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The numbers are in, and in 2021 a total of 322 volunteers with Friends of Panthertown donated 1,945 hours of labor worth $52,904, spread over 68 trail workdays. 

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The U.S. Forest Service received nearly 14,000 objections to the forest management plan it released in January for the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, but only 891 were deemed eligible for the process. 

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Brad Roberts, maintenance mechanic supervisor for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has been named the park’s 2021 Employee of the Year. 

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Clingmans Dome Road will open for the season April 8, a delay from the typical April 1 opening date due to drainage improvement work in the main parking area, including a culvert replacement and roadway patching. 

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Two fire specialists in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently received awards recognizing them for superior service, innovative thinking and leadership. 

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A summer program just for adults will launch this summer at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, offering a five-day, four-night residential experience June 20-24. 

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A Sylva man who arrived an hour late to court, appeared to nap through his trial, admitted to using methamphetamine and smoking marijuana during the three-days of proceedings, then attempted to bolt from the courtroom after jury members returned guilty verdicts, will spend at least the next 14 years in prison.

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A Tuckasegee man who twice used knives to slash the necks of two men on separate occasions is headed to prison, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.

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A virtual public meeting and hearing 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, will take input on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to move the northern long-eared bat from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act. 

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Landmark Learning is now enrolling for a variety of wilderness medicine certification courses planned for the spring months. 

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Part-time Sylva resident Richie Kahn is running the Catamount Climb at Western Carolina University April 9 to raise money for One Rare, a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of young adults living with rare conditions. 

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A downed powerline along Park Headquarters Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ignited a 1.5-acre wildfire last week. 

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Oak Island resident Luke Bennett recently set off on a 1,175-mile journey across North Carolina to raise money and awareness for issues threatening wildlife and their habitats — and have a go at the Mountains-to-Sea Trail speed record.

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The Fire Mountain Disc Golf Sanctuary in Cherokee is now open for play. 

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To the Editor:

It looks like the leftist propaganda media has teamed up to smear former Rep. Mark Meadows with exaggerated claims of voter fraud, comparing his case to two other cases in which the voter fraud committed was of a totally different nature. 

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To the Editor:

This is in response to David L. Snell’s letter published in the March 16 edition. 

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Mountain Projects Community Action Agency has received a $30,000 investment grant from Nantahala Health Foundation to increase home safety for underserved populations in Jackson County.

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The N.C. Department of Information Technology today announced that qualified internet service providers and electric membership cooperatives providing internet service now have through May 4 to apply for up to $350 million in grants to expand broadband infrastructure in North Carolina. 

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Wild bird deaths due to highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, have been documented in four North Carolina counties, and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is encouraging people to report potentially sick birds to the N.C. Wildlife Helpline. 

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A total of 94 people completed the grueling Assault on BlackRock trail race Saturday, March 19.

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Swim lessons are back at the Waynesville Recreation Center, with a beginner class for ages 3-8 to be offered once per month. 

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To the Editor: 

Given the current events many may have missed both the State of the Union and the Republican rebuttal. The combination was a contrast of content and a case study in irony. As is always the case, the rebuttal has less time, but is still an opportunity to present general policy issues. 

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A March 17 press release from Maggie Valley Police Chief Russ Gilliland says that no criminal charges will be filed in relation to the unattended death of Kitty Currin at Our Place Inn.

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A new Special Enrollment Period on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace has opened for consumers who have projected income of at least 100% of the federal poverty level but are at or below the 150% of the federal poverty level. This SEP allows qualifying people to enroll in plans in any month during the year without having to experience a “qualifying life event” like other SEPs. Enroll now and coverage should start April 1.

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To the Editor:

I appreciate George Hahn’s perspective on old-growth forests and agree with many of his sentiments. A mix of age and structural diversity is important for forests.

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Help preserve the multitude of species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by participating in the Smokies Most Wanted program, an initiative that encourages park visitors to record sightings of animals, plants and other organisms from their smartphones, using the iNaturalist app. 

