Cory Vaillancourt

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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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Although the results have not yet been certified in North Carolina’s May 8 Primary Elections, there were several races where vote totals were decisive enough to declare likely winners. 

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Last week, Phillip Price prevailed in a competitive three-way Democratic primary for the right to challenge incumbent Asheville Republican Congressman Mark Meadows in November.

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Over the past two summers, visitors to the western end of Haywood County have experienced something few others ever have — a Maggie Valley without Joey’s Pancake House. 

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There’s a bit of pruning taking place at Haywood Community College — specifically, the Horticulture Technology program. And just like pruning a real rose bush, it’s painful and runs the risk of killing the plant altogether, but it may also produce beautiful new growth. 

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It was a good day for Interim Haywood County Manager Joel Mashburn, and will probably go down as a good day for Haywood County taxpayers as well. 

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One memorable afternoon several years ago, Perry Hines was sitting in the dining room of the Open Door after it had closed for the day, discussing with officials from a nearby church a grant opportunity, when there came a knock at the locked front door. 

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It’s Primary Election Day in North Carolina, and in Haywood County, there are a number of important races on both the Democratic and Republican ballots.

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When local veterinarian Dr. Kristen Hammett appeared before the Haywood County Board of Commissioners on the morning of Sept. 7, 2016, she said she’d just come from euthanizing two animals at the county’s dilapidated shelter, which was at the time 30 percent over capacity, reeked of animal waste and produced a “deafening” roar. 

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For a great example of just how important the Town of Waynesville’s comprehensive plan is, one needn’t look any further than the proposed multi-family development located off Plott Creek Road. 

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Failing to plan, as it is often said, is planning to fail. 

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Five years ago, Haywood County resident Janelle Smith was working late when a much older male colleague she’d thought of as a friend and mentor cornered her and attempted to sexually assault her. Although she fought him off, the incident left her feeling physically violated, emotionally upset and, she said, ashamed. 

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Canton’s Town Manager Jason Burrell is about to get some help. 

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Activists hoping to press the Town of Waynesville into adopting a living wage for full-time employees were recently told that the town was, in fact, already doing so. 

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It’s been quite a week for Western Carolina University Chancellor Dr. David Belcher. 

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As the opioid crisis continues to rage across the nation and the state, legislators, law enforcement and medical professionals are placing a renewed focus on stopping the next generation of addicts from starting. 

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Since 2001 the Smoky Mountain Aquatic Club has been geared toward having a nationally recognized aquatics program that develops and trains swimmers of all ages and abilities.

In the four years since they first launched, Waynesville’s Base Camp summer programs — day camps packed full of outdoor adventure and environmental education — have quickly risen in popularity, selling out in hours, months ahead of when the camps begin. 

When the last bell rings and the doors fly open loosing schoolchildren across the nation out into the sunny summer streets, many of them will turn right back around and participate in a plethora of camps and activities designed to keep them off the couch and active in the world around them. 

Three Democratic seats on the Haywood County Board of Commissioners are up for election this year, but only two of them are being defended by incumbents. 

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Problems with moist soil are mucking up what seemed at the time to be a quick, cheap and easy accouterment for an enticing economic development asset, spurring frustration from the public, political candidates and commissioners — frustration that all flows downhill.

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A legal snafu has halted work on the Frog Level parking lot paving project as well as delayed action on a possible property acquisition that would bring even more parking to the Waynesville business district.

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Allegations made by a member of Cherokee Tribal Council against a Smoky Mountain News reporter have resulted in a ban on all non-Cherokee media from Tribal Council chambers. 

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A spate of unusual campaign signs began popping up in Maggie Valley about a week ago and although the message is simple, the response has shown that in Haywood County, right and wrong isn’t always so black and Wight.

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A recent report published by nonprofit advocacy group Down Home North Carolina says that changing demographics and their accompanying shifts in political allegiance have forever altered the ideological character of rural North Carolina, and the subsequent Republican takeover of state government is hitting the working poor, people of color and the LGBTQ community hardest.

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While some Haywood County voters will head to the polls May 8 asking themselves who they’re going to vote for, many of those same voters may be asking themselves an altogether different question — what the heck does the Clerk of Superior Court even do?

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Recent efforts to enhance student safety by placing armed volunteers in the nation’s schools have resulted in predictable blowback from anti-gun activists, some of whom have claimed it’s an attempt by the National Rifle Association to indoctrinate impressionable young minds with pro-gun propaganda. 

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The next chapter in the saga of the historic Haywood Hospital is about to be written, but in the choose-your-own-adventure format of the existing saga, the happy ending of the county’s quest to unload the expensive, underutilized parcel has yet to be written.

