Cory Vaillancourt

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A bill introduced by Haywood County’s two state House representatives would make all of the county’s municipal elections — as well as school board races — a partisan affair.

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Saying that it invests in North Carolina’s “families, businesses and communities,” Gov. Roy Cooper presented his proposed 2022-23 budget, full of significant appropriations meant to deal with some of the state’s biggest problems — out-of-control housing costs, an increasingly competitive economic development landscape, a lack of law enforcement resources, threats to the natural environment, an underfunded educational system and affordable access to health care coverage.

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Less than 17 months after being sworn into office, Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn has been voted out of office by his Western North Carolina constituents.

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Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara delivered on expectations, running away with the Democratic nomination in the 11th Congressional District.

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Voters in Senate District 47 won’t have to wait until November to find out who their next senator will be, after a slim Primary Election victory by incumbent Sen. Ralph Hise over fellow Republican Sen. Deanna Ballard.

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November’s field for the Haywood County Commission is set as three Republicans and two Democrats will compete for three seats in November’s General Election after voters whittled down the Republican primary field Tuesday night.

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As it often does, the Historic Haywood Courthouse played host to a rally on May 14 that drew about 50 people, an equal number of signs and a small contingent of counterdemonstrators. Unlike in recent years, it wasn’t a rally supporting Black Lives Matter, or law enforcement officers, or local issues like the proposed jail expansion.

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Around midnight on Christmas Eve in 2006, Jonathan Lubecky found himself alone in a Raleigh tavern listening to church bells chiming off in the distance.

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When Haywood TDA Executive Director Lynn Collins showed up to the Haywood County Board of Commissioners meeting to deliver her mid-year report on May 2, her opening statement didn’t exactly take anyone by surprise.

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Just 24 hours after posting a graphic video of controversial congressman Madison Cawthorn, the web host of the site where it first appeared demanded the video be removed, citing terms of service violations. 

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Yet another video that depicts embattled Western North Carolina Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn in a compromising situation has surfaced, according to a story first reported May 4 by The News & Observer .

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Unlike most North Carolina municipalities, the Town of Waynesville operates its own electric service, giving it greater local control over billing, rates and policies that monopolies like Duke Energy don’t offer.

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Declining revenues and a growing list of capital improvements are both putting the squeeze on Waynesville’s finances, but a proposed 2-cent increase in property taxes might not be enough to address them all. 

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A 59-unit townhome development on 7.7 acres just off East Street in Waynesville has been approved over opposition from neighbors, several planning board members and a town alderman.

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As the completion of Haywood County’s 2022-23 budget draws near, it’s becoming apparent that inflation, the tight labor market and ever-increasing health care costs are conspiring against the county to the point of potentially impacting staffing, especially in public safety.

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Governing a small municipality is work enough, but add in unprecedented amounts of federal recovery funds that need to be appropriated and a strong undercurrent of residential development and the workload for Waynesville’s aldermen and planning board only gets bigger and bigger.

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Primary Elections in Western North Carolina will be held on Tuesday, May 17, but in-person early voting will get underway on Thursday, April 28. 

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As Greg Christopher enters his 43rd and likely final year in law enforcement, he goes out with his reputation intact and a scandal-free 10-year tenure as Haywood County’s sheriff.

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Western North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District has garnered national attention for electing one controversial Trump-affiliated Republican congressman followed by another controversial Trump-affiliated Republican congressman who now finds himself in the fight of his political life against fellow Republicans.

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Haywood County’s growing, and with that growth comes change – change not everyone is happy to see. Traditional hot-button issues like fiscal control are intricately tied into other issues like affordable housing, which are tied into still other issues like the opioid crisis, the mental health crisis and the homelessness crisis.

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Saying in a leaked recording that “we all want the ultimate goal of him never serving again,” Lisa Wiggins, a former caseworker and campaign aide to Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Henderson) has filed an employment-related campaign against the embattled congressman.

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In 2020, a trial court accepted the qualified immunity defense of Macon County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Anthony Momphard for the 2018 killing of Scott Knibbs.

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Redistricting brought small changes to many of Western North Carolina’s legislative districts, but nowhere are those minor changes more major than eastern Haywood County.

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It’s a critical time in the Town of Waynesville. Legacy problems like aging sewer and water infrastructure and a malfunctioning downtown association are almost in the rearview mirror, as are the uncertainty and disruption of the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

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Small in stature but towering in her decades-long influence on Haywood County, Alaska Presley passed away on April 7 at Smoky Mountain Health and Rehabilitation, according to an obituary from Wells Funeral Home. 

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Haywood County is known for its outdoor recreational opportunities that drive both tourism and the local economy. Now, with the county’s approval of a 236-page recreation master plan last week, commissioners are seeking to stay ahead of the competition in the outdoor recreation game.

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Haywood County commissioners took an important step forward on April 4 by selecting Moseley Architects of Charlotte as the preferred firm to handle architectural and engineering services for the county’s proposed jail expansion project.

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For more than 50 years, Haywood Christian Ministry has served as a safety net for some of Haywood County’s most vulnerable citizens looking for help with the most basic of needs – rent, heat, medication, clothing, utilities and, perhaps most importantly, nutrition.

