Holly Kays

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jacksonIf the selection panel’s pick gets the backing of the full board, Jackson County’s likely to have a new tourism director in place by the time 2016 rolls around.

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out fr“I just don’t want to take any chances,” the hard-hatted contractor tells the officers as they get out of their flashing police car. 

The hotel he’s working on has been getting threats from a group of environmental extremists, and caution kicked in when he caught sight of someone slipping around the corner of the building as he pulled into the driveway after hours. He’d come back to pick up a paper he’d left behind, but nobody else was supposed to be there.

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fr jaxtaxesThe yardstick Jackson County will use to calculate property values next year is up for discussion at a public hearing 5:40 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Jackson County Administration Building.

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fr WW2websterWhen William Guffey’s name was first etched on the stone face of the monument outside the old Webster School — along with those of his 10 fallen classmates — the year was 1951, the wounds of World War II were fresh and his niece Barbara Sutton Bennett was a senior at the school.

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coverGet off the U.S. 74 exit for Dillsboro, descend the steep hill to the light, turn right for a 1-mile drive down Haywood Road and you’ll soon notice a bright-colored sign announcing that you’ve reached the turnoff for the Jackson County Green Energy Park.

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out frOlga Pader will always remember the Naked Ground Trail in the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness as “the hike from hell.” 

It started out innocently enough, with she and her three hiking buddies stepping onto a wide, gently ascending trail. A weathered rock with a crack resembling a smile provided a pleasant spot for pictures and a water break. 

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op dukeIn response to public opposition to its proposed 45-mile Foothills Transmission Line, Duke Energy has settled on a revised plan that will eliminate the need for the transmission line and Campobello substation.

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fr mashburnWhen 91-year-old Gertrude Mashburn tells strangers she’s a World War II veteran — a topic she usually brings up early in a conversation — she’s often met with skepticism. 

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jacksonRiver Walk Apartments, an eight-building complex in Cullowhee, will get a waiver on the $16,500 it paid in solid waste fees this year, Jackson County commissioners decided unanimously last week.

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jacksonWith a report looking at the ins and outs of work in its planning and permitting/code enforcement departments now finished, Jackson County is ready to start implementing the report’s recommendations.

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jacksonAfter years of debate and meetings and public input, Jackson County’s steep slope ordinance is complete.

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haywoodJackson County is moving ahead with an effort to free up more space in its Health Department.

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election timeNeither Webster nor Forest Hills will have vacancies when the new town government terms begin in December, according to official election results. In both elections, write-in votes showed a strong enough consensus to overcome the dearth of candidates to sign up for inclusion on the ballot.

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coverFor Tim Petrea, it was a truck and a red box that launched a lifetime affinity for the outdoors. Growing up in southern Georgia, Petrea wasn’t close to a whole lot of mountains, but when he saw his father loading up the red box, he knew they were headed for yet another Appalachian excursion to Western North Carolina. 

“Every time he put that thing in the truck, we were going camping. I think I’ve got a love for the outdoors and a love for just getting outside because of moments like that,” Petrea said. “They’d put us in the back of the tuck and we’d go to Maggie Valley or Cherokee and go camping.”

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election timeIt looks like a shortage of candidates for town board in Webster and Forest Hills won’t mean empty seats in town hall over the next term.

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election timeThe race for Sylva town board has been crowded since filing began, and the election remained close all the way to the ballot box. 

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election timeClyde voters gave Mayor Jerry Walker the thumbs-up to add four more years to the 35 he’s served on the town’s board, 11 of those as mayor. Walker, 79, won the election by a landslide, earning 110 votes to challenger Cindy Golden’s 44.

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fr monumentWebster will hold the biggest Veterans Day celebration it’s had for 64 years when it rededicates the World War II monument that Webster High School students erected in 1951 to honor their fallen classmates.

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fr lawsuitsA year’s worth of time and a shakeup in leadership haven’t been enough to take the pay raises Cherokee Tribal Council voted itself last year out of the public eye. With a lawsuit already filed in the tribe’s court system, the impending legal battle took center stage during Annual Council last month.

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law enforcementWhen inmates of the Jackson County Detention Center committed suicide on Nov. 21, 2014, and March 13 of this year, the same two male jailers were on duty both days. One of those jailers has taken a voluntary demotion.

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fr harrisConstruction is now underway for a new emergency department at Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva, an $11 million project that will replace the existing emergency department, nearly 30 years old.

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fr marijuanaCherokee will take a look at legalizing marijuana on the Qualla Boundary, Tribal Council decided in a unanimous vote last week.

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fr wildernessThe conversation about wilderness and how it should fit into the next management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests will continue with a pair of public meetings this month.

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jacksonJackson County could have a tourism director in place closely following the new year if the field of five that bid for the position — currently offered as a one-year contract — proves to contain any winners.

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fr mtnfaithHigh Country Tire Shop is an extra-busy place these days. Ever since Mountain Faith, the bluegrass family band whose members all work at the shop, made a splash on the national stage with their performances on America’s Got Talent, fans have been coming from all over just to see the band members at work.

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fr cherokeehospitalAfter a week of rain, the sun rose brightly over the new Cherokee Indian Hospital and the crowd attending its opening day.

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fr audit“All OK — but it could be better” seemed to be the message from a report the Jackson County Board of Commissioners ordered after suspicion surfaced this spring that the county’s Permitting and Code Enforcement Department wasn’t adequately carrying out the responsibilities it’s tasked with.

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coverIn his 38 years at the helm of Haywood Vocational Opportunities, George Marshall has seen his share of change in the regulations and trends surrounding the intersection of worlds in which HVO deals. 

