Cory Vaillancourt

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The polls are usually thought of as a place to vote for or against people, but this year in North Carolina, they will also be a place to vote for or against ideas — six of them, in fact; a spate of proposed additions and amendments to the state’s constitution will go before voters Nov. 6, after making it out of the General Assembly’s spring session with the required 60 percent level of support. 

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Rolf Kaufman was there, at the beginning, 35 years ago. Now approaching 88, he’s spent nearly 40 percent of his life involved in the Folkmoot Festival.

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As approximately 200 international performers descend on Hazelwood in the coming days, much of the public — from Franklin to Hickory and everywhere in between — will see them flawlessly execute their demanding dance routines in elaborate wardrobes, often accompanied by substantial live instrumentation. 

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Last year’s inaugural Sunday Soiree featured the usual festive Folkmoot fun — drinks, dancing and heavy hitters on the stage, including Grammy Award winner Secret Agent 23 Skidooo and perennial favorite Empire Strikes Brass — but this year’s event looks to take it up a notch by focusing on the food. 

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A quick discussion by the Haywood County Board of Commissioners on July 16 about the possibility of taking responsibility for the International Paper Sports Complex in Canton left commissioners with more questions than answers. 

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When a controversial text amendment passed the Town of Waynesville Planning Board and Board of Aldermen in back-to-back public hearings almost two months ago, Mayor Gavin Brown told opponents that they’d again have their chance to oppose the development that instigated it. 

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Haywood County Schools superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte wasted little time in announcing the administrative support team that will help him maintain and improve upon the school district’s eleventh overall statewide ranking. 

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A startling engineering report that called Central Haywood High School’s deteriorating gymnasium “unsound and unsafe” prompted Haywood County Schools to spring into action June 11, and now that a bid for demolition has been accepted, the gym’s deconstruction will soon begin. 

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Just three days after holding a closed meeting during which members of the Shining Rock Classical Academy voted to contract with a local Realtor for brokerage services, the Haywood County public charter school has made an offer to purchase property.

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Just days after taking the reins as Haywood County Schools superintendent, Dr. Bill Nolte announced the support team that will help him maintain and improve upon the school district’s top-ten percent ranking in the years to come.

After an 80-minute closed session the night of July 12 during which the Haywood County Schools Board of Education deliberated over the changes, Nolte took to the podium to present them in open session.

“I want to thank the board for your support in putting, I believe, a strong senior administrative staff team in place that should carry us for the next five to 10 years,” he said, just after the board approved them unanimously.

Dr. Trevor Putnam will leave his job as Waynesville Middle School principal to become the associate superintendent for support services, managing facility use. He’ll also chair the policy committee, oversee random drug testing and serve as athletic director.

Also elevated to a sub-superintendent role is Jill Barker, who’ll serve as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and be responsible for enrollment, faculty curriculum and instruction, student transfers, remediation budgets, teacher allocations and some public information duties. Barker had been Pisgah High School’s principal.

Mark Sheppard assumes the role of transportation director, and is charged with managing transport operations, driver’s education and determining road quality during inclement weather. Sheppard’s old job of student services director has largely been subsumed into Dr. Putnam’s new position.

Todd Barbee moves to Waynesville Middle School to fill the role of principal at the system’s largest middle school, leaving Canton Middle School.

Carol Fox will leave her assistant principal role at Tuscola High School to serve as the new principal of Canton Middle School.

Kim Jackson is the new technology director, tasked with supervision of system infrastructure as well as library and media services; her old position of assistant technology director will likely go to a data specialist, according to Nolte.

Clint Conner is the new Pisgah High School principal, leaving his principal’s job at Clyde Elementary School.

Byron Burnette will serve as the new principal of Clyde Elementary School. Burnette leaves his assistant principal position at Pisgah High School; board member David Burnette recused himself from the vote on Byron Burnette due to a familial relationship.

Assistant principals are recommended by principals, and Nolte said he expects some recommendations to fill the open slots - those of Fox and Burnette - will be presented to the board on Monday, at its regularly scheduled meeting.

In a press release sent by HCS earlier this evening, Nolte said his only regret was not having “enough openings to place everyone who is qualified and ready.”

Look for more on this developing story in the next issue of Smoky Mountain News, on stands and online Wednesday, July 18. 

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Growing up in Gastonia during the 1960s, Mike Withers would pile into an old Ford sedan with his parents and siblings for the long drive to the now-shuttered Maggie Valley mountaintop amusement park called Ghost Town.

Over generations, Ghost Town left an indelible cultural mark and an enduring economic impact on the Valley, the county, the state and the region.

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Haywood County’s only public charter school is forecasting increasing enrollment for the coming year and has always had expansion in mind, but after a special called board meeting earlier this week, Shining Rock Classical Academy is getting serious.

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November’s General Election is still months away, but that hasn’t stopped the North Carolina Association of Educators from coming hard after freshman Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City. 

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The search for a new superintendent of the Haywood County Schools system is over, and as it turns out, those charged with conducting the search process didn’t have to look very far. 

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After two consecutive town board meetings during which Cantonians expressed strong opposition to a proposed vehicle registration tax, one thing was clear — residents want better roads, but don’t want to pay for them. 

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Several key staff positions within Haywood County’s high-performing public school system have been filled by some familiar faces, and there may be more to come. 

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A long-standing informal agreement between the Town of Waynesville and Main Street merchants has now been formalized, clarified and expanded to allow for limited encroachments onto public sidewalks. 

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Property owners, single-family homebuilders and any Waynesville residents who own a car will see their cost of living increase over the next year, under a FY 2018-19 budget passed June 26 that includes an eclectic mix of charges in the form of both tax and fee increases. 

