Hannah McLeod

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The Needs-Based Public Schools Capital Fund Grant Program was established as part of the education lottery in the 2017-18 state budget to provide more money in lottery funds for school construction in high-need counties. This year, the criteria to be eligible for these grants has expanded widely to include almost all counties in the state due to a surplus of funds. 

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Due to the flooding that ravaged the Canton, Cruso and Clyde areas in the wake of Tropical Storm Fred  last summer, Central Haywood High School was badly damaged

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Basil Green Pea Hummus is a light and refreshing take on typical hummus. It is made in the same style as traditional hummus using garlic, tahini, lemon juice and chickpeas, but the addition of basil and green peas make this version a bit lighter in texture and brighter in flavor. Next time you go to make hummus for sandwiches, veggie snacks or even a charcuterie board, give this one a try. Enjoy!

Mountain Discovery Charter School in Swain County is celebrating its 20th year serving students in Western North Carolina. The school has largely been a labor of love, a massive effort of parents and staff to provide the most well-rounded education possible to students throughout their elementary and middle school years. 

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Sweet Potato Kale Quinoa Salad pairs nicely with a protein of choice for dinner. However, the leftovers are even better used for lunches and snacks in the days to come. You can substitute several ingredients in the salad to customize it to your liking. Enjoy!

There aren’t many synagogues in Western North Carolina, just one west of Asheville. Mountain Synagogue in Franklin is a community of Jews practicing their faith in the All Saints Episcopal Church of Franklin. And as with most Jewish communities around the world, safety is top priority.

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On Sunday morning, silence falls in the Creative Thought Center, save the voice of Kim May as she leads her congregation through a meditation. This week she’s brought in a pad of sticky notes for each member containing 16 different affirmations. Members are directed to flip to one at random and ruminate on the affirmation during meditation. 

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School systems in all four counties of The Smoky Mountain News’ coverage area are no longer requiring masks in schools. The slew of decisions came on the heels of updated COVID-19 guidance and new direction from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

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Effective Monday, Feb. 21, masks will be optional in Jackson County Schools. The decision was made at an emergency board meeting Thursday night and comes on the heels of updated COVID guidance and new direction from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. 

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Masks are optional for students and staff of Haywood County Schools after the school board voted last night to remove the pandemic restriction that had been in place since August 2021 following public comment heavily in favor of doing so.

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Jackson County Tourism Development Authority will open applications for its first round of tourism capital projects funds this year. This gives community stakeholders the chance to apply for money to fund projects that better the community for tourists and residents alike.

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After community members showed up in force to object to certain provisions of Sylva’s proposed updated zoning ordinance, commissioners tabled the most controversial items, including a provision regulating in-town chicken-keeping, for further discussion.

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Despite a strong public showing against the proposed social district at Sylva’s town meeting on Thursday, commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the measure.

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With budget season in full swing, Sylva commissioners have begun discussing their priorities for how to spend taxpayer dollars in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. 

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Haywood County Schools will follow new COVID protocol, referred to as “5+5 COVID Guidance,” after a presentation from the Haywood County Health Department during a special called meeting Monday night. 

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Families in Jackson and Macon counties are set to see a bump in pre-K capacity as both counties work to expand their programs in the coming months. 

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Valentine’s Day, like so many of the seemingly trivial holidays that dot our calendars, originated thousands of years ago as a Pagan celebration. Over the centuries Lupercalia, a Roman holiday, morphed into the feast day of Saint Valentine and eventually into today’s Hallmark version - Valentine’s Day. 

After a bill allowing cities and counties to create their own social districts passed through the general assembly last September, towns across the state are exploring their options. Sylva is among the latest to do so in Western North Carolina. 

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After Haywood County Schools administration pulled “Dear Martin” from a 10th grade English II class , The Smoky Mountain News caught up with author Nic Stone to get her thoughts on the issue.

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Grocery shopping is my happy place. I don’t know how this happened but over the years, the weekly, bi-weekly or sometimes daily chore of going to the grocery store has become a serious high point in my days. 

Broadband will be an important part of any and all future growth in Jackson County. Now, reliable Wi-Fi is free for all in a large portion of downtown Sylva.  

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The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has approved three municipal grants for the towns of Sylva, Webster and Dillsboro. 

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Students at Tuscola High School will no longer be able to read “Dear Martin,” (Crown Publishing Group, 2017) after administration decided the book is too inappropriate to use as assigned reading. 

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There’s a 1% chance football will be played at Pisgah Memorial Stadium come fall. That is according to an estimation by Haywood County Schools Maintenance Director Josh Mease. 

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Anyone looking to create a new campground or RV park in Maggie Valley is out of luck. For the next six months, the town has a moratorium on RV parks, RV Planned Unit Developments, RV storage and campgrounds. 

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The Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen walked back a decision it made Jan. 11 denying Harvest Moon Crepes food truck a special event permit necessary to operate in the parking lot of Tony’s Tube World. 

