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A scholarship fund to encourage biological research among students at Western Carolina University has been created as a tribute to Bob Zahner, a plant lover, botanist and former trustee of the Highlands Biological Station.

The fund will cover tuition and fees of WCU students engaged in the semester-long residency program at the Highlands Biological Station, a research field station run by the University of North Carolina system. Plans are to grow the fund to pay for students doing research or other coursework at the field station.

The scholarship fund was created thanks to a $20,000 contribution from the Barstow Foundation. The Barstow Foundation was established by the late E.O. Barstow of Michigan, the first chemist and later board member of the Dow Chemical Co. Barstow’s grandson is the director of the Foundation and was good friends of Zahner.

“Bob was an outstanding environmentalist in Western North Carolina,” said Barstow.

Zahner was a research scientist for the U.S. Forest Service and a professor of forestry and natural resources at Michigan and Clemson Universities. Highlands had long been a second home for Zahner, but he moved here full-time for the later part of his life and was devoted to its conservation.

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By Julia Merchant • Contributing Writer

Take a drive through the countryside of Western North Carolina, and you’ll likely notice brightly colored squares adorning the sides of barns and other rustic structures. Look closer, and they’ll tell you a story about that place.

“Turkey tracks,” for instance, hangs on the side of a barn where a flock of turkeys come for their morning meal. “Bard of Avon” graces the side of the Parkway Playhouse in Burnsville. Nearby, “Monkey wrench” pays tribute to a local resident well-known for his fix-it abilities.

The blocks are actually quilt patterns, carefully selected to honor the history behind the structures and homesteads they grace. It’s all part of the Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina project, and soon, it will expand to include Macon and Jackson counties, the first west of Asheville to take part. In the six counties where the project currently exists, it’s grown to involve the entire community in preserving both local history and the heritage craft of quilting. But it’s also become much more — an important economic development tool for all of Western North Carolina.

“It’s a community history project, basically,” says Barbara Webster, executive director of Quilt Trails of WNC. “We are capturing the stories of the land, the people, and the buildings with this project, and in so doing, we are building community and creating economic development for the area.”

First introduced to WNC in 2006, the Quilt Trails project has grown to include 158 quilt blocks hanging on barns and businesses in Mitchell, Yancey, Ashe, Madison, Watauga and Avery counties. Each features a different quilting pattern that is representative of its location. Volunteers build and paint the blocks, and write stories that reflect the heritage of each place. Building a block can take anywhere from three weeks for a simple pattern to nine months for a more complicated one.

Webster, who resides in Mitchell County, has seen her county become a model of success. Along with Yancey, Mitchell boasts the highest concentration of quilt blocks in the entire nation, a feat accomplished in just three short years. The project has achieved an amazing amount of community buy-in.

“The entire community has embraced it,” Webster says.

Kids from the local high school art department paint blocks alongside senior citizens. Volunteers take pictures and write stories about each block. A history teacher takes kids out to photograph the blocks in order to learn about the history of the county. A calculus class uses them to learn about symmetry.

Webster believes tying a story to each block, an aspect of the project unique to Mitchell and Yancey counties, played a large role in sparking community interest. On the application form for a quilt block, there’s a space for the applicant to describe their family history or something interesting about the building or land.

“We use that information to hunt for the prefect quilt block that will trigger their story,” Webster explains. “That’s what made such a big difference in our county — when people saw they could capture their family story this way.”


Tourism booster

Along with local history, the Quilt Trails project is preserving something on a larger scale — the region’s economy. In an area that has struggled to cope with the loss of industry in recent years, the Quilt Trails project has become a key component in the growth of a newer, tourism-based economy.

“It’s amazing what’s happened here because of the quilt blocks,” says Webster. “People are coming from all over the place to see them.”

A recent Wall Street Journal article that profiled Quilt Trails of WNC drew a flood of tourists, “from Maine to Mexico,” Webster says. The visitors are sure to keep coming — the project was selected by the state Department of Tourism as one of 10 state tourist attractions that will appear in a series of radio spots broadcast throughout the Southeast.

“It’s a wonderful example of taking cultural heritage and turning it into a contemporary experience,” says Handmade In America executive director Geraldine Plato of why the project works. “It appeals to a lot of different people. They can get in a car, drive around, read the quilts, and maybe learn something else about the town.”

Webster estimates that one group of 15 people coming to see the blocks contributes an average of $3,000 to the county in one day.

The economic impact ripples throughout the community, thanks largely to the collaborative nature of the project. It seems everyone’s involved — local artists, for instance, are employed to craft pins that resemble the quilt squares, and local businesses sell copies of the one that hangs on their storefront. Maps of the quilt block trails also point visitors to local attractions, like a nearby organic farm.

“We realized fast this could be an economic development engine for the county,” says Webster. “We’ve purposefully gone in that direction, and it’s worked.”

Though Quilt Trails of WNC is currently only in six counties, it’s benefited the region as a whole.

“We’ve used this as a way to market the entire western part of the state as a tourist destination,” says Webster.

As the project expands, Webster hopes counties will work together to promote each other. Say there’s a quilter’s convention in Haywood County — guests could take a daytrip to see the quilt blocks in Yancey County, for instance.

“We could put these packages together and involve multiple counties,” says Webster. “There’s a huge opportunity here.”

Plato thinks Quilt Trails of WNC has tapped into something.

“It’s a beautiful way to pull together the whole region,” Plato says.


Coming soon

Soon, quilt squares will be popping up in the far western counties. Volunteers in Macon County are busy painting the first four blocks, one of which will hang in the Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s underway, and hopefully we’ll be able to see the first things going up before winter,” says Linda Harbuck, executive director of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce.

The project seems particularly fitting in Macon County, which boasts a proud quilting tradition. The now-defunct Maco Crafts Cooperative created the World’s Largest Quilt, which hung at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, as well as the World’s Largest Quilted Wall Hanging.

Harbuck hopes the project will bring a renewed interest in the craft.

“I think it will help preserve tradition, and I think it may bring it back into the light again too,” she says.

The quilt squares, and the stories that accompany them, could also draw a different demographic of visitors to the area.

“It will bring in a new group that might not have necessarily come before,” Harbuck says.

Led by the local Arts Council, Haywood County is also looking to become part of WNC Quilt Trails. Arts Council Director Kay S. Miller says already, the project is sparking interest from a cross-section of community members, both new and native.

“The excitement is coming from people who were born and raised here, not just those who moved to the county,” Miller says. “Hopefully, it will bring together residents in various communities across Haywood County to gain more satisfaction and pride in the heritage we share.”

The first quilt blocks will be hung in Haywood in June 2010. Miller encourages everyone — young or old, artistic or not — to get involved.

“You don’t have to have an art degree to be involved in this project,” Miller says. “Again, that’s the beauty of (it) — schoolchildren and adults alike can participate. There are many phases of the project, and all levels of skill are needed.”


• The Craft Heritage Trails of Western North Carolina are collected in a travel-size book that leads visitors on eight driving tours along scenic byways and back roads to more than 500 galleries, studios, heritage sites, historic inns, and restaurants serving local cuisine.

• The Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook is a guide to Cherokee cultural sites, including living history demonstrations, Cherokee crafters and artisans, archaeological sites, sections of the Trail of Tears and museums.

• The Blue Ridge Music Trail uses a handy guidebook as an excellent resource for visitors aiming to sample the rich musical culture of the North Carolina mountains and foothills. Festivals, jamborees, local jam sessions, and other music venues are profiled.

• The Farms, Gardens and Countryside Trails of Western North Carolina is a handy guidebook for touring farms, orchards, gardens, nurseries, heritage sites, and historic inns across the region. Provides six auto loop trails off of the Blue Ridge Parkway through 21 counties in Western North Carolina..

• Discover North Carolina Farms contains 213 agritourism farms and vineyards where visitors can see what grows on a farm, take part in educational or recreational activities, and see up close North Carolina’s agricultural lifestyle.

• The WNC Fly Fishing Trail, situated in Jackson County, features some of the best trout waters in the Great Smoky Mountains. The trail leads to 15 excellent spots for catching brook, brown and rainbow trout.

• The North Carolina Birding Trail consists of three trails and accompanying guides, one for each of the state’s major geographical areas: the coastal plain (east of I-95), the piedmont (between I-77 and I-95) and the mountains (west of I-77). Each trail contains more than 100 top regional birding sites.

• The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail retraces the route of patriot militia as they tracked down the British. Eventually the two forces clashed, ending in patriot victory at the battle of Kings Mountain. The trail is still under development through partnerships, but the public has many places to visit and walk today.

• The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates a tragic chapter of our nation’s history—the forced removal of the Cherokee from their mountain homelands to the plains of Oklahoma in 1838-1839. Interpretation and signage for the Trail is planned for sites in Western North Carolina, where the removal began.

• The North Carolina Civil War Trails are a collection of interpreted Civil War sites connected by suggested driving tours. Map features numerous sites in addition to the sites identified on the original Carolinas Campaign Trail map, a driving tour of the 1865 Carolinas Campaign following many of the roads the soldiers used.


A project to create prime ruffed grouse habitat in the Cold Mountain Game Lands has been dedicated as the Jerry Smathers Memorial Ruffed Grouse Habitat.

Smathers was an avid outdoorsman and loved spending his free time in the woods hunting, fishing, camping and horseback riding. Smathers, who lived in Canton, worked in resource management for Champion Paper Company and was involved with every facet of forest and wildlife management and timber procurement. Smathers died of an apparent heart attack while tending to his horses on his farm the day before Thanksgiving in 2006.

The ruffed grouse habitat is a joint effort by the Southern Appalachian Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Cold Mountain Game Lands is a 3,295-acre tract of former timber land that was purchased from Champion Paper in 1999.

The habitat project aims to create wildlife openings in the forest and pockets of early successional habitat, places where the forest is regenerating after being logged. They are thought to be important to wildlife. The tract is being actively logged, new roads constructed and prescribed burns planned. Timber management is selecting for hardwoods over pine and aiming to improve oaks, which provide acorns.


