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By John Beckman • Guest Columnist

If Alexander Graham Bell were alive today he’d probably be carrying an iPhone. Based on Samuel Morse’s first telegraph sent via “Morse Code” in 1838, Mr. Bell and others began working on a “speaking telegraph” for voice communication over wires. On March 10, 1876 the 29-year-old Mr. Bell uttered his famous words; “Mr. Watson, come here — I want to see you!” He would be amazed at how far his invention has advanced and the many functions it can perform beyond calling to your assistant in the next room.

We chuckle today at the thought of turning a crank to contact Mabel at the switchboard and asking her to take our wire and plug it into another person’s connector so that we could chat. The automated switchboard put Mabel out of work when any customer could dial directly from their special number to any other number, as long as a wire had been stretched that far. When millions of miles of wire had been pulled across deserts, over mountains and under oceans, the touch-tone keypad replaced the rotary dial and all those old phones joined Mabel and the hand crank in the dusty pages of history.

Old man Bell would have been shocked in 1973 when the first “portable communication device”, based on two-way radio technology for taxis and police cars, made its first call from Motorola headquarters to AT &T’s Bell labs. The chunky “bag phones” with giant batteries, coiled cord and desk phone handset look downright prehistoric when compared to the sleek, compact designs of today. But the idea of bouncing your words off a satellite whirling around in space to anybody anywhere (who had a bag phone), well, that was downright Buck Rogers stuff for a country full of Richard Nixon, sit-ins and Vietnam.

Technology has continued its relentless march to where most elementary school kids can show you how to change the settings on your phone or download the latest “apps.” I was slow to adapt to cell phones, preferring to use the corner payphone when I was away from home and felt the need to “reach out and touch someone.” When I started spending a good bit time in the hills of Jackson County in the mid-1990’s, my wife insisted I get one in case of emergencies. I got an analog “candy bar” phone, and of course, it wasn’t long before analog was no more and I had to adapt to this fancy digital system, with a lot more buttons to consider and try to understand how they could help me.

Fifteen years have passed and still I have failed to keep pace with the constantly changing world of handheld communications. I’m still using the same phone I got for free when I switched plans years ago. It doesn’t take pictures, play music or text (which I’ve still never done). It pretty much just makes calls, which is why I thought I got one in the first place. I’ve never used the calculator or planner, and the “To Do Scheduler” remains empty — a reassuring reference when the rest of my plates seem overflowing with projects. My techie friends have often tried to convince me of the advantages of the latest technology, urging me to abandon my Luddite ways and catch up to the present. I remind them that I still cut my own firewood, keep chickens and grow a lot of my own food, and believe I have little use for a Droid, a Blackberry or whatever comes next to “simplify” my life. I’ve become accustomed to shrugs of disbelief and headshakes when the topic comes up in conversation.

I was visiting with some friends who are all about cutting edge phone apps and was amazed at what these little slick boxes can do, for other people that is. By now, most folks know that they can control the lights in your house, adjust your thermostat, and start the bath water from their phone. Of course you know that you can also do your banking, find anything anywhere, get yourself un-lost, learn a new language or trade commodity futures in foreign currencies by mashing a few buttons. You can unlock your wife’s car from anywhere when she loses her keys (press the unlock button on her spare set into your cell phone while she holds hers next to the car). Feeling nervous? No problem, you can snap virtual bubble wrap on your phone until you calm down. By blowing across your phone and fingering the screen you can create your own live music, along with thousands of other “useful” functions. In theory, these time-savers free up precious moments for us, allowing us more time to gaze across the mountains, probably thinking lofty thoughts, and of more things our phones can do for us.

With phones being able to do just about everything, I’m sometimes nervous about the future utility of men. But I reassure myself that until there is an “app” to take out the trash, lift heavy objects, and remember to put the toilet seat down when we’re finished, that there will still be a use for us in the world, as long as we have a signal and our batteries can still hold a charge.