HVO, a not-for-profit social enterprise that produces medical supplies, is Haywood County’s fifth largest employer and the nation’s largest producer of custom medical drapes.

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fr hearingAfter a three-year saga of writing and rewriting and elections and public hearings, Jackson County is likely to adopt a revised version of its 2007 steep slope ordinance at the Nov. 5 commissioner meeting. 

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out frFrom habitat destruction to competition with non-native trout, Southern Appalachian brook trout have met their share of challenges over the past century. A new study illuminates another issue that trout — and not just brookies — might have to contend with in the years ahead.

Actually, a pair of issues — acidity and warming water temperatures. Neither of these are newly identified problems, but the study looks at their combined effect. The verdict?

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sylvaRegardless of who emerges victorious from Sylva’s mayoral election, the town will have an experienced face at the center of the table. All three candidates for the seat currently serve as aldermen and hope to guide the town toward a better future as its next mayor.

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fr sylvaWith two of the three Sylva board members up for re-election jumping into the mayoral race, Sylva is guaranteed to get at least two new faces on the board after the November elections. The three open seats attracted a field of five candidates spanning an age range from 28 to 78.

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jacksonTown elections aren’t always competitive affairs. For some municipalities, it’s a challenge just to get enough people to run to fill the empty seats — and that’s what happened to Webster and Forest Hills this go-around. Both towns will sport ballots with one candidate fewer than the number of seats available.

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out frOut of Ed Norris’ 68 years of life, Vietnam accounts for just one. Those months he spent deployed with the U.S. Marine Corps are now almost half a century distant, but Norris’s time in the service changed his life forever, the emotional and physical evidence still apparent. 

“There were times when I worked at a job I wore a suit, and walking down the street a truck backfired,” he said. “I hit the deck. I turned around and had to go home and change clothes because I messed up my suit.”

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haywoodClyde may be a tiny little two-stoplight town, but at a recent candidate forum, the panel of contenders for seats in the upcoming town board elections was full of ideas on how to grow the town while maintaining its close-knit heritage.

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cherokeeFormer Principal Chief Michell Hicks was all set to take over the tribe’s highest-paying job — director of the Tribal Gaming Commission — when his political term ended Oct. 5, but now that offer’s off the table.

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fr cherokeePatrick Lambert didn’t waste any time making waves in his first full day as principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. That Tuesday morning, a handful of tribal employees received official letters stating their services were no longer needed, prompting an emotional meeting of the ex-employees, their families, Lambert, Vice Chief Richie Sneed and Tribal Council Oct. 8. 

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jacksonAfter two years of revisions, hearings and public debate, Jackson County’s steep slope ordinance is now approaching the finish line with a final public hearing scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the Jackson County Administration Building in Sylva.

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out praderMany an 85th birthday has been observed with a simple gathering of friends and family sharing cake and memories, but Franklin resident Jim Pader had something more in mind when he crossed that milestone this month — he hiked 23.5 miles across the Grand Canyon.

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out frThe Great Smoky Mountains National Park marked a milestone last week with the unveiling of 10 new pieces of equipment to make transportation in the park more energy-efficient. 

A project four years in the making, the new purchases — made using a $239,000 grant — are just the first phase in a three-year plan to reduce emissions in the park.

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cherokeeThe day after Cherokee’s new chief and vice chief took their oaths of office, a lawsuit naming nearly all the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ elected leaders from the previous term found its way to the courthouse.

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jacksonThe Jackson County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution last week that’s likely the first of its kind for the far western counties — a resolution declaring the reality of global climate change and Jackson County’s commitment to leading by example when it comes to energy conservation.

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wib bridgesIf you’d asked Leeann Bridges 20 years ago what her ideal career would look like, she probably wouldn’t have told you she hoped to become a marketing executive at a casino. 

wib christmasFor Lisa Potts, Christmas isn’t just a holiday — it’s a way of life. Potts owns Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop in Dillsboro, an occupation that means she spends every day surrounded by Christmas paraphernalia of all sorts.

wib chaletBack in 1990, Hanneke and George Ware’s odds for success were long. A pair of non-locals living in what was then an even more remote corner of the state than it is now, they’d just purchased a 23-acre property between Dillsboro and Whittier with the hope of creating a sought-after bed and breakfast destination.

wib slusserMost people don’t kick off their retirement by becoming president of a company, but Nicki Slusser is not most people.

out frThere’s excitement in the air as the class, its members scattered across the Pigeon River under cloudy skies in Canton, hunches over the water in an enthusiastic search. Slightly encumbered by awkwardly bulging, oversize wader suits, class members turn over rocks, shuffle their feet across the river bottom and generally stir things up to flush any nearby aquatic creatures into their waiting nets. 

Haywood Waterways Association has provided this education program year after year for eighth-graders in Haywood County, but on Sept. 24, the class wasn’t composed of over-energetic teenagers.

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jacksonFrom permit fees to lease agreements to equipment purchases, many costs accompany the launch of a new business. And while a rookie entrepreneur might not calculate water and sewer fees among them, in Jackson County businesses can find themselves forking over thousands of dollars to hook in.

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jacksonWhen the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority sat down this spring to review applications for its advertising grants, it wound up facing a slew of existential questions: What is the grants’ purpose? Should the money go toward long-standing events or only start-ups? If the money’s reserved for advertising, what precisely is the definition of “advertising?”

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fr sccplanSouthwestern Community College is in the business of dreaming big as it works through the preliminary stages of a master plan to guide its development over the next five to 10 years. 

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