SMN staff

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The 2022 Outdoor Economy Conference is less than three months away, scheduled for April 4-7 at the new Cherokee Convention Center in Cherokee. 

An energy company hopes to build 760 feet of pipeline beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway in Buncombe County, and the National Park Service is accepting public comment on the issue through Feb. 5. 

After making big changes through pilot projects at Cades Cove Loop Road and Laurel Falls Trail, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park received positive feedback in recently assessed monitoring data, leading to a decision to make the vehicle-free Wednesdays at Cades Cove a permanent fixture going forward. In 2022, vehicle-free Wednesdays will be offered May 4 through Sept. 28. 

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Seasonal closures in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests have begun, with affected roads closed to motorized vehicles through April. Planned opening dates may change depending on weather. 

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A virtual public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, will take public input on a proposal to remove the ivory-billed woodpecker from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife due to the fact that it is extinct. 

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Mainspring Conservation Trust has earned renewal of its national land trust accreditation through the Land Trust Alliance, remaining part of the nationwide network of more than 450 accredited land trusts. 

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With genre-bending original compositions, Black Violin will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9, at the Bardo Arts Center Performance Hall at Western Carolina University.

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The “Winter Studio Season” will open with Wendy MacLeod’s comedy “Slow Food” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21-22 and 2 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville. 

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Following months of public hearings across the state where voters from all sides decried racial and partisan gerrymandering, the Republican-dominated North Carolina General Assembly delivered a set of maps that prompted a pair of lawsuits before the maps were even approved.

To the Editor: A word most of us are unfamiliar with but will become commonplace in the months and years to come is anocracy — or semi-democracy — a form of government that is loosely defined as part democracy and part dictatorship, or as a regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features.

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Editor’s note: Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City, has been open about his membership in the right-wing militia group known as the Oath Keepers since running for election back in 2012. Last week, Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes was charged with seditious conspiracy related to his actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The SMN asked Clampitt to respond to Stewart’s arrest.

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To the Editor: 

This is in response to Dennis Ford’s letter  from the Jan,. 5 issue of The Smoky Mountain News. 

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To the Editor: 

Let’s talk about the upcoming elections – not the candidates, but the voting. Regardless of your political leaning, there is a lot that we can agree on that is critical to our democracy. 

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To the Editor: 

More than one million North Carolinians (12.9%) have no health insurance. 

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• Western Carolina University’s Martin Luther King Jr. weeklong celebration will be highlighted this year with speaker Charisse Burden-Stelly’s keynote address “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Tradition of Radical Blackness.” Find a full list of events here.

The Gateway to the Smokies Half Marathon and Mighty Four Miler will return to Waynesville this year, stepping off Saturday, April 2.

After serving as interim director for seven months, Will Summer has been named the next director of the N.C. Division of Land and Water Stewardship and executive director of the N.C. Land and Water Fund. 

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The Plunge is just a month away from marking its 10th consecutive year hosting a frigid entry into wintry water for the benefit of environmental education in Haywood County, with the event slated for Saturday, Feb. 12, at Lake Junaluska. 

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To get the most out of out of James Lee Burke’s latest novel, “Another Kind of Eden” (Simon & Schuster, 2021, 243 pages), readers might want to first read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Young Goodman Brown.” Here’s a short synopsis that may help.

The Haywood County Arts Council (HCAC) and regional partners, including the Asheville Area Arts Council, Transylvania Community Arts Council, the Tryon Fine Arts Center, the Arts Council of Henderson County, and the Rutherford County Arts Council, have announced the 2021-2022 Artist Support Grant awardees. 

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To the Editor:

Over the last few years I have read with incredulity article after article about how our town alderman and county commissioners have been handing millions of dollars to large corporations in the form of property tax breaks while raising those same taxes on average homeowners. There is no doubt we need affordable housing, but providing incentives to big developers by overtaxing us homeowners is not needed. 

