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Celebrate Earth Day

• Celebrate the annual migration of the sicklefin redhorse, a crucial fish species in the Hiwassee River Valley with an educational viewing Thursday, April 22, at Welch Farm in Marble, hosted by Mainspring Conservation Trust and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Attend at 8 a.m. or 6 p.m. to watch aquatic biologists tag the many fish that will be caught in fyke nets in the Valley River. For directions, visit

By Susan Mahoney, CNO/Clinical Leader, Haywood Regional Medical Center

Life has changed in ways both big and small over the last year. Plans were suspended and priorities shifted as we cautiously made our way through a situation that we had never experienced, much less imagined would happen.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and here are some staggering statistics about how child abuse impacts children, their families and their future.

By Hannah Minick • Guest Columnist | To say that we are currently living in unprecedented times is an understatement, and it is absolutely true. If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me, it is that we are all connected and what affects one of us affects all of us. As we have learned, the time period we are in requires innovative and collaborative community solutions as we move forward together, through the multitude of issues and challenges we collectively face. I believe it is imperative for our community, Haywood County, to continue to proactively implement evidence-based community interventions.   


To the Editor:

Since last Earth Day the Atlantic hurricane season saw a record number of storms and the rapid intensification of storms. Dry conditions and record temperatures in the West produced one of the worst fire seasons ever. Sea level rises and entire villages have to relocate. 


To the Editor:

Why do we do it? Why do stand out in the rain, wind, snow, and hot sun for eight hours (sometimes more)? Who are we?


To the Editor:

While lawmakers at the federal level stall on a $15 per hour minimum wage, let’s remember that we don’t have to wait. We can do what 29 other states have done and raise our state minimum wage. We just need the political will to do it.  


Western North Carolina teenager Evy Leibfarth will represent the United States in the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo this year after placing first in two Olympic Team Trials competitions last week. 


Despite a continued pause on distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and flagging demand for appointments, the past week saw continued progress on local vaccination rates and a reversal of the upward trend in confirmed cases.


Mountain Heritage Day, the festival of cultural traditions presented by Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, is again being planned as a live, in-person event on Saturday, Sept. 25.


Leigh Forrester, who served as executive director of the Haywood County Arts Council (HCAC) for four years has announced her retirement, effective May 31. 


Q: Are there herbal teas that I could drink that will help with weight gain during pre-menopause or menopause?

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year is extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021.  It is estimated that one in five people have unclaimed Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) monies available to them, that can only be accessed through filing taxes.


District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said a Franklin man will spend 70 to 96 months in prison for his role in a two-state distribution of large quantities illegal drugs.


FRANKLIN – For the first time in its five-year history, the national veteran and Gold Star organization Special Liberty Project, which expanded here in September, completed an onsite Vitality Retreat on its own property. 


For up-to-date info on local brewery and restaurant shows, be sure to check the A&E section of the SMN Calendar regularly. Here is a list of upcoming shows, and venues that are open for live music.

Women have made slow progress in attaining corporate executive roles, but once reaching that level, their pay is typically less than men in similar leadership positions, a new study reports. 

The road to financial security, like many long journeys toward important goals, can be filled with ups and downs. The financial markets can be volatile, shaking up your short-term investment results, and illness or downsizing may temporarily disrupt your career – and your earnings. In fact, just 46% of adults feel financially stable, according to a survey by Morning Consult and Edward Jones. Still, there’s much you can do to gain stability – and you can chart your progress by marking three important milestones:

An online public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 14, will take input on terms of a proposed wastewater permit for Blue Ridge Paper in Canton. 


Equinox Ranch will welcome combat veterans to its inaugural program this June. 


A 91-acre area known as the Roan Mountain Gateway is now in U.S. Forest Service ownership after the Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy recently transferred it to public ownership. 


An outdoor sculpture showcase now up in the N.C. Arboretum’s gardens will showcase the work of 17 local and national artists through Sept. 26. 


WaysSouth, a regional nonprofit organization working to protect the unique heritage and environment of the Southern Appalachians by promoting sustainable transportation practices, commends the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the final proposal put forward for the Corridor K highway expansion project.


To the Editor:

President Joe Biden has recently made very appropriate reference to the need for strengthened gun control legislation.


To the Editor:

I read the March 30 article “Senator Corbin again leads health care push.” The article makes clear that North Carolina needs elected officials to support actual Medicaid expansion that would provide health care insurance to people who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to qualify for a marketplace subsidy. That is about 600,000 North Carolinians. The N.C. General Assembly has voted multiple times against Medicaid expansion. 


To the Editor:

Although I am not a resident of your area, I am very grateful for your articles on the proposed Catawba Casino in Cleveland County. Contrary to the perception given by our local media, there are a number of people in our county opposed to this casino.


To the Editor:

Calling Ken Burns! Calling Ken Burns! We need you to get busy on a new documentary. It should cover two current movements in America. 


To the Editor:

I’m a citizen and voter from Sylva, and we all know it’s time to put an end to the filibuster, a Jim Crow relic that was created to undermine our voice as voters and slow progress on critical issues. Historically, it’s a loophole to block civil rights legislation and now means that 60 out of 100 senators have to vote for almost all legislation.


