Holly Kays

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

fr casino3In the words of Principal Chief Michell Hicks, it’s been “a whirlwind year” for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Comment

fr casino2Mary Anderson didn’t have much time to stop for an interview. It was just after 1 p.m., and the Atlanta resident had been up since 6 a.m. in her quest to experience opening day at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel in Murphy. With the purple-and-white ribbon freshly severed at the door of the new casino, Anderson was on a mission — press through the crowd and get playing as quickly as possible.

Comment

fr courthouseStarting Sept. 28, employees and visitors to the Jackson County Justice and Administration Building will no longer have their choice of doors through which to reach their destination. Instead, the building will become a one-entrance-only building, with a security guard and metal detector stationed at the door.

Comment

fr drexelIts future has been envisioned as an agricultural center, a recreation facility, a Cherokee cultural site, a farming co-op and an empty field. Now there’s a new twist in the plot toward settling the future of a defunct county-owned factory building in Whittier.

Comment

jacksonIf the details work out, Jackson County’s Savannah community could soon have a park to call its own. 

Comment

out fr2Since the first wheels starting turning in 2010’s inaugural Blue Ridge Breakaway bike ride, cycling has been picking up speed in Haywood County. And as more cyclists have flocked to the annual cruise of Haywood’s scenic byways, the county’s reputation as a cycling destination for the remaining 364 days of the year has grown as well. There might not be a lot of hard data on that yet, but the anecdotes flow freely.

Comment

out frA half-hour into the morning, Carol Larson has the gleaning operation smoothly underway at Skipper Russell’s farm in Bethel. A trio of tarps, topped with cardboard boxes neatly arranged in rows, sits on the grassy buffer between field and road. Beyond the tarps stretch rows — long, long rows — of cucumber plants.

Comment

jacksonSome residents of the Yellow Mountain area near Lake Glenville are hoping Jackson County commissioners will step in to address the impacts of a shooting range that’s sprung up in the sparsely populated mountain neighborhood.

Comment

jacksonThe final public hearing in the two-year-old saga of revisions to Jackson County’s steep slope ordinance was all set to take place Sept. 22, but last week county commissioners decided to cancel the hearing and reschedule for a later date. 

Comment

sylvaSylva is likely nearing the end of a months-long debate over a recurring question: is there a better way to do traffic on Main Street?

Comment

fr hicksThe day after Chief-Elect Patrick Lambert takes his oath of office, Principal Chief Michell Hicks will take over Lambert’s old job as executive director of the Tribal Gaming Commission.

Comment

fr wcuretentionMeeting a deadline five minutes ahead of time can be challenging, so after meeting an important enrollment goal five years early, leaders at Western Carolina University are celebrating.

Comment

fr jailhealthWhen John Buchanan first took the jail captain job at the Jackson County Detention Center, one assignment quickly rose to the top of his to do list: figure out a better option for inmates’ health care.

Comment

fr lambertThere was nothing ambiguous about Patrick Lambert’s win in the race for Cherokee Principal Chief last week. His victory came in a landslide of 71 percent.

Comment

haywoodIt takes a village to combat a drug addiction or mental illness, and Richie Tannerhill is hoping to see a multitude of villages turn out when the inaugural Western Regional Rally for Recovery comes to Lake Junaluska Sept. 19.

Comment

coverBill Bryson and Steven Katz didn’t really know what they were getting into when they began their Appalachian Trail journey, recounted in the newly released movie “A Walk in the Woods.” From the moment Katz shows up for the adventure — limping, overweight and prone to seizures — to the time an attempt at traversing a stream sends both men flailing in the water, ineptitude is part of the comedy. 

But conservation and tourism organizations along the AT are hoping they won’t find themselves similarly unprepared when thru-hiking season starts up this spring. Featuring stars such as Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson and Nick Offerman, the movie is expected to appeal to a wide audience, putting the Appalachian Trail at the forefront of many minds.

