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Seedlings are available for sale from the N.C. Forest Service Nursery Program, with specimens offering superior growth, form and disease resistance due to solid nursery research and production experience. 

Empowering Mountain Food Systems will be highlighting the stories, personalities and passions of Western North Carolina farmers through its new marketing campaign, #FriendyourFarmer. 

Bipartisan legislation aiming to fund local efforts to support struggling wildlife is now under consideration in both houses of Congress following introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act July 20 in the Senate. 

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Smokey Bear turns 77 this year, and a celebration 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Cradle of Forestry in America will mark the event with party stations, storybook reading, silly songs — and an appearance by Smokey himself. 

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Former Highlands Biological Foundation Director Sonya Carpenter will speak on simple changes people can make to nurture life in their gardens and communities during the next installment of the Zahner Conservation Lecture Series at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, at the Highlands Community Building. 

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More than 450 people participated in the 17th annual Mountain Wildlife Days this month, but it will be the last year for the popular event if nobody steps forward to take over from longtime director John Edwards. 

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By Peter Nieckarz • Guest Columnist | We seem to be collectively breathing a sigh of relief as the COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out and we move towards a post pandemic state of “normalcy.” While we are grateful to be taking our masks off and gathering with friends and loved ones, it is likely that we will not return to the normalcy we knew before the pandemic.  

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To the Editor:

Representative Madison Cawthorn’s latest newsletter is a case study in hypocrisy and misinformation. While extolling the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, his recent actions were to overthrow the results of a free election. His comments on the so-called Critical Race Theory are nonsense.

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To the Editor:

I would like to thank The Smoky Mountain News for the article “Back to the Blue” (July 14-20, 2021).

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On Wednesday, July 21, a Haywood County Deputy observed Dalton Suttles driving on U.S. 209 in Haywood County. 

Last August, Jackson County deputies responded to reports of a vehicle fire on Parris Branch. They arrived to find a 2008 Mercury Mariner burning. A torn shirt sleeve, shoved into the gas tank, served as a rough-hewn wick.

Following a two-week trial, a Graham County jury on Friday returned a guilty verdict in 45 minutes against Casey Haney, 39, for repeated sexual assaults of a child, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.

After months of decline, North Carolina is experiencing a rapid increase in COVID-19 spread among those who are unvaccinated. 

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With an eye on the future and supporting healthcare throughout the Western North Carolina region, the final beam was placed at the new 82,500 square foot Angel Medical Center.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services selected Vaya Health to operate a health care plan for North Carolina residents with mental health needs, substance use disorders or an intellectual or developmental disability.

The Glenville Area Historical Society (GAHS) annual “Ice Cream Social” will be held on Saturday, July 31, at the historic Glenville Wesleyan Church. 

Lake Junaluska’s Summer Activities Program, which offers free and low-cost activities that celebrate faith, recreation, arts and education, is now underway. 

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Known as “the world’s best” at portraying a young Elvis Presley in his prime in the 1950s and 1960s, Travis LeDoyt will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin. Tickets start at $20 per person. www.smokymountainarts.com

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The 11th annual season of Concerts on the Creek continues with Arnold Hill from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 30, at Bridge Park in Sylva.

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A new website uses GIS, aerial imagery and field work data to create a landslide mapping tool that provides critical hazard data for North Carolina communities. 

Conservation leaders from Asheville and Brevard were among the 16 people and organizations to earn recognition during the N.C. Wildlife Federation’s 57th annual Governor’s Conservation Awards. 

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The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina celebrated a pair of conservation achievements in recent months that together protect more than 650 acres of land in Rutherford and Caldwell counties. 

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The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s annual farm tour will return for 2021, from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 18-19 offering a chance to check out guided tours, demonstrations and hands-on activities at approximately 20 family farms in Haywood, Buncombe and Henderson counties. 

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The Highlands Biological Foundation will hold its biggest fundraiser of the year with its annual summer soiree, 6 p.m. through dark Monday, Aug. 2, atop Satulah Mountain in Highlands. 

