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To help relieve the burden of those affected by the catastrophic flooding that occurred in Haywood County, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos is pledging to donate $20,000 to Helping Haywood, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to seek opportunities to help those in need in Haywood County.

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Haywood County Government urges those interested in donating time to help with relief and recovery efforts to visit recoverhaywood.com and click the "Volunteer" option at the top of the page for registration information.

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For those in need of assistance, www.recoverhaywood.com  is the best source for all information. 

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North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has set up a Victims’ Assistance Center in Haywood County to answer questions of flood victims through the weekend.

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By William Hite • Guest Columnist

“You have all the watches, but we have all the time.” — Taliban adage 

It’s official; Afghanistan is lost, overrun by the Taliban in eight days. As I sat watching and listening, I grew angrier and angrier. This is my generation’s Saigon moment. I’m not ex-military or a foreign service officer, but as a concerned citizen I follow our foreign policy closely and have followed the war in Afghanistan since its inception in 2001. What I’ve seen in the last several days is nothing short of a tragedy. 

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To the Editor:

When I first read Jim Gaston's letter to The Smoky Mountain News claiming to champion independent thinking in rigorous pursuit of the truth, I was impressed by the shear amount of effort he spent supporting his ideas, quoting medical findings from history, theories detailing the proper role of government, a quote from Mark Twain, and predicting the imminent slide of American society towards a totalitarian state.

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An update to the 2007 Haywood County Recreation Master Plan is underway, with a survey now available to take public input. 

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A 74-year-old Georgia man is dead following an Aug. 8 accident on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Old Fort. 

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Lack of staffing has prompted the Waynesville Recreation Center to close its water park and constrain hours for the lap pool. 

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On Tuesday, Aug. 10, 14 volunteers converged on Fontana Lake to clean up dispersed campsites that had been trashed by frequent use from neglectful users. 

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The Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual will be celebrating its 75th anniversary with an Open Air market, exhibition, and a new book detailing its history from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, in Cherokee.

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A special 76th birthday performance by beloved folklorist, storyteller and musician Lee Knight will take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18, at City Lights Bookstore in downtown Sylva. 

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The resurgent Delta variant of COVID-19 has created a dangerous situation across the country and across the state, and now Western North Carolina’s first responders are speaking out. 

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Daytime closures associated with an 8-mile paving project on Newfound Gap Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will resume on Monday, Aug. 16. 

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A $10,000 grant from REI Co-op in Pigeon Forge will support community science programs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos recently donated $30,000 to N.C. Beautiful, a nonprofit organization that has for 54 years supported environmental awareness, education and beautification efforts in North Carolina. 

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To the Editor:

Today, the mask debate has become so ludicrous that many people still falsely think it’s “safety first” to wear one. After the past 1.5 years, masks have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with control.  

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To the Editor:

Most Americans would agree a free and fair election system is fundamental to a functioning democracy. Yet our neighbor Georgia and many other states have passed bills that seriously curtail access to the polls in response to accommodations that were made in 2020 to assure safety during the pandemic: early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, alternative drop-off procedures.

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The Haywood County Schools Board of Education voted to amend the 2021-22 school calendar during its Aug. 9 regularly scheduled meeting. 

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Dogwood Health Trust hired seasoned economic and community development executive Sarah Thompson to join the organization’s Impact Team on Sept. 7. 

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Volunteers with Haywood Hospice & Palliative Care were honored at a recent luncheon held at the First Presbyterian Church in Waynesville. 

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The N.C. Board of Transportation unanimously approved a resolution Thursday to dedicate a section of U.S. 276 in Haywood County in honor of Claud “Paw” Messer. 

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By Peter H. Lewis • Asheville Watchdog | The largest health care providers in Western North Carolina, including Mission Hospital in Asheville, recently confirmed that they are not requiring doctors, nurses, volunteers, or other hospital staff to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus despite a resurgence of infections and hospitalizations. 