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When Clingmans Dome Road reopens for the season on April 1, it will do so with the caveat of single-lane closures, to be in effect intermittently through Sept. 2. 

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One of the Pisgah National Forest’s most popular tourist destinations, Sliding Rock Recreation Area, will reopen on April 30 for the first time since Tropical Storm Fred ripped through Aug. 17, 2021.

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is looking for volunteers to help park rangers provide minor roadside assistance to visitors. 

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To the Editor:

The revised forest management plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests have been under scrutiny lately. One of the main critics of the plan is Will Harlan of the Center for Biological Diversity.

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To the Editor: 

It’s almost humorous to read about what a child should glean from Pre-K and kindergarten. I said “almost humorous” because to me even the theory of Pre-K and kindergarten is categorically terrifying. I know this letter will quickly take on a Jurassic tone but, in my view, to believe children need Pre-K to learn socialization skills is beyond absurd. 

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To the Editor: 

I will be so happy for this uneducated, law-breaking manchild — Rep.  Madison Cawthorn — to be voted out of office soon and let him slither back under the rock he came from.

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To the Editor: 

March 11, 2022 was the one-year anniversary of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was signed into law by President Biden. At a time when the news cycle moves so fast, we should stop and reflect on this law and how it has helped ordinary Americans, including those right here in Jackson County. 

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On March 15, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper made several stops in Western North Carolina, including one in Waynesville, where he checked in with local leaders on the progress of recovery from Tropical Storm Fred. 

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Individuals are always looking for ways to save money and create a stronger financial portfolio. One way to do this is to refinance your auto loan. Listed below are four top reasons refinancing your vehicle may be a beneficial decision to make. 

The 2022 ozone season began March 1, meaning that through Oct. 31 daily air quality forecasts will be available from the N.C. Division of Air Quality. 

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Thru-hiking season for the ever-famous Appalachian Trail is now kicking off, but the Benton MacKaye Trail Association, Alabama Pinhoti Association and Georgia Pinhoti Trail Association are joining forces to offer a new long-distance hike — the 1,000 Mile Challenge. 

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Due to overwhelming interest during the priority sign-up period for Highlands Biological Foundation members, only one session of the nonprofit’s extensive summer camp schedule still has space available. 

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It’s barely March, but an abnormally warm winter means several spring flowers are already blooming. 

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With the 2022 season around the corner, the Cradle of Forestry in America is looking for help to make it all happen. 

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To the Editor: 

Vladimir Putin has been conducting a hacking and disinformation war against the U.S. for years (China, Iran, and North Korea have, too, but less effectively). In Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018, then-President Donald Trump stood beside Putin at a live press conference.

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The Haywood County Arts Council in Waynesville has announced that painter Laura Parker is the “Artist of the Month” for March. 

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Funding from the Great American Outdoors Act has allowed the U.S. Forest Service to wrap up a decade of deferred maintenance on two of North Carolina’s most heavily trafficked hiking trails. 

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Visitors armed only with a free app and love of nature have documented more than 4,000 species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park since 2011, according to the nonprofit Discovering Life in America, including 77 not previously documented in the park by anyone else. 

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Cable Cove Campground in the Nantahala National Forest near Robbinsville will not reopen this year due to extensive deferred maintenance needs and low occupancy rates, the U.S. Forest Service announced. However, the Cable Cove Boat Launch will remain open year-round. 

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Funding from the Great American Outdoors Act will cover the $31 million cost to repave the 17-mile Foothills Parkway West in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, prompting a series of full-lane closures starting March 14. A separate project on Foothills Parkway East will cause single-lane closures starting March 7.

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New leadership is now in place at two of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s official nonprofit partners. 

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To the Editor:

The February 10 Sylva Town Board meeting invited public comment regarding a new zoning drdinance and a proposed social district in downtown. The first casualty of the meeting was the lack of space and thus, access.

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