Comment

out frI’ve never been a huge fan of any sport that hinges on an ability to run swiftly or handle a ball with any measure of skill, and for that reason I’ve managed to maintain a remarkably clean life record when it to athletic accomplishments. 

Mud is another matter.

Comment

cashiersIt’s been just over a year since the Cashiers ABC store opened its doors, but the store’s renting days are almost over. ABC Board chairman David Noland paid a visit to both the Jackson County and Sylva town commissioners last month, asking for their blessing on an owner-financed purchase deal.

Comment

fr drexelIdeas surrounding the fate of a vacant factory building in Whittier have been swirling since Jackson County commissioners started taking a serious look at its future earlier this year. Turn it into an agriculture center? Make it a recreation park? Deed it to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians? Demolish it?

Comment

fr cherokeepoliceA bid to make the Cherokee police chief’s position an elected one isn’t dead, but Tribal Council has voted to complete a study examining the pros and cons of such a move before making a choice. Following a lengthy discussion at their July meeting and a two-and-a-half-hour work session later that month, the council voted to embark on a feasibility study examining the possible effects of the idea and needs in the police department.

Comment

jacksonAfter nearly 30 years in business, Sylva’s Jewelry Outlet on Main Street is scheduled to close Sept. 15.

Comment

out frIf Garrett Fisher had his way, he’d live on the side of a mountain with a glacier as his next-door neighbor. 

Some people might consider his Wyoming home, located at 5,633 feet above sea level, to be close enough, but Fisher craves more elevation than that. So, he satisfies his thirst for altitude with aviation.

Comment

coverJoe Martin had never worked for a newspaper or owned a handgun when he took the reins of the tribally owned Cherokee One Feather in 1995. 

But when the first changed, so did the second. Then a 26-year-old whose only job experience since graduation from college was as a cage cashier at the casino, Martin found himself fast-tracked to a steep, steep learning curve.

Comment

cherokeeWith elections a week away and threat of a lawsuit still hanging, the Cherokee Tribal Council is considering a proposed budget that includes a pay raise of nearly 5 percent for its members.

Comment

jacksonTwo years after the planning board first began reviewing the document, Jackson County has adopted a revised ordinance governing cell tower placement.

Comment

fr jaxlandslideJackson became the first North Carolina county to take landslide mapping into its own hands when the board of commissioners voted unanimously to fund the $143,000 project last week.

Comment

fr blueridgeWhile most kids are just getting their new backpacks stocked or suffering through the first days of shift from summertime sleep schedules, students at Blue Ridge School in Cashiers are in the midst of their third week of the new school year.

Comment

fr patricklambertIf Patrick Lambert wins his bid for principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, he expects to be looking a monstrous political version of a honey-do list when Election Day is over.

Comment

fr marycroweMary Crowe isn’t a councilmember, but when a Tribal Council session starts up in Cherokee, hers is one face you might expect to see — whether in the audience, at the podium or back in the TV room watching the proceedings from a distance.

Comment

fr 441sidewalksThe future is looking bright for plans to build a sidewalk along U.S. 441 where Jackson County meets Cherokee, with funding recently approved from state contingency funds.

Comment

cherokeeNearly 30 people have put their names in the hat for election to Cherokee’s 12-member Tribal Council this fall, and depending who you ask, a lot is at stake.

Comment

animal controlPlans are in the works to open a 24-hour emergency clinic at Junaluska Animal Hospital in Waynesville next year, a first for the mountains west of Asheville.

Comment

fr cullowheehousingThe Charlotte developer behind a 488-bed student apartment complex planned for Cullowhee could face criminal charges, pending the outcome of an Aug. 27 hearing.

Comment

fr jaxsteepslopeJackson County’s steep slope ordinance made one last stop at the planning board before heading to a public hearing, but it went out with a bang as some members took issue with the version commissioners would ultimately consider for adoption.

Comment

coverDoris Mager returned from her most recent doctor appointment with some grim marching orders. Her instructions didn’t have anything to do with blood pressure problems, cardiac health, nutritional deficiencies or an impending diagnosis. In fact, the doctor said, for 89 years old she was in amazing health. 

