Admin

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

High-elevation overlooks are one of our finest natural resources. These vantage points allow us to rise above our everyday humdrum existence and see the world with fresh eyes. Many of the finest overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the Great Smokies, and elsewhere can be reached directly via motor vehicles.

Instant access is just fine when we don’t have a lot of time to devote to getting there. But it always adds a bit of resonance to the experience if we have to walk a ways before reaching our destination. It doesn’t have to be a long walk. Many of the most satisfying overlooks require relatively little time or effort to reach. Two of my favorites through the years have been Pickens Nose and Salt Rock.

Pickens Nose is located at the southern end of the Nantahala Mountains within the Nantahala National Forest. From the backcountry information center at the Standing Indian Campground, continue on FR-67/2 along the headwaters of the Nantahala River. Eight miles from the information center, this maintained road passes through Mooney Gap where the Appalachian Trail (marked with white blazes) makes a crossing. Continue another 0.7 mile along FR-67/2 to the trailhead for Pickens Nose, which is situated in a gap at 4,680 feet.

The trail leads south along the crest of a ridge through a rhododendron tunnel. At about a half-mile, there is a side-trail leading a few yards to the east (left) to a small outcrop providing a view out over the Coweeta Creek watershed and the Little Tennessee River Valley to the Balsam Mountain Range. You can spot Highlands in the distance.

At 0.7 miles, you reach Pickens Nose at 4,900 feet, a sloping, multi-level granite outcrop on the southwest end of the ridge. It’s maybe 45-feet-long and 20-feet-wide. The vertical drop of the rock face is 50 or so feet, while the almost sheer descent into the Bettys Creek valley below is 2,230 feet.

The views west and north are into the high Nantahalas. Standing Indian looms at 5,499 feet due west. It’s four miles away but seems as if you could reach out and touch it. To the east the Balsams swing back in an arc toward the Smokies. And to the south you will look out over an endless blue expanse of mountains into Georgia and the upper headwaters of the Savannah. Here you are on the edge of the contorted Appalachian drainage system, with waters flowing on the one hand directly to the Atlantic and on the other through the vast heartland of the nation to the Gulf of Mexico.

Why Pickens Nose? In profile the outcrop resembles a huge nose.

All the evidence indicates that it was so-named in honor of Gen. Andrew Pickens of South Carolina, a soldier in the Revolutionary War who subsequently initiated prohibited sales of Cherokee lands during the 1780s and helped lay out Indian boundary lines during the 1790s.

Salt Rock is located in Panthertown Valley, which is administered by the Highlands Ranger District of the Nantahala National Forest. Inquire at the Highlands Ranger District office regarding trail maps and additional information.

To reach Salt Rock turn east (towards Brevard) at the crossroads in Cashiers on U.S. 64 and proceed 1.8 miles before turning left onto Cedar Creek Road. At 2.1 miles, turn right onto Breedlove Road and proceed 3.3 miles to the gated trailhead. A short walk down the roadway and around the first bend leads to Salt Rock, one of the most delightful overlooks in the southern highlands.

From this vantage point on the southwest rim of the Panthertown watershed (headwaters of the Tucksegee River) a series of extensive rock outcrops that rise from 200 to 300 feet above the valley can be observed. The broad valley floor and almost vertical rock-face terrain has led some to describe the area as “The Yosemite of the East.” Retired Western Carolina University biologist Dan Pittillo has observed that Panthertown Valley resembles what the Yosemite Valley of California “might look like following several million years of erosion.”

It’s a region of flat, meandering tannin-darkened streams often bordered by white sand banks, extensive waterfall systems that form grottoes in which rare ferns reside, large pools several hundred feet in length, high country bogs and seeps that harbor vegetation not often encountered elsewhere in the mountains, upland “hanging” valleys on the sides of the tract, and rocky outcrops where ravens nest.

George Ellison wrote the biographical introductions for the reissues of two Appalachian classics: Horace Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders and James Mooney’s History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees. In June 2005, a selection of his Back Then columns was published by The History Press in Charleston as Mountain Passages: Natural and Cultural History of Western North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains. Readers can contact him at P.O. Box 1262, Bryson City, N.C., 28713, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

A new book titled The Forests of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park serves as a guide to understanding and identifying southern Appalachian forest types for the non-scientist.

The book explores the evolution of the diverse forests of the Smokies, including environmental and manmade influences. Along the way, the reader learns how to sample the forest using skills like pacing, measuring tree diameter, estimating tree age, determining successional stage and identifying major southern Appalachian tree species.

The author is Dan Williams, forest manager & environmental educator with the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. For more about the book, go to forestsofgreatsmokymountains.com.

Comment

An eight-week course on the Fundamentals of Green Building will be held at Haywood Community College starting Aug. 30.

The course is designed to help construction workers and contractors land work in the emerging green construction industry. The course is offered through the JobsNOW Program and a grant from the NC Rural Economic Development Center.

The course has a classroom component that covers theories, practices, and materials used in green building, plus a Boots-on-the-Ground component at a model green home being built on the HCC campus.

Cost for the class is $350 for registration and $205 for books. The class will be offered again on Oct. 11 and Nov. 15. 828.627.4667 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 828.456.6061 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For fulltime students, HCC offers a degree in Low Impact Development and a Green Building certificate.

Comment

The tenth annual Southern Energy and Environment Expo this weekend in Asheville will features dozens of programs and exhibits on how to create a more sustainable society.

Thousands of people attend each year to hear the talks, attend workshops and peruse the displays. The expo highlights cutting edge technology people can incorporate into their own homes and lives, from simple steps like eco-friendly cleaning products and rain water collection to bigger investments like hybrid cars and solar or geothermal energy.

When the first SEE Expo was held 10 years ago, global warming was still considered “debatable” and green living was outside the mainstream.

“Times have changed, the debate is over, and it’s time for action,” according to the event organizers. “Rebuilding our economy into a rational, sustainable economy begins on the local & regional levels.”

The expo will be held Aug. 20-22 at the WNC Agricultural Center located off I-26 near the airport. For a schedule, go to www.seeexpo.com.

Comment

Photographers should get to work now to come up with their best mountain images for the eighth annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition.

The photo contest celebrates the unique people, places, and pursuits that distinguish the Southern Appalachians. The contest has six categories: Adventure; Culture; Ecological Footprint; Flora and Fauna; Landscape, and Blue Ridge Parkway Vistas.

This year’s special “Share the Journey” category is Trees of the Parkway, which will be archived by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.

Photographers are encouraged to capture images of trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway that stand out as the most beautiful, the oldest or largest, trees that tell a story or have a place in history, and those that are unique for their shape, species, or character. Make sure to include the tree species, its location (such as GPS coordinates or Parkway Milepost), and a paragraph about why the photographed tree is of particular significance.

The contest is put on by Appalachian State University and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and offers $4,000 in cash and prizes .

To submit photos, go to www.appmtnphotocomp.org.

Comment

A cross-country style 5K race in Cullowhee sponsored by Foot Rx of Asheville, a running shoe store, will be held this Saturday, Aug. 21.

The Foot Rx 5k Cross Country Challenge starts at 9 a.m. at the Jackson County Recreation Center. The course is three big loops on the paths around the Cullowhee Recreation Center and Cullowhee Valley Elementary.

Registration is race-day only from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Cost is $50.

