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The COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun in Western North Carolina with the first doses going to healthcare workers and emergency medical technicians and paramedics on the frontlines. 

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The Haywood County Arts Council invites all Haywood County studio artists to participate in the annual Haywood County Studio Tour scheduled for Sept. 25-26.

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Haywood Community College in Clyde recently wrapped up an exhibition to celebrate graduates in the Professional Crafts Fiber program from the last decade. 

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Holidays going on, pandemic still going on, virtual shopping going on x 1000, and my face going on everywhere! I wish there was an off button for my face!

Artists Collective | Spartanburg will host The Art of Survival, an art exhibition on tap for Jan. 5-Feb. 27, 2021, that will explore how regional artists have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed its influence creatively.

Haywood County Health and Human Services is reporting seven more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number now to 62. 

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Macon County Public Health has identified a COVID-19 cluster of positive cases in the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.

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At the regularly scheduled meeting of the Shining Rock Classical Academy Board of Directors, the decision was made to begin offering high school grades effective in August 2021.

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Vision Cashiers, a not-for-profit organization led by volunteers and devoted to improving the Cashiers community, recently announced it has received an endorsement by Jackson County to move forward with a public dog park — a first for the valley of Cashiers.

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Following the semester and holiday break, Haywood County Schools will return for blended and in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. The previous return date for blended and in-person learning was Wednesday, Jan. 6, but now Jan. 6-8 will be remote learning days for all students. Information about these three remote learning days will be provided by individual schools.

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Caught out and arrested by a sharp-eyed deputy sheriff, a Franklin man is headed to state prison after a failed attempt to conceal illegal drugs in a cluster of hosta plants at a Cashiers hardware store.

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Altrusa of Waynesville is part of an International nonprofit organization that emphasizes community service including literacy, education and other needs within Haywood County.

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Between Dec. 12 and Dec. 14, Haywood County Public Health has received notice of 112 new cases of COVID-19.  As of 5 p.m. Dec. 14, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has recorded a total of 1,619 cases in Haywood County since the pandemic began. In the last week, the county has added 219 new cases. There are 274 people isolating with COVID. The health department is monitoring these cases.

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The winter season is upon us and the colder weather may bring individuals further into isolation. Many Americans have been hunkering down amid the COVID-19 pandemic since early March and this prolonged isolation may take its toll on individuals, especially the elderly population. 

To the Editor:

Please allow me a moment to respond to last week’s op-ed by Patrick Gleason “Local government-run broadband a bad idea” in The Smoky Mountain News where he ridiculed my efforts at seeking to allow local governments to be involved in providing internet access. Keeping local governments out of the internet business has come home to roost as many children must go to school virtually — in households which do not have internet service. 

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To the Editor:

I have always  been a history buff. It was my major in college. I studied WWII in great detail. It was really just a continuation of “The Great War,” WWI. The Germans lost WWI. It is an undisputed fact of history. The loss of the war came as a great shock to the German people. Government propaganda of the time had convinced them of the invincibility of the German soldier, and the rightness of their cause.  

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To the Editor:

This is in response to your article: “DA undergoes breast cancer treatment,” concerning our elected/head District Attorney, Ashley Hornsby Welch.

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To the Editor:

IF socialism is: “any of various theories or systems of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community rather than by private individuals, with all members of society or the community sharing in the work and the products”

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A Waynesville Parks and Recreation employee was recently certified as a playground safety inspector. 

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A new contact center is available for people with questions for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

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More than 35 Carolina Mountain Club members banded together to create an updated version of the widely popular “100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge” map, the first such update in more than 25 years. 

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Food pantries and meal delivery programs have had to change how they operate during the pandemic while still trying to meet the growing need for fresh foods in rural Western North Carolina. Thanks to grant funding, farms and food sites have partnered to make sure people don’t go hungry. 

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The media received a press release from GOP leaders in Western North Carolina inviting all Christian conservatives to a “Can’t ‘Coop’-Up Christmas” Celebration from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at the Smoky Mountain Event Center (the former Haywood County Fairgrounds).

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Question: Will drinking Apple Cider Vinegar help me lose weight or help control my diabetes? 

The Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center recently announced the 2020-21 NC Arts Council Artist Support Grant Recipients for Region 18.

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Between Dec. 8 and Dec. 10, Haywood County Public Health has received notice of 107 new cases of COVID-19 and seven more residents have died in nursing homes. 

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A would-be lawyer found herself in handcuffs and headed to prison Thursday after pleading guilty in Jackson County Superior Court to pocketing money earmarked for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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Mountain Projects 31 Days of Giving Campaign is seeking holiday contributions to support the well-being of families experiencing poverty in Haywood and Jackson Counties. Due to circumstances related to the pandemic, the agency is expecting more calls for emergency services than ever before.

