Jessi Stone

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Macon County Schools will be setting up a school-based health center at South Macon Elementary School soon thanks to a $150,000 community health grant from the state Office of Rural Health. 

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Drug dealers in North Carolina could face more prison time for selling someone a deadly dose of narcotics if newly proposed legislation becomes law. 

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Tensions ran high at Monday night’s Franklin Town Council meeting as the board sat before a packed room of residents there hoping to sway the town one way or another on the future of Nikwasi Mound. 

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With fly-fishing tourism on the rise in Western North Carolina, a new attraction in Bryson City will bring visitors up-close and personal with up to 50 species of freshwater fish. 

A group of Macon County residents plan to file a complaint seeking an injunction to keep the town of Franklin from giving up its sole ownership of the Nikwasi Mound.

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The Franklin Town Council was in agreement to move forward with plans to deed over the Nikwasi Mound to new nonprofit Nikwasi Initiative during its March 4 meeting, but controversy over who should own the historic site has once again heated up in the community.

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In 24 short hours, more than 12 million people posted a personal message on social media using the #MeToo hashtag. It was one of the most powerful moments in history in the fight to end sexual violence, but the movement’s founder Tarana Burke said the moment will pass by without any real change unless supporters stay focused on the real message.

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Substance abuse has had a number of unintended consequences on society from mental illness, unemployment, overcrowded jails, a backlogged court system, increased health care costs to homelessness, but one of the most devastating consequences is the separation of families. 

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The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will likely hold yet another vote on potential changes to its health and human services departments during a meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, at the Jackson County Administration Building in Sylva.

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When Chris Slagle’s partner of 26 years died unexpectedly four years ago, he bought a fixer-upper house in Maggie Valley with plans of healing from his heartbreak while pouring everything he had into restoring the old house on Fie Top Road. 

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Now that Swain County has finally received the entire $52 million from the federal government for the North Shore Road settlement agreement, county commissioners want to make sure they’re making the most of that money. 

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In a historic decision, the town of Franklin voted Monday to move forward with the process of deeding the Nikwasi Mound over to Nikwasi Initiative as the nonprofit continues its work to preserve and promote the region’s important cultural sites. 

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Waynesville defense lawyer Mark Melrose filed a civil lawsuit against fellow defense lawyer and Clyde Mayor Pro Tem Frank Lay in Haywood County last week claiming Lay posted false and libelous statements about him on Facebook during his campaign for Superior Court judge.

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Personnel issues have been the only reason why Bryson City Aldermen have held closed meetings in 2018. 

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Swain County commissioners typically hold two meetings per month, and it’s not unusual for them to have a closed session on the agenda. 

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Of all the town and county governments in The Smoky Mountain News coverage area, the Franklin Town Council had the fewest closed meetings in 2018. 

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A vast majority of Macon County Board of Commissioners meetings end with a closed session. In fact, commissioners spent more than 400 minutes — over seven hours — conducting business behind closed doors in 2018. 

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According to an internal email leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Mission’s CEO Dr. Ron Paulus will be leaving his post for a position at HCA Healthcare, the for-profit health care corporation that just purchased Mission Health. 

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Following HCA Healthcare’s purchase of the Mission Health System, the nonprofit foundations that have supported Mission’s hospitals for so long had the choice to dissolve or find a new mission. 

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As all of Mission’s legacy foundations establish their new mission and board of directors, Dogwood Health Trust is in the process of looking for the right person to lead the new private charity foundation.  

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Macon County and the town of Franklin are working on a collaborative project to create a new greenway connection on East Main Street.

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The table is set — all you have to do is come sit down and be served.

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It’s likely to be another tough budget year as Macon County commissioners are faced with a growing list of capital and security improvement needs, increased health care costs and stagnant property values.

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On the campaign trail, Jane Hipps of Waynesville was often called the “woman from the west, for the west.”

With a true passion for the people of Western North Carolina and a commitment to being a voice for the region, she was an active member of the community, her church and a two-time candidate for WNC’s 50th District Senate seat. 

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With the completion of Mission Health System’s sale of assets to HCA Healthcare, Dogwood Health Trust is now officially operating as a private, nonprofit foundation with the purpose of dramatically improving the health and wellbeing of all people and communities in Western North Carolina.

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Seven years have passed since REACH of Jackson County suddenly shut down operations due to financial issues, leaving the county without a local organization to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

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This year marked the third annual Women’s March on Asheville — part of a national movement to rally for equal rights and social change for women. 

