Holly Kays

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A kayaker died yesterday while paddling the Oconaluftee River near Smokemont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Comment

What started as a groundswell of outrage over a massive sediment dump  from Ela Dam in Swain County has become a united effort to get the nearly 100-year-old structure removed — supported by the company that owns it and led by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Comment

In the Muslim faith, corporate prayer is a pillar of the practice — and in Western North Carolina, there’s only one place to observe that rite. 

Comment

Case numbers continue to decline in Western North Carolina and statewide as the Omicron surge subsides.

Comment

Representatives of a world-renowned French theme park company met with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council this week to discuss a potential partnership at Exit 407 in Sevier County.

Comment

The two most visited national parks of 2021 are located right here in Western North Carolina, according to figures released by the National Park Service today.

Comment

Nearly two decades ago, Eric Romaniszyn joined the nonprofit world as the new project manager for Haywood Waterways Association .

Comment

COVID-19 cases are dropping precipitously both locally and statewide, with hospitalizations now hovering just above the 3,000 mark after hitting a peak of 5,206 on Jan. 26. 

Comment

In an unusual sequence of events Feb. 3, the Cherokee Tribal Council passed a resolution outlining a set of referendum questions seeking to bring term limits and staggered terms to the body — only to bring it up for reconsideration minutes later and vote unanimously to table it.

Comment

A decade after convening the first meetings to discuss the impending process, the U.S. Forest Service has released a semi-final version of the plan  that will govern management of the 1.04-million-acre Pisgah and Nantahala national forests for the next 15 to 20 years.

Comment

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing nine red wolves for release into the world’s only wild population of the critically endangered species — an act that will boost the total wild red wolf population by about 60%. The nine wolves include a family group and two breeding pairs that will play a critical role in population recovery. 

Comment

When Chad Seger  was reported missing on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, the Haywood County Rescue Squad’s Wilderness Search and Rescue Team deployed immediately to seek the 27-year-old Asheville man in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. But even with rescue crews from across the region joining the effort, day after day went by with no sign of Seger.

Comment

Waynesville native Zeb Powell, 22, narrowly missed a medal at the X Games in Aspen Jan. 21, coming in fourth on the Wendy’s Snowboard Knuckle Huck event he dominated in the 2020 games. 

Comment

After case counts soared to unprecedentedly high levels throughout the month of January, the Omicron wave of COVID-19 appears to be receding in North Carolina — but public health officials in Western North Carolina are hesitant to say that’s yet the case locally. 

Comment

Enrollment at Western Carolina University is the lowest it’s been for any spring semester since 2018, according to student census data collected Jan. 24. The school cites the ongoing pandemic and its impact on student finances as drivers of the 2.7% decrease in enrollment between the 2022 and 2021 spring semesters.

Comment

Cherokee resident Forrest Cole Stamper, 28, will spend four years in federal prison after pleading guilty in federal court to abusive sexual contact of a minor.

Comment

Nearly 40 people weighed in on a controversial proposal to allow bear hunting in three mountain sanctuary areas during a Jan. 20 virtual public hearing  before the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Comment

In response to a deepening housing crisis  and a growing  casino enterprise in need of workers, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the LLCs it owns are moving forward with a slate of residential development projects that will result in more than 1,000 new housing units over the next decade — in both the Qualla Boundary and the surrounding region.

Comment

A decade after it first reached out to stakeholders for the project, the U.S. Forest Service has released its revised management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, signaling the start of the revision process’s final phase.

Comment

For five of the past seven years, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has posted an all-time high number of annual visits, and 2021 showed the largest leap yet. The park recorded a whopping 14.1 million visits in 2021 — a 12.4% increase over the previous record of 12.5 million set in 2019. 

Comment

 A multifaceted rescue effort extricated a stranded hiker from the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Comment

Sun is shifting in and out of the clouds covering Cataloochee Ski Area on Friday, Jan. 14, as I catch a ride to the top of Easy Way with Greenville, South Carolina, resident William Oliver. It’s my first run of the day, but he’s been riding for a while now — and after the warm weather and closures that plagued eastern ski resorts in December, he’s enthusiastic about today’s snow report. 

Comment

Since a Western Carolina University student took to national news this month to air her concerns about the school’s gender and racial diversity training for resident assistants, a discussion about inclusivity, tolerance and how to interact with people of differing worldviews has been swirling through the Catamount community. 

Comment

A hiker stranded along the Art Loeb Trail during the weekend snowstorm is now home safe thanks to a  successful effort from Haywood County Search and Rescue’s Mountain Rescue Team.

Comment

With already record-high bear populations continuing robust growth in Western North Carolina, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is proposing a controversial measure to control them: allowing bear hunting in three bear sanctuaries where it’s currently off-limits. 

Comment

On May 25, 2020, the world watched as 46-year-old George Floyd died slowly beneath the knee of a Minnesota police officer — and it continued to watch as an aftermath erupted spanning the gamut from full-on riots to thoughtful discussions about how to make policing kinder and more effective. 

Comment

Despite surging cases caused by the Omicron variant, Western Carolina University will start the spring semester as scheduled Jan. 10 with in-person classes and activities — though with “stringent” precautions in place, the university said.