John Beckman is a farmer, builder and part-time technophobe living in Cullowhee.

Comment

Nine bat species across the South are at risk from a deadly fungus decimating certain bat populations known as white-nose syndrome.

The disease has now been confirmed as close as Tennessee and Virginia. Susan Loeb, a leading bat expert with the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station, says it is just a matter of time before white-nose syndrome is detected in North Carolina where nine bat species are presumed at risk.

“Little-brown bats and Indiana bats are among the most threatened by white-nose syndrome — meaning their populations could either be seriously decimated or become extinct,” said Loeb. “Historically, little-brown bats were quite common, but the species appears to be especially susceptible to the fungus and is being hit hard in the states where WNS has taken hold.”

White nose syndrome affects bats that hibernate in caves and mines. The disease received its name because of the white fungus often seen on the noses, muzzles and wings of infected bats. More than a million bats have died as the result of white-nose syndrome.

So far, white nose syndrome is confirmed in 11 states from Massachusetts to Virginia. The first case of the disease in the United States was reported in New York in 2006. Some experts believe the disease originated in Europe.

Comment

Looking for a high-energy spring art evening that’ll make your jaw drop, open your eyes and please your palate, give a vantage point to view creation, and make you eager to come back the next year?

It’s time for Waynesville’s ninth annual QuickDraw, giving you front-row access to art in the making. QuickDraw’s lively art-while-you-watch event and benefit auction combines a window on the creative process with a fun way to help art teachers inspire students.

Forty professional artists set up studios in one location to create original art on the spot as guests watch the engineering process.

Half the artists volunteer to race against a 60-minute time clock in a traditional quickdraw challenge, while others create at a more relaxed pace. Following the timed art race, silent auction, and hors d’oeuvres buffet, the art is auctioned to benefit art in schools and fund scholarships.

The event is an annual draw for area visitors and art fans to watch and meet prominent regional artists hailing from Asheville to Andrews.

One-hour challenge artists who create start-to-finish in full view include watercolorist painters Ann Vasilik of Asheville and Gretchen Clasby of Knoxville (formerly of Waynesville). Oil painters include Sarah Sneeden of Cedar Mountain, Luke Allsbrook, and Jo Ridge Kelley of Waynesville. Bob Martin of Canton will paint sumi-e landscape (sansui).

QuickDraw attracts regional fine artists and artisans with a public showcase for their creative techniques, a challenging exercise to create ‘fresh’ work (freed from second-guessing), and a way to visibly show support for art in schools.

Guests gain a rare vantage point to watch artists construct their works from start to finish. ‘One-hour challenge’ artists race the time clock, using watercolor, oils, acrylic, pastels, colored pencil, metal, and mixed media. Artists carefully prepare for the challenge of intense, focused execution within the time window.

“There’s an excitement and energy about the evening that I enjoy. The challenge lies in getting done in an hour, on a painting that would by rights take me hours to do,” said Joyce Schlapkohl, an oil painter and Quick Draw volunteer artist. The first year as a participant, Schlapkohl recalls, onlookers would greet her as she worked. “I tried to talk back,” she said, “but soon realized you needed every minute to paint.”

In preparation for the event, pastel artist and QuickDraw volunteer artist Robbins Richardson sets up her studio space to replicate conditions of the QuickDraw moment.

“The easel on a table, my pastels, my coffee, even my kitchen timer. I chant ‘On your mark, get set, go!’ and I see what happens,” said Richardson. “Hopefully, I get it pretty close. I was still nervous last year; it’s anxiety-producing! Can I do the piece well enough in one hour so that someone will want it to take home at auction?...At the end of QuickDraw, back at home, I’m still vibrating, like my finger’s been stuck in the light socket.”

This year, Sarah Sneeden, oil painter, QD volunteer artist plans to execute a sunflower motif in oils at QuickDraw. She doesn’t mind the distractions of a watching crowd. “I have painted in some of the worst places in the worst times,” she laughed, “one hundred degrees, when they’re tarring roads. I’ve learned to roll past things.”

