Hannah McLeod

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Highlands will have at least one new member on its Board of Commissioners after Election Day this November. 

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Jackson County will soon join four other North Carolina counties taking part in a pilot program that aims to support its foster care program through direct financial assistance. 

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This year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation that allows charter schools to request capital funding from their local board of commissioners.

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A disciplinary incident at Shining Rock Classical Academy last month resulted in a fractured wrist for one student. 

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The Jackson County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing over the possible consolidation of the Department of Health and Department of Social Services on Tuesday, Oct. 3. Despite receiving almost an hour of public comments from people opposed to the move, and three out of five commissioners expressing opposition, the board chose to proceed with the discussion.  

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Three seats are up for election this November on the Sylva Town Council, and six candidates are competing for those spots.

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The Jackson County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing over the possible consolidation of the Department of Health and Department of Social Services on Oct. 3. Despite receiving almost an hour of public comments from people opposed to the move, the board chose to proceed forward and will discuss the issue further during a work session this Tuesday, Oct. 10.

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When Sylva residents go to the polls, they will be choosing a mayor to lead the town through several big projects lined up on the horizon. 

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Franklin, Webster, Bryson City and the Village of Forest Hills all have multiple seats up for election this year on their town boards, and each candidate running for those seats is doing so unopposed. 

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Macon County Commissioners have adopted a master plan for the county’s recreation center and surrounding park.

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The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will likely move to consolidate the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services during its October meeting.

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The Sylva Board of Commissioners recently received a presentation on Safe Haven Boxes — a program that allows for the anonymous surrender of infants.

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With accountability data released from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, all charter schools in the Smoky Mountain News’ four-county coverage area showed an increase in the percentage of students passing state exams during the 2022-23 school year compared to 2021-22 school year. 

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After the Parents Bill of Rights passed the General Assembly in August, local boards of education are determining how to align school policies with the legislation. Swain County Schools will have to revise several of its existing policies to come under compliance with the new law. 

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Last week, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction released performance and growth data for the 2022-23 school year, and none of the four school districts in the Smoky Mountain News coverage area received a low-performing state designation. 

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Jackson residents and members of the LGBTQ+ community are calling on County Commissioner John Smith to apologize following comments he made regarding the Mx. Sylva Pride Pageant and the queer community in general. 

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In April, Sylva received the results of an in-depth botanical survey of Pinnacle Park, and now the town is in the process of creating a master plan for the property.

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After graduating its first senior class in the spring of 2022, Summit Charter School has broken ground on phase II of a high school expansion that will include a new building. 

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The third annual Sylva Pride Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva. 

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After months of back and forth, the Macon County School Board has approved a lease agreement for the Higdon property, purchased by the county earlier this year for use by the school system. 

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When Jason Gregory presented his new book on the history of manufacturing in Sylva at the Jackson County Public Library in August, the room was filled with residents who have a deeply personal connection to the stories Gregory wrote. 

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The Town of Sylva has reinstated misdemeanor charges for discharging a firearm or a Molotov cocktail in town limits after state legislation decriminalized all town ordinances in 2021.

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Union Academy, an alternative high school in Macon County, will henceforth be known as Bartram Academy, home of the Explorers.

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The 2023 Mx. Sylva Pride Pageant wasn’t all glitz, glamour, pomp and pageantry, as social media threats and agitated protesters warranted the involvement of law enforcement. 

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With the Fontana Regional Library agreement up for its 10-year review, Jackson, Macon and Swain county commissions are taking a look at the document. 

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The Highlands Middle School renovation project went out to bid in May, but after two rounds in which only one bid was received, commissioners rejected the bid and revisit the project at the end of the year.

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A few months ago, issues arose about the placement of certain LGBTQ+ books in the Macon County Public Library.

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Autopsy results for the October death of a man in custody at the Jackson County Detention Center confirm that he died of a drug overdose. 

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  This year the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce is celebrating 100 years of work and involvement in its community — fostering both economic development and future leaders.

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Now that Sylva Pipes is up and running with a temporary half-pipe, commissioners are looking at next steps for the skate community.

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After Macon County declared its intent to purchase the Higdon property earlier this year, there was some confusion  as to how the property would be used.

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A criminal charge against the Shining Rock Classical Academy parent accused of cyberstalking has been dismissed. 

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There are several outstanding variables that will affect budgets for local charter schools in the coming school year — average daily membership, the state budget and state legislation, to name a few.

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The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority has selected two projects to be funded with occupancy tax dollars — one in Sylva and one in Dillsboro. Both projects are intended to benefit both residents and tourists alike. 

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Jackson County Commissioners are set to approve two grant-funded positions aimed at substance use disorder recovery and treatment during a regular meeting this week with little controversy.

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Shining Rock Classical Academy is hitting pause on plans for expansion of its school building — now untenable due to rising interest rates — even as the school population continues to grow. 

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Jackson County Schools recently approved an agreement to undergo a master planning process that will move the school system one step closer to securing a middle school. 

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After some pushback from Commissioner John Shearl, Macon County has approved three changes to the solid waste fee structure for fiscal year 2023-24. 

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If Macon County succeeds in constructing a new high school, which could be contingent on receiving a Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund grant , the school system will consolidate Union Academy and Franklin High School into the same campus. 

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Jackson County has approved a plan to pay employees for assisting with the “unprecedented rate” of residential foster care services provided for children in the custody of the Jackson County Department of Social Services. 

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More students in Macon, Jackson and Haywood counties will receive free breakfast and lunch in the coming school year thanks to the Community Eligibility Provision and work by local school nutrition departments.

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The Haywood County School Board has approved the acquisition of a parcel of land off Ratcliff Cove Road for the construction of a facility that would consolidate several of its auxiliary services. 

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The Macon County Commission unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the Macon County School Board this month concerning the new Franklin High School.

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Jackson County has received a grant from Dogwood Health Trust to create a substance abuse recovery planning program over a two-year period. 

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Jackson County has had to rework the design for its domestic violence shelter after cost estimates came in well over the amount the county had budgeted for the project. 

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After weeks of heated discussion and back and forth over both revenue and expenditures, the Macon County Commission approved the 2023-24 budget with just a few deviations from the draft version proposed last month. It maintained the proposed tax rate that will be the lowest property tax rate in the state of North Carolina for the coming fiscal year.

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There will be legal penalties for camping on the Little Tennessee River Greenway in Macon County after the County Commission updated the ordinance that regulates use of the greenway last week.

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Skaters in Sylva finally have a place to ride in their own backyard after the opening of Sylva Pipes — a set of temporary skateboarding amenities constructed downtown.  

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Two organizations committed to helping individuals and families in the community officially opened new offices in Sylva on Thursday, June 1. Mountain Projects and Center for Domestic Peace often work in tandem to help clients, and now that work will be facilitated by connected office space.

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For the third year in a row, First United Methodist Church in Waynesville is teaming up with community partners to celebrate Juneteenth — the federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. But while the event has taken place at Lake Junaluska in past years, this year, the community is invited to celebrate on Academy Street just outside of FUMC for a day of music, games, storytelling, food and good company.

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