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fr hitandrunLisa Preston Clark wasn’t surprised to see the CD amid the items recovered from Cole Preston’s crashed car. The disc was all about living life from the heart, and that’s just how Clark’s 22-year-old nephew lived.

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fr cherokeepoliceThere’s talk in Cherokee of making the chief of police’s job an elected position following a resolution introduced by Travis Smith, a Birdtown resident who’s also a candidate for Tribal Council.

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sylvaWith election sign-ups now closed, it looks like Sylva’s guaranteed to get some younger membership on its board after November’s elections.

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fr dogparkMountain dog owners may have started hearing rumor of a devastating canine flu strain coming their way, but according to area veterinarians there’s no cause for hysteria.

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WCUWestern Carolina University’s chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha has had its share of troubles this year, and a recent decision from the national fraternity’s board of directors adds suspension — and a recommendation to eventually revoke the chapter’s charter — to the list.

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out frFor veterinarian Brian Birthright, what would become a lifelong passion for biking began in the most fitting of ways — with a dog. 

Then living in New England, Birthright was the owner of an overactive puppy who just wouldn’t tire. That’s what led him to take up mountain biking.

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election timeThere’s one more in the race to become Sylva’s next mayor following Alderman Danny Allen’s decision to run for the seat.

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medicalIt’s official: Harris Regional Hospital is getting a new emergency department.

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jacksonThough commissioners were scheduled to vote on whether to adopt a new set of rules for cell towers in the county last week, they opted to put the final decision off till August after a public hearing drew a variety of specific critiques of the document.

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fr livestockLanding the grant is turning out to be far from the end of the road in an effort to bring a cattle loading facility to Jackson County.

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fr howellmillHowell Mill Road won’t be an option for those planning to drive the length of the Waynesville route for the rest of the summer.

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out frIt’s day four of the Family Nature Summit, and the troops are working hard on a wooded piece of land behind the Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska. 

“I’ve planted trees before in a lot softer ground than this,” says Eden Lehr, 10, leaning on her shovel. “This ground is really tough.”

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fr miniparkBegonias are blooming and umbrella-shadowed tables awaiting lunchtime as the finishing touches go into the newly renovated Depot Park in Sylva.

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jacksonJackson County’s getting closer to having a director in place to handle the day-to-day needs of its tourism agency with the deadline to apply for the job closing last week.

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jacksonBuilding a footbridge over the Tuckasegee River will likely wind up costing more than twice the $641,000 it was originally supposed to, Jackson County Commissioners learned when bids for the project came in this summer.

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fr oiltankA riverside petroleum leak in Cherokee has had cleanup crews scrambling since contamination was first discovered in April — and feeling flummoxed the further they’ve probed into the leak’s potential cause.

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fr websterwalkWebster may be just a little town of fewer than 400 people, but its buildings tell the tale of a proud history. Though the town, which used to be the county seat, is a scanty 1.6 square miles, it holds six buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The town’s launching a new initiative to show them off.

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fr jaxhomelessA plan to create a homeless shelter next to Mark Watson Park in Sylva is dead, but Jackson Neighbors in Need isn’t giving up on having a shelter in place by the time cold weather hits again.

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out frBen Kniceley’s pretty sure his dad had a good laugh after the Haywood Community College graduate came away with a national title in the June 20 STIHL Timbersports Collegiate Series.

“I grew up splitting wood and stuff like that with my dad, and he’d always have to force me to go out there,” said Kniceley, who’s from Shelby.

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fr TDAjacksonJackson County’s tourism association has had a lot of things to figure out since its formation in 2012. Not least of those is how to divvy up the grant fund it keeps to help the county’s festivals and events promote these happenings outside the local area.

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sylvaAsk around downtown Sylva, and it’s not hard to find someone with an opinion about traffic. Main Street should be two-way. It should remain one-way. There’s not enough parking. The new parking area on Mill Street is a godsend. The recently installed posts and left-turn lanes are obnoxious and confusing to visitors, or they are a great way to slow the speed of traffic and prevent accidents.

