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Haywood Family Eye Care has been a fixture of eye care in Western North Carolina for nearly 70 years. 

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Haywood County Public Health has received notice of 120 new cases of COVID-19 in the last week compared to 156 the previous week. As of Dec. 20, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has recorded a total of 8,280 cases in Haywood County since the pandemic began. 

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Members from three Rotary Clubs in Haywood County delivered 651 Christmas dinner boxes Dec. 21 to local families. The Christmas box deliveries were made possible thanks to organizations, churches and individuals that donated funds toward the annual project. Donated photo

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By Bill Graham • Special to SMN | Poet T.S. Eliot wrote that there’s something about growing up beside a river that’s hard to communicate to people who didn’t.

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The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is expanding its leadership with the appointment of two new directors. 

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The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education in Brevard won’t reopen following extensive damage from Tropical Storm Fred, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has announced. 

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Brent Laurenz, deputy director for the voting rights nonprofit Common Cause in North Carolina, will be the next leader of Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the organization has announced. 

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UPDATE: Since this piece was originally published, the Wildlife Commission announced cancellation of the planned in-person hearings.

The Wildlife Resources Commission is proposing a slate of changes to agency regulations for seasons in 2022-2023. Public comment is open through Monday, Jan. 31, with both in-person and virtual public hearings planned over the coming month. 

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Nine grants totaling $326,348 will help environmental groups support area waterways in a variety of ways following the announcement of this year’s grant awards from the Pigeon River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. 

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To the Editor:

Every faith tradition has special occasions to honor God’s goodness and mankind’s desire for peace on earth. 

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To the Editor:

 I see where Michael Flynn, former President Trump’s National Security Advisor, is calling for us to have “one religion” in the U.S., presumably Christianity. As a retired Presbyterian minister, I would like for all to find what I have in the Christian faith. However, my family’s history makes me have qualms on having one “official” religion even if it is Christianity. 

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To the Editor:

The late, great Johnny Cash wrote: “Don’t take your guns to town, son.” In the song, Billy Joe repeats his mother’s warning as he lays dying. Shot down by a cowpoke who could draw faster than him.

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North Carolina created Operation Medicine Drop to help people safely dispose of medications and prescription drugs. A series of locations across the state have designated drop boxes for old and unused medications. 

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By Bill Graham • Special to SMN | For Ed Herron, childhood at Lake Junaluska in the 1960s was idyllic. He loved it. 

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River’s End Restaurant at Nantahala Outdoor Center is once more serving its legendary Sherpa rice dish after locals and visitors alike begged them to bring it back. 

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A freshwater mussel known as the Atlantic pigtoe has been added as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act following a process that began when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed the listing in October 2018. 

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A 1982 Piper Saratoga airplane flew into the Asheville Regional Airport Nov. 20 to deliver an endangered red wolf and take on a load of shelter dogs for adoption up north. 

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By Rob Schofield • Guest Columnist | It’s a bedrock principle of American law that average people can vindicate their legal and constitutional rights in courts of law and have those courts compel or prevent acts of other branches of government. 

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To the Editor:

By now most Americans (and people around the globe) will have learned that the United States (for the very first time) has been added to the list of “backsliding democracies” by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. 

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To the Editor:

This is in regards to Sen. Thom Tillis email of 3:10 a.m. Saturday morning, Dec 4, “Preventing $450,000 payments to illegal immigrants.”

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Eighth-grade students from Mountain Discovery Charter School in Bryson City went on a five-day and four-night backpacking up Hazel Creek. 

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Bryson City Council approved premium pay for 32 employees during a Dec. 6 board of aldermen meeting. 

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After enduring a series of unexpected, pandemic-related challenges, the latest group of Southwestern Community College graduates will celebrate their accomplishments with family and friends during the college’s first traditional, indoor commencement ceremonies in two years.

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Election season in North Carolina got off to a predictably unpredictable start on Dec. 6 when an appellate court issued a temporary stay 30 minutes before candidate filing for the 2022 elections was set to begin.

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It’s cookie season. And with all that this year has thrown at us, I am so glad we have finally arrived here. 

The practice of wassailing is a time-honored tradition that has spanned centuries. When wassailing, people go door-to-door, singing and offering a sip of drink from something called a wassail bowl. Most do it to spread holiday cheer and wish good health on their neighbors. 

The past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way Americans prepare for everything — from the summer travel season to the back-to-school season and even the fall sports season — and small businesses are feeling the strain. But even in a pandemic, consumers want to shop small year-round. For small businesses looking to adapt, consistent engagement is key.