Top finishers overall get gift certificates to Foot Rx and age group winners get a paid of Thor-Lo Experia socks.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 828.508.2158.

Comment

Poet Bill Everett, author of Red Clay Blood River, will appear at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 19, as this month’s guest at City Lights Bookstore’s Coffee with the Poet. After a break for lunch, attendees can come back to enjoy a workshop at 1:30 p.m..Each workshop participant should bring one poem or one short piece (or excerpt) of prose.

Comment

Michael Beadle and Peter Yurko have published a new photographic history of Waynesville in honor of the town’s bicentennial this year. Their first book signing will be held 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28, at Blue Ridge Books in downtown Waynesville.

The 128-page book, Waynesville, is from Arcadia’s “Images of America” series and includes nearly 200 black-and-white photographs of prominent Waynesville landmarks, including homes, churches, schools, hotels and boardinghouses.

Over a six-month period, Beadle and Yurko spent countless hours sorting through thousands of photographs from local museums, businesses, private collections, and newspapers, then writing and editing captions to go with each selected photo. The images represent various time periods from the late 1800s to the late 1900s and have been organized thematically into seven chapters highlighting local businesses, schools and churches, prominent citizens, and Waynesville’s industrial neighbor, Hazelwood, which merged with Waynesville in 1995.

828.456.6000.

Comment

Jean Boone Benfield, of Asheville, will read from her new book, Mountain Born: A Recollection of Life and Language in Western North Carolina, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 20, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.

The book recalls her growing-up years in Asheville in the 1940s. It is not so much a memoir or collection of family stories as it is a compendium of the features that made up everyday life for just about everybody in that time and place. Chapters cover foodways and housework, traditions and superstitions, and gardening and recipes. The final section of the book is a fascinating collection of old words and phrases, each defined and with an example of use.

Benfield will read selections from the book and take questions and comments from the audience.

Mary Judith Messer will read from her new memoir, entitled Moonshiner's Daughter: Growing Up Poor in the Smokies … How Did We Survive, at 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 21, at City Lights. The book tells Messer's story of growing up in Haywood County in extreme circumstances of poverty, family discord, and outright abuse. It's a compelling story, and Messer has changed some of the names to protect the identities of the innocent people involved.

828.586.9499.

Comment

To the Editor:

I recently had occasion to take a 10-day camping and motorcycling trip. Maggie Valley was selected as my turn-around destination. The draw to Maggie Valley was great. The potential to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway, which would include scenic views with great mountain vistas.

My magnet was more parochial in nature — The Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum. It has been several years since I had visited the museum. My first trip was during the original construction and opening of the facility by Mr. Dale Walksler.

The first museum visit was fabulous, and I vowed to return. During my absence, I heard a disturbing report regarding the Maggie Valley business community not supporting the museum and Mr. Walksler’s museum development plan.

This was disturbing and kept me away until my recent trip. Wow! What an incredible museum to be included in the Maggie Valley business community.

The improvements and enhancements to the museum’s historical presentation of America’s motorcycle history were impressive. Mr. Walksler serves as a modern-day “Indiana Jones” as he acts as curator for what was once a global business entity for many communities that were producing motorcycles in America in the early days of our country’s industrial greatness.

Mr. Walksler’s philosophy of keeping his equipment original and running is legendary in the motorcycle world.

Why is Wheels Through Time an important ambassador for the Maggie Valley business community? Simple, it’s the math. I was one motorcyclist, on one motorcycle, visiting Maggie Valley for the expressed reason of seeing the Wheels Through Time Museum.

I spent my discretionary dollars locally on food, fuel, and local camping accommodations. My spending included snacks, treats, souvenirs and fees. All my purchases included applicable North Carolina and local taxes. I left tips where appropriate. I would not have visited Maggie Valley without the museum as a magnet.

Wheels Through Time has to be considered a significant economic draw. I hope Maggie Valley supports this viable community partner and recognizes its significance.

As a final testament, I have become a marketer for Maggie Valley. I have told all my network of contacts of my great experience. One of my contact groups already has firm visitation plans for this fall. I have made plans for a return trip in late August.  

While at the Museum I shot an unsolicited video with Dale, which is being viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?-v=hfEmLXPgWdI with my observations on Facebook and Twitter.

Joseph A. Abal, Ph.D.

Forensic Reconstructionist

Comment

To the Editor:

The dollar signs twinkling in the aldermen’s eyes were glaringly visible at the town of Franklin meeting last night. Clearly the advent of this unnecessary Wal-Mart is a forgone conclusion, evidenced by the limited debate to only the issues of size of store footprint and size of signage.

Of course, what else can you expect from a town and county so eager for short-term tax dollar earnings that they forget the long-term value of caring for the natural attractions of our area.  These are real values that draw people to the mountains.  Witness the lack of understanding placed on the intrinsic value of the river that runs through town in favor of the “ambiance” of the unsightly basic McDonalds and other businesses that could capitalize on that site, not contaminate it.

I seriously doubt that people find a super-huge, ill-located, Wal-Mart a reason or a draw to visit our location. Wal-Mart can be found in way too many areas, not to mention the fact that the one we have is more than sufficient for our locality.

Proponents of yet another Wal-Mart insist that competition is good. But the fact remains that others cannot compete with Wal-Mart mega-buying power. Yes, perhaps true competition does motivate other merchants to bettering their arenas, but this takeover of American towns, cities, roads and byways — not to mention some folks’ skewed value systems — is not competition, it is monopoly.  

Shirley Ches

Franklin

Comment

To the Editor:

In a column dated Aug. 13, Gail Collins of The New York Times reminds us that August marks the 90th anniversary of women being granted the right to vote. She also reminds us that before that August 90 years ago, there was a 70-year “slog” of “Adventure! Suspense! Treachery! and Drunken Legislators!” not to mention a U.S. Senate that resisted year after year. 

Thus, each state had to ratify the right to vote, triggering a massive effort in each state by women of all persuasions. It came down to Tennessee and one vote. It looked as if women would lose once again when Rep. Harry Burn received a telegram from his mother in which she told him to be a “good boy” and “do the right thing.” He did the right thing and the governor signed the bill on Aug. 24, 1920. Two days later, the 19th Amendment became national law, 144 years after the Declaration of Independence.

Through 70 years of seeking the right to vote, women were arrested, beaten, deprived of food and water, and suffered indignities that only women in other countries can identify with now. We simply must vote in November to honor all of those women and the men who supported them.

The yellow rose came to symbolize the suffragette movement. If you have not registered to vote, why not pin on a yellow rose and march yourself to the elections office and get yourself registered. And when November comes, be sure you have educated yourself about the candidates.  Who honors the tenets of our constitution and the principles of equality? Who will best represent us and not big business? Who will honor all of those women who struggled for 70 years to make sure we could vote?

“The young women of today — free to study, to speak, to write, to choose their occupation — should remember that every inch of this freedom was bought for them at a great price ... the debt that each generation owes to the past, it must pay to the future.”
~ Abigail Scott Dunaway

Linda Watson

Cullowhee

Comment

To the Editor:

I commend Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., for his support of H.R. 1586, the “Education, Jobs, and Medicaid Assistance Act.”

According to Reuters, this bill provides $26 billion to the states to save the jobs of teachers, firefighters, police officers and nurses. It will be paid for by closing tax loopholes which make it profitable for multinational corporations to send American jobs overseas. It will not increase the deficit but will actually reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion over the next 10 years.  

