Cory Vaillancourt

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haywoodOn July 11, Dave Angel’s plan to operate a 10,000 square-foot whiskey distillery on 1.7 acres at 3732 Soco Road in the heart of Maggie Valley got a boost from the Town Board and the Maggie Valley Sanitary District.

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fr ghosttownMike Withers loved Ghost Town in the Sky so much that in Spring 2015 at the age of 72, he still held out hope that the troubled amusement park would reopen for the summer.

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fr wcu2As the 2016-17 North Carolina budget came together, a significant part of it — touted by both Democrats and Republicans — was the N.C. Promise Tuition Plan, intended to make education more affordable for college students who often graduate saddled with great debt, or worse, don’t graduate but retain similar levels of financial obligation to lenders facing increased scrutiny for what some call “predatory” practices.

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fr foodtruckThe Mad Anthony’s food truck debate culminated last week in what will go down in the annals of Waynesville lore as “The Battle of Branner Avenue” — the story of a local businessman who did almost everything wrong but was in the right, and the town that did almost everything right but was in the wrong.

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fr lakejsingersThe resignation of Lake Junaluska Singers Director Dr. Melodie Galloway comes after one member of the well-known choral group made several written allegations to Junaluska officials after his termination from the group on June 25.

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haywoodBy a 4-1 vote on June 28, the Town of Waynesville finally got around to complying with an Oct. 1, 2015, state requirement that could potentially threaten the very existence of one of its best-known institutions. 

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Visitors to the Lake Junaluska Singers web page over the past day or so were shocked to see that the 2016 Lake Junaluska Singers season has been suspended, their performances have been cancelled, and that Director of the Lake Junaluska Singers Dr. Melodie Galloway has resigned.

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Revolutionary War hero General “Mad” Anthony Wayne once told George Washington, “Issue the order, Sir, and I will storm the gates of Hell.”

Supporters of Mad Anthony’s Bottle Shop & Beer Garden on Branner Avenue are no less fired up about a ruling handed down by the Waynesville Town Board last night that now renders their food truck a pricey parking lot decoration.

Mads

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fr web govtJournalists responsible for news gathering in a rugged and mountainous four-county (Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain), 2,111-square-mile swath of Western North Carolina that happens to contain two sovereign nations, 11 towns, 32 unincorporated communities, 44 townships, 150,000 people, and the most visited national park in the country often rely on local government websites and the accuracy and timeliness of the information contained therein.

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fr webmaggieYears ago, the Town of Maggie Valley used to be known as a place where governance didn’t always take place in full sunshine. 

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fr webcantonThe Town of Canton’s website was the subject of discussion during recent budget hearings, as some questioned the need for spending $25,000 (plus $5,000 for marketing) on a new one. 

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fr webwaynesvilleAs the largest town west of Asheville and the county seat of Haywood County, Waynesville is the economic engine of the region, driving development and investment from Canton to Cherokee. Accordingly, its burden is high — some of the most important interactions residents will have with any local government occur on its website, almost 90 times each day. 

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fr webhaywoodHaywood County’s website tied for the highest ranking in the area despite earning design scores that were sub-par.

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haywoodA lawsuit filed by a Waynesville parent and attorney in May regarding the closure of Central Elementary School is beginning to see some action.

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haywoodCanton’s new budget includes a provision making it the first living wage certified government in Western North Carolina, but at the town board meeting June 23, aldermen took that measure one step further. 

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election timeAlthough the upcoming general election has much of the nation’s attention focused on just two candidates — a controversial populist and a former Secretary of State under investigation for mishandling classified material — local races offer considerably more palatable choices that will have a direct impact on the lives of area residents. 

north carolinaIn late October 2015, Gov. Pat McCrory signed the “Protect North Carolina Workers Act,” requiring state and local governments to verify the immigration status of potential employees and to prohibit interference in the relationship of local law enforcement with federal agents investigating immigration violations. 

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north carolinaThe North Carolina General Assembly reached the finish line a bit earlier than expected in their race to present GOP Gov. Pat McCrory with a budget before the long Independence Day holiday weekend.

