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The changing face of Appalachia is the subject of an upcoming photography exhibit at the Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University.

“Seeing Rural Appalachia,” large-format photographs by Mike Smith, will run Sunday, Oct. 24, through Friday, Dec. 17. The public is invited to a free reception beginning at 2 p.m. Oct. 24.

Smith’s photographs expose the human impact on the landscape, from aged, weather-softened farm buildings that seem to be an organic part of the landscape to the jarring reality of big, bright, new gas stations. His photographs of rural Tennessee show the lush beauty of the land while they reveal the suburban encroachment that threatens much of rural Appalachia. This exhibit collects Smith’s work from the past five years.

“The natural mountain landscape immediately made a profound impression on me when I arrived in East Tennessee in 1981. So did the rural lifestyle of the population,” Smith said. “Weeks after I arrived, I began my attempt to define both with my camera. I continue that effort today.”

Smith is a professor of art at East Tennessee State University, a Guggenheim Fellow and a founding member of the Appalachian Photographers Project. His works have been acquired by major U.S. museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum. His monograph “You’re Not from Around Here: Photographs of East Tennessee” was published in 2004, and he’s exhibited work at the Whitney Museum and San Francisco MoMA.

The Fine Art Museum’s hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. The museum also is open one hour before Fine and Performing Arts Center Galaxy of Stars performances and selected Saturday “Family Art Days.”

For more information, contact Denise Drury, curatorial assistant, at 828.227.3591 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit the museum online at fineartmuseum.wcu.edu.

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Western Carolina University will mark five years of art and entertainment beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center with a gala featuring art, music and a theatrical revue of songs by George and Ira Gershwin.

Festivities move indoors at 7 p.m. for a performance by WCU’s resident Smoky Mountain Brass Quintet, followed by a 7:30 p.m. curtain time for “’S Wonderful.” The new off-Broadway revue transports the audience to different places in different decades with scenes set in New York in the ’20s, Paris in the ’30s, Hollywood in the ’40s and New Orleans in the ’50s. Musical numbers include classics such as “Swanee,” “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Nice Work if you Can Get It,” “Summertime,” “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

“It is time to celebrate and reaffirm the magic of this facility,” said Robert Kehrberg, founding dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts at WCU and member of the committee that began planning the facility.

The gala, recognition of past FAPAC achievements as well as a look ahead, will begin with an outdoor cocktail reception held under tents in the FAPAC courtyard. Reception guests will experience the unveiling of WCU’s new outdoor sculpture exhibition and have the opportunity to preview a Fine Art Museum exhibit of contemporary images of Appalachia by photographer Mike Smith.

Tickets to the Gershwin revue plus entry to the cocktail reception $100. Orchestra seats for only “’S Wonderful” $50; club seating $35; and balcony seat tickets $25.

To buy tickets or for information call 828.227.2479 or fapac.wcu.edu.

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A concert and free symposium to raise awareness of the intersection of environmental, health and indigenous issues related to mountain destruction will be held Thursday and Friday, Oct. 21-22, in the theater of the A.K. Hinds University Center at Western Carolina University.

WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach and Cherokee Studies Program are sponsoring the first “Rooted in the Mountains: Valuing Our Common Ground” with the Center for Native Health, which initiated the project.

The concert will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday and will feature entertainment by Sheila Kay Adams, Tawodi Brown, John John Grant, Kate Larken, Sue Massek, Paula Nelson and the WCU Porch Music Club. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7.50 at the door, with proceeds benefiting iLoveMountains.org.

The symposium, free and open to the public, will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. Keynote speaker, Silas House, an acclaimed writer and National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College, and other presenters, including Clara Sue Kidwell (enrolled member of the White Earth Chippewa tribe), director, American Indian Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Evelyn Conley (Keetoowah), chair, Indigenous Education Institute; Tom Belt (Cherokee), WCU Cherokee language instructor; Heidi Altman, associate professor of anthropology, Georgia Southern University; Marilou Awiakta (Cherokee), author; ethnobotanist David Cozzo, a WCU faculty member and director of the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources; and Brian Byrd, WCU assistant professor of environmental health will be present.

Other sponsors include WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center, Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River, the Canary Coalition and the Tuckasegee Community Alliance.

Preregister online at www.wcu.edu/27734.asp; for information, contact Pamela Duncan, symposium co-chair, at 828.227.3926.

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Are you artsy or interested in art? Want to engage the community and enrich public spaces through original art that celebrates Waynesville’s unique historic, cultural, natural and human resources?

Then join the Waynesville Public Art Commission, because that is exactly the mission of this nine-member board. The Public Art Commission has a vacancy and is seeking a member willing to make decisions, raise funds and help preserve and expand the public art collection.

For more information call 828.452.2491 or visit  for an application.

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ColorFest, Art of the Blue Ridge, will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Oct. 23 in downtown Sylva.

The annual event will host some of the most accomplished artists in Western North Carolina.

ColorFest is produced by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia in partnership with the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson County Visual Artists Association.

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By Brittney Burns • SMN Intern

Sylva native Matt Stillwell spent the last week of September as the opening act for country recording artist Luke Bryan’s 2010 Farm Tour.

In fact, the 35-year-old Stillwell has spent the past year touring all over the Southeast, playing shows with other well-known country acts such as Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, Alan Jackson and Darius Rucker.

Even with his growing success as a Nashville recording artist, Stillwell never forgets his roots and family in Jackson County.  

“I don’t think I have changed, just grown,” he said.

Stillwell is a graduate of Western Carolina University, where he played baseball and made it to the SoCon Championship game. Before becoming a Catamount, Stillwell played baseball for the Mustangs at Smoky Mountain High, and before that he was proud to call himself an Eagle at Fairview Elementary.

Although his first professional music experience was in gospel, Stillwell soon began the transition to country so that he would have a broader audience and greater appeal. He admits that music appealed to him most because the hit it made him with the ladies, and Stillwell continues to flash his trademark smile at his performances, which he calls “really big parties.”

Stillwell’s early musical influences were the likes of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. Today, Stillwell combines those outlaw country/southern rock roots with modern country to create his own unique voice. That sound is showcased on his newest album, Shine Deluxe.

It is because of the love and support of his family and friends that Stillwell believes he has done so well in his career. Several members of Stillwell’s family still live in Sylva including Madge and George Stillwell, his parents, brothers Jeff and Luke, and Polly Wilson, his grandmother. Stillwell lives in Nashville, but returns home as often as possible to visit.

“I get home whenever I can. For the last couple of years that has been about every two months or so. If I’m close, I’ll always try and stop through town even if it’s just to eat, sometimes just a hug,” said Stillwell.

Coming back to his hometown keeps him grounded, said Stillwell.

“It is important for me to come home because that’s where I love to be, not just because of my family but because of friends and because that has shaped who I am is in Sylva and Western North Carolina.”

Stillwell often references Sylva and his family in his music; in one song he sings about meeting his brothers at the Coffee Shop, and in his “Dirt Road Dancing” music video he features his brothers’ dance moves.

Stillwell thanks his family for giving him the values and motivation to work hard for what he wants; his entire family has always worked hard for what they have, and that has taught him how important that is.

“Both mom and dad completely sacrificed everything for me and my brothers, and that has meant the world to us. They gave us the confidence to do whatever we dream of, and I will never be able to repay them for that,” Stillwell said.

Both Stillwell’s brothers and his father have construction companies, and have always been up before dawn and come home after dark in order to be successful. His mother was a school teacher and got three boys out of bed, to school, and to ball practice every day.

When Stillwell began focusing on his musical career, the Sylva community welcomed him and supported his efforts.

“Sylva has always given me support and a place to come and play and build a following and momentum in my career. Even when I was just learning to sing, write and play, the entire town has always been good to me and that gave me confidence and something to build a career on,” Stillwell said.

On a wider spectrum, WNC has also welcomed Stillwell and has given him the small town morals and close-knit values that has helped shape who he is as an artist.

“It has given me a region, not just a town, that I am proud to say I am from and promote. There are great venues in WNC to play and there is a great history and beauty in the region. It’s great to be able to say I am from there and all that goes with it: the people, the landscape, and the pride of the area,” he said.

Sttillwell started singing in his church choir, and the Southern soulfulness and bluegrass influence is very apparent in all of his music. Stillwell hosts an annual event, Shinefest, in Fontana each summer. Shinefest highlights local artist as well as advertises various types of moonshine.

Stillwell chose the beautiful mountains around Fontana for reasons which can’t be found anywhere else.

“I did pick it [Fontana] to keep it local; there is something about these mountains that is completely unique. Moonshine is a part of the culture and Fontana embodies that; the Smoky Mountain, the cabins, the lake, the location all plays a part in the setting of Shinefest. It would be really hard to recreate the atmosphere in another area. I think you could recreate the music and party side of Shinefest, but not the atmosphere. Having everyone in one place and there for one common reason is incredible and I think it would be tough to have that somewhere else.”

Stillwell is visiting Sylva to perform at the new bar, Bottoms Up, on Friday, Oct. 22. He chose this date to return to his hometown to perform the day before the WCU/Appalachian State game, a day important to his alma matar and the community that helped raise him.

Stillwell’s continuing success has certainly not changed him. He is still thankful for the small town where he was born, and where he will always call home.

Stillwell said because of his career opportunity, “I’m more confident in who I am and I’m completely happy with what I do for a living; I’ve been able to understand that I am truly blessed to have that in my life, I don’t take that for granted at all and hope that it shows in what I do and who I am.”

 

See him live

Matt Stillwell will perform on Oct. 22 at Bottoms Up in Sylva.

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Derek Roland’s presentation about the effort to create a comprehensive planning document for Macon County suggested that a progressive document might come out of the planning process. But it was evident from the ensuing question-and-answer session [see main article] that it would form a basis for difficult discussions to come.

“The process is in its beginning stages,” Roland said. “The board came up with a plan skeleton, with ideas for what they thought should be in it.”

Roland said the planning board intends to work extensively with citizens of Macon County, holding meetings in communities.

“Land use is the central issue,” he acknowledged. “The key is knowing where we are now, knowing how much growth we can sustain, what the current infrastructure is and future needs will be.”