This is a wonderful bill. It protects education, public safety, saves jobs, ensures health care for those who cannot afford it, and lowers the deficit. How could any congressperson vote against it?  Unfortunately, just about all Republicans did, including Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. I have searched to find their reasons. All I could find was a statement by the leader of the House Republicans, John Boehner, who called this bill a “bailout” to “special interests.” People who educate our children and keep our communities safe are “special interests?”

I hope someone asks Rep. Shuler’s opponent in the upcoming election if he would have voted in lockstep with his Republican colleagues against this bill.

Carole Larivee

Waynesville

Comment

To the Editor:

Tuesday night (Aug. 10) the Haywood County health board voted to table the amendment (for 90 days) to the health rule that would have allowed for a Class 1 misdemeanor in cases of health rule violations. Many of the citizens of Haywood County applaud your decision.

The process has gone on for several months. Many citizens have been involved in every stage of the amendment process and at public hearings. The health rule was being called to a vote on Tuesday … just as more facts were coming to light. This decision will allow for further discussion on the issues that still concern citizens … without slowing up the health board on all other actions that they are charged with addressing.

Thank you to the Health Board for taking this course of action. Thank you for your service to Haywood County.

Lynda Bennett

Maggie Valley

Comment

To the Editor:

Some locations just aren’t suitable for development, let alone to be utilized by a major utility project. Kituwah Valley is obviously one.    

A portion of Swain County’s citizens are aware, and others should be made aware, that Swain Couty has only 13 percent of its enormous land base at its disposal for generating revenue. This is due to the fact that most of the land is national forest and national park. Kituwah Valley, though a large section of the floor is once again owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee, is within Swain County’s taxable land base and is currently a scenic stop on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, home to Darnell Farms (which has year-round events for tourists), and is host to the Hemlock Inn where couples have been married overlooking the beautiful valley. These businesses have been generating revenue for Swain County for generations, and they would not stand up to their own reputations as destinations quite the same if such a thing as an electrical utility complex were newly occupying their backdrop.

Now that the looming threat of a major electrical tie station being located up on the mountainside has been publicly extinguished, Swain County can move toward ordinances and other protective measures for its most valuable asset … its view scape.

Aside from the de-forested section of the mountainside property newly owned by Duke Energy Carolinas, and a few other reversible eyesores, the entire valley is a beautiful glimpse into the past.  It is bordered by U.S. 74 and serves passersby throughout the seasons as a corridor into Swain County with postcard perfect views of frosted vegetable rows, foggy mornings, sepia cornfield sunsets, brilliant sunrises, a full pallet of autumnal colors and smells, the glistening Nantahala River running cold through the thick summer canopy that follow its shores. Kituwah Valley is a living representation of the fading life-ways of our ancestors and is, for most of America and its tourists, a priceless perspective on their own national heritage.

So, I extend a big “Thank You” to Duke Energy Carolinas in making the decision to relocate their much-needed project outside of Kituwah Valley. I undoubtedly believe that this decision will benefit everyone for the long term.

My grandfather Jack C. Smith, a former Swain County commissioner, said to me of his philosophy: “You have to look 15 years out and plan for then.” I believe he would have said to Duke’s decision to relocate their project that “Well … it plain just makes sense.”   

I encourage readers to visit the website www.savekituwahvalley.com where you can view filings, documents, and the entirety of the request to Duke Energy Carolinas to make reparations to the citizens of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and the citizens of Swain County on behalf of our homes and our history that have been affected by their recent project development.

Natalie Smith

EBCI member and Swain County resident

Comment

Edisto, SC – Heat like this has a relentlessness that is unnerving. You try giving it the slip, it follows you like a villain in a dream into the air-conditioned nooks and the sea-breezed crannies of your vacation days. There is no escape. As I sit in the local ice cream parlor/video store and ponder just how much of a giant scoop of black walnut ice cream I can fit into my mouth, a trio of teenage girls push open the door, the one in front pausing to impress some critical point upon the one in the back, and the heat surges in like a river of invisible lava, searing whatever is in its path. We are in its path. The fingers on Jack’s right hand are completely coated in light green ooze, as his mint chocolate chip cone melts aggressively right in front of him.

“Better eat that, bud,” I say, nodding at the cone. “Here, I’ll show you…”

We love Edisto. It is beautiful here, and the whole island has a weird, slow, almost surreal kind of vibe that just suits us to the core. Consider that the ice cream parlor/video store has more VHS movies than DVDs, and you may get the picture, so to speak. Consider that the best food on the island can be found in a restaurant that is attached to a gas station, and you will probably get the idea.

We stayed in a resort because it has a lot of things for the kids, who are not as keen on my wife’s plan to spend 18 hours each day on the beach as she is, and not so keen either on my plan to read paperbacks in a nice air conditioned room during the day and take strolls on the St. Helena Sound around dusk to see the sunset and watch the dolphins play games for the tourists.

Foolishly, I thought the kids would really, really marvel at seeing the dolphins, especially since they surface with such frequency and so close to the shore. On our first day there, we were strolling the St. Helena Sound no more than 10 minutes before half a dozen dolphins appeared just a couple of hundred yards out, rising and falling in that mesmerizing way of theirs. The six of them together looked like some kind of machine in the water, one big engine with fins as working parts.

“Look, guys!” I said. “Dolphins! There must be … one, two, three, four, five ... of them. No, six of them!”

Kayden was up ahead with her mother, out of earshot, inspecting a dead jellyfish or something, so I grabbed Jack and put him on my shoulders for a better look. I thought, this is kind of a Reader’s Digest father/son moment, the two of us awestruck into a pure and perfect silence by the unfathomable beauty of the moment.

“Cool, dad,” said Jack, after about two seconds on my shoulders. “Now can we go play putt putt?”

Jack’s addiction to putt putt goes back to late spring, when we took him to play in Maggie Valley. The whole family went, and Jack was immediately charmed by the brightly colored balls, the kid-sized putters, and the various and sundry challenges presented with each new hole. Let’s face it. A sand trap is one thing, but if you want a real hazard, try putting through a windmill or a giant castle or into a chute that comes out who knows where? And Tiger Woods thinks HE has problems?

On hole number four, Jack somehow banked in an impossible shot that ricocheted off everything in Maggie Valley except Joey’s Pancake House before landing in the cup. The crowd exploded. Well, Tammy and I exploded, while poor Kayden, who had already decided that putt putt was about as fun as getting a tetanus shot after hitting her bright green ball into the water, the sand, the rocks, even the parking lot of an adjacent business, did not even notice what had happened until she heard the excitement and looked up from picking at her fingernail.

“What?” she asked, absently.

At Edisto, if you stay on the resort, you can get a week-long pass to play all the putt putt you like. We played at least twice per day all seven days we were there, except for the day that we played on the actual 18-hole Plantation course. I rented Jack some clubs, and we were off for our 9:30 tee time. I used to be a pretty decent golfer, but since the much richer pleasures of family life — you are reading this, right, honey? — came along, I have played only twice in the past seven years, and that is if you include this outing. Even so, I was pretty sure I could take Jack out, since he has never played at all and weighs only a little more than a good-sized horseshoe crab.

Have I mentioned the heat? Even in the morning, it was as alarming as Joan Rivers’ facelift, so bad that the marshals hounded us for all 18 holes, practically begging us to drink the bottles of water they were riding around to give the poor saps who had actually chosen to play in this weather. Of course, it was the hottest day of the week, temperatures around 100 degrees, the heat index about what you’d need to roast a good-sized pig.

