Holly Kays

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UU Upholding a veto from Principal Chief Richard Sneed, on May 4 the Cherokee Tribal Council reversed an April decision  that allocated $64 million to the tribe’s medical cannabis business. In his veto letter, Sneed expressed concern  that the funding decision could jeopardize the tribe’s casino business and called for a “full accounting” of the $31 million already provided before giving the enterprise more money.

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M M  at his motel in Cherokee, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch has announced that the South Carolina resident who pulled the trigger will not face criminal charges. The man fired in self-defense after Wilson brandished a handgun, the investigation found.

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The fourth annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relative Walk and Vigil held in Cherokee Friday, May 5, aimed to do more than raise awareness for the ongoing epidemic of violence against indigenous people , especially women and girls — it was a call to action. 

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Each May, Crabtree couple invites the public to drink in field of blooms 

Ricardo Fernandez Battini and his wife Suzanne Fernandez spent a stormy night in September 2004 holed up in their home along the Pigeon River in Crabtree, listening. Hurricane Ivan was dumping buckets on soil already saturated from Hurricane Frances’ arrival the week before, and the river was angry. 

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Following a veto from Principal Chief Richard Sneed, the Cherokee Tribal Council today reversed an April decision that allocated $64 million to the tribe’s medical cannabis business. In his veto letter, Sneed expressed concern that the funding decision could jeopardize the tribe’s casino business and called for a “full accounting” of the $31 million already provided before giving the enterprise more money.

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AA proposed constitution for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is facing opposition from the EBCI Attorney General’s Office following Tribal Council’s unanimous vote April 6 to place it on the ballot for referendum this September.

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Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust welcomes new director

 For the first time in its 114-year history, the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust is saying goodbye to a full-time executive director and welcoming a new one. Gary Wein, who was hired as HCLT’s first full-time employee in 2006, is retiring after nearly 17 years of service. Lance Hardin, who previously served as the organization’s finance and development associate, took over Wein’s old job May 1. 

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Update: 4:47 p.m. Wednesday, May 3

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has reduced the scale of the search for Tampa resident Gordon Kaye, who was reported missing April 26 and last seen April 23 near a backcountry campsite in the Deep Creek area of the park near Bryson City.

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II I don’t own a bathroom scale, which means I had no way of measuring the exact weight of the rust-colored pack I strapped on my back before climbing from the base of Max Patch April 13. And that was fine, because I was just there for a quick overnight — 2.5 miles in to the Roaring Fork Shelter on the Appalachian Trail that afternoon, then 2.5 miles out the next morning.

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Six candidates are hoping to earn one of two seats up for election in this year’s race for Painttown Tribal Council, offering voters a diverse set of education, experience and policy priorities.  

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F Following more than an hour of discussion capping off months of debate, the Cherokee Tribal Council voted April 6 to fully fund its cannabis enterprise’s eight-figure startup funding request.

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More than $1 million in purses was awarded and thousands of fans attended the first races resulting from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ quarterhorse racing venture in Kentucky.

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Mainspring Conservation Trust will celebrate Arbor Day weekend with a slate of events ranging from a foraging walk to a greenway workday.

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Discover Life in America, a nonprofit dedicated to learning as much as possible about the diverse species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, turns 25 on April 22 — which, fittingly, is also Earth Day.

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The Blue Ridge Parkway has received the 2023 Byway Organization Award for Viewshed Improvement from the National Scenic Byway Foundation in recognition of the massive conservation project at Waterrock Knob that will transfer more than 5,200 acres into National Park Service ownership.

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New detections of Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal ailment affecting cervids like deer and elk, have been reported in Cumberland and Wilkes counties, spurring N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Cameron Ingram to invoke emergency powers.

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A grand opening celebration for the Barbara McRae Cherokee Heritage Apple Orchard will be held 4-6 p.m. Friday, April 28, in Franklin.

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KK Kituwah LLC broke ground Tuesday, April 11, on a new entertainment district within its 200-acre property off Interstate 40 in Sevier County.

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Tears, hugs and applause exploded through the Tribal Council chambers April 6 when the body unanimously passed a resolution placing a tribal constitution on the ballot for the Sept. 7 General Election.

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I In response to a new requirement from the UNC Board of Governors, Western Carolina University has adopted its first-ever All Funds Budget Forecast — a document that, despite the name, is not a budget, said Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Mike Byers.

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A An autopsy report released by the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled the death of beloved Swain County educator Lambert Wilson  a homicide caused by gunshot wounds to the neck, arms, chest and abdomen. It also reports a significant concentration of alcohol in his aortic blood.

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The U.S. Forest Service will invest nearly $1.4 million in wildfire protection projects across the state as part of the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program.

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Run the first ever Farm Fresh 5K at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 29, in Waynesville, supporting Haywood Christian Ministry.