By Julie Ball • Correspondent

Working parents in Macon County have few choices when it comes to child care for their infants, according to members of a committee tasked with coming up with some solutions to the county’s child care shortage.

That group is expected to make some recommendations to county leaders this fall, and the solution could involve a public-private partnership.

“We have the facts, and we know it’s needed, and the next step is how can we achieve (a solution) and not put all the burden on the Macon County taxpayer,” said Ronnie Beale, chairman of the Macon County Board of Commissioners.

The goal of the committee is to come up with at least 40 additional infant and toddler day care slots in Macon County, according to Johnny Mira-Knippel, a member of the committee and vice president of Tektone, a private, family-owned company based in Franklin.

Macon County has just 72 slots in licensed day care facilities available for children ages 2 and younger, including slots within the Head Start program. Of those, less than 25 slots are for babies under 1 year old, according to Jane Kimsey, director of the Macon County Department of Social Services.

Chuck Sutton, executive director of Macon Program for Progress, the nonprofit that administers the Head Start program, said Head Start has a waiting list of up to 100 children, newborn to age 3, for its programs.

“That’s been consistent the last three years,” Sutton said.

One problem is providing care for infants costs more, and those costs discourage some providers from offering infant care.

“This is the most expensive age. That’s one reason you don’t see it,” Beale said.

State licensing rules establish ratios of children to teachers or caregivers, and infants require another level of care compared to older children.

The shortage of slots for infants means parents often depend on grandparents or other relatives to take care of infants. If the relative gets sick or isn’t available for some other reason, working parents can find themselves without care for their children.

“It’s extremely important. You lose employee days when children are sick. As a parent, you are stressing about how to take care of kids,” Mira-Knippel said. “It’s not just one person’s problem. It’s a community issue.”

Beale said the shortage also affects the county’s ability to recruit new industry.

“It’s hard to recruit businesses when the first question they ask is how are we on day care,” Beale said.

Barbara Waters, volunteer preschool administrator for Resurrection Lutheran Church in Franklin, said even day care facilities that only take older children struggle with insurance costs and meeting safety and security concerns. The Resurrection Lutheran Church facility only takes children who are more than 3 years old.

The county’s committee is still developing solutions to address the shortage. The group is expected to bring recommendations to the Macon County Board of Commissioners in October.

One possible solution is a public-private partnership, which allows the county to provide a building at a low cost to a private group. The private group would then provide infant care.

Beale said any solution will carry a price tag.

“Those recommendations are going to involve money, and that’s at a premium in every county,” he said.


An Internet search for tourism trails spawns a list of results including biking in Texas, rail travel in England, a tour of “Sex in the City” sites in New York and a heritage trail in Washington, D.C.

But the trail at the top of the list are North Carolina’s own HomegrownHandmade trails. The trails are designed to take visitors to arts and farm locations across the state’s Foothills, Piedmont and Coastal regions. Among the 16 trails are the memorably-named “Hushpuppies, Pimento Cheese and Sweet Tea,” “Music, Millponds and Mousetraps.”

The trails grew out of a grant awarded to the North Carolina Arts Council, North Carolina Cooperative Extension and HandMade in America for a project to stimulate sustainable tourism statewide and to showcase the state’s rural riches. Despite this aim, the trail project abruptly stops when it reaches Western North Carolina. The farthest trail travelers will get is Cleveland County – where the towns of Shelby and Kings Mountain are located.

When and if the HomegrownHandmade trails incorporate Western North Carolina, they will become part of an already well-developed tourism system capitalizing on the trail model. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area was designated by Congress and the President in November 2003 in recognition of the unique character, culture, and natural beauty of Western North Carolina and their significance to the history of our nation.

Visitors exploring the BRNHA who are interested in crafts may choose to visit any of several major sites such as the Mountain Heritage Center in Cullowhee, Music of North Carolina Handicrafts in Waynesville or YMI Cultural Center in Asheville that have been identified as craft destinations. Or The Craft Heritage Trails of Western North Carolina, published by HandMade in America, leads visitors on eight driving tours along scenic byways and back roads to more than 500 galleries, studios, heritage sites, historic inns, and restaurants serving local cuisine.

A similar book, Farms, Gardens and Countryside Trails of Western North Carolina, provides six auto loop trails off of the Blue Ridge Parkway through 21 counties in Western North Carolina.

The trail model is popular in part because it encourages travelers to keep going — and keep spending. An economic impact study cited in the development of the North Carolina Birding Trail stated that on a similar trail in Texas travelers devoted an average of 31 days/year to birding on the trail and averaged expenditures of $78.50 per person, per day. Nationwide more than 71 million Americans spent nearly $45 billion (in retail sales) on observing, feeding, or watching wildlife in the US in 2006, according to a US Fish and Wildlife Service National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

“When we first discussed the WNC Fly Fishing Trail Guide and Map idea, we decided that a ‘trail’ seemed easy to conceptually follow,” said Julie Spiro, director of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and Travel and Tourism Authority. “Our ‘trail’ spans the length of Jackson County, and it was our hope that fishermen would want to fish the whole ‘trail’ of 15 marked spots. We also knew that the ‘golf trails’ had been successful in other places and felt we could market the same type of concept effectively to fishermen.”

The success of any trail is a question of both supply and demand. A Canadian university study of trails and tourism posed the important question: Is there a tourist market share that will be interested in a specific trail and are there enough sites to make the trail worth traveling?

With those criteria met the development and maintenance of a tourist trail relies on “the four As of tourism” — attraction, access, accommodation and advertising — which address issues including whether the area is culturally or historically interesting, who can travel the trail, if there are places to stay and places to eat along the trail, if there is a good map of the trail and if people know it even exists.


Award-winning outdoor writer Jim Casada has just published what he describes as “my book of a lifetime.”

Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: An Insider’s Guide to a Pursuit of Passion, features separate chapters covering every major stream in the park and many feeder creeks. Casada is a native of Bryson City and grew up probing the creeks and streams of the Smokies that lay just beyond his doorstep.

“My intention was to provide fisherman, whether newcomers to these storied streams or veterans who have fished them for years, with a truly comprehensive guide to the hundreds of miles of trout-holding water found within Park boundaries in North Carolina and Tennessee,” Casada said. “The Park provides the finest fishing for wild trout east of the Rockies, and it has provided me an incredible measure of pleasure over all but the earliest years of my life.”

The 448-page book also incorporates a great deal of natural and human history, looks at tactics and techniques, visits “Seasons of the Smokies,” discusses equipment, and addresses safety issues for anglers. Dozens of simple maps show the profile of a creek’s elevation gain over its length, marked with waypoints of note such as backcountry campsites, trail crossings, and feeder creeks.

There are scores of photos, including many of historical significance; graphs showing monthly variations in temperature and precipitation; information on guides and outfitters; and a removable folding map of trails and backcountry campsites.

Paperback is $24.95 and hardback is $37.50.; or by calling 803.329.4354.


By Julia Merchant • Contributing writer

As a professional storyteller, Tim Hall is no stranger to spinning yarns — but it’s in Western North Carolina that Hall hopes to weave his biggest story yet.

Hall’s ambitions of creating a five-story Storytelling Center of the Southern Appalachians in downtown Bryson City may seem sky high, but according to him, they’re anything but a tall tale.

Today, Hall’s dream is not much more than a sign that hangs in the window of the 1910 Citizens Bank Building on Everett Street, proclaiming the site the future home of the Storytelling Center. Hall has already taken out a 30-year-lease on the building, and envisions it one day housing a museum, storytelling center, live radio broadcast, and an entire wing dedicated to research and education of the Southern Appalachian region.

“It encompasses all sorts of new ideas that we’ve always wanted to see here but just could never seem to get the ball rolling,” says Karen Wilmot, executive director of the Swain County Chamber of Commerce. “I really admire his initiative and the scope of the plan.”

Securing enough funding will be the most important factor in getting Hall’s vision off the ground, and likely the most challenging. Hall has personally paid for all the expenses related to the Center so far but can’t continue to do so.

Hall estimates it will cost $2.4 million to renovate the building and build a five-story addition. He hopes to raise the money through donations, grants, benefactors, members and sponsors.


Treasure trove of tales

Hall, who lives near Atlanta and collects stories throughout the South, felt like he had stumbled upon a treasure trove when he first visited Bryson City several years ago.

“I think it’s one of the most glorious cultures that there is in the world,” Hall says. “Story after story can be found here.”

Because of its remote character and independent spirit, the area clung to a way of life that had long been abandoned in many other places. There are still plenty of old-timers walking the streets who remember what it was like to build a cabin or cook over an open fire. And Hall has collected these tales by simply sitting downtown and striking up conversations with people.

“I’ve had 85-year-old men sit down next to me and talk to me for two hours,” Hall says.

The stories of Bryson City residents became fodder for the show Crossroads, Hall’s first foray into radio, which was broadcast on 1590 AM WBHN in Bryson City. Subjects have included the once-booming logging town of Proctor and a local midwife who is said to have birthed nearly 1,000 babies.

“I like for folks to feel like they’re sitting in the main room of a log cabin in front of the fire in mid-January, when Grandpa’s in the rocker telling them a story,” Hall says. “That’s the type of stories I like to tell.”


A lost art

It’s a tradition that’s quickly disappearing, Hall says, as more modern forms of entertainment, like video games and the Internet, have come to replace it.

“We’ve lost the art of being able to sit down and tell a story,” he says. “I want people to understand that a story doesn’t have to be anything projected; that the mind itself can paint a wonderful picture.”

When one hears Hall’s vivid depictions, it’s easy to be transported to times gone by.

“What I like about storytelling is taking people on the journey,” Hall says. “I want people not to just hear the story, but to listen to the sounds of the birds in the forest or the chaos of the lumber yards in Proctor.”

Bringing history to life in the way that storytelling does creates a level of understanding and appreciation of the past that is “sorely needed” in today’s world, says Wilmot.

