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StreetFest 2010 will get underway at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, in Franklin, when Mayor Joe Collins cuts a ribbon spanning Main Street to celebrate the opening of four new businesses.

The ribbon cutting will be followed by an evening and full day of festivities on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Shops will have food and beverages for their guests, along with bargains to thank customers for shopping locally. Entertainment will add to the festivities. Downtown Franklin’s first drum circle will take place on Main Street. Drummers are invited to join in.

The week prior to the event, ribbons will be handed out by local merchants and at the Chamber of Commerce. Someone wearing one of these ribbons on Friday night will be randomly selected by the StreetFest Patrol to win a basket of gifts donated by merchants.

Comment

The grand opening of Mission Outpatient Spine Center at Angel Medical Center in Franklin brings close to home spine care for residents of Macon and adjoining counties.

The center will be staffed by three board certified surgeons from Carolina Spine and Neurosurgery Center in Asheville who specialize in the treatment of conditions of the spine.

Services will initially be provided on Tuesdays and Fridays. These include physician evaluations, MRI and CT diagnostic testing, treatments, and physical therapy provided by Angel physical therapists under the clinical direction of the surgeons.

If patients need spine surgery, the procedure will be provided at Mission Hospital at its designated 20-bed spine surgery unit, which is part of the hospital’s Neurosciences Center of Excellence.

Comment

An estate-planning seminar will be held Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in the Bethea Welcome Center at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center.

It is sponsored by the Lake Junaluska Office of Development and the Foundation, and is free and open to the public.

Attorney Byrd Bonner, the director of the United Methodist Church Foundation in Nashville, Tenn., will lead the seminar.

This seminar will focus on important estate documents, how to obtain them, and where to keep them. In addition, it will address key information children or executors should know. Participants will learn basic information regarding family trusts.

Participants are encouraged to RSVP at 828-454-6680. Registration is not required. Coffee and hot tea will be served.

Comment

Western Carolina University will celebrate “The Power of Purple” during Homecoming festivities Oct. 8-10.

The annual Alumni Scholarship Homecoming Golf Tournament will begin at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 8, at Sequoyah National Golf Club in Whittier. Then on campus, the annual Last Lecture Series address will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8, in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center. The featured speaker will be Ted Chiappelli, associate professor of health sciences, and the title of his address is “Missed Opportunities.”

Then, the annual homecoming parade will begin at 6:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8, in downtown Sylva. Meanwhile, the Catamount soccer team will play Georgia Southern at the Catamount Athletic Complex. After the soccer game, which begins at 6 p.m., WCU will host the Spirit Night pep rally in the CAC.

On Saturday, Oct. 9, an alumni breakfast will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. in the multipurpose room in the University Center. Tailgating begins at noon before the 3 p.m. Catamount home football game against the Samford Bulldogs.

The weekend concludes with a 3 p.m. Inspirational Choir concert in the A.K. Hinds University Center Grandroom followed by a 4 p.m. Catamount soccer game against Davidson in the CAC.

For more specific event information and how to purchase tickets or make reservations, alumni visit alumni.wcu.edu and students visit homecoming.wcu.edu.

Comment

Flu vaccine is plentiful this year, and the N.C. Division of Public Health and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging everyone older than six months of age to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

 

Haywood County

The Haywood Health Department will offer flu clinics for adults ages 18 and above from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 5-7 at Health Department offices. Children under age 18 may get the flu vaccine by calling the Health Department at 828.452.6675 and scheduling an appointment.

The cost is $28 for flu vaccine and $35 for flu mist. Pneumonia vaccines will also be available for $45.

Haywood Regional Medical Center’s Home Care Services started providing flu shots for area residents Sept. 27. Flu shots will be given at the Home Care building from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until the supply is gone. No appointment is necessary. The Home Care building is located directly behind Haywood Regional Medical Center. The cost is $28. 828.452.8292.

A walk-in flu vaccine clinic will be held on Thursday, Oct. 7, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Fines Creek Community Center in the old Fines Creek cafeteria. Medicare Part B and most Medicare Replacements are accepted for payment. Please remember to bring your Medicare card. Cost is $28 for private pay patients.

 

Jackson County

The Jackson County Department of Public Health will began giving flu shots on Monday, Sept. 27, in the Big Room of the Community Services Building in Sylva. Shots will be given from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 27-30; from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 2; and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 3.

Cost is $20. 828.587.8201.

Anyone interested in the Health Department coming to administer the flu vaccine at their business, office, organization, or church, should contact Carla or Debbie at 828.586.8994 to schedule a time.

 

Macon County

• Community Facilities Building — 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1:15 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 7; 1 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 12.

• Macon County Public Health Center — 2 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 12 for children only; 1 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 14 for children only.

• Highlands Civic Center — 1 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 13.

• Nantahala School — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 21.

• Franklin Town Square — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 23 at Pumpkin Fest.

• Otto Community Building — 4 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 27.

Cost is $25. www.maconnc.org or 828.349.2081.

Comment

The N.C. Department of Transportation will hold a citizens’ informational workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 5, on closure of a railroad crossing where the highway and railroad meet in Sylva.

The informational meeting will begin at 5 p.m. and end at 7 p.m. at the town hall in Sylva, board of commissioners’ room. Citizens are invited to drop in and speak individually with DOT officials about project plan to close the crossing, and to view maps of the proposed projects. No formal presentation will be given.

DOT proposes closing the existing Norfolk Southern railroad crossing at Raymond Street. The Harold Street railroad crossing is within approximately .18 miles of the proposed closure and it provides adequate alternate access and uses signals and gate arms as a crossing warning device.

For more information contact Brian Gackstetter, rail division, engineering and safety branch, 1556 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, 27699-1556, at (919) 715-2332, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

A candidates’ forum on environmental issues will be held Thursday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m. at the Jackson County Recreation Complex in Cullowhee.

All of the candidates for the Jackson County Commission, North Carolina Senate 50th District, North Carolina House of Representatives District 119 and the United States House of Representatives District 11 have been invited.

The event is being sponsored by The Tuckasegee Community Alliance.

This is intended as a platform for the candidates to participate in a discussion prior to the upcoming November elections on environmental, growth management and energy issues facing Jackson County. The public will have the opportunity to ask questions during the open floor portion of the forum.

Comment

A golf tournament will be held Saturday, Oct. 2 at Mill Creek Golf Course in Franklin. Tee-off is 10 a.m.

The Mountain Trace Nursing & Rehabilitation Center’s tournament will benefit the resident council fund at Mountain Trace. The $60 entry fee includes a cart, meal and door prizes.

Mulligans and foot of string available; it will be 4 Man Captain’s Choice. Register at Mill Creek Golf Course or sign up before the tournament date. Call Angie at 828.399.9406.

Comment

Lessie Williams, a well-known and nationally recognized gospel singer, will give a concert of inspirational music at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Community Services Building in Sylva. The performance is a fundraiser for the new Jackson County library.

Williams’ ministerial music has carried her to prisons, nursing homes, funerals and banquets, in addition to many churches and revivals. She began singing the songs of artists including Aretha Franklin and Sam Cook around age 11, but turned to gospel, joining the ministry at the age of 19 and preaching her first sermon in March 1970.

“God has taken me many different ways to bring me full circle into an evangelistic music ministry,” Williams said.

She has produced four albums – “God Changed Me In Time,” 2008; “Jesus Is My Everything,” 2003; “I Made It Over,” 1992; “Jesus is Mine,” 1984.

“Lessie’s brand of gospel is honest, exciting and bears a strong witness to all who hear it,” said Loretta Ragan, who produces lead sheets for Williams’ self-written lyrics and music.

During the concert, fundraisers will pass the plate asking for contributions to support the new library complex.

“Your contribution is a way to thank Lessie for donating her time and to help the Friends raise funds to match the SECU Foundation Challenge Grant. It will be an inspiring evening, and we are confident folks will be generous.” says Mary Selzer, Co-chair of the Campaign Steering Committee.

For those unable to attend the concert, contributions to the New Library Fund can be made in person at the Friends of the Library Used Book Store or at the Jackson County Public Library, both located on Main Street in Sylva. They can also be mailed to: Friends of the Jackson County Main Library; P.O. Box 825; Sylva, NC 28779-0825.

For more information, visit the Friends’ website at: www.fojcml.org or call Connie Terry, campaign coordinator at 828.507.0476.

Comment

An outdoor expedition to Bolivia that puts paddlers to work delivering medical supplies to remote villages organized by Nantahala Outdoor Center got a major plug by National Geographic ADVENTURE.

The November issue of the magazine listed the trip in its top 25 list of global adventure trips.

The expedition — a joint effort between NOC and nonprofit Medicforce — aims to bring first aid training and medical attention to remote riverside communities only accessible by running seven days of Class IV-V whitewater on Bolivia’s Tuichi River.

“This is a proper expedition that will have positive outcomes for people who live out of reach of traditional medical care,” said Jono Bryant, director of Adventure Travel and Wilderness Medicine at NOC. “The trip is a totally new concept that has huge potential worldwide. I’m thankful that NOC continues to push the boundaries of whitewater by providing these new and exciting opportunities.”

The magazine labeled the expedition a “difference maker” trip, noting its objectives: delivering medical supplies, conducting basic physical exams and relaying information about common health threats. The 21-day expedition will be held in August 2010.

NOC’s expedition is ranked among some of the most extraordinary adventures across the globe, such as biking through Pacific jungles, trekking into the Arctic Circle and snorkeling with humpback whales in Tonga.

Tool to help outfitters hone marketing

Outdoor Industry Association® has launched a new database to track purchases of outdoor gear and clothing from outfitters across the country.

The tracking system will help manufacturers and retailers in the outdoor lifestyle industry see how they are stacking up against national sales and pick up trends among outdoors consumers. The system will show weekly retail sales of outdoor products from major retailers, local outfitters and the Internet.

Retailers can enroll at no cost and will be able to access the data for free. 704.987.3450.

Comment

By Karen Dill • Special to Smoky Mountain News

October is a glorious month. Brilliant colors dot the mountains against clear blue Carolina skies. Fall leaves turn our world into an amazing canvas and spirits soar like the geese that fly high in the sky toward their winter place. It is one of the last times that we can enjoy basking in the warm afternoon sunlight and storing up warmth for the long winter days ahead.

The warm days will grow shorter and meld into cool evenings. Thoughts turn inward, and the mind creates ghostly images as we walk in the evenings toward our warm homes. As I walk along Buchanan Loop in the late evenings, dogs in tow, I recall the wonderful ghost stories from my childhood. In comparison to the current horror and gory movies, these stories now seem tame, but as a child and even as an adult, they have an eerie and realistic quality.

My father told stories of walking home from school or from an old sawmill in Bethel on late October evenings up the long and winding road to his weather-beaten shack. After enduring many terrifying minutes of the sound of deep breathing and spotting yellow eyes in the bushes, he would encounter a mountain panther (he called it a “painter”). I had never seen this creature in person or in a book but at nights, I was sure he was breathing and crouched beneath my bed at night in Bethel. Hollywood has yet to recreate the terror that this story delivered.

My mother would recall similar stories of night creatures, but my favorite story was her encounter with a white horse on a dark October night in downtown Asheville. She was working during WWII as a telephone operator in the old Southern Bell building at the corner of Lexington Avenue and Walnut Street. As she left her late night shift following a series of strange calls over the telephone switchboard, she walked onto the street under a full moon. As she continued down the street for a few feet, a white horse with neither saddle nor rider appeared and galloped straight for her. My mother was frightened of horses, but this one simply passed her by, turned the corner and disappeared up Lexington Avenue. Cold chills creep up my spine as I picture the scene, but I love the image of that beautiful white ghost horse. This encounter turned out to be an omen to an event (the disappearance of her first love) in my mother’s life that would forever change her.

When my husband and I bought a house in Webster in 1990, we began to create our own ghost stories. The old house that we bought came with ghosts, we soon discovered. Our two-story farmhouse was built in the late 1800s. It is rambling and rustic and we dubbed our décor as “shabby chic” long before Martha Stewart made it popular. We arrange throw pillows over stuffing leaking from worn holes in the wingback chairs facing the fireplace. We favor comfort over style, and the spirits seem to approve.

The dining room is haunted, we decided, after moving into the house. Neither animal nor construction worker would linger after dark. This room is the perfect setting for an October dinner. The candles are lit to hide the cobwebs lacing the ancient chandelier that dangles over the dining table. Fresh flowers, linen napkins and the good china complete the scene and await our guests. The lace curtains flutter softly in a breeze that may indeed be created by spirits circling the room.

I choose a menu that utilizes the wonderful foods in season. October calls for comfort foods that warm the chilly evenings and placate the shivering spirits. I love to coordinate foods with the seasons and I look forward to each step of the preparation. This is an inherited trait from a long line of mountain women. Food is comfort; a form of self-expression and a creative gift of love. When words fail (as they often do in this culture of hard scrapple survivors), food speaks volumes.

I create with food. I daydream about recipes and dinner menus. I read cookbooks in our spooky old house at night as intensely as I read a good novel. Despite the simple cuisine of my childhood, I long for the exotic. I love to combine the simple tastes of ordinary foods with touches of exotic flavor from faroff places. A dinner gathering provides the perfect audience for this expression, and the season provides the perfect fall foods.

For this meal, I decide that a rustic theme will suit the ghosts of the dining room and will accommodate the freshest local foods available at the Sylva Farmer’s market. We will begin with a salad that I’ve adapted from a recipe taken from the October 2009 Bon Appétit magazine. The actual recipe calls for spiced pumpkin, lentils and goat cheese. I substitute the suggested French green lentils for our regular lentils that are easily found in any grocery store. I roast the pumpkin pieces according to the recipe but serve them over a bed of baby greens instead of arugula. Instead of crumbled goat cheese, I sauté a medallion of local goat cheese (Dark Cove is my favorite) in butter that I have dipped in egg and coated with breadcrumbs. The warm goat cheese medallion melts with the sweet and spicy pumpkin wedges over the tart greens creating a delightful mixture of taste and texture.

