Holly Kays

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On July 21, 2015, Cherokee resident John Michael Arkansas was convicted of violating a domestic violence protective order. He received a year of probation and $1,600 in fines and restitution, with a 75-day sentence hanging over his head should he violate the terms.

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Josh Taylor is seven months into his job as chief of the Cherokee Indian Police Department. Asked how it’s going, he pauses, clasps his hands together atop the table, and leans forward.

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A requested athletic fee increase at Western Carolina University met approval from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors at its Feb. 24 meeting, but this month WCU trustees passed a resolution pledging that increase would stick around only as long as the debt for the projects it seeks to support.

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Sylva Fire Department is requesting funding from Jackson County for the salary of additional paid personnel in the split paid, volunteer fire department. At a March 10 commissioners meeting, Sylva fire chief Mike Beck made his case.

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Just six months after Cherokee voters said yes in a referendum election , a liquor store is open on the Qualla Boundary — making the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians the first tribe in the country to have one.

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In mid-November 2021, a group of friends was passing the evening gathered around a campfire at Lake Keowee, South Carolina, when the conversation turned to plastic, its tragic overabundance in the world, and how a small group of people might address the issue at home in Western North Carolina.

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A Cherokee man was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder by a federal jury. Shane McKinley Swimmer, 22, will also have to serve eight years of supervised probation following his release from 365 months in prison. 

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As the labor shortage at Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos continues to worsen, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is considering dormitory-style employee housing that would allow it to bring in foreign workers on temporary H2B visas to support its cash cow.

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Following November’s passage of the “best budget in a decade” for the University of North Carolina System, Western Carolina University has a clean slate for a new wish list. Chancellor Kelli R. Brown presented trustees with the highlights March 4 — an expanded engineering program, salary increases for employees and merit scholarships for in-state students.

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A Cherokee man was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder by a federal jury. Shane McKinley Swimmer, 22, will also have to serve eight years of supervised probation following his release from 365 months in prison.

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A Cherokee man is being held without bond after allegedly shooting two people outside McDonald’s in Cherokee on Friday, Feb. 25. 

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In a unanimous vote Feb. 24, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission approved a controversial rule change  that will rename the state’s 22 designated bear sanctuaries to “designated bear management units” and allow bear hunting in three of them.

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Carmaleta Littlejohn Monteith has taken countless flights to innumerable destinations during her 86 years on Earth, so she no longer recalls exactly what year it was when she found herself on a flight to Los Angeles making what would later prove to be memorable small talk with the man who settled into the seat beside her.

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In a campuswide email sent this afternoon, Western Carolina University announced that its mask mandate will expire on Saturday, Feb. 26, due to declining COVID-19 metrics on campus and in the surrounding community.

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

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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.

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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. 

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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

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