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Pay for top executives rose faster than for doctors, nurses

By Peter H. Lewis and Barbara Durr, Asheville Watchdog

For a hospital system organized as a not-for-profit charity, Mission Health made a lot of profits.

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Western Carolina University students living in residence halls will be asked to submit documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result taken three to five days before they leave their permanent residence and prior to their return to campus for the start of the 2021 spring semester.

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Holiday Events:

Help Mountain Projects match a $25,000 donation

Heather Boyd, a resident of Pisgah Forest, has been hired to serve as the first executive director of Smoky Mountain Housing Partnership (SMHP), the affordable housing division of Mountain Projects, a community action agency serving Haywood and Jackson counties.

By Dee Burrell

At the end of the year, a lot of different celebrations are happening for various reasons. Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza and Winter Solstice, or Yule. When people use the phrase, "The reason for the season," I immediately think the reason for the season is well… the season! The winter season. The Yuletide, which means the time of Yule.

Question: What Does it take to be a Dietitian? 

By Patrick Gleason • Guest Columnist | In times like these, with public resources scarce and taxpayer dollars facing tremendous strain, it’s imperative for state and local officials to focus on core functions of government, of which competing with the likes of Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T is definitely not one. Yet Franklin Mayor Bob Scott penned a guest column in the Asheville Citizen-Times recently arguing for just that, urging the North Carolina General Assembly to permit “local government to compete with big-boy providers” for internet access.  Whether Mayor Scott’s advice can become a reality now depends on the two Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoff elections taking place in Georgia. 

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To the Editor:

As a public middle school teacher in the great state of North Carolina, I could expound for pages about the standardized testing model in our public schools. I hold many strong opinions about it, the administration of, and how the scores are used.  

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To the Editor:

All the hype about President Donald Trump claiming voter fraud and the Rudy Giuliani’s traveling legal circus is just the latest Trump scam. Nobody has come up with any evidence of voter fraud of any extent. Of almost 50 legal challenges the only one Giuliani won was to have observers six feet from poll workers instead of 19.

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To the Editor:

It seems that Ali Baba Don intends to pardon his 40 thieves. 

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To the Editor:

Doctors across America are literally begging people to mask, maintain safe distances, avoid large and small gatherings, earnestly pleading with us to follow preventive measures to keep ourselves and our fellow citizens as safe as humanly possible from the deadly virus infecting our planet.

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A total of $1.25 million for six projects in far Western North Carolina received funding in this year’s round of grants from the N.C. Land and Water Fund, formerly known as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Statewide, the fund awarded $14.6 million across 39 projects.

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The National Park Service Investigative Services Branch continues to seek information related to sexual assaults that may have occurred within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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Macon County School Board has two new members following the 2020 election and a special appointment to fill a recent vacancy. 

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Haywood County is currently experiencing a rapid increase in positive cases of COVID-19, indicating unchecked community spread. Thus, with the health and safety of our patients, families, employees and community in mind, Haywood Regional Medical Center will temporarily suspended visitation to our facility effective 6 a.m. Monday, Dec. 7. This includes inpatient visitation, inpatient and outpatient procedures and surgeries, and the ER.

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Between Dec. 1 and Dec. 3, Haywood County Public Health received notice of 79 new cases of COVID-19. As of 5 p.m. Dec. 3, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has recorded a total of 1,286 cases in Haywood County since the pandemic began.

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N.C. Department of Transportation officials recently awarded three separate contracts totaling more than $6.7 million to resurface more than 26.2 miles of roads in Graham, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties.

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Jorge Hernandez, arrested last year after crashing into a motorcyclist on N.C. 107 near Glenville, killing him, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Jackson County Superior Court, Assistant District Attorney Chris Matheson said.

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Diann Catlin • Guest Columnist | Every American should want and demand evidence as to the integrity of the recent 2020 election. Every American should be able to trust the integrity of a record that their own vote actually counted. If there is any way a foreign adversary or a homegrown activist manipulated any pathway so that the will of American people voting their choice is erased and outvoted by dead people or compromising machinery, every American should want to see the proof.

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The All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory has hit a new milestone in its quest to document the incredible biodiversity of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this year passing the 21,000 mark in species identified within the park.

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Masks must be worn inside gyms and other fitness facilities following Gov. Roy Cooper’s latest executive order. 

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By Laura Lauffer • Contributing writer | During the holiday season, we often recognize and appreciate the farmers in our community for the abundance of food on our tables. Three women farmers in the region shared their farming experience during this challenging year, what it means to them to farm as women and how they continued to grow and distribute their goods to the community in the challenging times of COVID. 

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