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fr presnellThe Great Smoky Mountains are known across the world for their beauty and the unique bluish haze produced in large part by local vegetation, but if N.C. Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Burnsville, has her way, the Smokies may soon become a lot smokier. 

fr howellmillAs the $11.6 million Howell Mill Road project was winding down in late 2015, the Waynesville Planning Board began to take a look at zoning within the burgeoning corridor; what the board found was commercial development encroaching on formerly rural areas and disagreements between neighbors on the future of their community.

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north carolinaThe North Carolina General Assembly continues to haggle over specific provisions in the proposed 2016-17 state budget as they race to present a compromise spending plan to GOP Gov. Pat McCrory before the long Independence Day holiday weekend.

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fr mosquitoCiting recent news stories about mosquitoes transmitting the Zika virus, Haywood County Director of Health and Human Services Patrick H. Johnson presented information to the Haywood County Board on Haywood County’s mosquito populations, the risks the insects pose, prevention measures, and available assistance.

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haywoodAlthough the Haywood County Board of Commissioners passed a 2016-17 budget June 20 that was 3.1 percent higher than 2015-16, the board was able to do so without budging from its previous 56.61 cents per $100 assessed value property tax levy.

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fr shelterEasily identifiable in their teal T-shirts with the “#buildtheshelter” hashtag emblazoned on the back, an estimated 100-plus person crowd turned up at the June 20 Haywood County commissioners’ meeting to show their support — both personal and financial — for the proposed $3.3 million Haywood County Animal Shelter project.

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fr firemenWaynesville’s 2016-17 budget includes funding for eight new full-time firefighters, effectively doubling staffing, shortening response times and increasing firefighter safety at a cost of about $530,000 per year over three years.

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haywoodAfter several public opportunities for comment resulted in sparse discussion, Waynesville’s 2016-17 budget passed June 14 with the largest tax hike of Mayor Gavin Brown’s tenure.

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fr maggieThere wasn’t an empty seat in the house when the Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen met for its public budget hearing on June 13, but it was a zoning issue that took up 90 percent of the three-plus hour meeting.

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schoolsAlthough the closing of Central Elementary School was met with cheers, jeers, and even a lawsuit, its recent closure is already yielding positive results for the rest of the district’s budget.

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fr waynesvilleA sparsely-attended special meeting held June 7 at the Waynesville Town Hall was meant to serve as a public hearing on the town’s proposed $29.7 million budget for fiscal year 2016-2017, but instead talk centered mostly around things much more elemental — namely, fire.

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haywoodThe Canton Board of Aldermen took another three hours June 9 to conduct a required public hearing on the 2016-17 budget. That’s in addition to the three hours that were spent discussing it May 26. And there’s still one more session to go June 23.

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fr cantonThe Canton Town Board is considering proposals that could boost Canton’s appeal to residents and tourists alike — especially those interested in festivals and fishing.

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animal controlFriends of the Haywood County Animal Shelter will host a kickoff reception and informational session in support of the county’s new shelter proposal.

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fr shootingrangeWork has begun on a controversial Haywood County indoor shooting range that had some residents at odds last winter.

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fr gomezAs an associate professor of physics at Western Carolina University who specializes in astronomy, Dr. Enrique Gomez may be used to looking up at the sky, but as the president of the Jackson County Branch of the North Carolina NAACP, he also concentrates on issues that are a little more down to earth.

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fr cantonpavingFor the past few months, downtown Canton’s long-awaited repaving and streetscaping projects seemed to be cruising right along in the fast lane. But now, residents and businesses alike are concerned that there’s a wheel in the ditch, and a wheel on the track.

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fr gunhaywoodFor 21 years, firearms have not been permitted on any county-owned property, except for law enforcement officers on duty. Almost nine years ago, that policy was whittled down, allowing exceptions for gun shows. 

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fr animalshelterIf you’re for the proposed new Haywood County Animal Services facility, it’s called an “animal shelter,” deadpanned Haywood County Commissioner Bill Upton.

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fr cantonpavingCanton Town Board Member and Mayor Pro-Tem Carole Edwards had a hard time concealing her dismay at news that Canton’s downtown resurfacing projects weren’t proceeding according to plan.

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haywoodWhen Alderman Zeb Smathers opened the Canton Board of Aldermen meeting on May 26 with an invocation decrying the “venom and negativity” in the national political climate, one could almost interpret it as the ominous foreshadowing of what was expected to be a tempestuous meeting.

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