From 1990 to 2009 the county’s population grew 44 percent, Roland said, adding that that hot rate represents a trend to consider, though the growth rate has fallen off and projections take that into account.

“For 2009 to 2029 growth is projected to be 30 percent — 46,191 people, or 89.61 people per square mile,” he said. “That’s considerably below the state average of 120 people per square mile, but it’s still much more that in 1991.”

Given those projections, Macon residents need to determine the future of their community, Roland said. At the moment, though, building permits — a leading indicator of growth — are off 35 percent from a year ago, he said.

“That presents a perfect opportunity to plan,” Roland said. “Growth’s not coming in faster than we can blink an eye. We have time to sit back and put something in place. So we have a chance now to determine growth rather than growth determining what it’s going to look like for us.”

You can’t stop ... growth

Growth, while inevitable and desirable, is also what presents the challenges that good planning seeks to address, Roland said.

“The comprehensive plan seeks to identify land currently suitable and feasible for growth, with the least impact on taxpayers,” he said. “The questions are: ‘When will growth begin to strain the county? At what point will it put strain on infrastructure, public facilities, on agriculture, on land we want to preserve, and on public services?’”

Roland said the board wanted to identify the things that set Macon County apart from the rest of the world — its recreational opportunities, its scenic beauty, its streams, trails, farms.

“We want to identify what we want to preserve,” he said, adding that current generations shouldn’t have to talk to their children and grandchildren about the beauty that used to be here. They should be able to point to it, and reminisce about the good times they had there.

At the same time, the county needs to develop economically and create jobs for those future residents.

Our children should be able to work here and prosper without having to go to Charlotte to get a job,” Roland said.

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By Tim Campbell • Guest Columnist

Jackson Paper Manufacturing Company has been a proud part of Sylva and Jackson County since 1995. Our community’s highly-skilled and dedicated workforce, solid infrastructure, good business climate and quality of life all combine to make the area a great place to work and live.

We are pleased and fortunate to be able to build on the success we’ve had at Jackson Paper by establishing a new operation in Sylva, Stonewall Packaging. Announced in April, the new venture will take the fluted corrugating medium being made from 100-percent recycled paper at Jackson Paper and linerboard from other manufacturers to produce corrugated sheets of cardboard.

The more than $17 million investment in Stonewall will create 61 new jobs over the next three years. The jobs will pay an average of $39,344 not including benefits. Jackson County’s average annual wage is $27,820.

Renovations are already under way on Scotts Creek Road at the old, 200,000-square-foot Chasam Building, which will house the new Stonewall operation. One natural gas boiler that meets or exceeds industry standards for emissions will power the facility. Production is expected to begin there in late fall.

In Phase 2 of the Stonewall project, the company will build a new mill similar to the 139,000-square-foot Jackson Paper manufacturing facility, including a wood-fired boiler and stack. The new mill, to be located on a site adjacent to Jackson Paper, will produce linerboard from 100-percent recycled cardboard. Although we may be permitted to do so, there are no plans to use any fuel source other than wood at the Stonewall mill.

Phase 2 could begin in two to three years, but is contingent on the economy and the demand for the product continuing to grow.

Jackson Paper Manufacturing Company was established in 1995, but the mill sits on an industrial site that has been home for more than a century to various manufacturers, including Mead, which operated a paper mill for nearly 50 years. Federal rules governing the discharge of effluent resulted in closure of the Mead operation in 1974. Subsequent owners converted the mill to the production of 100-percent recycled corrugated medium with a closed-loop water treatment system and began the work of cleaning up the site.

Since 1995, Jackson Paper has invested significantly in facility and machine upgrades at the mill and has systems in place that meet or exceed government mandates and regulations for air and water quality.

Unlike most paper mills, Jackson Paper does not use fossil fuels to fire its boiler but burns waste-wood. The boiler generates steam that powers the turbine-driven paper machine and dryers, and heats the plant. A pollution control scrubber prevents wood ash from leaving the boiler.

With an annual output of more than 100,000 tons of corrugating medium, the mill is the largest producer of 100-percent recycled paper in the state of North Carolina.

Jackson Paper diverts approximately 109,000 tons of Old Corrugated Containers (OCC) – or cardboard – from landfills annually. That’s the equivalent of 72 million boxes the size of an average microwave.

Jackson Paper’s closed-loop water system and treatment facility allows the plant to reuse the large quantities of water needed in the papermaking process, resulting in zero discharge of waste into the stream or sewer.

Many of Jackson Paper’s environmental practices have been recognized by government and business groups, both inside and outside the paper industry. Most recently, the company earned the Sustainable Forestry Initiative designation of the Forest Stewardship Council for its recycling efforts.

Jackson Paper takes very seriously its role as good and responsible stewards of our environment and our communities, and we are committed to applying those same guiding principles and practices as we move forward with the Stonewall project and creating more jobs for the people of this region.

(Tim Campbell is President and CEO of Stonewall Packaging and Jackson Paper Manufacturing Co., an independently-owned mill in Sylva that produces 100-percent recycled paper used by independent box manufacturers to make the fluted layer of corrugated boxes. With 119 employees, Jackson Paper is one of the largest private employers in Jackson County.)

Comment

Construction will soon begin on a medical office building on the Harris Regional Hospital campus in Sylva.

The new 45,000-square-foot, three-story building will house physician practices, allowing for growth of the medical community. The building will also house an outpatient laboratory and x-ray to make access easier for patients.

“Currently most of the physician office space on the Harris Regional Hospital campus is occupied, so we’re very excited about the development of this new building which will provide the opportunity for our medical staff to grow and for hospital related functions to expand, so that we can better serve the community” said Mark Leonard, CEO, WestCare Health System.”

As a testimony to the growing medical community, WestCare has recruited 11 new physicians and seven new physician assistants during the past six months.

The medical office building is being built by a private entity who will in turn lease space to doctors.

No capital or foundation money from WestCare is involved. WestCare will ground lease the land to the developer, Colony Development Partners of Charlotte.

Colony Development Partners said there is enough demand in the Jackson County medical community to support the building.

“We’ve pretty much got the building almost 100 percent leased with physicians at the hospital,” said Heath Knott of Colony Development Partners.

Colony Development Partners is a full-service turnkey healthcare development company. Its portfolio includes speculative medical offices, hospital-sponsored medical office buildings, surgery centers and single-practice medical office buildings.

Knott called the planned building a “Class A” medical office building. It will have covered patient drop-off and two gurney-sized elevators.

Adequate data lines and power outlets are particularly important in the building’s design as the health care industry transitions away from paper charts and to electronic medical records.

“WestCare is on the forefront of electronic medical records, which are an integral part of medicine moving forward,” Knott said. “To be able to use the Internet securely and access servers is critical to medical operations today.”

WestCare Health System is in the process of affiliating with Haywood Regional Medical Center and Carolinas HealthCare System, a network of 25 hospitals headquartered in Charlotte.

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The Cherokee Nation and Harrah’s pulled out all the stops to mark start of construction on a third hotel tower at the tribe’s casino — an addition that will make the property the largest hotel in the state.

The $633 million work is also the largest construction project in the state, according to Lynn Minges, assistant secretary of tourism, marketing and global branding, who came from Raleigh for the breakfast event and groundbreaking last Friday (July 10).

Also speaking at the event were Principal Chief Michell Hicks of the Eastern Band of Cherokees; Norma Moss, chair of the Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise; Darold Londo, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel; John Payne, Central Division president of Harrah’s Entertainment; and Ken Leach, executive vice president of Turner Construction, the company building the hotel tower.

At a breakfast before the groundbreaking, Hicks expressed his view that the massive expansion effort — adding 532 luxury rooms — will grow and transform the property into “a world-class entertainment and tourism destination.” He also noted that the timing of the project is fortuitous.

“Despite the economy, the expansion will position the property perfectly — and ahead of the competition — when the economy rebounds and we can welcome new customers anxious for world-class entertainment, accommodations and service,” said Hicks.

Hicks praised all those whose vision helped lead to undertaking the project, and thanked family, friends, fellow officials and other supporters for their help. At one point in his remarks he acknowledged getting “choked up” as he saw how Cherokee was creating a brighter future for current members and their descendants.

Elected officials from around the region who attended the event included Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and county and town commissioners from surrounding Western North Carolina counties.

Upon completion in 2012, the third tower on the 37-acre property will incorporate luxury accommodations and high-end suites, a 3,000-seat events center, entertainment and VIP lounges, a 16,000-square-foot spa, an all new state-of-the-art digital poker room, an Asian gaming room, a variety of new restaurant and retail outlets, and new hotel and casino parking garages.

Harrah’s Cherokee is also renovating its current casino facilities and doubling the size of its casino floor to 150,000 square feet while increasing video and table game capacity. The design of the new facilities will utilize the Eastern Band of Cherokee’s large and important collection of Native American art portraying local culture. Significant investment is also being made in sophisticated technology and an array of group services ranging from business and conference support to elaborate catering services.

Turner Construction, the tower’s builder, is a leader in its field in the United States, with construction volume of $10.8 billion in 2008. Other major Turner construction projects include Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden, as well as the Burj Dubai in United Arab Emirates, the tallest high-rise in the world. The tower was designed by Cunningham Group of Minneapolis, Minn.

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Last year Cindy Gilbert took her Polk County band students to China to perform. This year she is bringing the world’s music to them — thanks to Folkmoot USA and its drive to expand its presence in Western North Carolina.

Gilbert jumped at the chance to host an international folk group at the high school’s 750-seat auditorium at Columbus, one of Folkmoot’s three new venues this year. As the Polk County High School director of bands, Gilbert knew the value of a Folkmoot performance and agreed to help make it possible when the local arts council couldn’t.

“I really try to bring any type of cultural art, especially cultural music, to my kids and to my community,” the award-winning band director said from her home in Landrum, S. C., just across the border from Polk County. “I was willing to do whatever they needed me to do.”

That is just the kind of enthusiasm Folkmoot’s board of directors was looking for when it decided to expand Folkmoot’s international reach in Western North Carolina, receiving a $37,500 grant to do so.

“This was a grant that was received a year ago,” said Karen Babcock, Folkmoot’s new executive director. “Last year’s festival expanded into three new venues and this year we’re adding three more.”