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fr sylvamayorWhen election candidate sign-ups begin next week, at least one town board member plans on putting her hat in the ring for the mayor’s seat.

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jacksonSylva police can now start enforcing a town ordinance aimed at paring down the number of unpaid parking tickets, thanks to a law recently adopted in Raleigh. 

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cherokeeIn Cherokee, alcohol could soon be available in more places than just Harrah’s Cherokee Casino following Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature on a 12-page alcohol omnibus bill. 

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coverIt was an intense few days for Virginia Beach, Virginia, resident Seth. Eight miles of hiking, 4.5 of those bushwhacking, all with an overnight pack on his back. A couple of hours of rock climbing. Three more miles of hiking. And that was just day one.  

Before the week was out, he’d log 6 more miles of hiking, 5 of canoeing and hours more of survival skill classes and drills. An impressive feat for most people, and Seth is only 14.

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jacksonAn investigative report looking into the March suicide of Steve Ross, who at the time was incarcerated at the Jackson County Detention Center, is now in the hands of District Attorney Ashley Welch.

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out frAsked what a typical day for the head guy at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park looks like, new Smokies superintendent Cassius Cash laughs.  

“Wow, let’s look at the calendar,” he says. 

Since starting the job in February, he’s kept pretty busy. As it turns out, when you’re the new superintendent of an 800-square-mile national park spanning two states, a lot of people want to meet with you. Staff want to hear from you. There’s a litany of issues to become familiar with, an endless inventory of park sites and experiences to log.

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coverIt’s 6:30 in the morning when 24 hours of travel ends with the plane’s landing in Bolivia, but even through the grogginess it’s not hard to see that we’ve arrived somewhere far, far away from Miami. Snow-crested mountains rise over the outstretched plateau. Drivers crowd the security exit, shouting “Taxi?! Taxi?!” At 13,323 feet above sea level, the air is thin and dry, with any activity more strenuous than a walk on flat ground leaving you gasping for breath.

SEE ALSO:
A timeline of Kory Wawanaca
• The joy of cooking

But the trek wasn’t over. From La Paz we were headed to a children’s home in Tacachia, a town so tiny it doesn’t even show up on Google Maps. Getting there would involve a day of altitude adjustment in La Paz, three hours in a Jeep traversing 15 miles of steep and skinny dirt roads and reconciliation with the fact that the village’s lack of running water would mean outhouses and no showers for the next four days.

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fr bolivia building2003

Carrie Blackburn Brown, who eventually founded Kory Wawanaca Children’s Home, graduated from Appalachian State University with degrees in dance and Spanish and a general desire to spend a few months abroad volunteering.

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fr bolivia cookingThat last full day in Tacachia, I didn’t have energy for much besides sinking into my wooden chair while waiting for the onslaught of elementary-aged kids to join us for pre-dinner playtime.

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fr celltowerA week after a contentious planning board meeting discussing the merits of a proposed new cell tower in Cashiers, the company has informed Jackson County that it will be pulling its application.

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jacksonQuestions about how well the Jackson County Permitting and Code Enforcement Department has been executing its responsibilities prompted commissioners to unanimously approve a fixed $15,350 audit contract last week with the national firm Benchmark Planning.

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fr schoollunchFree lunch is becoming a more common phenomenon around Western North Carolina as school systems start adopting a new federal program aiming to increase kids’ access to food in high-poverty areas.

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out frThere was no doubt about how the Smoky Mountains got their name as day dawned on the Friends of the Smokies’ planned hike to Hemphill Bald. Sky seemed to meet earth as the carpool headed up the mountain from Maggie Valley, fog so thick the road 20 feet ahead could have been imaginary. It didn’t look like the bald at the end of the 4.4-mile hike would offer much of a view that day. 

