SMN staff

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When Christmas 2022 rolls around, a tree from North Carolina’s national forests will adorn the U.S. Capitol building. 

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Environmental science students at Western Carolina University took a look at the logistics of getting off-campus apartment complexes to offer recycling collections as part of a capstone class project. 

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A new half-mile trail created to serve people with physical disabilities is now open at Mainspring Conservation Trust’s 16-acre Queen Branch property along N.C. 28 in Macon County. 

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently filled two key leadership positions — Randy Scoggins has been hired as the new chief ranger overseeing the Visitor and Resource Protection Division, and Stephanie Kyriazis will serve as the new chief of resource education. 

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To the Editor:

As parents and as a teacher and health care professional, we are troubled by the Haywood School Board’s decision to remove masking, the manner in which the discussion was handled, and the unannounced removal of the online covid dashboard.

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One need look only to the hundreds of churches in Western North Carolina to see that the people of Southern Appalachia are especially devout in their religious practices. But those houses of worship don’t necessarily paint the whole picture.

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The Pisgah-Nantahala forest plan process is nearing its end, but a local filmmaker’s effort to produce a documentary exploring the issue is just beginning. 

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Outdoor Gear Builders has hired Brad Taylor as its first-ever full-time executive director, marking a milestone for an organization that is itself the first outdoor industry association of its kind. 

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The U.S. Forest Service is planning prescribed burns for seven areas of the Pisgah National Forest this spring. 

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Area land trusts are celebrating several recent accomplishments in the quest to conserve and protect ecologically significant land. 

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Farmers who suffered losses due to Tropical Storm Fred can now apply for help through the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Agricultural Crop Loss Program through the April 15 application deadline.

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To the Editor:

Justice. What is it? 

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The Haywood County Public Library will take care of the work of renewing checked out items for patrons.

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A Haywood Early College student was one of three winners in a statewide art contest focusing on climate change. 

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Volunteers are wanted for a community-wide effort to reduce consumption of single-use plastic bags, with a sew-a-thon planned for Friday, Feb. 11, at the Haywood County Library in Waynesville — or on your living room couch.

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After 18 years at the helm of Haywood Waterways Association, Eric Romaniszyn is leaving his position as the organization’s executive director. 

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According to untrained non-meteorologist Pumpkin the Groundhog, spring is on the way for Western North Carolina. 

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To the Editor:

Almost from the moment World War II ended, we have watched in horror as one dictator after another forced their people into submission, never imagining such a calamitous circumstance could occur in the United States of America.

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Last week’s GOP congressional forum wasn’t hosted by the state party, some national media outlet or even a local county party — it was the work of a talented group of young people operating as the Smoky Mountain Young Republicans. 

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Beloved Western North Carolina author, educator and storyteller Gary Carden has immortalized himself though his life’s work of preserving and promulgating some of the region’s most important fables and folklore, but now that a scholarship fund has been established at Western Carolina University, he’s helping to shape the cultural memory of future generations.

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As expected, the North Carolina Supreme Court overruled  on party lines a unanimous Wake County Superior Court decision that upheld new congressional and state legislative maps as constitutional.

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Creditworthiness is defined by a three-digit credit score and could be the key to a healthy financial life. Good credit is a determining factor when it comes to acquiring a mortgage, auto loan, student loan or credit card with a low interest rate. Credit can also affect utility costs, insurance rates, rent applications and even your ability to land the job you want. A low credit score will make it more difficult to do any of these things and could potentially cause stress in your life. 

A new volunteer program aiming to educate visitors to Devils Courthouse on the Blue Ridge Parkway and share information about imperiled species at the site — such as peregrine falcons and sensitive plants — is now accepting applicants. 

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It’s hiring season for summer camp counselors, with applications now open to work at day camps in Cashiers and Waynesville. 

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To the Editor:

I, too, deplore young people’s use of “foul language,” but hearing or reading it would not have affected me when I was 14 because my Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher and my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends were a much stronger influence.  

