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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now conducting five-year status reviews for 37 species, two of which can be found in North Carolina. 

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Celebrate Independence Day along with the grand opening of Equinox Ranch in Cullowhee with a celebration starting at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 4.

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To the Editor:

In our never-ending search for truth, Americans must accept (if nothing else) one predominant lesson from January 6. Identified fittingly by David French in TheDispatch.com, he states simply: “When you tell tens of millions of Americans one political party is trying to steal an election, some Americans will act like a party is stealing an election.”

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To the Editor:

When you start having to pay higher taxes at the gas pump, pay extra for your electric vehicle, or pay for services that used to be free, look no further than our dear United States senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.

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On Flag Day at Lake Junaluska, about 50 of Junaluska Woman’s Club’s 75 members gathered for a luncheon at Lakeside Bistro. 

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With a proposed contract renewal going nowhere fast, a slew of unfulfilled public records requests and the strong likelihood of a property defecting from the Municipal Service District, the Downtown Waynesville Association announced June 28 that longtime Executive Director Buffy Phillips would be placed on medical leave effective immediately. 

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Citing their continuing support of a revenue-neutral budget, Waynesville Aldermen Chuck Dickson and Jon Feichter voted against the adoption of the proposed 2021-22 fiscal year budget during a June 22 board meeting. 

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With help wanted signs popping up everywhere, The Smoky Mountain News investigates reasons for the labor shortage in the region and across the country and will spend the next few weeks examining what’s going on in different industries and demographics.

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A June 5 motorcycle crash on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Laurel Springs left a 65-year-old North Carolina man dead. 

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FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge has named Julie Whalen as its new executive director. 

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Nighttime work has begun on an 8-mile section of Newfound Gap Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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The Mountain View Garden Club of Waynesville held its monthly meeting at the Jonathan Creek Biodome Art Studio of Nina Howard this month and received a big surprise when world-renowned cellist Michael Fitzpatrick treated the group to a concert. 

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By Maureen Miller • Guest Columnist | “Someone has to die in order for you to live.” The startling realization hit me, and my words hung in the air. She nodded. Unlike me, this fact wasn’t new to her, and I feared my comment was offensive.

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To the Editor:

Former President Donald Trump and the more aggressive of his cult members seem intent on destroying our democracy and attacking a civil society. This ranges from the January 6 attempt to stop the certification of a valid election to attacking local individuals instead of issues.

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To the Editor:

I have never done this in my 59 years, but I can’t rest until I voice my displeasure and disappointment in what happened to me in Maggie Valley.

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To the Editor:

This is in reference to the June 9-15 issue of The Smoky Mountain News. I thought this was called the Smoky Mountain News, not the Greenville News. I can see perhaps a mention of Trump in North Carolina but a full-page picture with “The Return Of The Don” was unprofessional and uncalled for. 

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By Melanie Threlkeld McConnell • Guest writer | Two Western Carolina University professors with interests in jail populations and addiction issues collaborated with one regional county government to better understand the recovery needs of its jail inmates with substance use disorder.

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Juneteenth Events in WNC:

Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail received its largest individual gift ever when an anonymous donor gave $100,000 to establish the MST Forever Fund. 

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The Nantahala Ranger District is resuming work on two projects in Macon County whose timelines were affected by position turnover and COVID-19, with plans to combine them into a single Environmental Assessment process. 

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The 2021 Summer Learning Program at Marianna Black Library in Bryson City will celebrate all things related to books and animals this season, with a fish-centric event slated for 2 p.m. Thursday, June 17. 

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A teenager is dead and two other people injured following a car crash on Monday, June 7, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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The first book of the new StoryWalk at the Cashiers Village Green, Cashiers, Come Play With Me!, will soon be installed with a dedication ceremony and family picnic planned for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 19, near the Village Play. 

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Visitor spending in national park communities during 2020 was just over two-thirds the amount spent in 2019, but parks in Western North Carolina were spared that drop, according to a new report from the National Park Service. Together, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway accounted for more than 10% of visits to national park units in 2020. 

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A portion of the Black Mountain Trail on the Pisgah Ranger District will be closed through approximately Aug. 15 for maintenance. 

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Friends of DuPont Forest’s new Share the Trails Campaign aims to help visitors share and care for the forest’s 80-plus miles of trail this summer and beyond. 

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The Pic’ & Play Mountain Dulcimer Players will be resuming in-person jam sessions at the St. John’s Episcopal Church basement fellowship hall in Sylva.

By Sandra Hayes • Guest Columnist | I volunteer with QuickDraw of WNC, an art auction where artists step up to help put supplies on classroom shelves in our public schools. We’re raising money right now.

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To the Editor:

As North Carolina faces an economic crisis amidst a pandemic, our community colleges will be key to recovery efforts. 

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To the Editor:

The following is a letter I wrote to Senator Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

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A National Park Foundation grant will fund outdoor field trips for kids in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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The most recent round of Pigeon River Fund Grant Awards distributed through the Community Foundation for Western North Carolina will provide $236,250 for water quality projects in Haywood, Buncombe and Madison counties. 

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The pool at Lake Junaluska is now open for the season, and 2021 passes offering pool admission and special discounts at Lake Junaluska though Labor Day are on sale. 

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash was named the winner of the 2021 Agency Leadership Award from the Public Lands Alliance during a virtual conference May 24.

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Friends of the Smokies will host the third annual Smokies Cup Tournament at the Biltmore Sporting Clays Club Sept. 16-17 this year. 

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To the Editor:

As an occasional writer of letters to the editor I sometimes receive feedback, mostly positive but sometimes negative or dismissive. Most of the time I don’t hear anything, which causes me to wonder if I was just speaking to the void. I was very surprised then to see my name at the beginning of a guest column, no less. I am, therefore, gratified that people are indeed paying attention.

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With vaccinations underway and COVID-19 restrictions easing, April home sales rose 48.8 percent year-over-year with 1,138 homes sold across the Asheville region. 

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From mild to wild, paddlers can find whatever kind of river experience they’re looking for in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Why do we seek the high places? The easiest explanation for going to the mountains is for the scenery. Even so, there must be something ingrained in the human experience that draws us to lofty summits and places where we can look out over the landscape. The reasons vary from the practical to the spiritual.

To the Editor:

In a recent letter to The Smoky Mountain News a retired military man stated, “Among all the other abhorrent and anti-American acts Comrade Beijing Biden and his cabal are perpetrating is endeavoring to take all firearms away from law-abiding Americans.” Later in his letter he refers to “… this unprecedented act.”

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To the Editor:

Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was removed from her leadership position in the Republican Party for only one reason — she stood firm in telling the truth. Allow that to sink in. Rep. Cheney (daughter of former VP Dick Cheney) courageously stood, nearly alone, against party leaders whose destructive lies endanger our republic. “Remaining silent, ignoring the lies, denying the truth, only emboldens the liars,” she said.

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The Bluffs Restaurant at Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway will reopen under new management on Thursday, May 27. 

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s long-time Facility Management Division chief has been named as the park’s new deputy superintendent. 

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Nantahala Outdoor Center is open for its 50th season, with new venues, courses and events in 2021. 

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MountainTrue has launched a new service that offers up-to-date water quality results for more than 65 popular recreation areas in Western North Carolina, northeastern Tennessee and Towns and Union counties in Georgia. 

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The North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council announced that Swain County Middle School was awarded a NC Schools Go Outside Grant of $13,789. 

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Haywood Community College Foundation’s Tuition Free Guarantee Scholarship is sometimes the deciding factor for Haywood County seniors when deciding where to go to college. 

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