We drank water almost constantly, survived the round, bought the T shirt. No, we didn’t buy the T shirt, since T shirts in pro shops cost about as much as the average car payment. Instead, we opted for more ice cream.

“And after that, putt putt. Right, daddy?”

Who knows? Maybe one of those castles has an air-conditioned dungeon where I can finally read my paperback.

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

Comment

When General Motors began looking for a good place to test the power of a new Hybrid car being released this fall, two of WNC’s most notorious curvy roads rose to the top.

Both Tail of the Dragon and Hellbender in the Fontana area of Graham County played host last week to a fleet of the new GM hybrid cars known as the Volt.

The engineering team from GM’s Chevrolet division stayed at Fontana Village Resort while testing their new model. Diagnostic equipment mounted on the vehicles gave them real time data as they put the cars through their paces on the scenic byways. One member of the team commented that it was a challenge to concentrate on the data while enjoying the drive on N.C. 28 and U.S. 129.

Comment

The Balsam Mountain Inn will have a special dinner at 6 and 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 24 to provide donations to the Catman2 Spay and Neuter program.

All proceeds from the dinner will defray costs for the shelter and pay for the spay and neuter program for low-income cat owners.

Dinner is $10 if purchased in advance and $15 at the door. Entertainment and cash bar open at 5 p.m. A new video telling the story of the Catman@ shelter will be shown.

For information contact Balsam Mountain Inn at 800.224.9498 or the shelter at 828.293.0892 or visit www.catman2.org.

Comment

The Jackson County GOP’s Orville Coward Forum on Public Issues program featuring Retired U.S. Marine Corp Gen. Geoff Higginbotham will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 23, at the Sapphire Resort Community Center in Sapphire.

Gen. Higginbotham’s service in the military spans 33 years and includes tours in Vietnam and Desert Storm and as a commander at every level. He is a Distinguished Service Medal honoree who is now among several U.S. generals who have been asked by the Republican National Committee to appear and be interviewed on national radio talk shows.

“I am among those generals who felt it necessary to educate the public under our nation’s present circumstances,” he said in a recent interview.

In a recent address to the Mountain High Republican Women’s Club, Gen. Higginbotham began his remarks to the group expressing that he could speak to many areas but chose Afghanistan above the others. His speech covered a review of the reasons for the war, a brief summary of the conditions and the culture of Afghanistan, and an explanation of U.S military strategy. In his sidebars to the main subject, Higginbotham described the state of our military forces in general, the Iraq War and the political influences that impact our present military needs.

Comment

“Fantasies in Fiber and Fabric,” an exhibition of three-dimensional garments, hats, bags, and one-of-a-kind original dolls by Toni Carroll, will run from Wednesday, Aug. 25, to Saturday, Sept. 18, at Gallery 86 in Waynesville.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. There will be a special artist’s reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, in conjunction with the Waynesville Gallery Association’s Art After Dark event.

Inspired by nature and driven by passion, Toni Carroll’s work in “Fantasies in Fiber and Fabric” are enchanting and astonishingly beautiful. A Jackson, Miss., native currently living in North Carolina and Florida, Carroll shares her zeal of fabrics and design.

www.haywoodarts.org.

Comment

Pop-opera performer and 2008 winner of television show “America’s Got Talent,” Neal E. Boyd will open the 2010-11 Galaxy of Stars Series with a performance 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center on the Western Carolina University campus.

Opening the show will be WCU musical theater students, under the direction of program head Bradley Martin, performing selections from “I Love a Piano,” an Irving Berlin revue, and “Seven Deadly Sins,” an exploration of good and evil.

Boyd grew up overweight, biracial and bullied in a single-parent, financially stressed home in rural Missouri. Opera dropped into his life unexpectedly when a school project required his brother to listen to the Three Tenors.

“The moment I heard Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo and Jose Carreras, they just blew me away,” said Boyd, also a tenor, who as a youngster already was a fan of popular music.

Boyd performed throughout his childhood, college years at the University of Missouri, where he studied music and graduated in 2001, and beyond. As an adult, he always kept a day job; he was an insurance salesman when he began appearing on “America’s Got Talent,” a reality show on NBC television where contestants compete for a million-dollar prize and a show as the headliner on the Las Vegas Strip.

He released his debut album, “My American Dream” from Decca Records, in 2009, with selections that ranged from popular to show tunes to opera to hymns. In March, Boyd performed for Barack Obama when the president visited Missouri.

This is the sixth season of Galaxy of Stars performances, featuring world-class theater, music and dance staged in the FAPAC and presented by the College of Fine and Performing Arts. The second performance of the season is Friday, Sept. 24, by the Hunt Family, a mother, father and seven children who perform Irish dance and play original, Celtic, bluegrass, inspirational and popular tunes.

Ticket prices for the Boyd performance, sponsored by Holiday Inn Express in Dillsboro, are $25 for adults; $20 for people 60 years and older and WCU faculty and staff; $15 per person for groups of 15 or more; and $5 for students and children. Subscriptions for the entire Galaxy of Stars Series still are available and cost $130 ($40 for students and children).

828.227.2479 or www.wcu.edu/fapac.

Comment

Asheville-based mountain and bluegrass group Sons of Ralph will perform a fundraising concert for the Canton Lions Club from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28, at the historic Colonial Theatre in downtown Canton.

The Sons of Ralph play a wide variety of music, including many original songs. Their unique sound, which has been described as “Americana,” incorporates traditional mountain music, bluegrass, country and Western, folk, and classic rock. As a testament to the band’s popularity, readers of The Mountain Xpress have voted The Sons of Ralph “Best Local Band” for eight of the last 10 years, including 2007 and 2008.

All proceeds from the concert go to the Canton Lions Club, an active service organization dedicated to serving the people and community of Canton. As part of its continuing mission to serve, the Canton Lions Club provides college scholarships for deserving high school students, supports community organizations and donates thousands of dollars to local schools and charities. The club also sponsors Canton’s annual Labor Day rides.

$10. Tickets can be picked up (with cash or check made out to the Canton Lions Club) in Canton at Clay Dangerfield’s State Farm Insurance Office at 80 Crossroad Hill next to Ingles or at American Cleaners at 10 Penland St. in downtown. Advanced tickets can be mailed if ordered before Aug. 21.

For more information and to purchase tickets, contact Canton Lions Club President Patrick Willis at 828.279.6195.

Comment

The winner of the Jackson County Green Energy Park 2010 Sculpture Competition is Box of Souls, a contemporary sculpture by artist Bob Doster of Lancaster, S.C.

Selected by an independent jury panel, Doster’s piece is a constructed stainless steel box, cut away to reveal empty space in the shape of numerous geometric and representational figures including the sun and stars, humans and animals.

A winner of the 2007 Southern Arts Federation Award, Doster has had his sculptures displayed throughout the Southeastern United States and around the world. He is an internationally acclaimed sculptor whose unique style of metal art ranges from accent pieces with a whimsical feel to large-scale installed sculptures.

Doster’s commitment to engaging and educating youth was formally recognized in 2006, when he received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner award for outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts. This award is the highest honor South Carolina bestows on artists.

Box of Souls will be on display at the Green Energy Park through July 2011. Visitors may view the piece year-round during regular park hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. www.jcgep.org.

