Jessi Stone

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Mission Health’s Board of Directors and HCA Healthcare have entered into a definitive agreement for HCA to acquire Mission Health. 

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Ronnie Evans tries to remember his cousin as the beautiful and spunky woman pictured on the cover of his new book — the sparkle emanating from her party dress and her eyes — but the image he can’t get out of his head is the one of her lying on a cold slab following her autopsy in 1963. 

“I see these beautiful photos of her and realize she’d be 95 today if she lived, but I also saw her on a slab after the autopsy was done,” he said. “That and knowing how it happened to her — to know what she was subjected to — that’s why I’ve kept searching for answers.”

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A magistrate judge is often one of the first people you’ll come into contact with when you find yourself entangled in the criminal justice system.

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With widespread reports of abuse and fraud, the bail bonds industry in the U.S. doesn’t have the best reputation.

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Franklin Town Council called a special meeting for Aug. 21 to discuss a couple of mundane business items — street closures and uniform guidance policies — but the board added a closed session item to the agenda to discuss an economic development project. 

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The use of bail bonds dates back centuries as a means to settle disputes peacefully and to ensure a defendant shows up to court by having a friend or family member agree to pay the debt if the accused flees. 

The Durham County Detention Facility opened in the summer of 1996 with a capacity of 576 single cells. By 2005, the jail was at or over capacity a majority of the time. 

District Attorney Greg Newman confirmed Monday morning that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of North Carolina released its toxicology report concerning Michael Scott Knibbs, who was shot by Macon County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Wade Momphard, Jr. on April 30, 2018, after Knibbs aimed a loaded shotgun at the deputy sheriff. The toxicology report shows that Knibbs’ blood alcohol level at the time of the incident was 0.23, almost three times the legal limit of 0.08 when driving a car.  

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Women make up the fastest growing segment of inmates in the U.S. correctional system.

According to a 2016 study conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice, the number of women in jail grew from under 8,000 in 1970 to over 110,000 in 2014 and nearly half of them are in small county jails. 

At 27 years old, Samantha Ledford found herself addicted to prescription pills and heroin. Her daily life had become consumed with finding her next high and there didn’t seem to be a way out. 

The debate over whether the town of Bryson City should relinquish its right of way on Fry Street has resurfaced, but this time the railroad is offering the town something in exchange for the closure. 

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Marsha Crites doesn’t believe in tough love. She believes in second chances — and even third and fourth chances if that’s what it takes to get someone back on the right track. 

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In a criminal justice system that is often operated under rigid regulations and protocols, people may be surprised to find the disparities within the walls of local jails. 

All the jails have the same basics — sally port, booking area, magistrate office, holding cells, inmate pods and control rooms with security cameras — but each facility is set up a little differently. 

When county jails are constantly at or over capacity, the easiest answer seems to be to build a bigger one.

Taxpayers aren’t the only ones paying the price for the growing number of incarcerations and overcrowded jails. 

Macon County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Wade Momphard Jr. will not face any criminal charges after he shot and killed Scott Knibbs inside his home just after midnight April 30. 

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As The Smoky Mountain News embarks on a yearlong investigative project to explore the rural jail crisis, we wanted to first take a look at how much incarceration is costing the taxpayers in Western North Carolina. 

Financial data was collected from the four counties in our coverage area — Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain — to analyze how much each spends annually on local detention centers and how it impacts the overall county budget. What we’ve found is that costs are rising annually and budgeting can be difficult with so many fluctuating expenses to consider. 

LifePoint Health, the parent company of three regional hospitals in Western North Carolina, recently announced its plans to merge with RCCH Healthcare Partners.

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Though the sale of nonprofit Mission Health to for-profit HCA isn’t official yet, the Mission Health Board of Directors hasn’t wasted any time setting up a health care foundation that will receive proceeds from the sale. 

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STAR Ranch Horse Rescue in Haywood County has had many success stories through the years, but a recent horse rescue effort has Karen Owens believing in miracles. 

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Seniors packed the Macon County commissioners’ meeting July 10 to lobby the county for a new senior center. 

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The Bryson City Board of Aldermen will soon revisit the controversial topic of whether to relinquish its right-of-way on Fry Street at the request of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. 

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Many rural county jail populations are growing at a higher rate than urban county jails or even state prisons, according to research done by the Center on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice.

After a successful trial run, the parking pattern on Main Street in downtown Franklin will soon be changing permanently.

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The Macon County Airport Authority may have hit a roadblock in the planning process for a project that will add another 1,000 feet to the runway. 

