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To the Editor:

For many years I served as a Child Medical Examiner for Haywood County. I was also a founding member of KARE’s Child Abuse Task Force.

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Haywood Community College Board of Trustees chairman George Marshall recently completed eight years of service on the board. Originally appointed by the Haywood County Board of Commissioners to a four-year term in July 2013, he was then reappointed by the commissioners to serve an additional four years in July 2017. 

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A public meeting regarding improvements to U.S. 23/74 is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 2, at the Harrell Center Auditorium at the Lake Junaluska Conference Center, 710 Lakeshore Drive. 

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In the wake of the torrential rain and flooding in Haywood County, centered in Cruso community, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch has repeatedly issued stern warnings to looters and would-be looters.

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The Board of Directors of Canopy Realtor Association and Canopy MLS, unanimously voted Aug. 26 to donate $200,000 each, for a total of $400,000 in funds to support Haywood County flood relief efforts.

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Macon County Public Health received notification Aug. 30 that a Macon County resident between the ages of 65-74 who was diagnosed with COVID-19 passed away. This death brings Macon County to 44 deaths related to COVID-19.

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A national mask mandate is now in place across the National Park Service. 

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The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has elected Richmond County resident Monty R. Crump as its new chairman, replacing Dallas resident David W. Hoyle. 

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Celebrating the life of the late Erica Waldrop, the inaugural “YerkFest” will be held from 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Innovation Station and Front Street Takeout in Dillsboro. 

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The time stamp on the photo from my iPhone reads 7:29 a.m. It was Wednesday, Aug. 18, a mountain morning full of sunshine and a cool freshness that’s common after rain the day before. Turning onto Wells Road, which connects N.C. 215 and N.C. 110 in Bethel via a bridge across the Pigeon River, I got my first glimpse of the destruction that the river and the rain had wrought the previous night.

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By Mark Jaben • Guest Columnist | Two big things are happening in Haywood County this week.

First, a tremendous outpouring of help and support from people coming here in the aftermath of the devastating flood. Already, though, one member of a group has developed COVID and is hospitalized. The first rule of incident management is don’t become part of the incident; don’t contribute to the disaster. The fact is if someone gets COVID and has to isolate, or has a close contact exposure and should quarantine, they cannot do the good work they came here to do. 

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To the Editor:

Since the beginning of the pandemic I’ve heard many rationalizations to justify the decision not to get a vaccine against COVID-19. One that stands out is that this decision is a “personal choice.” 

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To the Editor:

Americans have created for themselves quite a quandary trying to interpret both the literal and the intended meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution. That portion that states: “Congress shall make no law abridging (which means to shorten or reduce) the freedom of speech” seems now to beg the question; can the ideals of free speech and social justice be in harmony?

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To the Editor:

While I welcome the mandatory masking decision the Haywood County School Board made during its Aug. 21 emergency meeting, I’m not ready to pat them on the back and say “atta boy.” It’s shameful that it took over 100 students being quarantined after just two days of school for them to reverse their optional mask decision.

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To help relieve the burden of those affected by the catastrophic flooding that occurred in Haywood County, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos is pledging to donate $20,000 to Helping Haywood, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to seek opportunities to help those in need in Haywood County.

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Haywood County Government urges those interested in donating time to help with relief and recovery efforts to visit recoverhaywood.com and click the "Volunteer" option at the top of the page for registration information.

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For those in need of assistance, www.recoverhaywood.com  is the best source for all information. 

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North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has set up a Victims’ Assistance Center in Haywood County to answer questions of flood victims through the weekend.

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By William Hite • Guest Columnist

“You have all the watches, but we have all the time.” — Taliban adage 

It’s official; Afghanistan is lost, overrun by the Taliban in eight days. As I sat watching and listening, I grew angrier and angrier. This is my generation’s Saigon moment. I’m not ex-military or a foreign service officer, but as a concerned citizen I follow our foreign policy closely and have followed the war in Afghanistan since its inception in 2001. What I’ve seen in the last several days is nothing short of a tragedy. 

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To the Editor:

When I first read Jim Gaston's letter to The Smoky Mountain News claiming to champion independent thinking in rigorous pursuit of the truth, I was impressed by the shear amount of effort he spent supporting his ideas, quoting medical findings from history, theories detailing the proper role of government, a quote from Mark Twain, and predicting the imminent slide of American society towards a totalitarian state.

