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A Buncombe County man pleaded guilty April 6 to two counts of first-degree statutory sexual offense and four counts of indecent liberties with a child, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.


More than 16 months after animal cruelty allegations were filed against Haywood resident James Lunsford, justice has finally been served. 


Students enrolled in Haywood County Schools’ exceptional children’s program will soon have a new home at no taxpayer expense. 


By Theresa Ramsey • Guest writer | The Women’s History Trail project of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County adopted an activity in 2018 that continues each March as a part of Women’s History Month. 

This annual celebratory event honors a special “WHT Macon Matriarch” and her role as trailblazer to help shape a better future for Macon County.


Western Carolina University’s regional COVID-19 vaccine clinic will deliver its 10,000th vaccine to a student around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7. 


Western Carolina University’s Special and Digital Collections at Hunter Library has digitized a collection of interviews conducted between 1986-1989 with Black residents from Western North Carolina, all of whom were older than 69 at the time. 


“To date, over 18,000 people in Haywood County are at least partially vaccinated. Mass vaccination efforts have been running smoothly, despite challenges with weather, location changes, and the sheer volume of the task. From the moment of the first vaccine arrival in Haywood County to now, the goal has always been to vaccinate everyone that wants to be in a timely and efficient way. To that end, we are constantly refining the process and this week we are pleased to announce a change that we believe will make appointment scheduling even easier moving forward,” said Haywood County Vaccine Coordinator Garron Bradish.

In an effort to increase efficiency and improve the user experience Haywood County will transition from its current COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system to a system by which citizens can self-schedule for available vaccine appointments beginning April 14.


Transition to self-scheduling —

What’s New:

  • Beginning April 14 citizens visiting the existing pre-registration portal ( will now be able to schedule their own vaccine appointment from available dates and times. No more registering and waiting for a phone call.

  • During the transition period, a limited amount of self-schedule appointment times will be available. That number will steadily increase as we finish vaccinating people who were pre-registered prior to the new system implementation.

What stays the same:

  • The website address for vaccine appointments will remain the same as it has been:  Visitors to this link will see the new portal instead of the pre-registration form beginning April 14, until that date, citizens can still use the existing form to pre-register.

  • Haywood County will continue to prioritize appointments for those on the existing pre-registration list, based on registration date until that list is completed.

  • Those needing assistance with scheduling their vaccine appointment or follow-up questions about vaccine appointments are encouraged to call the Haywood County COVID Vaccine hotline at 828-356-2019.

  • The primary vaccination site will remain at the Smoky Mountain Event Center, with the exception of the week of April 5 when we will furlough for Spring Break.

Important to know: 

  • Citizens are urged NOT to double register. If you already pre-registered prior to April 14, DO NOT use the self-scheduling portal to book an appointment. Health and Human Services already have your registration and you will receive a call to schedule your appointment time in the order in which registrations were received. Those on the pre-registration list will be prioritized during the transition period that is expected to last a few weeks.


Where to find COVID-19 vaccine information:

  • For vaccine appointment or registration questions call: 828-356-2019

  • Please do not call the health department’s main number for COVID-19 vaccination questions, use the hotline number instead.

  • For general COVID-19 information visit

Vaccinations by the numbers:

Total first shots given so far: 18,041* 

*This figure now includes federal vaccination programs through pharmacies.

First shots given this week at Haywood County drive-through events: 800+


Currently vaccinating: 

  • Haywood residents of all eligible groups (1-4)


Currently registering: Haywood Residents 18 and up

To register online visit:

or by phone at 828-356-2019 (hours of operation for the phone line are Monday - Friday 8 a.m - 5 pm..) 


Vaccination groups completed:

  • Long term care facility residents and staff

  • Hospital and doctor’s office staff

  • Health Department, Emergency Services, and Vaccine Clinic staff

  • County and municipal critical staff

  • Haywood residents ages 75+

  • Haywood residents 65+


Vaccination groups nearing completion:

  • Haywood County educators


What to know for Group 3 & 4 in Haywood County —

  • Vaccination eligibility is open to everyone in Groups 3 & 4. Appointments will still be required.


Vaccination capacity: The county expects to receive an allotment of 400 Moderna doses this coming week. Since Haywood County will not have its mass vaccination clinic during the week of Spring Break, that allotment will be transferred to Range Urgent Care in Asheville under a vaccine exchange program to supply vaccines to providers best able to distribute them in a timely manner. 


Haywood County is also receiving 400 doses of Johnson & Johnson, which will be used throughout April at mobile clinics.


Accepting First Dose Appointment: 

  • Time and location details for first dose appointments go out through an automated phone/text/email system. Listen carefully for appointment location and time.