Comment

Thanks to a group of enthusiastic volunteers from the area, a new Patrick Dougherty sapling sculpture has been constructed at The Bascom Art Center in Highlands.

Dougherty constructs outdoor sculptures all over the world and has finished more than 200 major site-specific pieces, but has fashioned only a few in his own home state.

“Do Tell” is a 15-foot-high by 27-foot-wide by 21-feet-deep, sinuous woven stick monumental work of art.

The community is invited to drop by and admire the sculpture’s whirling shape, maze-like interior, and natural features that echo the landscape around it. Walk inside the sculpture, as the cavernous magical interior is part of the experience.

Made up of native hardwood species including maple, beech, birch, elm and hazel tree saplings, the wood sculpture took three weeks, 75 volunteers and over 800 volunteer labor hours to build and install. Four tractor-trailer-truck loads of hardwood tree saplings were collected at neighboring Highlands and Scaly farms.

All in all, more than six tractor-trailer loads of construction material were used in the final creation.

According to Dougherty: “The sculpture’s 15 sides or facets or facades have two eye-like or window openings at the top and mouth-like or door openings at the bottom. On each panel, there is a suggestion of a face. The sculpture’s facets or walls spiral inward. There is mystery in this piece. You cannot see it fully from one vantage point. This is a work of art that you must circle around and enter into in order to discover all of its features. The title ‘Do Tell’ suggests that mystery. ‘Do Tell’ invites the viewer to come closer and have a deeper experience.”

An idea is planted

In the 1980s, current Bascom Director Linda Steigleder saw a twig-works outdoor sculpture by Dougherty at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and was mesmerized. When Steigleder joined the staff of The Bascom, she introduced the idea of commissioning a work by this artist whose critical acclaim and talent have grown.

Volunteer and local artist Bo Sweeny has worked nearly every available work shift during the entire project.

“I was familiar with Patrick and his work from having seen it previously and was very impressed and I never thought I would have a chance to work with him,” said Sweeny. “This has been a chance of a lifetime.”

Bascom member and an accomplished artist Peggy Wilcox added, “I had seen Patrick’s work and became enchanted with it. I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer.”

Located in a green space next to the art center’s kiln barn, the impressive tree sapling structure is visually prominent from the moment you enter the campus through Oak Street or the art center’s main entrance off Franklin Road, the covered bridge. Dougherty’s sculpture will be on continuous view at The Bascom for at least two years or as long as the structure endures.

About the artist

Dougherty has created hundreds of monumental, site-specific sculptures around the world. His work is constructed from thousands of deciduous tree saplings and sticks gathered from local sources and shaped into massive, swirling forms as high as 40 feet. The artist loves the production phase of his work. “We are all hunters and gatherers,” Dougherty said. “It’s primal.”

In his work, Dougherty combines his carpentry skills with his love for nature. In the 1980s, he made small sculptural works, fashioned in his own North Carolina backyard and quickly moved from pedestal-sized pieces to monumental site-specific installations that require sticks by the truckload.

The Dougherty installation and sculpture, which took three weeks to construct, is made possible through tireless volunteer hours and the support of exhibition sponsors Mary Ann and Knox Massey.

For more information call 828.526.4949 or  www.thebascom.org.

Comment

Two hikes along the Bartram Trail in Northern Georgia will celebrate roadless areas in the national forests on Sunday, Aug. 15.

Both hikes, led by Georgia ForestWatch, will climb to the summit of Rabun Bald, the second highest peak in Georgia with spectacular panorama of the Nantahala and Smokies ranges. Georgia poet Laurence Holden will then read some of his new mountain-infused poetry.

The two hiking groups will take alternate routes to the top, one that is 8.5 miles and one that is 3.5 miles.

The first annual Roadless Recreation Week is being celebrated with various wilderness outings in 15 states to highlight the importance of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a hard-fought victory by environmentalists to keep “roadless” areas in national forests “roadless.” It protects 60 million acres from future road building.

Reserve a spot on the hike by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 706.635.8733.

Comment

Internships in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park gave not only students but teachers hands-on experience in science this summer. Teachers and students spent their summer in the field with park rangers, conducting environmental research and outreach with park visitors and helping them understand and appreciate the Smokies.

The teachers this summer included Phyllis Kapsalis with Waynesville Middle School, Greg Tucker with Pisgah High School in Canton, and Jane Jenkins, the librarian at Jonathan Valley Elementary. High school interns included students from Robbinsville High, Cherokee High, Swain County High and Tuscola High. Funding for the internships came from Alcoa, Friends of the Smokies, Toyota and two federal grants.

Comment

Take your passion for cycling to a new level during the Greater Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Blue Ridge Breakaway. The first annual Blue Ridge Breakaway, presented by MedWest, will take place August 21, 2010. Slated to be an annual cycling event in support of the initiatives of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, the Blue Ridge Breakaway offers four routes specifically designed for riders of all skill levels.

The event will feature a Century (105 miles), Metric Century (65 miles) and 40-mile and a 24-mile rides. All routes will begin at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center which is conveniently located off of Interstate 40 and Highway 23/74. Riders will explore the mountain valleys near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Pisgah National Forest and the shadow of Cold Mountain. The Century ride will also include 30 miles on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway with a cumulative elevation gain of 9,600 ft.

“The Blue Ridge Breakaway showcases the best of Haywood County,” said Committee Chairman Ken Howle of Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. “Riders will travel from 24 to 105 miles on our scenic roads and have the unique opportunity to also experience Haywood County’s famous mountain hospitality. It will be a fun event for participants and spectators alike.”

Cyclists are encouraged to register by the Early Registration Deadline, Aug. 16 for the opportunity to win a Whitewater Adventure courtesy of the Nantahala Outdoor Center. One lucky registrant will win their choice between a 2-day, all-inclusive whitewater kayaking course, a Cheoah rafting trip for four people or a Chattaooga Section III rafting trip for six people. Riders may pre-register online at www.BlueridgeBreakaway.com.  Additional route descriptions, maps and cue sheets are also available online.

Event sponsored by MedWest Health System, Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, Clif Bar, Insight Marketing, Animal Hospital of Waynesville, WNCW, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Evergreen Packaging, Wells Funeral Home, Keller Williams Realty, Creekside Realty, Waynesville Parks and Recreations, Old Town Bank, Sunburst Trout Company, Champion Supply and the NC Cooperative Extension Service.

Comment

A new program in Wilderness Therapy at Southwestern Community College caters to a rapidly-expanding sector in the outdoors job field.

“In the past 10 years wilderness therapy has became a growing field in this area, and that opens up opportunities for employment,” said Paul Wolf , director of the SCC Outdoor Leadership program.

Those who take the program will be equipped to work as a field instructor as a part of a professional outdoors therapeutic team. Coursework leading to the certificate and degree include Introduction to Wilderness Therapy, Wilderness Therapeutic Models, Field Techniques and Primitive Living Skills.  

Wolf said students can also earn national certification as a Wilderness First Responder through SOLO Wilderness Medicine and select a technical specialty in climbing, challenge course,  paddling or expedition skills.

Classes this fall are Introduction to Wilderness Therapy on Mondays from 8 to 11:50 a.m. and Primitive Living Skills on Wednesdays from noon till 4:50 p.m.

