Jessi Stone

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As Cherokee children joined hands with Macon County residents and led them in a traditional friendship dance in the shadow of the historic Nikwasi Mound in downtown Franklin, it became clear the vision set forth by the Nikwasi Initiative was already playing out before everyone’s eyes. 

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The North Carolina General Assembly has proposed cutting millions of dollars in mental health funding in the recommended 2019-20 budget despite ongoing efforts to fight the opioid crisis and improve these services in rural Western North Carolina. 

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A drug court could be established in Haywood County over the next couple of years if the North Carolina General Assembly passes a budget. 

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For many people the county fair conjures up images of Ferris wheels, carnival games and cotton candy, but here in Western North Carolina the annual events represent a time of year when the region’s agricultural roots get to take center stage. 

Of course there will be the beloved fair foods, carnival rides and children giggling on the Ferris wheel, but there will also be hundreds of gardeners, farmers, agricultural students and others signing up to show off their prized plants, produce and cattle.

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It’s quiet and peaceful on the hillside of Bryson City Cemetery. Overlooking the hustle and bustle of downtown, all you can hear are birds chirping and the freshly cut grass crunching underneath your feet, but if those old stones could talk they’d have some stories to tell. 

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After years of fighting with county commissioners, a judge has ordered Swain County to fund retirement benefits for Elections Director Joan Weeks.

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Gov. Roy Cooper signed the Death by Distribution Act into law earlier this month, making it easier for prosecutors to charge drug dealers with second-degree murder for selling someone a lethal dose. 

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Plans to construct a new Angel Medical Center in Franklin moved forward last week after the town planning board approved a special-use permit for the replacement hospital. 

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The Bryson City Board of Aldermen race had little interest this year with only three candidates signing up to run and none of them contested. 

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Now that the sign-up period is over, there’s a full slate of candidates running for seats on the Franklin Town Council. 

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Only two candidates have signed up to run for four open seats in the Franklin Town Council as of Tuesday afternoon. 

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After reviewing a State Bureau of Investigation probe into the January death of Melissa Middleton Rice, who at the time was in custody of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office has decided that there are no grounds to press charges in the case. 

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The Tuckasegee River Alliance is looking at possible ways to increase access to the Tuckasegee River as it runs right through downtown Bryson City. 

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The Haywood Healthcare Foundation relies on its annual Casino Night fundraising event to be able to support the many unmet healthcare needs in the community, but new legislation passed by the North Carolina General Assembly this year could put a stop to it. 

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The Haywood Healthcare Foundation has put nearly half a million dollars back into the community since August 2014 when Haywood Regional Medical Center was sold to Duke LifePoint.

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Franklin Mayor Bob Scott has signed up to run for re-election and so far has one challenger — current Councilmember Barbara McRae. 

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The congregation at First United Methodist Church of Waynesville isn’t changing who they are following a controversial vote taken at the denomination’s General Conference special session in February. 

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Only $80 stands between Sylva resident Carrie McBane and affordable health care coverage. If she made $80 less she would qualify for Medicaid in North Carolina, and if she made $80 more she would qualify for subsidies through the Affordable Care Act. 

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Carrie McBane of Sylva was at the end of her rope a year ago. She knew something was wrong and needed to go to a doctor but she didn’t have health insurance. 

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An industrial hemp farm will be expanding its operations into the Macon County Business Development Center after commissioners approved a lease agreement for Appalachian Growers. 

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Many have probably passed by the Triangle Club on Miller Street in Waynesville without realizing what it was, but those within the recovery community are familiar with the space and know what an impact the clubhouse has in the county. 

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The nine Job Corps CCC centers slated for closure this September, including the Oconaluftee center in Cherokee, will remain open after Congress put pressure on the Trump Administration to reverse the decision. 

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While the global market for recyclable materials can fluctuate month to month, Macon County residents are encouraged to continue utilizing the county’s recycling program.

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Swain County has had a recycling program in place since the 1990s, but a recent change over to a single-stream recycling program has increased participation among residents. 

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Recycling is great but there is more people can do if they want to keep trash out of the landfill — don’t produce as much trash.

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In an effort to save the Oconaluftee Job Corps Center from being shut down, N.C. Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, has invited state and congressional leaders to come see the center’s successes in person. 

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As public health officials continue to monitor the measles outbreak across the nation, Haywood County Schools will be taking more precautions during the next school year to ensure the outbreak doesn’t impact the student population. 