  • Do not accept the appointment for the initial dose if you cannot commit to being available on the day your second dose should be given. Second doses are due 21 days or 28 days after the first dose, depending on the vaccine given, which we will not know until the day of the clinic. If you plan to be out of town or having a scheduled surgery or some other conflict you should wait and not start the vaccine until you can receive all doses here in Haywood County, on time.

  • If you decline an appointment, your name remains on the list to be called for a future first dose clinic. You do not have to register again.


Second dose information:

  • Over 800 people received second doses this week, completing their COVID-19 vaccination regimen. For most people, full immunity potential is reached about two weeks after receiving the second dose. For J&J vaccine, the full benefit is reached 4 weeks after the single dose. It is important to continue wearing masks and following other COVID protocols even after immunity is reached.

  • Second doses are allocated separately dependent on the number of first doses given. So far, second dose allocations appear to be arriving right on schedule and we anticipate no issues here.

  • The second appointment dates for Moderna are due 28 days after the initial dose. Appointments for Pfizer are due 21 days after the initial dose. (If you have been vaccinated already, your second appointment date can be found on the back of your vaccine card.)

  • Time and location details for second appointments will go out via the same phone system through which you received your first appointment. 


Organizations dispensing vaccine*:

  • Haywood County Health and Human Services 

  • Haywood Regional Medical Center (partnering with HHSA for distribution)

  • Blue Ridge Community Health: 100 doses per week

  • Walgreens: 100 doses per location per week

  • Ingles: Canton


*All organizations are offering vaccinations by appointment only.


Mass Vaccination Clinics:

  • Haywood County Health and Human Services, Haywood County Emergency Services, and Haywood Regional Medical Center are partnering on the weekly vaccine clinics.

  • The clinics serve those on the pre-registry list who have been contacted with an appointment time and are NOT open to the public or to walk-ins. 

  • Instructions on how to participate will be given when appointment times are scheduled.

  • About 800 people received their first shots at mass clinic events this week in Haywood.

  • Huge thanks to all the volunteers, churches, and individuals who contribute to the success of these events. 


To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and the prioritization goals visit:


At each step of the way,  Haywood County Health and Human Services is committed to providing updates and guidance to make sure that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will have their chance.


Key Points about the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • The vaccine is tested, safe, and effective

  • You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine

  • The vaccine will be provided free of charge to everyone that wants it.

  • For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, two doses are needed for maximum immunity.

  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.

  • There is no vaccine mandate.

  • Continuing the 3Ws will be critical until the vaccine is widely taken


Summary of Key Updates this week:

  • There will be no mass vaccination event next week due to Spring Break.

  • In an effort to increase efficiency and improve the user experience Haywood County will transition from its current COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system to a system by which citizens can self-schedule for available vaccine appointments beginning April 14.

  • The Haywood County mass vaccination appointments will continue to be located at the Smoky Mountain Event Center (fairgrounds).


Just as it was about to expire at the end of March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an extension of the national ban that temporarily halts evictions for millions of renters. The new order extends the moratorium to June 30, 2021. An estimated 435,000 North Carolinians are currently behind on their rent.

The order requires that renters meet certain criteria, including:

  • Have an income of $198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or up to $99,000 for individuals.
  • Show they have sought government assistance to pay their rent.
  • Declare they are unable to pay rent because of COVID-19.
  • Affirm they are likely to become homeless or will be forced to stay with friends or family if they are evicted.
  • Show they have lost income.

Renters must fill out and submit a copy of the CDC declaration form – available at local courthouses and also Renters should submit the form in English to their landlords or to their local court. Pisgah Legal advises keeping another dated copy as well.

Pisgah Legal Services Executive Director Jim Barrett says, “This is very good news for many folks across the country and those right here in our mountain region. Federal relief is on its way, and we hope this extension will allow for the time that is needed to get these funds to those who are worried about losing their homes.”

He continued, “In the meantime, we encourage people to fill out the CDC form and work with their landlords to pay what they can because the moratorium does not mean that rent is forgiven. And if they have questions or need additional help to contact Pisgah Legal Services.”  

In addition to the moratorium, renters should also know these basic rights:

  1. A tenant cannot be made to move from a rental home without a court order.  Tenants have a right to appear in court and defend themselves. Any attempt made to remove a tenant by anyone or any means except the Sheriff’s Department is illegal.  
  2. In most cases, landlords cannot legally terminate a tenant’s electricity, water, or heat source as a method of forcing them to leave a rental unit.  
  3. Do not move out without talking to an attorney. Tenants may have rights and defenses that they do not know about.  There may be financial resources available tenants are unaware of.  Even if a tenant is behind in rent, do not move out without finding out your options. Eviction actions can happen quickly without an attorney, and they can be slowed down to prevent homelessness with the aid of an attorney.

