SMN staff

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Check out Winter Lights at the N.C. Arboretum in Asheville with a group leaving from the Waynesville Recreation Department at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12. 

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Newly released economic data measuring the outdoor recreation industry’s impact on the U.S. economy shows that, despite ongoing economic challenges, the industry continues to be a powerful driver in North Carolina. 

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Registration opens Dec. 1 for a program offering discounted rates to ski and snowboard Cataloochee Ski Area on Friday nights this season. 

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A visual exploration of the Blue Ridge Bartram Trail will be on display through Jan. 6, 2024, at The Bascom in Highlands. 

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Work has started on a new 3-mile trail near Old Fort. 

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Ride the trails with an experienced mountain bike instructor at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at Chestnut Mountain Nature Park in Canton. 

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After canvassing, the vote count is official, with Brad Waldrop, Mark Jones and Blitz Estridge winning seats on the Sylva Town Council, in addition to incoming Mayor Johnny Phillips. 

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Lakeview Drive in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City is now open, but rehabilitation work on the road is still ongoing. 

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Old Saint Nick will visit Chimney Rock State Park in Rutherford County Saturdays, Dec. 2 and 9, for the 26th year running to practice his chimney-climbing game on the iconic rock as Christmas festivities abound. 

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The No Man’s Land Film Festival, the premier all-woman adventure film festival, will screen at New Belgium Brewing’s Liquid Center in Asheville at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, and it will also stream online. 

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More than 67,000 pounds of trout will be stocked in the mountain and piedmont regions of North Carolina between Nov. 29 and Dec. 21, including locations in Jackson, Macon, Buncombe and Transylvania counties. 

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North Carolinians continue to breathe the cleanest air in decades as emissions of harmful air pollutants like nitrogen oxides and particulate matter reach historic lows, according to the latest update of the “Air Quality Trends in North Carolina” report published by the N.C. Division of Air Quality. 

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Celebrate the Pigeon River Watershed during Haywood Waterways Association’s annual membership meeting and holiday dinner 6-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska. 

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The committee responsible for advising on U.S. Forest Service recreation fees is looking for new members. 

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Through Nov. 28 agricultural employers can apply for grants through a pilot program designed to improve the resilience of the food and agricultural supply chain by addressing workforce challenges farmers and ranchers face.

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Meet Santa at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Swain County at one of three events coming up next month. 

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During the month of November, military members and veterans can receive a discount on tree seedling orders from the N.C. Forest Service. 

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The Nantahala Hiking Club will recognize outstanding volunteers during its annual awards banquet 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at First Presbyterian Church in Franklin. 

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A turkey shoot will be held 9 a.m. Saturdays at the American Legion in Waynesville, continuing weekly through mid-April 2024. 

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Incumbent Alderman Dann Jesse will return to the Town of Clyde Board of Aldermen, along with a new face, Amy Russell. 

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Work will start soon to add an acceleration lane from Interstate 40 East to U.S. 74A for $1.3 million. 

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Environmental groups working to improve water quality in Haywood, Buncombe and Madison counties recently received 10 grants totaling $285,190 from The Pigeon River Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. 

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The Sandy Mush Game Lands in Buncombe and Madison counties are now 67 acres larger after the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy helped the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission acquire the property.

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After closing it four years ago, the U.S. Forest Service has decided to decommission and remove the Overmountain Shelter, located on the Appalachian Trail near Roan Mountain. 

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is looking for volunteers to expand its Elk Volunteer-in-Park Program in 2024. 

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A recently completed study on microplastics in Western North Carolina has revealed that even remote headwater streams are impacted, as a large percentage of microplastics in waters tested came from atmospheric deposition. 

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A newly released book from the Great Smoky Mountains Association compiles written accounts from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s archives spanning more than 230 years. 

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The Maggie Valley Sanitary District again earned top marks for water quality from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, one of 15 facilities to be recognized with the “Gold Star” honor for systems that have received an award for exceeding drinking water standards for 10 or more consecutive years. 

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Dubbed ‘Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition,’ Winter Lights opens Friday, Nov. 17, with the brilliant display open daily 6-10 p.m. through Sunday, Dec. 31, at the N.C. Arboretum. 

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The growing season is winding down, but Haywood County Master Gardeners are still available to answer questions about all manner of plant-related issues. 

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Earn your place as a cornhole champion during a tournament at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Cullowhee Recreation Center in Cullowhee. 

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Haywood County is home to a slew of state medalists in this year’s North Carolina Senior Games. 

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A Haywood County jury found a former jailer-turned-security guard guilty of strangling, raping and assaulting his then-wife. 

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A bartender has been criminally charged following a single-vehicle collision in Macon County. 

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The campground at Gorges State Park in Transylvania County is closed through Nov. 16 after a bear attacked an RV last week. 

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Prescribed burns on about 1,200 acres of fields in Cades Cove are taking place this fall. 

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A burn ban has been issued for 14 Western North Carolina counties in the face of expanding drought following the state’s 10th-driest October since records began in 1895. 

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is moving ahead with significant changes to the Laurel Falls Trail intended to improve visitor experience at the popular site, with an 18-month closure to start next year.

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Mainspring Conservation Trust has received $175,000 to clean up and restore a brownfield site near Nikwasi Mound in Franklin. The money will help Mainspring remediate petroleum-contaminated soils on a vacant gravel lot in downtown Franklin.

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Residents in the furthest west counties may see smoke over the coming months as the Cherokee National Forest carries out prescribed burns on an estimated 18,500 acres in Monroe and Polk counties, Tennessee, which abut Graham and Cherokee counties in North Carolina.

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A former Haywood Country resident who now lives in Virginia was arrested after she allegedly kidnapped three of her children on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 6.

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Haywood County’s three Rotary Clubs collected non-perishable food on Sept. 30 at the Canton and Waynesville Ingles locations.

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The Governor’s Highway Safety Program identified the seven western counties as a pilot region to test new strategies to curb drunk driving.

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The Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation has awarded 14 grants totaling over $1.4 million in the 2023 grant cycle.

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Vaya Health unveiled the latest addition to its “Pathways to Permanency” program.

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Through Nov. 18, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is accepting comments on a proposal to add 9 new miles to the Foothills Parkway, extending it from Wears Valley to the spur near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

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Crews are now working to reconstruct the viewing platform atop Mount Pisgah in the Pisgah National Forest, a project that is expected to take about two weeks to finish.

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A 4-mile hike exploring the Waynesville Watershed will embark at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7.

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The Panther Top Tower in the Nantahala National Forest near Murphy will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 4-5, offering spectacular views of fall colors in the surrounding mountains.

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Spend November exploring some of the region’s most beautiful hikes with a slate of excursions offered through Haywood County Recreation and Parks.

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