But something had to change. 

“My doctor said, ‘Doris you really need to sleep in your house,’” Mager recounted. “I said, ‘But I don’t want to.’ She said, ‘But you really do. It just can’t be good sleeping with the birds.’”

Comment

fr chiefdebateWhether from a seat in the auditorium or at home on the couch, more than 1,000 Cherokee people blocked out Thursday night (Aug. 6) to see the people vying for their vote as the tribe’s principal chief talk about everything from alcohol laws to government transparency to free press.

Comment

out frSummer’s not quite over, but emergency responders in Haywood County are already practicing their skills in preparation for rescue season, known to most simply as “fall.”

“That time of year is when our beautiful forest has people, by the hundreds and by the thousands,” said Greg Shuping, Haywood County’s director of emergency management. “The more people we get up there, the more likelihood of a missing or injured person.”

Comment

jacksonAfter more than four years as Jackson County’s attorney, Jay Coward will soon yield his spot as the county’s legal face. But commissioners aren’t replacing him with another contract attorney. Rather, they’ve opted to create a new staff position.

Comment

jacksonA longtime Sylva business owner was arrested on federal charges after agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms surrounded his Main Street store Friday morning.

Comment

fr cherokeejusticeWhat in most courts would have been a simple case of violating a domestic violence protective order was a landmark moment for the Cherokee Tribal Court.

Comment

coverIt’s been more than 10 years since Alen Baker decided, while recuperating from surgery, to pass the time by writing about what his Trout Unlimited chapter had been up to that year. Those 15 pages turned into a book, which turned into something even bigger — the idea that somebody should take it upon themselves to memorialize the Southern Appalachians’ fly fishing legacy in a museum somewhere.

SEE ALSO: A look inside the museum

Comment

out insidemuseumStep inside Cherokee’s newest museum, and the scent of freshly cut wood and tranquil lighting will immediately greet you with the knowledge that you’ve made the right choice.

Comment

jacksonTo build a fence or to not build a fence? 

It might not seem like such a portentous question, but as Sylva Town Commissioner Mary Gelbaugh found out when she asked her Facebook friends whether the town should look at putting a fence along Scotts Creek through Bridge Park, it kind of is. The comments came so thick and fast that Facebook contacted her to see if someone had hacked her account.

Comment

fr casinoA new casino under construction outside of Murphy is coming along on schedule and on budget, according to General Manager Lumpy Lambert.

Comment

fr lakeloganIt’s been 10 years since the Lake Logan Triathlon made its debut in Haywood County, drawing a field of 162 people to tackle the 1,500-meter swim, 24-mile bike ride and 10K run. 

Comment

out redwolfReintroductions of endangered red wolves in eastern North Carolina will cease for the rest of 2015 following a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to put a hold on the program. 

Comment

fr watervilleAn algal bloom on Waterville Lake in northern parts of Haywood County has tested positive for a toxin with potential to cause skin rashes and affect liver function.

Comment

fr jacksonreachIt’s been two-and-a-half years since cash flow problems forced Jackson County’s domestic violence and sexual abuse resource center to close its doors, and REACH of Jackson County has remained a dead organization ever since.

Comment

out huntingSunday hunting with firearms will now be legal on private property following passage of the Outdoor Heritage Act by the N.C. General Assembly and governor’s concurrance.

Comment

out Fr“Hey buddy, you about ready to come out?” Michael Skinner asks the juvenile broadwing hawk standing in the back of a plastic carrying case. 

Skinner, executive director of the Balsam Mountain Trust and jack of all environmental trades, slowly reaches his gloved hands inside and pulls the raptor out. The bird flaps its brown-and-white wings for a moment but quickly settles down. Skinner sets him atop the cage for a moment, where he sits untethered, surveying the small storage room where Skinner keeps supplies for the nature center’s diverse charges — everything from box turtles to an opossum to a bald eagle.

Comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.