Registration runs until Friday, Aug. 13. For more about the course, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 828.488.6413. The admissions office is at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

A 35-acre tract of forested land next to the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Haywood-Jackson countyline in Balsam has been protected thanks to work of the Conservation Trust of North Carolina and the help of private donors and land conservation champions, Fred and Alice Stanback.

Ownership of the tract will be transferred to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Mount Lyn Lowry is known for the lighted cross that can be seen at night when driving through Balsam on U.S. 23-74. The tract is near Waterrock Knob around milepost 450 and is highly visible when traveling that section of the Parkway.

“The Mount Lyn Lowry property is small in size, but large in importance to the region’s wildlife habitat and spectacular natural beauty,” said Reid Wilson, director of the Conservation Trust.

Part of Mount Lyn Lowry remains in private hands and is dotted with homes.

In addition to bordering the Parkway, the tract is directly across from The Nature Conservancy’s 1,700-acre Plott Balsams Preserve, which links Waterrock Knob and Sylva’s Pinnacle Park.

Funds for the $200,000 bargain purchase of the tract were provided by Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury. The property was brought to Conservation Trust attention by the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee.

Map of tract and photos can be downloaded at ctnc.smugmug.com/News/Richland-Creek-Headwaters.

Comment

Whitewater clubs from across the Southeast will have their final showdown for the Canoe Club Cup at the Nantahala Outdoor Center Saturday, August 14.

A downriver race starts at 10 a.m.

Going into the final race of the three-race series, the Atlanta Whitewater Club is slightly ahead of the Carolina Canoe Club in the contest for first place. The winning club gets a Jackson Kayak Villain.

Meanwhile, the slalom course set up between the bridges at Nantahala Outdoor Center is open to anyone for a “first timer friendly” slalom course race. Boaters can go through the course as many times as they want between 4 and 6 p.m. with only their best time counting. Unlike pro races, there are no penalties for hitting a gate, but paddlers must go through each gate in the correct order. NOC will give out prizes such as free gear or gift cards to paddlers with the best time, most runs, etc.

Live music and awards will be at 8 p.m. at The Pourover.

800.232.7238 or www.noc.com/noccom/festivals-a-events/canoe-club-challenge.

Comment

Mary J. Messer, author of the newly published Appalachian memoir Moonshiner’s Daughter, will be at Blue Ridge Books at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14.

In the book, Messer wrote about her memories growing up in the Smokies during the ‘40s and ‘50s. 

“It’s not always a comfortable story to read, but it is truly uplifting because she was able to survive and overcome the poverty and abuse that she experienced as a child,” said Allison Best-Teague, co-owner of Blue Ridge Books.  

Messer is donating a portion of the sales of Moonshiner’s Daughter to REACH of Haywood to support their mission of intervention-prevention of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse.

828.456.6000 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. www.moonshinersdaughter.com.

Comment

A special children’s storytime (adults are welcome) devoted to the elk of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.

In attendance will be Patty Davis and Esther Blakely, volunteers with the Park’s Bugle Corps that tracks the elk population and educates the public about these animals that were re-introduced to the Smokies. They will bring a wealth of “visual aids” to teach children and adults about the elk.

For more information contact City Lights at 828.586.9499.

Comment

By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist

Haywood County Commissioners on Aug. 16 will conduct a public hearing on a $12 million, 15-year loan request by Haywood Community College. Most of the loan would finance a new creative arts building on the main campus.

Haywood taxpayers would be wise to follow this final chapter in a protracted effort to build a $10.3 million structure whose design symbolizes a faith in green technology. Citizen focus should not only be on the high costs — up to $293 a square foot (* see below), more than double the cost of  replacing a middle school building in the county — but also  the problematic issues the collegiate planners must confront to bring their green aspirations to fruition.

First some background.

In a May 2008 referendum Haywood voters approved a quarter cent sales tax that the sitting county commission had earmarked for capital projects at the college prior to the referendum. Under state law the county is obligated to fund the college’s construction costs. However, state legislators and bureaucrats set construction standards for public colleges that exceed those required of private sector buildings. An example is a 2008 law that requires energy efficiency to exceed code by more than 30 percent. Indoor water consumption efficiency must exceed code by at least 20 percent.    

Every time someone flushes at the ne building, government will be keeping score. Water and energy uses will be verified by metering. (See www.haywood.edu/, click on “About HCC,” click on Creative Arts Building)    

All aspects of the 36,000-square-foot building are affected by the desire to be “green.” A much greater extensive plumbing architecture is required for the reuse of rainwater in lavatories, urinals and sinks, and green technology extends to walls, slabs, roofing, and solar absorption cooling and thermal panels.

I spoke via phone with Mike Nicklas, president of Innovative Design of Raleigh, the building’s architects. Nicklas is an engaging advocate of solar and other green technology. He states that a “life cycle cost analysis” was performed early in the design process. The rainwater re-use systems will have 7 to 8 year pay backs, he says. (see www.innovativedesign.net/ )

Nicklas stakes hopes for great savings on a “solar developer approach” approved recently in a split 6-5 decision by the college’s Board of Trustees. The board also selected FLS Energy for contract negotiations. The objective is to have FLS install and maintain the solar thermal heating/cooling system and photovoltaic cells, one source of the building’s power. FLS as a private entity could receive many state and federal credits for solar energy while leasing the system from the college. The designer says the lease payments can be used to buy the system in seven years. He predicts eventual positive cash flow, energy savings of 69 percent, and substantial upfront reduction in constructions costs. Excess power could be sold to utilities.

But it is the certainty of these high front-end costs with future paybacks dependent upon complex contractual relationships that raises great concerns.   Commissioner Kevin Ensley has been the most vocal critic on the Haywood county board. He has pointed repeatedly to the project’s high construction costs, and voiced his willingness to vote against the loan request.

Similar “green” aspirations for academic buildings are not without their critics elsewhere. Last August the Civitas Review (Civitas Institute of Raleigh) published a strong rebuttal to the building of green schools in the state and nation, including its findings that, “Whatever savings accrue, however, are offset by higher building costs.”  

Though conclusions may vary about the cost benefits of green technology, one reality dominates my analysis. Significant financial uncertainties remain in the case of the proposed HCC building. Good green outcomes can not be guaranteed by yet to be demonstrated contractual relationships. The county would be taking great risks to achieve 69 percent energy savings — 39 percent (** see below) more than that required by state law — with design costs of the proposed building close to $1 million.

There is one contractual relationship that is certain — that between the county and the taxpayers who pay HCC’s construction bills. That relationship is under stress. While the 15-year loan may require most if not all of the quarter cent sales tax proceeds, HCC president Dr. Rose Johnson seeks additional county money for capital improvements.

Those who are eager to spend more on HCC should consider the recession battered Haywood taxpayers. Since the passage of the quarter cent sales tax for the college, the state has increased sales tax another full cent so that Haywood citizens now pay a 8 percent rate on most purchases. The state and nation face dire fiscal problems. County commissioners should say no to the loan request and make certain that future construction planning is guided by clear and certain cost guidelines.

Put the Haywood taxpayer first.

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

* The $293 per square foot calculation is based on total project cost, which includes parking lot construction and demolition of an existing building on the site. It also excludes certain areas of the building that are covered but not heated, such as outdoor kilns, dye and woodworking areas.

** This number includes solar panels, however those are considered optional and are not included in the construction costs. Factoring these out, the building exceeds state standards by 20 percent.

