Holly Kays

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The Cherokee Tribal Council voted unanimously this month to allocate $15 million to Kituwah LLC as an equity investment from the tribe. 

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Shandra Sims will serve as the new register of deeds for Jackson County after being sworn in Thursday, Nov. 18. Her appointment was approved unanimously by Jackson County Commissioners. 

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A bridge replacement project underway in the Pigeon River Gorge will temporarily close a section of Interstate 40, but once completed it will make the highway a safer thoroughfare not only for vehicles, but for wildlife as well. 

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that it would withdraw its 2018 proposed red wolf management rule , which conservation groups decried as a “death sentence” for red wolves in the wild. 

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Nearly three years after a Sylva woman was found dead  in the Jackson County Detention Center, the county has agreed to pay $725,000 to settle the resulting wrongful death lawsuit. 

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If the proposed master plan is adopted, over the coming years the university will focus its development efforts on five districts described in the document. 

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At a board retreat this month, Western Carolina University trustees got their first look at a draft proposed 10-year master plan update that calls for a reimagined library, beefed-up athletic facilities, and overall improvements to campus organization and aesthetics. 

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Seth Alvo makes defying gravity look easy. Pushing off on his mountain bike, he gathers speed on a rolling portion of Berm Park’s double black diamond trail, careening around a curved berm until it joins a vertical wall. The bike lifts off the berm and, for just a moment, rolls perpendicular to the wooden boards before a solid landing again submits it to gravity’s rule. 

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In the space of two days last week, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians announced its biggest per capita distribution and approved a loan agreement for a $275 million expansion to the Valley River casino in Murphy. 

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Beating out two incumbent board members, Natalie Newman took the top spot in last week’s Sylva Board of Commissioners election

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As the September start date for Maranda Bradley’s long-planned bicycle ride along the Trail of Tears  approached, its carefully woven threads began to unravel, and Bradley’s nerves began to fray. 

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COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are continuing to fall to the lowest levels seen in months, but hospitals say that staffing shortages and increasingly acute presentations of non-COVID ailments are keeping them busy. 

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In a unanimous vote Oct. 11, Tribal Council approved a resolution that aims to drastically reduce the tribe’s carbon emissions over the coming years. 

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July 15 was a busy Thursday night at Bogart’s Restaurant  in Sylva. The dining room was full of people and conversation, the kitchen hopping. 

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The 2021-2025 Sylva Board of Commissioners will feature one new face, according to unofficial results from today’s municipal election.

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Combing through the dustiest tomes of park history, Great Smoky Mountains National Park researchers have since 2018 been working to elevate a plotline that so far has been relegated only to the smallest of small type — the history and contributions of African Americans within the park and in its outlying communities. 

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After extensive negotiation and revision, a bill aiming to steer North Carolina toward carbon neutrality by 2050 has been signed into law. 

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The housing crisis gripping the entire region hasn’t spared Sylva, and the town board hopes to partner with Jackson County to alleviate it. 

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During this month’s Annual Council sessions, Tribal Council’s structure and compensation loomed large in the discussion — and in the vote. 

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By the end of this year, a new championship-caliber disc golf course will debut on a wooded property along Raven Fork in Cherokee, right on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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Trail closures and food prohibitions are expected to remain in place on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville through the end of the week after a bear attack sent two people to the hospital last week. 

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After three years and $330 million, a new hotel tower and convention center is now open at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee. 

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The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians marked the start of a new Tribal Council term this week, with 2021 election winners sworn in and new officers selected Monday, Oct. 4. Through 2023, Big Cove Representative Richard French will serve as chairman and Birdtown Representative Albert Rose will serve as vice chairman.

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This November, Sylva voters will have their pick of four candidates to fill two seats up for election on the town board. Incumbents Mary Gelbaugh and Barbara Hamilton will face challengers Natalie Newman and Carrie McBane to earn the job of shepherding Jackson’s county seat through the next four years. 

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A black bear injured two people near the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville when it attacked on Wednesday, Sept. 29.

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On a sunny Saturday in September, tall grasses wave a fringe atop Max Patch, framing mountain layers fading from ripened green to hazy blue. Blooming heads of goldenrod and aster dot the slope, a brisk wind whisking autumn chill into the sun-warmed air. Slope and shrubbery combine to create pockets of privacy on the open bald, fostering an illusion of wilderness that’s broken only when the white-blazed trail brings two travelers together.

It’s a wholly different scene than the one that sprawled across the mountaintop just one year ago, when Asheville artist Mike Wurman flew his drone over the bald to capture what became a viral image of 130 tents blanketing a trampled-down Max Patch.