“Museums are nice, but there’s just something about seeing people do it,” she says.

Storytelling is sometimes thought of as children’s entertainment, but Hall says he enjoys telling stories to adults even more, because he can watch them connect with his words and transport themselves back to a past era.

“Everybody can relate to these stories — they think back to their family and their heritage,” Hall says.

Hall is optimistic that storytelling won’t be lost completely. He believes there’s been a recent trend toward remembering and preserving the past.

“More people are coming back to their heritage and their history than in the past,” he says. “An awful lot of it is being lost, and people are realizing that.”


Lofty vision

Hall envisions the Storytelling Center for the Southern Appalachians playing a key role in preserving the mountain’s rich heritage. He has spent three years so far cultivating his idea, incorporating the nonprofit Psalms of the South to back the project and securing a home for the Center.

Hall’s long-range vision calls for converting the Citizens Bank Building into a museum of regional history. Behind the bank building, Hall wants to build a five-story research and education center that will host live broadcasts of his show Crossroads, as well as lectures and classes on Southern Appalachian topics.

Plans for the Center “are set in stone, but not in granite,” says Hall.

“I have preliminary drawings of the proposed interior, but nothing is finalized,” he says. “It is a work in progress. Each step towards opening the doors of the center brings challenges and rewards.”

The first phase of the project, restoring the historic Citizens Bank Building, is currently on hold. An engineering firm’s structural analysis of the building uncovered asbestos and lead paint, which must be removed before restoration can begin. The roof, which was found to be in poor condition and contains asbestos, must also be replaced. It will cost approximately $100,000 to perform these tasks.

“The funds for this work must be acquired, and the work performed, prior to the restoration beginning,” says Hall.

While Hall tries to raise $100,000 for the roof repairs, the larger goal of $2.4 million looms ahead. While there is no shortage of philosophical support for the project, the lack of activity on the ground has made some “a bit cautious,” according to Gary Carden, one of the region’s best-known storytellers

Carden agreed the idea of a storytelling center is a fantastic one.

“In fact, I would be willing to contact a platoon of storytellers who would gladly contribute their talents to the ‘dream center,’” Carden said.

Carden uses that term because in his eyes, the Center is still more of a hope and vision than an actual place. He says the proposed Center has yet to initiate a storytelling activity.

“Something needs to happen other than radio shows and the display of grandiose blueprints,” Carden says. “We need an announced program, the names of participating storytellers and an audience.”

Carden says that the obstacles Hall has already encountered won’t deter the region’s storytellers from getting involved with the Center, as long as “the Center will define goals that they can relate to and if the Center will conduct activities in which they can participate.”

To advance his fundraising goals, Hall held a public information meeting about the Center this past Saturday (Aug. 29). He said he’s already worked with the Partnership for Swain County to identify possible grants and loans. He has also hired Jerry Span, former director of activities at Fontana Village, to direct public relations for the project.

Wilmot hopes that ultimately, Hall’s vision will strike a chord with people and translate into success though it may take a while.

“Anything this large in scope will seem like he’s got a long way to go, but I think the community will embrace the idea,” says Wilmot, who pledged the Swain County Chamber’s support for the endeavor. “We do have a unique heritage and culture here, and we certainly need to work to preserve that.”


Graham County has thrown a curve ball in an ongoing debate with Swain County over ambulance service in Deal’s Gap, a motorcycle mecca that sees a disproportionately large share of wrecks.

Deal’s Gap is an outlying area of Swain County, so far-flung that it takes an ambulance 45 minutes to reach it from Swain County. The area is much closer to Graham, which has historically provided emergency services to the area as a courtesy.

Graham and Swain are at a stalemate in negotiations over whether Graham should be compensated for providing the service within Swain’s borders. Swain thus far has refused to ante up, claiming it already provides a quid pro quo by transporting Graham residents who end up in the Swain County Hospital.

In a surprise move on Tuesday, Graham informed Swain that it would not answer emergency calls to Deal’s Gap over Labor Day weekend. Graham will have its hands full responding to calls within its own borders, they said.

Swain County Manager Kevin King said the news came as a surprise, since the two counties were still in talks and Graham previously said it would give Swain time to make arrangements to cover the area if they couldn’t come to another resolution.

King said Swain County generally has two ambulances in service at any given time. A third ambulance that usually serves as back-up will be posted in the Deal’s Gap area for the Labor Day weekend.

King said Swain will also be willing to help out Graham if they are stretched too thin.

“If they need our help, we will be right there,” King said.

Swain will continue transporting Graham residents receiving treatment at Swain’s hospital.

“We are not going to play that game with them,” King said.


A new trail management plan designed to rein in heavy use by competing forms of recreation in Panthertown Valley will be discussed at a public meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at the Cashiers Library.

The Friends of Panthertown organized the meeting to inform the public about changes coming to the trails in Panthertown Valley.

The forest service recently finalized a trail management plan that will designate certain trails as hiker only, making them off-limits to horseback riders and mountain bikes.

Panthertown is a 6,000-acre tract near Cashiers with unique features, including a bowl-shaped valley, granite domes and waterfalls. It has historically been a free-for-all, with all uses allowed on all trails. But a rise in popularity was causing conflict between users as well as damage to more fragile trails, according to the forest service.

Restrictions will “maintain the recreational experience provided by Panthertown” and “prevent resource degradation,” Forest Supervisor Mike Wilkins wrote in his justification of the final trail plan.

About half the trails in Panthertown will now be for hikers only. In addition, commercial horse trips and guided mountain bike trips will no longer be allowed anywhere in Panthertown.

The new trail management plan has been several years in the making. As part of the plan, parking will be improved at three access areas and trail signage will be installed noting the names of trails and distances. Some users created trails through fragile areas will be decommissioned. Camping will continue to be allowed anywhere, except within 50 feet of a creek.

Friends of Panthertown has arranged for a representative from the forest service to attend the meeting to answer questions about the new recreation management plan.

“We encourage you to attend the meeting to learn how you can support Friends of Panthertown and become a part of what’s going on in Panthertown Valley,” said Nina Elliott, the Friends of Panthertown coordinator.

Friends of Panthertown has worked closely with the forest service during the process to provide feedback and represent stakeholders. The group organizes monthly trail workdays and other volunteer projects, logging more than 1,500 hours maintaining trails, building bulletin boards at trailheads, and collaborating with the forest service on a new trail map last year.

Friends of Panthertown will coordinate volunteer labor to help implement elements on the new trail plan, including trail rehab and installing trail markers and signage. Work days are on the fourth Saturday of the month.

For more info, go to or call 828.526.9938, ext. 258, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


An exhibition by critically acclaimed fiber artist Cat Chow opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, at The Bascom in Highlands.

Chow, who has been hailed by The New Yorker magazine, will give an artist’s talk during the reception.

“Chow draws on her training in fashion design when making her mixed media pieces; her work incorporates zippers, measuring tapes, fish line, keys, wire and other unusual materials,” said Kaye Gorecki, Bascom artistic director. “It’s a definite don’t-miss.”

The exhibit will run through Oct. 10.

Chow’s art/design work has most often been involved with creation of apparel from non-traditional materials; however, she has expanded her work into other forms of fiber art. She is best known for her garments made from zippers; however, other works such as her Power-Ranger Kimono, made from Power Ranger collector playing cards aim to subvert stereotypical representations of Asian women. The piece Measure for Measure, addresses socio-political issues in the form of a 1950s house dress woven out of measuring tapes.

Her work has been shown across media venues including the Met’s Costume Institute and the Museum at FIT and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston.

Chow will be teaching three classes at The Bascom during the month of September.

“The Repeated Object” (Sept. 8-9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) is a two-day workshop in which students will have the opportunity to create a sculpture that is inspired by the idea of repeated objects. The workshop will include a slide lecture of artists’ work, a demonstration of connecting techniques, sketching and the actual making of a finished piece. Cost is $300 for the general public and $275 for Bascom members.

“The Artist as Collector” (Sept. 10-11, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) gives students the opportunity to create a work inspired by collecting objects or images. Enjoy a slide lecture, class discussion, show-and-tell and the creation of a finished work. Cost is $300 for the general public and $275 for Bascom members.

“Unconventional Adornment” (Sept. 12, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) is designed to guide students to use unconventional materials to make a small wearable object. A slide lecture of artists’ work that incorporates unconventional objects, a demonstration of connecting techniques and the creation of a piece that adorns the body such as a piece of jewelry or an accessory will be the focus of this day. Cost is $175 for the general public and $150 for Bascom members.

All three Chow workshops are offered at $625 for the general public, $600 for Bascom members (includes some materials).

The Bascom’s is located at 323 Franklin Road in Highlands. For more information about classes and events or to sign up for a Cat Chow class, visit or call 828.526.4949.


A five-day search for a lost hiker in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park had a happy ending last week.

What began as a three-night backpacking trip for Morgan Briggs, 70, of Pigeon Forge, turned into an eight-day ordeal.

Briggs became lost his second day on the trail while bushwhacking through rugged and remote terrain on the north face of the Appalachian Trail ridgeline below Charlie’s Bunion, an area characterized by sheer rock cliffs and dense rhododendron. He pitched his tent on a rock outcrop and waited, holding out hope that rescuers would find him. Six days ultimately passed until ground crews spotted what looked like a tent on an outcrop. It was too difficult to reach by foot, but they directed a helicopter to fly over the area. Pilots spotted the tent and Briggs waving his arms, but it was too late in the day to orchestrate a rescue.

They dropped him a park radio to communicate along with provisions to get him through what by then was his seventh night in the woods. Briggs had apparently rationed his food and was able to capture rain water to help sustain him over the course of the week.

While Briggs had shared his hiking itinerary with his family and park rangers when securing his backcountry camping permits, his trip covered considerable distance. When he did not turn up back home on time, there was initially no telling where in his journey he had taken a wrong turn, and therefore where rescuers should start looking. Briggs began his hike in the Greenbrier area and planned to pass over Mt. LeConte before hiking out of the park along Alum Cave trail.