Besides Polk County in the Tryon/Columbus area, performances will be held for the first time at Burnsville Town Center at Burnsville in Yancey County and Moore Auditorium at Mars Hill College at Mars Hill in Madison County.

This year’s festival runs from July 16 through July 26 and features performers from Serbia, Greece, Netherlands, Romania, Mexico, Togo, Spain and Israel. Host sites are Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Maggie Valley, Canton, Clyde, Highlands, Bryson City, Cullowhee, Asheville, Columbus, Burnsville, Marion, Mars Hill, Flat Rock and Franklin.

Debbie Lavela, Folkmoot’s ticket manager, said the 36-member board was looking to expand Folkmoot’s footprint in Western North Carolina to generate new audiences for the festival and help raise its profile and ticket sales — stifled by a sluggish economy and rising gas prices.

Even with ticket sales and support from Friends of Folkmoot and sponsorships, not all expenses were being met, said board member David Stallings. But board officials hope that new grants will help the organization to reach fresh audiences and untapped financial supporters.

“We have a very smart board,” Lavela said. “We knew we had to expand into some new counties, into some places we had not been, some new areas like Polk County. Burnsville just wanted us, so we knew we were going to have the support from the local people.”

George Nero, auditorium manager for the Burnsville Town Center, credited Sen. Joe Sam Queen (D-Waynesville), for recognizing a good fit. The Burnsville Town Center opened in 2005 and seats more than 400 people, serving as the area’s convention, community and performing arts centers.

“Joe Sam really had the idea of putting us together,” Nero said. “We had an economic development summit for [Yancey] county at the center ... and he was talking about what a nice place this would be for a Folkmoot event. We agreed we’d really love to have one and we could probably get the crowd to come. This area is supposed to have the highest number of artisans per capita in the United States. That’s everything from pottery makers to dancers to musicians to everything. We have a built-in audience and should do fairly well with group sales. We’ve already had several sell outs with bluegrass and gospel groups.”

Queen said expanding Folkmoot is the next step for the 26-year-old festival, which officially became North Carolina’s International Folk Festival, thanks to legislation he crafted and pushed through the legislature.

“We’ll go as far as time and our radius allows us to sleep and eat and gather our wits about us,” he said.

Expanding Folkmoot also makes a “big difference in the way Western North Carolina thinks of itself,” he said.

“We are hosting the world. We are a world-class place. It’s great to have different counties pull together for Folkmoot. It’s our state’s official international festival and it’s a regional festival,” said Queen.

The Toe River Arts Council, which promotes the arts in Yancey and Madison counties, was so happy to have Folkmoot its members spearheaded the group sales effort and recruited volunteers to serve as ushers and help in other positions.

In Polk County, six of Gilbert’s band students will serve as ushers during the performance, and her school-based volunteer group, Friends of the Band, will sell concessions at intermission. It’s a win-win situation, Gilbert said, in more ways than one. “It’s a wonderful auditorium, plenty of room and very convenient for the public. The kids will be there in their dress clothes and it will help them with their community service,” she noted. “They’ll help elderly people get to their seats and show them up to the balconies.”

For Folkmoot to expand, the board had to look carefully at ways to shuffle and trim performances in other communities, with minimal negative impact and without raising ticket prices, a task the board performed remarkably well, Lavela noted.

“The only thing we really eliminated this year was Stecoah Valley in Robbinsville. Stecoah was the longest distance we had to travel, and that was a problem,” Lavela said. “We just couldn’t make the schedule fit this year. We’re still on good terms and just because we didn’t go this year doesn’t mean we won’t go in the future. Considering what we had to do, I really think it turned out great.”

The board also cut one of two performances at Blue Ridge Community College at Flat Rock and reduced the number of countries that will perform at various Haywood County venues, Lavela said, sending those one or two shaved from the Haywood County schedule to Burnsville, Mars Hill or Polk County.

“We’re scheduling Family Night again this year because we really believe in that,” Lavela said. “It’s an interactive family performance on the lawn. People bring blankets and children have the freedom to run around. Two countries will perform and afterward the performers will come down off the stage and show dance steps and answer questions.” (For a complete Folkmoot schedule, check the Web site at www.folkmootusa.org or see the schedule in this section.)

Getting kids outside and away from a computer is part of what drove Gilbert to so eagerly accept the job of introducing Polk County to Folkmoot.

“We’re in a technical age and these kids are sitting around playing computers and video games and it is definitely a discovery time,” she said. “But these things (international performances) are not really brought around to them unless it’s on the Internet. But to see it live is a totally different perspective.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for everybody. My kids get the opportunity to see this entertainment from all over the world. They are not having to travel anywhere but to the high school. You can’t get any better than that.”

Comment

By Melanie Threlkeld McConnell

Forget Europe. Haywood County is where the action is for Karen Babcock this summer, and she couldn’t be happier. Well, give her a piece of dark chocolate and she could be.

Babcock is the new executive director of Folkmoot USA, North Carolina’s official international festival. A seasoned traveler, Babcock has spent several summers exploring the Netherlands and neighboring countries with her sister, an international civil rights lawyer, who teaches law for two weeks in July at the University of Amsterdam.

But this July will find Babcock in the throes of Folkmoot, Western North Carolina’s international house party. Hired just seven months ago to lead Haywood County’s biggest tourist draw, Babcock has found that telling people she’s with Folkmoot gets her warm fuzzies from everyone she meets. And it’s more than just good ol’ fashion Southern hospitality.

“They clearly love Folkmoot. There’s just an incredible positive attitude about Folkmoot here,” Babcock says. “I don’t see that people are taking it for granted. I see that people fully realize the value to the community.”

That’s good news for Babcock, who is looking for new sources of revenue now that budget constraints have forced Haywood County officials to slash the festival’s budget by $20,000 this year. “I think about fundraising 24 hours a day,” Babcock says. “We have a lot of the same sponsors as last year, I’m happy to say. Some have leveled out their sponsorships from last year, but we have some new ones, too.”

Some of those include much — needed in-kind contributions, such as catering the all — important volunteer recognition dinner in the fall, she adds.

“We have found that in some cases cutting costs is just as important as raising money. But we like to raise money, too,” she says.

Babcock hopes that expanding Folkmoot’s reach will bring in new audiences and grow the appreciation for the 25-year-old festival’s cultural contributions to Western North Carolina. “The more people we can get in front of and get this incredible international experience to, the better,” she says.

This year the festival will send performers to three new venues: Moore Auditorium in Mars Hill, Burnsville Town Center in Burnsville and Polk County High School in the Tryon area, near the South Carolina border.

Babcock has also stepped up marketing efforts by expanding her media outreach to South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. She says she is trigger ready to help the media get the information they want when they want it, a detail not to be taken lightly.

“A consistent marketing program always pays off. You have to pay attention to and be responsive to media requests,” she says.

On the home front she has increased the exposure of Folkmoot’s logo so that it is prominently displayed and advertised throughout the community. She’s even getting children in on the act by supplying them with — you guessed it — Folkmoot tattoos for the international parade through downtown Waynesville.

Since she arrived last December, Babcock, 48, has immersed herself in the people and places of Western North Carolina and found much to her liking, especially the chocolate shop in downtown Waynesville. “I eat chocolate every day,” she admits. She’s also thrilled to have a concentrated arts and theater arts community, great coffee shops and yes, that chocolate shop that now sells gelato.

Babcock left suburban Maryland and a job as the associate director of the nonprofit Ladew Topiary Gardens to settle in rural Western North Carolina at the urging of friends who had already moved here. She came for a visit and liked what she saw.

“Haywood County reminds me of the places I haven’t been,” she says. “The mountains are just beautiful and amazing and calming and inspiring. I love the outdoors so a place like this is just heaven for me.”

But Babcock discovered that rural living in Maryland wasn’t quite the same as rural living in Western North Carolina. “I come from a rural area 30 miles from Baltimore,” she says. “The community was huge that I was working with at my last nonprofit. The difference here is you know everybody and everybody knows you. That’s quite a different mindset to get your head around. But it’s very nice that people wave at everybody.”

Babcock also is learning to work with a small staff, compared to her last job, which means more multi-tasking for her. She shares the Folkmoot office space with two part-time employees. Hundreds of volunteers keep the festival running.

Though this world traveler with a taste for international cuisine, art and outdoor adventure won’t be sipping wine along the Seine this summer or bicycling through Holland as she has in the past, Babcock has found that Haywood County can hold its own for her. When she needs a fix, she’s got the spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway, the Chef’s Table pasta, which rivals any in Tuscany, and the Chocolate Bear, which satisfies that one-of-a-kind craving as well as Belgium’s famous trademark delicacy. Trust her on this; she’s experienced them all.

And if she feels a few pangs of homesickness for Amsterdam come summer? Well, blessed serendipity. Guess who is part of the Folkmoot lineup this year? The Netherlands. There’s just no place like a new home.

Comment

Folkmoot will be the subject of a public art piece commissioned by the Waynesville Public Art Commission (WPAC).

Artist Wayne Trapp has been selected to be the artist for the third public art piece. With an installation date scheduled for early November, the new piece will be placed in the landscaped area between the two retaining walls outside the new Waynesville Police Station located at the corner of Main and East Street.

The theme for this piece is Folkmoot — chosen to honor the international dance festival that has been such a vital part of the community for over 26 years. Folkmoot is a theme that represents the WPAC mission to “engage the community and enrich public spaces through original art that celebrates Waynesville’s unique historic, cultural, natural and human resources.”

The WPAC wanted a work of art that could convey the color, movement, energy and drama of this event and requested that artists interpret these elements in their design proposals.

Of the six artists who originally submitted qualifications, three finalists were selected to present detailed drawings and models to an advisory panel of citizens and town officials. These individuals were selected for their knowledge of public art installations, artistic knowledge and community history. Taking into consideration the verbal and written comments from the advisory panel, Trapp was chosen or the Folkmoot piece.

Trapp is a celebrated sculptor who has worked in stone and steel for years, creating lavish, even colossal outdoor pieces for corporate clients and public places. His interpretation of the Folkmoot piece will be a bold and dramatic statement and a lasting reminder of the friendships created abroad and at home that are a significant part of Waynesville and this festival.

