Becky Johnson

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haywoodMarcy Onieal had mighty big shoes to fill when she walked through the doors of Waynesville’s town hall four years ago as the new manager.

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fr townboardA move afoot by two Waynesville aldermen to push out Town Manager Marcy Onieal might seem incongruous with their campaign message in last month’s town election.

SEE ALSO: Waynesville’s Marcy Onieal faces a double-edged sword daily

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WCUWestern Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher announced to faculty this week that he would engage their input and oversight in crafting the terms and conditions of a $2 million grant from the politically charged Charles Koch Foundation.

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fr discgolfPlans are underway to relocate Waynesville’s disc golf course from the sprawling recreation park along Richland Creek to a more secluded forest setting, eliminating the risk of a wayward disc hitting a hapless jogger.

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fr lopezWestern Carolina University leaders bucked concerns of faculty when they voted last week to create a free enterprise center funded with outside money from politically-charged mega donors.

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coverA firestorm over the outside private funding of academia and its potential to undermine intellectual freedom has erupted in recent weeks at Western Carolina University.

Faculty and university leaders have been embroiled in a debate over whether to take $2 million from the Charles Koch Foundation, a funding arm tied to the conservative Koch brothers. The money would be used to establish a Center for the Study of Free Enterprise.

SEE ALSO: WCU leaders, faculty at odds over Koch-funded free enterprise center

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schoolsSchool systems across the mountains are signing on to a lawsuit against the state to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars that they say were improperly diverted from public school coffers.

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fr oldtownOld Town Bank, a local start-up bank based Waynesville, is selling to Macon Bank, a regional bank headquartered in Franklin, for $13.5 million.

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haywoodThe race for Haywood County commissioner has begun to take shape with the candidate sign-up period now officially underway, with four Democrats and one Republican running for commissioner as of press time Tuesday afternoon. The deadline for candidates to register is Dec. 21.

fr hazelwoodburginFrom the outside, John Burgin looks like a lucky guy, a guy in the right place at the right time to cash in on the revitalization sweeping Hazelwood.

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haywoodHazelwood will soon be home to a sculpture of a Plott hound, the fabled bear-hunting breed steeped in local lore and history.

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fr hazelwoodparkingWaynesville is stepping up to the plate to solve a parking bottleneck in Hazelwood Village, with plans to double the size of the public parking lot and spiff up its curb appeal.

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coverIt was barely 11 a.m. and Hazelwood was hopping. The scent of freshly roasted coffee beans spilled out of Smoky Mountain Coffee Roasters. Two doors down, a pair of workmen on ladders balanced a sign for a new artist studio. Across the street, a pack of women with shopping bags on their elbows strolled out of Hazelwood Soap Company.

SEE ALSO:
Maxed out: parking crunch in Hazelwood will soon be fixed
Plans under way for Plott hound art piece in Hazelwood
Meet John Burgin, the wizard of Hazelwood

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haywoodThe ballot for Haywood County commissioner could be a sparse one based on rumblings of who’s running — and more notably who’s not running.

haywoodLeaders of Lake Junaluska and the town of Waynesville are weighing whether to try once again to push a merger bill through the General Assembly next year, or whether they are better off staying outside the political arena for a while.

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haywoodA proposed recycling clearinghouse in the Haywood County industrial park outside Canton has been nixed, but a handful of residents haven’t given up their fight.

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fr EMSA comprehensive public safety campus is coming into shape in Haywood County with the construction of a new EMS and emergency management headquarters beside the sheriff’s office in Hazelwood.

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haywoodA smoking ban in public places took effect in Waynesville last week, making it illegal to light up a cigarette on town sidewalks.

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fr veteransWhen Bobby Rathbone came home from Vietnam over 40 years ago, joining a veterans group was the last thing on his mind. Drafted into war, fighting in Vietnam was hardly something to celebrate or wear on his sleeve.

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fr biggunThree military relics on display in the mountains honor the nation’s long and fabled history of duty and service to country.

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fr recyclinghearingA controversial proposal to sell a 55-acre tract in a county-owned industrial park near Canton to a private recycling sorting plant is dead.

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election timeWaynesville Mayor Gavin Brown pulled off a resounding victory against his challenger Jonnie Cure — a landslide of 1,394 to 216 votes that can only be interpreted as a voter mandate for the vision for the town Brown has carried out over the past 16 years.

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haywoodA recycling sorting plant proposed in Haywood County has encountered a hitch following an 11th-hour revelation that it would be exempt from paying county property taxes.

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fr recyclinghearingHaywood County commissioners took another volley of criticism this week as they continued to weigh the pros and cons of selling land in the county industrial park to a recycling business venture.