Alongside, demo artists create in process-intensive media at a less intense pace, letting them converse with strolling QuickDraw guests. Demo artists include metal and clay sculptors, potters, woodcarvers, textile artists and quilters, as well as mixed media, collage, leather, gourd, and basket artisans. After the high-energy hour, artists and patrons break for a reception to wind down, frame the fresh works, bid on silent auction art, and preview the live auction art. As the buffet winds down, the new art is matted and framed, and ready-to-hang. Live artists introduce their art on the auction block, adding humor and a backstory as they describe their marathon to a friendly audience.

At evening’s end, bid winners go home with art they can really talk about, art teachers get supplies on their project shelves, students win new creative outlets, artists have new exposure and new friends, and the audience has a vivid impression of step-by-step creation.

 

Want to Go?

What: 9th annual QuickDraw live art event & auction. 40 artists work live, including 60-minute race-the-clock challenge

Benefits: art teacher grants and college scholarships

When: Saturday, April 24, 5:30 pm

Where: Waynesville Inn Spa & Golf Resort

Tickets: $50 advance only, order early.

To order by phone, call 828.452.2432. Buy with PayPal at wncquickdraw.com. Buy in person with cash or check at these Waynesville and Sylva galleries: It’s by Nature on West Main, Sylva; in downtown Waynesville at Gallery 86, EarthWorks, Leapin’ Frog Gallery, Ridge Runner Naturals, Textures, Cackleberry Mountain, and Twigs & Leaves Gallery.

More Info: Visit www.wncquickdraw.com or call 828.734.5747.

 

Quickdraw schedule

5:30 p.m. Terrace Social (cash bar) Get your bid number as artists get ready, get set ...

6:15 p.m. GO! QuickDraw’s Signature Live Hour Race-the-Clock Challenge Silent Auction begins.

7:15 p.m. Heavy Hors d’oeuvres Buffet Live Auction Art Preview. Nosh and chat as artists catch their breath, frame their works. Buy silent auction art, review your Live Auction faves

8:15 p.m. Live Auction The gavel rises on a fun, fast-paced auction, where artists describe the challenge and results.

Comment

There are six Republicans vying for a shot to run against Congressman Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, this year.

The six Republican candidates share similar platforms on all the salient talking points: they are against the health care bill that passed, they want smaller government, they want to reduce debt and they all pledge to “get the country back on the right track.”

But they have vastly different backgrounds. And despite sharing the standard Republican agenda, there are differences that set them apart, with some further right than others.

 

Jeff Miller, 55, small business owner

Miller runs a dry-cleaning business with 24 employees that was started by his parents. He is married and has a 17-year-old son.

Miller founded Honor Air, a program that charters airplanes to bring groups of WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., at no cost to see the WWII monument before they die. His plan was initially to reach all the veterans in Henderson County. But the project took off and by the end of the first year of the project, he had flown 800 veterans to D.C. Last year, the Honor Air network under Miller’s supervision flew 18,000 veterans to D.C. from 35 states.

Why did you decide to run?

“I had never talked about it, never thought about it, but I had a lot of people asking me to do it.”

Those people happened to be what Miller called “bookend generations” that each meant the world to him — his 17-year-old son and WWII veterans who he works closely with through Honor Air flights. They convinced Miller he was the type of common sense leader people were looking for.

What do you hope to accomplish?

“The number one thing we have to do is drive down the national debt. I like to call it beginning the deconstruction of big government.”

What separates you from other candidates?

“I understand the pains and challenges of running a business. I know what it’s like to sign the front of a payroll check and have to back it up. I think right now if there is anything the country needs it is people who have had to balance a budget.”

Miller is more moderate that some candidates.

“I am not a far right-winger. I think both parties have a piece of this mess we are in.”