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To the Editor:

As a former Public Health Director in his district with over 30 years of public health experience, I’m appalled at Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s recent misleading statements made in an interview by the Right Side Broadcasting Network at CPAC and aired on NBC nightly news Friday, July 9, as part of their COVID story. His lack of understanding regarding public health science is obvious the more he speaks.

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To the Editor:

The letter by Ms. Subic “Stop the checks, get to work” in the July 14 issue of The Smoky Mountain News starkly illustrates the importance of an informed citizenry in a robust democracy. Although rambling — and including apparently self-bemusing racial comments — apparently her intent was to argue that unemployment benefits, particularly the $300 supplement, were a key factor in firms’ current challenges in filling vacant positions.

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To the Editor:

As I read the letter about unemployment insurance in last week’s edition of The Smoky Mountain News (“Stop the checks, get to work”), I recognized a tone that has come to dominate and pollute our civic discourse. The letter had all the elements of our current malaise. It was nasty and brutish. It was selfish and self-centered, devoid of charity. It was ignorant of fact or reason. It fed on bile and grievance, displaying both cruelty and accusation that serve less as observation than confession.

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While there aren’t any state or federal elections being held this year, there are a number of municipal governing board elections that will draw the attention of voters in November – especially across Western North Carolina — and now that the filing period has closed, the fields are set. 

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Presented by Adamas Entertainment, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Graham Sharp (of Steep Canyon Rangers) will perform on Saturday, Aug. 7, at Nantahala Brewing in Sylva. 

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In an effort to preserve and perpetuate the heritage arts and lore of the Great Smoky Mountains and greater Southern Appalachia, the Smoky Mountain Heritage Center has now come to fruition at the Meadowlark Motel in Maggie Valley. 

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The Feline Urgent Rescue (FUR) will host the “Wet Your Whiskers” fundraiser and wine tasting from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 31, at the Wells Event Center in Waynesville. 

A showcase of art by Gosia Babcock will be on display in the Meeting Room through the end of August at the Macon County Public Library in Franklin. Visit to take a closer look, but call ahead to make sure the Meeting Room is open to the public when you plan to visit. 828.524.3600.

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Rumble Team | Summer is for adventure, for getting outside, exploring and having fun. But, the rainy afternoons come. So to do the days when its time to take a break, time to relax on the couch after a long day full of summer energy. These are some of the best summer movies for those very instances. 

A reunion for families who have continuously operated a farm for 100 years or more is coming up this fall at the N.C. State Fair, and the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s Century Farm Program is looking for farms to join the program. 

Jennie Stowers has been elected as the new president of the Highlands Biological Foundation Board after Julia Grumbles wrapped up 10 years of leadership in the position. 

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is taking input on a forthcoming management plan for the Laurel Falls Trail, with public comment accepted through Aug. 7. 

To the Editor:

In response to the article, “Where Are the Workers?” Well, you can thank your President Biden for that.

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Through a one-time program, Southwestern Community College will not charge tuition or fees to students for the 2021-22 academic year.

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Haywood Community College is holding Peak Week July 12 through July 16. 

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As workers apply the last few coats of paint and other finishing touches this summer, Southwestern Community College officials are making sure everything’s ready to open at their new Health Sciences Center to students this fall on the Jackson Campus.

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Due to continually strengthening populations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to downlist the smooth coneflower from an endangered species to a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. 

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Hunters harvested a record 3,748 black bears in North Carolina last year, an 8% increase over the previous season. 

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This year’s North Carolina turkey hunting season yielded the second-highest harvest on record, second only to the record-breaking 2020 harvest — but harvest in the mountain region were down compared to the three-year average.

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A public hearing on proposed revisions to state regulations on surface water quality standards and classifications will be held online at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 20, with written comments accepted through Tuesday, Aug. 3.

Registration is now open for Grandfather Mountain Photography Weekend, slated for the weekend of Aug. 14-15 at Grandfather Mountain in Linville.  

A third track is now available within Western Carolina University’s Professional Outdoor Industry Certificate. 

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By Casey Quarterman • Guest Columnist | For six years I have been working as a Wilderness Ranger in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. I devote my time, blood, sweat and energy into keeping wild places as wild and natural as possible. 

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