastal scientists that Young hires must have excellent communication skills. McDowell, for instance, tutored at WCU’s writing center as a student.

McDowell is now working on building a national database that details how high the seas have risen in specific locations during past hurricanes.

In a few weeks, WCU Shoreline scientists will assist in dam removal project in Washington state, one of the largest ever projects of its kind.

PSDS has five full-time staff and, seven research fellows from universities around the country, in addition to one from Ireland.

The program, which has been around for about 25 years, was formerly headquartered at Duke University.

Its director, Orrin Pilkey, handed the program over to Young, who was too enamored with the mountains to move back to Duke, where he completed his graduate studies and is now an adjunct professor.

Pilkey serves as a Young’s mentor and collaborator, and continues to participate in shoreline studies program, officially making it a joint effort between Duke and Western.

PSDS scientists work all over the country, in addition to exotic locales like Morocco, Honduras and New Zealand. Much of what they do involves evaluating coastal engineering projects, whether its building beaches or “mining” sand from the beach to use in construction projects.

The program’s ultimate goal is to preserve and support the proper management of the world’s beaches. PSDS scientists not only work to study the impact of development on shores, but also chime in while harmful policies are being pursued.

For example, Young protested against the idea of building a sea wall to protect a road in Florida’s Gulf Highlands National Seashore.

He said the idea would do more harm than good. Moreover, it wouldn’t work to protect the road. Scientifically speaking, it was simply a bad idea.

Young wrote a two-page scientific opinion and got the signatures of 25 coastal geologists from across the country to sign on before sending it to the head of park services. As a result of their combined input, the effort was abandoned.

Often, PSDS scientists are asked why they’re headquartered in the middle of the Appalachian mountains. McDowell seems well-trained on the response.

“Knowing what we know about global warming, sea level rise, and what happens on the coast, we feel a little bit safer here in the mountains,” said McDowell.

Another tangible benefit is being roughly equidistant from the east coast beaches of North and South Carolina as well as the Gulf. McDowell emphasized that people all over the world study coastal geology, whether or not they’re stationed anywhere near the coast.

Science’s role

Though he opposes the idea of sand berms, Young doesn’t have an answer on what would protect the Gulf Coast from the oil already creeping ashore.

Young is curious why the plan now isn’t to place sand on the barrier islands rather than in front of them. He emphasizes that traditional methods like booming and skimming should not be abandoned.

Young got especially vocal after the governor’s office of Louisiana applied for a permit from the Army Corp of Engineers to do massive engineering. He and his team had examined the proposed project and found major flaws.

“We were concerned about spending all that time and energy and manpower on a project that wasn’t going to work,” said Young. “...No one would be happier for me to be wrong than me.”

If the project had any hope of succeeding, its ancillary environmental effects would not matter. But Young sees a miniscule chance at success.

While other scientists probably agree, few have piped up.

“There are scientists all over the east coast and Gulf Coast, and I haven’t heard them,” said McDowell.

Young, McDowell and Griffith argue that there’s an obligation for scientists to share what they know.

“I think there is tremendous value in science intrinsically, but if we can share that with a larger audience, we can maximize benefit,” said Griffith.

For them, science — not politics — must guide efforts to clean up the oil spill.

A team of the best engineers and scientists should be consulted for every aspect of the response to the oil spill, according to Young.

“We should be putting them in rooms and brainstorming for ideas,” said Young. “We should have them on the scene in places — not so we can conduct yearlong studies —but so we can get as many ideas and eyes on this as possible.”

Griffith agrees that discussion on how to go about the cleanup should be a short part of the project.

“I think science’s perspective is valuable, but I think that part of the conversation needs to occur quickly and concisely,” said Griffith.

Grassroots efforts could also play a significant role, and Griffith said he’s sure there are citizen activists out there already cleaning up oil on their own.

Grassroots Mapping, for example, is using citizen volunteers to send up automatic cameras on kites and balloons to take photographs of the oil-stained shoreline. Those images are then stitched together to form a panoramic aerial shot.

“They’re not talking about what to do,” said Griffith. “They’re doing something.”

Comment

By Thomas Crowe • Guest Columnist

With the recent rash of mining disasters, oil and gas spills here in the U.S. and worldwide, and the apocalyptic timing of all of these, things have changed. These are not just mere rare random accidents, but coming in such a wave, they are, instead, a kind of ironic epiphany. This is a wake-up call for what has passed for the past two generations or more as the status quo, as “business as usual.”

During the past several years since Bush’s invasion of Iraq, practically all we’ve heard from our government officials and news sources has been “the War on Terror.” Like psychic loudspeakers, this phrase has invaded our sleep. “Terror.” “Terrorists.” “Terrorism.” “Territory.” One would think that there was a terrorist under every bed. Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago when it used to be a communist under every bed. All our focus these days seems to be on a few gypsy bands of renegade insurgents somewhere in the Middle East who have the imagined miraculous ability to show up at any given moment on our doorsteps with incendiary and even nuclear bombs — a threat to our inflated American lifestyle if not our very lives.

But all of a sudden, with the enormous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Massey Energy-Upper Big Branch mining explosions in West Virginia and other similar incidents world-wide, it’s beginning to look like our government’s focus on terrorism is terribly misplaced.