He avoids bashing the President or the Democratic Party, and he admits there are “some good things” in the health care bill.

www.jeffmiller2010.com

 

Greg Newman, 48, attorney in Hendersonville

Newman is a partner in his firm and practices every type of law, from criminal to civil. He also served as a prosecutor in the 1990s. He served as mayor of Hendersonville for four years. He is married and has three kids ranging from 9 to 20 years old.

Why did you decide to run?

“I saw the fear and worry people were starting to experience. There are a lot of people beginning to think the government is too large, and our kids and grandkids are going to have an enormous tax burden on them. It is that lack of confidence that motivated me to want to get into this thing.”

What do you hope to accomplish?

“I want to restore people’s confidence in our future. We have to make some very bold actions about what we choose to fund in this government.”

What separates you from other candidates?

“I want to be honest with people about what it is going to take to get our fiscal house in order.”

On that note, Newman suggests axing the federal departments of Education, Energy and Homeland Security, considering them a duplication of existing departments or failing to provide any vital services.

“I am the only one who has been bold enough to state specifically what I intended to cut.”

 

Dan Eichenbaum, 67, ophthalmologist in Murphy

Eichenbaum has been a leader in the Tea Party movement and the 9/12 Project in the mountains. Eichenbaum was formerly registered as a Libertarian and ran for county commissioner in Cherokee County in 2002 on the Libertarian ticket. He said he became a Libertarian out of frustration at the direction of the Republican Party at one stage but was “never a big ‘L’ libertarian.”

Why did you decide to run?

Eichenbaum is fed up with government interference in his life and business.

“It got to the point where for the past year or so I have been screaming at my television set and yelling at my satellite radio in my truck.” He even found himself giving political speeches in the shower.

Last spring, he went to the Tea Party in Atlanta on tax day with a homemade sign with a single word: Liberty.

“We get there and there are 20,000 people. I was inspired and empowered.”

He came home and started a chapter of the 9/12 Project that grew from half a dozen to 600 members by the end of the summer. He inadvertently became the leader of a movement, and was ultimately convinced to run by those around him.

What do you hope to accomplish?

“I’ve had a platform from day one: limited government, individual freedom, personal responsibility, fiscal restraint and free market economy. Those are my five tools and my tool belt is the Constitution of the United States.”

What separates you from other candidates?

Eichenbaum said he is more knowledgeable than all the other candidates and has won straw polls at every Republican debate he has been in, which he credits to his ability to define a problem and pose a solution that will work.

“I can speak to those points on any issue anyone will ever ask me about. I am starting to hear my own words come back to me now from some of these other candidates.”

Eichenbaum is sick and tired of top down politics in Washington and RINOS, Republicans In Name Only.


Ed Krause, 63, attorney in Marion

Krause is married and has five grown children and an adopted teenager still at home. He has written three novels set in a fictitious small town in the rural Southern Appalachians. He is a fan of model railroads.

Why did you decide to run?

“I am concerned and upset about the bad economic situation and the government’s inability to solve the problem.”

What do you hope to accomplish?

“We have to pay back the debt. We are mortgaging our children and grandchildren.”

What separates you from other candidates?

“We are all the same. There are only minor differences between us all. I stress that I am a problem solver. I am not a flashy person or eloquent person but I can get the job done.”

 

Kenny West, 52, insurance salesman in Hayesville

West is a representative for Liberty National Life Insurance company focused on businesses accounts and works strictly on commission. He is the eighth ranking salesperson out of 6,800 insurance reps, even though he has only been on the job three years. Before that, he was a regional director with a large company overseing 160 employee that published church directories around the Southeast.

Why did you decide to run?

“When I looked at things going on and the choices being made, I told my wife, ‘This is not the America Kenny West knows.’ I think we forgot about our founding fathers and the principles they stood for when they fought and died for our country.”

West invited over his pastor and friends over to pray and talk about whether West should run while sharing a bucket of chicken wings in his basement one evening.