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Haywood Pathways Center’s Holy Cow Food Truck returned to action earlier this week, but customers may notice something slightly different about the boxy trailer nicknamed “Elise” – they’re no longer charging a set price for meals.

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Update 4:20 p.m.: Aerial support in the form of a spotter plane and a helicopter carrying a bucket is now being used, and a reunification center has been opened at Cavalry Road Baptist Church, where separated loved ones can find one another.

 

Dry, breezy conditions over the past several days are contributing to increased fire danger across the region, and although four fires just across the Tennessee border appear to be contained, another one is now visible just outside of Maggie Valley.

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The war in Ukraine may seem a million miles away, but one doesn’t have to travel halfway across the world to find the Western perspective on it. A small group of scholars from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee — some with roots in the war-torn region — are using their experience and academic skillsets to help educate the public about a complicated, confusing conflict that is already beginning to have global implications.

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For more than 30 years, the Robert Forga Family KARE House has served as Haywood County’s evidence-based, collaborative children’s advocacy center, helping the community prevent and authorities prosecute physical and sexual child abuse. After a recent reaccreditation by an important national agency, KARE looks to be on solid ground for at least another five years.

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There aren’t a lot of differences between the five Republican candidates running for Haywood County Commission this year, but one big disparity was glaringly apparent during a March 15 candidate forum rife with ignorance and misinformation.

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More than a hundred economic development professionals, elected officials, internet service providers and interested parties from across North Carolina’s seven westernmost counties met March 21 in Franklin to acquaint themselves with the ways in which unprecedented amounts of state and federal broadband monies will be used to close the digital divide in rural Appalachia.

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Update March 24, 2022: Near the end of a chaotic March 21 meeting of the Town of Waynesville’s planning board, a vote was taken to consider recommending the Allison Acres project to the Board of Aldermen. That vote was 4 to 3 in favor of approval.

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Former NC-11 Republican Congressman and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has remained adamant that voters cast fraudulent ballots during the 2020 General Election, but after revelations about his voter registration came to light earlier this month, it appears Meadows wasn’t just talking about Chinese cybercriminals using thermostats  to hack voting machines or an Italian satellite  changing votes from outer space — he may have actually been talking about himself and his wife.

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It’s hard to believe there was ever a time when reports of stalking, sexual assault, domestic violence and dating violence weren’t taken seriously by law enforcement, courts or the general public, but there was – and it wasn’t even 30 years ago.

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After Alderman Anthony Sutton floated the idea near the end of a Jan. 11 meeting, the Town of Waynesville will now take a methodical, deliberate approach to the question of whether or not – and where – social districts could end up being established .

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The word “Jewish” can be used to describe both an ethnicity and a religious faith; some people are one or the other and some people are both, but you don’t have to be either to appreciate the cross-cultural crunch Nefesh Mountain brings to the stage.

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A month ago, Haywood Emergency Medical Services Director Travis Donaldson pleaded with Haywood County commissioners to adjust schedules and raise staffing levels. Last Monday, commissioners gave Donaldson what he’d been asking for, in a unanimous vote. 

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A subcommittee of the new Downtown Waynesville Advisory Committee (DWAC) met last week to kick-start a full slate of summer, fall and winter events for the rest of 2022. However the vaunted Church Street Art & Craft show isn’t one of them. 

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With a troublesome lawsuit challenge to his candidacy finally out of the way, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Henderson) can now focus on what will doubtless be a contentious Primary Election contest.

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While much of the field has been set for weeks in many of the races that will appear on Western North Carolina Primary Election ballots this May, it wouldn’t be election season without a few unforeseen, last-minute election moves.

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In a viral video he released last fall, Army veteran Josh Remillard explained the concept of a “ruck” as carrying one’s gear for miles on end. With his surprise announcement earlier today, Remillard made clear that he’s going to keep on ruckin’.

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 After spending nearly a year campaigning for the Democratic nomination in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, Hendersonville educator Eric Gash announced this morning that he wouldn’t continue his campaign.

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After months of back-and-forth between the General Assembly, the Wake County Superior Court and the North Carolina Supreme Court, state legislative maps and congressional districts are finally set for the May 17 Primary Election.

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With festival season rapidly approaching and a long list of items needing attention, members of the new Downtown Waynesville Advisory Committee convened for the first time in an organizational meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23. 

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Rep. Madison Cawthorn drew mixed reactions when he announced on Nov. 11, 2021 that he’d run in the newly drawn 13th Congressional District instead of the 11th, but after that map was thrown out and redrawn by courts earlier this month, it led to withering speculation over Cawthorn’s next move. Today, Cawthorn ended all speculation.

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In a small room tucked away in the corner of a nondescript strip mall in the heart of Waynesville, spindly wisps of smoke waft from an incense burner adorned with bells and suspended by chains from the hand of a deacon slinging it rhythmically, back and forth.

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Debt is rolling off the books and sales tax revenue is still through the roof, but because Haywood County will likely go to the bond market later this year to pay for its jail expansion, the fiscal year 2022-23 Haywood County budget will be an especially critical one.

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