As I serve the salad, I take hot cheese biscuits from the oven. There is no real recipe for these — I simply combine self-rising flour (White Lily is my southern favorite) with heavy cream and shredded cheddar cheese and plop spoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet. They cook quickly and are delicious. A note of caution: mountain cooking is not for the faint of heart. Bacon grease, heavy cream, and butter are staples and while used sparingly, they will all be found in this meal.

I’ve chosen pork, sweet potatoes and kale as the main dishes. These were plentiful in my childhood and to this day, signify the return of cold weather for me. They were comfort foods long before we knew what to call them. My husband, Tom has grilled the pork tenderloin over charcoal and hickory chips earlier in the day. I’ve basted the pork with a raspberry chipotle sauce that delivers a distinct kick.

Right before serving, I will heat the pork loin and slice into thick medallions. The medallions will be served over a bed of apple and Asian pear slices that I have sautéed in butter with sprinkles of brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. The raspberry chipotle sauce will be drizzled over the pork with a few fresh raspberries thrown into the mix. This sauce is too hot for some tastes, but I’ll provide a bowl of the sauce to pass around the table for those who enjoy an extra bite.

The sweet potatoes are mashed with butter and heavy cream (I warned you) and drizzled with bit of local honey that my friend and colleague Devlin Wilde has given me from his bee hives. The tart Asian pear and sweet apple slices blend nicely with the sweet potatoes. The fresh kale is first blanched, then chopped into smaller pieces and finally thrown into a frying pan that I have used to cook several bacon and onion slices. I add sugar, vinegar and some red pepper flakes to the greens and top with bits of bacon and cooked onion.

I serve corn muffins as well as the biscuits with this part of the meal. Pork and greens simply require cornbread. I’ve added chopped onion, some leftover frozen corn kernels from our garden and some red and green chopped bell peppers to the cornmeal. Butter is optional but strongly recommended for the hot corn muffins.

Our guests have been greeted on our wide front porch along with the traditional dog and cat and the not-so-traditional peacock who has taken residence in our yard. He welcomes all newcomers with a bullying squawk for he is an arrogant bird. We warn him that he could easily become our evening’s entrée. I’m thinking peacock with pomegranate glaze as he struts away with an indignant bellow.

As the meal is served, we eat slowly, savoring the flavors and the company. Conversation flows as I enjoy a mug of pumpkin ale (I recommend the latest Highland October ale). We talk easily as friends do who enjoy good food and agree on a number of topics. We lament about the crazy politics in Washington and the need for better heath care, share our fears of losing our beautiful mountains to wealthy developers, and share stories of childhood, travel and of course, food.

Dessert is simple. I’ve made a fresh apple cake earlier in the week after work. I could probably make this cake in my sleep. It is an old family recipe that utilizes local apples and black walnuts. My aunts who have passed on would just roll over in their graves if any other nut was substituted for the black walnuts. I’ve saved some from our old faithful walnut tree that I’ve shelled tediously in the warm autumn sun. For tonight’s dinner, I warm the slices quickly in the microwave and serve with freshly whipped cream, finely chopped black walnuts that are sprinkled over the whipped cream, and a couple of thinly sliced apple slices for garnish.

We sip fresh coffee and enjoy the winding down of a beautiful fall evening. We are quiet, reflective as the candles flicker and lace curtains flutter in a soft breeze that appears from nowhere. Another gift of the ghostly spirits, I suppose. The spirits in the old house are apparently content with the meal and the company. Percy is mercifully silent, roosting in the oak tree outside the window. Perhaps he is dreaming of his elusive peahen or perhaps simply smug in the knowledge that he has been spared as the entrée of our dinner. As I glance out the window, I’m relieved that the October night hosts neither panther nor white horse — just a lonesome peacock and the gentle spirits of our old house.

Comment

Despite their requests, Haywood County commissioners will not be guaranteed a spot on the new joint operating board of Haywood Regional Medical Center and WestCare.

Commissioner Mark Swanger initially called for the seat to ensure transparency and accountability to the public, which has a vested stake in the hospital.

Commissioner Bill Upton said as an elected leader, they are the first ones to be blamed “if things go south.”

“I think it would keep us closer to the situation,” Upton said. “It makes a difference. I think it would be positive for all of us.”

When HRMC failed federal inspections two years ago and had to all but shut down for five months, commissioners were criticized for not providing enough oversight of HRMC. Two commissioners up for election that year lost, with backlash over the hospital crisis blamed as one of the reasons for their ousting by voters.

Commissioner Skeeter Curtis said the public still thinks of HRMC as “their” hospital, since county taxpayers backed a loan used for its construction, even though the hospital in fact paid back the loans and the public did not have to pony up any money.

HRMC CEO Mike Poore said he disagreed that a commissioner’s presence would somehow provide more transparency. Poore said the county commissioner serving on the board would not be able to share what was discussed by the joint hospital board outside its private meetings anyway.

“The county commissioner has no more authority to speak outside that meeting than anyone else,” Poore said. “They are not a county commissioner at that meeting. They are a member of the joint operating committee.”

Mark Clasby, chairman of the HRMC board, said giving a county commissioner a permanent seat at the table would have been a deal killer in the joint venture. Clasby added that commissioners can serve, and indeed one is on the inaugural board, but they aren’t guaranteed a spot going forward.

Comment

By Gibbs Knotts • Guest Columnist

Some local sportswriters have expressed bewilderment at a recent ranking by a nationally circulated magazine, The Sporting News, that placed Cullowhee at No. 199 among the United States’ top 399 sports cities.

These pundits seem perplexed that Cullowhee would be ranked 26 spots ahead of Boone, home of archrival Appalachian State University. When comparing Boone and Cullowhee, the sports reporters have focused on the higher attendance at Appalachian State football and men’s basketball games.

In their haste to criticize The Sporting News ranking, some journalists are missing a point that The Sporting News apparently did not miss — Cullowhee is home to a LOT of sporting events, many of them successful by regional and national standards.

Focusing solely on football and men’s basketball overlooks the achievements of at least seven of the other 13 Division I collegiate sports at Western Carolina. Last year, three WCU teams – women’s basketball, women’s soccer, and men’s track and field – won conference championships. Women’s track and field, baseball, men’s golf and women’s golf also have posted notably successful records.

WCU’s women’s basketball and soccer teams have been ranked in the nation’s top 20 academically. The women’s golf team regularly places individuals on the National Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholars list. In the spring 2009 semester, 87 student-athletes made the dean’s list and 18 earned perfect 4.0 grade-point averages. At Western Carolina, athletic victories usually go hand-in-hand with academic successes.

Part of what makes a sports town a sports town is tradition and history, and Western Carolina has its fair share. The first three-point shot in men’s college basketball was made in Cullowhee. Every year at NCAA basketball tournament time, the networks roll out the footage from 1996 when the Catamounts came within a whisker of being the first No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed. And Asheville’s own Henry Logan opened the door for student-athletes of his race when, in 1964, he joined the WCU basketball team and became the first African-American to play at a predominantly white institution in the South.

Adding to the game-day experience in Cullowhee is WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, whose crowd-pleasing halftime shows over the years are being recognized nationally by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation, which has awarded the band the 2009 Sudler Trophy — the Heisman Trophy of collegiate marching bands.

Aside from Catamount athletics, Cullowhee also features outstanding outdoor sporting opportunities. The area is a haven for cyclists, hosting numerous group rides and the annual Tour de Tuck bicycle ride. Anglers flock to Cullowhee for many miles of rivers and streams, and Cullowhee is a world-class boating and kayaking destination. Some Olympic athletes train in the area.

The university engages students in outdoor experiences through its Base Camp Cullowhee, a campus organization that hosts nearly 2,000 people per year on outdoor adventures and supplies students with low-cost outdoor gear and supplies. Base Camp employees serve as a resource to the Cullowhee community, providing trip advice, trail maps, and other outdoor tips to local individuals and families, and to hundreds of the millions of Americans who visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway annually.

Is Cullowhee really the 199th best sports town in the United States? Scientifically, I can’t say, but when you look at the entire picture, why not? What I can do is invite sports fans of all persuasions to come to Cullowhee and find out. Attend a soccer match or a women’s basketball game. Bring your bike and ride the Ring of Fire. Float down the beautiful Tuckasegee River. Or bring your binoculars and watch track or cross country or some other Olympic sport. You may discover that The Sporting News has it right — sporting opportunities are abundant in Cullowhee.

(Gibbs Knotts is faculty athletics representative at Western Carolina University where he teaches political science and public affairs. In his free time, he attends Catamount sporting events and enjoys Cullowhee’s many outdoor opportunities.)

Comment

Two of the five seats on the Sylva town board are up for election. Both incumbents are running for re-election and will face three additional challengers.

The mayor’s seat is up for election as well, but Mayor Brenda Oliver chose not to run after 17 years at the helm and a total of 28 years on the town board. Oliver said she was simply ready to step down and that the town was likewise ready for new leadership.

Town Commissioner Maurice Moody is running unopposed for mayor. Moody’s seat is not up for election this year, so when he transitions to the post of mayor in December, he will leave a vacant spot on the town board. The other board members will appoint his replacement. Board members were uncommitted on whether they would appoint the next highest voter getter in the election to the vacancy.

 

Stacy Knotts, 38

Stay-at-home mom

Knotts has served on the board four years. This election, Knotts once again went door to door, visiting an estimated 500 residents.

“It was great. I got to hear from the residents in all different neighborhoods. I got to hear about things they liked as well as what they are concerned about. It was a big variety of things. The great thing is I can start working on them right now.”

 

Harold Hensley, 72

Retired maintenance supervisor for Jackson County Schools

Hensley has served on the board four years.

“There’s lots of money spent that I don’t think should be spent. I have pushed hard for cuts, real hard. There is no sense in every time you turn around you have to look at the taxpayers to bail you out.”

 

Danny Allen, 53

Not currently employed due to health reasons

Formerly a Sylva police officer and manager of Quinn Theater

“I just don’t think the board is a good representation of the whole town. The present board is catering to select groups. They are not seeing the overall needs of the people.”

 

David Kelley, 32

Works at Livingston’s Photo and is a Realtor with WNC Brokers

Kelley has no overwhelming desire to alter the town’s course. He thinks the current board is doing “an adequate job” and isn’t advocating for change per say. So why is he running?

“The town has been a big part of my life all my life, so I felt the need for a voice.”

 

Ellerna Bryson Forney

Could not be reached for comment.

Comment

Is it true that Haywood and WestCare have merged?

No. The boards of Haywood Regional Medical Center (HRMC) and WestCare Health System (WestCare) have formally agreed to form a unified healthcare system that will integrate the strategic, operational, and financial aspects of both organizations. This integration is not a “merger;” rather, it is a legal arrangement that will provide patients within the newly defined service area with enhanced access to a broader array of services.

WestCare Health System includes Harris Regional Hospital, Swain County Hospital and other healthcare facilities serving a four-county area in Western North Carolina. The goal of the new arrangement with Haywood Regional is to help reduce operating expenses, while improving quality and patient safety.

The recently approved Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) permits the continued existence of separate boards of directors, but vests much oversight responsibility with a newly formed Joint Operating Company (JOC) board of directors.

HRMC and WestCare will be the sole members of the Joint Operating Company (JOC) and will share equally in the financial operations of the new company. In the healthcare industry, hospitals may form a JOC to provide a stronger financial structure and to enhance service delivery.

 

By what process did the two organizations come together?

The boards of the respective hospital systems have been engaged in the process of selecting a partner and joining the two systems together for over 18 months. Members of both boards have spent hundreds of volunteer hours in meetings with consultants and legal advisors in order to garner and evaluate the technical advice needed to make the very best decision.

Starting in the early months of 2008, HRMC and WestCare began informal discussions regarding how best to enhance the delivery of healthcare services to the people of their respective communities. In late 2008 both boards agreed that the best course of action was to secure a partner to assist in bringing the two organizations together.

Shortly thereafter, formal RFPs (requests for proposals) were sent to select organizations that had the resources needed to effect both a unification effort and also provide continuing management services to a combined operation.

Following a very intensive review process, the boards selected Carolinas HealthCare System as the manager. At that point, in April 2009, a Joint Study Committee was formed to negotiate the details of the future affiliation.

The JOA announcement on Oct. 21 represents the culmination of that effort.

 

What is the name of the new organization?

“MedWest Health System” is the name of the new Joint Operating Company; however each of the individual hospitals will continue to use their current names: Haywood Regional Medical Center, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital.

 

When will the new company begin operations?

It is anticipated that MedWest Health System will begin integrating the operations of the two systems in January 2010. Some approvals are still pending, but those are expected to be received in a timely manner.

 

Who will be CEO of the new JOC?

That decision will be made by the newly constituted board of MedWest Health System and CHS in the next few months. A proficient management team at each hospital has helped to guide this integration effort, and they are to be commended for their conscientious and unselfish leadership throughout each step of the process.

 

Who will be on the governing board of the new JOC?

The board will be made up of 14 members, with seven from Haywood County and seven from the counties that comprise WestCare’s primary service area. The boards of HRMC and WestCare have appointed five members each and those 10 will select four at-large members to complete the board.

 

Will there be physicians on the new JOC board?

Each of the member systems, HRMC and WestCare, will have two active medical staff members on the board of MedWest Health System.

 

What will be Carolinas HealthCare System’s role with respect to MedWest?

The board of MedWest Health System will enter into a management services agreement with Carolinas HealthCare System. Under the terms of the agreement, Carolinas HealthCare will employ the executive team and provide MedWest Health System with a wide range of corporate-level management services.

Carolinas HealthCare will not have an ownership interest or a direct role in the governance of MedWest Health System.

Carolinas HealthCare will provide MedWest with the experience and resources of a comprehensive, multifaceted organization. Those resources will be brought to bear in a way that will help all of the MedWest hospitals improve patient access, lower patient costs and improve patient outcomes.

With the addition of the MedWest hospital group, CHS will operate 32 hospitals across the Carolinas. CHS provides a strong support structure for those hospitals and the hundreds of other care locations it manages. The management services agreement ensures that these support mechanisms are available to MedWest.

 

What will be the continuing responsibilities of the existing HRMC and WestCare governing boards?

Under the terms of the JOA the individual hospital boards will continue to credential medical staff at their respective facilities and will have certain other reserved powers. For example, the JOC could not accept new members without the approval of the individual boards.