What do you hope to accomplish?

“I submit to you there is a lack of character in Congress. If we don’t put God and character back in this county, it is over for my children.”

What separates you from other candidates?

West has made his belief in God, his family values and strong Christian principles a central part of his campaign message. He is surprised how absent God is in the other candidates’ platforms.

“I have already been called a theocrat by one of them. Am I a zealot? No, but I am a Christian. All blessings come from God.”

West, a Baptist, represents strong family values. He’s been married just once, never smoked or drank, and doesn’t cheat.

 

James Howard, 72, Franklin

Howard grew up in New York as one of 11 children. He retired to Franklin from Florida in 2002. In Florida, he was a commercial helicopter pilot, but also worked in law enforcement for a stint and owned a real estate title company.

When asked his age, Howard refused, saying it wasn’t an issue in the campaign. “That is the problem with reporters,” he said, and then insisted he was 39. His real age was obtained from his registration information at the board of elections, however.

Why did you decide to run?

Howard filed a class action lawsuit against Congress in 2009 following the passage of the stimulus bill. He filed it without a lawyer, “on behalf of himself and the American taxpayer,” according to the suit.

He claims Congress was “derelict in their duties” and “conspired collectively to undermine the people who hired them with their vote.”

In a nut shell, that’s why he decided to run.

“I am not going to stand by and watch our great country destroy itself under the present leadership of the current Congress,” Howard said. “I am going to give it more than a college try.”

What do you hope to accomplish?

He pledges to always put the interests of those who elected him first.

“They hire me, they elect me, I serve them when I get to Washington.”

What separates you from other candidates?

None of the others have the right experience in the “trenches” of the Republican Party. Howard cited his work as the executive director of the Broward County Republican Party in Florida.

Howard said even if one of the other candidates gets elected, they won’t know what to do when they get to D.C.

“That person will be buried for two years and won’t be able to take his hands out of his pockets. It’s a fraternity up there,” Howard said.

Comment

The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail has added a new stop on the map for anglers — the Raven Fork trophy water on the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

The fly-fishing trail leads fishermen to 15 different fishing spots in Jackson County, from narrow mountain streams to wide rivers. The Jackson Country Tourism Authority came up with the idea last year as a way to harness the potential of touring anglers.

“The Raven Fork trophy water enhances the trail’s overall experience because it provides a type of fishing not found anywhere else,” said Julie Spiro of the Jackson Country Tourism Authority. “It’s thrilling to catch fish on that stream. There are a lot of large trout in there.”

The 2.2-mile stretch is regularly stocked with large rainbow, brown and golden trout. It’s common to catch fish 20 inches or longer, and there are a number of trout that exceed 30 inches. Access is available through several pull-offs along Big Cove Road with paths that run along the stream.

The scenic Raven Fork replaces the Horsepasture River as spot number 6 on the WNC Fly Fishing Trail. Public access to the Horsepasture River is becoming increasingly limited, which prompted the change.

Raven Fork is designated by the Cherokee as catch and release fly-fishing only. Anglers wishing to fish Raven Fork need to purchase a $20 special use permit and a $7 daily permit from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.

Local guide Alex Bell, who helped create the trail, often has anglers request a trip to Raven Fork.

“Cherokee wants to be a destination east of the Mississippi River that every fly fisherman knows,” Bell said. “They have different strains of trout coming in and have great vision for their fishing program.”

The Raven Fork trophy water in Cherokee and the Tuckasegee River above Dillsboro are two of the most rewarding stretches for trout fishing in the region.

“Those are the two big boys. And they’re both on the trail,” Bell said.

800.962.1911 or go to www.FlyFishingTrail.com.

Comment

A pair of endangered peregrine falcons has established a new nesting spot on Whiteside Mountain near Highlands, forcing a relocation of the climbing route on the face of the mountain.

Whiteside Mountain has been home to a nesting pair of falcons for years, but this year they have moved their nest from the west to the east side of the cliff.

