Holly Kays

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The Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River has a new leader.

Two years after former executive director Roger Clapp retired from the position, Ken Brown is taking over.

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Jackson County Commissioners held a special-called meeting Tuesday, June 11, to vote on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2019-2020, a change from the original June 18 adoption timeline.

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Voters made their choices during last week’s Primary Elections in Cherokee, with Teresa McCoy coming in as the top vote-getter in the race for principal chief and two incumbent Tribal Council members failing to survive through September’s General Election.

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Federal campaign finance records show that Wallace Cheves, developer for a proposed Catawba Indian Nation casino in Kings Mountain, donated nearly $50,000 between 2015 and 2018 to the campaigns of the three U.S. senators sponsoring a bill aimed at making the casino a reality.

The bill, S.790, is sponsored by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and co-sponsored by Sen. Thom Tillis and Sen. Richard Burr, both republicans of North Carolina.

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The Jackson County Commissioners will adopt the budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 in a special-called meeting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, a change from the original June 18 adoption timeline.

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Preliminary results are in from Cherokee’s June 6 Primary Election.

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From flip-flops to overnights to the quintessential northbound thru-hike, there are many different ways to experience the Appalachian Trail on its route from Georgia to Maine. An overnight along the trail at Roaring Fork Shelter near Max Patch was enough to meet a variety of hikers, all hiking the trail their own way. 

It’s no coincidence that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the subject of The Smoky Mountain News’ first-ever front-page story in the paper’s inaugural issue June 2, 1999.

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“A large herd gathered last week on a remote, historical farmstead maintained by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in Cataloochee Valley,” Don Hendershot wrote for The Smoky Mountain News on Feb. 7, 2001. “The herd, however, were bipeds — nearly 900 people were in attendance for the first of three scheduled elk releases.”

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Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, an economic powerhouse that employs 5 percent of the workforce in the seven western counties and provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year to the tribe’s government and citizens, first opened its doors in 1997. 

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For a road that has never existed, the infamous Southern Loop of Sylva sure has gotten a lot of ink over the past 20 years. 

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When Patrick Lambert won the 2015 race for principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, he saw the victory as a direct mandate from voters. 

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This roller coaster of a year at Western Carolina University started before it started, when the school’s beloved chancellor David O. Belcher announced Nov. 27, 2017, that he’d be stepping down at the end of the year.

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A Brevard woman is dead following a car accident on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Devil's Courthouse. 

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Horace Kephart has been dead for 88 years, but his name and his story still pull an undercurrent through Western North Carolina. 

Kephart is acclaimed as the father of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an outdoorsman gifted with an adventurous soul, and the author of such staples of regional literature as Our Southern Highlanders and Camping and Woodcraft. He’s derided, too, as a man with a severe drinking problem, a shirker of family responsibility and an outsider who profited off of sometimes less-than-flattering depictions of the locals. 

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Planned improvements to the Southwestern Community College firing range aimed at reducing noise pollution and lead buildup will have to wait after bids for the project came in nearly double the estimated cost.

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Early voting is now over in Cherokee, with polls to open for the Primary Election on Thursday, June 6, in what has already been an eventful election season. 

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Jackson County’s proposed budget for 2019-2020 won’t require an increase from the current property tax rate of 0.38 cents per $100 of value, and at $65 million it clocks in at 0.78 percent higher than the 2018-19 approved budget and 2.01 percent lower than the amended 2018-19 budget. 

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In the last few years, Jackson County has poured significant investment into its public schools, including $9 million in much-needed repairs to roofs, heating and water systems; new teaching positions paid for through local funds; security upgrades; and, in the last budget year, six school counselor positions, four school resource officers and one juvenile crime detective. 

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An Iredell County man is dead following a swim at Lake Glenville Sunday, May 26.

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Jeff Carpenter knows the woods. 

A native of Otto who’s spent most of his adult life the next county over in Sylva, he learned from his father Earvin Carpenter what it means to be an outdoorsman and a mountain man. He knows how to hunt and track and orienteer. He’s seen more than a few bears, heard more than a few coyotes, spent more than a few nights camped out in the backcountry. 

But over the last 15 years, he’s become convinced that there’s something out there that doesn’t show up in standard field guides. 

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After 22 years with the Sylva Police Department and two years as its head, Sylva Police Chief Tammy Hooper will retire on Aug. 1, 2019. 

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The return of warmer weather means that Jackson County’s cold weather homeless shelter has been closed for two months, but commissioners have some tough discussions ahead as they plan what to do when the weather turns chilly once more.

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A bipartisan majority of senators in the N.C. General Assembly have signed a letter opposing a Congressional bill that would pave the way for a new casino to be built in Cleveland County. 

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Tribal member Robert Osley Saunooke is not giving up on his efforts to see Teresa McCoy barred from candidacy in the upcoming election for principal chief. 

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In a divided opinion, the Cherokee Supreme Court decided that Teresa McCoy will not have to participate in a second hearing before the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Board of Elections to retain her place on the ballot.

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From flip-flops to overnights to the quintessential northbound thru-hike, there are many different ways to experience the Appalachian Trail on its route from Georgia to Maine. An overnight along the trail at Roaring Fork Shelter near Max Patch was enough to meet a variety of hikers, all hiking the trail their own way. 