Pisgah Legal Services, a nonprofit that provides free civil legal aid in Western North Carolina, continues to assist people with low incomes. Staff and volunteer attorneys are helping clients and taking new applications for assistance with critical needs that include:

  • evictions and foreclosures
  • domestic violence
  • coping with debts and avoiding scams
  • unemployment and other government benefits 
  • and health care.

Need Help?
If you or someone you know needs help, call Pisgah Legal’s main phone lines at 828-253-0406, or 800-489-6144. Online applications are also being accepted: Pisgah Legal staff and volunteer attorneys continue to work remotely and will be in touch via phone and/or email.  

About Pisgah Legal Services
Since 1978, nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services has provided free civil legal aid to help people with low incomes seek justice and meet their basic needs. Pisgah Legal provides a broad array of legal services in 11 WNC counties and offers health and immigration law services in 18 counties. Last year PLS served more than 20,000 people across the mountain region.

PLS has offices in Asheville, Burnsville, Brevard, Hendersonville, Highlands/Cashiers, Marshall, Newland, and Rutherfordton. In addition to the attorneys on staff, Pisgah Legal relies heavily on the pro bono legal services of approximately 300 volunteer attorneys.

Want to Help Others?

You can aid this important work. Giving online is fast, easy and secure at or contact Development Director Ally Wilson by phone at 828-210-3444 or via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Checks may be mailed to P.O. Box 2276, Asheville, N.C.  28802


The International Friendship Center, the Community Care Clinic of Highlands-Cashiers and Vecinos have hosted six weekly Latino COVID-19 vaccine clinics since mid-February, providing vaccines to several hundred of our Latinx neighbors, and plan more clinics in the coming weeks.


Easter Celebrations

Chronic stress can cause depression, anxiety, insomnia headaches and other symptoms that affect our health. During Stress Awareness Month in April, HopeWay – an accredited nonprofit mental health residential and day treatment center for adults – is offering helpful tips to reduce and manage stress.

By Heather Nation

Editor’s note: In recognizing World Autism Awareness Day April 2, we typically think of parents’ stories of challenges and triumphs after their child is diagnosed. But when Heather reached out to me with her story, it resonated and I wanted to share it with other women.

Q: What are some “keto-friendly” foods that Ingles sells? 

The farmers market in Bryson City is growing, with Swain County Cooperative Extension and the Swain County Tourism Development Authority collaborating to plan an expanded and enhanced market this season. 


A six-part podcast mini-series exploring the intersection of Black history and Southern Appalachian music through the Great Smoky Mountains Association is now launching. 

“Sepia Tones: Exploring Black Appalachian Music” is hosted by Dr. William Turner and Ted Olson, surveying the many Black roots and branches of Southern Appalachian music by sharing research, listening to recordings and interviewing contemporary Black musicians and experts in music history. 


The Great Smoky Mountains National Park hopes to help visitors experience the Smokies story in a new way thanks to a partnership with the University of Tennessee Extension Institute of Agriculture and the Great Smoky Mountains Association.


A delay in supplies for the Ramsey Prong Bridge replacement project is causing an extended closure for Ramsey Prong Road and Greenbrier Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 


The first-ever drive-thru Winter Lights experience at the N.C. Arboretum brought record numbers of people to see the bright holiday display, though the event netted fewer proceeds than previous years that used the traditional walking format. 


Bob Clark • Guest Columnist | The request to the Haywood County commissioners from the Sheriff’s Department for $15 million to expand the county jail helped create a great opportunity for the commissioners. That opportunity arose when a significant, broad-based and factual public response was made questioning whether some of that money wouldn’t be better spent to help people stay out of jail as well as out of our clogged court system.


By Dr. J. Scott Hinkle • Guest Columnist | The COVID-19 crisis is winding down. This time last year we were thrust into panic, social distancing, masking, and hopelessness. Today, another crisis is revealed, namely mental health problems that will be felt for years after the pandemic is over. Many people are experiencing anxiety, depression, loneliness and isolation.


To the Editor:

I’m beginning to understand what Benjamin Franklin meant when encountering a woman on the street following the constitutional convention. “Mr. Franklin, what have you bequeathed us?”  His reply: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”


To the Editor:

I have often been critical of our educational system for being more enamored of trendy fashions than common sense. Except for specialized fields, a degree from a university may be a net negative for a student. The higher up the prestige ladder one goes, the more this applies.


A new grant from the Center for Craft is supporting an effort to share traditional metal working techniques with the western North Carolina community. 


