Cory Vaillancourt

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The races for this fall’s municipal elections are set, and depending on where you live, things could get interesting. 

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North Carolina’s budget standoff shows no signs of ending, weeks after Gov. Roy Cooper, D-Rocky Mount, followed through on a promise to veto a Republican-crafted budget that doesn’t include Medicaid expansion. 

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With the deadline to file for municipal office fast approaching — noon on July 19 —Haywood County voters may end up with few competitive races, and even fewer candidates. 

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A pair of local entrepreneurs will soon open a billiard hall in downtown Canton, so long as substantial changes are made to an outdated ordinance that depicts such establishments as a breeding ground for all manner of unsavory behavior. 

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Haywood Community College’s “tuition-free guarantee” seems to be off to a solid start but the school also wants residents to know that undocumented students who meet all other requirements can also take advantage of the innovative program. 

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It’s been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but after an overzealous brush-clearing operation behind Frog Level Brewing Company and Panacea Coffeehouse, apparently so are the banks of Richland Creek. 

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Incumbents wasted little time in declaring their intentions to defend their seats after municipal candidate filing opened at noon on July 5, but as of press time on July 9, there were already two incumbents hoping to move up in the ranks, if their campaigns are successful.

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The Town of Waynesville took another big step toward plotting its long-term future with the draft release of an update to its 20-year-old master planning document, which will attempt to balance the sometimes-competing interests of progress and preservation.

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Incumbents wasted little time in declaring their intentions to defend their seats after municipal candidate filing opened at noon today, but there are already two incumbents hoping to move up in the ranks, if their campaigns are successful.

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There’s perhaps been no greater ideological clash in American government over the past century than the extent to which the individual, as opposed to the collective, should be prioritized. 

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There’s a good reason President Lyndon B. Johnson traveled to Independence, Missouri on July 30, 1965, to sign the legislation that created Medicaid — he wanted to present the first membership card to former President Harry S. Truman. 

Truman had long been a backer of socialized medicine, inheriting the position from his Oval Office predecessor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who established a number of social safety net programs during his 12 years as chief executive.

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Transparency and accountability have long been concerns at Shining Rock Classical Academy — since before the troubled taxpayer-funded school even opened its doors in 2015 — and if recent events are any indication, new leadership at the school doesn’t seem interested in doing anything to change that. 

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Editor’s note: This is the sixth 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.

More than seven weeks after a series of grievances were filed against Shining Rock Classical Academy’s interim head of school, board members voted to offer him the permanent position.

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The three remaining members of the Canton Board of Aldermen/women have decided not to appoint anyone to a board seat left unexpectedly vacant by the resignation of an alderman June 13. 

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Calling the $24 billion state budget passed by North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature “an astonishing failure,” Gov. Roy Cooper, D-Rocky Mount, vetoed it June 28. 

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A June 27 Supreme Court decision not to get involved with politically gerrymandered congressional districts in Maryland and North Carolina means it’s unlikely Asheville Republican Congressman Mark Meadows’ Western North Carolina district will change before his presumed reelection campaign in 2020.

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More than seven weeks after a series of grievances were filed against Shining Rock Classical Academy’s interim head of school, board members voted to hire him for the permanent position.

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As a 28-year veteran of the Waynesville Police Department, Captain Brian Beck — soon to be interim chief of police — remembers what it was like back in the not-so-good old days. 

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A regulatory reform bill intended to bring parity for North Carolina’s distillers with its craft brewers continues to make its way through the legislature.

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has a budget. The N.C. House of Representatives has a budget. The N.C. Senate has a budget. But as of now, the state of North Carolina does not. 

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Editor’s note: This is the fifth 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.

Two weeks after holding an illegal meeting to dismiss parent grievances against Shining Rock Classical Academy Interim Head of School Joshua Morgan, the charter school’s board found itself facing questions from parents who want to know what, exactly, is going on at the troubled school. 

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Shining Rock Classical Academy’s 2019-20 budget, passed by the board on June 19, will shrink slightly, due to lower projected enrollment.

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Six weeks after a set of grievances were filed against a Shining Rock Classical Academy administrator who appeared to be a leading candidate for the vacant head of school position, that position still remains empty.

The grievances, filed by three parents, alleged improper disciplinary procedures by Interim Head of School Joshua Morgan.

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The fresh cut grass, the din of the crowd, the white chalk lines on the dusty dirt infield — every year, millions of American kids suit up and take to diamonds across the country to play baseball, for decades considered the quintessential outdoor American pastime.

As such, it hasn’t always been as inclusive as it is could have been, especially for people on the autism spectrum. 

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Local governments try to do their best in keeping recyclables out of local landfills, in part because it extends the life of the landfill and saves taxpayers money, and in part because of the tremendous energy savings realized when something like a glass bottle is made into a new glass bottle. 

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Most people don’t give a lot of thought to what happens when they throw something away, but the ecological and economic consequences of the western consumerist lifestyle don’t end when that bag, bottle or box hits the garbage can. 

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As homelessness continues to rise in Western North Carolina, Haywood County’s innovative and effective adult shelter is about to cut the ribbon on a brand new dorm designed to be a place of refuge for a critically underserved population. 

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Editor’s note: This is the fourth 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.

The results of an investigation conducted by Shining Rock Classical Academy’s board-appointed attorney into grievances filed against Shining Rock Interim Head of School Joshua Morgan — dismissing all claims against him — were presented to and accepted by Shining Rock’s governance committee during an illegal meeting in which public notice laws were violated.

