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Collections from this year’s N.C. Department of Transportation Spring Litter Sweep totaled more than 1.4 million pounds, far surpassing the record of 939,000 pounds set in 2019. In total, N.C. Department of Transportation crews, contractors and volunteers have collected 5.3 million pounds of roadside litter this year. 

A series of beginning fly fishing lessons starts this week at Lake Junaluska, scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Fridays, May 7, 14 and 21, with a Saturday field trip to the West Fork of the Pigeon River May 22. 

A multi-phase restoration project is proposed for the historic Wilson Lick cabin in the Nantahala National Forest in Macon County. 

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A $4,400 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority will help Haywood Waterways Association support community stream cleanups and Haywood County’s Adopt-a-Stream program. Much of the money will go toward purchasing a collection boom to reduce trash in Lake Junaluska. 

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Outdoor Mission Community, formerly known as Outdoor Mission Camp, has a stockpile of outdoor gear available at its resource center and a robust schedule of community events planned to get people outside over the coming months — and plenty of opportunities for volunteers too.

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Vehicle-free Wednesdays at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park begin this week, giving cyclists and pedestrians the chance to enjoy this popular area without battling cars and motorcycles. 

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Hiking guide author Peter Barr will present his new book about North Carolina’s lookout towers at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6, in the picnic pavilion outside the Macon County Public Library in Franklin. 

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May 5 is National Bike to School Day, and the region will celebrate throughout the month with youth biking programs, skills clinics at schools, training for physical education teachers and community bike rodeos. 

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To the Editor:

Attempts to explain or absolve any identity group of voters are subject to inaccuracy.

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Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers was selected as one of 19 leaders from across the country to join the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a selective national network of state and local elected officials with Honorary Co-Chairs U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland, and Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin. 

A deep pipe failure under the eastbound lanes of U.S. 19/23 between Clyde and Canton near Crawford Memorial Gardens will have traffic down to one lane in each direction for about one month.

Vaya Health is encouraging Western North Carolinians to check up on their own emotional wellbeing in May as the nation observes Mental Health Month.

If passed, legislation introduced by Western North Carolina Republican representatives would allow municipalities within Haywood County to levy their own occupancy tax to be spent on tourism marketing. While Bryson City was originally a part of the bill, the town has now been removed.

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The Haywood County town of Canton hasn’t always been a major tourist destination, but with downtown revitalization well underway and a major mountain biking park about to open, all that’s about to change, and a group of concerned citizens want to make sure the town takes full advantage of the interest soon to come. 

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The arrival of spring marks a new season of weekly festive gatherings at the Rickman Store in Macon County. 

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The exhibit: “Celebrating the Flora of the Smoky Mountains” will run May 7-31 at the HCAC Gallery & Gifts showroom on Main Street in Waynesville. 

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A Guatemalan man died following a motorcycle crash in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Sunday, April 18. 

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For the second year in a row, the Waynesville Parks and Recreation Department will cancel its popular summer camp series due to COVID-19. 

Closure of the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been extended again, this time expected to last through May 15. 

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A record-setting land donation will conserve 7,500 acres in the Roan Highlands, a success that Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy Stewardship Director Marquette Crockett describes as a “conservationist’s dream come true.”

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A series of hikes exploring Haywood County’s many trails is in full swing, with the next one offered Monday, May 5, and traversing 4.8 miles in the Max Patch area. 

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Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day with a hike offered 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 8, at Balsam Mountain Trust. 

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The Shelton House will launch its 2021 season on Saturday, May 1, promising to bring more “History, Heritage and Crafts” to the residents and visitors of Western North Carolina. 

Presented by the Sylva Art & Design Committee (SADC), the inaugural “Sylva Sandwich Competition” will take place during the month of May at participating restaurants around the community.

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While not a surprise to anyone in Western North Carolina walking around with their eyes open, new Census data released this week confirms that North Carolina and this region are gaining population. Net migration — how many people are moving in versus how many are moving out — was the primary engine of growth for the state, allowing it to pick up a 14th congressional seat. The U.S. population now stands at 331.5 million, and in North Carolina we have grown by 9.5 percent since 2010 to 10.45 million residents today.

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To the Editor:

Many of us in Jackson County volunteered to pick up litter recently as part of Jackson County’s Litter Sweep. I know I did in my neighborhood of Forest Hills in Cullowhee. These actions tied in well with the theme of Earth Day 2021 on April 22, which was “Restore Our Earth.” 

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To the Editor:

Whether or not you are a fan of TV anchor and journalist Don Lemon, his latest book This is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends about Racism is recommended to everyone trying to better understand the racism in our country and what we can do about it. Lemon grew up as a Black and gay man in Louisiana in the 1960s and 1970s. As an adult, Lemon has lived in the South and North and has experienced racism and homophobia much of his 55 years. 

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To the Editor:

A quote that will live in infamy! On April 8, 2021, Comrade Joe Biden laid bare the Socialist/Communist agenda that his party is working to implement in order to destroy the foundational freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights to all Americans.

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In recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month, ALE special agents concluded a statewide enforcement operation on Friday resulting in over 200 persons charged and seizures of alcoholic beverages, drugs, firearms and cash.

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Dr. Diana Messer, a forensic anthropology professor at Western Carolina University, is working on groundbreaking research that could drastically improve the methods used to estimate the timeframe of a child’s injury, which is essential evidence needed to identify and prosecute child abuse cases.

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The annual synchronous firefly viewing event will return to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this year, but with a more limited lottery than usual so that attendees can park their personal vehicles nearby rather than taking the shuttle bus.

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Vaccination rates slowed substantially across the four-county area over the past week, and the pace will likely continue to slacken as health departments across the area report a dearth of demand.

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