Holly Kays

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The sky shone an unbroken blue and afternoon sunshine cast sparkles on the lazy Pigeon River as a group of volunteers gathered in the mud-caked parking lot of Rivers Edge Park in Clyde Jan. 29. 

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Adam Griffith, director of the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources Program at the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, holding a piece of dried river cane in his hand. 

Comment

The number of Haywood County residents receiving a first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine jumped by 45 percent between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, but vaccinations increased much more slowly over the same period in other mountain counties. 

Comment

After nearly eight hours of discussion and testimony on Monday, Jan. 25, the first day of the quasi-judicial hearing that will determine the fate of a massive development proposed for Cashiers ended with developer Stephen Macauley asking the Cashiers Area Community Planning Council to make its decision based on an entirely different plan than the one he submitted last fall. 

Comment

Cashiers will get a dog park following the Jackson County Commissioners’ unanimous vote Jan. 26 to approve a contract with Vision Cashiers allowing the park to be built between the two baseball fields on the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department Complex off Frank Allen Road. 

Comment

Greg Shuping was 19 years old when he launched his emergency services career in his native Burke County. The son of a volunteer firefighter, Shuping had spent most of his life hanging around the firehouse, at least when he wasn’t busy exploring nearby Linville Gorge. 

Comment

New mobile freezers capable of capable of safely storing and transporting COVID-19 vaccine vials will soon arrive at all 15 research institutions within the UNC System, including Western Carolina University.

WCU is also one of three UNC institutions — along with N.C. A&T State and UNC Pembroke — that will provide a public clinic for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Comment

Staff at Jackson County Public Schools looking forward to COVID-19 vaccination got a welcome surprise last week when an impromptu clinic on Jan. 22 vaccinated 313 people who work for the school system. 

Comment

The Catawba Nation of South Carolina cleared an important hurdle in its quest to open a casino in Kings Mountain when Gov. Roy Cooper signed off Jan. 22 on a gaming compact that will allow the tribe to offer live table gaming and sports betting on the 16.57-acre property just outside Charlotte. 

Comment

Jackson County Commissioners unanimously passed a policy change last week that makes it clear that sitting commissioners are expected to show up at board meetings. 

Comment

A new vaccine pre-registration process is in effect at the Jackson County Department of Public Health, which is currently vaccinating Group 1 and 2 — healthcare workers and those 65 and older.

Comment

More than three years after the cold February day when 26 FBI agents descended on the Qualla Housing Authority building in Cherokee, the U.S. Department of Justice informed the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians that its investigation yielded “no prosecutable cases,” and that the tribe can have the seized files back.

Comment

Jackson County commissioners approved five pieces of legislation during their regular meeting Jan. 19 that will allow work to begin on the indoor pool project voters approved in a Nov. 4 referendum vote. 

Comment

The 3.5-mile hike to the top of Pinnacle Rock is a heart-pumping one, the old logging roads that now serve as hiking trails climbing 2,200 feet before leaving the hiker breathless before a sweeping aerial view of the Town of Sylva, cradled on all sides by forested mountain slopes.

Comment

As the afternoon sun sank in the wintry sky Jan. 15, a line of first responders stretched 50-deep outside the front door of the Cullowhee Recreation Center, each person waiting their turn to participate in the first mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic to take place in Jackson County. 

Comment

A $250 million deal between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Caesars Entertainment will go forward after Tribal Council voted Jan. 14 to deny a protest challenging the deal’s legality. 

Comment

The N.C. Division of Health and Human Services modified its guidelines for vaccine distribution today, and Jackson County has modified its guidelines to match the states.

Comment

A trio of resolutions seeking to put three alcohol-related referendum questions before Cherokee voters this year was withdrawn in Tribal Council Jan. 14 but will likely reappear on the agenda this spring. 

Comment

Jackson County hopes to vaccinate 200 first responders and front-line emergency services staff with the first in a series of two COVID-19 vaccination shots during a clinic slated for 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, at the Jackson County Recreation Center in Cullowhee.

Comment

Appalachian Trail thru-hiker season was already in full swing when coronavirus fears prompted widespread lockdowns in March, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy was swift to react. 

Comment

With the first full semester of pandemic instruction now in the books, preliminary numbers at Western Carolina University show dips in fall-to-spring retention and student grades compared to previous years. 

Comment

With the Jackson County Board of Commissioners’ first public discussion about changing the county’s namesake scheduled for Jan. 12, the third of Jackson’s four municipalities has approved a resolution asking commissioners to make the change. 

Comment

Two years after tribal members voted down a similar referendum, the Tribal Alcohol Beverage Control Commission is seeking to place a trio of questions aimed at legalizing off-casino alcohol sales on an upcoming ballot.

Comment

A group of 14 tribal members that includes two sitting Tribal Council members and a former principal chief has entered a resolution aiming to reverse a Dec. 17 vote to purchase the gaming operation at Caesars Southern Indiana Casino for $250 million. 

Comment

The COVID-19 death count in Jackson County nearly doubled over the holiday season, increasing from 10 as of Nov. 25 to 18 as of Jan. 4. One of the lives lost was that of 66-year-old Darrell Woodard, a fixture in the community who led the Savannah Fire Department as chief for 36 years. 