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Waynesville Middle School student Kate Clark is the winner of this year’s Haywood Waterways Association Kids in the Creek T-shirt design contest, meeting success at her first try entering an art contest.

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Patrick Brannon, outreach specialist at the Highlands Biological Station, has received the 2021 award for exceptional environmental education programs from the Environmental Educators of North Carolina.

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Due to the Delta variant’s continued impact on public health, the Outdoor Economy Conference originally scheduled for Oct. 12-15 has been postponed until April 2-7, 2022 — but other opportunities to connect with the outdoor community will be scheduled in the meantime.

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Chiseled by an Emmy- and Academy Award-winning artist, a 2,400-pound bronze piece depicting Harriet Tubman leading a young girl out of slavery is now installed at Bridge Park in Sylva. 

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In celebration of its 50th anniversary year in 2022, the Nantahala Outdoor Center has announced a schedule of international travel tours beginning in the spring.

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Mainspring Conservation Trust recently closed on an in-holding of the Nantahala National Forest Service in the Caney Fork Valley of Jackson County.

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Nearly $3 million in newly announced funding will support further development of the outdoor-driven community and economy in Western North Carolina. The project aims to generate 325 jobs and generate $18.1 million of new investment in the region’s outdoor economy.
The three-year project, managed by Mountain BizWorks and the Growing Outdoors Partnership, will rely on three core pillars to accomplish its goals.

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The number of new daily COVID-19 cases in North Carolina fell below 3,000 last week for the first time since Aug. 10 as the summer surge due to the Delta variant appears to be receding. 

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The 30th annual Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Chamber Challenge Golf Tournament drew 92 golfers to participate in 23 four-person teams on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

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The future of a three-star hotel project at the Sequoyah National Golf Club in Whittier is uncertain after Tribal Council voted unanimously Sept. 20 to withdraw a resolution requesting $3.5 million to pay Tribal Construction for site work on the property. 

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The Brevard-based business Black Folks Camp Too was recently given The President’s Award from America’s State Parks during the organization’s annual awards.

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When the Davidson River first hit flood stage on at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, it was a normal — albeit rainy — workday for employees at the Bobby N. Setzer Fish Hatchery and the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education in Brevard. But by 5:45 p.m. a river that had mere days ago flowed less than a foot deep peaked  at 14.19 feet, plunging the fish hatchery raceways under feet of water and leaving employees — as well as a volunteer and member of the public who had been at the education center — to scramble for higher ground. 

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Waves, water and mountain streams will be key design elements at Jackson County’s new indoor pool complex, commissioners heard during a Sept. 14 work session  with the company carrying out the $20 million project. 

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Two new changes to Sylva’s rules for downtown parking are now in effect following a pair of unanimous votes at the Sept. 9 town board meeting. 

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Enrollment, retention and freshman interest at Western Carolina University are all down this fall compared to last year, and university leaders are preparing to combat what they believe will be a lingering issue through the pandemic and beyond. 

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This year marked both the 16th birthday of the Benton MacKaye Trail and the 100th anniversary of its namesake’s flagship idea. Proponents of the trail want Congress to honor these milestones by designating the Benton MacKaye Trail as the nation’s 12th National Scenic Trail

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On the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 17, Rob Young was watching the rain fall. He watched it first through the windows of his office at Western Carolina University and then later at his home in Webster — and, continuously, on his computer screen, where ever-changing river depths were displayed through the state’s Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network, or FIMAN

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The $633 million budget Tribal Council approved Sept. 7 represents a return to growth, after a cautious 2020-2021  budget relied on just 50% of the previous year’s casino proceeds and clocked in 19.5% slimmer than the 2019-2020 document. 

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After nearly two hours of discussion, debate and even tears during its Thursday, Sept. 9 meeting , the Cherokee Tribal Council shot down an effort to change a law banning the licensing and solemnization of same-sex marriages on the Qualla Boundary. 

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For the first time since 2015, Western Carolina University has posted a fall enrollment figure lower than that of the previous year.

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Eric Romaniszyn had been Haywood Waterways Association’s project manager for less than six months when the legendary floods  of September 2004 tore through Clyde and Canton, challenging him to execute his new role addressing watershed health and education in the face of a once-in-a-lifetime weather event. 

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Bernadette Peters arrived in Western North Carolina in 2011 as a novice in the world of food service and an outsider to the tight-knit Sylva community. 

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Until 2016, then-Chancellor David O. Belcher spent much of his time and energy as leader of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee telling anyone who would listen that WCU’s future was in danger. Specifically, the future of its engineering, science and nursing programs. 

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Tribal Council passed a 2021-2022 budget today that incorporates recommended salary increases for employees, board members and elected officials following the results of a compensation analysis from the consulting firm REDW.

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