Jessi Stone

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As of June 30, North Carolina had 64,670 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The death toll is now over 1,300 and 908 people are currently hospitalized. 

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As of June 22, North Carolina had 53,605 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The death toll is now over 1,200 and about 870 people are currently hospitalized. 

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Fontana Village Resort & Marina located in Graham County surrendered its lease back to the Tennessee Valley Authority on June 1. 

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Macon County Economic Development Commission has established the Reopening Macon Fund. The program, funded by a $257,500 appropriation from the Macon County Board of Commissioners, will provide low-interest loans to severely impacted small businesses in Macon County, helping them to remain open. 

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Swain County commissioners are going to be giving more consideration to who they appoint to county boards after hearing a long list of grievances from a member of the Tourism Development Authority.

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Macon County has seen the largest spike in COVID-19 cases recently, with 230 confirmed cases as of June 15.

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As small businesses across Western North Carolina work toward reopening while meeting new guidelines during the COVID-19 Pandemic, residents are encouraged to support them as a way to strengthen the local economy. 

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Haywood County Commissioner Mark Pless spent 15 years as a paramedic. He’s responded to more drug overdose calls than he cares to count — some people he was able to save, while others were too far gone. 

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Updated 6/4/20: Macon County now has 109 positive COVID-19 cases, 94 of those are active.

Macon County has seen a surge in positive COVID-19 cases within the last week as two clusters were identified and testing capabilities increased.

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Filling out the 2020 U.S. Census form is easier than ever, yet response levels are still significantly lagging in many Western North Carolina counties. 

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Most public restrooms in Waynesville reopened on Friday, May 22, and the pool, water park and locker rooms at the Waynesville Recreation Center are set to open on Monday, June 1.

Pool hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, with the water park open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The pool will be closed on Sunday.

  • A 6-foot social distancing requirement will be enforced, especially on the pool deck. No lessons, parties or groups will be allowed.
  • Prior to entering the rec center, each person must fill out a questionnaire and have their temperature taken. Parents will need to fill out the form for minors.
  • The pool area will be limited to 150 people, with 28 people allowed in the small pool and 45 in the big pool. Each swimmer will be allowed only one spectator.
  • No outside equipment or bags will be allowed in the pool area, and toys and kickboards will be prohibited. Lifeguards will check and sanitize safety equipment such as goggles, swim caps and flotation devices upon entering the pool. Towls are OK, but clothes must be kept in lockers. 
  • Memberships that are still good will be honored, but if not all patrons must pay a daily fee in cash or checks. Memberships will be handled and prorated later when the center is fully open.  
  •  SMAC will be practicing 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 3:45-5:45 p.m., 5:45-6:30 p.m. blocks. They will enter the same first come first serve protocol as well. Please notice their swim times and allow them lane usage so our youth can get back to swimming in some capacity. You may be asked to exit a lane.

  • Lap swim is only one per lane and two per lane with swim team per governors orders.

  • Only one parent per child will be allowed at a time. The rec center is being very strict on this and will not allow whole families at this time.

The remaining portions of the Waynesville Recreation Center, the Old Armory, all playgrounds and outdoor basketball courts will remain closed until further notice.

Newly reopened restrooms are located at the Miller Street Parking Area, Hazelwood Parking Area, the Waynesville Recreation Park and Vance Street Park. Restrooms at Dutch Fisher Park will remain closed at this time. The facilities will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 828.456.2030 with questions.

 

 

 

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Trey Woodard has been playing baseball as long as he can remember and was looking forward to being a part of the starting lineup for Franklin High School’s varsity team this spring. 

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Colby Taylor, a senior at Swain County High School, hasn’t let the COVID-19 Pandemic derail his future goals. Even though the final semester of his high school career has been atypical to say the least, he is moving forward with no regrets and only fond memories of Swain County. 

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The Class of 2020 — what a year to be alive, much less graduating high school and heading out into the real world. 

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When Macon County officials started their 2020-21 budget process back in early February, COVID-19 was barely a blip on their radar. 

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Just like every other local government in the nation, the Town of Franklin is facing uncertainty when it comes to trying to budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. 

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Nikwasi Initiative, a new nonprofit established in 2018 with the mission of preserving the Nikwasi Mound in downtown Franklin and expanding access and educational activities, has hired its first executive director. 

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Macon County Public Health received a positive test result on Friday, May 15. A fourth Macon County resident has tested positive for COVID–19. The individual is between the ages of 25-49.

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While some medical professionals warn of a second wave of COVID-19 cases across the nation, behavioral health experts say communities should be focused on flattening what they believe will be the second wave of COVID-19’s impact.

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Melissa Walker opened her salon in Sylva in 2006, which means she’s been able to build a thriving business in a small town for 14 years even through all the challenges, including the 2008 economic recession. 

