Cory Vaillancourt

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New details from the Haywood County Tax Collector’s office show that Haywood Republican Commissioner Terry Ramey, who until recently hadn’t paid his property taxes since 2012, also failed to pay property taxes for at least five years before that, resulting in nearly $1,600 in taxes being deemed uncollectible.

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Across the state of North Carolina, the public’s right to know what its elected leaders are doing remains foundational to the principles of open government. But when elected officials— especially those suspected of wrongdoing — are asked for copies of their government-related communications, there’s absolutely no way to ensure that true and accurate records are being provided, and there’s absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.

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Canton’s 115th annual Labor Day Festival — the oldest in the South — could take on a more somber tone this September in light of the impending June closure of the paper mill at the center of town, but organizers hope to keep the mood festive with today’s announcement of a major headliner.

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Nearly two years after rains from Tropical Storm Fred inundated Haywood County and flooded parts of Bethel, Canton, Clyde and Cruso, important infrastructure projects are continuing with significant help from the North Carolina General Assembly.

On April 17, Rep. Mark Pless (R-Haywood) brought legislators from across the state to show them firsthand the work that remains.

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The town of Canton won’t quite look, feel or smell the same once the century-old paper mill finally closes later this year, but after a surprise announcement by Mayor Zeb Smathers on April 12, there’s some hope that in the future it will at least sound the same.

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As the man behind the controversial North Carolina-based American Muckrakers PAC, David Wheeler’s had an outsized impact on at least one recent congressional campaign, but in 2024, he’s looking to have that same impact on a race of his own.

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Last week, Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers hosted Gov. Roy Cooper and a panel of elected Democrat and Republican leaders along with economic development officials, workforce analysts and environmental policy officials, all trying to prepare for the inevitable closing of the venerable old mill at the center of town.

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper will return to Canton on April 6 to discuss the forthcoming closure of Pactiv Evergreen’s Canton paper mill, resources for impacted workers and how the state will hold the company accountable.

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Nearly all manner of calamity — global pandemic, cyber-attack, flooding and an impending shutdown of one of the area’s largest, highest-paying employers — has befallen Haywood County in the last three years, with all of them now conspiring to produce a decline in school enrollment that will most certainly create problems of its own.

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Every seat on Waynesville’s Board of Aldermen will be up for election this year, but if the town’s plan for pursuing the staggered terms comes to pass, the order in which candidates finish will be important. The top two finishers will be awarded four-year terms, and the next two finishers will be awarded two-year terms.

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After residents voiced concerns during a March 21 meeting over a North Carolina Department of Agriculture initiative to treat an invasive pest that has infiltrated Haywood County’s Cruso community, the NCDA announced earlier today that the treatment would be postponed for at least the rest of the year.

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A story published in today’s edition of the Waynesville Mountaineer contained inaccurate information about Pactiv Evergreen’s facility in Waynesville, a county official with knowledge of the situation told The Smoky Mountain News this morning.

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Last week, more than a hundred people turned up to an informational meeting about a North Carolina Department of Agriculture plan to treat a small portion of Haywood County’s Cruso community for an invasive species of moth. And they weren’t happy.

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Darris Moody’s failure to appear for a federal court hearing back in October could come back to haunt her, as prosecutors plan to seek a 2-level enhancement at her upcoming sentencing.

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While some elected officials and media outlets are going to great lengths to celebrate Gov. Roy Cooper’s signing of the Medicaid expansion bill passed by the North Carolina General Assembly, there remains one very real obstacle to enactment.  

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The initial shock of Pactiv Evergreen’s announcement that its Canton paper mill would soon cease operations hasn’t quite worn off for some, but the various parties affected by the closing have begun to take actions to mitigate the impact that has only just begun.

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The Town of Waynesville’s municipal governing board has taken steps to modernize its operations by proposing amendments to its charter — changing both the terms it uses to refer to elected representatives, and how those representatives are elected to their terms.

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Administrators from the Town of Canton’s various departments met with Mayor Zeb Smathers and members of the town board March 23 to begin to prepare for the financial impact of the closing of Pactiv Evergreen’s paper mill, estimated by Town Manager Nick Scheuer at roughly $3 million.

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Last week, more than a hundred people turned up to an informational meeting about a North Carolina Department of Agriculture plan to treat a small portion of Haywood County’s Cruso community for an invasive species of moth. And they weren’t happy.

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A March 21 letter from the general manager of Pactiv Evergreen’s Canton and Waynesville operations, John McCarthy, says the company will start mailing out mandated WARN notices to workers beginning on Thursday, March 23. 

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Haywood County Republican and real estate agent Lynda Bennett will be sentenced in federal court on June 20 after accepting a plea agreement for violating campaign finance laws during her failed 2020 congressional bid.

