Hannah McLeod

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After an outpouring of opposition from members of the public over the course of several county commission meetings, Macon County Commissioners chose to table a vote on the flood damage prevention, soil erosion and sedimentation control and water supply watershed protection ordinances for meetings over the next several months. 

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Anyone who has ever found themselves looking at a public map — from a trailhead to a mall directory — has seen that little arrow or star or red dot accompanied by the words “you are here.”  

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Every student in Haywood and Jackson County Schools can expect no cost breakfast and lunch in the coming school year, and Macon County is not far behind in meeting that mark as well. 

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The Jackson County Board of Education will look a little different at its next meeting after Chair Elizabeth Cooper departed and incoming board member Gayle Woody was sworn in last month. 

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The Jackson County Board of Education has signed a resolution urging the North Carolina General Assembly to prioritize public education over funding an expansion to the private school voucher system. 

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The Macon County School Board has voted to require students to play high school sports at the school where they are enrolled beginning in the 2025-26 school year, meaning Macon Early College and Bartram Academy students will no longer be eligible for athletics at Franklin High School. 

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The Town of Sylva is looking to create an economic development board made up of business owners outside the downtown area after Mayor Johnny Phillips presented the idea to Sylva commissioners earlier this month. 

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Stakeholders around Western North Carolina recognize the end of COVID-era child care stabilization funding and the broader lack of available child care resources as a multilayered impediment to economic development.

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After several lengthy discussions, Macon County Commissioners approved the fiscal year 2024-25 budget by a split vote with a couple of last-minute changes to the proposed document. 

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The Development Finance Initiative has continued to work on feasibility analyses for affordable housing in Jackson County since its housing needs assessment presented in February showed a dire need for affordable housing.

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Jackson County is set to approve its budget next week, funding county operations for the coming fiscal year without a tax increase for residents. 

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Charles Darwin was many things, but in the classic sense of the word, he was not an artist. Lacking in the ways of visual art, and with miserably bad handwriting, the scientist eventually enlisted the help of his sons in creating utilitarian illustrations of the plants and animals with which he worked.  

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After the UNC Board of Governors approved a new policy on diversity and inclusion within the University of North Carolina, Western Carolina University will have until Sept. 1 to make a plan for compliance with a policy that could spell the end of some diversity- and inclusion-focused positions. 

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Despite increasing cost estimates, Macon County is in a good financial position to move forward with both the Franklin High School project and the Highlands School project.

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The Town of Sylva Board of Commissioners signed a proclamation last week declaring June to be LGBTQ Pride Month, just weeks after the board denied Sylva Pride’s application for its annual march.

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Macon County will be able to cover all its upcoming capital projects in the 2024-2025 fiscal year budget without a property tax increase, allowing it to maintain the lowest tax rate in North Carolina. 

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Following the resignation of Natalie Newman from the Sylva Town Board in April, commissioners have appointed Jonathan Brown to fill the vacant seat. 

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Proposed revisions to Macon County’s flood damage prevention, soil erosion and sedimentation control, and water supply watershed protection ordinances have resulted in a flood of input from the public, many of whom cite the deadly Peeks Creek disaster of 2004 as a reason to keep strict restrictions in place. 

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Macon County Commissioners already decided that the quarter-cent sales tax referendum would be back on the ballot this November, but at its May 14 meeting, the board expanded the opportunities for how that money can be spent if voters approve the measure. 

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Thanks to a partnership between the Macon County Economic Development Commission and the Career and Technical Education department, Macon County high school students can look forward to the opportunity for paid internships next school year. 

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In its final week of classes, Western Carolina University became the subject of a video that went viral on social media in which a trans woman was filmed inside a women’s bathroom on campus. 

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Neither Jackson County nor Swain County commissions have agreed to approve the changes Macon County proposed to the Fontana Regional Library agreement, citing legal and logistical concerns.

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The Town of Sylva will not see a tax increase for the coming budget cycle, but with work looming on N.C. 107, staff are preparing for falling revenues over the next two to four years. 

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After a botanical survey identified the location of several invasive species in Jackson County’s Pinnacle Park, work has begun to manage the ecologically threatening pests. 

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The Catamount School, a laboratory school operating on the campus of Smoky Mountain High School, will relocate to the campus of Western Carolina University next school year after Jackson County Public Schools approved a relocation plan due to the need for more space at Smoky Mountain High School. 