Rangers sought out other hikers who may have encountered Briggs and confirmed that he made it to his campsite the first night but was not seen after that.

Rangers hiked to the trail shelters where Briggs intended to stay his second and third nights — Icewater Springs and Mt. LeConte — and checked the log book to see if he signed it, but he hadn’t.

Briggs had planned to do about two-miles of bushwhacking between his first and second nights on the trail. His campsite the first night and the second night were separated by a whopping 16 miles of trail, but as the crow flies, were only two miles apart. Those two miles called for scaling the north face below Charlie’s Bunion along the Appalachian Trail ridge line. The bushwhacking would have been quite challenging due to very steep terrain and made more so with a loaded pack.

Rangers quickly deduced that they should focus their efforts in the area that Briggs would have departed from the trail. Several search-and-rescue teams set out on possible bushwhacking routes that Briggs may have taken, but off-trail searching proved difficult and time consuming.

On day four of the search, rangers spotted Briggs’ tent, but it was a mile away and couldn’t be reached easily by foot due to rocky cliffs and dense vegetation.

A helicopter, which was already involved in the search, was radioed to the area for a closer look and indeed found Brigg’s perched on a rock outcrop on Porter’s Mountain, a narrow ridge at approximately 5,000 feet in elevation and one mile north of the AT and one mile east of the Icewater Springs shelter.

The next morning, the Tennessee Highway Patrol Special Operations team, flying a Huey helicopter, lifted Briggs in a hoisting seat 250 feet into the hovering helicopter.

Briggs did not need any medical attention and after a debriefing with park rangers, he left with family members.

Briggs is a very familiar with the park’s backcountry and was one of the park’s first Appalachian Trail Ridge Runners, spending months at a time on the 71-mile portion of the AT that traverses the park doing trail maintenance and helping other hikers.


To the Editor:

We’ll start with the 1943 North Shore Road Agreement since that’s what is supposedly being settled. A park road is promised — adustless surface not less than 20 feet in width. Over $10 million has been spent arriving at the conclusion that the road is not going to be built. Instead a financial settlement is the preferred alternative. It would appear that the

settlement is in lieu of the road described in the 1943 Agreement.

Not so. The cost of this road from the EIS is $729 million. The park and Department of Interior consider that amount and that road “not relevant.” The 1943 Agreement is not relevant unless you’re Swain County.

Then the contingency clauses are critical and Swain County is constantly reminded that these clauses are relevant and binding. Would they agree to let Swain County cherry pick from this Agreement? Take what you like, discard the parts you don’t like. Of course not.

Instead they want to pay for the old road that was flooded. That would be cheaper. So now they are looking at how to calculate the 2009 value of old 288. That presents a problem too. In 1980 Secretary of Interior Cecil Andrus calculated the value as being $1.3 million in 1940 and adjusting that value by 5 percent compounded annually he came up with $9.5 million.

That doesn’t sound too bad until you take into account that the average prime interest rate from 1940 to 1980 was 4.92 percent which rounds to 5 percent.

That’s a problem. Interest rates went up. The average prime interest rate from 1940 to 2009 that’s 6.31 percent. Doesn’t sound like much but the settlement amount then becomes $94 million. Can’t do that or talk about inflation or the consumer price index. This also leaves out that the 1980 deal had much more icing for Swain County. Can’t talk about that either.

So how do they get the amount to be lower and still have an alibi claiming to be fair. Well math being what it is, the matter is simple. The starting amount has to be less and the interest rate used has to be less also. The original cost by Swain to build the road was $694,000. That’s still a problem. If we use 6.31 percent for the interest rate it adds up to more than $50 million. They’ll have to use 5 percent for the interest rate and ignore what the rates were since 1980. That’ll do it. Just over $20 million.

Did you miss the slight of hand here. We started out talking about the replacement cost of the road described in the 1943 Agreement and ended up talking about the original construction costs of the old flooded road. Slick huh? Think about it. That’s like a parent telling a teenager who just got their license that they are going to buy them a new Mercedes, then picking up a discarded “cash for clunkers” car that hasn’t been crushed yet and saying here’s your car and it’s all the same.

There is a math lesson in all this. All this math is bogus. Here’s the proof. Take any product you want. Find out what it cost in 1940. Do the magic math then go out and see what it cost today. It won’t matter if it’s a road, car, gas, or toilet paper. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything where today’s price can be calculated using one of these formulas. For the method to be considered valid it should work for most everything.

There are all kinds of problems with this magic math. The value of something is not necessarily what you paid for it. The value is the replacement cost. If someone ran into your car and totaled it, the issue is not what you paid for it. Somebody might have given it to you. The question to be answered is what will it cost to replace it equitably today. What’s the value of the Park? Is it the price the government paid for it plus a dribble of interest or is the value that so many place on it because it cannot be replaced?

Swain County has offered to settle for $52 million. You can’t build 30 miles of any kind of road in this park for this amount. It is a very generous offer. A little common sense here would go a long way.

Leonard Winchester

Bryson City


The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers returns to Western Carolina University at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, with “Let Them Know: The Story of Youth Brigade and BYO Records,” a trip into Los Angeles’ underground punk scene in the late 1970s.

This historical documentary profiles the Stern brothers, who at ages 19 and 20 organized what they hoped would be a more positive take on punk rock. They established a venue where punks ran the door, security, sound and lights, and worked the bar and restaurant. The venue’s success at attracting local, national and international acts helped grow the punk community and solidify the movement.

Shawn and Mark Stern eventually created their own record label and released their own album under the name Youth Brigade. The album earned rave reviews and today is considered to be one of the top 100 punk albums of all time.

Director Jeff Alulis graduated from the University of Southern California’s prestigious graduate screenwriting program in 2002 and shortly thereafter formed Emo Riot Productions alongside co-producer Ryan Harlin. “Let Them Know: The Story of Youth Brigade and BYO Records” is Alulis and Harlin’s second feature-length film collaboration. Alulis will discuss the film with audience members after the screening.

Southern Circuit is the nation’s only regional tour of independent filmmakers, providing communities with an interactive way of experiencing independent film. The goal is to connect audiences with independent filmmakers and encourage them to talk with one another about the films and their meanings. The tour comes to WCU in conjunction with the 2009-10 Lectures, Concerts and Exhibitions Series, which brings a dynamic mix of arts and culture to campus.

The next film in the Southern Circuit series will be “The Way We Get By” on Thursday, Oct. 29. Beginning as a seemingly idiosyncratic story about troop greeters — a group of senior citizens who gather daily at a small airport to thank American soldiers departing and returning from Iraq — the film quickly turns into a moving, unsettling and compassionate story about aging, loneliness, war and mortality.

Additional films in the Southern Circuit Tour include: “Flying on One Engine,” Nov. 19; “TRIMPIN: The Sound of Invention,” Feb. 18; “God’s Architects,” March 25; and “Between Floors,” April 15.

All films are shown in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center on the WCU campus. Admission is free.

For more information about the Southern Circuit Tour, visit and click on the programs and events tab. For more information about film showings at WCU call 828.227.3622.


What’s good for the goose

In his latest letter to the editor in Smoky Mountain News (8/19/09) the Canary Coalition’s executive director, Avram Friedman admonishes us to “stick to factual information” and calls Tonya Bottomley’s range of 40 to 70 acres per turbine, “grossly inaccurate”

Ms. Bottomley’s range is correct even according to American Wind Energy Association’s own figures. “Wind projects occupy anywhere from 28 to 83 acres per megawatt, depending on local terrain, but only 2 to 5 percent of the project area is needed for turbine foundations, roads or other infrastructure.” – AWEA.

But Avram is right – this is grossly inaccurate. AWEA knows this is inaccurate and one would assume that the director of the Canary Coalition knows this. The reason this is grossly inaccurate is because the “megawatt” AWEA is referring to above is the “rated capacity” – that Oz-like figure that emanates from behind the curtain – that means in the perfect windy world, where the wind blows constantly at around 25 m.p.h. or so a 1.5 megawatt turbine would actually produce 1.5 megawatts of electricity. Pull the curtain and there stands the Wiz with his hand on the 28 percent throttle.

The Energy Information Administration notes that the average “capacity factor” (actual amount of electricity turbines supply to the grid per year) for wind is around 28 percent. Which means that wind projects occupy anywhere from 28 to 83 acres per .28 megawatt.

Now there is a caveat. AWEA also states that, “A wind plant located on a ridgeline in hilly terrain will require much less space, as little as two acres per megawatt.” Of course they mean per .28 megawatt and they must be talking about just the footprint of the turbine because I can’t find any actual installation where only 2 acres of land were disturbed per turbine and they’re not including any property-line offsets.

The trade off comes because turbines on ridgelines are strung out singly in a linear progression a la Buffalo Mountain. So instead of a plot or 500-acre parcel of land for 18 turbines you get a 2-mile strip. Avram seems to imply that Buffalo Mountain is a typical site location one would encounter along the ridges of Western North Carolina. I don’t think so, as Buffalo Mountain was already basically cleared – the site of an old strip mine.

And Avram states as fact: “This 29 megawatt project provides enough energy to power 3780 homes according to TVA.” At least he attributes the statement to TVA. But he knows better. TVA knows better too and even admits, “The new turbines are expected to have a capacity factor of 28 percent because the towers are 49 feet taller. The low capacity factor is related to the availability of the wind resource in the Southeast.” (

Remember 29 megawatts is the rated capacity. TVA admits they will only produce 28 percent of this rated capacity. So if you wanted to put it on a per home basis (which you really can’t do) you would be looking at 1,058.4 homes. Not the 3,780 stated as factual information.

And to put this in perspective let’s look at an actual forested ridgeline wind farm. Mountaineer wind farm in West Virginia consists of 44 turbines stretched along a 50-foot wide newly constructed service road that runs for 4 to 5 miles. Approximately 5 acres of forest were cleared per turbine.