Comment

To the Editor:

The standing-room-only Aug. 2 public hearing of the Franklin Town Board of Alderman regarding the development of a Wal-Mart Supercenter was an object lesson in how politics trumps reason at every turn. It’s bad enough when partisan politics and posturing rear their ugly heads in Washington, but when it shows up on our own doorstep, then it’s time for local government officials to take a good hard look in the mirror. Hopefully, they can see their reflection.

If news reports covering the hearing are accurate, what transpired that evening was nothing more than a preordained exercise in folly starting with Mayor Joe Collins condescendingly grabbing a Bible to remind the congregation that their opinions on the subject were irrelevant.

Add to the general silliness the fact that Alderman Bob Scott was forced to recuse himself from the proceedings because he, perish the thought, conducted a survey on the issue to gauge the public’s feelings on the matter. How’s that for a footprint, Mr. Scott?

Then came another big surprise when real estate developer Marty Kimsey, spoke in favor of the project using the hackneyed argument that somehow a Super Wal-Mart will magically help ease the job woes of the local citizenry. Mr. Kimsey’s insinuation that a “bottom line” of economic despair may ensue if the project is rejected was nothing more than fear mongering, a tactic no doubt appreciated by the Wal-Mart developers sitting nearby. Sorry Mr. Kimsey, but the only bottom line in this equation is Wal-Mart’s share price.

But let’s not point fingers at our hard-working aldermen who voted unanimously to approve the special use permit despite a chorus of public opposition during the meeting. Instead, let’s examine some well-established, indisputable facts about the impact Wal-Mart makes on small communities like Franklin.

First, Wal-Mart does not lead to net retail job creation. Second, small businesses are particularly hurt by Wal-Mart’s entry, causing “a substantial reduction in net employment growth at smaller retailers,” according to a 2009 study by the U.S. Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies.

Third, Wal-Mart stores generate a significant amount of traffic congestion. In fact, the average-size Wal-Mart Supercenter will generate nearly 10,000 car trips per day. Fourth, Wal-Mart abandons stores throughout the country. Wal-Mart’s own realty website lists almost 200 abandoned stores. Abandoned stores and vast parking lots are a haven for crime and vandalism.

Franklin government officials have spent hours of taxpayer time trying to figure out how to make this area a “destination location.” Why they foolishly believe a Super Wal-Mart will better enhance Franklin’s appeal for visitors is a mystery. What makes a destination desirable today is focusing on what makes it unique, not what makes it redundant. To use Mayor Collins’ expression, that’s a no-brainer. Too bad it’s a no-brainer he and the Franklin aldermen have failed to embrace.

Carol J. Ramsey

Cowee

Comment

To the Editor:

In response to Jim McCarthy’s Aug. 3 letter, “County pay raises gone afoul,” I want to thank him for his diligence into this matter and support him and the Jackson County Citizen Action Group in their request for an investigation to determine if intentional misconduct was carried out by county personnel in implementing raises.

As a former county employee, I was present when the Mercer’s report was implemented. As each of us had spoken to Mercer representatives and had filled out questionnaires, many employees were curious about the results of the report. However, we were not given copies of the Mercer report. 

When county salaries were listed in local newspapers, county employees were shocked by the huge raises that were given at the middle and top of the pay scale. Most employees at the bottom of the pay scale received raises near and even less than they would have received if the previous step raises and cost-of-living raises had been maintained.

I want to believe that our elected commissioners knew nothing about the way the Mercer report was implemented. If it is their belief that the report was used legitimately, then they need to address this matter. 

However, if commissioners suspect the report was twisted to benefit upper management, they need to do something about it. Either way, do something.

Commissioners advocated that the Mercer raises would make county positions more competitive, especially starting salaries. However, the Mercer report stated that mid-point and maximum salaries were already well above the surrounding average and that only minimum salaries needed adjustment.

Those at the bottom of the pay scale work long hours, performing the work that upper management wouldn’t consider doing. They are good people, and making around $20,000 a year, they are living from paycheck to paycheck like most Americans. These employees have no human resources department and a human resources manual that is a joke. Taking advantage of them is wrong — on so many levels.

Deidre Parris,

Sylva

Comment

Editor’s note: Margaret Osondu’s bookstore was bought out by a competitor, Blue Ridge Books and News. Osondu remained on staff for a few months after the merger, but the bookstore was sold again and Osondu’s position was eliminated. She now works for Grateful Steps Publishing House in Asheville, which will soon be opening a retail bookstore to compliment the publishing business. Osondu continues to live in Waynesville.

To the Editor:

I want to thank all the staff at The Smoky Mountain News for their support of Osondu Bookseller. I was wise to come to Waynesville to have a book business. I did not know it when I first got here, but I learned quickly.

From the first day people in Haywood County welcomed me. When all the books were falling off the shelves and I could not figure it out, John Gernandt came down and explained what I needed to do. People came and supported Osondu Booksellers by purchasing books and teaching us their interests so we could better provide for our readers.

In Waynesville, I had volunteers working in my store. Imagine a community where a bookstore is important enough for folks to volunteer to help support the shop. Without all of them, we would have been less than who we were. We were a community bookstore not just because of me but also because of the community’s commitment to literature, to authors, and to each other.

It was a fantastic experience and one that I will cherish always. I learned much about books and though I knew I loved books, I had no idea how deep that passion was until I actually was there day in and day out thinking, reading, talking and playing all about books. Bookworld, as I say, is my passion.

Thank you all.

Margaret Osondu

Waynesville

Comment

Haywood Community College will offer Medical Office Assistant, Nurse Aide I, and Phlebotomy courses in August through the JobsNOW Program.

Students in the programs can obtain a certificate in less than six months that includes workplace readiness skills and completion of a Career Readiness Certificate.

The Medical Office Assistant certificate will run Aug. 16 to Dec. 14. Graduates qualify for employment in medical and dental offices, hospitals, insurance companies, laboratories, medical supply companies, and other health care related organizations.

The Nurse Aide I course will run Aug. 23 to Dec. 29. The course prepares students to provide care and perform basic nursing skills for the elderly and other adults.

The Phlebotomy course will run Aug. 18 to Oct. 1. The course includes classroom, lab, and clinical practice.

Call Rinda Green 828.565.4243.

Comment

Lake Junaluska Assembly will hold its African-American Clergy Health Summit September 27 to 28. Participants will participate in a self-care covenant workshop designed specifically for African-American clergy, which reflects the health summit’s theme, “Wanting to Heal and Be Healed,” John 5: 1-9.

The Self-Care Covenant workshop is an interactive session where attendees can evaluate personal dimensions of health and well-being related to their daily life and work. Each workshop is planned and led by trainers within the annual conferences, and will provide a structured opportunity for individuals to examine their current choices within the areas of mental and emotional health, physical health, social health, and spiritual health.

Early registration open until Aug. 31. www.lakejunaluska.com/health-summit or call 828.454.6656.

Comment

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina will hold the 1st Annual Smoky Mountain Cabin Raffle to benefit its efforts to recruit, screen, train and support caring adults who want to make a difference in the life of a child.

Tickets are available for purchase until Oct. 7 at www.LogCabinRaffle.org and the grand prize drawing will be held Oct. 14.

The Smoky Mountain Cabin Raffle will include bonus drawings on a one-week stay at a cabin provided by Hidden Creek Cabins, a whitewater rafting trip down the legendary Nantahala River provided by Paddle Inn Rafting. and a $1,000 cash prize drawing.

www.bbbswnc.org  and  www.LogCabinRaffle.org.