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To the Editor:

Rolling into the end of this year we have experienced trials and tribulations. From one virus to another coupled with higher gas prices and groceries. Lower inventory due to supply chain disruptions and labor shortages have created stress for many of us. Judy and I are now traveling from Sylva to Kansas City and are finding things to be thankful about. 

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January is National Mentoring Month, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Haywood County is celebrating those who are already volunteering as mentors — “Bigs” — and also recruiting volunteers. 

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The dawning of a new year brings a surge of energy and opportunity. If there’s ever a time to reassess financial plans and goals, it’s now. Below are five suggestions to save big in 2022. 

The National Park Service will waive admission on five days in 2022, aiming to encourage discovery and visitation of the country’s variety of national parks. 

The Lake James watershed near Morganton is now a little more protected following a 35-acre conservation purchase Dec. 23 along Paddy’s Creek.

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Chimney Rock State Park has a new animal ambassador — Oscar the opossum, who was born with no eyes. 

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The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission awarded 23 grants worth more than $4 million for agricultural and economic initiatives across the state. 

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To the Editor:

This is in response to another Trump hit piece disguised as an opinion letter to the editor. I thought Trump derangement syndrome was cured. Come on man, get over it! No one cares.

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To the Editor:

Apparently, though he took the sacred vows of marriage in front of a cross, meeting Donald Trump’s “needs” is more important to Madison Cawthorn than meeting his wife’s. 

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To the Editor:

We are in the middle of another wave of Covid and Haywood County has dropped the ball. Where are our free testing sites? Buncombe County has them. Jackson County has them. Why don’t we?

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To the Editor:

If you survived the daily bombardment of TV ads for Medicare Advantage plans during Medicare Open Enrollment and chose to stick with traditional Medicare, you could be in for a big surprise.

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The state quarantine area for the imported fire ant has expanded once more to include all of Granville and portions of Caswell and Person counties, meaning that 79 of the state’s 100 counties are now included in the quarantine area. 

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Play pickleball at the Waynesville Recreation Center this January, with twice-weekly lessons and nighttime games starting next week. 

Wednesday evenings will offer open volleyball play and practice at the Waynesville Recreation Center this month, with sessions held 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 5 through Feb. 9. 

The Walker Sisters Cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be closed over the coming months due to safety concerns in the historic structure. 

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A new hiker hostel has joined the Franklin Appalachian Trail Community Council as an A.T. Supporter.

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Robin Arramae of WNC Paint Events will be continuing her fun paint nights to bring you not only a “night out” but an experience that lifts your spirits.

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Looking back to early 2021, we all thought this was going to be our year. I mean, how could it be any crazier than 2020?

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We’ve been told that participation trophies are the devil, but we’re also certain that everybody who has lived through 2021 deserves one. This award, dear reader, is your participation trophy. 

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The Town of Sylva and Jackson County share this award for the two opposing statues that occupied downtown Sylva this fall.

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Amy Poehler’s character in “Mean Girls” memorably conferred this title on herself back in 2004, and like that character, the recipient of this award found herself doing something stupid in an effort to make herself more likeable — though in this case toward a bear, not a teenager — and instead ended up making things worse for everybody. 

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The Cherokee Tribal Council displayed profound mastery of improv’s cornerstone rule of thumb, “Yes, and,” as it spent much of the year inventing reasons not to consider an ordinance seeking to lift the tribe’s hard-line ban  on same sex marriage. 

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Residents of the Qualla Boundary and Robbinsville can now join the rest of the state in a collective 5 p.m. ‘cheers’ after voters in those jurisdictions chose to lift some of the last alcohol bans still in effect in North Carolina. 

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This one goes to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which, like the much-memed Hollywood actor, just seems to be in everything these days. 

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As Kenny Rogers famously sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.” Franklin’s long-time mayor Bob Scott knew it was time to fold ‘em and walk away from his late-in-life political career that he loved so much. He probably could have won another term in office but decided not to seek re-election and give someone else a turn at the helm. 

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This award goes to the members of the Waynesville Task Force on Homelessness who were hell bent on not doing anything to solve the problem of homelessness in Haywood County. 

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