Ambulance service in Jackson County could more than double in cost to taxpayers if commissioners decide to fund the full $1.4 million budget requested by Harris Regional Hospital.
The interview process will soon begin in the search to replace Chuck Wooten, who will retire from his position as Jackson County manager on July 1. County commissioners are feeling good about the pool of applicants vying for the post.
When a report estimating cost and space needs for a new animal shelter came back with a staggering price tag — the report estimated a cost of $5.4 to $6.6 million — Jackson County commissioners had to catch a breath and start rethinking their planned timeline of capital construction.
Sylva’s leaders have known for a year that taxes would have to go up in 2016, but it’s unlikely any of them expected to be discussing a budget featuring a 41.7 percent tax rate increase.
Busy season is coming at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, and management there is working to get all hired up for summer.
Jackson County is on its way to becoming the trout capital of North Carolina after county leaders unveiled a plan last week that’s been in the works since last summer.
“Anything that we can do to encourage tourists to come to Jackson County we ought to try to do, and I think we already recognize that we have this remarkable resource in Jackson County — the public waterways. It’s already being utilized and is such a treasure in Jackson County,” said County Commission Chairman Brian McMahan, who spearheaded the effort with Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Director Julie Spiro. “It just makes sense to try to do what we can to further enhance it and to promote it.”
It was a chilly pre-spring day when Olivia Hickman ventured to the Waynesville Recreation Park, looking for nothing more than an hour or so of play with her 2-year-old son on the wooden jungle gym. But a dog lying on the outskirts of the area soon became the center of attention.
Harold “Catman” Sims grew up in a household full of dogs.
After a federal judge ruled that the Cherokee Bear Zoo isn’t breaking the law with its treatment of the grizzly bears in its care, the two Cherokee women who had sued the bear zoo in the first place are appealing the decision.
Cherokee’s Tribal Council was all business this month as members plowed through a list of 15 names proposed for banishment. There wasn’t much discussion, but there was uniformity of intent as councilmembers raised their hands, 15 times in a row, for 15 unanimous votes to forbid those named from ever stepping foot on tribal lands again.
The sleepy village of Forest Hills could look a good bit different over the coming years if a handful of development concepts under discussion come to fruition.
Western Carolina University’s well-liked leader Chancellor David Belcher has been diagnosed with a small brain tumor, he announced last week.
Sidewalk chalk was all anyone was talking about as campus woke up Thursday morning (April 21) at Western Carolina University. The chalk was everywhere, its biggest explosion around the fountain behind the A.K. Hinds University Center, colorful dust spelling out phrases running the gamut from “Build that wall” and “concealed carry saves” to “Hillary for prison,” and “blue lives matter.”
It started with a poster. Or, more accurately, with a collection of posters in the window of Western Carolina University’s Department of Intercultural Affairs. February is African-American History Month, and the display aimed to draw attention to the issue of police brutality, especially as it relates to race.
Some students took offense. In particular, a Facebook post by WCU student and campus EMS Chief Dalton Barrett went the Western North Carolina version of viral, drawing 81 shares and 58 comments.
Sylva’s leaders are applauding a plan to build a new apartment complex across the road from Harris Hospital as a step toward addressing the town’s long-standing shortage of housing that’s affordable to workers on the low end of the income scale.
When Jerry Parker walked by Judaculla Rock on March 26, he saw that some newer markings covered the rock’s millennia-old Cherokee carvings. A symbol written in white spray paint blazed the rock’s center, black paint circled a pair of round rises near the bottom, and sets of initials covered the beams of the boardwalk surrounding the historic site.
To get a taste of trail life on the A.T., I set out on Friday afternoon with a pack, a dog and a friend to find a shelter and some hikers and some firsthand trail experience.
It’s 4 p.m. on the Appalachian Trail, and while the sun will be awake for hours yet, “hiker midnight,” which strikes at 9 p.m., is drawing steadily nearer. A couple of hikers wander in from the trail, sighing as they slough their packs and plop down on the picnic table under the shelter roof, debating whether to press on toward the Walnut Mountain Shelter, 5 miles away, or stay here for the night.
A third hiker soon joins them. Nick Hyde, a New Zealander known on the trail as “Mountainear,” looks grateful for an excuse to shed his pack and rest his legs. He’s tired, he says, and very sore. It isn’t long before he, as well as the other two hikers — Khanh “Chicken Feet” Dung and Stan Walters — decide that this is as far as they’ll get tonight.
As Sylva’s leaders work toward a new budget for the new fiscal year, there’s one big question on everybody’s mind — how much will taxes increase?
A member of Cherokee’s Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise board is under investigation following a public uproar surrounding her alleged behavior at a Jennifer Nettles concert Feb. 6 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.
Days after a judge ruled that conditions at Cherokee Bear Zoo, while “not ideal,” fall within federal regulations, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians began to talk about legislation that would make the concrete, shadeless enclosures illegal under tribal law.
After two-and-a-half years of litigation, the verdict is in on the Cherokee Bear Zoo — the case is dismissed, and business may continue as usual at the controversial menagerie.
This year’s Crawfish Boil at Greening Up The Mountains will offer local brews to wash down the shellfish following a vote last week to start allowing alcohol at some special events in Sylva.
The lead-contaminated shooting range at Southwestern Community College in Webster is in for another round of testing after the state called for further sampling to determine levels of several other potentially toxic substances in the soil.
A family adventure park is not the only project in the works on the Qualla Boundary. In February, Tribal Council approved a resolution from Principal Chief Patrick Lambert to build a $13 million bowling facility adjacent to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.
After four years of hibernation, Cherokee’s plan to build a one-of-a-kind family adventure park is back on the table.