In one of Avram’s previous, letters to the editor, he noted that the ridgelines of Western North Carolina could produce 1,000 megawatts (rated capacity) of power. Any idea how much area TVA estimates would be required to produce 1,000 megawatts (rated capacity) or 280 megawatts (capacity factor) of actual electricity?

“For instance, one 1000 megawatt nuclear unit requires 1,000 acres. It would take 12,160 acres of wind turbines, or 23,760 acres of solar panels to generate the equivalent amount of energy as the single 1000 megawatt nuclear unit.”

I salute Avram’s desire to stick to factual information regarding wind power. A good place to start would be replacing rated capacity with capacity factor and let’s talk about the actual electricity produced.


A free composting workshop will be held next week by the N.C. Cooperative Extension in Jackson and Swain counties.

Learn more about acceptable materials for composting, types of structures, preparing and maintaining your compost pile, temperatures, carbon to nitrogen ratios, water requirements, types of worms, bedding, proper food scraps, worm bins, harvesting the compost and worms and ideas for troubleshooting.

Dates are from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the Jackson Extension Center in Sylva, or from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Swain Extension Center in Almond.

828.488.3848 or 828.586.4009.


Witness the fall migration of monarch butterflies and learn about their spectacular 3,000-mile journey from naturalists with Wild South during a special monarch viewing day at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The orange and black butterflies travel in massive groups and are passing through the region en route to the mountains of Mexico. Monarchs depend largely on milkweed and follow its trail as it blooms. The same butterfly does not make the entire journey, but instead reproduces along the migration route, with each consecutive generation resuming the journey where their parent left off.

Meet at Milepost 412 along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County, near the intersection with U.S. 276. Bring a lunch, water, binoculars, camera, a camp chair and sunscreen. This event is free and suitable for all ages.

RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 828.258.2667. Check out for more information on monarch migration.


Visitors to Gorges State Park will have the opportunity to get a close look at two peregrine falcons, Seymour and Zelda Suri, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2.

Seymour and Zelda are cared for by trainer Peter Kipp-Dupont, a licensed master falconer and raptor rehabilitator. He has trained birds of prey for 40 years.

The peregrine falcon was saved from extinction, recovering from only 40 known breeding pairs in the nation in 1970 to an estimated 1,800 breeding pairs today.

The Grassy Ridge trailhead can be reached by turning south off of U.S. 64 on to N.C. 281 South to the park entrance. The parking lot is one mile from the entrance.


A performance depicting John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt called the “The Tramp and the Roughrider” will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8, at the Highlands Playhouse.

Journey back to May 1903 to an evening around the campfire in Yosemite Valley with Roosevelt and Muir, America’s best-known conservationist. Hear them spar over environmental and wilderness issues. Enjoy their amazing adventure stories. Witness the conversations that helped lead Roosevelt to establish 200 million acres of wilderness, five new national parks and 65 wildlife preserves during his presidency.

The performance is hosted by the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance and serves as a fundraiser for the organization.

Lee Stetson has been the Voice of John Muir for over 25 years and was featured in the acclaimed Ken Burns documentary “National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” Joe Wiegland has been reprising Theodore Roosevelt for six years and performed at the White House in 2008 in honor of Roosevelt’s 150th birthday. 

$35. 828.526.0890, ext. 320 or

To see the performance in Asheville on Oct. 7 instead, contact Western North Carolina Alliance at or 828.258.8737.


The Chief’s Challenge, a 2-mile race in Cherokee, will be held 2:45 p.m. on Oct. 5 to benefit the Madison Hornbuckle Children’s Cancer Foundation

“I challenge all runners and walkers to join me in this benefit run, which will help children and their families in the fight against cancer. Madison Hornbuckle was a special young lady who fought this fight and we honor her memory through the work of this foundation,” Principal Chief Michell Hicks said.

The run/walk will start at the Cherokee Council House and end at the Urgent Care building. It will take place prior to the Cherokee Indian Fair Parade.

Registration begins 8:30 a.m. at the Cherokee Tribal Council House and will end at noon. $10 registration fee. The first 200 participants will get a free Cancer Foundation wristband and T-shirt.

828.497.1970 or 828.497.1976 or 828. 497.1971.


The Power of Pink race will be held in Haywood County on Saturday, Oct. 30, to raise money for mammograms for women who otherwise can’t afford them. There is a five-woman relay race, a four-mile individual run, and a fun run/walk as part of the event.

The Haywood Regional Medical Center Foundation and the Haywood County Health Department sponsor the annual event. Since 2007, the event has funded 269 mammograms and related procedures for 219 women.

The goal this year is to raise $25,000 and attract 40 teams for the relay and 300 individuals for the Pink 4-Mile race. One relay team provides the funding to allow two women to receive mammograms.

Cost for a relay team is $200, the 4-mile run for men and women is $25, and the Bubble Gum Fun Run/Walk is $10 for adults and $5 for ages 12 and younger. or


The Cradle of Forestry annual fall festival will celebrate the rich forest heritage of Western North Carolina with the traditions of mountain living and woodcraft from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2.

More than 30 traditional craftsmen, exhibitors and musicians will be on the grounds demonstrating old-timey ways.

Living history interpreters will share weaving, open hearth cooking, candle making, creating corn husk dolls, basket making, instrument making and wood carving.

People can try their own hand at using a cross-cut saw, rolling a log, casting a fly rod or operating a potter’s wheel.

Live music will play from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Cradle of Forestry is located four miles south of Blue Ridge Parkway on U.S. 276 in the Pisgah National Forest. $6 for adults; $3 for youth 15 and under. 828.877.3130 or


Lumberjacks — and lumberjills — will chop, saw and axe their way to the finish line during the Intercollegiate Woodsmen’s Meet held at the Cradle of Forestry on Saturday, Oct. 2.

Competitions include axe throw, cross cut saw, pole climb, axe chop, and log rolling. Woodsmen will also battle to see who can start a fire and bring a pot of water to a boil first. There are also chainsaw and archery contests.

Haywood Community College Woodsmen’s Team is the host of the competition. There will be four other colleges in the meet, including N.C. State University, Penn State and Virginia Tech. STIHL is the sponsor of the competition.

The Cradle of Forestry is located four miles south of Blue Ridge Parkway on U.S. 276 in the Pisgah National Forest. $6 for adults; $3 for youth 15 and under. 828.877.3130 or


Participants in the recent Farm to School workshop at Shelton Family Farms in Jackson County whipped up salsa using farm-fresh produce from the fields.

Participants learned about creating school gardens, farm field trips, classroom cooking and getting locally grown food into the cafeterias. The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project hosted the workshop.


A seed swap and plant exchange will be held at the Jackson County Farmers Market in downtown Sylva from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 2.

Gardeners should bring seed that they have saved from their non-hybrid vegetables or flowers, bulbs for fall planting, as well as perennial plants that need to be divided. Label everything, and in the case of flowers, it is helpful to give the color and height of the parent plant.

If you don’t have any seeds or plants to exchange, you can participate in exchange for a donation to the Farmers Market.


Susan Gregg Gilmore, author of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, will read from her new novel, The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.

In the novel, Gilmore draws readers into the precarious childhood and complicated life of poor little rich girl Bezillia Grove, whose path winds through some of the South’s darkest woods — race, class, insanity.



Blue Ridge Book Fest: A Regional Author Festival will take place from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville.

Twenty authors from the region will be in the store to meet readers and discuss their books, including Fred Wooldridge, Mary Messer, Bill Swarts, Micheal Rivers, Matt Baker, John Malone, Kathryn Magendie, Louise Nelson, Curtis Blanton, JC Walkup, Michael Beadle, Peter Yurko, Julia Hughes Jones, Gwen Suesse, Mindi Friedwald, Dawn Cusick, Lawrence Thackston, Bob Plott, George Ivey and Bill King. Their books include fiction, history, humor, poetry, memoir and children’s books.

The book fest is planned as a biannual event.



Dianna K. Klingel will be signing her book, Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7, at Chapter 2 Books in Cashiers. Ten percent of the sales will be donated to animal shelters operated by the Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society and Friends for Life.

Just for the Moment is amazing moments of connections when the therapy dog touches the human soul and healing happens, even if it is only for that moment. The stories are humorous, insightful, inspiring and memorable.

Learn how ordinary pets become therapy dogs, and how they weave their small miracles every day.



Showcase your culinary skills, treat your taste buds, and support a good cause 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Maggie Valley Club. The culinary event is sponsored by Haywood Habitat for Humanity (HHGH).

Bring a favorite food sufficient to provide a small taste for 50 people and participate in the culinary competition to include “Best Appetizer,” “Best Dessert,” and “Best Presentation of ‘A Taste of Fall.’” Don’t want to bring food? Come as a taster. Every attendee will sample the entries and vote to select the prized winners.

Cost is  $25 a person when bringing a favorite food for the competition, or $50 a person to attend as a taster.  The event will also include a silent auction. Recipes of all entries will be posted on

All proceeds will be donated to HHFH to support the ongoing mission to eliminate substandard housing. HHFH partners with low income families to build affordable housing through no-profit loans.  

Checks should be made out to Haywood Habitat for Humanity and mailed with or without recipes to Haywood Habitat, PO Box 283, Waynesville, N.C., 28786. For information call the Habitat office at 828.452.7960.


The Marianna Black Library in Bryson City is hosting its Second Annual “Life in Swain” amateur photography contest.

All photographs must be taken in Swain County. They may be of buildings, landscapes, nature shots, locally known locations, but the winning photos will highlight what makes Swain County unique.

The contest is open to all ages and will be divided into two groups: Adults 16 years and older and the Junior division with ages 15 and under.

Rules for the contest and entry forms will be available for pickup at the library beginning Oct. 1. Entries may be turned in beginning Oct. 4 through 13.  Entrants may submit up to three photographs. Entry fee will be $10 for the first photograph and $5 for each additional one. All entry monies will be used for prizes.