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An update to the 2007 Haywood County Recreation Master Plan is underway, with a survey now available to take public input. 

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A 74-year-old Georgia man is dead following an Aug. 8 accident on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Old Fort. 

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Lack of staffing has prompted the Waynesville Recreation Center to close its water park and constrain hours for the lap pool. 

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On Tuesday, Aug. 10, 14 volunteers converged on Fontana Lake to clean up dispersed campsites that had been trashed by frequent use from neglectful users. 

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The Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual will be celebrating its 75th anniversary with an Open Air market, exhibition, and a new book detailing its history from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, in Cherokee.

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A special 76th birthday performance by beloved folklorist, storyteller and musician Lee Knight will take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18, at City Lights Bookstore in downtown Sylva. 

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The resurgent Delta variant of COVID-19 has created a dangerous situation across the country and across the state, and now Western North Carolina’s first responders are speaking out. 

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Daytime closures associated with an 8-mile paving project on Newfound Gap Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will resume on Monday, Aug. 16. 

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A $10,000 grant from REI Co-op in Pigeon Forge will support community science programs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos recently donated $30,000 to N.C. Beautiful, a nonprofit organization that has for 54 years supported environmental awareness, education and beautification efforts in North Carolina. 

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To the Editor:

Today, the mask debate has become so ludicrous that many people still falsely think it’s “safety first” to wear one. After the past 1.5 years, masks have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with control.  

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To the Editor:

Most Americans would agree a free and fair election system is fundamental to a functioning democracy. Yet our neighbor Georgia and many other states have passed bills that seriously curtail access to the polls in response to accommodations that were made in 2020 to assure safety during the pandemic: early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, alternative drop-off procedures.

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The Haywood County Schools Board of Education voted to amend the 2021-22 school calendar during its Aug. 9 regularly scheduled meeting. 

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Dogwood Health Trust hired seasoned economic and community development executive Sarah Thompson to join the organization’s Impact Team on Sept. 7. 

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Volunteers with Haywood Hospice & Palliative Care were honored at a recent luncheon held at the First Presbyterian Church in Waynesville. 

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The N.C. Board of Transportation unanimously approved a resolution Thursday to dedicate a section of U.S. 276 in Haywood County in honor of Claud “Paw” Messer. 

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By Peter H. Lewis • Asheville Watchdog | The largest health care providers in Western North Carolina, including Mission Hospital in Asheville, recently confirmed that they are not requiring doctors, nurses, volunteers, or other hospital staff to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus despite a resurgence of infections and hospitalizations. 

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By Diana Conard • Contributing writer | Courtney and Spencer Tetrault established Axe & Awl Leatherworks six years ago as an online business. Coming from two rewarding yet demanding careers, this required a leap of faith and a whole lot of grit. Now, they are taking another leap of faith to pursue a much-anticipated dream of opening a storefront on Depot Street in downtown Waynesville.

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A Clay County couple has conserved their 50-plus-acre property and will donate it as a life estate to Mainspring Conservation Trust. 

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A trio of collisions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway over the past week have resulted in a total of four fatalities. 

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Two Swain Middle School eighth graders helped their softball team win a tournament title during the Native American Youth Organization Tournament hosted by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians July 22-24.

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The Bucket Brigade is looking for people who are tired of passing by the same trash each day and want to get outside to make a difference in the community. 

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To the Editor:

Every time Rep. Madison Cawthorn speaks, I am reminded of the movie “Billy Madison” and the line: “ Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

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To the Editor:

Lately we hear praise of Democrats and Joe Biden for spending trillions of dollars in aid to chosen groups.

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HIGHTS (Helping Inspire Gifts of Hope, Trust, and Service) works with the community’s most vulnerable youth to provide essential clinical mental health services, workforce development, skill building programs, meaningful service opportunities, outdoor adventure activities, and mentoring. 

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Through the work of Canopy Housing Foundation, Haywood County area Realtors are dedicated to grassroots support of area nonprofit organizations addressing housing and educational needs and awarded four area nonprofits with Community and Habitat for Humanity Grants totaling $13,500. 

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The Haywood Healthcare Foundation Board of Trustees recently awarded $281,431 in grants to 14 agencies for healthcare needs in Haywood County. 

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