Holly Kays

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

Sheriff Robert Holland is looking to ramp-up his department’s crackdown on drug dealers in Macon County, requesting that the county commissioners multiply his allocation for undercover drug buys from $1,000 to $20,000 in its upcoming budget. 

Comment

With campaign season barely off the ground, the Jackson County sheriff’s race has already drawn a hefty list of candidates — and of issues.

Comment

fr olsonWhen Becky Olson first began making house calls, she was barely old enough to walk. She spent her childhood following behind her physician father’s coattails when he made house calls and shadowing her mother, a nurse, through various clinics and classrooms. She saw, too, the bounty that poured into their home from patients who just couldn’t pay her father for his services — at least in monetary terms. 

Comment

out fr1For every degree of cold or inconvenience, wintry weather adds two of beauty. Members of Waynesville’s Lens Luggers photography club kept their cameras at the ready as below freezing temperatures and above-normal snowfall transformed Western North Carolina into a winter wonderland. We hope you’ll enjoy some of their favorite images and the stories of how they came to be. 

Comment

County leaders in Western North Carolina breathed a collective sigh of relief after the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law Feb. 7. The bill includes a one-year extension of the PILT program, which stands for payment in lieu of taxes.

Comment

A compromise has been reached between Ghost Town in the Sky and state inspectors over a violation and fine stemming from a staged gunfight at the Maggie Valley amusement park.

Comment

Robert Holland has been pushing to place a resource officer in every school for years — long before the Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy catapulted cops in schools to the top of county funding debates, and even before assuming the sheriff’s badge in 2002, when he served as a deputy and juvenile detective.

Comment

fr declinetosignUsually, you’d expect a school system to jump at the chance to give its teachers a raise, but superintendents statewide are now rolling up their sleeves for an unpleasant task: figuring out a process to determine the top 25 percent of teachers in their district and offering those people a pay increase. 

Comment

out frThere’s nothing abnormal about the pair of armchairs in Jim and Baraba Mills’ living room, or about the television — the old tube kind — and wooden entertainment center that they face. Typical, too, is the hodgepodge of DVDs and VHS tapes filling the shelves and the pictures of kids and grandkids covering the top. 

But even a cursory glance reveals Jim’s true passion. A trio of mounted trout — one rainbow and two brown — hang on the wall above the TV, and a fly-tying station crammed with every color and weight of thread imaginable stands in front of the ceiling-high shelf filled with old glass medicine bottles from Jim’s days as a pharmacist with the U.S. Public Health Service. Fly rods, either sheathed in protective cardboard tubes or laying out to dry on a jerry-rigged rack of cardboard boxes, fill every corner of the room, and a stool sits in front of the pair of thread spools that Jim is using to create the wrappings on his most recent angling project. It’s more than a living room: it’s a fly rod shop of the most unique variety. 

Comment

A plan to turn the old state prison campus in Hazelwood into an epicenter for changing lives is moving forward fast. 

Comment

fr electionsAfter discovering $50,000 worth of unauthorized checks had disappeared from its budget and placing director Kim Bishop on paid investigatory leave, the Macon County Board of Elections is now trying to regain its footing.

Comment

Three weeks after the State Bureau of Investigation launched a probe into possible embezzlement at the Macon County Board of Elections, county leaders are still sifting through the paperwork to figure out just where it all went wrong.

Comment

fr footballSwain County students may have been cheering when the high school football team’s trip to the state semifinals meant everyone got out early that day, but not all parents felt the same way. Elizabeth Wilmot, a Bryson City resident with two children who attend elementary school, was angry when she received an automated call from the school system on Tuesday, Dec. 3, informing her that school would be dismissed at 12:30 p.m. that Friday, Dec. 6. 

Comment

Waynesville residents will soon be reaping the benefits of an information technology makeover at town hall. While town employees will be happy to see the last of the decades-old computers some of them have been using, residents will notice an increase in the forms, calendars and updates posted on the town’s website. 

Comment

fr greenwayWaynesville will soon have a new section of walking path along Richland Creek and, if all goes as planned, public access to a 15-acre wooded area adjoining the trail. 

Comment

By Holly Kays & Becky Johnson • Staff writers

An embezzlement investigation at the Macon County Board of Elections locked down the office for nearly a week between Jan. 17 and Jan. 23, but business is far from returning to usual. 

Comment

coverIt’s been six months since the N.C. General Assembly passed a budget earmarking $10 million for school vouchers to low-income students, but the issue is just heating up in Western North Carolina. On Jan. 9, Macon County became the first school district in the four-county region to add its name to a lawsuit decrying the program as unconstitutional, but they’re not the only ones talking about it. 

In a unanimous vote at the Jan. 28 school board meeting, Jackson County also added its name to the litigation, and Haywood County discussed the issue at its Jan. 13 meeting when chairman Chuck Francis made an impassioned request that the board vote to join the lawsuit. However, the vote died on the floor without a motion to carry it forward. Swain County’s school board has not discussed the issue, and its next meeting is not until Feb. 10.  

Comment

out frFrom the oil fields of North Dakota to the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania, the U.S. oil and gas industry is booming in a way that few would have predicted 20 years ago.

Energy extraction is now possible — and financially viable — in regions it wasn’t before. Energy deposits, primarily of gas, that were once too hard or expensive to tap are being opened up with the combined technology of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, called fracking.

Comment

art frNearly 30 years after Bill Eleazer put the finishing touches on “Chasing Tadpoles,” a multi-piece bronze sculpture of three children playing in a pond, the former Tuscola High School art teacher’s work has come home to Waynesville. The only question is, where in town should it go? 

Comment

fr jaxTDAAfter a split vote that followed nearly an hour of discussion, the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority hired three different marketing companies for a five-month period ending when the new fiscal year begins in June. 

Comment

fr soccerJacob Flannick & Holly Kays • Correspondent/Staff writer

When Scott Cline graduated from Swain High School in the mid-1990s, the community had barely begun talking about forming a school soccer team. And while the sport is gaining popularity in Swain County, football is still the highest platform available to student athletes.

Comment

out frEvergreen Packaging’s Canton paper mill will be writing some big checks over the coming years as it moves to comply with an Environmental Protection Agency rule 10 years in the making.

It’s been more than a decade since the EPA first proposed stricter limits for toxic pollutant emissions from boilers, but once it released the final regulation in December 2012, companies nationwide began gearing up for the expensive upgrades necessary to comply. Evergreen is among them.

Comment

Nearly six months after a staged gunfight left a Ghost Town gunfighter injured, the incident is still not resolved. 

Ghost Town amusement park in Maggie Valley was issued a $2,000 citation last month by the N.C. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division for violations stemming from the injury.

Comment

coverBy 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 2, the sky had long gone dark and rain was turning to snow. It was the perfect night to watch a football game. But Steve Kloster had barely gotten past the kickoff of the Sugar Bowl showdown between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Oklahoma Sooners before a phone call tore him away from cheering for the Southeastern Conference powerhouse. Chief Ranger Clayton Jordan was on the line, calling the Tennessee District Ranger for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park into an even higher-stakes contest. 

Comment

Canton residents will have the chance to weigh in on the town board’s yearlong search for a town manager at a public forum scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Colonial Theatre.

Comment

Jackson County’s new volunteer policy, enacted in November, is taking a bite out of the Meals on Wheels volunteer force. 

Comment

fr PILTFrom Clingmans Dome to Juneywank Falls to the winding Blue Ridge Parkway, Swain County is rich in natural beauty. But all that public land can make the budget tight for county government, which depends on property tax for much of its revenue.  

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.