Comment

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will seek to expand its trust lands by 3.088 acres following a unanimous vote from Tribal Council Dec. 9. 

Comment

Despite an impassioned plea for immediate action from the tribe’s Natural Resource Department, the Cherokee Tribal Council voted unanimously last month to table a resolution that would temporarily prohibit hunting on a 138-acre property in Macon County. 

Comment

The arrival of the extremely contagious Omicron variant in conjunction with holiday travel and gatherings has caused a spike in COVID-19 cases far eclipsing anything seen in the pandemic to date — but the variant’s apparently milder effects compared to previous COVID-19 strains could a limited impact.

Comment

For Western North Carolina’s outdoor enthusiasts, a toast to 2021 means a toast to the impressive slate of conservation successes that took place on the region’s public lands this year. 

Comment

As the Appalachian wilderness trail Benton MacKaye dreamed up in 1921 becomes busier and busier, a geographically scattered group of trail enthusiasts is building an alternative — the Great Eastern Trail , a 1,800-mile route stretching from Alabama to New York. 

Comment

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ last hope for stopping the Catawba Indian Nation from building a casino in North Carolina is dead following passage of a bill affirming the U.S. Department of Interior’s decision  to take 17 acres in Cleveland County into trust for the tribe. 

Comment

The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees voted unanimously during its Dec. 3 meeting to recommend a schedule of fees for the upcoming academic year that includes an $86 increase to the school’s athletic training program fee — but only after granting a request from Student Government Association President Rebecca Hart, a member of the board, to commit to passing a resolution to retire the fee once it’s served its purpose. 

Comment

The company the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians formed earlier this year to purchase Caesar’s Southern Indiana Casino hopes to branch out its business interests, receiving approval from Tribal Council Dec. 9 to invest up to $12 million in gaming-related technologies and pursue construction of a sports betting bar on the tribe’s Exit 407 property  in Sevier County. 

Comment

Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, Tracy Swartout made some of her favorite childhood memories traveling the 469-mile ridge road known as the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since May, she’s been leading it as superintendent

Comment

Casinos in Cherokee and Murphy will be permanently smoke-free following a majority vote from Tribal Council Dec. 9, codifying a policy that’s been in place since the Coronavirus Pandemic spurred a temporary ban on lighting up indoors. 

Comment

Lewis Easton Cantwell, a Sylva resident facing charges related to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building, was expected to strike a plea deal during a virtual court hearing last week but instead announced a change in representation, along with a request to continue the case into 2022. 

Comment

Tribal Council voted Dec. 9 to support the Nikwasi Initiative’s  efforts to land $5 million in grant funds for a cultural corridor around the Nikwasi Mound in Franklin, but the precise details of the tribe’s involvement have yet to be determined. 

Comment

The statewide burn ban enacted Nov. 29 was lifted for 67 counties as of noon Wednesday, Dec. 8, due to rainfall touching much of the state in the early part of the week.

Comment

It was around 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 4, when Ken Brown’s phone started lighting up with photo texts depicting a massive sediment load dropping into the Oconaluftee River below Ela Dam, also known as the Bryson Hydroelectric Project. Within half an hour, he was standing on the riverbank. 

Comment

Sylva is slated to receive a total of $880,000 in American Rescue Plan funds, but the town has not yet made any decision as to how it will spend the money. 

Comment

A long-term care center, massive expansion to broadband access and direct payments to tribal members are some of the many uses the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians plans for the $117 million it will receive directly from the American Rescue Plan — with even more money likely to come from ARP-funded grants other agencies are in the process of awarding. 

Comment

Too often at the Center for Domestic Peace in Jackson County, a staff member picks up the phone to encounter a client who is trapped in an abusive relationship and ready to seek emergency housing. But then they learn the closest domestic violence shelter is in Franklin, and they back out. 

Comment

Open burning is banned in North Carolina until further notice as a wildfire rages at Pilot Mountain State Park near Winston-Salem. 

Comment

Western Carolina University leaders are celebrating passage of a state budget bill that funds every item on the university’s legislative agenda, including raises for faculty and staff and $35.5 million to renovate Moore Building, the oldest building on WCU’s campus. 

Comment

More than $3 million in the recently enacted state budget will help Sylva reopen Bryson Park, install long-discussed public bathrooms downtown and possibly assist with the expensive repairs the town faces on Allen Street. 

Comment

Western North Carolina will see a new state park, rail trail and miles of backcountry paths following Gov. Roy Cooper’s Nov. 18 signature on the first state’s first comprehensive budget law since 2018.

Comment

Western North Carolina will see a new state park, rail trail efforts and miles of backcountry paths following Gov. Roy Cooper’s Nov. 18 signature on the first state’s first comprehensive budget law since 2018. 

Comment

A restless autumn wind ripples through the valley, passing over green fields, across turned-up garden plots and through tall rows of dried corn stalks. Their raspy skeletons rustle in the breeze, which exits the field to send a few glimmering strands of gossamer sailing over the gravel path that leads past Kituwah Mound. 

Comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.