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After a wild duck shot in Hyde County Dec. 30 tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, agencies are reminding poultry growers to increase their biosecurity measures and hunters to follow best practices when handling waterfowl after harvest. 

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A decade after it first reached out to stakeholders for the project, the U.S. Forest Service has released its revised management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, signaling the start of the revision process’s final phase.

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Rep. Karl Gillespie, who represents Macon, Graham, Cherokee and Clay counties in the N.C. House of Representatives, has joined the Joint Legislative Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources. 

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To the Editor: If we really seek the truth, we go to primary sources — those who originate an idea, policy, or program. Mr. Ford’s letter of January 4  relies only on sources proven repeatedly to push lies. Instead, he read the social media posts of his hero Trump and the few loyalists left from his occupation of the White House. He should have watched the testimony of law enforcement officers who wer inside the Capitol on January 6: www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/watch-live-house-investigation-of-jan-6-attack-begins-with-police-testimony

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To the Editor:

Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City, in The Smoky Mountain News addressed his membership in the Oath Keepers. 

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To the Editor:

The Bear Education and Resource (B.E.A.R.) Task Force stands in opposition to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission proposal to open bear hunting seasons in Panthertown Valley (officially known as the Panthertown-Bonas Defeat Bear Sanctuary).

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To the Editor:

We are being inundated with the phrase, “Educate Don’t Indoctrinate.” It is now on billboards and in robot calls to our homes.

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After making big changes through pilot projects at Cades Cove Loop Road and Laurel Falls Trail, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park received positive feedback in recently assessed monitoring data, leading to a decision to make the vehicle-free Wednesdays at Cades Cove a permanent fixture going forward. In 2022, vehicle-free Wednesdays will be offered May 4 through Sept. 28. 

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Seasonal closures in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests have begun, with affected roads closed to motorized vehicles through April. Planned opening dates may change depending on weather. 

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Mainspring Conservation Trust has earned renewal of its national land trust accreditation through the Land Trust Alliance, remaining part of the nationwide network of more than 450 accredited land trusts. 

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Following months of public hearings across the state where voters from all sides decried racial and partisan gerrymandering, the Republican-dominated North Carolina General Assembly delivered a set of maps that prompted a pair of lawsuits before the maps were even approved.

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To the Editor: A word most of us are unfamiliar with but will become commonplace in the months and years to come is anocracy — or semi-democracy — a form of government that is loosely defined as part democracy and part dictatorship, or as a regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features.

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Editor’s note: Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City, has been open about his membership in the right-wing militia group known as the Oath Keepers since running for election back in 2012. Last week, Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes was charged with seditious conspiracy related to his actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The SMN asked Clampitt to respond to Stewart’s arrest.

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To the Editor: 

This is in response to Dennis Ford’s letter  from the Jan,. 5 issue of The Smoky Mountain News. 

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To the Editor: 

Let’s talk about the upcoming elections – not the candidates, but the voting. Regardless of your political leaning, there is a lot that we can agree on that is critical to our democracy. 

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To the Editor: 

More than one million North Carolinians (12.9%) have no health insurance. 

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• Western Carolina University’s Martin Luther King Jr. weeklong celebration will be highlighted this year with speaker Charisse Burden-Stelly’s keynote address “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Tradition of Radical Blackness.” Find a full list of events here.

After serving as interim director for seven months, Will Summer has been named the next director of the N.C. Division of Land and Water Stewardship and executive director of the N.C. Land and Water Fund. 

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To get the most out of out of James Lee Burke’s latest novel, “Another Kind of Eden” (Simon & Schuster, 2021, 243 pages), readers might want to first read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Young Goodman Brown.” Here’s a short synopsis that may help.

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The Haywood County Arts Council (HCAC) and regional partners, including the Asheville Area Arts Council, Transylvania Community Arts Council, the Tryon Fine Arts Center, the Arts Council of Henderson County, and the Rutherford County Arts Council, have announced the 2021-2022 Artist Support Grant awardees. 

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