Staff caring for patients at Swain Community Hospital have won the Blue-Ribbon Award presented to departments receiving the highest scores on patient satisfaction surveys. The patient surveys are part of the National Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems measurement administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 


The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the highest award the state of North Carolina can bestow upon an individual. It is awarded to individuals who have shown extraordinary service to the state.


Do you think a low or no carbohydrate diet is safe?

Haywood County Health and Human Services have received notice of another COVID-19 death, bringing the total number now to 95.


A Franklin man admitted in Macon County Superior Court to forcing his way into a woman’s house and sexually assaulting her, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said this week.


District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said a Franklin man admitted this week in court to sexually abusing a child. He will serve at least nine years in prison.


Dear anyone that has owned a pet — As you walk into your house, screaming at the top of your lungs, grunting and cursing the world — your pet greets you with its tail wagging so hard she literally piddles on herself (and the floor) as she jumps on you like you are the best thing since raw meat.

Man or woman’s best friend, as cheeky as your pup might be, they’ll never let you down when it counts and they’re the one creature who is always overjoyed to see you. So don’t you think you owe them a birthday celebration that will have them jumping up and down and round and round?

The WNC Historical Association's 2020 Outstanding Achievement Award will be presented to Ann Miller Woodford for her work preserving and promoting the history of African American people in far western North Carolina at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 18 via Zoom.

Often we hear that different vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements may help with everything from our skin elasticity to gut health and from joint pain  to the symptoms of the cold or flu.

The N.C. Arboretum in Asheville will resume offering guided trail walks this spring, with groups setting off at 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays April 10 through Oct. 30. 


A targeted law enforcement effort aiming to combat litter resulted in 37 stops including 25 verbal warnings and 13 citations on the northbound Spur of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park March 28-29.


By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist | A political party that stakes its future on allowing fewer people to vote does not deserve a future. A democracy that accommodates such a party will not have a future.

That is our nation’s present crisis, 234 years after the Constitutional Convention created a government with no prescribed role for political parties.


To the Editor:

Sylva is a beautiful small town. It is its small-town charm and beautiful surroundings that brings people to Sylva and it is what keeps them here. As a 22-plus year resident of Sylva, it is my passionate belief that the four-story, 84-apartment building project that is being proposed at 710 Skyland Drive does not fit with the statement in the 2040 Land Use Plan (2020) Overview that “Sylva is poised to take advantage of and build upon these assets by planning for and promoting growth while maintaining its small-town form and character.”


A Buncombe County man pleaded guilty April 6 to two counts of first-degree statutory sexual offense and four counts of indecent liberties with a child, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.


More than 16 months after animal cruelty allegations were filed against Haywood resident James Lunsford, justice has finally been served. 


Students enrolled in Haywood County Schools’ exceptional children’s program will soon have a new home at no taxpayer expense. 


By Theresa Ramsey • Guest writer | The Women’s History Trail project of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County adopted an activity in 2018 that continues each March as a part of Women’s History Month. 

This annual celebratory event honors a special “WHT Macon Matriarch” and her role as trailblazer to help shape a better future for Macon County.


Western Carolina University’s regional COVID-19 vaccine clinic will deliver its 10,000th vaccine to a student around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7. 


Western Carolina University’s Special and Digital Collections at Hunter Library has digitized a collection of interviews conducted between 1986-1989 with Black residents from Western North Carolina, all of whom were older than 69 at the time. 


“To date, over 18,000 people in Haywood County are at least partially vaccinated. Mass vaccination efforts have been running smoothly, despite challenges with weather, location changes, and the sheer volume of the task. From the moment of the first vaccine arrival in Haywood County to now, the goal has always been to vaccinate everyone that wants to be in a timely and efficient way. To that end, we are constantly refining the process and this week we are pleased to announce a change that we believe will make appointment scheduling even easier moving forward,” said Haywood County Vaccine Coordinator Garron Bradish.

In an effort to increase efficiency and improve the user experience Haywood County will transition from its current COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system to a system by which citizens can self-schedule for available vaccine appointments beginning April 14.


Transition to self-scheduling —

What’s New:

  • Beginning April 14 citizens visiting the existing pre-registration portal ( will now be able to schedule their own vaccine appointment from available dates and times. No more registering and waiting for a phone call.

  • During the transition period, a limited amount of self-schedule appointment times will be available. That number will steadily increase as we finish vaccinating people who were pre-registered prior to the new system implementation.

What stays the same:

  • The website address for vaccine appointments will remain the same as it has been:  Visitors to this link will see the new portal instead of the pre-registration form beginning April 14, until that date, citizens can still use the existing form to pre-register.

  • Haywood County will continue to prioritize appointments for those on the existing pre-registration list, based on registration date until that list is completed.

  • Those needing assistance with scheduling their vaccine appointment or follow-up questions about vaccine appointments are encouraged to call the Haywood County COVID Vaccine hotline at 828-356-2019.

