Jessi Stone

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fr sessionNorth Carolina Legislators are back in session in Raleigh this week with a full agenda, including unfinished items from last year’s short session. The local delegation is ready to tackle the budget, Medicaid, education, fracking and other local issues affecting Western North Carolina.

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coverEvergreen Packaging in Canton plans to close the Evergreen Family Medical Center and pharmacy on March 31, but county officials are working behind the scenes to entice one of the area hospitals to keep it open.

Evergreen employees and their families are now rallying around Dr. Tony Jones and his staff at the clinic and pharmacy with the hope that Haywood Regional Medical Center, recently purchased by Duke LifePoint, or Mission Health in Asheville will swoop in to save the day.

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Maggie Valley resident Joe Maniscalco has not given up on getting his property de-annexed from the town despite several failed attempts over the last five years.

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fr tiersEach year an economic report card issued by the North Carolina Department of Commerce determines which counties will be given first dibs on state grant money — and each year no one seems satisfied with their grades.

Haywood’s status improved, for instance, but Economic Development Director Mark Clasby wasn’t rejoicing.

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fr insurance acaSince the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, people have been urged to get signed up for health insurance online with the help of certified navigators. Local insurance agents, however, say they are still more qualified to make sure residents get the best policy to fit their specific needs.  

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coverMore than 10 million people now have health care coverage because of the Affordable Care Act, and Swain County residents benefited from the new law more than any other county in North Carolina. 

According to data released by Enroll America, a nonprofit with the goal of maximizing the number of Americans enrolled in health coverage, the percentage of uninsured residents in Swain County decreased from 25 percent in 2013 to 14 percent in 2014.

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fr cantonparkWith a focus on improving recreation options for residents with limited funding, the town of Canton is using crowdsourcing methods for the first time to raise money to make playground repairs. 

“Our playground is the only one in town,” said Canton Town Manager Seth Hendler-Voss. “It gets a lot of use, but unfortunately it is not efficient in many of the safety standards. We are making an effort to make specific improvements to bring it into national playground safety compliance.”

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The town of Canton is moving forward with plans to upgrade its public swimming pool after interviewing several design consultants last week.

Town Manager Seth Hendler-Voss said the board of aldermen decided this spring to make renovations to the town pool and approved funding to hire consultants to walk them through the design process. 

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Two residents shared their horror story experiences dealing with nuisance neighbors during a Dec. 18 Macon County Planning Board meeting. 

The board is considering drafting a noise ordinance to address these residents’ complaints about loud music and gunshots coming from their neighbors’ homes. Donna Majerus and James Wright are frustrated because without a noise ordinance in place, they have no recourse other than calling law enforcement. An officer can come out and ask the neighbor to turn down the music, but the situation usually gets worse once the officer leaves, according to Majerus and Wright. 

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fr firewoodIn an effort to protect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park forest from disease-carrying pests, park officials have proposed a new regulation that would prohibit campers from bringing firewood into the park unless it’s certified. 

If passed, the new regulation would only allow visitors to bring in firewood that has been heat-treated and bundled with a certification stamp by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a state department of agriculture. Certified firewood will be available for purchase at the campgrounds inside the park. 

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