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fr waynesvilleSome candidates running for office in Waynesville are accusing the town of running off businesses and claim the town’s development rules are hampering development.

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fr recyclingMore than 160 people packed a heated public hearing over a proposed recycling sorting facility in Haywood County Monday night, pleading with county commissioners to turn down the project.

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haywoodWhat to spend money on and what to pass up? The Waynesville town board faces this question month in and month out. Seemingly small budget decisions can have some of the biggest impacts on residents’ daily lives.

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fr forumCandidates running for the Waynesville town board can’t seem to talk about their campaign platforms without first saying how much they love Waynesville, and, for good measure, repeating it often. Sometimes very often.

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fr mayorraceWaynesville Mayor Gavin Brown has the public endorsement of six out of the seven alderman candidates running for the town board this fall.

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fr recyclingA commercial recycling sorting plant proposed in Haywood County is being met with skepticism by neighbors, who fear it will create noise, odors and traffic for the Beaverdam community.

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fr recyclingA new company that sorts and resells recyclable materials announced its plans this week to locate in Haywood County, adding a minimum of 30 jobs to the local economy and as many as 70 at full build out.

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haywoodHaywood County Commission Chairman Mark Swanger publicly announced this week that he plans to retire from elected office next year and won’t be on the ballot when his seat comes up for election in fall of 2016.

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wib roosterThere was little fanfare in 2010 when Mary Earnest opened the Blue Rooster, a Southern diner in a strip mall past its prime.

wib sheppardWhen Kathy Sheppard got her start in the insurance world 30 years ago, she was a pioneer in a male-dominated profession.

wib rogersMichele Rogers had no job, no college degree, no husband and no place of her own when she pulled up stakes in her hometown of Norfolk, Va., and headed for Haywood County in the winter of 1996.

fr emergencyHaywood County convened an emergency joint conference Friday to ensure response readiness in the event of flooding or mudslides triggered by the heavy rain expected over the next three days.

SEE ALSO: Public advised to take precautions, be alert

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haywoodHistorians in Waynesville are building a case to get Green Hill Cemetery listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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haywoodHaywood County commissioners have endorsed a plan to run sewer lines out N.C. 209 to Interstate 40, pledging $300,000 toward the $3 million project should state grant funding for the new sewer line come through.

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fr brownavedOfficer Dave Clancey has a dicey job, perhaps the most dangerous of any cop in Haywood County. But instead of dodging bullets, Clancey dodges cars.

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coverThe new Valley River Casino and Hotel built by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on the outskirts of Murphy will have far-reaching impacts on the far western corner of the state, forever changing the economic and cultural landscape of the region.

SEE ALSO:
Opening day draws a crowd to new Murphy casino
Why Murphy?
New casino to expand professional opportunities, financial security for Cherokee

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fr curemayorAn explosion of campaign signs so large they could pass for miniature billboards cropped up seemingly overnight in Waynesville last week, creating a tizzy over what’s legal and what’s tasteful.

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fr visitorcentersDo visitor centers still have a role in the new world of travel intel? That’s the question Haywood County tourism leaders have been pondering for the past year. And it’s not been an easy one to answer.

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haywoodAn outbreak of the highly contagious intestinal bug known as norovirus has been raging through North Canton Elementary School over the past two weeks, but illness now seems to be on the downswing — to the relief of parents and teachers alike.

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fr casinoinsideSam Olbekson has never met a duality he couldn’t reconcile. As the lead architect for the $110 million Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel opening near Murphy next week, Olbekson’s design will make a lasting impression of the region on millions of visitors for decades to come.

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fr casinolumpySpirits were high last week as Lumpy Lambert made his morning lap around the floor of the new casino. The count down was on, with just a week to go until the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians would open its new $110 million casino on the edge of Murphy. And the machine was firing on all cylinders.

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fr gilesWaynesville leaders have granted a free pass on many of its aesthetic development standards to pave the way for a large warehouse facility being built by Giles Chemical, the Waynesville-based company that is the largest North American manufacturer of Epsom salts.

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out fr2Clad in his signature overalls, Joe Smiley leaned on his rake, taking in the tranquil late-summer scene: pie-pans strung among the corn stalks twisted in the breeze, daisies dipped ever so slightly under the weight of a welcome bee, a wheelbarrow gently rumbled its way down the garden path.

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haywoodHazy ownership of a de facto three-acre park in Waynesville has been resolved, allowing the town to remove a group of partiers who had more or less occupied a corner of the property as squatters.

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haywoodDuke Energy has roped Waynesville in for another year even though the town hoped to quit buying its wholesale power from the energy giant by year’s end.

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haywoodThe senior with the highest grade point average will no longer be crowned valedictorian at high school graduation in Haywood County.

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