 

What impact will the new arrangement have on employees?

Salaries, benefits and retirement plans have always been subject to annual review by HRMC and WestCare, and from time to time over the last few years changes have been made as necessary to those plans. That process will continue. The formation of the combined organization will not be a sole factor in deciding if there will be changes. In fact, one of the reasons for selecting the JOC organizational structure was so that the current retirement plans could remain in place.

 

Will any employees lose their jobs as a result of the JOC?

This question has not been addressed and likely will not be for at least several months. In some organizations that have formed a JOA, over the long term, the employment base has actually increased as the new organization developed new services and expanded existing services.

 

Will patients in this part of the state now have to travel to Charlotte for more complex medical services?

No. There is no plan to disrupt existing physician referral patterns. Patients, their families and their doctors will continue to make decisions about where patients will go for care.

As noted, it is anticipated that over time additional and more sophisticated services will be offered, thus allowing patients to stay closer to home for their care.

 

What impact will the JOC have on local doctors?

Physician representation has been important from the beginning of this process, and members of the medical staff at both HRMC and WestCare have participated in the work of the Joint Study Committee. The committee was diligent in seeking physician input and making sure that issues of particular interest to doctors were addressed during negotiations.

The JOC is expected to provide numerous benefits for the medical community, including the enhancement or expansion of existing services, and the development of new programs.

 

Will the three hospitals that form MedWest be jointly marketing their services?

Yes. MedWest will oversee the marketing of services for each of the individual hospitals. This is just one of many ways that savings can be realized, while highlighting the benefits that will be available through joint operations.

Comment

The Waynesville Recreation Center was vandalized late sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

The vandals entered the building through a broken window into the pool area. Once inside, they broke internal windows, threw furniture around, pulled clocks off the wall and otherwise wreaked havoc.

“There was glass everywhere,” said Det. Ryan Singleton, who is the lead investigator officer in the case.

They even discharged fire extinguishers.

“The whole entire building was covered in the residue from the fire distinguishers,” Singleton said.

In the kitchen area, vandals emptied the contents of cupboards onto the floor, including food coloring, flour and vinegar. Profanity was spray-painted on the kitchen walls as well. Despite the vandalism, nothing was stolen.

The police were able to lift fingerprints from the scene. Singleton believes there was more than one vandal.

The recreation center was closed for half a day Tuesday. The pool will remained closed through Friday as glass had gotten into the pool from the broken windows.

“We are draining the pool and refilling the water. We have to get the temperature levels correct and the chlorine levels correct as well,” said Waynesville Recreation Director Rhett Langston.

Comment

There are 10 candidates running for four seats on the Canton town board. Only two sitting aldermen are running for re-election, with eight challengers. All four seats are up for election every two years. Mayor Pat Smathers is running for re-election unopposed.

 

Canton aldermen – Pick 4

 

Charlie Crawford, 74

Retired DMV inspector, currently operates a small car lot and construction company

Crawford was ousted in the last election two years ago after 16 years on the board.

“The people I’ve talked to are pretty well fed up. I think there are a lot of people running because there is an apparent lack of progress by the present board. We need to get back on a progressive agenda. We need to bury whatever differences we have to serve the town.”

 

Jimmy Flynn, 59

Safety director for Buckeye Construction Company, former town employee for 30 years

“You have to have a board that can agree to disagree and move forward. We just would like to see Canton go forward at some growth rate. It is not a bad thing when the board doesn’t always agree and vote on everything unanimously, but I think it is a bad thing when they almost never vote on anything important unanimously. That tells me there needs to be a little more cohesiveness.”

 

Gene Monson, 51

Owner of group purchasing organization for 130 restaurants that pool food orders to help realize economies of scale through bulk buying power

“The members of the current board individually are all fine gentlemen. However, as a board I don’t think they accomplished what they wanted to accomplish over the past two years or what most of the citizens were hoping for. I hope I have the intelligence and humility to consider every idea on its merits and not based on whose idea it is. I am willing to compromise. I am more concerned about getting it right than being right.”

 

Carole Edwards, 54

Regional consultant for Department of Social Services on welfare programs

“My slogan is a fresh and new perspective. I feel like I have the enthusiasm and heart to want to work for this town. We may try a lot of things that don’t work. If you don’t try, how do you know what works and doesn’t work? I may not agree with what someone else thinks, but if it is an idea, let’s try it and see if it doesn’t work.”

 

Patrick Willis, 29

Historic interpreter at Thomas Wolfe National Historic Site

“Honestly in the past two years I have not seen a whole lot of improvement in the town. I feel like the town could use some new fresh ideas and opinions. One of the things I would like to see is more open communication with the residents of the town from the town board.”

 

Kenneth Holland, 62

Retired pharmacist

“The current board has been divided down the middle on issues. The net result is not a whole lot is being accomplished. What they were planning on doing when they went in two years ago didn’t get accomplished as planned. We need to change things.”

 

Angela Jenkins, 42

Former stay-at-home mom now enrolled in a craft program at Haywood Community College

“I guess there are just too many different opinions about what needs to be happening and how to go about do it. There’s just no cohesiveness. You have to prioritize what needs to be done and find a way to get it done. I think it is going to be important that we have a board that gets along and gets the town moving forward.”

 

Ed Underwood, 60

Retired lieutenant colonel in US Army and retired state prison guard

“One of the problems with the current board is that it seems like the board members can’t work together. When you go onto a board like that you have your own personal agenda and have to try to set that aside to work as a team member. I’d say the consensus is the voters want a change.”

 

Troy Mann, 72

Retired cattle farmer

Mann has served for two years after running for election in 2007 as part of a wave that unseated three long-time board members.

“Our thinking was the citizens of Canton wanted some change over what had been. There is more discussion, more oversight, we are more engaged. Every issue is given more consideration. It is not a given that if it is brought to the table it is going to be approved.”

 

Eric Dills, 44

Residential contractor

Dills has served two years on the town board. He ran in 2005 and lost by five votes, but emerged in 2007 as the top vote-getter.

“When I ran before, I felt like the town was really going down. It was deteriorating. We were going in the wrong direction. The mayor controls the biggest part of the agenda. If the town has not progressed in the past two years, the mayor has to bear his share and can’t keep pointing his finger at the board and saying it is all our fault.”

Comment

Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad

(loosely based on the recipe from the October 2009 Bon Appétit magazine)

• 3/4 cup lentils

• 6 cups 1-inch pieces peeled seeded sugar pumpkin (from about one 2-pound whole pumpkin or butternut squash)

• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

• 1 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika (found in most grocery stores—I found mine in the Fresh Market Grocery in Asheville or you can add some cayenne pepper to smoked paprika for the same effect)

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

• 4 cups of baby greens

• 1 log of soft goat cheese log, sliced into ? inch medallions, dipped in an egg mixed with a little cream and coated with finely chopped breadcrumbs (I use the packaged Progresso kind)

• 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves

• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Soak lentils in cold water for about 10 minutes. Drain and cook in salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Drain lentils. Rinse under cold water, then drain.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pumpkin in large bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika, and sea salt. Arrange pumpkin in single layer on baking sheet; roast 20 minutes. Turn pumpkin over. Roast until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool.

Combine lentils, pumpkin, and oil from baking sheet with mixed baby greens, mint, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Right before serving, sauté goat cheese medallions in olive oil and a little butter to help brown the cheese.

Divide the salad mixture among plates and place the warm goat cheese medallion on top of each salad.

 

Fresh Apple Cake

• 1 1/2 cups Wesson oil

• 4 or so medium sized apples, chopped finely (I use a couple of red delicious and a couple of yellow delicious apples); It is ok to leave the peelings on but I usually don’t.

• 1 cup of black walnuts, chopped

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• 2 cups of white sugar

• 3 eggs

• 3 cups sifted plain flour

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream together oil, sugar and eggs in a mixer. Add dry ingredients and fold in apples and nuts. Add vanilla. Place the mixture in a greased, floured bundt pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour or so. Test with a toothpick or broom straw for doneness in the center of the cake. Because this cake is so moist, I rarely frost it. It gets better after a few days but is delicious right out of the oven.

 

Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 1/2 cup small diced onion

• 2 teaspoons minced garlic

• 2 teaspoons chipotle chilies in adobo, chopped

• 2 pints raspberries, rinsed

• 1/2 cup raspberry vinegar

• 1/2 cup granulated sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, heat oil. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring until slightly caramelized—about 4 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for 1 min. Add the chilies and cook, stirring continuously for 1 minute. Add the raspberries and cook until soft, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan. Add sugar and salt, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened and reduced by half, about 8 to 10 min. Remove from heat and cool before using.

For a clear glaze, strain through a fine, mesh strainer by pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.

*A note: I love this sauce but if I’m pressed for time, there is a nice bottled raspberry chipotle sauce (brand is Dan T’s Inferno) that is sold at Sam’s Club and other good brands of raspberry chipotle at Fresh Market. It works just fine in a pinch.

Comment

By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist

In the election of 2008 many Americans aspired for hope and change when Barack Obama won the White House and Democrats increased their majorities in Congress. Today signs of buyers’ remorse are everywhere.

Disgruntled voters opposed to policy proposals of the majority party confront senators and representatives. Thousands march on Washington to protest legislation that accrues more power for the national government, diminishes individual choices, and grows the national debt.

The disconnect between citizens and the Democratic Party is best illustrated by the debate over health care. Democrats differ as to whether to have government-run health insurance (public option) or nonprofit insurance cooperatives and who to tax to defray costs, but all Democratic bills result in government controlling the nation’s health care .

However, on Sept. 30 a Gallup Poll showed that the overwhelming majority of Americans embraced individual responsibility and rejected the idea of government responsibility for healthcare by 61 percent to 37 percent.

Polls have also shown that the majority of Americans are satisfied with their health insurance, and contrary to White House efforts, more of the nation’s physicians are opposing control by Washington and offering alternatives. Recently three former presidents of the American Medical Association — including a spokesman for an association of 10,000 physicians — advocated in a Wall Street Journal article for low cost health savings accounts, tax credits for individual and family health insurance policies, and comprehensive malpractice reform. GOP lawmakers have proposed the same ideas along with portable health insurance that can be sold across state lines.

There are many other areas where the Democratic party is disconnected from the concerns of the many — a disappointing lack of transparency as health care reform legislation is packaged in documents with over 1,000 pages of arcane language, a largely unspent $787 billion “stimulus” bill passed in February, and indecisiveness over the war in Afghanistan.

The situation at home where North Carolina is ruled by a Democratic legislature and a Democratic governor is no less encouraging.

Higher taxes are levied upon citizens as unemployment lurches toward 11 percent. This fiscal year’s budget was reduced because of the recession’s shortfalls in revenues, but in the preceding six-year period state spending increased more than 50 percent while the population increased only by about 10 percent. Where did the money go?

Much evidence shows it did not get to the right places.

Last December the Raleigh News and Observer reported on the dysfunctional state parole and probation system. The Observer revealed that “Since the start of 2000, 580 offenders have killed while on probation. Probation officers, hamstrung by vacancies and a sloppy bureaucracy, can’t locate nearly 14,000 criminals.”

Seven months after this report Patrick Burris, a parolee, murdered five people in South Carolina. To date, the parole-probation system still lacks resources necessary to perform its essential responsibility of protecting the public.

In 2007, funds for outpatient care for mental health patients were slashed, but from 2004-7 over $81 million went to “health and wellness” centers at UNC Asheville and Western Carolina University. During the 2007-9 budget cycles the General Assembly allocated $7 million a year for retreat centers for teachers while many of their colleagues faced job losses when the recession’s crunch came. Other examples of misallocated resources are too numerous to list here.

To whom should disillusioned voters turn? Many, disappointed in the Republican party in years past, have suggested a new party combining the energies of independents and other disaffected groups to find a way out of the nation’s morass.

However, those who would turn to a third or independent party should think about it further. There is no objective evidence to think an independent movement could marshall the political experience essential to run the government. Behind efforts to drive more and more power to Washington is an entrenched politicized bureaucracy in the legislative and executive branches. A new party, if it could elect candidates, would flounder on the rocks of partisan barriers that no beginner could navigate. Also, voters of conservative inclinations who reject Republicans for other candidates may see their votes produce unintended consequences.

In the 2008 election, Obama received all of the state’s electoral votes by receiving only 14,177 more votes than John McCain. Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate received 25,722 votes. Write-in candidates received 13,942 votes.

The Republican Party and its new leadership has the party structure for a return to fiscal responsibility and a concern for constituents’ opinions. But first it must achieve majority status in Congress and the General Assembly.

In our legislative branches, it is the majority party that determines the chairmanships of committee, and it is in committees where the nitty gritty work of legislation is done. The most important decision that each member of Congress makes is the decision to organize with his party at the beginning of each session. Conservative voters may think Blue Dog Democrats advance their values, but the reality is that all Democrats must work within a committee structure dominated by liberal chairmen and co-chairmen. The liberals set the agenda. Ask Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid.

The Democratic leadership in Raleigh’s General Assembly similarly mutes conservative Republicans efforts.

Voters rejecting the change of the Obama Democrats would best serve their interests by supporting the Republican effort to claim majority status. The Republican Party, following significant defeats in two general elections, has returned to its roots and with new dedication affirmed its commitments to core conservative principles: limited government, local control, individual responsibility, strong defense and sound stewardship of state and national finances.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska Haywood Republicans will have their annual Fall Harvest Dinner to raise funds and introduce party leaders and candidates. I will be the master of ceremonies and the dinner starts at 6 p.m. This is a great opportunity to observe a conservative party at work. For information about the dinner or this article contact me This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Kirkwood Callahan is retired and lives in Waynesville. He has taught government at four southern universities.

Comment

The joint board that will run the eventual Haywood Regional Medical Center-WestCare affiliation needs to have a sitting Haywood County commissioner as a permanent member, as one Haywood County commissioner is now suggesting.

Commissioner Mark Swanger worries that the interest of Haywood County’s citizens — who own the buildings and property at HRMC — could be compromised if a commissioner is not on the new joint board. HRMC now operates as a public hospital, and most of its dealings are subjected to the state’s open meetings laws. The new venture with Carolina’s HealthCare System will form a private nonprofit, entitling citizens to very little knowledge about the decisionmaking process.

