Jessi Stone

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pets swainBeth Cline has rescued animals since she was a young child. Her father would scold her every time she brought home another box of kittens, but she just couldn’t leave them sitting on the side of the road and would always find them a good home.

pets jellybeanJellybean is a 31-year-old blind miniature horse. Not being able to see her surroundings may seem like an insurmountable obstacle, but Star Ranch in Haywood County has made it possible for Jellybean to have a second chance to find a family.

fr maggieMaggie Valley leaders agreed to go back to the drawing board after several business owners expressed opposition to a portion of the proposed town center master plan.

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fr houseboatsSwain County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution last week opposing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s proposal to remove all boathouses from its reservoirs within 20 years. 

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haywoodHaywood County is continuing with efforts to update and improve its emergency management ordinance — a local regulation that came under fire last year by a group of residents who thought the language violated their constitutional rights.

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haywoodNew rules are now in place to govern commercial outdoor gun ranges in Haywood County.

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fr houseboatsScott Collins’ family has owned a houseboat on Fontana Lake since 1965 — that’s five generations that have made lasting family memories while enjoying a little rest and relaxation in the Great Smoky Mountains.

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fr houseboats2The Tennessee Valley Authority has proposed doing away with more than 1,800 houseboats that occupy various lakes under its jurisdiction.

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fr maggiecenterThere was a palpable sense of excitement in the air when Maggie Valley first unveiled its town center master plan. But with a couple of weeks to mull it over, some business owners are concerned the plan may have unintended and adverse consequences.

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coverA small group of parents had been working quietly for about three years to get the first charter school established in Haywood County, and they were beginning to think they would make it through the process without experiencing the backlash everyone told them was sure to come.  

“Everyone warned us it’s going to be hard, but we thought everything was going great until August,” said Anna Eason, a Shining Rock Classical Academy board member. “We bragged about our community being so wonderful and accepting, but then it came out with vengeance.”

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maconKevin Rohrer, a captain with Morrisville Fire and Rescue Department, has been hired as Franklin’s fulltime fire chief to replace former interim chief Warren Cabe.

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haywoodIt’s been a year since the Haywood County commissioners agreed to make changes to the county’s emergency management ordinance to tone down some overbearing language that didn’t sit well with an adamant group of civil liberty watchdogs.

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north carolinaLocal election officials say the March 15 primary election ran fairly smoothly despite having to implement the new voter ID law for the first time.

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fr whitmireThe town of Franklin has been sitting on about 13 acres of pristine greenway space for about 12 years with no concrete plans for how to utilize it.

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haywoodHaywood County voters will be asked to weigh in during the general election on whether businesses outside town limits should be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages.

haywoodPiece by piece, Canton is setting the stage for future economic success through a number of new initiatives.

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fr frystreetAlderwoman Heidi Woodard’s motion for the town to abandon the right-of-way on Fry Street was met with silence at Monday night’s Bryson City board meeting, but town leaders say that doesn’t mean the issue is dead.

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coverAfter waiting for years to get the money promised to them, the Swain County commissioners made a unanimous decision last week to sue the federal government for $38.2 million.

“It’s about our only option left,” said Commissioner Steve Moon.

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fr communitykitchenThe Community Kitchen in Canton works hard to make sure no one in the community goes hungry, and now the organization needs help from the community it serves to expand its food ministry.

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fr curtisMacon County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of 22-year-old Hunter Curtis after he was shot and killed by his father on March 26 during a domestic dispute.

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fr incubatorIt will be a bittersweet transition for Smoky Mountain Development Corporation executive director Allan Steinberg. On one hand, he has to watch the nonprofit he’s led for nine years dissolve, but on the other hand, he’s excited about the possibilities ahead as Haywood Community College takes over the organization’s facility.

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election timeNorth Carolina will hold a separate election on June 7 for the congressional primary, which means it’s not too late for new candidates to throw their hat into the ring.

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election timeA majority of North Carolina voters approved a significant investment in the state’s future economy during the primary election by voting in favor of the Connect NC bond referendum.

swainSwain County commissioner incumbents Steve Moon and David Monteith received the vote of confidence in the Democratic primary election.

maconIncumbent commissioner Paul Higdon and political newcomer Karl Gillespie will move on to the general election after winning the primary in Macon County. 

haywoodEven though the money isn’t yet in place, the town of Canton is considering several options for economic development incentives for businesses willing to invest in the downtown corridor.