Alcohol could start showing up at some downtown Sylva events if town commissioners approve an ordinance slated for public comment on April 7.
For some people, spending free time cross-referencing town fee schedules would be as boring as watching paint dry. But for Tyler Watras, a sign painter by trade, watching paint dry isn’t so bad, and delving into the world of sign permit fees is more likely to induce passion than yawns.
Principal Chief Patrick Lambert bore the look of a man on a mission when he presented Tribal Council with a first look at results of an ongoing forensic audit on Tuesday. The results he held in hand may have been only preliminary, he told council, but they were disturbing enough that he’s already encouraged the FBI to start investigating.
Google the name of almost any trailhead in Western North Carolina, and you’re likely to come up with pages of links to a plethora of online mentions and trail descriptions aimed at helping readers do just the hike you’re looking for.
A new meaning for ‘study lounge’: WCU installs solar panel and hammock lounge combo with sustainability funds
When Earth Day rolls around this year, students at Western Carolina University will be able to celebrate with a bit of high-class hammocking, with the date marking completion of what’s been dubbed the Electron Garden on the Green — believed to be the nation’s first combination solar-generating facility and hammock hanging lounge on a college campus.
“We’re excited about it, and I think the students are pretty excited as well,” said Lauren Bishop, sustainability officer for WCU.
The future of the old furniture factory in Whittier has been through more than its share of twists and turns over the past year, but Jackson County now has an offer on the table from a group of farmers who want to turn it into a packing and agricultural resource facility.
While the Waynesville dog park’s temporary closure this week might have canines a little bit antsy, dog owners are rejoicing over the reason — a drainage project expected to spell an end to the post-rain sludge that’s been a reality for the well-used park.
Nearly a year after Jackson County passed zoning standards for Cullowhee, the ordinance is set to get ground-tested with the creation of the Cullowhee Planning Advisory Committee.
Leaking roofs, failing heating systems and broken pipes in Jackson County Schools will get some much-needed attention after commissioners voted unanimously to take the first steps toward borrowing as much as $10 million to fix them.
After being ousted from their jobs when the September elections brought a new Tribal Council and executive administration, the three people who had composed the Tribal Gaming Commission came before council last week hoping to convince councilmembers to give them their jobs back.
Take a drive around the mountain roads of Western North Carolina and it probably won’t be long before a tight curve spits you out alongside a yard decorated with a few rusty old vehicles here, some extraneous car parts there and a peppering of discarded tools for good measure.
When the state opened the doors for hydraulic fracturing — called “fracking” — in 2014, a flood of public opinion from the mountains told Raleigh that drilling would not be welcome in the western part of the state.
“So, are you here as a reporter or as a biker?” asked one of the 100-plus shorts-wearing, bike-bearing people converged on Tsali Trailhead last Friday.
The parking lot at Tsali Recreation Area was full of bikes Friday evening — more than 100 of them, strapped to the backs of sedans and SUVs, tied into beds of pickup trucks, license plates running the gamut from Florida to Virginia to Mississippi. Gears were spun, wheelies popped, hoorahs yelled as mountain bikes shot down the trail or gathered in a shiny metal line to await the start of the group ride.
SEE ALSO: Fake it till you make it
“I’m kinda excited,” said Rob Burgess, prepping his bike in the parking lot. “Tsali is one of the epic trails.”
It’s been a while since the old Mountain Credit Union building in Cherokee saw foot traffic from people looking to deposit checks or get financial advice, but its doors still swing open and closed with regularity — though for a much different purpose.
In the quest to replace the football field at Smoky Mountain High School in Sylva with artificial turf, Jackson County Schools is going public in the search for funds to finance its field of dreams.
Worming towards a better way: Composting project reduces waste, sparks young scientists in Jackson schools
When the bell rang for the end of school Friday afternoon, Jeff Vamvakias’ room at Cullowhee Valley Elementary emptied a lot less completely than is typical for a middle school on the edge of a weekend. Seven students — six of them eighth-graders, one sixth-grader — hung around after buses left, but they weren’t there for detention or make-up work or mandated study time.
They were there to talk about worms. Their worms.
By the time polls closed March 15, Kevin Corbin’s soles were feeling the pain from 12 hours of standing on pavement outside polling places in Robbinsville, Murphy and Hayesville.
After taking home 59 percent of the vote in last week’s election, Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City, is looking toward a November contest against incumbent Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, for the N.C. House District 119 seat.
Sylva’s town leaders spent a sunny Saturday indoors armed with pen, paper and heads full of ideas for bringing the small town toward a bright future. And while they may not have left the building with a perfect road map, the four-hour brainstorming session ended with some solid ideas for how to prepare Sylva for success.
Change is likely coming to the ordinance outlining preference rules for tribally owned businesses. The rules come into play when bidding contracts for everything from construction projects to office supplies.
There’s another kink in the knot surrounding the ill-fated R-5000 road project connecting N.C. 107 and N.C. 116 in Jackson County — a legal battle raging between DeVere Construction, the company originally hired to build the road, and its bonding company Liberty Mutual.
The mood was jovial as Western Carolina University’s Faculty Senate waited over cookies and coffee for their hour with Margaret Spellings to begin. Small talk and light jokes made the minutes before her arrival feel less gravity-laden than they really were.
The little storefront that serves as home base for Todd McDougall’s chiropractic office looks just about how you’d expect such an office to look — reception desk at the front, neutral walls and an exam room with padded table inside. But the smattering of framed mountain snowscapes on the wall of that exam room give a clue as to what “normal” looked like for McDougall before setting up shop in Waynesville.
“I would look back after those years, and I had climbed over 60 mountains over 20,000 feet,” McDougall said. “That was six times a year I was at 20,000 feet, and that’s kind of a lot.”