Photos will be on display at the Marianna Black Library until Oct. 30. The winning photographs will be showcased during the month of November. A panel of three local artists will judge the contest.



Celebrate Hispanic heritage in Western North Carolina from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Aging Community Center in Sylva.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in recognition of the historical and cultural contributions of Hispanic Americans. The annual observance is now a 31-day period beginning on Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15.

Prepare yourself for authentic food cooked up by chefs from a range of Central and South American countries; a salsa dance workshop; activities planned for the children, educational experiences, and dancing to diverse Latin American music.

Cooks from Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia and Venezuela are all lined up to make lots of food. Local Mexican folkloric dance groups will also perform. Last year, 400 people attended.

Sponsored by Bridging Jackson Communities, a nonprofit organization, along with student volunteers from Smoky Mountain High School, Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University.

Suggested donation of $5 for adults; kids under 10 are free.


Haywood Arts Regional Theatre’s next production is a crowd-pleaser that is sure to get feet tapping and may lead to dancing in the aisles.

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” debuted in the West End in London in 1989 and ran to packed houses for nearly 15 years. “Buddy” traces the musician’s career from his first appearance on KDAV radio in Lubbock, Texas in 1957 to his tragic death in a plane crash in February 1959 and along the way treats audiences to a series of hits.

The show concludes with Holly’s final concert at the Winter Dance Party in the Surf Ballroom in Clearlake, Iowa, and includes the songs of J.P Richardson, also known as The Big Bopper and Richie Vallens.

In 1957, recording artists were usually limited to four singles per year. Holly racked up 15 gold records in 15 months and recorded a lot more with his backup group, The Crickets.

Holly became a major influence in the music of The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and many others. Shortly before going on the Winter Dance Party tour Holly broke up with The Crickets and went out on his own.

On Feb. 2, 1959, he boarded a chartered plane along with Richardson and Vallens. The plane crashed, killing all aboard shortly after take off. For fans of rock ‘n roll, it was the day the music died. That same year Elvis Presley went into the U.S. Army.

HART’s production of “Buddy” is being directed by Steve Lloyd and has a cast that includes Mark Jones as Holly, Strother Stingley as The Big Bopper, Chris Rodriguez as Richie Vallens and Trevor Perry as Fats Domino.

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” will have performances at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays from now through October 17.

$22 adults, $20 seniors, Student/child $10 with special $5 discount tickets for students for Thursday and Sunday performances.

Box Office Hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. 828.456.6322 or


Country music star Jeff Bates will perform 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, at Eaglenest Entertainment.

Jeff Bates doesn’t cherry pick his life for the high spots. Whether he’s writing or singing a song, he’s always emotionally honest. A native of Mississippi, Bates signed with RCA Records in 2002. That association yielded two albums: “Rainbow Man” in 2003 and “Leave The Light On” in 2006 plus seven charted singles: “The Love Song,” “Rainbow Man,” “I Wanna Make You Cry,” “Long, Slow Kisses,” “Good People,” “No Shame” and “One Second Chance.”

The stories of his adoption, meth addiction and jail time have been bared honestly for the media and country music fans, but there’s so much more to the man that Jeff Bates has become.

The album captures snapshots of what’s most important to him: strong family ties, the love of a good woman, appreciation for the workin’ man, and his unfailing religious beliefs – all buffered with a quick smile and sense of humor. Overall, it’s a body of work filled with surprising insights and intimate confessions told in Bates’ own rich voice.

Tickets available at box office from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or at 828.926.9658.


An exuberant celebration of Russian heritage takes the stage at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University.

The Massenkoff Russian Folk Festival, part of WCU’s 2010-11 Galaxy of Stars Series, features traditional music, song and dance. A balalaika ensemble performs folk, gypsy and classical music on authentic instruments and in traditional costume.

Nikolai Massenkoff, born in a White Russian community in Shanghai and placed in an orphanage at age 3, leads the troupe. Massenkoff arrived in San Francisco at age 12 and eventually studied speech, music and drama. Inspired by love of his Russian heritage, he founded the group in 1975. A bass-baritone, he has performed throughout the United States and around the world at venues including Carnegie Hall; the Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea; and Epcot.

On Friday, Oct. 22, Western Carolina University will mark five years of art and entertainment at the Fine and Performing Arts Center. The gala will begin at 6 p.m. with an outdoor cocktail reception. 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,” a theatrical revue of songs by George and Ira Gershwin. Tickets are available in several price tiers and are on sale now.

Tickets for the Massenkoff Russian Folk Festival are $25 for adults; $20 for senior citizens and WCU faculty and staff; and $5 for children and students.

828.227.2479 or


The world premiere of Gary Carden’s “Signs and Wonders” and a special performance of “The Bright Forever” will take place at The Performing Arts Center in Highlands. Both plays will be presented starting 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, and Saturday, Oct. 2; and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3.

Along with the performances of Carla Gates as Shelby Jean in “Signs and Wonders” and Shirley Williams as Fanny Crosby in “The Bright Forever,” Carden will exhibit some of his “stories” that have been put to canvas.

John Williams researched and arranged the music for this production.

“The music that comes to us from Appalachia often times is difficult to determine its origin,” Williams said. “‘Signs and Wonders,’ also referred to as ‘I Believe in Being Ready,’ is such a piece. Gary Carden’s most recent play has taken bits and pieces of the lyrics from this very old gospel hymn and intertwined it throughout the monologue.”

In “The Bright Forever,” Fanny Crosby continues to inspire the Christian community to this day although she died in 1915. Although blind, she is known to have written over eight thousand hymns and volumes of poetry.

The production is a joint project between the Highlands Cashiers Players and the Performing Arts Center in Highlands.

$20. 828.526.9047.


A Fall Craft Festival will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, at the Old Mill 1886 in Cherokee.

Artists from all over the Southeast will gather to demonstrate and sell their handcrafted works. Artists will include wood carvers, blacksmith, stone carver, Pow Wow traders, quilters, gourd and stained glass artists, jewelry designers, Appalachian crafters and authors. The festival will also feature live music and mouthwatering BBQ.

Step into The Old Mill and you step back into an era from the past. You will find a country store chock full with fresh ground cornmeal, preserves, country ham, stone ground grits, chow chow, local honey and cider.

The 1930s room is stocked with handcrafted items from more than 70 Cherokee artists, soy candles, local made soap and china. In the 1886 room, treasure hunters will find antiques and one of a kind items.

Bring your chair and plan to stay awhile.

The Old Mill 1886 is located one mile south of Cherokee at 3082 U.S. 441.

Admission is free.



Talented artists and crafters from all over the Southeast will sell their handmade products and offer demonstrations at The Maggie Valley October Leaves Craft Show. The show takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, and Sunday, Oct. 10, at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds.

Available artwork will include pottery, photography, hand-painted murals, stained glass, jewelry from gemstones to polymer clay bead art, dichroic glass designers, floral arrangements, wood turners, wood crafter products including fretwork and scrolling, crocheted and knitted items, homemade jams and jellies, artful clothing, leather and deerskin pouches, kitchen accessories, quilts of all sizes, soy candles and soaps and much more.

In addition to crafts, this annual event will feature piped music throughout the day.

Admission is free. or 828.497.9425.


Enjoy a fine array of arts and crafts originating in the mountains at the Church Street Art & Craft Show, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, in downtown Waynesville.

Held during the height of the color season in the heart of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, the Church Street Art & Craft Show attracts more than 20,000 visitors. More than 120 juried artists and crafters and food vendors from throughout the southeast will line Waynesville’s Main Street to help celebrate the festival.

What began as a small gathering of artists and crafters on Church Street, the event has grown into one of the finest one-day shows in Western North Carolina. A juried show, the 27th annual Church Street Art and Craft Show will showcase two- and three- dimensional art. Art includes colored-pencil, oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastels; porcelain; sculpture, pottery, woodworking, weaving, basketry, quilting, handmade jewelry and wearable art.

There will be art and craft demonstrations, professional mountain music and dance, and international and local foods. Entertainment includes Whitewater Bluegrass, Balsam Range, Honey Holler, Montreat Pipes and Drums, Southern Appalachian Cloggers, Dixie Darlings, Green Valley Cloggers, Fines Creek Flatfooters, Ashegrove Garland Dancers, Randy Orwig, the Living Statue and Mr. Tom, the Balloon Man., 828.456.3517 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Theater students from Western Carolina University will present a light look at relationships with “Romantic Fools” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 6 to 9, in Niggli Theatre.

With influences including Monty Python, the Marx Brothers, “Saturday Night Live” and classic vaudeville, “Romantic Fools,” by Rich Orloff, comprises 12 two-character shorts with topics from blind dates to the frustrations of having a perfect mate.

The play stars WCU students, and Peter Savage, a faculty member in the School of Stage and Screen, will direct. While a comedy, the play is for mature audiences.

“Romantic Fools” is the first in the new Niggli Series, featuring intimate, contemporary plays all staged in the Niggli Theatre, located in the Stillwell Building.

$15 adult, $10 senior and WCU employees, and $5 student. Tickets available at the door or in advance at the box office of the Fine and Performing Arts Center. 828.227.2479 or


Enjoy family friendly fun with this year’s Cherokee Indian Fair which runs from Oct. 5-9 at the Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds in Cherokee.

Expect top-notch nightly entertainment, fireworks, a carnival midway full of rides and games, craft vendors, food vendors — including some featuring traditional Cherokee food — and an exhibit hall displaying the Eastern Band enrolled members’ traditional and contemporary arts and crafts.

Visitors will also have a chance to see a comedy show, gospel music, and a host of family-friendly competitions such as blowgun, longbow and compound bow archery contests and wood chopping.

This year’s concert lineup is star-packed as Starship headlines Saturday night’s concert with special guest Jimi Jamison of Survivor. Tone Loc appears Wednesday night. Big House Radio performs Tuesday; The Return, a Beatles tribute band, performs Thursday; Appetite for Destruction, a Guns-n-Roses tribute band, will perform Friday.