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By Diana Conard • Contributing writer | Courtney and Spencer Tetrault established Axe & Awl Leatherworks six years ago as an online business. Coming from two rewarding yet demanding careers, this required a leap of faith and a whole lot of grit. Now, they are taking another leap of faith to pursue a much-anticipated dream of opening a storefront on Depot Street in downtown Waynesville.

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A Clay County couple has conserved their 50-plus-acre property and will donate it as a life estate to Mainspring Conservation Trust. 

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A trio of collisions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway over the past week have resulted in a total of four fatalities. 

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Two Swain Middle School eighth graders helped their softball team win a tournament title during the Native American Youth Organization Tournament hosted by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians July 22-24.

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The Bucket Brigade is looking for people who are tired of passing by the same trash each day and want to get outside to make a difference in the community. 

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To the Editor:

Every time Rep. Madison Cawthorn speaks, I am reminded of the movie “Billy Madison” and the line: “ Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

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To the Editor:

Lately we hear praise of Democrats and Joe Biden for spending trillions of dollars in aid to chosen groups.

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HIGHTS (Helping Inspire Gifts of Hope, Trust, and Service) works with the community’s most vulnerable youth to provide essential clinical mental health services, workforce development, skill building programs, meaningful service opportunities, outdoor adventure activities, and mentoring. 

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Through the work of Canopy Housing Foundation, Haywood County area Realtors are dedicated to grassroots support of area nonprofit organizations addressing housing and educational needs and awarded four area nonprofits with Community and Habitat for Humanity Grants totaling $13,500. 

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The Haywood Healthcare Foundation Board of Trustees recently awarded $281,431 in grants to 14 agencies for healthcare needs in Haywood County. 

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The Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society is in urgent need of new Kuranda beds in the CHHS Canine Adoption Center. 

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The number of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are once again on the rise due to the delta variant, which is more contagious than the original virus. Despite mask recommendations from the CDC and state health officials, several school systems have decided to make masks optional when students return to class.

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The federal moratorium on evictions was allowed to expire on July 31, bringing an end to protections enjoyed by tenants who couldn’t pay their rent during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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The Western Carolina University Fine Art Museum at Bardo Arts Center in Cullowhee has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. 

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Seedlings are available for sale from the N.C. Forest Service Nursery Program, with specimens offering superior growth, form and disease resistance due to solid nursery research and production experience. 

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Empowering Mountain Food Systems will be highlighting the stories, personalities and passions of Western North Carolina farmers through its new marketing campaign, #FriendyourFarmer. 

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Bipartisan legislation aiming to fund local efforts to support struggling wildlife is now under consideration in both houses of Congress following introduction of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act July 20 in the Senate. 

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More than 450 people participated in the 17th annual Mountain Wildlife Days this month, but it will be the last year for the popular event if nobody steps forward to take over from longtime director John Edwards. 

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By Peter Nieckarz • Guest Columnist | We seem to be collectively breathing a sigh of relief as the COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out and we move towards a post pandemic state of “normalcy.” While we are grateful to be taking our masks off and gathering with friends and loved ones, it is likely that we will not return to the normalcy we knew before the pandemic.  

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To the Editor:

Representative Madison Cawthorn’s latest newsletter is a case study in hypocrisy and misinformation. While extolling the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, his recent actions were to overthrow the results of a free election. His comments on the so-called Critical Race Theory are nonsense.

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To the Editor:

I would like to thank The Smoky Mountain News for the article “Back to the Blue” (July 14-20, 2021).

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On Wednesday, July 21, a Haywood County Deputy observed Dalton Suttles driving on U.S. 209 in Haywood County. 

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Last August, Jackson County deputies responded to reports of a vehicle fire on Parris Branch. They arrived to find a 2008 Mercury Mariner burning. A torn shirt sleeve, shoved into the gas tank, served as a rough-hewn wick.

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Following a two-week trial, a Graham County jury on Friday returned a guilty verdict in 45 minutes against Casey Haney, 39, for repeated sexual assaults of a child, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.

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