The holiday season is steeped in tradition. Many holiday traditions are centered around food, with much of the focus on all of the decadent treats and desserts taking center stage at many family gatherings.

He grew up around a father and grandfather that had woodshops, but he didn’t turn to woodworking until a little later in life. Now, after 49 years in banking, he spends 30 to 35 hours a week in his own wood shop in Maggie Valley. 

Susan Coe was born in England, grew up in Alabama, and now lives just outside of Bryson City. There was one spot left in the pottery class she decided to take at Southwest Community College (SWCC). Soon thereafter, pottery consumed her. Today, Susan has a home studio where she produces her colorful, functional pottery. 

Gallery Zella opened in Bryson City in March of 2016. Zella Jackson Hannum and Brian Hannum retired from their respective careers to devote their time to Gallery Zella and the work of nurturing the arts and artists in the region. 

A years-long effort to restore and relocate the Yancey Ridge Trail in Avery County is now complete, including a 1.2-mile section of new trail rerouting a segment that was on private property. 

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Winding Stair Road in Macon County will be closed through late March to install an overhead powerline replacing the existing cross-country route. 

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A diverse set of management activities proposed for the Nantahala Ranger District of the Nantahala National Forest would include timber harvest, fish passage improvements and additional Appalachian Trail parking at Ben Creek Road.

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By Molly Phillips • Contributing writer | Over the summer, 16 students from Western Carolina University — led by Dr. Brett Riggs, Dr. Jane Eastman and field assistant Karen Biggert — drove each weekday from Cullowhee to Franklin to spend more than four hot, sticky weeks outdoors. Their mission? To apply scientific techniques to discover archaeological evidence on Mainspring’s Watauga Mound  property, and learn more about what northern Macon County looked like hundreds of years ago. 

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When Appalachian Trail season starts next year, the trek will be 1.2 miles longer thanks to three significant trail relocations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and along the Connecticut/New York border. 

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After more than two decades serving farmers and the local food community, Charlie Jackson will retire as executive director of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.

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The U.S. Senate confirmed Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III as director of the National Park Service on Thursday, Nov. 18, making him the first Native American to lead the agency. 

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Storm drains at Haywood Community College now sport stencils reminding people to help keep the waterways clean, thanks to a class project that Haywood Early College students recently completed. 

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To the Editor:

I grew up in what used to be a small town in New Jersey. Everything was peaceful and had plenty of open land with farms spread out amongst Cape Cod housing developments, population around 10,000. 

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To the Editor:

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and the coming holidays, I’m writing to express my gratitude to Senators Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., and all the Democratic lawmakers for voting in favor of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act President Joe Biden signed into law on November 15 . 

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By Gary St. Arnauld • Guest Columnist | North Carolina’s General Assembly has a long and not so honorable history of creating legislative maps that have been consistently struck down by federal and N.C. courts. This year, maps for N.C. congressional districts, state Senate districts and state House districts were drawn again as they are every 10 years due to U.S. Census data, or when the courts order new maps. Indeed, N.C. has drawn more litigation over this issue than any other state over the past 10 years.

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On the evening of Monday, Nov. 15, the Special Victims Unit of the Macon County Sheriff’s Office initiated an investigation after receiving a complaint of a sexual assault involving a Macon County employee. 

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The saying “the more the merrier” certainly applies during the holiday season. But during a season of big gifts, extra food and travel, “more” can exact a heavy toll on the environment. 

A phenomenon called “cabin fever” tends to set in around late autumn or in midwinter. Long hours of darkness coupled with cold, inclement weather often is a recipe for increased time spent indoors. For people who live alone, the effects of cabin fever might be more pronounced.

The holiday season is steeped in tradition. Few traditions may elicit more collective belly laughs than holiday movie night, a tradition in millions of households across the globe. Families can consider these classic holiday films as they plan family movie night this holiday season.

The holidays are a time to spend with friends and family. Celebrating and entertaining are large components of what makes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and New Year’s festivities so enjoyable. Holiday hosts with pets must consider companion animals when planning the festivities.

A grant from Dogwood Health Trust will fund the first 6 of 42 planned miles of new, accessible trails in the Pisgah National Forest near Old Fort, with a pair of community input sessions coming up in December.

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A Sevierville woman is dead following a single-vehicle crash on the southbound Spur between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Wednesday, Nov. 17. 

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