Swanger’s reasoning makes good sense: “While I don’t doubt the motives of anyone involved in this now, 10 years from now we will have an entirely different cast of characters, so counting on the trust issue is not good business in my view. I think a commissioner needs to be part of the operating agreement so the citizens who have the financial investment in the physical plant of Haywood Regional are property represented.”

There’s little doubt among those who have been following the affiliation of WestCare and HRMC that the board members from both hospitals are working with the best interests of their communities at heart. The driving force here is to provide three communities — Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties — with stronger, better delivery of health care services for many years into the future.

What if, however, some kind of cataclysm occurs at Carolina’s HealthCare and its smaller entities become expendable or begin to be treated as mere profit centers for certain types of specialized care rather than as stand-alone hospitals? Or if a future CEO from Charlotte begins to make decisions without regard to citizens in this region?

The kind of scenario described above is not likely to occur, and we would hope that the board members from this region — whomever they are — would stand up for our citizens. But county commissioners — and most elected officials — typically operate from a different mindset because at any monthly meeting they face reminders that they serve the public’s interest, whether it is someone complaining about taxes or a neighborhood group seeking help about barking dogs disrupting the peace.

This one is easy. Citizens in Haywood County — and those of Jackson and Swain, for that matter — would have another measure of confidence in this affiliation if a county commissioner gets a seat at the table.

Comment

The Town of Maggie Valley has a town board with four aldermen/alderwomen and a mayor with voting power. Each official serves a four-year term. This November, two spots on the Board of Aldermen are up for election. Alderman Mark DeMeola will not be running for re-election due to health issues with family members that will require him to travel out of the area often.

 

Aldermen – pick 2

 

Saralyn Price, 54, retired police chief and part-time restaurant hostess

Price is the only incumbent running for re-election. She has served on the town board for four years. In Price’s view, the town should operate as a team to bring economic development into Maggie Valley. “One of my biggest goals is to get everyone working together.”

 

Scott Pauley, 48, owner of Travelowes motel

Pauley said he’d like to put an end to the disconnect he sees between the town board and citizens. He plans to do that by providing an open ear to everyone’s concerns and bringing more transparency to the board. “You can’t make everybody happy, but if you’re honest and open from the get go, people aren’t going to be upset.”

 

Phillip Wight, 41, owner of the Clarketon motel and a heating/cooling company

One of Wight’s primary goals is to get things moving in Maggie Valley, especially when it comes to hiring a festival director. “Do they want to hire somebody or do they not? If I’m elected, it’s not going to take a lot of time to make decisions.”

 

Ron DeSimone, 56, general contractor

DeSimone said he’d like to focus a little more on services for residents, but also have the town encourage economic development by creating business-friendly zoning and ordinances. “Tourism is certainly a part of the picture, but it’s only a part. Not every business in Maggie Valley is a restaurant or hotel.”

Comment

Western Carolina University last week announced that the first comprehensive fundraising campaign in university history has netted a grand total of $51,826,915 in private giving for endowed scholarships, professorships and programmatic support.

The tally is more than $11 million above the $40 million goal announced when the campaign was publicly launched in February 2007.

“We have come further and progressed faster than we could have imagined when this campaign began,” WCU Chancellor John W. Bardo said. “Not only have we reached our goal, but we have far exceeded it. We had hoped to be able to raise $40 million by 2010, and here we are announcing more than $51 million on Oct. 15, 2009, a most historic day in the life of our university.”

Thirty-four percent of the amount raised in the campaign will go toward endowed professorships, which allow the university to attract accomplished scholars in a variety of academic disciplines. Thirty percent of the dollars raised will fund merit-based scholarships that will help WCU recruit highly qualified students, while 26 percent will be directed to current use initiatives such as the Loyalty Fund and Catamount Club, and 10 percent to programmatic endowed funds for academics, athletics and other university needs.

Comment

Fish biologists will discuss mercury contamination in fish in mountain lakes at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Swain Campus of Southwestern Community College.

The talk will also discuss other issues related to lake fish populations and lake fishermen.

State testing of walleye in Fontana and Santeetlah lakes two years ago showed high levels of mercury. It is unsafe for children under 15 or a pregnant or nursing woman to eat walleye from the lakes in any quantity. The general population should eat no more than six ounces a week, according to state health officials, or no more than one meal a month, according to the more stringent EPA suggestions.

Fontana and Santeetlah are the only two mountain lakes tested so far, and walleye is the only species that’s been tested. There is reason to believe other large fish species and other mountain lakes could also contaminated.

The mercury, a pollutant from coal-fired power plants, travels through the atmosphere and is rained out of the clouds. The larger the fish, the more mercury they have likely acquired through bioaccumulation.

Representatives from N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, including biologist Powell Wheeler who conducted most of the sampling, will give a talk geared toward fishermen. Topics will include gill netting, status of walleye population, mercury levels, new boat ramps, catch and release survivability and more.

The SCC building is located on the right side of U.S. 23-74 if traveling south from Bryson City, across from Mountain Lakes Marine.

Comment

By Brent Martin • Guest Columnist

When President John F. Kennedy formed a federal-state committee in 1963 known as the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission, one out of every three people living in Appalachia was living below the poverty line. Millions of Appalachians were fleeing for work in other regions, and per capita income was 23 percent lower than the U.S. average.

One of the solutions proposed by the ARC was to build over 3,000 miles of roads into Appalachia, roads that would bring jobs, wealth and modernization. And the roads did come. The alphabet soup of highway projects that came out of the ARC are visible everywhere in Appalachia today —– Corridor B, for example, or more commonly known as Interstate 26, was completed in 2003 at a cost of $250 million —– for the last nine miles of highway blasted through mountains from Asheville to Tennessee.

A small segment of Corridor K, which the ARC and NC DOT are working to complete, will come at a similar cost. Ten miles of Corridor K will come with a price tag of $350 million of federal and state tax dollars to blast a road from the Stecoah community through the Nantahala National Forest to Robbinsville. The ostensible reason for building the road is that it will solve Graham County’s problems of unemployment, poverty and isolation. These are serious problems, particularly since Graham’s unemployment and poverty rates are higher than state averages. But will building a four-lane highway solve these problems? The NC DOT claims it will.

Specifically, the DOT claims that a new four-lane highway will attract businesses, make commuting to work out of the county faster and easier, lure tourists who enjoy “reduced travel time and increased accessibility,” and improve access to medical facilities. What the DOT does not acknowledge is that highway construction jobs bring only a temporary bump in local spending and that very few of those dollars would circulate locally. Large crews and specialized equipment skills required by such a large project will likely mean importing many contract workers. Small rural economies have small economic multipliers, so few of those dollars will remain in the local economy. Contract workers will send paychecks to their families back home, and likely travel there themselves during their time off. Since the increased spending is known to be temporary, new retail businesses are unlikely to invest in new or expanded local stores.

Even after the highway is finished, an interstate through an isolated rural area carries people out as well as in, and would likely encourage Graham County residents to do more of their shopping outside the local area.

Expanding highway capacity in hopes of attracting manufacturers takes a backward-looking view of both the U.S. economy as a whole and this region in particular. Manufacturing jobs have declined throughout North Carolina’s western mountain counties, from 37 percent of the workforce in 1970 to 10 percent in 2007. It is not likely that a new four-lane highway will bring those jobs back, especially as fuel prices continue to climb over the coming decades.

Solid long-term economic development is based on the inherent strengths of an area. For Graham County, that includes a strong rural work ethic and unsurpassed wild natural surroundings. An interstate will not contribute to the former, and it will seriously damage the latter.

Jack Schultz, author of Boom Town USA: The 7 Keys to Big Success in Small Towns, documents the increasing popularity of small rural towns as the fastest growing economies in the nation. Increasingly, entrepreneurs are moving to these places because of their natural beauty and small-town atmosphere, and they bring their businesses and their retirement incomes with them. Schultz names Highlands as one of the “Golden Eagles” — the top 100 “Agurbs” in the nation. Highlands’ location is very similar to Robinsville’s: it’s in a valley surrounded by Western North Carolina’s beautiful mountains and is at a similar distance from interstate access. Clearly, an interstate is not necessary for economic success in this part of the state

At the other end of the state, Tyrrell County is featured in another recent publication, Balancing Nature and Commerce in Gateway Communities. The least populated of all North Carolina counties (Graham is 98th), Tyrrell County has chosen to turn its remoteness into a marketing advantage. The county bills itself as “unspoiled, uncrowded, uncomplicated,” with attractions ranging from red wolves to the Scuppernong River nature trail. Per-capita personal income has risen by 11 percent (after adjusting for inflation) since the Balancing Nature and Commerce book was written, and Tyrell County’s unemployment rate now ranks 42nd in the state compared to Graham County’s fourth (November. 2007 data).

According to the Graham County Chamber of Commerce web site, “Graham County, filled with Smoky Mountain adventures, is becoming better known every year. With a natural beauty still unspoiled by crowds, it is truly a rare find in today’s world.”

If Graham intends to keep it this way, the county had best ask the ARC to provide Graham with a cash alternative to this destructive highway, and invest instead in the long-term preservation of the goose that will hopefully continue to lay golden eggs for years to come. Strip malls, convenience stores, and chain restaurants that come with the type of highway DOT is proposing will only strangle the life out of it.

(Brent Martin works for The Wilderness Society in Franklin, NC. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

Comment

Downtown Sylva will host ColorFest: Art of the Blue Ridge from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24. The event spotlights Western North Carolina artists’ work in shops and on Main Street sidewalks.

Artists will be demonstrating their work throughout the day, with several venues also featuring live music by performers including Karen Barnes, Chris Cooper and Ron Smith among others.

• It’s By Nature hosts Jack Stern, a national award-winning artist who creates large scale paintings of “mountains, water and light”

• Peebles spotlights well-known watercolorist Pamela Haddock showing original art based on local scenes of the Great Smoky Mountains and Michael Rogers, famed painter of the Appalachian Trail Series.

• Blew Glass has a fellow glass artist, Neal Hearn, who will show his glass boxes.

• Nichol’s House features artist Mark Copple, painter of still life and nature.

• Shot in the Dark Cafe shows two sisters’ artwork, Audrey Hayes and D. Hayes Mayer.

• Lulu’s Restaurant showcases Jane Revay, who shows her vividly colored mountain landscapes painted in oil on canvas.

• Underground Cafe & Coffee Shop shows the paintings of artist, Scottie Harris.

• Guadalupe’s Restaurant’s guest artist is Nikki Hinkie, a pastel painter who spontaneously creates scenes of nature and mountain life.

• Gallery One’s resident artists Joe Meigs and Tim Lewis demonstrate watercolor and computer design

• Lily’s Treasures shows the art of Linda A. Barrick, a children’s book illustrator and fine artist.

• Jackson’s General Store features the art of James Smythe, oil and pastel painter.

• Massies Furniture displays the artwork of Margot Johnson, an pastel and watercolor artist.

• Blackrock Outdoor’s artist is Bruce Bunch, an internationally-acclaimed artist who has won England’s “Queen’s Award” and many other awards of excellence for paintings of birds, dogs and fly fishing.

• In Your Ear Music is exhibiting fine art pottery by Julie Fawn Boisseau, an artist of Native American descent and Jadwiga Cataldo’s fine art jewelry.

• Advanced Medical Supplies features the bold palate knife paintings of William Clarke.

• Appalachian Log Homes showcases photographer Karen Lawrence’s award-winning wildlife photography, with close-up images of wildlife in their own habitat.

• Ironstone Grille features Doreyl Ammons Cain’s paintings of Appalachian culture.

• 553 Restaurant features Gayle Woody, fine painter, teacher and musician; JoAnn Meeks, pastel and acrylic artist; Frank Meeks, photographer; Kathy Rowe demonstrates fiber art and dyeing.

• Friends of the Library presents nature photographer, Etheree Chancellor.

• Penumbra Gallery’s own fine artist, Matthew Turlington, demonstrates his photography techniques.

• Livingston Kelley’s Photo showcases two artists, Jane McClure, a fine painter of local life and Lucius Salisbury, a sculpture artist who has turned to painting with pastels in an impressionistic style.

• Annie’s Bakery displays the pastel paintings of Becky Nelson.

• Yesterday’s Tree’s features Dave Punches, a painter .

For more information, visit spiritofappalachia.org or call 828.293.2239.

Comment

The Haywood Community College Woodsmen’s Team finished first in the 2009 John G. Palmer Intercollegiate Woodsmen’s Meet and Forest Festival Day held at the Cradle of Forestry near Brevard on Oct. 3.

The HCC Lumberjacks piled on victory after victory to win by a 73-point margin against Montgomery Community College, North Carolina State University, and Penn State Mont Alto.

Haywood got off to an early victory in Quiz Bowl as sophomores Bill Sweeney, Dawn Salley, Derek Morgan, and Cory Walsh beat N.C. State in the first round and Montgomery Community College in the finals.

Haywood’s archers kept up the tempo with a first and second place finish, and HCC’s defending log roll team of Frank Potts, Jeremy Graves, Dawn Salley, and Rance Rogers made their under-a-minute win look easy. The lumberjacks placed in almost every event, but secured the blowout with several first-place finishes.

Comment

The Nantahala Outdoor Center will hold its first ever fly-fishing competition Oct. 17 and 18 on the Nantahala River in Swain County.

The first day’s events will be held at the Nantahala Outdoor Center on U.S. 19 in the Gorge and will include a lineup of unique casting events.

“The first one is going to be this thing where competitors have to hit targets that are floating down the river,” said J.E.B. Hall, fishing programs director at NOC.

It’s not unusual for fly-fishing contests to have a qualifying round involving accuracy, but it is usually done on dry land with targets set up in a large field. The floating targets at the NOC contest will each be a different size and carry a different point value.

In the qualifying rounds, competitors will also try their luck casting for distance — again with a twist.

“They can’t use a rod and must use their hands,” Hall said.

The top 10 competitors go on to compete in the second-day, fishing part of the competition, held on the river from the Swain County line downstream to Little Wesser Falls. Fishermen will only be allowed to use one fly.