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The cross situated over Lake Junaluska has been lit at night for years to give railroad workers some guiding light and inspiration as they rolled through Haywood County.

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Following a two-and-a-half hour meeting on Monday, Swain County commissioners voted to lift their countywide COVID-19 restrictions with the understanding that residents and businesses still must adhere to Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order. 

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People stocking shelves and working behind a register never thought they’d find themselves on the frontlines of a global pandemic to ensure the public can continue to access food and other essentials.

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Dorothy Rose “Dot” Crawford was recently honored with the title of “Macon Matriarch” by the Women’s History Trail, a project of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County. 

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A Bryson City man has filed a lawsuit against Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran in U.S. District Court claiming his constitutional rights had been violated during a traffic stop last week. 

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When Mandy Wildman opened up her own bridal shop on Hazelwood Avenue in February, she had no idea her new business venture would take an immediate hit when COVID-19 brought the wedding industry to a standstill.

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County governments are in the midst of planning for their 2020-21 fiscal budgets that have to be approved by the end of June, but the COVID-19 Pandemic is going to throw a wrench in their ability to project revenues for the remainder of the year.

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The COVID-19 Pandemic has been a lonely time for many senior citizens, especially those residing in an assisted living facility. 

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As the nation focuses on protecting the human population from contracting and spreading COVID-19, mandatory business closures have impacted the humans who’s mission it is to take care of our pets. 

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Cataloochee Ranch, a Haywood County landmark and a vacationer’s mountain paradise, has changed hands after being in the Alexander family since 1933. 

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Swain County commissioners amended the county’s State of Emergency again Tuesday morning to include a curfew for all residents. 

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With the realization that students won’t be returning to school until at least May 15, public school systems in Western North Carolina are adjusting their calendars while continuing to educate and feed their students. 

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During an emergency meeting held Monday, March 30, the Swain County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a third amendment to its State of Emergency declaration. 

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As all the events we look forward to each spring get canceled, we have to look inward and be creative about how we will spend the next couple of months surviving COVID-19. This week, News Editor Jessi Stone shares with readers her top 5 distractions while social distancing.

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In a Zoom call Wednesday, Dogwood Health Trust CEO Antony Chiang announced the foundation has committed $10 million to spend on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic that has now hit Western North Carolina. 

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In an effort to promote social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, Swain County declared a State of Emergency on March 17 after guidance from the World Health Organization, the CDC and the U.S. and the state Department of Health and Human Services.

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The public is struggling to understand the details surrounding protocols for COVID-19 testing and those standards have been changing almost daily. 

People want to know why more people aren’t being tested for the virus, where they should go if they think they have symptoms and a host of other questions they want answered to have some small peace of mind during such an uncertain time. 

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Macon County Board of Commissioners held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss how the county is preparing to deal with the Coronavirus locally. 

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As schools shut down across the state as part of Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order, public school systems are trying to mitigate the impact on local families. 

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Just in the last week, the number of COVID-19 cases reported in North Carolina has grown from seven cases to 40, but as of March 17 no confirmed cases have been reported in Western North Carolina. 

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The town of Franklin is working toward creating a vision for the community that will guide growth and investment for years to come.

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I became aware of a Facebook group recently called “Finding Solutions — Waynesville.” On the surface it appeared this group was looking for solutions to the town’s social issues of homelessness and addiction, so I joined in so I could observe and perhaps offer valuable resources to the discussion — after all, The Smoky Mountain News has covered these issues extensively in the last several years.

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As the top vote-getters from each party, Democrat Betty Cloer Wallace and Republican Josh Young will battle it out for a District 2 Macon County Commissioner seat in the November election. 

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Democratic candidates Roger Parsons and Phil Carson will move on to the November election after being the top two vote-getters in the Swain County commissioner race.

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North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein issued a letter to HCA Healthcare’s president last week wanting answers to the many concerns his office has heard regarding the for-profit’s takeover of Mission Health System in Western North Carolina. 

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North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein issued a letter to HCA Healthcare’s president on Tuesday wanting answers to the many concerns his office has heard regarding the for-profit’s takeover of Mission Health System. 

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No one is thrilled about the idea of having Swain County’s only public library located in a strip mall, but it may come down to that unless residents want to pay higher taxes. 

Even though the committee for a new Marianna Black Library has been working toward its plan to construct a brand-new facility on a piece of land donated specifically for the library, the county commissioners have made it clear the $7 million price tag is an issue. 

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Franklin Town Council recently approved purchasing two parcels of land in the downtown area for a total cost of $206,660. 

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The beloved community fundraiser known as Pancake Day will return Tuesday, Feb. 25, to First United Methodist Church of Waynesville.

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Macon County continues to find itself in a secure financial position heading into the 2020-21 fiscal budget process, but commissioners still face a number of challenges when it comes to prioritizing the county’s growing needs. 

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