The first march was held less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 as tensions were high. Women were angry about Trump’s attitude and actions toward women and also feared for the erosion of their rights, safety, health and families. 

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Born of the same generation but in different parts of the country, Jane Sherron De Hart and Ruth Bader Ginsburg traveled on oddly similar parallel paths. Those paths would eventually cross as De Hart’s 15 years worth of research on the Supreme Court Justice recently became the most comprehensive biography of Ginsburg’s life and law career.

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It may look like marijuana and it may smell like marijuana, but it’s not marijuana. Without the THC component, the green and aromatic plant is simply hemp. It won’t get you high and it’s now legal to grow in 34 states, including North Carolina. 

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Entegra Bank, which has locations throughout Western North Carolina, will soon merge with SmartFinancial, Inc., the parent company of SmartBank based in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

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Those who were unhappy with the original terms of the proposed sale of Mission Health to a for-profit heathcare giant got some relief last week.

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More signage and stricter law enforcement could be the solution to keeping tractor trailers off Highlands Road.

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On the Greek island of Ikaria, its population of 10,000 people live an average of 10 years longer than Americans, have about half the rate of heart disease, lower rates of cancer and obesity and zero cases of dementia.

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For 20 years, Good Samaritan Clinic provided much needed health care services to people of Haywood County. Even though the nonprofit has now dissolved, past volunteers and board members came together last week to do one more good deed and fulfill its mission. 

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Born with cerebral palsy, Jaylyn Logan’s nana Marvellia Ross knew that her granddaughter’s life would have limitations. However, a new program at the Catamount School has shown them that just about anything is possible when you push yourself and have others rooting for you.

Jaylyn amazed her teammates, her family and herself in December when she not only completed her first 5K race but even ran to the finish line. 

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Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran recently called upon the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to investigate alleged threats against himself and several other law enforcement officers. 

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The residents at M&M Trailer Park in Clyde were without water for nearly a month after the Junaluska Sanitary District shut off service for failure to pay. 

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Unemployment rates are about as low as they’re going to get in Western North Carolina and there are jobs to be had for those who want them, but many people across different professions have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet as wages have not kept pace with the cost of living. 

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UnitedHealthCare and local Duke LifePoint affiliated hospitals have not yet worked out a new contract agreement, which could mean higher medical costs for UnitedHealth policyholders in 2019. 

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Congress’s failure to approve a discretionary spending budget led to another partial government shutdown beginning Dec. 21, and Western North Carolina’s economy will once again feel the impact the longer it continues.

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Hearing the joyful sound of a small silver jingle bell from Santa’s sleigh — it’s what separates those who believe in the spirit of Christmas and those who don’t.

The jingle jangle of the bell comes through loud and clear when we’re children, but can fade away as we get older. Hope is not lost forever though, as children and adults alike are sure to find their Christmas spirit restored aboard The Polar Express train ride. 

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Macon County commissioners may be looking at a possible higher tax rate next year after hearing a presentation on the 2019 property revaluation process. 

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Attorney General Josh Stein recently issued a press release discussing his ongoing review of HCA’s proposed $1.5 billion purchase of the nonprofit Mission Health system.

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Now that the N.C. Department of Transportation has completed a new bridge over the Little Tennessee River in downtown Franklin, the town council is discussing ways to connect the pedestrian walkway to the greenway. 

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A couple of Franklin Town Councilmembers want to explore future changes to the ABC store and ABC board while other members think the alcoholic beverage operation is fine the way it is.

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Macon and Jackson counties will be considered less economically distressed in 2019, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. 

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Under the Sixth Amendment every criminal defendant has a constitutional right to legal representation — and if you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to have one provided by the state. 

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Drake Enterprises is spreading its wings further into the community as it takes over management of the Macon County Airport. 

Under the new subsidiary Macon Air LLC, Drake assumed responsibility for airport operations as of Oct. 1 after its former management entity — Franklin Aviation, led by Neil Hoppe and Peggy Milton — decided to retire. Hoppe and Milton had managed the airport for 20 years under a contract with the county. 

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While the North Carolina Legislature included Macon County in a pilot program to change the way court-appointed lawyers are paid, Chief District Court Judge Richard Walker requested to opt out of the program. 

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The success of a pretrial release program being piloted in Jackson and Haywood county’s judicial district hinges on a handful of lawyers being willing to dedicate at least one day a week to handling first appearances for indigent clients. 

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