“There are a lot of fishing tournaments out there, but we wanted to make something different,” Hall said.

The NOC is known for its rafting trips, but the business has also begun offering fly-fishing trips from Asheville to east Tennessee.

“It [fly-fishing] is such a big thing in that part of North Carolina that they wanted to have their own fishing tournament,” Hall said.

The NOC hopes to make this an annual event. It was spurred this year by an early end to the rafting season.

“The river’s not running for the month of October, so we wanted to have some events throughout the month that would kind of fill in for that,” Hall said.

During October, Duke Energy is doing some work on its powerhouse on the lower portion of the river. That work will prevent the company from releasing enough water for whitewater rafting.

While the river may be too low for rafting, the natural flow should provide plenty of water for fishing, he said.

Ben Wiggins, who lives in Bryson City, said the natural flow of the river should make for some good fishing.

Wiggins has been fly-fishing for 12 years, but this will be his first competitive event.

“I think it’s going to be more of a lighthearted event,” Wiggins said.

Comment

Located in a field in the rural Caney Fork community of Jackson County is Judaculla Rock, a soapstone boulder covered with mysterious carvings. The lines, circles and squiggles appear to form distinct shapes, but exactly what they mean, and who carved them, is a source of much debate.

As long as 5,000 years ago, prehistoric Native Americans used the area around Judaculla to mine soapstone, a rock valued for its heat-retaining properties. The Cherokee, later residents of the area, considered the site to be sacred. The first carvings on the Judaculla Rock appeared about 1,500 years ago. According to Cherokee legend, they were created when Tsul-Kalu, the Great Slant-Eyed Giant, jumped from his home on the ridge above to the valley below, leaving a strange imprint.

Over time, others have tried to decipher the symbols. Are they a map of the area? The story of a hunt? Religious, perhaps? Often, different people see different things contained in the carvings.

“Depending on different people’s perspective, the eye will form different connections,” says Laurie Hansen with the North Carolina Rock Art Survey. “However, what the original person was intending to convey or put there, we’re not sure.”.

Comment

By Julie Ball

As a teenager, Josh Stephens worked summers as a rafting guide on the Nantahala River. He’d watch as trout came up on the water to eat flies.

Then a friend, David Woody, introduced him to fly-fishing. That was it for Stephens. He was hooked. He began fishing practically every day, spending hours on local rivers.

He packed his bags and moved to Wyoming and Yellowstone to fish.

Stephens, who moved back to Western North Carolina in 2007, is now a member of Fly-Fishing Team USA and one of the country’s top competitive fly-fishermen.

He and Woody recently took the top spot and $5,000 in prize money at the Rumble in the Rhododendron fly-fishing tournament held in Cherokee.

Both Woody and Stephens also will travel to Pennsylvania for a national competition later this month.

“A good competition is when you get really, really good anglers. And you get a place that’s got a mix of venues. You’ve got venues that are going to produce major numbers, and you’ve got venues that humble people to no end,” Stephens said.

 

Learning to fish

Woody, 48, of Andrews, began fly-fishing long before it gained popularity.

“Back 24 or 25 years ago, there wasn’t a whole lot of information on fly-fishing,” he said.

Woody taught himself to fly-fish, starting out with cheap rods and flies.

“It’s a real thinking man’s sport. You are always learning. It’s always challenging to figure the fish out,” Woody said.

Woody knew Stephens’ dad because they both worked for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

“He [Woody] would take me rabbit hunting on Saturday,” Stephens said. “He introduced me to the fly-fishing part when I was about 17.”

Stephens, who is now 32, took part in a distance casting competition while out west and won it. That began his involvement in competitive fly-fishing.

In 2005, Stephens made Fly-Fishing Team USA. He has competed in national and international events. His most recent international competition took place in Scotland.

 

Rumble in the Rhododendron

It took a wildcard to get Stephens and Woody into the final round of the recent Rumble in the Rhododendron fly-fishing the tournament. But they ended up beating out 21 other teams to take first place in tournament, which is in its second year.

The event, which was held in Cherokee late last month, consisted of two days of competition. It was organized by the North Carolina Fly-Fishing Team and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Fisheries and Wildlife Management.

The Sportsman’s Channel show, “Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Flemming” also filmed the event for one of its shows.

The first day of the competition, anglers competed in several casting events that measure accuracy and distance.

“They had to go through a casting course, and they were scored on their accuracy,” said Christopher Lee, member of the North Carolina Fly-Fishing Team.

The top 15 teams advanced to the second day of the competition when anglers actually hit the water.

Each team chose a section of water known as a “beat” to fish.

“Then they were allowed to go fish on their beat for two hours,” Lee said. “The rule was you could only score five fish.”

The fish were measured for length, and the six teams with the highest scores moved on to the final round.

Stephens and Woody drew the wilcard, which allowed them to advance.

An important part of competitive fly-fishing is picking the right stretch of river to fish.

“An experienced fly-fisherman is going to be able to read the water,” Lee said.

He or she might look for rocks in the water that would provide good hiding places for fish or a good cover of vegetation over the stream, which provides ample bug life for the fish.

 

More competition

These tournaments are getting more popular as interest in competitive fly-fishing grows.

It is extremely popular in Europe, and Europeans tend to dominate the international competition, according to Stephens.

In the U.S. the sport began in the west, but it has spread east and into Western North Carolina.

The North Carolina Fly-Fishing Team got its start several years ago.

“The N.C. Fly-Fishing Team is a group of anglers that came together about three years ago to develop our skills as competitive fly-fishermen,” Lee said. “I see a lot of interest in it, and I think we have some very talented anglers in this area. We’ve got so much trout water here. You’ve got a lot of opportunity to get out on the water to practice.”

Lee and Bryson City angler Paul Colcord will also be traveling to Pennsylvania for the national competition.

Stephens said he’s noticed the local competition is getting better.

“The competitive side of it is really just kind of hitting this part of the country a little harder,” he said.

But not everyone likes the idea of competitive fly-fishing.

Some more traditional fly-fishermen haven’t warmed to the competition.

“Fly-fishing has always been about getting rid of stress. Competitive fly-fishing seems to be about putting the stress back in it,” Lee said of one of the complaints about the competition.

But Stephens and Woody say it’s a great way to improve fly-fishing skills, and they predict it will continue to grow in popularity.

Comment

The Town of Franklin has a town board with six aldermen/alderwomen and a mayor who votes only to break ties. Mayors serve for two years, while aldermen/alderwomen serve for four. This year, the mayor and three aldermen/alderwomen are up for election.

 

Mayor — pick one

Joe Collins, 54, real estate attorney

Collins is finishing up his sixth year as mayor. He served as alderman for six years before that. Collins says he’s pleased with the switch to a government with a town manager and placing the new town hall in a remodeled building downtown rather than in East Franklin.

“I’m very proud and want us to keep it going.”

 

Bob Scott, 68, retired law enforcement officer and long-time newspaper reporter

Scott has served as alderman for almost six years. He emphasizes his support for open government and wants to get the public involved with monthly New England-style town hall meetings.

“In my mind, the government exists only to conduct the public’s business.”

 

Aldermen — pick three

 

Jerry Evans, 54, manager of Terminix Service

Evans has been an alderman for 12 years, with two of those as vice mayor. He said he’d like to see an economic development committee formed to keep money in Franklin and attract new businesses.

“Unless the town can help attract new businesses, there’s no opportunity for our children and grandchildren to live and work in Franklin.”

 

Billy Mashburn, 57, paralegal

Mashburn is Franklin’s vice mayor and has served as alderman for 12 years. He said that the town must be diligent about where it spends its tax dollars.

“Up to now the town is in pretty good financial shape. We haven’t taken a hit like other towns have.”

 

Angela Moore, 28, stay-at-home mom

Moore worked as Franklin’s GIS analyst for almost two years. She said she wants to get more people involved in local government and have the town lower its taxes. Moore said the town should only handle infrastructure, including roads, water and sewer.

“They shouldn’t be doing a whole lot other than that ... There’s a lot we can cut back on.”

 

Sissy Pattillo, 69, retired teacher/counselor

Pattillo has served as alderwoman for four years. She also serves on the Angel Medical Center Foundation board. Pattillo is a third-generation resident of the town with children and grandchildren living in the town.

“I have a vested interest here. Franklin has made great strides, and I would like to help keep that momentum going.”

 

Ron Winecoff, 69, real estate agent

Winecoff is the chairman of Angel Medical Center’s Board of Trustees and the county chairman of the investment and development committee. Winecoff said he wants to improve downtown and see the town make financial adjustments to accommodate for the recession.

“Government has trouble saying no to people, cutting down personnel and cost. I have no problem saying no.”

Comment

Joel Queen has been named the new program coordinator and instructor at the Oconaluftee Institute for Cultural Arts in Cherokee.

“We stand on the edge of becoming a truly unique voice in the world for indigenous art and culture,” Queen said.

Queen, whose art is displayed in such places as the Smithsonian Institution and the British Museum in London, says that art is the same language wherever you go.

“The language of our Cherokee art is so storied with paintings, weaving, wood crafts, stonework and ceramics and I’ve spent my life creating in the Cherokee mediums,” said Queen, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “I’ve been able to make a successful living at it but now it’s time for me to give back and that’s why I chose to work with OICA.”

Luzene Hill, program outreach coordinator for the institute, also has work exhibited in private and corporate collections across the country. Hill said that the institute will benefit from leadership by an artist whose work has been passed down over the generations. The institute gives students a foundation in traditional methods but also gives them the freedom to create contemporary art, Hill said.

Students of all skill levels are welcome at the institute, a joint endeavor of the Eastern Band, Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University.

Students can earn an associate of fine arts degree from Southwestern. If they want to continue their education, they can transfer to Western Carolina University, or any other college in the state university system, as a junior to pursue a bachelor of fine arts degree.

“Not all of our students want to go for a higher degree, and we help them find their place in the market,” said Queen. “That’s important — they can be a great artist, but if they don’t know how to market their work, they won’t be able to make a living from it.”

At present the classes are small enough that instructors can individualize a program around the student’s skill level.

“Here at the institute we respect and honor the traditions of our Cherokee ancestors. But after students master technique, we encourage them to show innovation and creativity,” said Queen.

“For our Cherokee culture to evolve, our art must evolve first ... and art is the same language, no matter where you go.”

While the institute is a mix of traditional and contemporary, the students are also a mix. About half are Cherokee and the others represent a mix of cultures, according to Hill, an EBCI-enrolled member.

“The more students we get, the more programs we can offer,” she said.

For more information call 828.497.3945 or stop by the new location at 70 Bingo Loop Road in Cherokee.

Comment

When Wayne Trapp made his proposal to the WPAC last April, he suggested that rather then depict actual countries in the “Celebrating Folkmoot” work, members of the community contribute designs for the seven flags that would become part of his sculpture.

Following his suggestion, the WPAC held the “Create Your Own Country and Design a Flag” Contest. After reviewing the submissions, Trapp advised the WPAC that he had taken inspiration from all 16 submitted flag designs. He will choose various elements from each design, and those will be reflected on the 14 surfaces of the flag components in his sculpture.

Following are the names of the winners and the unique countries they created:

• Faye Holliday, “Tilian,” a country where the mild sky and open earth devour and save and are at once tamed husbandries of blue and gold.

• Ian Moore,” Pohiccoria,” the Native American word colonists adopted for the hickory tree. This reclaims the word and the land in a new Southern Appalachian country.

• Yvonne van der Meer-Lappas, “Country of Peace and Harmony,” the flower of life symbolizing the harmony in nature’s design.

• Ian Moore, “Columnation,” a country of air...that we might breathe above the formless ocean of the cosmos.

• Caden Painter, “Gyre,” a nation carved out of icy tundra using steam power. Gyre has made steam its greatest technology and resource.

• Caden Painter, “Banmier,” high in the Himalayas, known for metallurgy and famous for swords forged in a secret process.

• Sharon Otruk, “Elysium,” the universal pipe dream that there exists a place where people live trouble-free lives, like utopia or paradise.

• Pamela Perrotti, “Triland,” the combination of three countries into one; an improved and simplified democracy, very progressive on technology, industry and agriculture.

• Valerie Osborne, “Zapponia,” is all about positive, enthusiastic, creative fun. It’s “sole” commodity and reason for being is shoes. Created by two sisters who like lots of choices.

• Glenda Taylor, “Appalachia,” a land of green mountains where harmony exists as a way of life. One slows down and enjoys the beauty of nature in a land of simple ways.

• Becky B. Fain, “Pangea,” meaning “entire earth” in Latin, this is a country dedicated to equality, democracy and diversity where citizens prosper, crimes are nonexistent and everyone lives in harmony.

• Claudia Gard Baltzer, “ICI,” where they celebrate the spirit of love, joy, honor, respect and peace and are happily united through music.

• Micah McBride, “Shape Colors”

• Ian McBride, “Starville”

• Leah McBride, “Shape Country”

• Morgan McBride, “Checkerville”

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

Comment

The Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86 will host the exhibit, “Natural Perspectives,” featuring the photographic work of Vietnam veteran George Schober.

The concept for Natural Perspectives, which opens Oct. 31, is based on three groups of subject matter: clouds, leaves, and botanicals. As Schober explains, “I have always viewed and interpreted the many wonders of our world from a visual perspective, photography has allowed me to express these vignettes of beauty, mystery and interest in a medium that is easily shared with others.”

Schober’s love of photography began in 1970 while stationed in Japan after a tour of duty in Vietnam as a United States Marine. He purchased his first 35mm camera and used it to explore and document this visually unique country and its peoples.

Subsequent years were devoted to education, career, and family, but photography always remained an outlet for Schober’s expression. His passion for photography was renewed in 1998 during a trip to Paris. And now Schober’s photography has progressed through film in the wet darkroom to digital images in the digital darkroom.

In addition to printing on archival paper, Schober uses the new AluminArte process; a unique, high definition imaging technology on aluminum. Unlike imaging processes that print on top of a coating applied to the paper, AluminArte embeds the image into the coated finish of the aluminum. The resulting image has a much wider range of colors that are richer and brighter than traditional professional grade prints with unrivaled depth of field. Schober’s portfolio includes images of his travels, landscapes, abstracts, candid street scenes, botanicals, and transportation images.