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The Academy, an alternative service for middle grades students, will return to Haywood County Schools in the coming year as one of the school system’s budget expansion priorities. 

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Two projects will come to fruition this month that honor the lives of those who were victims of incarcerated labor in Western North Carolina during the Jim Crow era — a highway marker in Dillsboro, and an exhibit at the Mountain Heritage Center in Cullowhee.

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Sylva Town Council voted last week to extend term limits on local boards, allowing for the renewal of veteran members on the ABC board.  “The only two boards we have that this affects is the ABC board and the planning board,” said Mayor Johnny Phillips. 

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Macon County Schools may have to wait until the end of the summer for a decision on the athletic division restructuring coming down the pipe from the North Carolina High School Association. In the meantime, the board continues to hear from Macon Early College families who want to remain a part of high school sports in the county. 

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The towns of Sylva, Webster, Cullowhee and Cashiers are all connected by five lanes of chaos, better known as N.C. 107. 

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After the Sylva Town Council denied Sylva Pride’s road closure application for the annual Pride Parade, the community organization has decided to hold “Chalk About It,” to talk to community members and garner input on the best path forward. 

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Emergency federal funding provided quick relief to school systems burdened by costs incurred during the COVID-19 Pandemic. For Macon County Schools, some of that funding provided the opportunity for additional art teachers. Now, with that federal funding coming to an end, those additional art positions could be in jeopardy. 

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This summer will be 30 years since Lauren Calvert opened the doors to In Your Ear Emporium, downtown Sylva’s record store. Over the years, the way in which people consume music has changed drastically, but the heart of Calvert’s business has not. 

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After extensive input from Macon residents who wanted to see the old Pine Grove School remain available for community use, the county commission has decided not to sell the old school building. 

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Natalie Newman has been serving her community on five different boards and associations for the past several years, but announced suddenly over the weekend that she was stepping away from it all. 

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The season for farmers markets, with all their fresh produce, local vendors and community engagement, is right around the corner, and in Canton, the Mill Town Market is embarking on its second year at Sorrells Street Park. 

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Almost 100 high-paying jobs are expected in Macon County with the expansion of Duotech Services, LLC. 

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The memorandum of understanding between Jackson County Public Schools and the Catamount School is up for annual review, and this year, JCPS is reconsidering the agreement that permits the Catamount School to operate on the campus of Smoky Mountain High School, where it occupies valuable classroom space in a system that needs all the room it can get. 

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The North Carolina General Assembly passed the Parent Bill of Rights in August of last year, and now school systems in the state have found a potentially life-threatening oversight in its language. 

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The Jackson County Department of Social Services has faced incredible challenges over the past year associated with placing children in foster care. Now both the state and the county are providing funding to try and alleviate that problem. 

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Macon County Early College student athletes took to the public comment period during the March 25 school board meeting to speak out against the possibility of not being allowed to play Franklin High School sports, as has long been the norm. 

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The Sylva Pride celebration will look a little different this year after the Sylva Town Board denied the group’s road closure application for its fourth annual Pride Parade, despite support for the event from much of the downtown business community. 

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Overcast skies didn’t deter a large crowd from coming out to witness the unveiling of the sculpture “Sowing Seeds of the Future,” on Saturday, March 23,­ in downtown Franklin. 

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When Pactiv Evergreen announced it would close its Canton paper mill last year, Haywood County Schools was already facing a host of other challenges, among them a declining student population, costs incurred from damages caused during the Pigeon River flood in 2021, and the impending end of COVID-era relief funds. 

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Macon County residents will see the quarter-cent sales tax referendum on the ballot this November after commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to put the decision to voters again. 

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Haywood County Schools has increased the number of people it employs to care for and monitor students’ mental health this year, largely due to increased funding from the county commission that allowed for additional school resource officers. 

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The Macon County Commission will see one new member seated in December after Barry Breeden beat incumbent Paul Higdon to represent district three. 

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The Haywood County School Board approved several personnel recommendations last week that saw the return of a previous finance director and new principals for two schools.

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Jackson County Schools will install over 100 new security cameras throughout the school system after it received over a quarter of a million dollars from the Center for Safer Schools’ Safety Grant Program. 

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Incumbent Wes Jamison and newcomer Gayle Woody have won the race for Jackson County Board of Education.

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