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The town of Franklin’s adopted 2019-20 budget will not include funding for local nonprofit organizations as it has in the past. 

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The property tax rate in Macon County will be increasing by half a cent after commissioners approved a 2019-20 budget that puts additional funding toward public education. 

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For more than 50 years, disadvantaged youth struggling to find their way in the world have had the chance to turn their lives around and become productive members of society because of the federal Job Corps program.

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Nearly 15 years after the North Carolina General Assembly narrowly passed a bill establishing an education lottery system, state legislators and local school districts are still arguing over how the revenue should be spent. 

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If you can’t understand why people in Swain County are distrustful of the federal government, then you are among those unfamiliar with the history of the infamous Road to Nowhere. 

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The housing bubble was finally bursting in 2008 as the Great Recession became the new reality in Western North Carolina and throughout the nation. 

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Area hospitals finally found some steady financial footing in 2014 after years of floundering, trying to keep their heads above water as providing health care to rural Appalachia became more challenging. 

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Angela Phillips painted a painfully realistic picture of what it’s been like inside her second-grade classroom at Cartoogechaye Elementary for the last few years. 

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In preparing the proposed budget for 2019-20, Swain County continues to hold the line on the county’s low property tax rate, but it will mean that some funding requests and county needs will have to wait another year. 

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Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories on Haywood County’s public charter school, Shining Rock Classical Academy. The following story includes offensive language and sexual content that may not be suitable for all readers.

Dana Pusser felt a heavy burden lifted off her shoulders last Friday after tendering her resignation and returning her professional belongings to Shining Rock Classical Academy. 

When she accepted a teaching position at the public charter school at the beginning of 2018, she saw it as an opportunity to use her experience in public and private education to help a new school develop and grow, but on Friday she was quick to say she’d never return to teaching again — not after the sexual harassment and gender discrimination she says she endured at SRCA. 

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The town of Highlands is making major headway when it comes to providing broadband internet services to its rural residents, and Mayor Patrick Taylor wants the county’s financial support to keep the progress going past the town limits. 

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Town of Franklin Manager Summer Woodard recently presented the town council with a proposed budget for 2019-20 that would maintain the current property tax rate and increase the cost of water and sewer for customers. 

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For the first time in several years, Macon County Manager Derek Roland is proposing a small property tax increase moving into the 2019-20 budget year to support increased expenses and much-needed capital projects. 

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Five Macon County residents are dropping their legal action against the town of Franklin for deeding over the sacred Nikwasi Mound property to nonprofit redevelopment entity Nikwasi Initiative. 

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Golf is more than a game in Western North Carolina — the wellbeing of the popular past time can be a major indicator of how the regional economy is doing as far as real estate and tourism growth. 

The golf industry — like many others — took a major hit following the recession in 2008. Many courses went bankrupt and closed down, people couldn’t afford to play the game as often, and home building within the country clubs came to a standstill. Even in 2017, more than 200 golf courses across the nation closed as the supply and demand pendulum continues to swing its way back toward the center following 20 years of unsustainable growth. 

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After months of debate, Franklin Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to transfer the deed for Nikwasi Mound over to nonprofit Nikwasi Initiative. 

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A senseless tragedy. Those words are repeated over and over again in the aftermath of mass shootings in the United States.

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Franklin Mayor Bob Scott hopes he can push town council and Nikwasi Initiative board members toward a compromise before a final vote is taken on whether to transfer ownership of the Nikwasi Mound. 

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With a site plan approved unanimously by the Waynesville Planning Board, Haywood Habitat for Humanity is getting ready to embark on its second major affordable housing development. 

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After announcing in January that Franklin-based Entegra Bank would be bought out by SmartFinancial Inc. out of Knoxville, the deal is being called off and Entegra now has plans to merge with Raleigh-based First Citizens Bank instead. 

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A recent analysis of sexual assault prosecutions in North Carolina conducted by Carolina Public Press showed a shockingly low number of convictions in the western counties, but District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch says these types of cases shouldn’t be reduced down to a number. 

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Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland is being sued for wrongful death after his deputy Anthony Momphard Jr. shot and killed Scott Knibbs in his home a year ago. 

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Last May, more than 25,000 educators across the state took to the streets of Raleigh to march for additional public education funding, and they plan to do it again this May. 

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