Natural Perspectives is the second showing for Schober in Gallery 86. In July 2005, the Arts Council opened its new visual art space with the Sawtooth Center’s traveling exhibition, A Thousand Words: Photographs by Vietnam Veterans. Schober is one of the veterans whose work was part of that exhibition.

Natural Perspectives runs through Saturday, Nov. 14. An artist’s reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 6 at the gallery.

For more information about the show visit the Haywood County Arts Council website at www.haywoodarts.org. This project is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.

Comment

By Julia Merchant • Contributing writer

Priceless artifacts often end up tucked safely away behind the protective glass cases of museums — but not Judaculla Rock.

A thin, twisted piece of rusty rebar is all that separates this well-known boulder, covered with mysterious Native American petroglyphs, from the thousands of visitors who flock each year to the rural Jackson County field where the rock lies. A few hastily tacked newspaper articles do little to convey the importance of this sacred prehistoric site.

“Judaculla tends to be one of the most complex boulders in terms of the amount of glyphs carved into it, and it’s one of the only public rock art pictographs in the state,” said Lorie Hansen, project director of the North Carolina Rock Art Survey. “It’s not currently being protected environmentally or from visitors.”

But that’s going to change, thanks to efforts spearheaded by Jackson County, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology and the Caney Fork Community Development Council. Last month, the county released the findings of a soil survey conducted on the site in July — the first step of a comprehensive management plan for the artifact that will one day result in a boardwalk, more signage, and erosion and sediment control features.

“I think all the commissioners feel an obligation to take care of it,” said Emily Elders, Recreation Project Manager for Jackson County. “It’s a local landmark.”

 

Taking action

Over the years, a variety of forces — mostly human — have caused a great deal of damage to Judaculla. Visitors have highlighted the petroglyphs with chalk, talc powder, and shoe polish in an effort to see them better. At least twice, someone has attempted to remove sections of the rock, possibly for a souvenir; others have left behind graffiti or carved their initials. People have stood on the boulder and used it as a mountain bike ramp.

In the past, the county has made some efforts to preserve and protect Judacualla, but even those did more harm than good. A roofed cinder block building constructed over the boulder in the 1960s created a moist environment that enabled the growth of lichen. The roof was later replaced by an open structure, which caused increased sedimentation.

“What you see invariably is people trying to do the best they knew to do at the time to save it and help it,” said Elders. “I think it’s always been motivated by a desire to do right by the site.”

The need to do something more to preserve Judaculla, however, became more urgent in recent years.

“Many people in this part of the state had become aware of Judaculla and the effects on it from visitors and weathering forces,” said Hansen. “We started a committee to talk about what could be done. Jackson County was very responsive and contributed funds to get a conservation plan developed.”

In 2008, the county commissioners asked Georgia-based Stratum Unlimited to develop a comprehensive management plan that would address ways to alleviate damage to the boulder. Authored by renowned archaeologist Jannie Laobser, the report found that the accumulation of soil and sediment around the rock was “of specific concern,” and had accelerated in recent years, obscuring and eroding the petroglyphs.

The report noted that the boulder was still in remarkably good shape, considering all the damaging factors it had been subjected to over the years. However, it also stated that while the county could continue to press its luck, it also had the opportunity to grab the reins and take a proactive approach to preserving Judaculla.

“The fact of the matter is that the site cannot escape being ‘managed,’ be it in an informal or ‘chaotic’ fashion by the visiting public, or in a more formal, or planned, fashion by the county,” wrote Laobser.

 

Community effort

The county, joined by multiple state and local agencies, stepped up efforts to preserve Judaculla. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was also eager to help protect the site, considered sacred in Cherokee culture.

“In a sense, the Cherokee have a cultural ownership of Judaculla Rock,” says Brian Burgess of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office. “I imagine it’s difficult for any Cherokee citizen, young or old, to visit the rock, and not appreciate the time and work that went into the creation of the glyphs, and not feel some type of spiritual connection to the people that carved the images so long ago.”

The Cherokee Preservation Foundation gave $17,000 to help fund the conceptual site plan for Judaculla.

With the help of public input, it was determined that the best way to preserve Judaculla would be to restore historical stormwater flows and grades to reduce or eliminate the sedimentation that was burying and eroding the rock. But just what was “historical?”

“We don’t have any real records of what the land used to look like around the rock,” said Elders. “When we talk about trying to restore the normal water flow, it makes sense to ask, was anything ever being grown there? Was there a hill behind (the rock) originally? That’s what we were really looking for.”

To gather historical information, the group resorted to creative means.

“We relied on photographs a lot. We ran an ad in all the papers and with the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band asking for stories, legends, or information about Judaculla rock,” said Elders. “We got all kinds of stuff. People brought in copies of old postcards, old articles, some Citizen-Times articles on microfiche, old pictures.”

The information helped the county complete a site plan for Judaculla, which was released this past May.

 

New look

Under the site plan, the rusted rebar which currently serves as the sole barrier around Judaculla would be replaced by a raised viewing platform closed in by railings, The plan also calls for the installation of interpretive signage, which would inform visitors about the archaeological significance of the site, explain the Cherokee legend associated with Judaculla, and detail the more recent history of the Caney Fork area.

A major focus of the plan is getting rid of the sedimentation that has damaged Judaculla over the years. The area’s natural slopes and vegetation will be restored to reduce stormwater runoff. The county is also pursuing a conservation easement that would move access to Judaculla away from the uphill slope above the rock, where visitors currently park.

“That would eliminate a lot of the erosion problem coming from the road. The goal is to get rid of some of the traffic,” said Elders.

Instead, visitors would park further away from the rock and walk along a six-foot wide, compacted gravel access trail.

 

Preservation begins

Implementation of the site plan began this past July, when a week-long soil sampling survey was conducted at Judaculla. More than 100 soil core samples were extracted around the site and examined to help determine what the natural flow of water had once looked like around Judaculla. The findings will help determine the design and placement of surface water runoff facilities and serve as a guide for removing the soil that has built up to obscure some of the petroglyphs.

The eventual goal is to return the soil surrounding the rock back to the level it was in the 1920s, the last time it was a “natural situation,” says Elders. “After that, there was artificial, exacerbated erosion coming in.”

It’s unclear how much more of the rock will be exposed when the soil buildup is removed, since pictures of Judaculla from that time are rare. But Elders says the process will expose more of the rock’s carvings, and will be followed up with stormwater and erosion protection measures to ensure soil buildup is kept to a minimum.

The next step in implementing the site plan is already underway. Equinox Environmental was awarded a contract last month, funded by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, to start engineering some of the drainage and erosion control measures.

Putting the whole site plan in place, however, could take some time.

“It’s a multi-year kind of project broken down into stages,” Hansen said.

Slowing the process is Judaculla’s designation as a state historic site. Archaeologists must approve plans for and be present at each state of site work, in case artifacts are turned up in the process. That requirement is the costliest part of the preservation effort. “The actual construction is not that costly,” Elders said. She said she doesn’t know how much the whole project could end up costing, but will seek out grants to help pay for it.

The whole process of preserving Judaculla may seem painstaking, but it must be that way so the mistakes of past preservation attempts can be avoided, Hansen said.

“We want to make sure it’s the right thing for the site, because in years past there’ve been very good attempts on the part of the county to protect it that turned out to be to its detriment,” Hansen said.

Comment

The Waynesville Public Art Commission will celebrate the installation of “Celebrating Folkmoot,” their third commissioned public art piece, on Nov. 5. The event will begin at 6 p.m. in front of the new Waynesville Police Station.

Colossal in scale, the metal sculpture is comprised of a flowing banner-like form with seven flags that will turn with the wind. The piece will be installed at the corner of Main and East streets in the planter next to the recently constructed police station.

“One of the goals of the Waynesville Public Art Commission is to involve the community in our efforts to enrich our public spaces with art, and enthusiasm for this project is gratifying,” said commission member Marilyn Sullivan.

As with the WPAC’s inaugural art piece, “Old Time Music,” located in the heart of downtown Waynesville, at the corner of Main and Miller streets, funding for the Folkmoot project is being provided by area businesses, community and art supporters and funding from the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority.

The Waynesville Public Art Commission was established in 2006 by the Town of Waynesville and its mission is to engage the community and enrich public spaces through original art that celebrates Waynesville’s unique historic, cultural, natural and human resources.

Following the dedication ceremony, WPAC members will host a celebration reception at the Gateway Club starting at 6:30 p.m. The menu for the evening will include international fare with an optional cash bar and the music will represent the Folkmoot theme. The tickets purchased will be considered a donation to public art, and the entire amount raised will go toward the next commissioned piece for the town. Tickets for this event are $25 and are available through the Downtown Waynesville Association by calling 828.456.3517 or contact any of the following WPAC members: Kaaren Stoner, 828.627.0928; Chris Sylvester, 828.506.2597; David Blevins, 828.316.0266; Marilyn Sullivan, 828.456.8376; Mieko Thomson, 828.456.6710; Philan Medford, 828.456.3184; Mike Gillespie, 828.456.9007; Karen Kaufman, 828.452.0409; Starr Hogan, 770.878.6006.

Trapp will be the featured speaker at the reception and present “The Importance of Public Art.” Trapp has worked in stone and steel for years creating lavish outdoor pieces for corporate and private clients and municipalities. He is well known and his work represented throughout the country.

Comment

The 21st annual Haywood County Apple Harvest Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, in historic downtown Waynesville.

The annual festival, which celebrates the beauty of the harvest season in Haywood County, will have a new twist for 2009. The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce will be teaming with the staff of the Shook-Smathers Museum to host the first Apple Recipe Bake-Off & Auction.

Residents are encouraged to celebrate everything apples and enter their best apple dishes in the contest. All exhibits are to be entered Saturday, Oct. 17, between 10 a.m. and noon on the front steps of the Haywood County Courthouse. Dishes will be judged by a team of residents, town officials and local celebrities. Prizes and rosettes will be awarded to the first through third place exhibits.

The top five entries and their corresponding recipes will be auctioned at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17. All proceeds from the event will go to benefit The Shook Museum. The Shook-Smathers House, located in Clyde, is the oldest frame structure west of the Blue Ridge. Built in the early 1800s by Jacob Shook, the house was later purchased by Levi Smathers, and remained in the Smathers family for 153 years. Dr. Joseph Shook Hall, a descendant of Jacob Shook, purchased the house in 2003, restored it, and then opened it to the public as a museum.

Applications are available at www.haywood-nc.com or the Chamber Office on 591 S. Main Street.

For more information, contact the Greater Haywood County Chamber of Commerce at 828.456.3021.

Comment

The state should turn down Duke Energy’s request for a nearly 13 percent hike in utility rates and instead encourage the giant utility to do a better job with the revenues and power-creation capacity it already owns.

There are several good reasons to turn down the request, but perhaps most relevant is the state of the nation’s economy and the utility’s dogged pursuit of more electricity customers and more business at a time when nearly everyone is searching for ways to cut their energy usage. Instead of building additional capacity and seeking new customers, Duke should be modernizing its system, spending more on green energy, and encouraging the public to make use of every energy savings technology that exists.

The proposed rate hike includes a 13.5 percent residential hike increase and a 4.8 percent increase for fuel costs, meaning families served by the utility would see an 18 percent jump in their power bills in 2010. Duke says it needs the money to modernize equipment, help pay for the new Cliffside coal plant and to help service its debt load.

But there are problems with the request, and nearly all of them came up at a public hearing before the Utilities Commission that was held Sept. 22 in Franklin. The overwhelming opinion at that meeting —including that from the Public Staff, a part of the Utilities Commission that represents consumers — was against allowing Duke to implement the increase.

According to Duke, it sold 2 percent less power in 2008 than in 2007 to its North Carolina customers, and company projections are that electricity use will continue to decline. Many would see that as a good sign that we are becoming more energy efficient and that the greenhouse gases associated with burning coal for electricity are in decline. Duke, however, is seeking to expand its business to new areas in South Carolina.

It has already agreed to sell wholesale power to five co-ops, a decision that prompted South Carolina’s state-owned Santee Cooper utility to scrap plans for a new coal plant in the Florence area. North Carolina regulators say Duke’s phased plan for selling power to the co-ops should protect this state’s consumers from rate hikes linked to the sale, but Duke critics argue that the South Carolina deal comes at the expense of people in this state. When Duke is asking for a rate increase to help build a new plant in North Carolina at the same time energy usage here is decreasing, the link to the selling of power to South Carolina is hard to overlook.

Of course there’s also the issue of the Cliffside plant in and of itself. Building dirty, polluting coal-fired power plants is simply out of step with today’s consumers.

Of course, the timing of the rate hike request could not be worse. Unemployment is at 9.8 percent nationally, foreclosures are still occurring at an alarming rate, and many of those who have jobs have taken pay cuts or a reduction in hours. Duke wants to prepare for the future, but at this time almost every business in the country is hunkering down and trying to hold on. It’s the wrong time to push a rate hike on families, small business, industry and local governments.

No matter how you spin this proposal, it doesn’t look any better. The Utilities Commission needs to tell Duke Energy that the proposed rate hike is a bad idea that it won’t approve.

Comment

Country music recording artist Matt Stillwell will return to his roots Thursday, Oct. 15, for a hometown Homecoming week concert at Western Carolina University to help his alma mater celebrate a major milestone.

Stillwell, a Sylva native who played baseball at Western Carolina before graduating in 1998 and going on to launch a successful career in the music business, will perform in a free concert beginning about 3 p.m. on the lawn of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center.

The concert is part of a block party being thrown by the university to mark the conclusion of its first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign. Christened the Campaign for Western Carolina and centered on the theme of “Creating Extraordinary Opportunities,” the campaign was publicly launched in February 2007 with a goal of $40 million in private contributions to WCU.

Stillwell will take to the stage immediately after the conclusion of “Extraordinary Opportunities Created,” a public ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. in the recital hall of the Coulter Building during which the final tally of the fundraising campaign will be officially revealed.

The celebration is open to all WCU faculty, staff and students, and to residents of the surrounding community. The event will include free ice cream, popcorn and snow cones, in addition to the free concert.

