Cory Vaillancourt

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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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More than a week after an unattended death was reported at Maggie Valley’s Our Place Inn, law enforcement officials still haven’t released any details on the incident, but one of the motel’s owners has revealed the identity of the deceased.

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It’s been a challenging year in Haywood County government circles, especially on the state level.

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Goodbye, Downtown Waynesville Association. Hello, Downtown Waynesville Advisory Committee.

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Macon County has a long, expensive list of capital needs over the next decade, and commissioners took nearly three hours on Feb. 3 to weigh their options as North Carolina’s budget season begins in earnest. 

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The first Republican forum in the NC-14 congressional race may have been light on specific policy proposals, but the eight declared candidates in the race to replace Rep. Madison Cawthorn wasted no time introducing themselves to the GOP faithful in advance of the all-important May 17 Primary Election.

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A comprehensive assessment of Haywood Emergency Management Services completed in 2019 suggested that aggressive shift schedules put employees at greater risk for sleep disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide. 

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Two years ago, The Smoky Mountain News took a look  at statistical data on the party affiliation of registered voters across the state and in the seven westernmost counties, from Jan. 1, 2016 through Jan. 1, 2020. It was great news for Republicans, and the exact opposite for Democrats.

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In addition to the devastating loss of life and tremendous damage to private property, Tropical Storm Fred caused millions in damage to facilities owned and maintained by the Town of Canton. During a Jan. 27 all-day budget retreat, town staff and elected officials began to make some decisions on what, how and when to rebuild.

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With President Joe Biden’s disapproval ratings through the roof and a recent spate of setbacks in the Senate, Republicans appear poised to capitalize in the 2022 General Election — if a twice-impeached former president who isn’t even on the ballot doesn’t first tear their party apart.

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Four years after the Town of Canton made an unsuccessful push to impose a vehicle tax to fund much-needed road repairs, town officials are contemplating another attempt.

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Every so often — about 20 times a year — Western North Carolina’s social media networks flare up with impassioned pleas from friends and family members of a missing person, begging for any information that could help bring their loved one home. But the reasons for the disappearances, and the results of the investigations, are often as unique as the missing persons themselves.

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Today, almost nothing remains of Waynesville’s majestic old Victorian-era hotel — except for some faded photographs and sepia-toned memories that linger in the minds of the region’s oldest inhabitants — but recent action by the town’s aldermen could go a long way in preserving what’s left of a natural spring that was responsible for producing much, much more than cold, stinky water.

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Work to remediate a leaky, gassy mound just northeast of Waynesville that has been nothing but an expensive headache for generations of Haywood County elected officials has finally reached substantial completion. 

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Unaffordable housing, a lack of broadband infrastructure, a staggeringly low unemployment rate and a relatively high number of job openings have changed the economic development landscape in Haywood County to the point that its chief economic development arm, the Haywood Economic Development Council, must also change.

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Western North Carolina is growing, there’s no doubt about it. And as it does, there are bound to be growing pains.

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There’s been no more pressing issue in Waynesville during the past two administrations than the replacement of the town’s aging sewer plant, but after skillfully guiding the project through multiple obstacles over the past five years, aldermen must now find a way to clean up another big mess — project bids almost 50 percent higher than expected. 

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As Canton focuses on rebuilding town facilities damaged by the flood, elected leaders there aren’t just looking to put things back the way they were — they’re hoping to make some major improvements. 

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A piece of legislation passed last year has given rise to a novel idea that could liven up outdoor festivals and events not only in downtown Waynesville, Frog Level and Hazelwood, but also in any other county or municipality interested in giving it a shot — social districts. 

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The effort to bring more workforce housing to Haywood County will receive a significant boost thanks to an anonymous donor’s generous offer of a substantial piece of land worth nearly $2 million.

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Details are scarce, but a Jan. 4 letter from the Haywood Chamber of Commerce is clear: the Haywood Economic Development Council is about to undergo massive change. 

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As one of Waynesville’s three “urban” cores, Frog Level holds an identity as distinct as any other. Of late, that identity has not been all that good. 

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If you’re looking for some quick, easy money — and who isn’t? — you could buy a lottery ticket or visit a casino, but the odds are much greater that by checking the state’s unclaimed property database, you’ll come away a real winner.

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Congressional maps are still hung up in court and candidate filing still hasn’t resumed, but that didn’t stop the five Democrats running for the open NC-14 seat from holding a forum on Jan. 8. And although the crop of candidates is largely the same as it has been for almost a year, it was their first forum without the specter of Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-Henderson, hanging over it. 

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Some homeowners who received limited insurance or FEMA assistance to help repair damage associated with Tropical Storm Fred may now be eligible for state funds.

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By the summer of 2021 things seemed to be on the up-and-up in North Carolina, and in Haywood County’s microcosm of it, Canton. 

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Signed by President Joe Biden on March 17, 2021, the American Rescue Plan will provide $1.88 trillion in federal funds in an effort to defeat the COVID-19 virus and provide workers and families with resources to survive the pandemic. 

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After much speculation, three-term Henderson County incumbent Sen. Chuck Edwards made his 14th Congressional District candidacy official with an announcement at the old Hendersonville courthouse on Nov. 30.

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Libertarian David Coatney entered the race for North Carolina’s 14th Congressional District long before Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Henderson) announced his intention to run in the newly-penned 13th District on Nov. 11. A lot has changed since then, but not Coatney’s desire to give voters a third option — outside of the typical American two-party dynamic. 

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Saying that he feels he can “offer more to the citizens of Western North Carolina as a senator than as a freshman congressman,” Franklin Republican Kevin Corbin has removed himself from the milieu of Republicans supposedly seeking the 14th Congressional District seat. 

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Western North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn has become known for saying some surprising things to further his political agenda, but Cawthorn’s most recent statement is by far his most surprising. 

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