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The statue of Harriet Tubman that has been standing at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva depicts a woman in motion. Tubman is actively pressing forward, leading a child behind her. She looks ahead, and slightly up, her face contorted in determination and concentration. 

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Due to rising construction costs, estimates for the total cost of the new Jackson County Pool currently exceed the original $20 million borrowed  for the project by $1.5 million. During a Jan. 4 board meeting, commissioners reviewed cost-saving measures with principal architect Chad Roberson to help keep project costs as close to original estimates as possible.  

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Shining Rock Classical Academy may have just opened the doors to its new building  at the start of this school year, but plans for phase II of the construction process were in the works long before students ever stepped foot in the new building. 

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The statue of Harriet Tubman that has been standing at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva depicts a woman in motion. Tubman is actively pressing forward, leading a child behind her. She looks ahead, and slightly up, her face contorted in determination and concentration. 

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has approved the use of American Rescue Plan funds to buy a new integrated system for the sheriff’s office that includes tasers, body cameras and in-car cameras. 

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Discussions for a skatepark in Jackson County are set to begin in January when Parks and Recreation Director Rusty Ellis will bring the issue to the recreation advisory board. 

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Tourism in Jackson County is set to break all records for fiscal year 2021-22, and for the first time ever, county officials will get to choose capital projects to fund with tourism dollars. 

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In the midst of the third school year affected by COVID-19, school systems are keenly aware of the stress the pandemic causes for staff. Teachers and support staff alike have left their positions in record numbers as the occupation changes at breakneck pace, and Swain County Schools is doing what it can to identify obstacles to recruiting and retaining teachers. 

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There is a special moment that happens whilst playing music, a moment when concentration takes over as a musician uses both hands in a complicated way on their instrument or tunes into harmony with another voice. It is a moment when nothing else exists. All of a sudden it is only the musician and the sounds that are being created. Despite anything and everything else that may be challenging or distracting, in that moment it all disappears. 

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Maggie Valley Town Hall was packed Tuesday evening for the regular December Board of Aldermen meeting. This was the first regular meeting for incoming board members John Hinton and Jim Owens, and a meeting of great concern for anyone with an opinion about the future of development in Maggie Valley. 

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The secret to this cake is the peppermint Hershey’s Kisses. The little morsels are made of smooth white chocolate, but filled with tiny, satisfyingly crunchy pieces of peppermint candy. It takes a bit of time to unwrap all of the peppermint kisses you’ll need, and a lot of willpower not to eat them as you go, but the result is worth it. The already moist pound cake is full of little bits of creamy white chocolate, and the red and white dusting of peppermint kisses on top looks very festive. If you’re looking for something smaller than a pound cake, these would make great cupcakes (pictured is a miniature bundt cake). Enjoy!

Ghost Town developer Frankie Wood made his case to members of the Maggie Valley business community during a presentation at Elevated Mountain Distilling Company on Monday. 

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Jackson County and the Town of Sylva have officially declared Dec. 10 as Darrell Woodard Day of Service. 

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Jackson County commissioners have approved a Cashiers-Glenville Recreation Center Master Plan that will include the construction of a splash pad in place of the existing pool. The preliminary cost estimate for the entire plan is just under $2 million. 

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When I was little, I thought pockmarked skin was beautiful — a sought after trait that made someone especially handsome. 

The American Rescue Plan, signed into law March 6, allocated $350 billion for state and local relief in response to economic fallout from the Coronavirus Pandemic. Jackson County will receive a total of $8,534,441 as a result. 

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Just after the Coronavirus Pandemic broke out in the United States in March of 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law. Among other things, this bill established the Education Stabilization Fund, part of which is designated for K-12 public schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, also known as ESSER funds. 

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Maggie Valley will discuss restricting all campgrounds and RV parks after newly-elected Alderman Jim Owens recommended the move during his first board of aldermen meeting. 

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“Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself.” — Virgil Abloh.

Miss Virginia stretches unassumingly in the lamplit window of Wall Street Books. While she used to host bridge once a week at her house in Bethel, she now hosts readers and wanderers in the front window of the used bookstore nestled behind Main Street. 

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Harris Regional Hospital, Swain Community Hospital and Haywood Regional Medical Center, all owned by Duke LifePoint, will require the COVID-19 vaccine for all employees. 

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Last week the Macon County School Board approved the use of ESSER funds to give recurring $1,500 bonuses to all full-time employees and $750 to all part-time employees for the coming three years. The first payment will be given out on the December payroll. 

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Holiday decorations have a way of bringing joy into our lives. Whether by their pleasing aesthetic, or by the anticipation created for holiday festivities. Enjoying decorations is even more rewarding (and eco-friendly) when we can make them ourselves. Below is a list of a few wreath-making events in WNC. 

After years of working to provide public education during a pandemic without pay raises, or a state budget, public schools in North Carolina will once again operate with a state budget in place after it was signed Nov. 18 by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. 

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