Growing up in Sylva, Stillwell played baseball, football and basketball, and participated in chorus and theater at Smoky Mountain High School. At WCU, he was a member of the Southern Conference Championship-winning Catamount baseball team, playing infield and outfield. By his junior year, he was being touted as a professional prospect. When that didn’t happen, he turned back to music.

“I could have chased the dream and tried out and played independent ball, but I thought, ‘If I’m going to chase something, I’d rather it be music,’” Stillwell said. So he traded hitting singles and homeruns on the baseball diamond for recording hit singles in the studio, heading off to Nashville to launch a career as a country performer.

Earning a reputation as a high-energy performer, Stillwell has become one of the Southeast’s most in-demand musicians. He is touring in support of his 2008 release “Shine,” which features the title-track single. The song’s video was recorded last year at Fontana Village Resort.

Today’s Country magazine touts Stillwell as “a great, new country artist,” and Internet-based country music magazine Roughstock hails “Shine” as “the work of an artist who could rival country music’s big guns.”

For more information about Stillwell’s free performance at WCU as part of events to celebrate the Campaign for Western Carolina, contact the Office of Development at 828.227.7124 or visit campaign.wcu.edu.

Parking will be available at the baseball stadium lot off Forest Hills Road, with shuttles running from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. from the lot to A.K. Hinds University Center.

Comment

Local singer-songwriter Lorraine Conard celebrates the release of her new CD, “Riding on Your Wings,” with a release party to be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Colonial Theater in Canton.

Influenced by a vast and varied mix of artists, Conard’s songwriting style ranges from toe-tapping, country-fried Americana to earthy, folk-tinged blues. All her songs, regardless of their patchwork roots, are anchored by rich, earthy vocals that are equally capable of soothing and electrifying.

For several years, Conard has played regularly to a loyal fan base at several Waynesville venues, where she plays with a variety of other musicians.

“Those mini-concerts give me a chance to experiment with different songs and instruments and arrangements,” said Conard. “The new album captures the best of each, and I feel really excited about the new CD.”

Joining Conard on “Riding on Your Wings” are Kent Roberts on lead guitar and bass; John Greene on bass and keyboards; and Jeff Rudolph on drums. Kent Roberts also served as the sound engineer for the album.

Admission to the CD release party on Oct. 17 is free; donations will be accepted to support the Haywood County Arts Council.

For more information about Conard, “Riding on Your Wings,” and the concert, as well as samples of Conard’s music, go online to www.LorraineConard.com.

Comment

Western Carolina University will sponsor its fifth annual Mountain Dulcimer Winter Weekend beginning Thursday, Jan. 7, and continuing through Sunday, Jan. 10, at the Terrace Hotel at Lake Junaluska.

The husband and wife team of Larry and Elaine Conger of Paris, Tenn., will serve as hosts for the event.

Honored as the nation’s champion mountain dulcimer player in 1998, Larry Conger is the author of eight books of dulcimer arrangements and has been featured on numerous recordings, including “Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer II,” “National Champions” and “Great Players of the Mountain Dulcimer.” He presents dulcimer programs in the public schools as a participating artist for the Tennessee Arts Commission and Kentucky Arts Council.

Elaine Conger’s musical career includes playing keyboards and singing back-up for country music artist Faith Hill. With her husband, Conger now owns and operates a music studio that offers instruction in piano, guitar, drums, voice and mountain dulcimer. A former classroom teacher who earned degrees in music education and elementary education, she has directed and performed in numerous theatrical productions.

“We feel honored to have the opportunity to host this musical weekend with WCU,” Larry Conger said. “The university is committed to quality continuing education programs, and we share that dedication in providing quality educational workshops for the dulcimer community.”

Mountain Dulcimer Winter Weekend will provide an opportunity for mountain dulcimer players of all skill levels to study with nationally-prominent musicians, in addition to Larry Conger, including Don Pedi, Joe Collins, Anne Lough and Jim Miller. The extended weekend format will offer more than 30 hours of classes, staff concerts, jam sessions, field trips and other activities.

Loaner dulcimers will be available for students who don’t have instruments.

The fee for Mountain Dulcimer Winter Weekend is $140 per person. Online registration is available at http://dulcimer.wcu.edu.

The Terrace Hotel will offer a special rate on rooms and meals for participants. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel at 800.222.4930.

For more information about Mountain Dulcimer Winter Weekend, visit the Web site or contact WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach at 800.928.4968 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

A 248-acre tract known as Rainbow Springs at the headwaters of the Nantahala River in Macon County has been protected through a conservation agreement between the long-time landowners and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee.

The property owners, Myra Waldroop and her family, were honored with the Land Conservationist of the Year Award by the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee this month.

The tract is adjacent to Nantahala National Forest lands in the Standing Indian area and contains nearly 4,000 feet of the Nantahala River. It lies on either side of the Waterfall Scenic Byway, which runs from Rosman in Transylvania County to Murphy.

The property has been in the family since the 1850s, at first as a hunting and fishing retreat then a site for family vacations.

“Many family traditions live on,” said Myra. “With this long history, my family and I decided we wanted this property protected from development. The LTLT was our solution. We appreciate working with the folks at LTLT.”

During the 1920s and ‘30s, the Ritter Lumber Company operated in one of the meadows. A thriving lumber town included a post office, commissary, hotel and school. A railroad hauled lumber down the river to be shipped away. In 1948, Myra’s father, Carl Slagle, retired to Rainbow Springs, and later, Myra inherited a portion of the property where both of her daughters now live. The property is currently used for farming and sustainable timber harvest.

“The Waldroop Family conserved their land because of their love of the land and the heritage that the land represents,” said Sharon Taylor with LTLT.

Comment

Franklin High students became active volunteers in a service-learning program this fall to improve the ecosystem along the Franklin Greenway.

More than 40 students, along with local community members, conducted a three-day site inventory and extraction of exotic invasive plants along two miles of the greenway in October.

Exotic invasive plants have seriously degraded the natural areas along the greenway. Exotic plants spread aggressively and monopolize light, nutrients and space to the detriment of native species. As a result, animals that rely on native plants for food and shelter also suffer losses.

“The worst exotic invasive plants change the character of entire ecosystems,” said Mary Bennett, Southwestern Community College’s GEAR UP College Readiness Coach.

Controlling exotic invasive plants is labor intensive, in this case requiring pulling, digging and chopping.

“It’s just plain hard work!” observed sophomore Clinton Anderson, who eagerly uprooted 10-foot-tall shrubs from the woods.

In addition to the manual labor, the program was coupled with classroom instruction, guest speakers and fieldwork exercises.

“Participating in a practical and hands-on activity while communicating with professionals enables the students to improve technical skills and job readiness while increasing their career awareness,” said Bennett.

Other groups participating in the project included Western North Carolina Alliance, Friend of the Greenway, Coweeta Hydrological Lab, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Land Trust for the Little Tennessee.

“The students really took to the responsibility of protecting the natural habitat and wanted to leave it in better shape,” said Franklin Agriculture Teacher Devon Deal.

Comment

Tom Alexander, a famed mountain man, forester and founder of Cataloochee Ranch, chronicled his adventures over the course of his lifetime.

An edited collection of his writings were compiled into a book called Mountain Fever by Alexander’s son in 1995, more than two decades after his father’s death. Tom Alexander, Jr., was a journalist, writing for Time-Life Magazine and later becoming the editor of Fortune Magazine.

The book is chock full of rollicking tales of early life in the Smokies and a fascinating history of Cataloochee Ranch. The writings capture the hardships and joys of converting an isolated mountaintop into a rustic resort, and bring to life the colorful, local characters who helped Tom and his wife, Judy, realize their vision.

An amazing collection of historic photos portray daily life, including works by George Masa, a famed photographer of the early Smokies and a personal friend of the Alexanders.

The book was published by Bright Mountain Books of Asheville. It is available at local bookstores in Haywood County and at the Ranch. www.cataloocheeranch.com.

Comment

Now that it’s clear that Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, did indeed mislead everyone about his involvement in a land deal that one of his companies negotiated with the Tennessee Valley Authority, constituents will be forced to make a character judgment that could stick for the rest of his political career.

This controversy could be a turning point in a political career that just a short while ago seemed to be arcing upward, or it may merely fall by the wayside. Either way, the sad fact is that the entire controversy was self-inflicted.

The land swap involved a Tennessee real estate development in which Shuler was a partner. Apparently, there was an agreement to swap parcels to provide the Shuler development better water access. It’s a routine matter with the TVA, and the agreement was apparently agreed to before Shuler ever became a congressman.

The problem arose when rumors began flying that Shuler pressured the TVA into making the deal. Shuler sits on a committee that oversees the TVA, and he repeatedly told the press he did not contact the agency about the deal.

As it turns out, Shuler did — according to the TVA — call the top TVA official and complain about the land deal happening too slowly. If the TVA is to believed, then Shuler was lying.

Shuler’s office — the congressman himself isn’t talking to reporters — hasn’t addressed the revelations about the contradiction, only telling all media who ask that the congressman was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case, and that Shuler has been cleared by the House Ethics Committee, federal authorities and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). All agree he did not use his office to influence the outcome of the land swap.

But the question now left for constituents to ponder was included in the TVA final report: “Specifically, if all of this was above board, why did TVA and Shuler feel compelled to tell the media that there was no contact between the congressman and TVA in relation to the Maintain and Gain application? There obviously was,” the report reads.

Lies, little or big, have sunk more politicians than any bribe or sexual misconduct. And in a very conservative district, this could spell trouble. Shuler will, of course, be attacked from Republicans who want to take this seat back. He’s also taking heat from his own party for a voting record that swings as far right as any Democrat in Congress.

In the end, this mistake will likely be written off as a political miscue from a relatively green newcomer to the arena of big-time politics. We hope that’s the case, and that Shuler and his handlers learn a valuable lesson about dealing with the public and the press.

Comment

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians played an integral role in the creation of the Parkway. The Parkway was envisioned as a scenic motorway connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

To reach the doorstep of the Smokies, the Parkway needed right-of-way across tribal lands, but securing the route in the 1930s was not easy.

“The battle for this right-of-way started in 1935, and it did not get settled for five years,” said Ray Kinsland, the director of the Cherokee Boys Club, who shared a brief history of the Parkway’s arrival during a torch passing ceremony last week.

Many in Cherokee were resistant to the taking of tribal land to make way for the Parkway.

“A lot of people did not trust the federal government because of history,” Kinsland said. “I don’t know of any other people who have struggled for their land and freedom as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.”

However, some Cherokee leaders at the time recognized the important role tourism would play in the tribe’s future.

“And for tourism, you needed roads,” Kinsland said.

A tug of war ensued within the tribe over whether to give up land for the Parkway, and if so, what the tribe was due in return. The chief and vice chief at the time were on opposing sides of the debate.

What is known is that the Cherokee Reservation is not a reservation in the true sense. The government did not grant the block of land to the Cherokee people. Instead, the Cherokee people pooled their resources and purchased the land over time and placed it in a trust, known collectively today as the Qualla Boundary.

“We had to buy this land with our own money after it had been taken away from us,” Kinsland said.

So when the Department of Interior wanted Cherokee to deed land to the federal government for the creation of the Parkway, the tribe resisted. Their land was taken once, they bought a small sliver of their once vast homeland back, and many balked at giving up even an acre.

But tribal leaders advocating for the benefits tourism would bring eventually won out.

The federal government at first wanted the tribe to give away the land for nothing, but ultimately agreed to give the tribe two other parcels known as the Boundary Tree tract and Ravensford tract in exchange for the Parkway right-of-way. The tribe signed the pact for the right-of-way in 1939.

Two years later, however, Congress decided not to give the tribe the Ravensford tract after all.

More than 60 years would pass before the tribe eventually got its hands on the long-promised Ravensford tract. The tribe negotiated a land swap in 2003 with the park service to gain title to the Ravensford tract to build a new school. The tribe bought 218 acres bordering the Parkway near Waterrock Knob and swapped it for the Ravensford tract, a flat piece of land close to town.

Tribe members were frustrated that it took three tries to buy back a tract of land that was rightfully theirs to begin with, Kinsland said.

The tract now houses the campus of a new $140 million K through 12 school, which opened this fall. Kinsland said the government going back on its word 60 years ago during the Parkway right-of-way negotiations was a blessing in disguise. Under park service control, the Ravensford tract had remained free of development. If it had belonged to the tribe all these years, “it would have been campgrounds and motels,” Kinsland said. “We wouldn’t have had anywhere to put our new school. We see it as a win-win-win.”

Comment

Turkey Rubs

Before cooking the big bird, I like to use a poultry rub. I have two recipes: one that is sweet and the other one is rather spicy.

Spicy rub:

• 3/4 cup paprika (Hungarian is best if you can find it, as it has a much richer, sweeter flavor)

• 1/4 cup black pepper, freshly ground

• 1/4 celery salt

• 1/4 cup sugar

• 2 tablespoons onion powder

• 2 tablespoons dry mustard

• 2 teaspoons cayenne

• 2 tablespoons lemon zest

Mix everything together. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Lasts for about 4 to 5 months.

Sweet herb rub:

• 1/4 cup olive oil

• 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

• 1 tablespoon white wine

• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

• 4 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

• 4 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

• 4 teaspoons onion, minced

• 4 teaspoons garlic, minced

• 2 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

 

Aunt Marie’s Four Cheese Macaroni

• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

• 1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni

• 9 tablespoons butter

• 1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese

• 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

• 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

• 1/2 shredded Monterey Jack cheese

• 1 1/2 cups half-and-half

• 8 ounces cubed processed cheese food

• 2 eggs, beaten

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain well and return to cooking pot.

In a small saucepan over medium heat (or microwave), melt 8 tablespoons butter, stir into the macaroni.

In a large bowl, combine the four cheeses, mix well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the half and half, 1 ? cups of cheese mixture, cubed processed cheese food, and eggs to macaroni; mix together and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a lightly greased 2 ? quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining ? cup of cheese mixture and 1 tablespoon of butter.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges. Serve.