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fr cantonWhen Canton town officials were notified that the North Carolina Department of Transportation would be repaving all of Main Street starting in May, they knew it was the right time to complete some much-needed pedestrian improvement projects in downtown.

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maconIt’s easy to spot the unstable embankments as you drive over Cowee Mountain between Macon and Jackson counties.

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fr swainlibraryThe community support behind getting a new public library in Swain County has been impressive, but the fundraising efforts have been slow-moving in the last couple of years.

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fr sherbyAfter being at the helm of Region A’s Southwestern Commission, Executive Director Ryan Sherby tendered his resignation on March 1 to the board of directors.

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coverAs people across North Carolina daydream about what they would do if they won millions from playing the lottery, they probably don’t give much thought to how the money is spent every time they buy a losing ticket. 

The North Carolina Education Lottery Commission would argue that no one is a loser when lottery revenue goes to fund education, but local school boards throughout the state might beg to differ. State lottery revenues have increased every year since it was launched in 2006, yet local school districts don’t feel like they are reaping the benefits.

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fr REACHThe staff of REACH of Macon County understands how difficult it is to leave your home, even under the most traumatic situations.

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fr bannersFranklin officials thought the controversy over banners would end when the board of aldermen passed an ordinance last year allowing them to be hung over Main Street to promote upcoming events.

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fr maggieplanMaggie Valley’s dream of having a viable downtown inched closer last week when a $7 million town center plan was unveiled.

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out frFranklin residents have taken it upon themselves to get the word out about the town’s recognition as the “Top Small Town” by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine. 

SEE ALSO: Franklin focuses on making town more walkable

Since the award was announced in November, the big question has been how to capitalize on the designation and bring more visitors to town. Because the award is given out each year, time is of the essence to spread the good word.

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out franklinFranklin has sidewalks, bike trails and a beautiful greenway to encourage residents and visitors to walk or bike around town, but those assets aren’t as valuable unless the town can find a better way to connect them.

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fr congressNorth Carolina will now have two primary elections in 2016 as lawsuits challenging the state’s districting maps continue to play out in court.

swainThe Swain County Health Department is concerned about the number of Hepatitis B cases confirmed in 2015.

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fr ncbondWith $120 million at stake, higher education leaders in Western North Carolina have taken every opportunity in the last month to educate people about the Connect N.C. Bond proposal.

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schoolsMacon County teachers recently voted overwhelmingly in favor of adding 20 minutes to their school days in an effort to get testing done before the Christmas holiday and fit in additional teacher workdays.

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swainSwain County Commissioners postponed a vote on whether to make the county recreation center a tobacco-free area after hearing feedback from a few residents.

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maconEven though all five of the candidates running for two open seats in the Macon County commissioner primary are Republicans, they all have a fairly different stance on the county’s role when it comes to spending and setting policies.

maconFormer Macon County Elections Director Kim Bishop recently had to appear before a federal judge for the second time to plead guilty to federal embezzlement charges after her first plea was rejected and her bond revoked for failing a drug test.

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votingNew voter identification laws are in effect for the 2016 elections, meaning voters should be prepared to show a valid form of photo identification at the polls during the March 15 primary election.

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fr foodtrucksThe debate over when, where and how mobile vendors should be allowed to operate within the town limits has now made its way to Waynesville.

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swainWith the help of Swain County commissioners, Mountain Discovery Charter School is about to begin a capital campaign to build a new gymnasium at the school that can also be utilized by the community at large.

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fr howardwhiteRev. Howard “Howdie” White, former rector of the Episcopal Grace Church in the Mountains in Waynesville, is being investigated in two states after being accused of sexual misconduct with minors. 

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election timeFive Swain County Democrats are heading for the March 15 primary election in hopes of securing a seat on the board of commissioners.

coverEveryone enjoys the ground-level Western North Carolina views, but drones provide a whole new perspective on things. 

SEE ALSO:
• Drone technology presents opportunities and challenges
• Drone operators navigate strict laws

With a gentle buzzing, these lightweight unmanned aircrafts are able to soar hundreds of feet into the air to capture some of the most breathtaking aerial shots of life here in the mountains. Tech-savvy entrepreneurs are starting to realize they can make a living out of capturing these images and video footage  enjoying the great outdoors themselves.

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fr drone operatorsDrone operators have found that navigating the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations is more complicated than navigating their unmanned aircrafts.

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