Comment

There’s been a lot of focus lately on all the ways that the last 12 months have been hard and frightening and challenging, but believe it or not, 2020 has had its share of bright spots, too. Here are 10 of the most inspiring, beautiful and joy-filled moments from this year’s outdoors news. 

Comment

Ceasars Entertainment and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians today released a formal announcement regarding the sale of operations at Caesars Southern Indiana in Elizabeth, Indiana.

Comment

Maranda Bradley knows exactly what her 2015 self would say if she knew what the 2020 version was up to now. 

“‘You’re crazy. You’re in a wheelchair. You can’t even hold your bowels.’ That’s what I would say at this point,” said Bradley.

Comment

When the Cherokee Tribal Council waded through its final hours of discussion — and, ultimately, a vote — on the $280 million decision to move forward with the Indiana casino purchase, few tribal members saw them do it. 

Comment

As the Jan. 6 hearing that will determine the project’s fate draws nearer, opposition is mounting to a plan that would bring 726 new residential units and 159,000 square feet of commercial space to the Cashiers crossroads. 

Comment

Tribal Council decided by a razor-thin margin last week to pursue a $280 million deal to purchase the gaming operation at Caesars Southern Indiana Casino, which would mark the tribe’s first foray into the commercial gaming industry. During the same meeting, Council voted to set up a new LLC to oversee the venture. 

Comment

It was the fall of 2019, and Bill Zimmerman had just hopped in a truck with other members of the Haywood County Wilderness Search and Rescue Team in response to one of the 21 deployments the crew handled that year. 

“Somebody goes, ‘We don’t even have a gas card. We don’t even have money to put into the truck to get up to the mountain,’” Zimmerman recalled. 

Comment

The Town of Sylva joined the Village of Forest Hills last week in formerly supporting a request from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to substitute former Principal Chief Walter S. Jackson for former President Andrew Jackson as Jackson County’s namesake. 

Comment

The cost of attendance at Western Carolina University will increase by $152 in the 2021-2022 school year for on-campus, in-state undergraduates, if a proposed schedule of fees and rates adopted by the WCU Board of Trustees this month meets approval from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. 

Comment

Tribal Council voted 10-1 today to table a resolution that would have allowed the tribe to move forward with a $290 million agreement to purchase the gaming operation at Caesar’s Southern Indiana Casino.

Comment

A total of 37 people at Morningstar Assisted Living in Sylva have tested positive for COVID-19, making the facility the fourth in Jackson County currently experiencing an outbreak.

Comment

The 2020-2021 budget Jackson County passed in June was a slimmed-down plan adopted in reaction to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis — but commissioners approved it with the understanding that some dollars could be added back in later depending on how finances looked come January.

Comment

A Whittier man is dead due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a 911 call that the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department responded to around 2 p.m. Dec. 10.

Comment

The Graham County Clerk of Superior Court’s office will be closed through Friday, Dec. 18, due to COVID-19 exposure.

Comment

The beloved Greening Up The Mountains Festival will once again be absent from its traditional date of the last Saturday in April — but the Sylva Board of Commissioners has pledged that the event will take place in 2021.

Comment

For Ash Rovecamp, keeping honeybees has never been about honey.

“I don’t really consider myself a beekeeper,” he said. “I’m a bee feeder. I hardly even go into my hives, have hardly even gotten honey for myself.”

Comment

It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and Sylva resident Ben Guiney was spending the morning decorating the Christmas tree with his wife and daughter, pondering the possibility of a mountain bike ride to take advantage of the unseasonably warm day. 

Comment

While the issue has not yet come before county commissioners, the Village of Forest Hills has passed a resolution supporting a request from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to substitute former Principal Chief Walter S. Jackson as the county’s namesake. Other towns in Jackson County are considering similar resolutions. 

Comment

In a closely divided vote following an at-times tense discussion Thursday, Dec. 3, the Cherokee Tribal Council removed Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise Chairman Jim Owle from his post. 

Comment

After a yearlong delay, the effort to bring sports betting to Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos is finally moving forward following Gov. Roy Cooper’s approval of a proposed amendment to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ gaming compact. Tribal Council approved the amended compact by unanimous vote on Thursday, Dec. 3, a move that those present in the chamber greeted with enthusiastic applause.

Comment

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners said goodbye to outgoing Commissioners Ron Mau and Mickey Luker on Tuesday, Dec. 1, the body’s last meeting before the swearing-in or new representatives.

Comment

Two people have died related to a COVID-19 outbreak at Maggie Valley Nursing Home and Rehabilitation, bringing Haywood County’s total COVID-19 death toll to 42.

Comment

After Jackson County voters narrowly approved a Nov. 4 referendum to bring an indoor pool to Cullowhee, the lanes are expected to welcome their first swimmers by Christmas 2023. 

Comment

A 150-foot section of Allen Street in Sylva has been closed since April as the town board decides what to do about an ever-worsening slope failure that is now threatening the road in two separate places. 

Comment

Four people at Hermitage Assisted Living and Memory Care in Sylva have tested positive for COVID-19, constituting a new outbreak.

Comment

During the month of November thus far, three people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died in Jackson County, bringing the county’s total to 10 deaths since the pandemic began.

Comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.