The fair began as a way for members of the Eastern Band to showcase their arts and crafts and invite neighboring communities to the Qualla Boundary, the tribe’s traditional homeland. The fair has grown since its early days, but its original focus remains — to showcase the Cherokees’ remarkable culture and heritage.


The schedule

A parade at 4 p.m. Oct. 5 kicks off the annual five-day fete.

Oct. 6 is Children’s Day and features fun games like potato-sack racing, trout fishing and crafting for the little ones.

On Oct. 7, the Elders are honored with free admission for attendees 59 ½ and older until 5 p.m., and activities include bingo and clogging. Cherokee Idol kicks off at 8 p.m.

Oct. 8 is dedicated to veterans, and all veterans and active-duty military personnel will receive free admission until 5 p.m.

Community Day on Oct. 9 features a horseshoe tournament and contests for the longest hair, baby crawling, clogging and corn shucking.

The fair wraps up on Oct. 9 with musical performances Starship with special guest Jimi Jamison of Survivor at 8:30 p.m. and a booming grand finale of fireworks at 10 p.m.

The fair opens at 10 a.m. each day. $10 including nightly concerts. Children six and younger admitted free.


A one-day natural dye workshop with instructor Cassie Dickson will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Jackson County Green Energy Park in Dillsboro.

Students will learn the processes for using native plant and natural materials to dye wool yarns in the colors of red, yellow, and blue. Once those colors have been achieved, over-dyeing may be done to create secondary colors like teals, greens, oranges and purples.

The Green Energy Park will use renewable energy — methane from the old Dillsboro landfill — to heat the water for the dye pots. At the end of the day you will leave with six beautifully dyed skeins of yarn and the skills needed to dye at home.

Instructor Dickson is a traditional pattern weaver who specializes in the weaving of coverlets and has been spinning, natural dyeing and weaving for over 30 years. She also raises silk worms for silk and processes flax into linen cloth.  

$50. 828.631.0271.


Celebrate national American Craft Week with the “Hand + Craft: A Jackson County Celebration” exhibit, which runs until Oct. 24.

Opening night will be from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, at Gallery One in Sylva.

More than a dozen Jackson County craft artists will show a variety of work including metal, wood, clay, fiber, and mixed media. American Craft Week is a national event that celebrates the best of today’s handcrafted artwork. October is also North Carolina’s official Craft Month.

Featured artists include:

• Photographer and Gallery One manager Tim Lewis has created a new line of photo-printed textiles made into scarves.

• Cullowhee textile artist Neal Howard will showcase hand-dyed, handwoven silk scarves and wraps.

• Whittier mother-daughter team Emily Hyatt and Victoria Hyatt Sowers create a variety of rugs and tapestries on historic 200-year-old “barn looms.”

Other artists showing work are metalsmith William Rogers; weavers Kathie Roig and Susan Morgan Leveille; potters Travis Berning, Frank McKee, Joan Byrd and George Rector; woodworkers Bill Hyatt, David Nestler and Chris Behre; and mixed media artist and exhibit organizer Anna Fariello.

American Craft Week is a celebration sponsored by

Contact Fariello at 828.227.2499 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To reach Gallery One and the Jackson County Arts Council call 828.293.5458.


For a pleasant evening of art, music, food, shopping and more, check out downtown Sylva from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, for the next Sylva After Dark. This event takes place the first Friday of each month from May to December.

• It’s by Nature: October’s featured artist Tara Melton-Miller will be demonstrating Kumihimo, an ancient Japanese form of elaborate braiding done through a wooden stand or stool. The extraordinary colors, patterns, and textures of kumihimo braids are incorporated onto handcrafted mixed media backgrounds. Musical guest is Robin Whitley. Wine and cheese will be served.

• In conjunction with the national American Craft Week, Jackson County artists are hosting the exhibition, “Hand + Craft: A Jackson County Celebration” at Gallery One.  Sponsored by the Jackson County Arts Council.

• A retrospective of landscape, portrait and figurative works will show at the new James Smythe Studio, found upstairs on 563 West Main Street. Some paintings are for mature audiences only. 

• The Wilderness Society will host an evening of poetry and art featuring the “Dreams and Distillations” series of Rabun County artist Honor Woodard and local poets Thomas Rain Crowe and Laurence Holden.

• Susan Gregg Gilmore, author of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, reads from her new novel, The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove, starting 7 p.m. at City Lights Bookstore.  

• Best music from the ‘70s and ‘80s by Not Even Brothers, at The Village at Sapphire Mountain Brewing Company.

• Live music at Spring Street Café and every Friday and Saturday evenings.

• Food and beer pairing from 5 to 8 p.m. at Heinzelmannchen Brewery.

• Bread tasting from 5 to 8 p.m. at Annie’s Bakery. Toasted whole wheat walnut bread topped with Annie’s scrumptious pumpkin butter and Smoky Mountain Roaster’s Pumpkin Spice coffee.


Enjoy a stroll through working studios and galleries on Waynesville’s Main Street, Depot Street and in Historic Frog Level during Art After Dark  from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1.

Art After Dark takes place the first Friday of each month from May through December. Festive flags will identify participating galleries.

• Visit Historic Frog Level to see ceramic artist Cathey Bolton-Moore create handmade dinnerware, including large show pieces for the home and ceramic jewelry, at Art on Depot.

• Metal sculptor Grace Cathey will weld a Ruffled Grouse from Oct. 1 to 9 at Grace Cathey Sculpture Garden.

• Gallery 86 presents the Haywood Open Studios Tour artist exhibit just in time for the weekend tour Oct. 2 to 3. The gallery show runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1. It features representative works by more than thirty artists on the Studio Tour. or 828.452.0593.

• Textures Gallery will feature the paintings of Noah Desmond with music by Karen “Sugar” Barnes and Dave Magill,who’ll be singing the blues. Enjoy specialty desserts. or 828.452.9284.


This weekend, doors to one private studio after another in Haywood County will be flung wide open to everyone curious enough to venture in.

During the two-day Haywood Open Studios Tours, visitors get an intimate glimpse into the studios and galleries where local artists create their stunning pieces. Tour-goers will also witness live art demonstrations at participating studios and galleries.

To coincide with the Haywood Open Studios Tour, Gallery 86 will host a show featuring work by each tour artist until Saturday, Oct. 16.

Participants can see and purchase examples of the artists’ work, pick up a map, and make plans for visiting the studios and galleries during the tour weekend.

Tour maps containing artist studio and gallery information are available now at Gallery 86 as well as other locations throughout the area including Visitor’s Centers on I-26 and I-40.

Visit for information.


Mark your calendar

The 5th Annual Haywood Open Studios Tour will give the public a peek at local artists’ studios from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, and from noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3. The tour weekend kicks off with a preview show and artist’s reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, at Gallery 86 in Waynesville. HOST is presented by The Haywood County Arts Council.


Featured artists

Jo Ridge Kelley • Waynesville
“Nature’s beauty and power have been my muses since I was a child. I paint not only to capture those fleeting moments of light and shadow across the landscape, but to create in the viewer the emotional response I experience in nature.”

Susan Livengood • Waynesville
Susan has been a potter, jewelry designer, llama trekker, landscape designer, and innkeeper. Since she and her husband sold their inn in 2005, she has been able to focus on painting and writing again.

Grace Cathey • Waynesville
Grace’s daily experiences with the beauty of nature around her are translated into her metal sculpture, leaving a bit of her spirit in each piece.

Cathey Bolton • Waynesville
Cathey’s pottery balances both the natural and structural world to complete functional vibrant pottery that evokes her love of nature and architecture in every unique handmade piece.

Veronica Von Zwehl • Waynesville
Veronica is an award winning fiber artist creating art quilts and original wall hangings featuring a uniquely creative combination of color, texture and value. Her inspiration comes from the structures, patterns, shapes and shadings found in nature.

John Gernandt • Waynesville
Following the pathway established by both his great-grandfather and grandfather, he’s been building furniture for 30 years. Making furniture has widened his perspective on art history and his appreciation for the furniture masters of the past.

Suzanne Gernandt • Waynesville
As a textile artist, Suzanne painstakingly weaves her fabrics, then delights in dying, cutting, painting, embroidering and reassembling them into elaborate textile masterpieces.

Allen Davis • Waynesville
Allen’s work has value for buyers because he focuses on function. “Creating artful, one-of-a-kind items from nature’s bounty with a utilitarian purpose seems to be the best of both worlds: practical yet beautiful works of art.”

Main Street Artists Co-Op • Waynesville
Twenty-one artists are featured at the Co-Op: Char Avrunin, Nancy Howell Blevins, Gretchen Clasby, Jeanne Colburn, George Dixon, Pam Haddock, Rebecca Hellman, Sandy Lampl, Steve Lampl, Steve McMahan, Anita Painter, Terance Painter, Margaret Roberts, Lynne Rose, Sharon Smith, Bill Smith, David Stone, Carolyn Taylor, Terry Thompson, Dan Wright and Wendy Wright.

Desmond Suarez • Canton
Desmond creates a variety of crafts, from Shaker inspired wood furniture and clocks to handmade candles, each made with the motto of creating “simply the best.”

Kim Ross: Sleeping Stones Gallery • Waynesville
“Pottery is an integral part of my life. As a youth I enjoyed warm summer days playing in the mud, making shapes. Now I am living my dream. I specialize in hand-built and
wheel-thrown pottery using different clay bodies and an array of glaze colors.”

Liz Spear • Waynesville
“I weave cloth using cotton and rayon mill end yarns, then cut and sew functional, classic garments, appropriate for office or casual wear. My designs are a combination of original and commercial patterns.”

Nancy Dunn Lawrence • Waynesville
Nancy works in her home studio with all the things she enjoys most: colors, pattern, paper, threads, words, and the beauty of mountains and lake outside her door. She believes that every beautiful thing makes the world a little better.

Laurel Tewes • Canton
Laurel enjoys the challenge of painting murals. “They are triple the difficulty of painting on canvas. They must look good close up as well as far away.”