Aside from the one-off major terrorist event of the New York Twin Towers, the vast majority of “terrorist” events have come in-house — from the economic infrastructure of the American capitalistic establishment itself. Most recently from Big Coal and Big Oil, incidents have cost considerable human and non-human life and untold environmental destruction with monumental social and economic repercussions.

Since 9/11, terrorist plots and actual attacks on American soil pale in comparison to these Big Energy incidents. Which begs the question: Who are the real terrorists? Who is the real enemy, here? Who is the real threat to our national stability and security?

It seems to me that the billions of dollars we are spending in Iraq and Afghanistan to combat small, dispersed enclaves of Taliban and Al Qaida fundamentalists, as well as, specifically, the man-power invested there of our National Guard troops, are not only being misappropriated but misplaced, when the real war that we should be waging should be right here on American soil and against American corporate terrorism in the form of Big Oil and Big Coal. Instead of aiming Predator drones at nameless Afghan jihadists hiding in the hills on the Pakistani border, shouldn’t we be “bombing” BP with a trillion dollar fine and mandatory clean up and compensations for their failed offshore drilling enterprises? Shouldn’t we be ferreting out the mining company corporate generals hiding in their mansions in the hills of West Virginia and slapping lawsuits on them for their neglect and hitting them with uncompromising regulations?

But even these efforts, in my opinion, don’t go far enough. The U.S. government needs to step in (like they’re trying to do in Iraq and Afghanistan) and shut down these companies — until such a time as they can do their job right and do right by all the people they employ and/or are affected by their erroneous errors and accidents.

As we speak, there are at least 900 offshore wells operating in the Gulf of Mexico. How many more “accidents” like the current BP spill are we going to have to endure before BP is held accountable for its profit-driven and indifferent practices? How many more mining disasters are we going to have to endure before Massey and other companies like them are called on the carpet, in just the same fashion as would any small company or business would be who was responsible for similar kinds of destruction and on a lesser scale?

The U.S. Labor Department or some government agency should shut down all Massey mines and make them install all the safety and pollution precautions that they have obviously ignored (in order to cut costs). Big Energy and Big Energy business are the true terrorists. Where is the “War on Big Oil?” Where is the “War on Coal and CO2?” This needs to be our focus and priority, as Big Business has run its course.

If this sounds like socialism to some folks, then so be it. Peak oil is a thing of the past, and big isn’t working anymore. Something has got to give lest we find ourselves on a wasted and desert planet such as are being portrayed in much of our fiction books and film-scripts these days. These Big Energy moguls want their cake and to eat it too — in the name of free-trade capitalism. They can’t have it both ways. Free-trade means you are also free to fail as well as succeed. If a business fails due to its own bad behavior, then, like any small business, it should be allowed to fail. I’m not convinced that the big corporations are “too big to fail.” (Including, and maybe especially, the big banks.)

Yes, a lot of people would lose jobs, but a lot of people are losing jobs anyway. If the government would get focused and get to work on ramping up a campaign to get green energy businesses up and running and affordable (like FDR did with WPA), then a lot of those people would be able to find work in these new “green” industries. And with the big businesses gone, there would be ample room and need for new small business to start up and prosper.

Meanwhile, and in the interim, we can begin helping each other in our own communities to weather the storm of our failing infrastructure and the rebuilding of a new and more sustaining infrastructure. With the country in the midst of an economic crisis, the government in Washington is spending our money in the wrong place. The money they are wasting on two bogus and very expensive wars overseas against invisible “enemies” needs to be being spent right here at home on our own problems and on much more pressing battles with much more dangerous foes.

These battles with Mr. Big are not only being played out in Washington or in corporate boardrooms in large urban cities, but big business bombs are being directed at civilian targets right here in Western North Carolina. We, right here, have our own corporate “terrorists” wreaking economic and environmental havoc in the name of “free enterprise” and “no regulation free-trade capitalism.” Duke Power is a perfect case in point, with its recent attempt to blackmail the people on the Cherokee Reservation over a proposed substation on sacred land. And then there’s the travesty of the new coal-fired power plant over in Rutherford County, which is going to come at the expense of local taxpayers and their health.

So, it’s time to bring Big Business back down to earth. And if the government isn’t going to do it, then the people must. And the first step is callin’ the bad boys out and to speak up and tell it like it is. If I can do it, anyone can. There are a lot of us who are thinking this way and talking in private, expressing our disgust and anger about our country’s current priorities and what’s being done and not being done to get this country back on its feet. In a crowd, when someone falls, a good citizen stops and helps them up. Our country has fallen, and, as good neighbors and concerned citizens, we need to stop and help our flagging country to its feet.

(Thomas Crowe is a writer who lives in Jackson County. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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Rich Kucharski, chief legal counsel for Western Carolina University, became the seventh person in university history to receive one of the institution’s highest honors when the WCU board of trustees presented him with the Trustees’ Award.

Retiring this summer after a quarter-century of service to the university, Kucharski received the award during a surprise presentation as part of the board’s quarterly meeting Friday, June 4. The Trustees’ Award is presented only on rare occasions in recognition of exemplary service to the university, Steve Warren, chairman of the board of trustees, said in announcing the award.

Kucharski has provided legal advice on matters involving or affecting the university since 1985. He also serves as director of technology transfer and started the Office of Technology Transfer in 2004 to provide assistance to faculty and staff who want to see their on-campus creations benefit the public.

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