Jessi Stone

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Macon County Commission Chairman Jim Tate will face fellow Republican challenger John Shearl in the May 8 Primary to claim the District 1 seat on the board. 

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Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin has alerted parents about a group of students who may be involved in a suicide pact through a social media group.

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With Mission Health in the process of building a replacement hospital in Franklin, Macon County and town of Franklin leaders were curious how the pending acquisition may impact the project. 

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Mission Health CEO Dr. Ron Paulus made a visit to Franklin last week to provide the community with more details about the nonprofit’s ongoing negotiations to join the Nashville, Tennessee-based for-profit system HCA Healthcare. 

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Swain County resident Jerry Lowery has appealed his candidate challenge against Sheriff Curtis Cochran to the N.C. Board of Elections after the county board dismissed the case earlier this month. 

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The Smoky Mountain News and The Macon County News will jointly host a meet and greet and candidate forum from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at the Macon County Public Library. 

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The Macon County News is teaming up with The Smoky Mountain News to host candidate forums and meet and greets this election cycle at the Macon County Public Library.

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For 15 years Nantahala Outdoor Center instructors have been teaching kids and teens how to maneuver the waters of Western North Carolina during its summer camp programs. 

A YMCA camp in Swain County specifically caters to youth in Western North Carolina by offering an affordable weeklong outdoor adventure experience. 

Six candidates for Swain County commissioner — three Republicans and three Democrats — will appear on the May 8 Primary Election ballot. 

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Howard “Howdy” White Jr., a former episcopal priest who served in Waynesville until 2006, was indicted last week by a Haywood County Grand Jury on sexual abuse charges.

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The packed Swain County courtroom broke into thunderous applause as the newly seated board of elections unanimously dismissed a candidate challenge against incumbent Sheriff Curtis Cochran Monday evening. 

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A music and beer festival planned for April 20 in downtown Franklin has hit a roadblock since a town ordinance doesn’t allow alcohol to be served on town-owned property, but the Franklin Town Council is looking at ways to ease the restriction. 

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After serving as chairman of the Swain County Board of Commissioners for two terms, incumbent Phillip Carson will be challenged by fellow Democratic commissioner Ben Bushyhead. 

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Random Act of Kindness Week at Junaluska Elementary School culminated on Friday when students and community volunteers gathered in the school gymnasium with the goal of packing 30,000 meals for the hungry. 

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School systems in Western North Carolina continue to deal with a multitude of threats in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. 

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Mission Health, the largest health care provider in Western North Carolina, could soon become a for-profit health care system if plans to be acquired by Nashville-based HCA Healthcare come to fruition. 

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The Swain County candidate challenge against Sheriff Curtis Cochran is at a standstill until a new Swain County Board of Elections is seated in the coming weeks. 

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Even though the Swain County Board of Elections can’t proceed with hearing a candidate challenge filed against Sheriff Curtis Cochran, Cochran’s lawyer recently filed a response to the challenge asking for it to be dismissed. 

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Mission Health's Board of Directors today announced that it has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to enter into exclusive discussions to join HCA Healthcare, a Nashville, Tennessee-based company founded 50 years ago by two physicians.  The board's unanimous decision to execute the LOI with HCA Healthcare reflects its long-term vision and commitment to preserve and expand Mission Health’s world-class quality of care within a rapidly consolidating healthcare industry.  

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Joel Mashburn, Interim County Manager, announced today the appointment of Mr. Ira Dove as the Director of the Haywood County Consolidated Health and Human Services Agency.

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After a 30-year career in public education, Regina Mathis is trying her hand in public administration as the new Bryson City town manager. 

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Drug dealers are constantly finding new ways to protect their assets and the Macon County Sheriff’s office is trying to keep up with the latest trends. 

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With the results of a regional broadband survey now available, leaders have expansive data on the underserved areas in their counties and can seek out public-private partnership opportunities in an effort to expand high-speed internet service. 

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A public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 19, will give Jackson County residents a chance to weigh in on the pros and cons of allowing Sunday morning sales in their county.

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Gov. Roy Cooper’s legal battle challenging the Session Law 2017-6 — passed by a Republican-majority legislature — is having local ramifications for small communities like Swain County. 

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The North Carolina Public Utilities Commission has not yet ruled on a rate increase request for Duke Energy customers in Western North Carolina despite conflicting reports. 

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Globalization has made our big world seem much smaller, but it’s also pushed us farther away from one another. 