During his presentation to the advisory panel, Trapp made the suggestion that children or other community members could be invited to design the colorful, moving flags that will become part of his permanent sculpture. Each flag could be an original, graphic design, not representative of any specific country. His suggestion was well received by the advisory panel and will be used in his execution of the Folkmoot piece.

As with the inaugural art piece, “Old Time Music,” located in the heart of downtown Waynesville, at the corner of Main and Miller, funding for this project will be provided by area businesses, community and art supporters and an award from the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority.

Waynesville’s second public art piece is also part of the Waynesville Police Station project and is planned for the plaza in front of the new building. In January, the WPAC sponsored a contest for Tuscola High School art students. They were asked to create a paver design for the plaza taking into consideration the history of the building site. The purpose of the competition was to give the students experience with the public art selection process, and at the same time, and for no extra cost in the building project, create a second piece of permanent public art for the town. The young artists used architects specifications and site plan as a reference. Upon submission, the students’ designs were reviewed by the WPAC and project architects (ADW of Charlotte) and three finalists were selected. The three finalists gave formal presentations to a committee of citizens and town officials who made the selection of the winning design, “A Patchwork Community,” by Courtney Boessel. Courtney’s design was presented to the Town Board in February for final approval.

Anyone who would like to make a donation to the Folkmoot or future projects, or for more information about the WPAC, contact the Downtown Waynesville Association at 828.456.3517 or Mieko Thomson, WPAC commission member, at 828.226.2298.

Comment

By Joann B. Poindexter • Special to The Smoky Mountain News

The Franklin Folk Festival will celebrate the region’s cultural heritage with music, historical re-enactments and preservation information during an all-day celebration from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 18 in downtown Franklin.

This year’s theme, “Exploring Our Natural Heritage,” highlights the importance of the mountains and associated rich natural resources in shaping Appalachian culture. Sponsored by the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC), the festival is held each year in downtown Franklin on the third weekend in July

This year’s celebration of mountain heritage actually kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 17, with Macon County’s own Patton String Band. They will be joined by the Rye Holler Boys at the Downtown Gazebo for 90 minutes of entertainment. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs, which will also come in handy for Saturday’s Picking on the Square. Friday’s music is sponsored by the Arts Council of Macon County.

Early Saturday morning the streets of Franklin and public areas around the Macon County Courthouse, the First Baptist Church, and the new Town Hall will be lined with exhibitors demonstrating the way early mountaineers lived and celebrated life. More than 100 volunteers will take part in more than 50 live demonstrations of quilting, wood carving, tatting, churning, spinning, weaving, and splitting shingles — creating by hand a wide variety of objects needed for everyday life.

Adults and children who come to the festival will have opportunities to participate in or observe a wide variety of activities such as playing games, splitting boards, stringing beans, entering contests, and taking part in musical jam sessions.

A large contingent of environmental and natural heritage participants will take part, including the Little Tennessee Watershed Association, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, the Nantahala Hiking Club and Friends of the Greenway. The groups will be on hand to share their knowledge and to showcase their missions.

A new festival addition is the Heritage Alive Mountain Youth Talent Contest, sponsored by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia. The contest will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Downtown Gazebo Stage. Participants must complete applications by July 8. Entry forms are available at the Macon County Chamber of Commerce and online at www.spiritofappalachia.org.

The 25th North Carolina Civil War Re-enactors will be camped all weekend within walking distance of downtown Franklin. This popular group will participate in the parade, hold mock battles, and conduct candlelight tours at their camp.

At an old-time “Front Porch” setting, Macon County’s senior citizens will share their memories as they are videotaped so that future generations can hear their stories. This is a favorite gathering place for those who want a glimpse into the past through the eyes of those sharing their own experiences and stories about life in Franklin and surrounding communities that were told to them by their parents and grandparents.

Another highlight of the festival is the Heritage Parade which takes place Saturday at 11 a.m. Working in partnership with the Early Farm Days Engine and Tractor Club, the festival features a Power Parade from the Macon County Fairgrounds to the Main Street of Franklin, where it becomes part of the popular Heritage Parade.

For more information call 800.932.5294 or visit www.mcncfha.org.

Comment

Duke Energy has begun work preparing a site along the Tuckasegee River upstream of the Dillsboro Dam in order to start dredging the river there.

While virtually everyone agrees the dredging is a good thing in and of itself, the fact that it is a prerequisite to tearing down the dam next year leaves all aspects of the project mired in controversy.

A site adjacent to the river along the slow-water pond created by the dam was cleared on July 1. It will be used as a staging area for siphoning out sediment backlogged behind the dam. A series of settlement ponds will separate sediment from the river water, allowing increasingly smaller particulate and fine organic matter to settle out before water flows back into the river.

An estimated 100,000 to 120,000 cubic yards of sediment have accumulated behind the Dillsboro Dam. Duke was mandated by the state to remove at least 70,000 cubic yards before it can tear down the dam to keep the sediment from washing downstream.

The dredging “is something they should have been doing for years,” said John Boaze, a biological consultant with Fish and Wildlife Associates and an opponent of dam removal. And, “I hope that when they get it done in Dillsboro they’ll move to Bryson, Lake Emory in Franklin, Mission over in Clay County,” Boaze said, listing some of Duke’s other dams that also have backlogged sediment behind them.

Boaze is concerned that Duke only has to remove 70,000 cubic yards rather than all of it.

“From the river’s standpoint, removing the sediment would be a good thing. They should remove it all,” Boaze said. Boaze said there was no basis for the state to arrive at 70,000 cubic yards as the magic number.

Kevin Barnett, an environmental specialist for surface water in the state Division of Water Quality’s Swannanoa’s office, said he thinks 70,000 cubic yards is sufficient to protect downstream water quality when the dam is removed. Barnett’s concern, however, is making sure sediment doesn’t end up getting transported downstream during the dredging process itself.

“The number of cubic yards removed is less important as opposed to how much material is transported downstream that would negate the intended effect of the work,” Barnett said.

To ensure this, Barnett said he would be checking — and Duke would be regularly reporting — on turbidity both upstream and downstream of the dredging work in order to monitor downstream deposition of sediments.

At the dredging site, Duke corporate spokesman Andy Thompson in Charlotte said the endangered Appalachian elktoe mussel could benefit from the dam’s removal, as upstream and downstream colonies would be able to mingle and create a larger, more viable population.

“I don’t really go along with that theory. We’ve already got mussels upstream and downstream,” Boaze said. “You’re going to mostly kill the ones downstream” due to habitat disruptions from the dam’s removal, no matter how carefully done.

Boaze said a better idea is to leave the dam but to create bypass waterways alongside it.

“I have a design: a fish passage put in place allowing them to go upstream and downstream, and kayakers to go downstream,” Boaze said.

Duke initially said they would do the dredging as part of the dam-removal plan if they could find a market for the sediment to offset the cost. But heightened attention to the project led the state to end up requiring the dredging.

 

All for naught?

The removal of the dam is in question, however, as Jackson County has moved to condemn the site. Jackson would like to seize the dam and adjacent shore to create a river park, which would serve as a scenic and recreational attraction. Jackson would also like to operate the dam as a form of green power.

Asked why Duke is proceeding with the dredging when it might be blocked from removing the dam, Thompson said Duke is confident the attempted condemnation will fail.

“It does not appear to Duke that Jackson County would be allowed by the applicable laws to condemn the Dillsboro Hydroelectric Project,” Thompson said. “Under the Federal Power Act, a hydroelectric plant can only be condemned by a county or municipality for the generation of hydroelectricity.”

Thompson added that state law does not provide for the use of condemnation to acquire a hydroelectric facility for power generation purposes. He said Duke “will certainly vigorously oppose any attempt by the county to condemn the Dillsboro Dam.”

County Manager Ken Westmoreland wasn’t concerned about Duke going to the trouble and expense of doing the beneficial dredging even while they might end up being prevented from removing the dam.

“The dredging is overdue. They should have been doing it under their previous license,” he said. “Our position is they’re simply doing it in compliance with their existing license — that they’re obligated to do periodic cleaning and dredging at all of their facilities.

Despite the dredging, Westmoreland says nothing is a fait accompli.

The removal of the dam is still very much in question,” Westmoreland said.

 

The compromise

The proposed dam removal arose as a compensatory move by Duke in exchange for renewing federal permits for power-generating dams on other rivers throughout the region.

Removing the Dillsboro Dam to restore the section of the Tuckasegee to free-flowing status was offered by Duke as a benefit in exchange for the impacts of the other dams. However, the county and some area residents prefer to retain the historic dam. Other critics say dam removal does not serve as adequate mitigation, particularly for Duke’s dams on other rivers.

Comment

The Last One, a locally produced documentary film featuring moonshiner Popcorn Sutton, received an Emmy at the 35th Emmy Awards Southeast ceremony on June 27 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The film depicts Sutton distilling his final batch of illegal liquor, while interviews with Appalachian folklorists, storytellers, and noted authors explore the role of moonshine in Appalachian history and identity. The affable Sutton dominates the film, weaving explanations of points of craft with stories of a lifetime of experiences in the moonshine trade.

Popcorn Sutton’s fame grew exponentially this past March when he committed suicide following a series of highly publicized moonshine busts. He was scheduled to report for an eighteen-month prison term and elected instead to end his life. Obituaries appeared in publications around the country including the Washington Post and New York Times. Neal Hutcheson, producer and director of The Last One, comments, “Popcorn’s death underscores the cultural preservation value of films like The Last One, a fact that I doubt escaped the Emmy selection committee.”

The Last One was produced by Sucker Punch Pictures and funded in part by grants from the North Carolina Arts Council and United Arts of Wake County. Hutcheson is best known for his collaborations with the linguist Walt Wolfram at N.C State University, including the popular documentary Mountain Talk, which laid the groundwork for several further documentaries including the PBS release The Queen Family, The Last One, and a dramatic film, Gary Carden’s The Prince of Dark Corners.

The Last One premiered in November 2008 in the Southern Lens series on ETV in South Carolina, and is currently shown in regular rotation on UNC-TV in North Carolina and on the Documentary Channel nationwide.

Comment

What is a fish weir?

