Hannah McLeod

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As Haywood County Schools hammered out its 2023-24 budget, administrators faced declining student population and the imminent end of COVID-era relief funds, both of which will diminish the amount of money available for the public school system.

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After a contentious meeting with an outpouring of input from the public, Macon County commissioners have decided to work with the Fontana Regional Library system on the terms of its agreement rather than pulling out of the system altogether.

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Sylva has received the results of an in-depth botanical survey of Pinnacle Park revealing that the property is a bonanza of biodiversity. Now, the town is partnering with Jackson County and the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority to fund a master plan implementing survey recommendations.    

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The paper mill has long been a staple of the Canton community, offering generations of residents the opportunity for regular work and steady pay. So it’s no coincidence that Pisgah High School offers three levels of Pulp and Paper Technology classes — a curriculum that provides students the opportunity to learn the basics needed to enter the paper industry.

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A bill introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives would require middle and high school athletes to compete on the team of their sex assignment at birth. Last week lawmakers held a press conference in support of the legislation and multiple speakers cited an instance involving athletes in Macon and Cherokee counties to bolster their case.

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Within hours of birth, fur seal mothers and pups can recognize each other’s voices.

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Shining Rock Classical Academy is pressing criminal charges against a school parent who previously accused the school of abusive disciplinary tactics.

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The Macon County School Board has signed a resolution in opposition to a bill that would greatly expand the ways in which charter schools have access to locally appropriated public school funding. While the bill’s supporters tout equal funding for charter schools, board members worry the legislation would further strain public school systems that are already strapped for cash.

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Jackson County will hold a public hearing on two amendments to its Unified Development Ordinance this month.

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The Jackson County Schools Health Advisory Council has been conducting research into vape use among students and its findings have prompted the school board to sign a resolution in support of stricter tobacco laws in North Carolina.

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What started as a group of citizens concerned about certain LGBTQ books in the Macon County Library has turned into an effort to pull the library from the Fontana Regional Library system, a move that could get very complicated and very expensive, very quickly.

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Tuscola High School has found a new head football coach in former NFL quarterback Jonathan Crompton.

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After pressing the brakes on Sylva’s municipal grant application, county commissioners have decided to approve a portion of the grant, none of which will go toward a public mural that had been cause for concern among commissioners.

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Jackson County is losing long-time county attorney Heather Baker, but it has already selected a new attorney to serve as an interim while the county searches for a replacement. 

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Sylva taxpayers may be looking at a one-cent tax increase in the coming 2023-24 fiscal year. In return for that increase, the town would see the Main Street Sylva director’s position move from half-time to full-time with greatly expanded responsibilities. 

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Several Highlands residents converged on a recent Macon County commissioners meeting to voice their opposition to the county commission cancelling a project that would have expanded Highlands School.

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The start date for construction of the Franklin Skatepark is approaching quickly, and now the project has all the funding it needs.

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After more than 30 years in education, Superintendent Chris Baldwin will retire from his position at Macon County Schools.

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When Pactiv Evergreen shuts its doors in a few short months, about 1,000 employees will be out of work. And while that number is devastating, it doesn’t begin to show the full picture.

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The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has applied for a grant to fund a Medication Assisted Treatment program in the county’s detention center. This comes after the Jackson County Detention Center has had five deaths in less than eight years, two of which occurred in 2022.

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School boards across Western North Carolina are signing resolutions in support of flexibility and local control when it comes to school calendars. While this has been an issue for North Carolina public schools for many years, it is gaining traction again with new legislation introduced in the state senate.

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Progress will continue on the new Franklin High School after a vote by the Macon County Commission to enter into phase two of the project.

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Haywood County Schools has new leaders at several schools after the resignation of the Tuscola High School Principal left a vacancy to fill.

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Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority received a visit from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper last week as he announced $462.9 million in funding for water infrastructure projects around the state.

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The Sylva Board of Commissioners selected Brad Waldrop as its newest member, filling a seat that had been vacant since the resignation of Mayor Lynda Sossamon in January. 

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The Sylva Board of Commissioners selected Brad Waldrop as its newest member today, filling a seat that had been vacant since the resignation of Mayor Lynda Sossamon in January.

