Cory Vaillancourt

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The debate over whether or not Haywood County should declare itself a “Second Amendment sanctuary” entered a new phase Tuesday night after hundreds packed the Historic Haywood Courthouse and dozens addressed commissioners, with most speakers expressing a single resounding opinion: yes, it should.

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Proposed changes to and clarifications of cemetery ordinances prompted by public outcry in Waynesville will soon undergo a period of public comment before possible adoption by the town’s Board of Aldermen. 

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The town of Waynesville’s homelessness task force has gotten off to a slow start, but things should start to move much more quickly in the coming days. 

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Longstanding plans for a park near the Pigeon Street corridor are about to move forward, as are other plans designed to connect — physically and symbolically — Waynesville’s bustling Main Street with the town’s historic African American neighborhood. 

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Sure, your local civic organization, athletic club or hobbyist group probably has a treasurer — the person with the checkbook who pays the bills, monitors the bank accounts and regularly reports on the income and expenditures of the bake sale, or the fishing rod raffle.

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After a long career in public service, North Carolina’s current Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry — who you probably know if you’ve ever stepped foot in a North Carolina elevator — is calling it quits. 

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Proposed changes to and clarifications of cemetery ordinances prompted by public outcry in Waynesville will undergo a period of public comment before possible adoption by the town’s Board of Aldermen.

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Almost seven months after the retirement of its longtime police chief, the Town of Waynesville is getting closer to naming his replacement. 

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Despite the urgency of the area’s homelessness problem and the cacophony of citizens clamoring for a task force to begin work on the issue, Waynesville’s Board of Aldermen remains focused on getting it right, as opposed to getting it right now. 

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A Pisgah High School teacher who had been under investigation by Haywood County Schools since late last year is no longer with HCS, according to Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte. 

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As Primary Election season sets in, a number of statewide races will have voters making some serious decisions at the polls. Few contests hold more consequence for the prosperity of the state as a whole than the one for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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Only twice since 1972 has the state of North Carolina supported a Democratic candidate for president. But if a years-long trend in party registration continues, Republicans could have an easier time holding on to the Tar Heel state and its 15 electoral votes this fall.

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The vigorous debate over the necessity of “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions has finally begun to trickle into North Carolina, and elected officials are increasingly being asked to weigh in on the controversial topic. 

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Although voters approved a 2018 ballot measure requiring photo identification at North Carolina polls, voters won’t have to produce IDs during either the March 3 Primary Election or the Nov. 3 General Election. 

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A pair of deaths from what’s being called a “flu-like illness” rocked Haywood County last week, underscoring the importance both of prevention and of recognizing the symptoms of what can still be a very dangerous virus.

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By Cory Vaillancourt • Fake News Editor | It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right, it’s time for our annual installment of the Fake News Freakout, in which we take stories that sprout from a small grain of truth, harvest them, and then process them into a multi-layered cake of mockery and silliness frosted with fraud. 

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You may be familiar with the concept of the “little free library” — those small outdoor cabinets stuffed with donated books intended to feed the imaginations of young and old alike — but the sobering reality of the nation’s roaring economy is that it’s given birth to a disturbing new permutation of the popular donation-based book boxes: the “little free pantry,” stuffed with food intended to feed Western North Carolina’s increasingly poor and hungry children and adults.

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For just the third time in American history members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve articles of impeachment against the President of the United States, but Western North Carolina’s Republican Congressmen Mark Meadows and Patrick McHenry weren’t among those supporting the charges.

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Santa Claus was especially good to Western North Carolina Democrats this year, delivering from his sack one big item on their wish list, and stuffing their stocking  with another gift that wasn’t expected, but was met with great appreciation.

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As first reported by Politico earlier this morning, Western North Carolina’s four-term Republican congressman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, will not seek a return to his NC-11 seat in 2020.

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UPDATED Dec. 19: Hours after this story was posted, Rep. Meadows announced he wouldn't seek reelection to the seat mentioned in this story. More on that here

 

The 2018 Democratic Primary Election winner in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, Phillip Price, ended speculation about another potential congressional bid against Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, by endorsing one of Meadows’ other Democratic challengers.

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Calling it a campaign promise kept, newly-minted Waynesville Mayor Gary Caldwell announced during the first few moments of his term the creation of a homelessness task force.

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The town of Waynesville swore in Haywood County’s first openly gay elected official — Biltmore Farms Director of Information Systems Anthony Sutton — last week, but the real story may be the retirement of a once-controversial and divisive issue in American politics.

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Local Realtors are about to experience a change most of them will barely notice, but the merger of the Haywood County and Charlotte-based trade associations that govern them could have a noticeable effect on the regional affordable housing crisis.

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Accusations of animal cruelty have been swirling about Haywood County stable operator James Lunsford for much of the year but finally evolved into formal charges and a civil suit earlier this fall. 

Animal welfare groups allege Lunsford mistreated more than a dozen horses in his care, along with a number of other animals, but Lunsford says he’s being unfairly targeted by overzealous nonprofits hoping to use him to raise money. 

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Haywood County resident James Lunsford, 65, is currently the subject of an animal cruelty lawsuit filed against him Oct. 11 in and by the county of Haywood. 

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It appears that some progress is being made in the fight against drug addiction in Haywood County, but a recent presentation to Haywood County commissioners proves there’s still a long way to go.

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Super PACs are starting to make a big-time impact on small-town Western North Carolina politics, and not everyone thinks that’s a super idea.