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Jackson County employees are now paying significantly higher premiums for their health insurance following a plan change that went into effect May 1. 

Commissioners voted 4-1 April 2 to make multiple changes to its self-funded insurance plan in hopes of digging itself out of a health plan deficit years in the making. 

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A Green Energy Park makeover under discussion in Jackson County could be a good bit cheaper than originally discussed, with a final master plan for the project presented May 7 estimating the five-phase project at $7.56 million — 62.7 percent less than the original $12.06 million projection.

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A proposed ordinance that would have laid out the criminal penalties for violating laws regulating election campaign practices was withdrawn in Tribal Council May 2 following criticism about the timing of the proposal. 

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Following a battle that involved hearings before both the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Board of Elections and the Cherokee Supreme Court, Teresa McCoy is now certified as a candidate for principal chief, but her status on the ballot is still not certain. 

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If you want to see an elk, the Elk Capital of North Carolina would probably be a good place to look. Pretty soon, that could mean a trip to Haywood County. 

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to promote unique things in our area, our national parks and our beautiful mountains in general,” said Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville. “It’s a way to use really a symbol of North Carolina to promote our region.”

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A recently completed report commissioned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Office of Internal Audit and Ethics has concluded that financial policies in Cherokee Central Schools’ Athletic Department are inadequate. 

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Political leaders in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are optimistic following a recent congressional hearing on legislation that would pave the way for the Catawba Indian Nation to open a casino in Cleveland County’s Kings Mountain, an effort that the EBCI opposes.

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At $4.06 million, Sylva’s proposed budget for 2019-20 will be nearly $200,000 lower than the adopted budget for 2018-19.

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Development of a plan to guide Cullowhee’s future is now underway, with a three-day marathon of activities held April 22-24 gathering feedback from the community toward a draft small area plan for the community. 

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More than 12,000 donors contributed over a five-year period to raise over $60 million for scholarships at Western Carolina University.

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Every year, Sylva’s population quadruples on the last Saturday in April as more than 10,000 people flock to the tiny town for Greening Up the Mountains, a long-running festival featuring live music on two stages, a 5K run and more than 125 vendors offering crafts, food and information about local nonprofits. 

Planning the event is a year-round endeavor for town staff, and as this year’s April 27 date drew closer, all the ducks seemed to be sorting themselves into their respective rows — until a different kind of bird threw a wrench in the plans. 

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The weather matched the mood when the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians broke ground on a $39 million crisis stabilization unit Wednesday, April 24. 

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Everyone donned purple Monday afternoon to show their Catamount pride as Western Carolina University staff, faculty and students welcomed their new chancellor-elect to campus.

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A new chancellor has been chosen for Western Carolina University, with the University of North Carolina Board of Governors unanimously electing Kelli R. Brown, Ph.D., to the position during a special session Thursday, April 25. 

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No matter what scale of time you’re using, the newly opened Jean Pittillo Nodding Trillium Garden in Cullowhee has deep roots. 

“Let’s go back about 400 to 700 million years,” said landowner Dan Pittillo as he began his explanation to the group gathered to experience the wildflower trail’s grand opening April 17.

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Work will soon begin on renovations to the Community Services Building in Sylva — which houses the Jackson County Health Department — following commissioners’ unanimous vote April 16 to accept a bid on the project from Western Builders of Sylva and approve a project ordinance. 

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The Asheville Design Center will soon complete its final recommendations for the N.C 107 project in Sylva, but the document is unlikely to provide any drastic departure from the plan already put forward by the N.C. Department of Transportation. 

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Towns and counties across Western North Carolina are considering resolutions to oppose a Congressional bill that would pave the way for a casino to be built in Cleveland County, likely delivering a blow to profits at Harrah’s Cherokee casinos in Cherokee and Murphy. 

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One hundred years ago, the parking area and campground just past the fields in Cataloochee Valley where elk often hang out was better known as Nellie, a remote community in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

As anybody who’s ever driven the steep and narrow access road from Jonathan Creek can imagine, it was hard to get in and hard to get out in the days when horsepower came mainly from actual horses. People didn’t have much, partly because of how difficult it was to transport outside goods up and over the ridge. 

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Just as millennia of rain and wind and heat and cold have carved the physical shape of the mountains for which Appalachia is named, so have years of immigration and emigration and peace and war carved the human culture that covers them. Through the centuries, each of millions of lives — men and women, Cherokee and white, black and Hispanic — has added its own chapter to the story. 

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It’s shaping up to be a big year for the Appalachian Women’s Museum in Dillsboro. The nonprofit is preparing for its second annual Airing of the Quilts event, will get an artistically designed storytelling installation on its grounds if a grant Western Carolina University is working on goes through, and hopes to start regularly opening its doors to the public during Saturdays summer. 

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Just over two years after forming it, the Town of Sylva has voted to disband its Public Art Committee — but with the intention of reassembling it under the auspices of the Main Street Sylva Association. 

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After a four-month lapse, services from physicians working for hospitals in Clyde, Sylva and Bryson City will be back in-network with UnitedHealthCare as of May 1. These services had been out-of-network since the previous contract lapsed Jan. 1.

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