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News in brief

Hillbilly Winter Jam 2021

Eat, drink and … well, drink some more at this year’s annual Hillbilly Winter Jam in Maggie Valley. 

On Thursday, Feb. 25, join fellow jammers at the Valley Tavern, 2550 Soco Road, for karaoke from 6 to 9 p.m. On Friday, Feb. 26, head back to the Valley Tavern for South Mountain Distilling Company’s release party, with drinks from 1 to 4 p.m., then stick around for the Ryan Perry Band from 6 to 9 p.m. On Saturday, Feb. 27, meet and greet your favorite television moonshiners from 1 to 4 p.m. at Dave and Sue Angel’s Elevated Mountain Distilling Company, 3732 Soco Road. All events are free except the meet and greet, where a $3 cover will go to the PAWS animal shelter of Bryson City.


Abused, neglected children need your help

In Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties, the rights of vulnerable children are being lost in the shuffle of a strained system. 

Last month, of the 315 children currently before the court for having been abused or neglected, 37 had no volunteer advocate to speak up for them. You can help be that voice by becoming a Guardian ad Litem. The GAL program is currently accepting applications for child advocates and will begin near the end of March.

Call 828.454.6513 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To submit an application, visit or


Haywood School Board talks sports 

The Haywood County School Board agreed unanimously to pay up to $120,000 to keep the athletics departments at the high school and middle school level solvent. The numbers were discussed in length at the work session Thursday, Feb. 4. The costs include payment for officials, transportation, helmet and padding reconditioning and an emergency services standby squad for high school sporting events. Middle school events do not require an ambulance squad to be on standby. 

The total projected cost for middle school and high school sports came to $108,662 plus the additional $3,200 for standby ambulance squads. The board decided to fund up to, but not exceed $120,000. The extra amount is intended to assist in unforeseen costs. 

“The goal is not to offset ticket sales that have been lost, the goal is not to pad athletic accounts in any way, form or fashion. The hope will be that any costs they’ve incurred this year in those three areas, that we will pay those costs for the schools so that at a worst case, when they get to the end of the year they will have as much money as they started the year with. We’re simply trying to make them solvent,” said Associate Superintendent Dr. Trevor Putnam. 

• The board also decided on a contract to broadcast the Pisgah Tuscola game this year, partly due to the fact that there will be limited capacity allowed in the stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions. The board gave the contract to Sinclair Broadcasting Group in exchange for a $500 donation to the Athletics Department at Pisgah High School. 

“That gives us an opportunity for good quality broadcast coverage of that very big game,” said Putnam. 

• With the retirement of Ann Barrett from the Haywood County School Board came a vacancy on the Mountain Projects Board of Directors, where she served representing Haywood County Schools. At the meeting Monday Feb. 8, the board voted unanimously to appoint Ronnie Clark as her replacement to the Mountain Projects board of directors. 


HRMC lifts zero visitation policy

Haywood Regional Medical Center is transitioning from a zero-visitation policy to a limited visitation policy as of Feb. 9. 

New guidelines will allow one visitor per day for inpatients, the emergency room (ER) and Outpatient Care Center, as well as outpatients within the main hospital. General visitation hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The updated restrictions have been implemented effective immediately. 

“We understand how important visiting loved ones is for patients and guests alike,” shared Greg Caples, HRMC CEO. “We have been monitoring the COVID-19 positivity rate in Haywood and feel more comfortable in opening up our facility given the recent downturn. However, we will continue to monitor the region and adjust accordingly. We urge continued caution in the community as COVID-19 is still prevalent.”

Again, part of the updated visitor restrictions, inpatients, outpatients, and ER patients are now allowed one well visitor per day, including continued allowance of one support person for obstetric patients. Exceptions are made for loved ones who are gravely ill. Visitors with signs/symptoms of respiratory illness will not be permitted to visit under this exception. Visitors/parents/guardians may be allowed when a patient requires mobility assistance, is a pediatric patient, is incapacitated or mentally incompetent. Note that patients in isolation are not permitted visitor under these guidelines. 

All visitors must be 18 years of age or older, will be screened upon entry and are required to wear a mask or cloth face covering (and should bring their own from home). A dated armband (provided during screening) is also required while in the facility. Visitors who do not pass the screening at entry will be asked to reschedule their visit until they are symptom-free. 

HRMC continues to screen everyone who enters the facility for symptoms consistent with COVID-19, per CDC guidelines. For additional updates on how the hospital is working to maintain a safe and supportive environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit


WCU seeks volunteers for COVID clinics 

Western Carolina University, as a regionally engaged institution, shares the concerns and challenges that have faced local communities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In support of the region and the communities that surround campus, WCU wants to do its part in providing the support that is needed.   

An identified need is COVID-19 vaccine distribution. To that end, WCU has been asked to serve as a regional COVID-19 vaccination site. WCU also is partnering with local health providers through its Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning to support their efforts in administering the vaccine. The center has established a webpage to solicit volunteers to assist in community vaccine efforts, as well as supplement WCU’s regional vaccination clinic.     

WCU has been challenged to open the vaccination clinic as quickly as possible and will be hiring staff, both clinical and administrative, that will be supplemented with volunteers. It is the goal of the clinic to provide a minimum of 500 vaccines per day.    

The clinic also will offer opportunities for full and part-time temporary employment for those displaced in area hospitality or other industries due to COVID-19.   

 To learn more, visit To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit


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