Comment

Neighbor to Family, a nonprofit aimed at improving foster care by keeping siblings together, is offering free classes to potential foster parents.

Classes will be held at the Neighbor to Family office beginning with an orientation class at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 30 at 256 North Main Street, Waynesville. An orientation class will also be offered at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 13 in Henderson County, location to be determined. 828.452.0729.

Comment

An eight-week grief support group will meet from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays from Aug. 24 to Oct. 12 in the second floor classroom at Haywood Regional Health & Fitness Center. The group sessions will be facilitated by Dan Yearick, a licensed counselor, and Robin Minick, Western Carolina University counseling graduate student. The sessions are designed for those who has lost a person close to them. Groups are limited to 12 participants. Registration is required. Call 828.452.8811 for details.

Comment

Glenville residents are working to preserve the area’s rich history. Woody Hayes is leading a group of community members as they record and transcribe interviews of prominent residents. Residents will be asked for recollections, photos, drawings and other documents.

In 1827, state records show 11 families lived in Glenville with the addition of nine more by 1854. Anyone who has historical information to contribute should contact Woody Haynes at 803.225.0327 or Carol Adams at 828.743.1658.

Comment

The 30th Judicial District Domestic Violence-Sexual Assault Alliance is working to end elder abuse by offering training sessions across the far western counties of North Carolina.

Statistics from the National Center for Elder Abuse state that between one and two million Americans 65 or older have been injured, exploited or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.

In January 2008, Det. Jeff Haynes of the Waynesville Police Department began working on a federal elder abuse grant with Sybil Mann, an assistant district attorney in the 30th Judicial District. Since that time, Haynes and Muse have trained numerous groups, including law enforcement, medical personnel, victim advocate groups and others who wanted to know more about the problem of elder abuse.

Call the 30th Alliance at 828.452.2122 or the Elder Safe Hotline at 866.496.5406 for help.

Comment

MedWest Health System invites the community to meet several new physicians who have recently joined the medical staff at its Sylva campus 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16, in the lobby of Harris Regional Hospital.

A reception for the new physicians at the Clyde campus will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, in the classrooms at Haywood Regional’s fitness center.

The MedWest medical staff consists of 230 physicians practicing at Haywood Regional Medical Center, Harris Regional Hospital, Swain County Hospital and the outpatient medical park in Franklin. The MedWest Physician Network currently owns 13 physician practices and employs 50 physicians.

828.631.8891.

Comment

The Haywood Regional Medical Center Foundation will host the 19th Annual Charitable Classic Golf & Gala Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. This year, the fundraiser will include a third golf course and offer two chances to win a new car.

Last year’s Golf & Gala attracted 176 sponsors, 364 golfers, 79 volunteers and 478 Gala participants. It raised $171,000 for the new hospice building and digital mammography equipment.

The ladies’ tournament will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 31, and the men’s Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The Gala celebration, featuring The Reality Show Band, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 1 at the Waynesville Inn Golf Resort & Spa.

Individual golf slots, which include one gala ticket, are $150. Individual gala tickets $50. Register by Aug. 17. 828.452.8343 or www.haymed.org.

Comment

The Buy Haywood Project is bringing farmers and chefs from Haywood County and surrounding counties together for the third in a series of meetings aimed at connecting local farmers and chefs. The meeting, which will feature a panel of local and regional food distributors, who each play a critical role in collecting local farm products and delivering them to local restaurants, will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 16, at Laurel Ridge Country Club in Waynesville.

The Buy Haywood project receives support from the Golden LEAF Foundation and is managed by the Haywood County Economic Development Commission.

Register by Aug. 13. For info, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 828.683.5560.

Comment

The Highlands-Cashiers Hospital and its Board of Directors is offering area physicians, active and retired, the opportunity to attend a continuing educational seminar beginning 8 a.m. Aug. 13 at the Jane Woodruff Clinic, Suite 103. The seminar will focus on “Advances in Cardiology” and “Evolving Treatments of Breast Cancer.”  

On the agenda for the seminar is Dr. Byron Williams, Jr., Chief of Medicine at Emory University Hospital, who will discuss the latest information involving advances in Cardiology and Dr. Edward Copeland, Retired Chief of Surgery at the University of Florida, will discuss evolving treatments of breast cancer.

RSVP to 828.526.1434.

Comment

Harris Medical Park, the newly-constructed medical office building adjacent to Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva, is now open, providing patients with outpatient care and lab services.

The three-story, 45,000 sq. ft. medical office building is home to Sylva Medical Center, WNC Pediatric & Adolescent Care, and Mountain Valley Surgery, which have welcomed a total of five new physicians, one physician assistant and two nurse practitioners to their practices in the last two years. Harris Regional Hospital’s outpatient lab has also relocated to the new building.

Harris Medical Park was developed by Colony Development Partners on land owned by the hospital and its space is leased to the tenants. The building includes technological innovations, including a fiberoptic network for voice and data communications and wireless Internet.

In addition to its cutting edge features, the walls of Harris Medical Park serve as gallery space to local artists. The Jackson County Visual Arts Association, partially funded by the Jackson County Arts Council and the N.C. Arts Council, has provided art for the building.

Comment

When the Bryson City and Sylva ABC boards hammered out a profit-sharing agreement for liquor orders from Harrah’s Casino, there was widespread speculation the new revenue source would bring in big money.

But the reality, so far, has been different.

“It’s not doing anywhere near what people thought it was going to do,” said Bryson City ABC store manager David Maynard.

The Bryson City store does the ordering and records the revenue on its books, then passes along a share of profits to the Sylva ABC board since the Cherokee reservation lies in both Swain and Jackson.

Harrah’s Cherokee opened its first full service bar in May, placing a start-up order with the ABC store that bumped its monthly sales numbers up 50 percent from the year before.

But since then, mixed beverages sales to the casino have averaged between $6,000 and $8,000 per week.

“That sounds like a lot of money, but the state takes a good chunk of it. We thought it was going to be a whole lot more money as far as sales. I think everybody did,” said Maynard.

With the state, the Sylva ABC board, and the tribe all involved in the formula of alcohol sales to the casino, sales don’t exactly turn directly into profit.

“It has help us make an increase from last year as far as sales, but it hasn’t helped out the profits yet,” Maynard said.

 

By the numbers

A spike in the volume of liquor passing through the Bryson City ABC store is a direct reflection on the bottles of booze headed for Harrah’s Casino since alcohol was legalized there.


May 2010

Walk-in customers    $124,192

Sales to retail outlets    $91,857

Total Sales    $216,049


May 2009

Walk-in customers    $129,134

Sales to retail outlets    $11,965

Total Sales    $141,099

Comment

The Sawmill Creek Porch Band will reunite for a free performance at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12, on the front lawn of the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City.

Sawmill Creek Porch Band was one of the mainstay bluegrass bands in Bryson City until its breakup in 2008. Larry Barnett (banjo, fiddle and vocals), Bradley Adams (mandolin and vocals) and Aaron Plantenberg (guitar and vocals) played together as Sawmill Creek Porch Band, recording two CDs and playing area venues constantly for almost a decade.

The concert is part of a summer series of music at the library. The Friends of the Marianna Black Library will provide refreshments.

828.488.3030 or fontanalib.org/brysoncity.

Comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.