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A group of Macon County residents and library patrons attended a Feb. 7 library board meeting to air a plethora of concerns. Chief among them were that the library is promoting a sexual agenda to minors and the library’s affiliation with the American Library Association and the Fontana Regional Library System.

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As Macon County looks ahead to fiscal year 2023-24, the county has big decisions to make to address the many pressing capital needs in its school system. But it also sits in a healthy financial position, primed to take on debt, if necessary, to address county needs.

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In a few short weeks, 47 people will charge from the shores of the island home to the infamous Alcatraz Prison into the freezing water that isolates it. Those brave souls will battle frigid temperatures, currents, wildlife and weather for two miles in an open water swim race to the California mainland, with little else than a swim cap, goggles and the thick skin of wetsuits to shield them from those unpredictable elements. 

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Just over a month after resigning from his position as head football coach at Tuscola High School following allegations of sexual harassment, Chris Brookshire has been hired at Swain County Schools. 

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Less than a month after resigning from his position as head football coach at Tuscola High School following allegations of sexual harassment, Chris Brookshire has been offered a position in Swain County Schools.

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During a recent meeting between the Jackson County Commission and Board of Education, the school system laid out its most pressing capital needs. The county commission, responsible for funding public school capital projects, will determine funding level for the school system when it undergoes budget discussions in the coming months.

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There has long been talk of creating a traditional middle school in Jackson County, but now the conversation appears to be picking up steam. In a January joint meeting with the Jackson County Commission, the school board listed a traditional middle school as one of its top budget priorities.

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Just weeks after the resignation of Tuscola’s head football coach, Principal Heather Blackmon has handed in her resignation from the same Haywood County high school.

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The Town of Sylva began its budget process last week with the first workshop of the year. Staff and elected officials discussed the possibility of a coming recession, ongoing projects in the town, as well as budget needs for the coming year.

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News of Sylva Mayor Lynda Sossamon’s resignation last week left the town board with decisions to make about who would fill the void. In addition to appointing one of their own to the seat of mayor, the board will need to appoint a new member to the board to fill all six seats.

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After much discussion and community input, the Jackson County School Board has decided to keep its middle school sports situation as it is, with both school-based and district sports teams.

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The choice by Jackson County Commissioners not to move forward with a municipal grant application from the Town of Sylva has led to discussion among residents, town and county government about the value of public art, as well as how it should be funded.

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After more than 16 years of service to the Town of Sylva, Mayor Lynda Sossamon has notified town staff of her resignation.

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Without additional funding from the Rural Transformation Grant offered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the Town of Sylva plans to put the Bridge Park project temporarily on hold until it can apply for a grant through the Tourism Capital Project Fund.

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Webster Park is slated for a host of upgrades and new construction, including a pavilion, after Jackson County Commissioners approved funding for the project earlier this month.

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Whether it is routine maintenance, renovation, expansion or new construction, Macon County Schools has a long list of needed capital improvements. One of those projects is a step closer to completion after county commissioners approved a contract for architectural services earlier this month.

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Macon County is undergoing a tax reappraisal this year, and while the numbers are jarring, they won’t be a surprise to anyone who has borne witness to the rising prices of the crowded housing market in Western North Carolina since the start of the pandemic.

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In recent months Haywood County has been shaken by the suspension and eventual resignation of physical education teacher and head football coach Chris Brookshire. Now, the school system is looking ahead as it begins its search for a replacement. 

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Each year, the Jackson County Commission offers the Municipal Grant Program in which municipalities can apply for grants of up to $5,000. The grants are intended to assist Jackson municipalities with the implementation of projects that will benefit all citizens of the county. While commissioners appear poised to approve three of the four requests from Dillsboro, Webster and Village of Forest Hills at its upcoming Jan. 17 meeting, it will not consider Sylva’s application.

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The new year always comes with its slew of resolutions, intentions, goals and other optimistic planning for the coming cycle around the sun. With the clamor comes the loud chatter by those who despise the idea of the whole concept, alternatively espousing the idea that every day is an opportunity to begin anew, or that there is no need to give in to the capitalist aesthetic that is constantly bettering oneself. 

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