Mari Conneen • Waynesville
“In my work I visualize an imaginary line and combine the line with fragments of imagination, thoughts and objects, often strengthening or quieting that line by transforming one medium into another.”

Deborah Bartz: Haywood Fiber Arts Program • Waynesville
The Fiber Arts program is part of the Professional Crafts Program at Haywood Community College. The fiber program encourages original design in all areas of product development and production. “We strive to create products that show the beauty of everyday objects.”

Theodore Dake: MotoFab Metalworks • Waynesville
Ted’s 25-year metal working career has encompassed everything from submarine parts to widgets. His recent move to the mountains has inspired his creative side. His plasma cut metal art reflects the country lifestyle and is colored with various patinas and stains to create unique textures on the metal surfaces.

Gretchen Clasby • Waynesville
Gretchen has been a full-time artist and gallery owner for more than 40 years. Working in watercolors and acrylics, her favorite subjects are children, birds, flowers and small wildlife.


To the Editor:

Sediment in our streams is our biggest water quality threat. Everyone takes notice when more than $150,000 of our tax dollars are spent (the other $150,000 comes from the Assembly) to dig out Lake Junaluska, but every year our drinking water sources are polluted, fish growth and reproduction are damaged, and our stream habitats are destroyed when sediment from construction sites, agriculture, and quarries wash into our streams.

This practice is against the law and the French Broad Riverkeeper and the Western North Carolina Alliance are training volunteers through the Muddy Water Watch program to help clean up our waterways from this serious pollutant.

The MWW program is currently working to clean up the consistent discharge of sediment from the Harrison Quarry into Allen’s Creek, a tributary that leads into Lake Junaluska. The quarry is applying for a permit to expand its operation, but the community around this mine, the West Waynesville Environmental Protection Group, and the Western North Carolina Alliance believe the quarry needs to protect the neighboring community and environment. Learn more about this at

Hartwell Carson

French Broad Riverkeeper

Ryan Griffith

Community Outreach Manager,

Western North Carolina Alliance


To the Editor:

Last week, Mr. Ron Robinson of Jackson County quoted a statistic in support of re-electing our county commissioners; our property tax rate is one of the lowest at 28 cents per $100 of valuation (“Incumbents are best for commissioner seats,” Sept. 22, Smoky Mountain News, But, there is much more to this story.

What he didn’t talk about was the fact that our property tax rate used to be at 26 cents before it went up to 28 cents. He didn’t mention that our county’s solvency or our ability to pay our long-term debt obligations has taken a nosedive of 30 points from a high in 2007 ( 

The more important statistic we should look at from the report created by the N.C. Treasurer is the county’s overall financial performance and how much it has improved or gotten worse. Ours has plummeted in the last three years from about 18 percent down to 2 percent for 2009. In fact, if you look at our performance compared to our peers — Macon, Haywood and Swain — we have fallen 35 percent, which is the highest possible percent of change that is even measured by the N.C. Treasury Department. These numbers do not support Mr. Robinson’s argument to re-elect our county commissioners.

Our property tax rate might be low, but more importantly it went up. The statement that we have one of the lowest rates is just another way of saying we are one of the poorest counties (with the highest paid upper-level county employees, specifically, our county manager). Remember that our tax rate went up, and remember that our highest paid county employees got a million dollar raise during a time when our financial performance was sinking.  

Also, those pay raises went against the $25,000 research results from the Mercer Group. But the most disturbing fact is that the Mercer group reported that it was our lower-level employees who were not paid enough. The same people that gave themselves the big pay raises, trashed the research and took away the measly 2 percent cost-of-living raises from the underpaid employees. That is not fair, is not right, and is not just. It’s right next door to “low-down.”

Lastly, as for the new ordinances, when have you ever seen a county ordinance enforced? That’s a non-issue. I don’t know all the people running in the election yet, but at this moment I’m thinking that I’m just going to vote against ALL the incumbents. It couldn’t get much worse than it is now. Surely.

Lindsey Dean

Huntsville, Ala. (Jackson County native)


By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist

Two years ago, America’s newest political superstar, Barack Obama, walked across campaign stages to thunderous applause. Today he is the object of derision from fellow Democrats fighting for their political lives.

“When you are wrong, you are wrong!,” says West Virginia’s Gov. Joe Manchin, the Democrat candidate for the U.S. Senate. He disagrees with the president on “issues that we believe in dearly in West Virginia.” The governor opposes the Cap and Trade bill, and criticizes his party’s “wasteful spending.”

Manchin’s efforts to distance himself from the White House epitomize Gov. Haley Barbour’s (R-Miss.) observation that Democrats were running from Obama “like scalded dogs.”  

Others, too numerous to list here, have detached themselves from Obama. These Democrats know Obama’s coattails were sheared after Obama-backed candidates in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts fell before Republicans. Even after these defeats, the Democrats’ super majorities in Congress gave him big legislative victories, Obama-Care being the greatest prize. Now the political bill has come due, and the cost is very dear.

Some powerful congressional Democrats saw the writing on the wall and retired — Sens. Chris Dodd, Conn., and Evan Bayh, Ind., and Rep. David Obey, Wis., among them. Powerful members who chose to stay in the race — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,  Nev., and his colleagues  Barbara Boxer, Calif., and Russ Feingold, Wis., face formidable opponents.

What explains this change in political fortunes?  

More voters now understand what Obama meant by “hope and change” but reject it. However, a more comprehensive answer lies in understanding the transformation within the country’s conservative ranks.


Many conservatives felt let down after the GOP’s humiliations in 2006 and 2008. The fallen party had lost its way as it dispensed earmarks and spent money. A year ago, I wrote that many considered a new party combining the energies of independents and other disaffected groups to find a way out of the nation’s morass. But a third party did not come to pass. Instead, the GOP had a house cleaning.

Conservatives coalesced into various Tea Party groups and similar organizations like Haywood’s 9-12 movement. Many put their energies to work within the Republican infrastructure, which is essential to conservative victories. Their message was clear: get back to conservative basics — the principles of limited government and fiscal restraint. Sarah Palin gave liberal pundits heartburn as her endorsements catapulted challengers to primary victories.

Veteran GOP politicians who strayed from a starboard course met defeat. In Delaware, Christine O’Donnell’s victory over nine-term Rep. Mike Castle for the U.S. Senate nomination was the most recent.

Incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a member of an established political family, fell in the Alaskan Republican primary to Joe Miller. In Utah three-term Republican Sen. Robert Bennett was denied re-nomination by his party’s state convention.

In response to the political season, Republican House Leader John Boehner has announced  “A Pledge to America” that will control spending, create jobs, repeal and replace Obama-Care, and maintain American security (see

The North Carolina GOP has announced a policy platform for winning control of the General Assembly.  Boiled down, the platform pledges fiscal responsibility, exemption from the mandates of Obama-Care, encouragement of private-sector job growth, a lifting of the cap on charter schools and property rights  protected by an Eminent Domain constitutional amendment. An “Honest Election Act” will require a valid photo ID to vote, and integrity in government will be restored. (See  


Close to home, the battle wages intensely. Congressman Heath Shuler, who voted for Obama’s Cap and Trade bill, avoided open town hall meetings with his constituents. The man who voted twice to seat Nancy Pelosi as speaker is facing a challenge from Hendersonville businessman Jeff Miller who offers a common sense conservative approach to governing.

Sens. Joe Sam Queen and John Snow, whose districts cover Haywood County, are in a fight for political survival. Ralph Hise, Spruce Pine’s mayor, and Jim Davis, Macon county commissioner, challenge the incumbents’ failure to improve the region’s economy and will pursue more jobs and adherence to traditional values.

In the Haywood districts for the N.C. House, Sam Edwards and Dodie Allen challenge Ray Rapp and Phil Haire, veteran legislators who have served as taxes rose and state budgets swelled. Edwards and Allen have promised strict fiscal conservatism.  At the courthouse level, three Republicans — Denny King, David Bradley, and Tom Freeman — challenge two incumbents, Kirk Kirkpatrick and Bill Upton, as well as one new office seeker, Michael Sorrells.

Haywood Republicans will hold their Annual Harvest Dinner this Saturday evening, Oct. 2 ,at Tuscola High cafeteria. The keynote speaker will be North Carolina’s senior U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. Other candidates will speak also. For details call 828.246.7921.

(Kirkwood Callahan is member of the Haywood County Republican Executive Committee. He has taught American government at four southern universities. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)


The Wheels Through Time Museum had a grand reopening in Maggie Valley after resuming five-day per week operations earlier this summer.

Heralded as the “Smithsonian of Motorcycles,” the museum is regarded as one of the world’s premier destinations for motorcycle and transportation history, touted by its visitors as an “American cultural experience.”

“The museum has the ability to bring unprecedented amounts of visitors to the valley, and with the community and state behind it, we think that 2010 can be one of Maggie Valley’s best years yet,” said Maggie Valley Alderman Scott Pauley.

The new exhibits have already generated huge interest from motorcycle industry leaders and press. They are slated to run through Memorial Day Weekend 2011.

828.926.6266 or visit


MedWest’s three hospitals are undergoing major innovations in food service, housekeeping, plant operations and maintenance, and clinical engineering areas that will be complete by the end of the year.

MedWest is working with Compass Group, a leader in healthcare support services management, to bring new services to Haywood Regional Medical Center, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital. By combining support services for the three hospitals and contracting with Compass, the system will realize cost savings of $1.1 million per year and gain access to technology that increases efficiencies in the areas providing critical support to the hospitals.

Room service known as “Dining on Call” will be introduced at all three hospitals. Patients will be able to order the meal of their choice, according to their physician’s dietary orders. The hospital cafeterias will undergo user-friendly upgrades and provide healthier food choices.

Requests for food service, plant operations and maintenance, clinical engineering and housekeeping will be streamlined through a centralized call center, increasing response time for support services needs.

Managers of the support services departments will be employed by Compass and function within the hospitals’ department management structure.


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