Downtown Waynesville Association Executive Director Buffy Phillips has apparently told members of the DWA executive board that she plans to resign when a replacement can be hired, according to a report in The Mountaineer newspaper.


Mountain Pediatric Group’s Canton location, temporarily closed during the pandemic, has now reopened and is accepting new patients. 


By Sally Kestin | Asheville Watchdog

They taught students in school, delivered the mail, advised Congress, and served the country in wartime and peace.

One led public affairs for NASA and became the voice of launch control for Apollo space missions. Another was a composer and pianist who played in the original Mickey Mouse Orchestra.


Key Updates:

  • Haywood County has opened vaccination to all groups eligible under North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidelines. Groups currently eligible are Group 1: Health Care Workers, Group 2: Older Adults, Group 3: Frontline Essential Workers, Educators, Group 4: Individuals with higher risk medical conditions. Pre-registration and appointments will still be required.
  • The Haywood County mass vaccination site will be at the Smoky Mountain Event Center (Fairgrounds) next week.


Macon County Public Health received notification that two Macon County residents diagnosed with COVID-19 have passed away.


SYLVA – Just one short phase remains before a major bridge project in Jackson County is functionally complete.


A major milestone has been reached in the planning phase of a project to improve Corridor K in Graham County.


Q: I am looking for recipes to share with seniors through the community center, do you have any suggestions? 

To the Editor:

As a member of the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community in Jackson County, the attack in Atlanta on the Asian American community was shocking and heart breaking, but not really surprising. Violence against Asian Americans has increased by 150% in 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic with more than 2800 hate incidents recorded by the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate.


To the Editor:

Protecting our freedom of speech may be one circumstance where liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, Independents virtually all Americans can agree and unify. When did we begin to lose that freedom?  


To the Editor:

I can’t recall ever writing a letter to the editor in all my 64 years; but I feel compelled to do so now. I received my first COVID Moderna vaccination today, administered by Haywood County at the Lambuth Inn, Lake Junaluska. My husband received his first vaccination last week at the fairgrounds and raved about what an impressive operation it was; but hearing about it didn’t have the same effect as seeing it for myself.


A recently published report shows significant loss in seagrass along the North Carolina coast. 


The new Cashiers Greenway Ramble StoryWalk is now complete, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, April 2, set to coincide with International Children’s Book Day and a socially distanced visit from the Easter Bunny planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, April 3. 


Help keep WNC’s hiking trails in shape by joining on of the Carolina Mountain Club’s many ongoing maintenance crews. 


A new project in Waynesville involving the Richland Creek Greenway and new park property across Richland Creek in front of the Waynesville Recreation Center is in the planning stages, and public input is needed. 


During its business meeting Feb. 25, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission reviewed proposed rule changes and accepted 40 of them. 


Newfound Gap Road has been designated an All-American Road, joining the Blue Ridge Parkway in claiming a designation that recognizes it as one of the country’s most scenic roads. 


Haywood County Health and Human Services have received notice of another COVID-19 death, bringing the total number now to 94.


The Jackson County Department of Public Health (JCDPH) has transitioned to a new online scheduling portal, To make an appointment through this online portal, follow these steps:


Macon County has identified an additional rabies positive raccoon, bring the total of rabies positive wildlife detected in Macon County to seven since December 2020.


By Tom Fiedler | Asheville Watchdog — Back in 2006, when Scott Shuford was Asheville’s planning director, he reluctantly accepted a friend’s invitation to attend a meeting about the impact of climate change on local governments. 


Thomas “Tommy” Glenn Palmer, 38, recently admitted in a Jackson County courtroom he shot and killed his stepfather, Tim Norris, in February 2016, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.


By Lilly Knoepp — Growing up in Franklin, Barbara McRae was everywhere. It felt like she has always been in the community. As long as I can remember, her columns with that distinctive headshot in the Franklin Press educated me about the often-overlooked facets of the county. “Backyard Naturalist” and “Know Your County” always grabbed me with new facts about a local plant or a story that I had never heard about the history of in Macon County. 

When a registered nurse and an engineer combine passion with determination, beautiful things happen. Kyle Holman and Athena Garcia-Holman moved to Western North Carolina from Kansas City on January 1, 2017. It was a new year and a new beginning for this couple who traveled with their dog and young daughter halfway across the country in search of self-sustaining farmland.

Let’s take a look at one of the top protein performers in the dairy section.

A concerning number of goldfinch and pine siskin birds have been reported dead across the state over the past few weeks, and preliminary results from carcass testing point to salmonellosis, a common bacterial disease linked to birdfeeders.


Invasive zebra mussels have been found in commercially available aquatic moss balls in North Carolina, and consumers who have purchased any such balls in the past month are urged to properly destroy them and clean their aquariums.


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