News in brief

Haywood Democrats host fall rally

The Haywood County Democratic Party will be “kicking up good trouble” at its fall rally from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Nanci Weldon Gym at Lake Junaluska. 

Meet elected Democrats from Haywood County, as well as local and congressional candidates. Catering by Haywood Smokehouse. The event venue is a covered outdoor space, but if you’re not comfortable sitting in close proximity to someone at a picnic table, bring a chair of your own. RSVP required by Oct. 16. Admission $20. To reserve your spot, call 828.452.9607, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit


Six more COVID-19 deaths in Haywood 

In the last three weeks, Haywood County has mourned the loss of six more people to COVID-19. 

As of the date of this release, Haywood County has now lost 139 people to COVID-19. 

Of those reported in this release, the youngest two were between the ages of 55-60. One was between the ages of 65-70, one between the ages of 70-75, one between the ages of 75-80, and the oldest was between the ages of 90-95. 

All of the deaths listed COVID-19 as the immediate or underlying cause of death on the death certificate. All died at either Haywood Regional Medical Center or Mission Hospital. 

To protect the families’ privacy, no further information about the patients will be released. 

“We at Haywood County Health and Human Services extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones during this time of loss,” said Health Director Sarah Henderson. 

“COVID-19 is a serious and sometimes deadly illness. We ask everyone to consider the pain and loss this virus can bring with it and do everything you can to help prevent its spread. We urge everyone to continue to be vigilant about masking and social distancing any time you’re going to be around people who are unvaccinated or in large group settings. Get vaccinated, wash your hands regularly, and stay home if you’re not feeling well.”

To stay up to date on COVID-19 in Haywood County visit


Meet the candidates 

The Swain County Chamber of Commerce will host a new networking event — Caffeine & Conversation — at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, at Unplugged Pub, 25 Everett Street, Bryson City. 

Speakers will be Bryson City Town Board candidates Steven Augustine, Ben King and John-Marc Gallagher who will each speak for about 10 minutes and then be available for private conversations. 

For more information, call Karen at 828.488.3681 or 828.508.2795. 


Town of Canton to honor veterans 

An annual Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by the town of Canton will take place at 11 a.m.  Thursday, Nov. 11 in the Pisgah High School auditorium, 1 Black Bear Dr., Canton. 

Guest speakers will be U.S. Marine Corps veteran Darrell Honeycutt and Sgt. Maj. Matthew Brookshire, with a special musical performance by country music artist Matt Stillwell, emceed by Kiss-FM’s Eddie Fox. Later that day, Stillwell will give a free concert in Sorrells Street Park from 6 to 8 p.m. Bring chairs or blankets. Documented service animals only. Both events are free and open to the public. 

For more information, call the town of Canton at 828.648.2363. 


BPR Radio expands to Cullowhee 

Jackson County residents can now hear Blue Ridge Public Radio’s all news and information channel, BPR News, on 90.5 FM. 

The signal expansion reflects BPR’s commitment to provide access to its two channels of service — BPR News and BPR Classic — throughout the Western North Carolina Region. BPR Classic can still be heard at 89.7 in the Jackson County area. 

“This has been a long time in the making and we are grateful to Western Carolina University for making this new frequency possible. When we launched BPR News five years ago, we were not able to fully replicate the coverage area of our flagship station, BPR Classic,” said Blue Ridge Public Radio General Manager and CEO David Feingold. “It’s a long and ongoing process, but through our strong relationships with WNC communities and a bit of ingenuity, we are making great progress. We are thrilled to be able to offer Jackson County listeners the choice of two great public radio channels — BPR News and BPR Classic.”

Listeners can find program schedules for BPR News and BPR Classic on its website at


Cope to serve life in prison 

It’s been almost 40 years, but this week in Macon County Superior Court, James Randal “Randy” Cope, 74, was convicted of molesting a child. 

District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch reinstated two charges of sex offense first degree of child against Cope. Both cases date to 1982. He molested a child for about a decade, starting when she was about 3 years old. 

On March 31 of this year, a Macon County Grand Jury indicted the Topton man. Cope was arrested at a residence in Whittier. 

Welch said she decided to pursue the charges following Cope’s release from federal prison. 

“Through his actions, he inflicted a life sentence on the victim,” Welch said. “This is not a man we wanted back on the streets.” 

Cope served 15 years in federal prison. In 2006, he was charged, then convicted, of soliciting sex from a minor over the internet. This unrelated case originated in Cherokee County. 

At that time, the family member reported Cope’s sexual abuse to authorities. Cope admitted he had abused her. The case against him, however, could not be pursued in state courts while he remained in federal custody. 

Tuesday, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Bill Coward consolidated the two sex-offense charges into one judgment. He sentenced Cope to life in prison. 

Assistant District Attorney Jim Moore prosecuted the case. The State Bureau of Investigation handled the investigation. 

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