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Although the philosophical basis of the Waynesville comprehensive plan is rooted in academic concepts and professional standards related to long-term planning and resource management, area citizens last week got down to some of the more concrete decision-making that reveals who we are, what we want and where we want it. 

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As House Republicans scramble to address the ongoing family separation issue on the nation’s southern border, several competing bills have emerged, including one filed by Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, June 19. 

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Taxpayers in the Town of Canton are about to again test political will, as the town has of late entered discussions with Haywood County about the possibility of having the county somehow begin to take responsibility for the IP Sports Complex. 

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Among the various spending categories in many municipal budgets — general government, public safety and the like — one can usually find some amount devoted to recreation. 

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Customers of downtown Waynesville’s restaurants and bars may soon be told to “hit the bricks” — but in a good way. 

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Infrastructure in municipal sewer and water systems isn’t cheap, but a debate recently settled in the General Assembly clarified what towns can charge new customers for connecting to the existing system while also anticipating the system’s future needs. 

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With municipal budget season coming down to the wire and those municipal budgets coming down to the penny, two Haywood County town governments are hoping to avoid property tax increases by introducing vehicle registration fees. 

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For months, town officials have been hard at work creating the framework and the process for updating the Town of Waynesville’s 16-year-old comprehensive plan. Now, it’s time for residents to have their say. 

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An engineering report issued to Haywood County Schools June 11 resulted in unanimous approval of a resolution by the board that same day declaring Central Haywood High School’s gymnasium “unsound and unsafe,” but complicated funding streams have left Haywood officials wondering where to find some of the money to replace it.

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A cultural survey currently underway that seeks to document the legacy of an overlooked Waynesville community could add to the town’s growing roster of properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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North Carolinians will be asked this November to weigh in on the controversial issue of voter ID if a bill introduced June 7 by Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Burnsville, gains approval. 

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Five months into the economic development partnership between the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, there appears to be some progress being made.

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A new tool that compiles a mind-boggling array of economic and demographic data and presents it in a simple map-based interface will give economic developers, public servants and private citizens the tools to make more informed policy decisions across the region and the state. 

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North Carolina Republicans were quick to congratulate the first minor political party to gain official recognition by the State Board of Elections, but they haven’t been quite as welcoming to the latest. 

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Perhaps not unique in that the reasons for both its popularity and its controversy are intertwined like the limbs of two grapplers struggling to gain the advantage, dwarf wrestling provides jobs where they’re scarce, boosts local economies with events and promotes positive examples of how dwarfs aren’t so different from their average-sized peers. 

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Even though the process by which legislative changes to North Carolina’s $23 billion 2018-19 budget were made — shutting out Democrats by limiting floor debate and skipping right to the yea-or-nay vote — that budget now sits on Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

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Encouraging signs from Haywood County’s Tourism Development Authority suggest the lingering effects of the Great Recession of 2008 may finally be subsiding, and the county’s tourism attractions are drawing more of a year-round crowd. 

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Western North Carolina is a region filled with special places, one of the best known being a century-old religious retreat nestled away snugly in the center of Haywood County.

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The Town of Waynesville is about to embark on year two of a more conservative budget mindset; the days of 7 percent annual growth are gone, but the days of rising costs are not. 

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The Town of Waynesville is about to embark on year two of a more conservative budget mindset; the days of 7 percent annual growth are gone, but the days of rising costs are not. 

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A Gastonia-based developer’s request to change a small part of the Town of Waynesville’s zoning rules to allow for multi-family housing in a semi-rural community generated big waves last week.

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As thousands of North Carolina teachers descended on the state capitol last week demanding more education funding and better pay, Haywood County’s legislators say progress has been made, and more is coming, but politicizing the issue neglects other state employees who are just as critical to the state’s success. 

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One day after the 22nd school shooting of 2018 took place in Texas, a previously planned Second Amendment rally at the Historic Haywood County Courthouse drew citizens and elected officials who explained that the problem was really more a societal issue, than a security issue. 

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In April, students at Santa Fe High School southeast of Houston walked out of classes to protest gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting Feb. 14. 

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It’s rare to see great interest taken in the meeting of a municipal planning board, but a contentious proposal that would allow for apartments on a semi-rural piece of land on the outskirts of Waynesville has ignited a debate not only about the future of the 41-acre parcel on Plott Creek Road, but also about the future of the community as a whole. 

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For generations, American farmers have plowed the fields, milked the cows and slopped the hogs to the seasonal rhythms of nature. In Western North Carolina, a meaty living could be wrest from this hardscrabble land with the constant backbreaking toil associated with a traditional farming lifestyle. 

Could those old farmers of yore ever have imagined people actually wanting to pay money to experience some of the most onerous and monotonous tasks they ever had to perform?

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A treacherous and heavily travelled portion of U.S. 19/23 east of Canton could soon see major pedestrian improvements if an N.C. Department of Transportation project comes to fruition. 

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With no proposed tax increase, slightly lower spending and a healthy fund balance, the Town of Maggie Valley’s proposed FY 2018-19 budget appears to be one of the strongest in the area. 

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While Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers has seen several budgets during his previous stint as an alderman, he appears to be pleased with his first as Mayor. 

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It’s been a hot topic for almost a year now, but the role of Confederate imagery in contemporary society is no more settled than it was last summer, when riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, brought the issue to small towns across the country. 

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Second Amendment supporters in Haywood County will take to the Historic Courthouse lawn May 19 to protest what they say are threats to the Constitution, but the focus of the rally remains on firearms. 

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While most people have certainly heard of agritourism, ecotourism and even necrotourism (visiting famous cemeteries and gravesites), most may not have heard of so-called “gun tourism.” 

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