  • The primary vaccination site will remain at the Smoky Mountain Event Center, with the exception of the week of April 5 when we will furlough for Spring Break.

Important to know: 

  • Citizens are urged NOT to double register. If you already pre-registered prior to April 14, DO NOT use the self-scheduling portal to book an appointment. Health and Human Services already have your registration and you will receive a call to schedule your appointment time in the order in which registrations were received. Those on the pre-registration list will be prioritized during the transition period that is expected to last a few weeks.


Where to find COVID-19 vaccine information:

  • For vaccine appointment or registration questions call: 828-356-2019

  • Please do not call the health department’s main number for COVID-19 vaccination questions, use the hotline number instead.

  • For general COVID-19 information visit

Vaccinations by the numbers:

Total first shots given so far: 18,041* 

*This figure now includes federal vaccination programs through pharmacies.

First shots given this week at Haywood County drive-through events: 800+


Currently vaccinating: 

  • Haywood residents of all eligible groups (1-4)


Currently registering: Haywood Residents 18 and up

To register online visit:

or by phone at 828-356-2019 (hours of operation for the phone line are Monday - Friday 8 a.m - 5 pm..) 


Vaccination groups completed:

  • Long term care facility residents and staff

  • Hospital and doctor’s office staff

  • Health Department, Emergency Services, and Vaccine Clinic staff

  • County and municipal critical staff

  • Haywood residents ages 75+

  • Haywood residents 65+


Vaccination groups nearing completion:

  • Haywood County educators


What to know for Group 3 & 4 in Haywood County —

  • Vaccination eligibility is open to everyone in Groups 3 & 4. Appointments will still be required.


Vaccination capacity: The county expects to receive an allotment of 400 Moderna doses this coming week. Since Haywood County will not have its mass vaccination clinic during the week of Spring Break, that allotment will be transferred to Range Urgent Care in Asheville under a vaccine exchange program to supply vaccines to providers best able to distribute them in a timely manner. 


Haywood County is also receiving 400 doses of Johnson & Johnson, which will be used throughout April at mobile clinics.


Accepting First Dose Appointment: 

  • Time and location details for first dose appointments go out through an automated phone/text/email system. Listen carefully for appointment location and time.

  • Do not accept the appointment for the initial dose if you cannot commit to being available on the day your second dose should be given. Second doses are due 21 days or 28 days after the first dose, depending on the vaccine given, which we will not know until the day of the clinic. If you plan to be out of town or having a scheduled surgery or some other conflict you should wait and not start the vaccine until you can receive all doses here in Haywood County, on time.

  • If you decline an appointment, your name remains on the list to be called for a future first dose clinic. You do not have to register again.


Second dose information:

  • Over 800 people received second doses this week, completing their COVID-19 vaccination regimen. For most people, full immunity potential is reached about two weeks after receiving the second dose. For J&J vaccine, the full benefit is reached 4 weeks after the single dose. It is important to continue wearing masks and following other COVID protocols even after immunity is reached.

  • Second doses are allocated separately dependent on the number of first doses given. So far, second dose allocations appear to be arriving right on schedule and we anticipate no issues here.

  • The second appointment dates for Moderna are due 28 days after the initial dose. Appointments for Pfizer are due 21 days after the initial dose. (If you have been vaccinated already, your second appointment date can be found on the back of your vaccine card.)

  • Time and location details for second appointments will go out via the same phone system through which you received your first appointment. 


Organizations dispensing vaccine*:

  • Haywood County Health and Human Services 

  • Haywood Regional Medical Center (partnering with HHSA for distribution)

  • Blue Ridge Community Health: 100 doses per week

  • Walgreens: 100 doses per location per week

  • Ingles: Canton


*All organizations are offering vaccinations by appointment only.


Mass Vaccination Clinics:

  • Haywood County Health and Human Services, Haywood County Emergency Services, and Haywood Regional Medical Center are partnering on the weekly vaccine clinics.

  • The clinics serve those on the pre-registry list who have been contacted with an appointment time and are NOT open to the public or to walk-ins. 

  • Instructions on how to participate will be given when appointment times are scheduled.

  • About 800 people received their first shots at mass clinic events this week in Haywood.

  • Huge thanks to all the volunteers, churches, and individuals who contribute to the success of these events. 


To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and the prioritization goals visit:


At each step of the way,  Haywood County Health and Human Services is committed to providing updates and guidance to make sure that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will have their chance.


Key Points about the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • The vaccine is tested, safe, and effective

  • You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine

  • The vaccine will be provided free of charge to everyone that wants it.

  • For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, two doses are needed for maximum immunity.

  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.

  • There is no vaccine mandate.

  • Continuing the 3Ws will be critical until the vaccine is widely taken


Summary of Key Updates this week:

  • There will be no mass vaccination event next week due to Spring Break.

  • In an effort to increase efficiency and improve the user experience Haywood County will transition from its current COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system to a system by which citizens can self-schedule for available vaccine appointments beginning April 14.

  • The Haywood County mass vaccination appointments will continue to be located at the Smoky Mountain Event Center (fairgrounds).


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