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Some areas of the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are now open for the first time since February.

Greenbrier Road opened as far as the ranger station April 7, allowing access to Old Settlers Trail and Grapeyard Ridge Trail with some roadwalking to the trailheads.

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The N.C. Science Trail, a year-round digital guidebook to North Carolina’s science adventures, launched this month.

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Spots are still available in the fifth annual Fire Mountain Inferno mountain biking event in Cherokee on April 22-23.

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Nantahala Outdoor Center will kick off its 2023 season with the annual Spring Fling Celebration Saturday, April 22, at the NOC property in Swain County.

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Celebrate Earth Day noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at Highlands Nature Center in Highlands.

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D During its April 6 meeting, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council unanimously approved an ordinance change  exempting police car and body cam videos from the tribe’s public records law. The vote comes on the heels of a Dec. 13, 2022, Cherokee Indian Police Department SWAT response  in which officers fired at Murphy resident Jason Harley Kloepfer after he opened the door to his home with his hands held above his head, according to a home security video Kloepfer posted Jan. 18.

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OO Over the next two years, Haywood Waterways Association will implement a $2 million grant aimed at protecting Canton, Clyde and Cruso when the next flood comes. The grant is by far the largest in Haywood Waterways’ 25-year history.

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Go birding

Join birding expert Howard Browers at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, April 6, on the Waynesville Greenway to look for returning songbirds. Loaner binoculars are available. Sign up at haywoodcountync.gov/recreation .

Spur Tunnel reopens for Easter week

The Spur Tunnel in Sevier County, Tennessee, will be open to two lanes April 7-16 in anticipation of high demand the week of Easter. It will return to one lane April 7 through the end of the month as contractors finish installing new lights and pavement striping. The tunnel is expected to fully reopen by the end of April.

Waynesville playground closed for repairs

The all-abilities playground in the Waynesville Recreation Park will be closed for about three weeks for drainage repairs. The playground will reopen to the public as soon as repairs are finished. For more information contact 828.456.2030 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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A new book by Jim Costa, executive director of Western Carolina University’s Highlands Biological Station, showcases the life of a Victorian-era scientist who was arguably just as important as Charles Darwin.

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A lecture series focusing on foraging will extend through May at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee.

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Due to increased demand leading to frequent busy signals and long hold times, overnight permits for the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area will now be available online rather than through the Grandfather Ranger District Office.

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Friends of Panthertown is hosting a series of trail work days and guided hikes this month.

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The annual Tuck River Cleanup will commence on Saturday, April 15, inviting hundreds of volunteers to raft or walk 20 miles of the Tuckasegee River between Cullowhee and Whittier in search of litter.

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Learn how to indulge your love of gardening despite age or mobility level during a two-hour program at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, at the Haywood County Cooperative Extension Office on Raccoon Road in Waynesville.

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Learn about soils and composting at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 8, at Bicentennial Park in Sylva.

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During the wildflower season at Whiteoak Sink in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which extends through Sunday, May 7, visitors will be limited to groups of eight or fewer people.

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The Strawberry Jam Half Marathon/5K will return for its second year Saturday, May 20, in Bryson City. The half marathon will start at 7 a.m. and the 5K at 7:15 a.m.

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Mainspring Conservation Trust has purchased two new properties that will add to ongoing conservation projects in Macon and Jackson counties.

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The N.C. House of Representatives has filed a budget bill that includes $5 million for infrastructure to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions across the state, earning applause from the Safe Passage Fund Coalition.

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T The U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee’s Native American Issues Subcommittee is meeting in Cherokee this week, bringing together leaders from across the country to spend three days discussing issues that are important to both the Department of Justice and Native American tribes.

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This story has been updated from the original version published Wednesday, March 29, to include reporting from additional public records related to Sheriff Dustin Smith's whereabouts the night of the shooting and a proposed law in Cherokee that would exempt police body cameras from the tribe's public records law.

As the State Bureau of Investigation continues its probe into the Dec. 13, 2022, police shooting that severely wounded Murphy resident Jason Harley Kloepfer, District Attorney Ashley Welch is seeking to recuse herself from handling the fallout — because statements members of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office made to Welch and one of her assistant district attorneys mean they are now witnesses in the investigation.

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When Katelynn Ledford McCoy stood in front of her Cherokee High School classmates in June 2009, the class valedictorian was so high that, later, she wouldn’t be able to recall a word she said in that long-awaited speech.

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In a divided vote Thursday, March 2, the Cherokee Tribal Council appropriated $275,000 to buy out the lease of a Painttown Road business, paving the way for a future mixed-use development.

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Pactiv Evergreen has received a notice of violation from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality after a water quality measurement taken Sept. 20, 2022, came in nearly 50% over the limit.

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