Luther Jones, a Sylva resident who came up short in his bid for a commission seat last month, said he wants to keep outside money out of local politics, but it may be too late for that. 

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If you think seems a bit early for candidates to be filing for the 2020 elections, you’re right — a change to state law pushing back North Carolina’s Primary Election from early May to early March means that candidates have already begun filing for a host of offices. 

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After months and years of litigation, a Wake County court decided Dec. 2 that North Carolina could proceed with the 2020 elections using newly-drawn congressional maps, and that there would be no delay in the sign-up period for the March 3 Primary Election. 

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After four terms in the N.C. House of Representatives, incumbent Rep. Michele Presnell (R-Burnsville) announced earlier today that she would not seek a fifth term.

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For nearly all of its 128-year history, the University of Alabama’s football program has been synonymous with gridiron excellence. Thousands of young men have gone there to play the game they love, and played it to win. 

Boasting a 73 percent winning percentage over almost 1,300 games, Alabama has laid claim to 14 division titles, 31 conference titles and 17 national championships while producing legendary NFL stars like Joe Namath, Ozzie Newsome, Cornelius Bennett and Derrick Thomas, along with at least one legendary coach — Paul “Bear” Bryant. 

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For most, childhood is a time of growth, learning and stability nurtured by fertile environmental and economic conditions that ultimately prepare young people to become the leaders of tomorrow. 

In much of North Carolina, the future’s not nearly that bright. 

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Waynesville’s new mayor and aldermen haven’t even been sworn in yet, but based on how the board’s most recent regular meeting transpired, a new dynamic in how town government will operate in the future appears to be taking shape. 

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A consultant with the North Carolina Office of Charter Schools recommended that Shining Rock Classical Academy’s charter should be renewed for five years despite ongoing concerns about the school’s lack of transparency, and the state’s director of charter schools has refused to answer why. 

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A recent property donation to the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministries could help create jobs, add value to agricultural products and feed the hungry in Haywood County, if local agricultural and food service sectors can demonstrate there’s a need. 

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For the tenth time in his long history of public service, Waynesville Democrat Joe Sam Queen announced his intent to represent his home county of Haywood in the North Carolina General Assembly. 

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Although the race between two incumbent alderman for the Maggie Valley mayor’s gavel was an important one, the bigger story on Election Day was the performance of Tammy Wight. 

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On Election Day, Waynesville voters could have chosen to send almost every single incumbent back to their seats, but when the new board is sworn in on Dec. 10, only two of the five will return to their previous positions. 

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His name is Newby, but he’s far from new — Justice Paul Newby was first elected to the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2004, and was subsequently re-elected to another eight-year term in 2012. As that term nears its end in 2020, he’s not only seeking re-election, but election as the court’s chief justice. 

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Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of stories on Haywood County’s public charter school, Shining Rock Classical Academy, which has been beset by a host of academic and organizational problems since opening in 2015.

Despite a long history of illegal meetings, improper closed sessions and complaints about transparency, the story of Shining Rock Classical Academy’s efforts to conceal its expenditures of taxpayer money has just entered an alarming new chapter.

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Alderman Mike Eveland will be Maggie Valley's next mayor, after a convincing 191-145 victory over Alderman and Mayor Pro Tem Janet Banks. 

Eveland, who has two years remaining on his aldermanic term, will join on the board new Alderman Tammy Wight, who narrowly edged out her husband, longtime incumbent Phillip Wight, to lead the field 199-196. 

Both Wights will serve on the board, and will be joined by whomever the board decides to appoint to serve out the remainder of Eveland's aldermanic term. 

Allen Alsbrooks, who fell short in the last election, saw a similar result this time, earning 150 votes. 

 

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With all eight Waynesville precincts reporting, it appears as though there will be some major changes in the Town of Waynesville’s governing board.

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Just after the polls close but before Election Day results are compiled, candidate totals from North Carolina’s early voting period are released. While they’re not final totals, they are an accurate summary of how hundreds of Haywood County voters cast their ballots in the weeks prior to today.

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It’s still early, but judging by Election Day vote totals at Waynesville’s four largest precincts, it’s going to be a long day.

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One of the most alluring and enduring qualities of the art of poetry is the vast spectrum of forms it may take — neat or free-wheeling, broad or tidy, emotional or intellectual, progressive or traditional. 

This weekend, Jackson County aficionados can experience most all of that, in the same place, at the same time. 

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The landscape of the 11th Congressional District is about to change literally and figuratively — a ruling in a gerrymandering lawsuit could result in new maps, and another Democratic candidate has joined the primary election field in hopes of unseating incumbent Asheville Republican Congressman Mark Meadows. 

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One month and one day after a lawsuit was filed alleging partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina’s congressional districts, a three-judge panel has ordered current congressional maps to be redrawn in time for the 2020 election. 

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Maggie Valley may be a small town, but its economic impact on and importance to Haywood County can’t be understated. 

After Mayor Saralyn Price announced she wouldn’t seek re-election this year, only two candidates stepped up — Mayor Pro Tem Janet Banks and Alderman Mike Eveland. 

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They’re both longtime board members — one’s a longtime mayor and the other a longtime mayor pro tem. 

One of them, Gavin Brown or Gary Caldwell, will be Waynesville’s next mayor come Nov. 5, and one of them will cycle out of city government, taking decades of institutional knowledge with them. 

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