Instead of focusing on finding common ground with those who have opposing religious or political views, society segregates itself with others who believe the same way they do. 

SEE ALSO:
Speakers call on interfaith work for social justice
Participants take home renewed faith

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Christian Perspective

The Rev. T. Anthony Spearman hadn’t even started his talk from the Christian perspective, and already there wasn’t a dry eye in the Harrell Auditorium. More than 200 people listened intently as a black man on the projector screen sang “Make Them Hear You” from the Broadway musical “Ragtime.”

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It’s easy to grow weary in a world that is deeply divided and when efforts to reach out to the other side prove futile.

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Around the same time people were packing into the board of elections office in Swain Monday afternoon, a three-judge panel issued an order that will prevent the two-person elections board in Swain from hearing and making a ruling on the candidate challenge against Sheriff Curtis Cochran. 

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In keeping with the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center’s transformative efforts to remain a thriving spiritual and economic hub in Haywood County for generations to come, officials there wasted no time in naming a successor to the recently retired Executive Director Jack Ewing. 

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The latest mass shooting on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has spurred a number of potential threats across Western North Carolina. 

SEE ALSO:
• Jackson County leaders plan to prevent Jackson County leaders plan to prevent school violence
• Swain High students walk out of class

School officials and law enforcement officers are investigating several students who’ve made comments about school shootings while others have dealt with social media threats. Not all of the student comments have been found to be a credible or eminent threat, but local law enforcement agencies have made it clear such statements will be taken seriously. 

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Following a social media threat that led to a countywide school lockdown and an early dismissal on Thursday, Feb. 22, many students at Swain County High School staged a walkout on Friday, Feb. 23, to advocate for change. 

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The North Carolina Utilities Commission has issued an order granting a partial rate increase for Duke Energy Progress.

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Swain County Election Director Joan Weeks finally got a response from the county regarding a lawsuit she filed against the board of commissioners — but it was not the response she was hoping for. 

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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget calls on Congress to fund the overdue remaining balance of $39.2 million owed to Swain County from the North Shore Road settlement agreement made with the federal government back in 2010. 

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The N.C. Department of Transportation is planning a $1.7 million improvement project on Monteith Gap Road in Cullowhee following passage of an endorsement resolution from the Jackson County Commissioners. 

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The mental health system in North Carolina can use all the help it can get as it struggles with cuts in state funding, an increase in the demand of services and a shortage of local rural providers.

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Ashley Welch, the first female District Attorney for the 30th Judicial District, is seeking a second term — and is so far unopposed for the seat. 

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Waynesville Police Officers responded to the SunTrust Bank in downtown on Feb. 13 when it was reported a robbery had just occurred. A suspect description was quickly broadcast to all local agencies in an effort to locate and identify the female suspect, with no immediate results.

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Major changes are coming to North Carolina’s Medicaid program, and the regional organizations that manage those dollars for behavioral health needs are wasting no time in getting prepared to respond. 

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Charitable giving for nonprofits and churches in Haywood County is about to become much more efficient thanks to the implementation of the Charity Tracker internet service. 

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After rumblings and rumors around town, Mission Health confirmed it is actively looking for a new location for MAMA II, the medical emergency helicopter currently stationed at Angel Medical Center in Franklin. 

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Franklin Town Council seemed poised to approve a new zoning designation — the River Overlay District — until a packed room of business owners presented the board with a list of concerns Monday night during a public hearing. 

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The results of a $14,000 study that assessed the best uses of the town-owned Whitmire property revealed to the Franklin Town Council what residents have been asking for all along.

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Residents are accusing the Macon County government of impeding their private property rights by proposing new requirements for landowners and contractors wanting to perform grading work, but commissioners say that was never their intention. 

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Western North Carolina residents recently made it clear they do not support Duke Energy Progress’s request for a 15 percent rate increase for its customers.

As required by law, the North Carolina Utilities Commission conducted a public hearing to gather input on the corporation’s request. More than a dozen people testified during the quasi-judicial hearing held in Franklin, and a majority of the speakers were against any increase at all.

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After months of searching for someone to replace founding School Director Ben Butler, Waynesville public charter school Shining Rock Classical Academy has made its choice.

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This story was updated Jan. 22, 2020.

Mystic Lands property owners may have prevailed in court over one issue — a paving contractual dispute — but the majority of the other claims made against developer Ami Shinitzky for fraud and financial wrongdoing were previously dismissed.

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