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Just 18 months after winning the second of two open alderman seats in the town of Canton, James Markey told the Canton Board of Aldermen/Women June 13 that he was resigning his office due to a change in residency. 

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Last month, members of the Haywood Branch of the NAACP took a trip to Montgomery, Alabama to visit a museum honoring more than 800 Americans who were lynched between 1877 and 1950.

There’s a monument there for each one of them — a long, steel box resembling a coffin, engraved with their names and places of death. One bears the inscription, “George Ratcliff, Haywood County.”

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Earl Lanning was just a little boy in Haywood County during the 1930s, he developed three ambitions.

“I used to go see all these World War I airplane movies — war movies,” he said. “I wanted to be a flyer, I wanted to be an American cowboy, and I wanted to be in the field of art in some way. I didn’t know at the time what was going to be.”

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It's starting to sound like a broken record in Haywood County as North Carolina’s municipal budget season comes to a close — a growing economy finally out of the grips of the Great Recession has offered slightly higher revenues even after a disappointing revaluation in 2017, but skyrocketing insurance costs are taking a huge toll on local governments.

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Haywood County’s latest economic development victory — a state-of-the-art, $12 million hemp processing facility — means that Canton will become among the first local municipalities to cash in on the new “green” economy.

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Less than four months after a rockslide in Haywood County closed a 20-mile stretch of Interstate 40, it’s happened again.

Shortly after 2 p.m. today, an announcement from the North Carolina Department of Transportation announced the closure.

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Haywood County’s latest economic development victory – a state of the art, $12 million hemp processing facility – means that Canton will become among the first local municipalities to cash in on the new “green” economy.

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He was a seasoned dumpster diver by now. For the last three summers, he’d regularly swoop down in the dead of night to go “shopping,” collecting fruits and veggies to preserve for the winter. 

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The tiny central Haywood County town of Clyde lies more than 270 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, more than 400 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and more than 2,500 feet above both of them, so it must have seemed like a cruel joke when back-to-back hurricanes over the course of about a week caused unprecedented regional flooding. 

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Decades after it first opened in 1962, Ghost Town in the Sky still commands a wistful loyalty from thousands of people who remember it during its heyday and are eager to return. 

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As you read this, I’ve just noted the passing of my third anniversary with this 20 year-old newspaper and as such, the retrospectives I was charged to write this week were all on events that took place long before my arrival — except for this one. 

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With municipal candidate filing little more than a month away, the race to replace outgoing Maggie Valley Mayor Saralyn Price will likely involve two current members of the town’s board of aldermen.

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It’s been a tumultuous couple of years for Shining Rock Classical Academy, which has dealt with a variety of administrative and educational issues since even before opening in 2015. Anna Eason, one of SRCA’s founding members, served as chair of the board of directors since January 2017. During that time the board has been faced with ongoing personnel scuffles with the founding Head of School Ben Butler resigning in October 2017, the hiring of a second Head of School Nathan Duncan in 2018 and his termination in January 2019.

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

He may be a “stern but respectful” disciplinarian, but he’s never been known to intimidate or bully students, he’s great with kids of all ages and he’s brought stability to Shining Rock Classical Academy.

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On one of the first warm sunny Saturdays early in Western North Carolina’s tourist season, the traditional signs of a Maggie Valley summer — small groups of motorcycles and pedestrians idling down Soco Road — were on full display. Not far off, on a small parcel of land nestled between a Baptist church and a distillery, a different group of people was planting some seasonal signs of their own. 

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For the second year in a row, Haywood County taxpayers can expect no increase in property taxes, thanks to increasing revenues and a substantial fund balance appropriation, but the county’s health care costs are starting to become nearly unmanageable. 

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Of all the victims of the nation’s opioid epidemic, probably the most overlooked are the municipalities that have to expend taxpayer-funded resources to deal with the problem.

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The search for Shining Rock Classical Academy’s next head of school will continue, after the board took no action following a short closed session to discuss personnel earlier this evening.

A hire was widely expected tonight, and many expected it to be Interim Head of School Joshua Morgan. On May 8, then-Board Chair Anna Eason said, “We would hope to have a decision made at the next meeting, but if we need more then we will take time to get more because again, we want to get this right.”

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The Town of Canton’s preliminary proposed budget shows an increase over last year from $8.7 million to more than $9.2 million. Most of that is from monies split between budget years and slight increases in some spending categories, but Mayor Zeb Smathers was eager to answer the question on the minds of most. 

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Much like the Pigeon River itself, it’s been a long and winding journey for the Town of Clyde in recovering from the devastating floods of 2004, but after a few turbulent stretches in its redevelopment, River’s Edge Park off Thickety Road will finally re-open to the public. 

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Editor’s note: This is the first 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.

As Shining Rock Classical Academy now searches for its third head of school in just four years, Interim Head of School Joshua Morgan has emerged as a leading candidate for the job.

A group of concerned parents don’t think Morgan should be the next head of school, or even working in education at all. They say he’s a bully with anger management issues who physically intimidates students and recently placed one in a martial arts hold.

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At this time last week, few knew of him and most all those who did were of the home — Waynesville, in Haywood County. 

The first time I heard his name roll off the tongues of these Western North Carolinians on that bright morning, it was Howl. Riley Howl. Like Ginsburg’s Howl, the “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness” Howl. 

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