Fish weirs are long, low rock walls built in the riverbed, extending from opposite shores and shaped like a giant funnel pointing downstream. They are the visible remnants of an ancient form of community fishing practiced by the Cherokee hundreds and possibly thousands of years ago. Amazingly, the ancient weirs held up over the centuries and still exist across Western North Carolina’s wide, gently-flowing valley rivers.

How did they work?

To work a fish weir, a long line of women and children would form a chain across the river and scare the fish downstream. The fish would be forced into the ever-narrowing funnel and eventually into a trap waiting at the mouth of the weir. Basket frames were likely constructed out of river cane and loosely woven with branches and cane strips to fill in gaps.

Historical accounts, oral tradition and trial-and-error efforts of re-enactors have pieced together a picture of how the weirs were likely operated. The women would sometimes tie branches to long river cane poles and smack and swat the water as they moved through the water toward the weir.

When were they used?

Weirs were likely used during low water periods, since high water can both obscure the weirs and make it more difficult for the people in the water, said Mark Cantrell, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who has been a student of fish weirs.

Since Cherokee villages were stationed along river banks, Cantrell surmises the Cherokee would easily know when a migration was moving up or downstream.

“If they looked out and saw a pod of these fish they would say ‘Hey, let’s go out and herd these things down,’” Cantrell said.

While funneling fish into a downstream trap is the commonly known use for weirs, they also came in handy when fish migrated upstream to spawning grounds. Migrating fish naturally hug the shoreline where currents are gentler. When the fish confront a weir, its diagonal line forces them closer and closer to the shore, Cantrell said.

Fish traps could be placed at these constriction points. While the fish could wriggle over and through the weir, it would delay them enough to make fishing easier, Cantrell said.

How much did they catch?

While the weirs had the ability to rake in huge numbers of fish, the Cherokee were sensitive not to over-harvest.

“They had generations of experience. They knew about how much their community could take and have that fish population sustained,” said Russ Townsend, a tribal historic preservation officer in Cherokee. “They would occasionally take in abundance and not take again for a couple of months.”

Cantrell said the weirs offer a clue to just how many fish once lived in the river — far, far more than today. There must have been massive numbers of fish migrating up and down the river to make a weir harvest a worthwhile undertaking, enough to feed a village not only that day but to store.

“They are visible evidence that there were once large migratory fishes in abundance,” Cantrell said of the weirs. “It gives us an idea of what our restoration goals should be.”

Who used them?

Fish weirs occurred in great numbers. One stretch of the Little Tennessee has 13 weirs over seven miles that are still visible today. Fish weirs were likely controlled by the clan or village that constructed them. There are some records of the Cherokee leasing use of the weirs to settlers. Later, when land was taken from the Cherokee, government appraisers assigned dollar values to the fish weirs when calculating compensation they were due. That’s a sign fish weirs were considered a tangible asset under the ownership of a particular family.

White settlers, of course, were quick to take up the use of the weirs. Along the Tuckasegee in Webster, Jim Allman has heard stories about his great-grandfather using a fish weir in the river beside their farm as far back as 1864.

“He would trap fish in the fall of the year and salt them down for winter,” Allman said.

Rather than forming a chain across the river to rake in a big harvest, Allman’s great-grandfather would set a trap at the mouth of the weir and see what turned up. His grandfather continued the practice until 1947, when the law changed making it illegal to trap fish.

Comment

While today’s fishermen are partial to the big fillets like brook trout and small-mouth bass, Cherokee used even the tiniest fish, like silversides and shiners, drying them on long strings or making them into stews.

Myrtle Driver, a Cherokee elder, has a recipe for fish stew that has been passed down through her family. Gut the fish, but you can leave the head and skin on. Bake them slowly for a long time, although she isn’t sure how long.

“We don’t time it. We just look at it. We don’t measure either,” Driver said.

Once the bones have become soft during baking, put them, in a pot of boiling water and season with fatback grease and salt.

“The bones will become so soft you can eat them. They just fall apart,” Driver said.

Comment

Local residents and tourists have a new resource to help them support the farms and farmers of Haywood County.

A recently unveiled brochure and map lists more than 30 locations to buy local produce, plants, trout, and more. The featured sites include farm stands, tailgate markets, nurseries, and others. The brochure also lists farm-related events, such as the Canton Mater Fest.

“Whether you are looking for fresh vegetables, a Christmas tree, or a day of fun for the whole family, this brochure will help you find your way,” says George Ivey, who coordinates the Buy Haywood project, which helps to promote local farm products.

The brochure is available at the Haywood County Visitor Centers in Balsam and Canton, the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, and the Haywood County Cooperative Extension Office. You can also view and print a copy online at www.buyhaywood.com/farmmap.

Comment

By Michael Beadle

On a quiet perch atop Bethel Cemetery, two unmarked graves are all that’s left of a pair of Confederate soldiers who left Haywood County to fight a war far, far away, only to return and be shot down as intruders.

The graves of William Pinkney Inman and Johnny Swanger — it’s hard to say who’s body lies where — are located in front of the headstones of Joshua and Polly Inman, Pinkney’s parents. The real-life Pinkney was the inspiration for Charles Frazier’s best-selling fictional novel, Cold Mountain, about a war-weary, wounded soldier named Inman who journeys home to Haywood County to be with his true love.

Bethel Cemetery was one of 10 sites on this year’s annual Cold Mountain Heritage Tour, a weekend trek through Haywood homes, churches, farms, businesses and cemeteries teeming with rich history and local color. Guides at each site discussed the historical significance of these places while visitors were able to ask questions and learn more about the families, traditions and stories embedded in Haywood County’s past.

On Saturday, June 27, tour-goers were given an extra surprise this year at Inman’s Chapel, where author Charles Frazier greeted fans and recounted stories about his Inman ancestry and the book and movie that made this mountain community world famous. The chapel is referenced in Cold Mountain as the place where Inman and his love, Ada, first meet. Built in 1902 by one of Pinkney’s brothers, James Anderson Inman, it had fallen into disrepair after decades of no longer being in use.

However, a few years ago, Inman family members and community volunteers helped finish a restoration of the chapel. The massive effort included replacing rotted out chestnut beams and a weakened foundation, installing new wiring and lights, building new pew benches that fit the design of the original church, stripping off interior paneling and ceiling tiles to find the original wood, replacing the roof with metal shingles, and removing a sizable colony of bats.

“To get it saved was really important to a lot of people,” Frazier said. As an Inman descendent, he took pride in doing his part to repair the church, painting under the eaves of the exterior and helping match the funds that paid for the church’s restoration.

Frazier had not been to the chapel since the restoration was completed. He’s hoping to return for the Inman Chapel homecoming in mid-August. For now, he’s been working on his third novel (about a year away from sending to his editor). His second novel, Thirteen Moons, was a fictional account based on the life of Haywood County-born entrepreneur, legislator and Confederate colonel William Holland Thomas, who became an Indian agent helping the Cherokee to establish land claims in Western North Carolina that eventually became the Qualla Boundary for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Frazier has strong family roots in Haywood County. He’s the great great grandson of James Anderson Inman. Frazier spent his early summers under the shadow of Cold Mountain.

“I always just liked the name of that mountain,” he said, inspired by what little he could find about the story of his ancestor, Pinkney Inman, as well as the Chinese poems of Han-shan, whose named means “Cold Mountain.”

Frazier’s father, a longtime educator and principal, was educated at nearby Cecil Elementary School. His grandfather, Andrew MacDonald Frazier, was passing through the area after a logging job, walking to Waynesville, when he spotted a pretty young lady named Jessie, sitting on the front porch of a house. “Watch me,” he said to a friend, “I’m gonna marry that girl.” Frazier tells the story after viewing his grandparents’ gravestones — both stand behind Inman’s Chapel.

A few new touches to the chapel include wagon wheel frames for the entrance railing and hanging metal light fixtures that resemble candle holders. The sky-blue hue of the wooden ceiling has been restored, as James Anderson Inman would have included in the original design.

“It made him feel closer to God,” said Cheryl Inman Haney, a descendent of J.A. Inman and one of the Inman Chapel guides during the Cold Mountain Heritage Tour.

A newly released book by Cheryl’s sister, Phyllis Inman Barnett — At the Foot of Cold Mountain: Sunburst and the Universalists at Inman’s Chapel — features stories and photos of the Sunburst logging community, the Upper Pigeon Valley, and the history and legacy of Inman’s Chapel.

Unlike many Protestant denominations at the time that preached with brickbat fervor, the Universalists did not believe in an eternal hell, Barnett explained. They focused on community service. Thus, the missionaries at Inman’s Chapel kept a well-stocked library at the nearby Friendly House that also included adult education programs, a summer school, a day care clinic and North Carolina’s first free health clinic.

Despite such facts, Appalachia is still forced to dispel negative stereotypes of poverty and ignorance portrayed in movies and the media.

Quite to the contrary, Inman relatives would explain, in the early 1900s, the Sunburst logging community near Inman’s Chapel had a population in southern Haywood County rivaling that of nearby towns such as Canton and Waynesville, and trains stopping in the community brought books, culture and refinement that anyone in America might wish to have at that time.

Part of the Haywood history tour is not only to invite people to discover these sites, but to set some of the records straight, as history can often prove to be the tangled vines of speculation and opinion wrapped around fixed posts of dates and families.

Today, for example, William Pinkney Inman’s unmarked grave at Bethel Cemetery does not include a Confederate flag flapping at its side since he was considered a deserter. Many other unmarked graves just beyond Inman’s are those of slaves. Perhaps it’s fitting that Pinkney’s grave lies on a spot of earth where visitors may find perspective to see the mountains that define a man. To the south, one can catch a glimpse of Cold Mountain, the peak that inspired an award-winning story about Inman. In the opposite direction stands Big Stomp Mountain, where Inman and Swanger drew their last breaths, shot down by the Home Guard.

As local historians explain, Inman had seen plenty of war and was captured by the Union and sent to the Andersonville of the North — a crowded prison known as Camp Douglas in Chicago, Ill., where hundreds of Confederate inmates died of disease and starvation. In order to be set free, prisoners were required to take the Union Oath, swearing off allegiance to the Confederacy. This, apparently, is what Inman did.

