SMN staff

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With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, the holidays are in full swing.

The Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition is now open, accepting entries until 5 p.m. Jan. 31, 2023.

The North Carolina Parks and Recreation Authority, which oversees the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, recently approved $17.4 million to fund nine capital improvement projects and six land acquisitions for North Carolina state parks.

Winners of EcoForesters’ Annual Awards were announced this month, celebrating achievement in ecological forestry and highlighting important issues that the region’s forest face — and the people making a difference. 

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The Joyce Kilmer National Recreation Trail in Graham County is reopen after more than two years of closure. 

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Learn now to make a Christmas wreath during a demonstration offered at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva. 

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One of rock-n-roll’s legendary events is being recreated as a musical with “One Christmas Night in Memphis” hitting the stage at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin.

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Beloved Appalachian storyteller, author and playwright Gary Carden will be telling tall tales from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, in the Meeting Room at the Macon County Public Library in Franklin.

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To the Editor: Here I am, a constitutional conservative who for 40-plus years has voted, held office, and worked as a Republican volunteer, sitting at my computer feeling thrilled to death over the Republican red wave that wasn’t.

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To the Editor: Rob Schofield in last week’s Smoky Mountain News decried the current Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) as “political” because it has taken the words in the Constitution literally and seriously. Seriously?

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To the Editor: A college football coach will tell you there are three basic units that comprise a football team: offense, defense and special teams.

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Western Carolina University’s human remains detection cadaver dog training program was recently awarded the 2022 University Professional and Continuing Education Association award for special populations at the UPCEA South Conference in Atlanta.

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Students from Western Carolina University were given the opportunity to network with students from other Southern Conference schools and expand their knowledge of other academic areas at the SoCon Undergraduate Research Forum held in October.

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In a five-year agreement to improve watersheds on national forests and grasslands, the U.S. Forest Service will give Trout Unlimited up to $40 million for projects including cleanup of abandoned mines, removing barriers to improve fish passage and stream habitat improvements. 

Environmental groups in Haywood, Buncombe and Madison Counties were recently awarded grants totaling $197,500 from the Pigeon River Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

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Drought conditions have improved across much of the state following rains from Tropical Depression Nicole, but the westernmost counties remain quite dry. 

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Work has started on a $1.3 million effort to repair bridges at 19 locations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with construction to continue through August 2023. 

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A project to improve a tributary to Shelton Branch that runs through East Street Park in Waynesville is now complete. Through the project, the stream was relocated and raised up in order to address erosion and protect town utility infrastructure. Meanwhile, the stream corridor through the park was improved for public enjoyment.

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Old Saint Nick will visit Chimney Rock State Park in Rutherford County Saturdays, Dec. 3 and 10, for the 25th year running practicing his chimney-climbing game on the iconic rock as Christmas festivities abound. 

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To the Editor:

By the time you read this letter, we will have outcomes of the 2022 mid-term elections.

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To the Editor:

Long-time Haywood County resident Kitty Phillips passed on Election Day this month.

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To the Editor:

Driving through Sylva today I noticed the steps of the old courthouse beautifully decorated with rows of American flags. It was breathtaking. This display was in observance of Veterans Day, and I was filled full with pride and gratitude.

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A dispute about a pig that escalated into attempted murder ended last week with a Tuckasegee man ordered to serve at least two decades in prison, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.

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Jackson County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a former Cashiers resident this week for first-degree murder, Sheriff Chip Hall said. 

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A fundraiser for REACH of Haywood, the inaugural “Jingle Jam” will feature a full day of live music and fellowship at the brand new event space at Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville.

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The annual Balsam Range “Art of Music” festival will take place Dec. 2-3 in the Stuart Auditorium at the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center.

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George Vanderbilt first opened Biltmore, his magnificent private estate, to family and friends on Christmas Eve 1895. Today, his descendants continue welcoming guests with that same spirit of gracious hospitality.

Cataloochee Ski Area opened for the season Monday, Nov. 14, after starting snowmaking with the onset of cold weather the previous day. 

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A new agreement between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the U.S. Forest Service will allow the two entities to collaborate on management of the tribe’s 54,000 acres of forestland. 

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The latest drought map released Nov. 10 shows strengthening drought in the mountain region, but significant rain from Tropical Depression Nicole that fell after the Nov. 8 data cutoff may result in an improved situation when the new map comes out Nov. 17. 

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An environmental assessment investigating potential impacts of water and wastewater system repairs at Balsam Mountain Campground and Heintooga Picnic Area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park came back with a finding of no significant impact, meaning the park can proceed with the project. 

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A $250,000 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Connected Communities Pilot Program will support development of a second campus for the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. 

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To the Editor:

Let me start by saying that on November 8 I worked the polls, and the views I am expressing are strictly my own and should in no way reflect the opinions or policies of the Haywood County Board of Elections and its staff.

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To the Editor:

Could someone please explain to me why an experienced, qualified tax collector who has successfully run the office for Haywood County was voted out in favor of a college student with no experience and no qualifications that I am aware of?

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To the Editor:

I would like to express my gratitude to the Macon County community for their support and encouragement throughout my campaign for county commissioner.

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The Haywood 4 Good community wellness program is pleased to announce a new feature: continuous enrollment. Participants may register for the current session any time before the end of December.

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Haywood Regional Medical Center announced that Chris Brown has been named chief executive officer (CEO), effective Nov. 28, 2022. 

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On Sept. 14, 2022, Vecinos, a free clinic for uninsured, low-income adults in Western North Carolina, received a $1 million grant from the USDA Emergency Rural Health Care Grant to assist in renovating the upcoming Community Health Hub in Franklin.

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Americana/bluegrass star Darren Nicholson will be joined by Tim McWilliams, William Ritter and Audie Blaylock, with the group performing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville.

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Western Carolina University will host its annual “Bachelor of Fine Art Portfolio Exhibition” through Dec. 9 at the Fine Art Museum in Cullowhee.

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The Haywood County Arts Council’s (HCAC) “Small Works” exhibit will run through Dec. 31 at the HCAC Gallery & Gifts showroom in downtown Waynesville. 

Through Jan. 8, a traveling exhibition of the National Geographic Photo Ark will be on display in the Baker Exhibit Hall at the N.C. Arboretum in Asheville. 

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Despite significant rainfall in the mountains last week, drought continues to expand in the western region and across North Carolina. 

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A wildfire that started near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s western edge following a motorcycle crash Sunday, Nov. 6, had been 90% contained at 40 acres as of Monday evening, Nov. 7.

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To the Editor:

Whether we like it or not, tourism sustains a quality of life for all WNC residents. This tourism naturally comes from living in area with a bounty of visual beauty that people come to see and experience.

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Over four days, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office Deputies and agency partners led a large-scale operation that resulted in the seizure of 63 grams of methamphetamine, 112 grams of Fentanyl, 2.4 grams of cocaine, 6.8 grams of opioids and the arrests of 37 people.

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Recently, Vecinos, serving a large Hispanic/Latino community in the six western counties of North Carolina, was granted $25,000 by The Hispanic Federation. The grant will be used to assist low-income, uninsured Hispanic people in Western North Carolina who have been impacted by COVID-19. 

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