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The North Carolina General Assembly is one step closer to approving Medicaid expansion after the bill passed out of the Senate on March 15, but a popular amendment seen as a necessary addition by a Haywood County legislator — and every other member of the House — didn’t make the cut in the Senate.

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Haywood County still needs its proposed $21.5 million jail expansion, but an unexpectedly high bid from the lone construction bidder has temporarily derailed the process — a delay that could become costly.

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The 185-acre paper mill at the heart of Canton is the most visible sign of Pactiv Evergreen’s corporate presence in Haywood County, but they also own dozens of other parcels worth tens of millions of dollars.

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The union that represents most workers at Pactiv Evergreen’s Canton mill has been placed under control of its Pittsburgh-based international union, stripping local officers of their titles and power.

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For the first time since 2008, North Carolina’s governor is termed out, meaning Democrats and Republicans will both have a pretty fair shot at what will be an open seat come 2024.

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In a letter sent by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper to Mike King, CEO of Pactiv Evergreen, Cooper says that closing the Canton paper mill would violate the terms of a 2015 economic development deal and require the company to repay the state $12 million.

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No one living can remember a time when there wasn’t a paper mill at the heart of Canton. Now, after 115 years in operation, it all comes down to three months.

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After years of inaction by Congress led to a massive $262 million deferred maintenance backlog in America’s most-visited national park, it will now be up to visitors to pony up their own money to support the park’s most basic staffing and maintenance needs.

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In less than three months, Pactiv-Evergreen’s Canton mill will cease operations after more than a century of serving as the cultural, economic and geographical center of the tiny Haywood County town of Canton. 

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After more than a century of serving as the cultural, economic and geographical center of the tiny Haywood County town of Canton, Pactiv-Evergreen’s Canton mill will cease operations at some time during the second quarter of this year. 

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Despite strong opposition last year, Rep. Mark Pless (R-Haywood) has again filed a bill that if passed would bring partisanship into some of Western North Carolina’s municipal governments.

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All the world’s a stage, Shakespeare wrote, and all the men and women merely players. But with the recent uptick in bad actors consistently providing misinformation to Waynesville’s Board of Aldermen, a proposal to increase transparency by broadcasting meetings got bogged down over concerns that the videos would simply end up as food for trolls.

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When is an alderman not an alderman? When that alderman happens to be a woman. 

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Waynesville is Haywood County’s only municipal government that elects all of its members at once, but that will likely change — just in time for this year’s election.  

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The Town of Waynesville’s municipal expenditures and revenue streams have all come in as expected during the 2022-23 fiscal year, but with a long and growing list of deferred maintenance needs and purchases, aldermen are looking for places to save money while once again raising the specter of a general obligation bond initiative.

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Two years after a nonprofit affordable housing developer was granted incentives by the Town of Waynesville, the project is finally moving again but the developer has now returned to the table, asking for more incentives amidst rising construction costs.

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Waynesville is Haywood County’s only municipal government that elects all of its members at once, but that will likely change — just in time for this year’s election.  

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Like a lot of Americans, Lyn Forney remembers exactly what she was doing when the whole world shut down.

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Haywood County commissioners made the right call on jail financing according to County Manager Bryant Morehead, and will proceed with a conventional loan after no opposition was heard during a public hearing held on Feb. 20.

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After years of infighting and obstruction, the North Carolina General Assembly is closer than ever to expanding Medicaid after the Republican-controlled House gave its final approval on Feb. 15.

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After a seven-day trial and several hours of jury deliberations, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina failed to return a verdict in the case of a Macon County Sheriff’s Deputy who shot and killed a Macon County man nearly five years ago.

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When Canton officials and administrators met for their annual budget retreat last year, Town Manager Nick Scheuer’s presentation was riddled with question marks — signs of uncertainty after widespread flooding caused more than $18 million in damages to town infrastructure and killed six.  

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After 20 years in daily newspapers, journalist Matt Peiken took a buyout from the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press in 2007 and embarked upon his first foray into the entrepreneurial world — a daily video program called “3 Minute Egg.” Over nearly three years, he produced more than 300 short documentary videos that eventually became a pre-YouTube era public television hit. 

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Last week, reports obtained exclusively by The Smoky Mountain News revealed that Canton’s Pactiv-Evergreen Packaging would scale back production by idling one of its four paper-making machines. The company cited a decrease in demand, but as more information becomes available, it appears the “curtailment” of PM20 could be a tactic employed by Evergreen for leverage in a long-simmering contract dispute with the company’s unionized workforce.

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A leaked, undated internal memo from Evergreen Packaging’s Canton General Manager John McCarthy says that the mill will idle one of its paper-making machines, citing reduced demand for its particular product.

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