As he and Swanger made their way home from Tennessee, supposedly in Yankee uniforms (the only clothes they had, since they had been prisoners), they were shot by the Home Guard, a band of local militiamen (sometimes viewed as vigilantes). The scene is portrayed in the Cold Mountain novel and later in the 2003 Academy Award-winning movie, starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger. When Inman’s father heard the news that his son had been killed just four miles from home, he set out in a horse and cart and carried his son’s body back to receive a proper burial. Joshua Inman would lose four of his six sons in the war.

In an effort to help preserve the history of Bethel Cemetery, Allison Cathey will be cataloguing all the grave stones in the cemetery and creating a grid map to record who is buried and where. Cathey plans to finish the project for her Girl Scout Gold Award by the end of the year.

This year’s Cold Mountain Heritage Tour, organized by the Bethel Rural Community Organization, also included stops at the J. Frank Mann Century Farm in North Hominy, the Hoey/Smathers House in Canton, Bethel Cemetery, Bethel Presbyterian Church, the Blanton-Reece Log Cabin, Inman’s Chapel and its cemetery, as well as several sites in Waynesville, including Mast General Store, the Masonic Lodge (currently The Gateway Club), the Way House (currently Persnickety’s and Women in the Moon), and Green Hill Cemetery. Local musicians provided entertainment at Riverhouse Acres Campground. The annual tour has also produced several booklets and a Cold Mountain Heritage DVD. For more information about the tour or to purchase Cold Mountain Heritage DVDs or booklets, go to www.bethelcomm.org/purpose.html.

Comment

Bob Barker?!

The involvement of famed television host Bob Barker in the fight to end the Cherokee bear exhibits took many by surprise.

During a phone interview with The Smoky Mountain News, Barker explained that he first became aware of the bears through his long-time friend, Florida Congressman Bill Young. Young stopped through Cherokee with his family on a trip from Florida to Washington, D.C., and visited the bear exhibits. The Youngs weren’t impressed, to say the least — Young’s wife was practically in tears when the family left.

“He and his family were aghast at the condition of the bears. When he got home, he promptly called me,” Barker says.

Barker has long been an advocate of animal rights, ending each episode of The Price is Right with a reminder to “spay and neuter your pets.” Barker is well acquainted with PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, and informed her of what Young had seen.

“She promptly sent a couple people down there and they reported that some of the conditions were worse than had been reported,” says Barker.

Barker agreed to put his name to the cause.

“Mr. Barker has been a longtime animal rights advocate and we’re glad he’s taken an interest in this. It’s something that has been the source of a high number of complaints to PETA,” said Debbie Leahy, head of PETA’s Captive Animals Division.

When PETA released a nationally circulated statement June 8 calling for an end to the bear exhibits, it was accompanied by a letter from Bob Barker requesting a meeting with Eastern Band Chief Michell Hicks. The statement made note of Barker’s letter.

What happened next is a bit hard to decipher. Hicks says that the supposed letter mentioned in PETA’s statement was never actually sent to him.

“That was a big lie on their part,” Hicks says of PETA.

Hicks says he had to call PETA to obtain the letter, at which point they sent him a faxed copy that wasn’t signed. He then requested a stamped, signed letter, which he finally received.

“That was a big farce, was all it was,” says Hicks.

Barker disagrees, maintaining that the press release with the letter followed an earlier press release PETA had put out on the issue.

By last week, on Wednesday, June 24, PETA had still not heard back from Hicks’ office about setting up the requested meeting, though they continued to hope a call would come.

“We think the solution is going to require an opportunity to sit down with the chief and other members of the tribal council and discuss improvements that can be made for these bears,” Leahy said.

When The Smoky Mountain News spoke with Hicks on June 25, he told the paper he had still not responded to Barker’s request. Asked if he would indeed agree to it, Hicks said, “I will absolutely honor a meeting. I have no reason not to do that.”

Later that day, Barker confirmed that he had not heard back from Hicks. The SMN informed Barker of Hicks’ willingness to meet.

“Maybe we can get together then,” said Barker. He added, “I’d come down and meet with them. I’ll call PETA and arrange a trip to Cherokee.”

Barker said he looks forward to meeting with the chief in an effort to find some common ground on the issue of bear exhibits.

“I want to smoke the peace pipe with him,” Barker said.

— Julia Merchant

Comment

The Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour will debut this month with a half-mile series of forest-enveloped ziplines, where people hang from a harness and slide along an overhead cable strung between platforms and trees. The course zigzags over 20 acres and takes about three hours to traverse. There are 11 zip line sections and various sky bridges to get from platform to platform.

Canopy Rangers accompany each group on a tour, coaching them on the techniques of the zip line as well as teaching them about the multiple ecosystems they pass through and the cultural history of the area.

The canopy tour is on the property of Wildwater LTD Rafting. The outfitter also has yurt lodging on the property called Falling Waters Adventure. Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours is a stand-alone company but is a partner with Wildwater LTD Rafting.

Canopy tours are a popular tourist destination in South and Latin America, but this will be the first one to crop up on the WNC side of the Smokies. It will launch on July 10.

The canopy tour could mean a tourism boost for the Gorge, giving people a new reason to visit aside from the long-standing draw of whitewater rafting. The addition of mountain biking trails by Nantahala Outdoor Center has also expanded adventure offerings in the Gorge, along with the standard mountain fare of hiking, fishing and exploring.

The canopy tour should appeal to an variety of audiences. It combines the sheer rush of a zip line with ecosystem education — a genuine eco-tourism attraction.

Each tour-goer is equipped with a helmet, full body harness, trolley, gloves, and a tether safety line.

Wildwater Ltd. started its operations in 1971 on the Chattooga River. Since then the company expanded its whitewater rafting to four other rivers in the southeast and offer several outdoor adventure firsts: the first on the Chattooga River, the first to offer the Raft & Rail Excursion with the Great Smoky Mountains

Railroad and the first Yurt-specific lodging in the southeast.

 

Canopy Tour specs

To go on the Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour you have to be 10 years old or 70 pounds. Maximum weight is 250 pounds.

Participants will move through the canopy tour in groups of up to 12 accompanied by two canopy rangers. Trip times are scheduled 45 minutes apart to allow for separation between groups.

Cost is $69 a person, with discounts for groups. 877.247.5535 or www.nantahalagorgecanopytours.com.

Comment

Farmers and gardeners in Jackson County are inviting the public to traipse through their garden rows during the third annual Jackson County Farm Tour and Garden Walk July 11 and 12.

Tour-goers get a brochure of the 16 participating farms and can make rounds at their leisure between 1 and 5 p.m. each day. The tour is put on by the Jackson County Farmers Market.

“The tour provides an opportunity for people who shop at the Farmers Market to actually see how the food they buy is grown,” said Susannah Patty, farmers market manager. “They will be able to walk through the fields, to see and touch the plants.”

The connection between the grower and producer is an important part of the local food movement, and “we want our customers to see our farms and know how we grow the food they buy,” said Cathy Arps of Vegenui Garden, one of the stops on the tour.

Those thinking of starting their own gardens will pick up tips and ideas. Between rising food costs and a bad economy, home gardens have seen a surge in popularity. Seed sales have increased 40 percent this year. Even President Obama and his family started up their own garden at the White House.

Several stops on the tour are backyard gardens where the hosts are willing to impart tricks of the trade, such as trellising techniques that maximize space.

The farm tour will not be without its share of animals, sometimes pressed into double duty. In addition to laying eggs, chickens help eat insects and weeds, fertilize and aerate the soil. Goats produce milk used in soap and lotion, or help keep hillsides cleared of brush.

Tour goers get their money’s worth at the Community Garden in Sylva, where 18 plots gardened by different people employ numerous techniques, from double digging to French Intensive to conventional row gardening.

“It’s like a one-stop, living garden encyclopedia,” said Ellen Boyd, director of the garden.

Other gardens are relatively new, and prospective gardeners can find out about the trials and tribulations of starting from scratch. Six gardens have been added to the growing tour this year.

Cost of the tour is $30 per vehicle for the weekend, $20 for one day, or $5 to a single farm. Proceeds benefit the farmers market.

Buy a ticket and get a brochure with directions to each stop at the Jackson County Farmers Market, Annie’s Naturally, Tuckasegee Trading Company, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, City Lights, Green Energy Park, Guadalupe Cafe, Mad Batter Bakery, Spring Street Cafe, WNC Internet Cafe, and Bubacz’s Underground.

 

Saturday Farms

• Union Acres Community Garden • Whittier

• Caroline Carr et al • Whittier

• The Community Garden • Sylva

• Steve Beltram and Becca Nestler • Balsam

• Brenda Bumgarner • Sylva

• Avant Garden • Cullowhee

• George Rector and Joan Byrd • Tilley Creek

• Pomme de Terre Farm • Tilley Creek

• Appalachian Homestead • Tilley Creek

• Registered Nursery • E. LaPorte

• The Great Outdoors • Tuckasegee

 

Sunday farms

• Shelton Family Farms • Whittier

• Vegenui Garden • Sylva

• Baldwin Sanders • Little Savannah

• Pomme de Terre Farm • Tilley Creek

• Shared Blessings Farm • E. LaPorte

• Dawson Green • Tuckasegee

• The Great Outdoors • Tuckasegee

Comment

The director of Haywood Regional Medical Center’s Foundation and Corporate Communications Department for the past 20 years, Robin Tindall-Taylor, has resigned her position at HRMC to take the position of the new executive director of the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Foundation.

“Over the past 20 years, HRMC has been my professional home away from home, providing career fulfillment and heartfelt rewards. There were many occasions of rising to achievements and overcoming challenges, and these were made possible only through the great work of HRMC employees, physicians, board members and volunteers,” Tindall-Taylor said.

Tindall-Taylor, who has been with Haywood Regional since 1989, married Walker Taylor, the manager of Cedar Creek Racquet Club, in 2007 and the two have a home in Cashiers. She continued to maintain a second home near Haywood Regional Medical Center.

“I have been living in a dual community situation. For that reason, I was hoping to improve the balance in my life by working within my new neighborhood. The position at Highlands-Cashiers opened and I applied,” Tindall-Taylor said.

While at Haywood Regional, Tindall-Taylor planned and directed capital campaigns for the health and fitness center and expansion of the emergency department. She also established a named endowment scholarship fund for current and prospective nurses and allied health care employees.