 

Apple Stack Cake

• 3 packages dried apples, (6 oz. each)

• 1 cup brown sugar, packed

• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

• 1/2 cup shortening

• 1 cup sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 1/2 cup milk

• 1/2 cup molasses

• 5 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon ground ginger

• 1 cup whipping cream, whipped (optional)

Place dried apples in a saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash apples. Stir in brown sugar, 1 ? teaspoons ginger, cloves and allspice; set aside.

Beat shortening at medium speed of an electric mixer until light; gradually beat in the sugar. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in milk and molasses.

Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon ginger; gradually add to creamed mixture, beating until mixture forms a stiff dough. Divide dough into 8 equal portions; cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.

Pat each portion of dough into an 8-inch circle on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully remove layers to wire racks; cool completely. Stack layers, spreading equal portions of reserved apple mixture between layers. Cover and chill for 8 hours. Spread whipped cream or whipped topping over the top of cake before serving.

Comment

Tickets go on sale Monday, Nov. 30, for an appearance at Western Carolina University by Garrison Keillor, host of the popular public radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.”

An acclaimed author, storyteller, humorist and musician, Keillor will take center stage in WCU’s Fine and Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Monday, March 8. Reserved seat tickets for “An Evening with Garrison Keillor” are $25.

“We are starting ticket sales much earlier than we do for most other events because we thought many of our patrons might be interested in purchasing tickets as a holiday gift for that Garrison Keillor fan in their lives,” said Paul Lormand, Fine and Performing Arts Center director.

Keillor hosted the first broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion” in St. Paul, Minn., on July 6, 1974. The show ended in 1987, resumed in 1989 in New York as “The American Radio Company,” returned to Minnesota, and in 1993 resumed the name “A Prairie Home Companion.” More than 3 million listeners on more than 450 public radio stations now hear the show each week.

Keillor’s most recent role included playing himself in the movie adaptation of his show, “A Prairie Home Companion.” He also is the author of 12 books, including “Lake Wobegon Days,” “The Book of Guys,” “The Old Man Who Loved Cheese,” “Wobegon Boy,” “Me: By Jimmy ‘Big Boy’ Valente as Told to Garrison Keillor,” “Love Me” and “Homegrown Democrat.” His newest novel, “Pontoon,” was released in fall 2007.

Keillor has received numerous awards, including a Grammy Award for his recording of “Lake Wobegon Days.” He also has received two Cable ACE Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and recently was presented a National Humanities Medal by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame at Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications in 1994.

“An Evening with Garrison Keillor” is sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor and the Lectures, Concerts and Exhibitions Series. For information or tickets, contact the FAPAC box office at 828.227.2479 or online www.wcu.edu/fapac.

Comment

By Karen Dill • Special to the Smoky Mountain News

My memories of Thanksgiving in the mountains are of simple seasonal foods spread on a rough plank table in my mother’s old home place in Madison County. My mother’s people, the Treadways and the Sawyers, were raw, hard-working clans with bodies long and lean and spirits naturally suspicious of outsiders. Their hands were calloused and bodies worn from back-breaking work in the fields; their faces like Dorothea Lange photographs weathered from days spent outdoors and worn with constant worry of survival in the wilderness that they called home.

Life in the back coves and hollows of the mountains was hard and still primitive in the late ‘50s. My relatives in Madison County were without electricity until 1963. In those first Thanksgivings of my childhood, the food was all grown locally and prepared over wood stoves. The smell of food cooked over firewood in the cold dry mountain air of November is forever etched in my memory.

The Madison County relatives were generally a somber bunch from the Pentecostal Church. Although they tended to believe that God was a wrathful fellow, their demeanor softened on Thanksgiving Day and they gave praise to His goodness. The strict discipline necessary for survival in this harsh life was lifted for a day and there was a sense of gaiety and rejoicing in the air, as the living relatives and spirits of the dead were joined together again.

The foods served on those first Thanksgivings of my memory were never store-bought. They were grown and preserved on the same land and in the same house where my mother and her siblings were all born. The cured ham was the best piece of pork from the hog slaughtered in the fall. The turkey — a wild one — was shot by my grandfather and uncles on suspicious hunting trips taken in the days before Thanksgiving in which moonshine was consumed and arguments followed. More times than not, the ragamuffin hunting party returned early on Thanksgiving Day, eyes bloodshot and blackened, staggering into the yard with a puny bird that had been dragged through the dirt for several miles. They were met with both righteous indignation and knowing sighs.

After a few years of the sordid turkey hunt, my mother and the aunts simply bought the bird at a grocery store and prepared it in their own electric ovens. The bird was wrapped in tin foil, placed in a cardboard box and carried in the back of a pick-up truck to the dinner. Despite the effort, the turkey was never the main attraction at those early Thanksgivings. He was an interloper, a visitor tolerated but never part of the family, pushed aside for the more popular ham and vegetables. My uncles, awkward and sober (for the moment) in their flannel shirts and overalls, never warmed up to the store-bought intruder and they eyed him as warily as the Florida tourist as they headed for the side dishes.

The side dishes of the early mountain Thanksgiving dinners were testament to the ingenuity and thrift of the Appalachian people. My father’s family hailed from the Bethel community of Haywood County and their dishes were much the same as my Madison county relatives. The dishes were created from foods found in the root cellars, the smoke houses, spring houses and canning sheds — all structures that were essential to the survival of the mountain family. Thanksgiving was a unique day when all of the foods were presented at once and served with pride and generosity. It was a celebration of gratitude; it was a day when good food and generosity reigned.

My great-aunt Lucinda would lead the Thanksgiving prayer in true Pentecostal style. It seemed to go on forever and was punctuated with heavy gasps and an occasional speaking of tongues. I dared not open my eyes as my great-aunt was a fierce woman who had raised my mother and her siblings after their mother died, and she suffered no fools. I had just last summer witnessed this tiny woman wring a hen’s neck with one hand and casually chop off the head of a copperhead snake that had strayed too close to the woodpile in a single blow. Without taking a breath, she gave thanks to God (who hopefully understood the Pentecostal tongue) for the spring that had not gone dry, general good health that was not aided by physicians, a decent crop of tobacco — the only cash crop, and the fellowship of family. The dead, resting in the family cemetery on the hill with graves marked by crude field rock, were named and their virtues extolled.

As soon as the food was blessed and amens were shouted, the side dish parade began with cornbread dressing and pan gravy served in chipped earthenware and metal plates. Mashed potatoes as well as boiled sweet potatoes swimming in butter made an annual appearance. Leather britches, aka shucky beans, were always on the old plank table as well as pickled green beans and corn. The corn field beans picked from the corn rows in the garden had been strung with white string and hung from the rafters of the can house beside the long strings of dried apples. Another mess of green beans along with kernels of corn was pickled, much like sauerkraut, in large crocks.

Sauerkraut from an earthenware crock was always present at these meals, and I was given the treasured pickled core of the cabbage to munch on while the cousins grimaced. The sauerkraut was pan fried in some fatback grease and was the perfect complement to the boiled-in-butter sweet potatoes. The greens, freshly picked from the winter garden, were collard or turnip and were also fried in the fatback grease. Even the healthiest foods could clog arteries after the mountain women had “doctored them up.”

Another of my favorite foods found at the wonderful table was hominy. The hominy had been created from corn boiled in lye water in the cast iron pot over a big fire built in the front yard. My grandparents made lye by using ashes taken from the fireplace and placed in a piece of hollow log. The log slanted downward and water was poured repeatedly over the ashes and caught in a wooden bucket. The remaining lye water was used to make hominy and homemade soap. The dry corn kernels were cooked slowly and soaked in the lye water until the skin came off and the kernels swelled. The kernels were then washed many times until the lye was removed and stored in a crock. I always loved the story of this transformation. It had an almost biblical symbolism — the kernels cleansed of their earthly skin and transformed to heavenly white. I felt as if I were truly eating manna from Heaven on those occasions, though I doubt that the heavenly chefs fried their hominy in, yes, fatback grease for flavor. Though the leather britches and fried kraut have been dropped from my own Thanksgiving spread, the hominy, in various incarnations, has remained a staple as the years have passed.

The Thanksgiving spread would not be complete without breads and desserts. Cornbread and biscuits served with butter and molasses were always present. Applesauce, apple butter and fried dried apples were served with the meats and the breads and could have easily made a regal dessert. Yet the pumpkin pies and apple stack cake were to follow. Served with steaming hot coffee, slices of pumpkin pies made from pumpkins grown in the fall garden and delicious slices of stack cake made with molasses and dried apples would prove to be the family’s undoing. After many groans and protests, the women headed to the kitchen to wash dishes in the metal wash pan filled with water heated on the wood stove, and the men (if they were still able to move) shuffled outside to smoke cheap cigarettes and pitch horseshoes. Eventually the family would all gather around, flushed with the warmth from the woodstove and sated with good food.

Sitting on the front porch or around the fire built in the front yard for this occasion, stories were told while guitars and banjos were strummed. My great-aunt Lucinda, who had led the Thanksgiving prayer, would also allow herself to be swayed by the mountain tunes and in spite of herself would tap her boot-clad feet from beneath her long skirt in time with the music. A few of the men would wander back to the woodshed to smoke and sip a bit of moonshine or hooch. As they returned, the music would become more raucous and the women, wise from lessons of past experience, would round up the children and make plans to disperse quietly into the late afternoon chill. We would then head up the hill to the family cemetery.

As haunting tunes from banjos and guitars echoed in the hollow, we walked slowly and reverently up the hill, our bellies full of grease-laden food. A chilly wind would blow off of the French Broad River below, and we would huddle together for warmth. I would hear the story of my grandmother’s sudden passing at age 27 from my mother and aunts. I would listen to the sadness in their voices as they described the hardships of life without a mother and their subsequent searches for love in all of the wrong places.

As the years have passed and my great-aunt Lucinda died, Thanksgivings were held at various other houses with electricity and even more of the suspicious store-bought foods. The butterball turkey made his debut and claimed his rightful head of the Thanksgiving table once again. Dressing (never called stuffing in the mountains) was introduced in various forms — some years with sausage, apples, pecans and the occasional oyster. Plain cornbread dressing with sage dried from my herb garden (no eggs or giblets and a ton of butter) is now the popular choice. My Aunt Marie’s macaroni and four-cheese casserole as well as her sweet potato casserole with pecans and little marshmallows are always hits. My mother’s green bean casserole was popular for a few years, then it sadly went by the way of the congealed salads. Leather britches and pickled corn and green beans are only memories that I relate to my doubtful children, who always question why we couldn’t just buy a frozen bag of vegetables or open a can. We now prefer succotash (corn and lima beans) and a variety of roasted vegetables.

I still serve the faithful mashed potatoes, collard greens cooked with sautéed onions, bacon bits, a pinch of sugar and vinegar, pan gravy, pumpkin pie, and occasional stack cake (when I’m feeling ambitious) and a new twist to the old hominy dish. I still brown the ivory nuggets with bacon bits but add black beans, chopped onion, a can of Rotel tomatoes and chilies, garlic, cumin and a bunch of chopped cilantro. My daughter brought her California influence to the dish with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and a dollop of sour cream. The hominy dish is still evolving, and as our world gets smaller with media and travels, our dishes reflect the blending of cultures.

We still share memories of past Thanksgivings as my husband contributes real Southern foods from his native August, Ga. My nephew’s wife contributes food from her native Chile. My son brings Cuban pork from Tampa, and it fits well with the old mountain dishes. Instead of moonshine and cigarettes, we sip microbrews and California wine from my daughter’s home in Mendocino and smoke the occasional Cuban flavored cigar from Ybor City.

Our old farmhouse in Webster has become the setting for Thanksgiving meals now. My aunts have taken co-starring roles in the family productions, and my cousins and I have stepped up to the lead roles. I feel that I am being groomed for the role of family matriarch, the menu planner, the organizer of meals to come. I try to look wise these days and with graying hair and wrinkles, I am beginning to look the part.

We still share moments of gratitude as we gather around the spread of food on the crocheted tablecloth. We’re still relatively healthy; our nation is miraculously led by a remarkable man of color; we are hopeful about the future of our family and our country. My mother passed away last year, and though we cannot hike to the old family graveyard and visit the spot between her mother and fathers’ gravestones where her ashes were spread, we will remember her.

I will remember the old plank table in a chilly old house far from trappings of modern life laden with mountain foods that reflect the lives of a simpler and harder existence. Though the mountains have changed with encroaching development and gated communities, our food, its taste and its aroma, still connect us with a time past. The spirit of Thanksgiving and the food that connects us with the past will live on in our memories and in the new memories that we create.

Comment

Four of the nine members on the Jackson County Economic Development Commission have resigned in the past month, signaling growing frustration among a board that lacks clear direction from the county commissioners.

The director of the EDC had already resigned this summer, and on her way out, she called the EDC board and its relationship with the county dysfunctional. Her parting recommendation was to dissolve the EDC and create a new entity. The current EDC continued to be haunted by old baggage and controversy, including a power struggle with the county.

The EDC board complained this summer that it had no real authority but had been relegated to a mere advisory role, and furthermore, the county didn’t seem interested in its advice. The county provides the lion’s share of funding for the EDC, however, and saw no problem with the entity serving in an advisory-only capacity.

The county commissioners had shown no movement to acknowledge the concerns nor hire a replacement EDC director, prompting the resignations.

“The county administration has more or less taken over the work of the Economic Development Commission,” Attorney Jay Coward wrote in his resignation letter, adding that he “cannot justify further participation.”

The county commissioners are planning to talk about a new strategy for the economic development commission during a workshop in December.

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The Little Tennessee Watershed Association has received a $75,000 grant to help restore migration for aquatic species.

Two years ago, a study of creeks feeding the Little Tennessee River found several places where road crossings inhibited up and downstream movement by organisms. Roads across the creeks were acting as dams, either due to collapsed culverts or culverts not properly conveying the water in the stream.

The grant will come from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, thanks to federal stimulus money. The Little Tennessee River is a priority area for the Fish and Wildlife Service due to the presence of federally endangered species. The threatened spotfin chub is among the fish species whose migration each fall from the Little Tennessee into tributaries is being inhibited.

Grants were also awarded to the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and the Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council for the French Broad River watershed and the Upper Nolichucky River watershed.

“These grants will help local organizations and local people accomplish what really are some tremendous on-the-ground conservation projects,” said Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Anita Goetz.

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