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An outside prosecutor has been called in to review the State Bureau of Investigations’ report regarding an officer-involved shooting that left Scott Knibbs dead inside his Macon County home. 

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Carlie Nichols has vivid memories of growing up during the Vietnam War — specifically she remembers how poorly Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned home from combat. 

“My father was in the military for 23 years and I vividly remember the way our veterans were treated when they came back from Vietnam,” she said. “I was in college and I remember saying to myself, ‘God forbid something like Vietnam ever happens again — I will not do nothing.’ Back then, there really wasn’t an avenue to do something that I felt would be positive.”

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It’s a day many in Swain County didn’t think they’d ever live to see, but last Saturday county leaders were presented a check for $35.2 million for the North Shore Road settlement, ending a 70-year-old battle with the federal government.

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As Royal Phillips packs up her belongings that signify the last 20 years she’s spent in Waynesville and prepares for her next chapter in Palm Springs, California, she can’t help but to feel like her life has come full circle — and what a crazy circle it has been. 

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A new mental health facility in Asheville is set to open this summer to serve children and teens in Western North Carolina dealing with a mental health crisis and addiction. 

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When residents gave testimony back in January adamantly opposing Duke Energy Carolinas’ rate increase request to the North Carolina Utilities Commission, many assumed their strong dissension would fall on deaf ears. 

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Following plenty of public input, Macon County commissioners approved a final budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year that includes more than $1 million in additional funding for public education. 

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District Attorney Ashley Welch has completed the review of the SBI investigation into the events of July 25, 2017, involving a motor vehicle accident with Trooper Hunter Hooper of the North Carolina Highway Patrol which occurred in the line of duty and resulted in the deaths of Robert Lee Nelson and Esther Matilda Nelson of Florida. 

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It’s been several months since a young police K9, Kanon, died while in the possession of a Bryson City Police Department employee, but the local community and the nonprofit organization that donated the Dutch shepherd are still seeking answers to what really happened. 

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If you don’t have much experience within the criminal justice system, trying to navigate the system can be frustrating.

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Standing on a mountaintop ascending above 10,000 feet — an ancient farming village in the valley below and a Buddhist nunnery behind her — Julie Thorner of Bryson City couldn’t be farther away from the life she’s known in the U.S. Yet each time she returns to Tibet, it starts to feel more and more like where she’s meant to be. 

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Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran has suspended a longstanding mutual aid agreement with the Bryson City Police Department, though the reasoning behind the decision isn’t all that clear.

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Swain County’s proposed budget for 2018-19 will maintain the status quo without a proposed property tax increase or any major capital projects in the works. 

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Macon County commissioners are considering contributing another $750,000 toward public education to prevent further drastic cuts to Macon County Schools’ 2018-19 budget. 

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According to an announcement from U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Swain County will finally receive the remaining $35.2 million owed to it by the federal government. 

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The Franklin Town Council unanimously approved its 2018-19 budget on Monday night, which includes a 4-cent property tax increase for its residents. 

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Tempers flared at the Franklin Town Council meeting Monday night as board members tried to find a solution to a public bathroom dilemma for its summer Pickin’ on the Square series. 

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Darrian Childers is quitting Boy Scouts after joining a local troop about three years ago when his family moved to Waynesville. 

The 16-year-old made his decision not long after the Boy Scouts of America announced its decision to allow girls to participate in more of its programming alongside the boys. While Childers has really enjoyed his time with the Scouts, he doesn’t think the organization is moving in the right direction. 

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Outdoor recreation leaders in the region recently had the opportunity to weigh in on a newly established North Carolina Outdoor Recreation Industry Office whose aim is to help the industry and recruit more business. 

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The Franklin Town Council is recommending a 4-cent property tax increase this year in order to cover its growing expenses and to avoid dipping into its fund balance. 

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More than 20 school districts in the state of North Carolina had to shut down as more than 15,000 teachers traveled to Raleigh on May 16 to rally for public education. 

While none of the school systems west of Buncombe County had to take a day off, the far western counties were well represented at the rally. Many teachers that couldn’t attend still showed solidarity by wearing red shirts to school that day to represent the “RedforEd” march that ended at the Legislative Building. 

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Macon County’s proposed budget for 2018-19 does not include a tax increase despite increasing costs and capital needs throughout the county. 

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Between Macon County Schools and Southwestern Community College, education expenses make up 18 percent of the county’s budget. 

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A second affordable apartment development is coming to Siler Road after the Franklin Town Council approved a special-use permit. 

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Many farmers today understand they can’t put all their eggs in one basket. 

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