Since the mid 1990s more than $10 million has been raised for the Foundation under her leadership.

“It is with great sadness that I have accepted Robin’s resignation from HRMC. She will be greatly missed as a part of my leadership team. Conversely, I am so excited for Robin, because in the end the most important thing in life is your loved ones,” said Mike Poore, president and chief executive officer for Haywood Regional Medical Center.

“We are very fortunate to be able to bring someone of Robin’s experience and skills to the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Foundation,” said Earle Mauldin, chairman of the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Foundation Board. In addition to her proven abilities in the field of healthcare philanthropy, it’s an added benefit that she is already familiar with our area.”

Tindall-Taylor will assume her duties at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital July 13.

Comment

The plaza at the entrance to the new Waynesville Police Station is nearing completion. Workers are placing the final touches to the brick paver design that captures the heritage of the town of Waynesville.

Courtney Boessel, a rising senior at Tuscola High School, submitted the winning design for the plaza pavers, titled “Patchwork Community.” Boessel said her concept pays homage to quilting, which is a popular craft in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

“My art teacher, Donna Rhodes, was showing me some books about quilt patterns and I thought that would make a great design because of the geometric shapes in quilts,” Boessel said.

The focal point of the walkway in her design is a large log cabin square, a popular quilting pattern in the Appalachia region.

The Waynesville Public Art Commission sponsored the design competition for Tuscola High School Students. Given the theme “A Heritage of Service and Friendship,” the students were asked to submit sketches for a brick paver design to be installed at the outdoor plaza area in front of Waynesville’s new police station.

Boessel’s sketch was among three chosen as finalists.

The Waynesville Public Art Commission also has commissioned celebrated sculptor Wayne Trapp to create the “Celebrating Folkmoot” artwork, which will be installed in November in the landscaped area between the two retaining walls at the Waynesville Police Station. Trapp’s interpretation of “Celebrating Folkmoot” will be a bold and lasting reminder of the friendships created between Haywood County residents and performers from around the world.

To learn more about the Waynesville Public Art Commission and their projects, contact the Downtown Waynesville Association at 828.456.3517, or visit the Town of Waynesville Web site www.townofwaynesville.org and click on the public art tab.

Comment

“An Evening on the Farm” will be held at the Mountain Farm Museum on Thursday, Oct. 14, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Old-timey demonstrations at the restored Appalachian farmstead will include hearth cooking and broom making. The Davis/Queen farmhouse will also be open for visitors to walk through the century-old building and get a glimpse of life in the past. 828.497.1904.

Comment

A team of a dozen people will spend the next three years scouring the Cheoah River corridor in Graham County annihilating invasive plant species that are threatening the forest ecosystem.

The work will cost $366,000 and is being funded with federal stimulus money. It has created 12 jobs — 10 jobs were awarded to Cherokee tribal members in the depressed Snowbird area and two were created through the environmental organization WNC Alliance, which has been a leader in tackling invasive plants over the past decade.

“The WNC Alliance is excited to be a part of this win, win, win project employing Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian members, protecting federally listed species, and restoring native habitat,” said Bob Gale, ecologist for the Western N.C. Alliance.

Comment

A three-day workshop called “Inspiring Ourselves to Save the Planet: Courage in the Face of Melting Glaciers” will be held Oct. 21-24 led by Janisse Ray, environmental activist and author, at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center in Highlands.

Both veterans and novices of the environmental movement will come together for inspiration to continue, broaden, and deepen their work in defense of the planet. There will be a dynamic blend of writing, dialogue, creative thinking and deep listening.  “We hope that many people take advantage of the chance to spend three interactive days with this extraordinary leader,” said Alisa Pykett, Program Director. The three-day workshop is sponsored by The Mountain Institute for Social Change.

www.mountaincenters.org or 828.526.5838.

Comment

A poetry reading accompanied by local wines and foods will be held as a fundraiser for the Little Tennessee Watershed Association at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, in Macon County.

Environmental activist Janisse Ray will read from her recently released book of poetry about nature & spirit, A House of Branches. Ray is the author of three books of literary nonfiction, including the acclaimed Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, a memoir about growing up on a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast.

Ray lectures widely on nature, community, agriculture, wildness, sustainability and the politics of wholeness.

The event will be held at Bloemsma Barn in Patton Valley. Cost is $25. www.ltwa.org or 828.369.6402.

Comment

Author Bob Plott, an expert on the cultural heritage of the Smokies, will share stories of life during the past centuries at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville.

Plott, also an accomplished wood-carver and historical re-enactor, traces his family roots in the Old North State back to 1750, when his great-great-great-grandfather Johannes Plott arrived here with five of the family hunting dogs. These dogs would later become renowned as the premier big game hunting dog breed in America: the Plott bear hound.

Plott has three books: Strike and Stay – The Story of the Plott Hound, A History of Hunting in the Great Smoky Mountains, and Legendary Hunters of the Southern Highlands: A Century of Sport and Survival in the Great Smoky Mountains.

“I have known Bob for several years now and I’ve enjoyed hearing him read from his books,” said Blue Ridge Books co-owner Allison Best-Teague. “But I’ve loved hearing him talk about life in the Smokies and I respect the historical research he has done on our area. I think people who call the Smokies home as well as the many visitors to our area will enjoy hearing Bob’s stories and learning the history of the mountains.”

Blue Ridge Books is located at 152 S. Main Street. 828.456.6000.

Comment

Naturalist Doris Mager, also known as the Eagle Lady, will introduce the public to some of her favorite birds of prey during a program at the Mountain Farm Museum from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Oct. 13, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park outside Cherokee.

Mager will also do a program at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, at the Highlands Civic Center sponsored by the Highlands Audubon Society.

Mager has been working with raptors for over 35 years. At age 84, Mager still travels the Eastern United States giving educational programs. She has cared for more than 80 injured eagles and hundreds of other raptors, and has housed up to 36 birds of prey in her backyard at one time.

She will have four birds with her, including an American Kestrel, a Screech Owl, and a Great Horned Owl. The public will have an opportunity to “get up close and personal” with these fascinating creatures.

Located on U.S. 441 north of Cherokee at the main N.C. entrance to the park.

Comment

A new exhibit on the early natural history explorer William Bartram is on display at the Macon County library.

The exhibit, “The 1775 Journey of William Bartram to Western North Carolina,” traces Bartram’s life and his keen observation of not only plant life, but of the people and places he encountered throughout his travels.

Bartram’s observations were published in 1791 as Bartram’s Travels, considered a classic of early American travel writing, influencing numerous naturalists as well as Romantic thinkers of the 19th century such as Henry David Thoreau, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The exhibit was created as part of a three-way collaboration between the WCU Mountain Heritage Center, the Highland Biological Station and the Cashiers Historical Society.

The exhibit will be up through Nov. 20.

828.526.3600 or www.fontanalib.org/franklin.

Comment

Mountain farmers are encouraged to tap into two different grants to expand and diversify what they grow, as well as create better in-roads into the marketplace.

Funding for both comes from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund, helping farmers in regions that were once tobacco dependent make forays into new areas of agriculture.

• WNC AgOptions gives small grants of $3,000 to $9,000 for farm diversification projects to help farmers offset the risk of trying new ventures. There will be around 40 grants given out.

Projects this year have included a propagation house for food and medicinal plants, hops production, a maple syrup finishing cooker, no-till production of specialty winter squash, and a screened greenhouse for commercial disease-free strawberry plants.

The program is also getting additional funding this grant cycle through the new Family Farm Innovation Fund.

Deadline Nov. 1. www.wncagoptions.org.

• Grants of up to $20,000 will be awarded for projects undertaken by groups of farmers to improve the local agricultural system, solving processing, marketing, packaging and other distribution issues.

Past grants include farmer’s market renovations, alternative crop research, agricultural marketing campaigns and developing markets for value-added food producers.

www.tobaccotrustfund.or 919.733.2160.

Comment

Blue Ridge Forever, a coalition of nine land trusts in the mountains, will exceed its five-year goal of protecting 50,000 acres in Western North Carolina. The land trusts expect to surpass the target by as much as 8,000 acres by year’s end.

“The land trusts had to overcome untold obstacles to reach this goal, working quickly to protect the places we all love in Western North Carolina before they were lost to development,” said Phyllis Stiles, campaign director for Blue Ridge Forever. “But, whenever the goal seemed too lofty, our treasured mountains, forests, farmland and streams inspired us to press on.”

When the campaign was launched, the national recession wasn’t on the horizon.

“That was unexpected and made it a lot harder. A lot of money that would have been used for land conservation disappeared,” said Gary Wein, director of the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust.

Meanwhile, when real estate developments faltered, landowners and developers facing foreclosures offered up their property for conservation at reduced prices. Opportunity was abundant, but the funding wasn’t there to take advantage of it, Wein said.

“Money has been hard to come by,” he said.

Plus, what grants and donations were available were earmarked for projects themselves, leaving little for daily operations and overhead of running the land trusts.

The land trusts collectively saved 350 tracts of land from development over the past five years, sometimes by outright purchase of the tracts and other times by securing a voluntary conservation agreement from the landowner.

Some of the saved tracts are wild, while others are farmlands, which will continue being farmed without threat of development.

“Once a farm becomes a housing development it will likely never again be worked. The protection of good agricultural lands is vital to the future of farming in our mountains and in our state,” said Bill Yarborough, special assistant to N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture.

While the campaign’s success is a critical milestone, Stiles said the work is far from over. Many important places in the Blue Ridge Mountains are still at risk of development.

Public funding from state and federal sources came to $110 million, and private donations totaled $32.5 million. Landowners contributed $196 million by donating property outright or at a reduced market value.

“Without all those land owners donating conservation easements, we never would have done it. It takes a village to conserve land,” Wein said.

Comment

The children of workers who constructed the Fontana Dam in the 1940s are holding their annual reunion this week, returning to the place they were raised to reminisce of about life growing up in Fontana Village, a town built from scratch to house some 5,000 workers and their families.

Fontana Village, which is now a resort, was originally created by the Tennessee Valley Authority as a way of keeping workers and their families content so they would stay with the grueling construction project. The village was complete with 15 dormitories, countless homes, two churches, a hospital, schools, a general store and barber shop, a recreation hall, swimming pools and a ball field.