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Of all the rugged places in Western North Carolina, one of the most pristine and unique is also one of the least known — but that’s by design. 

Mention Rocky Branch Lake and you’ll find few who’ve heard of it, and even fewer who’ve actually been to the 86-acre pool that serves as an ample reservoir for the Town of Waynesville’s drinking water. That’s because public access is restricted year-round. 

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This fall, voters in North Carolina will be treated to a new choice at the polls come election day. 

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Many Fridays a small group of longtime Canton residents meet up informally at the town’s historical museum on Park Street as soon as it opens in the morning to peruse the artifacts and talk about the town’s tomorrow, the town’s today and the town’s yesterday.

As they do, they sometimes come to the topic of the historic Colonial Revival-style building located just across the street since 1932 — the aptly named Colonial Theater. 

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Haywood County is suddenly a hot commodity for property developers; recent news of a proposed hotel in Maggie Valley was met last week with more news of a potentially substantial  “hospitality industry” development in Waynesville that is also likely a hotel.

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Next fall, students at Haywood Christian Academy will all attend classes together in a new building that brings the two campuses together but still leaves them room to grow. 

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Many people were surprised by the sudden resignation of Ira Dove from his position as Haywood County manager last October, but just as surprising was an announcement last week that Dove would rejoin the county in a role that is different, but not new to him.

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Haywood County’s only homeless shelter — and one of the very few in North Carolina west of Asheville — continues to advance its mission of transforming the most vulnerable among us by filling in some of the potholes on their road to recovery. 

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In almost every living American resides at least one sepia-toned memory embellished with song — that perpetual score to a first kiss, or a last dance. 

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When storied Western Carolina University men’s basketball coach Larry Hunter recently announced his retirement after notching his 700th career win, it was clear that a new era would soon begin for the WCU hoops program.

That era began just a few minutes ago, as Western Carolina University Director of Athletics Randy Eaton announced Hunter’s replacement.

Eaton said he wanted someone who wasn’t from a "maintenance" program, but rather from a program that had been built to be successful. Eaton also said he wanted someone with national and regional ties.

“I also wanted someone who understood that ‘student’ comes before ‘athlete,’” Eaton said during a press conference Mar. 27.

After conferring with basketball coaches and officials from around the region and around the country, Eaton said one name kept coming up.

“We didn’t get ‘a’ guy, we got ‘the’ guy,” Eaton said. “We have the man to lead this basketball team.”

The guy is Mark Prosser, son of former Xavier University and Wake Forest head coach Skip Prosser.

Prosser was, until Mar. 27, the associate head coach at Winthrop University, and had also served as head coach at Brevard College for a year.

“I’ve been very fortunate to coach at some very good places with some very good players,” Prosser said.

He’s also aware of the role college athletics play in Cullowhee, mentioning the type of program he intends to shepherd during his tenure.

“We’re going to go about this the right way. Our guys are going to be about the ABCs – academics, basketball, character,” he said. “We’ll get started very quickly in building that championship culture.”

WCU currently competes in the Southern Conference, and during the 2017-18 season notched an 8-10 record, well behind UNC-Greensboro’s 15-3 mark.

To find out more about WCU’s athletics program, including men’s basketball and Coach Prosser, visit www.catamountsports.com.

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Although it’s still early in the budget process, Interim Haywood County Manager Joel Mashburn told commissioners that requests for the FY 2018-19 budget already total more than $3 million over projected revenues. 

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A flurry of contentious public records requests by a longtime local government watchdog has prompted Haywood County officials to revise and update internal policies on how those requests are handled. 

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A major hotel could be coming to Maggie Valley sooner rather than later after the town recently passed a pair of amendments to its design guidelines to allow for taller buildings.

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Last week, students across the country walked out of classrooms to acknowledge the 17 people shot to death at Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida. 

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Two weeks ago marked the 53rd anniversary of a watershed moment in the civil rights movement — the Selma to Montgomery marches, where civil rights leaders including current Georgia Congressman John Lewis were badly beaten by Alabama State Troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. 

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Outside the Haywood County Justice Center in downtown Waynesville, Haywood County Tax Collector Mike Matthews stands with a slim manila folder in his hands while an attorney nearby reads off a boilerplate legal notice required when the county offers a foreclosed property at auction. 

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Columbine, Sandy Hook, Stoneman Douglas — those names ring out like the bullets that once flew through their hallways, stark reminders of a perplexing and tragic problem that simply hasn’t gone away. 

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Right about the time this newspaper hits the stands on Wednesday, March 14, students at Haywood County’s two public high schools, Tuscola and Pisgah, will be hitting the bricks as part of a national school walkout to protest gun violence in schools. 

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