The gloomy weather didn’t drive away Patrick Murphy, however, who’d come over from Bryson City to try out his first Friends of the Smokies hike. The morning was “dismal,” Murphy said, but not without its high points — the first one to arrive at the trailhead, he found himself sharing the spot with two elk.

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sylvaFor the first time in seven years, Sylva residents will be able to watch Fourth of July festivities from downtown.

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cashiersA proposal to put in a new cell tower a half-mile from the Cashiers crossroads has sparked heated debate between long-time neighbors Mark Zachary and Rick Barrs, but the outcome of an upcoming hearing on the issue will affect more than just the two men.

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fr studenthousingAfter nearly four years of trying, a Charlotte-based development company has gotten the OK to build a high-end student housing complex in Cullowhee. 

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coverRecently recovered from rotator cuff surgery, Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher hasn’t popped a single prescription pain pill since the operation. Instead, he’s been using a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, over-the-counter meds that don’t pose the same risks of abuse and addiction as opioids. 

“Just this morning I was at the physical therapist,” he said in a May interview. “She said, ‘I cannot believe you didn’t take prescription meds.’ I said, ‘I didn’t need to.’”

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out frBreathing easy in the Smokies is a better bet than it’s been in decades. Ozone pollution is down 36 percent, and particle pollution has been cut in half. The mountain view on the haziest days now extends nearly four times as far as it did in 1998. Streams harmed by acid rain are starting to recover. 

All stats that are cause for celebration, said a group of air quality leaders gathered on Purchase Knob in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last week.

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lw swainSwain County schools are a little bit healthier following the conclusion of a trial wellness program this spring.

livingwellThe Mountain Spirit Wellness building in Waynesville’s Frog Level area offers a pair of services that have the same goal — restoring comfort to hurting muscles and joints — but use different methods to get there. Masseuse Lynda Saffell and reflexologist Linda Neff took a few minutes to explain the benefits of their work and how they differ from each other.

fr hikerA wonderful writer. A fearless explorer. A fascinating person. An endless optimist.

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fr lambertAs results poured in from the Primary Election for an open chief’s seat, Patrick Lambert’s campaign came out a clear winner, taking 1,751 of 2,964 votes in the unofficial tally — 59.1 percent in a spread of five candidates.

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fr drexelA plan to turn the old Drexel furniture factory in Whittier into a Mecca of resources for small-time farmers and agricultural producers in Western North Carolina is likely dead in its tracks after a building assessment found it would take $1.7 million to get the building up to code.

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fr landslidemappingFour years after a state landslide mapping project for Jackson County was axed midstream, the commissioners are moving toward a vote to fund the work out of county coffers.

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out frIn a woodsy neighborhood up a winding mountain road from Franklin, late May is pretty quiet — at least from a human perspective. Many of the second-home owners who live there haven’t yet moved in for the summer, and with lots spanning as many as 40 acres, things are spread pretty far apart anyway. 

But the avian summer move-ins are there in force, and if you’re a bird, you’d probably say the forested neighborhood is anything but quiet. It’s full of tweets and chirps and chirrs, pretty sounds that actually mean things are a-stirring in the bird community.

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fr cherokeelawsuitA group of Cherokee people angry over Tribal Council’s decision last fall to give itself a 15 percent pay raise and back pay is planning to file a lawsuit against its members this month.

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fr jailFollowing discovery that a March suicide in the Jackson County Detention Center had occurred during an 85-minute gap in jailers’ rounds — the state minimum requirement is 30 minutes — the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources took a second look at a November 2014 suicide that resulted in the death of Robbinsville resident Charles Moose, 36.

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fr wcuaerialA pair of Western Carolina University fraternity brothers are facing assault charges after student Zach Denson left an off-campus party this spring with a broken nose, concussion and spinal injury.

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law enforcementFour men from Buncombe and Henderson counties are facing a slew of Class 3 misdemeanor charges after officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission caught them fishing Lake Waterville using gill nets.

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