For the children of the dam workers, the village was a brave, new world in the Appalachian wilderness. Between 1942 and 1946, there were more than 600 students from 46 states who attended school at Fontana Village. History was made in November 1944 when the lake began to fill, and power generation became a reality the following spring.  Once the dam was completed, home as they knew it was no longer necessary. Most all of the children and their families scattered back across the country to the states from which they came.

Today these “Dam Kids” still stay in touch by returning to Fontana Village. www.FontanaVillage.com.

Comment

A program on wolves, featuring a couple of live wolves, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Maggie Valley Pavilion.

“Wolf Tales” will feature Rob Gudger, a wildlife biologist who lives in Maggie Valley, and animal handler Robert Edwards accompanied by Wayah, Amaroc and Mohican. Learn about the life of a wolf and witness the gentleness between man and wolf. The program is hosted by the Great Smoky Mountains chapter of the Audubon Society.

828.926.4628 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

Western North Carolina students captured most of the prizes in the Student Laureate Awards sponsored by the North Carolina English Teachers Association this year.  

The annual awards, begun by the family of former Laureate Kathryn Byre, are established to recognize excellent writing by middle and high school students around the state.

In the high school category, judge Cathy Smith Bowers, the state’s current Poet Laureate, chose Edward Madill’s poem “You Mom.”

Wow, this young poet is amazing,” said Bowers. Madill is a graduate of Smoky Mountain High School in Sylva and now attends UNC Asheville. Honorable mentions went to Mandi Dean, Smoky Mountain High School’s Macon County Middle school in Franklin swept the awards, with two students sharing first prize, Caitlin Parris for “Cathy” and Lindsey Dodge for “Everything.” Second-place winner is Abrianna Berry for “Squirrel Hunting with my Dad.”

Comment

David Watkins of Cullowhee will offer a free personal budgeting workshop at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16. The program is based on his book, Little is Much: Learn How to Live Within Your Means — Seven Steps to Financial Freedom.

The workshop is free and open to the public. Copies of Little is Much will be available and can be autographed by the author.

•••

Poet John Thomas York will be at City Lights at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, to read from his new collection, Naming the Constellations, which was published by Sylva’s Spring Street Editions in collaboration with Ash Creek Press in Portland, Ore.

The event will also serve as a celebration of Spring Street Editions, which has published several works of poetry by local and national writers.

The title poem in the collection has won the Poet Laureate Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society in 2008. Other of York’s poems have appeared in the Greensboro Review, which awarded him its Literary Award for Poetry in 1985.

A career public school teacher, York was named the 2003 Teacher of the Year by the North Carolina English Teachers Association. He lives in Greensboro.

•••

Poetry continues on Sunday afternoon when Nancy Simpson will be at City Lights for a special reception and reading at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 17, to read from her new collection, Living Above the Frost Line.

The book is the inaugural title in the new Carolina Wren Press Laureate Series, supported by the North Carolina Arts Council.

For more information about any of these events call 828.586.9499.

Comment

To the Editor:

In a few days, Jackson County voters will be choosing the leadership of the county for the next four years. As a U.S. Army veteran (1961-64, Ft. Bragg and West Germany), I commend the current board of county commissioners for their combined and individual support of military veterans and their causes, and for making it a priority to address the needs of veterans at the local level.  

The commissioners have often supported specific programs of the county’s veteran organizations, and have personally participated in programs that honor veterans, such as those on Veterans Day in November and Memorial Day each May.

Several years back, they took the initiative to fix the fountain area at the foot of the courthouse steps in Sylva, transforming it from an embarrassing eyesore into a fitting and well-maintained tribute to the sacrifices made by Jackson County veterans who served in our country’s wars.

More recently, the commissioners provided crucial major support to the Rotary Club’s Honor Air project.  Over the last couple of years that project has transported numerous Jackson County WW2 veterans on carefully planned, day-long roundtrips to Washington, D.C. There these men and women had the opportunity to make unforgettable and often emotional first visits to the great new World War Two Memorial, plus other area monuments that honor the service of America’s veterans.

The commissioners have also ensured that the county’s Veterans Service Officer continues to be a highly-qualified, dedicated, and pro-active individual who works hard to make sure that veterans and their dependents get all federal and state mandated health and other support due to them from the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense, and additional federal and state agencies.

For these and their other efforts on behalf of veterans, I salute the current commissioners and urge their re-election.

Jim Nicholl

Cullowhee

Comment

To the Editor:

Over the course of the past year or so our Jackson County commissioner have been faced with a number of difficult decisions including salary raises for county employees, the Dillsboro dam and new mountain ordinances while keeping our taxes third lowest in the state. Those reasonable, responsive and thoughtful commissioners are Brian McMahan running for re-election as Jackson County commission chairman, Tom Massie, commission vice chairman and William Shelton, commissioner.

The Tea Party is supporting candidates (according to yard signs they appear to be Jack Debnam and Cody Elders) this year. At the Home Builders Association meeting in Cashiers not long ago their only solutions were to audit county programs, evidentially unaware the county conducts an annual audit. They also advocated spending $1 million to conduct an off-year revaluation of property and spending $4 million to complete the community center while advocating a rollback in property tax revenues and county services.

As one candidate put it “county employees are a drag on our economy.” They were critical of the purchase of sparkling new vehicles by the county only to be reminded by our commissioners the vehicles had not been purchased as part of the 10 percent reduction in county expenditures enacted over the past year. They were critical of not using local contractors for a building project at Southwestern Community College only to be reminded the project is a community college project not a county project.

I am sure these folks supported by the Tea Party crowd mean well and care as much for our county as we all do. However, they tend to offer misleading messages and simple solutions to complex county problems. Their solutions include cutting taxes, reducing the size of government, eliminating county services and turning stewardship of our mountains and rivers over to private enterprises, many of whom would treat our mountains like coal mine operators treat the mountains of West Virginia.

We can elect these well-meaning conservatives who appear dedicated to reducing services and personnel or we can return Brian McMahan, Tom Massie and William Shelton for reasonable, responsive and thoughtful stewardship of our tax dollars and county resources.

Ron Robinson

Sylva

Comment

Sign-up for teams is now under way for Haywood Regional Health & Fitness Center’s Night of Fright Dodgeball Tournament, to be held from 6 to 9 p.m, Oct. 28.

Teams for the tournament may consist of four to seven participants, sporting their best Halloween costume.

Last year’s event attracted 16 teams and more than 150 participants, and this year may be even bigger and even more ghoulish.

“Will last year’s champs the “Nuts-n-Hunnies” be able to retain their title for another year?  Or will runners-up, the “Young Gunz,” be out for vengeance?” Aquatics and Recreation Coordinator Shawn Smathers asks.

Registration is $50 per team. Register by Thursday, Oct. 21. 828.452.8056

Comment

The Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a seminar entitled “The Power of Email Marketing” from 3-5 p.m. on Oct. 20 at Center for New Mountain Business located at 673 Siler Road in Franklin. The 1.5 hour seminar is free to chamber members and $10 per person for non-chamber members.

Attendees will learn how to get their message heard in a world of increasing e-mail communications, along with tips, strategies and techniques.

Anissa Starnes, Regional Development Director of the Carolinas, will lead the event. Starnes brings 19 years of experience in small business and nonprofit management, including Vice President of the Charlotte Chamber, Senior Vice President of the York County Regional Chamber and most recently President and CEO of the Burke County Chamber of Commerce. 828.524.3161 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

Cecil Groves, former president of Southwestern Community College, is the new CEO of BalsamWest FiberNet.

Groves, who had moved to Texas to be near family, replaces David Hubbs, who announced he was leaving to pursue personal

Comment

Davis Woodard, a veteran law enforcement officer in Jackson County, has been selected as Sylva’s new police chief.

Comment

A new state bill aims to encourage children to put down the sugary juices and frolic on the playground outside.

Comment

The Swain County Sheriff’s Office has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice under the 2010 COPS Hiring Program.

The grant, in the amount of $125,811.00, will cover one officer position for a three-year period. The grant will be used to pay the wages and related benefits for the officer during that time. As part of the grant, Swain County will be required to retain the officer for one additional year after the completion of the grant period.

Commissioners will have to act to accept the grant before it can become effective.

Comment

The job training and life skills program, sponsored by REACH of Jackson County, has moved from its original location at the Client Service Center to Mariposa Boutique, the REACH thrift shop on Skyland Drive in Sylva.

New Choices is a program for any displaced homemaker starting over in the job market, desiring to be more self-sufficient or wanting to make a positive change in life. The program is available through REACH and funded by the N.C. Council for Women.

828.586.8778 or 828.506.0844

Comment

A golf tournament will be held Monday, Oct. 18, at Highlands Falls Country Club in Highlands.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. The “Playing for a Purpose” tournament will benefit REACH of Macon County, a nonprofit agency serving victims of family violence and sexual assault.

Mary Cathey, LPGA teaching professional, will conduct a golf clinic at 9:30 a.m., before the tournament.

The tournament will be four-person teams, shotgun start at 10 a.m. Registration is $125 per person, due with entry. Lunch, salad buffet, drinks and dessert will follow play.

828-369-5544.

Comment

Training for hospice is scheduled for the end of this month at Lake Junaluska First Baptist Church.

Haywood Regional Medical Center Hospice & Palliative Care will hold the volunteer training series on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 25, 26, 27 and 28.

The 12-hour program will orient volunteers to the hospice philosophy and program, and help them to find their niche in hospice volunteerism.

Volunteer opportunities include: patient and family support; companionship visits; respite care for caregivers; errands; bereavement support; delivering a single rose to the family after death; office assistance; chaplaincy and other professional services; fundraising and community events planning.

828.452.8578.



Comment

A forum for Macon County Commissioner candidates will be hosted by the League of Women Voters of Macon County at 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Tartan Hall, First Presbyterian Church of Franklin.

Incumbents Ronnie Beale (D) and Bob Simpson (D) will face Charlie Leatherman (R), Ron Haven (R), and Vic Drummond (I) for the two District 2 seats. Incumbent Brian McClellan (R) will face Allan “Ricky” Bryson (D) for Highlands District 1 seat.

Comment

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