“This year, they’re mixing it up a bit,” said Chris Kelly, Wildlife Biologist with N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and coordinator of the peregrine falcon monitoring program. “It’s hard to say why they moved to the other side of the cliff, but we do know that a new female is on territory this year.”

The move could also be a response to disturbance in 2009. The closure was violated last year, and the nesting attempt failed for the first time in 11 years.

“Peregrine falcons do not respond well to disturbance,” says Kelly. When falcons are tending eggs or nestlings, the presence of people near the nest may cause the adult birds to spend time away from the nest, leaving eggs or nestlings exposed to the elements and delaying food deliveries.

A young bird flushed off the nest will fall to its death. By adhering to the closure, climbers can help ensure that the birds will be able to finish nesting in a timely fashion. If they are disturbed, they will attempt to re-nest, which will delay opening of this cliff significantly, as was the case in 2009.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest that the falcons nest undisturbed,” said Kelly.

The east side of the cliff will be closed to climbers through August 15 — specifically the cliff face east of the “Mainline” climbing route. When facing the cliff, east is to the right. The west side of the cliff will be open this year for a change.

The Forest Service has updated the proper climbing routes in the trailhead kiosk and is posting signs on the trail.

Whiteside Mountain Trail remains open for hiking. The cliff is so enormous that the birds do not respond to hikers up top. Visitors may catch a glimpse of the falcons from the trail as the falcons wheel around chasing vultures and hawks and swooping after prey.

www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc or 828.524.644, etc. 424 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist

Plunging public support for Obamacare accelerates presidential efforts to convince the nation that great health care savings are in our future. However, common sense leads most citizens to conclude that giving services to more people requires more dollars.

People’s common sense conclusions are reinforced by the words of Timothy Cahill, the state treasurer of Massachusetts. In a Wall Street Journal article he reminds us that Presidential adviser David Axelrod hailed Massachusetts’ universal health care as the “template” for Obamacare. This is not reassuring, as the state’s program was supposed to cost taxpayers $88 million a year. Since adoption in 2006, however, costs have exceeded $4 billion. Cahill explains that MassCare, as it is called, survived only because of Medicaid reimbursements and federal bailouts.

Cahill forecasts that Obamacare will cause health care inflation and grow federal deficits to “frightening” levels. This rebuts the Congressional Budget Office, which said the legislation would reduce the budget deficit over 10 years by $138 billion.

These conflicting forecasts are explained by the role of the CBO. The “scores,” or cost impact studies, provided by CBO for proposed legislation reflect only what Congress says it intends to do. The “scores” are not based on independent assessments of political and economic realities. For example, when Democrat lawmakers sought the CBO’s score for the proposed health care legislation, Congress said it would cut Medicare spending by a half trillion dollars. The CBO was required to assume this reduction would become a reality, but this spending cut is as likely as a snowstorm in Miami in July.

In spite of the CBO’s favorable “score” of Obamacare, its forecast for the future is disheartening. A $1.3 trillion deficit is expected this year after last year’s $1.4 trillion deficit. It assumes lower deficits thereafter but predicts a doubling of debt from 2009 to 2020 to a total of $15 billion, or 67 percent of GDP. Interest expense will triple in the decade ahead. Some analysts see even more debt unless political leadership changes.

The United States government is embarking on an extended term of indebtedness without equal in our history. Financial markets reacted in late March to this reality as sales of U.S. Treasury debt encountered wary buyers.

The status of financial affairs at the state level also portends future grief for taxpayers.

In its December 2009 “Review” of North Carolina’s budgeting affairs, the Civitas Institute of Raleigh reported that in the budget periods from 2004-05 through 2007-08 the state collected a $3.4 billion surplus. However, only $787 million was left in the “rainy day” fund by 2008. The budget years that followed increased taxes on citizens while legislators failed to make necessary spending cuts. As in Massachusetts, a federal government bailout made a great difference. In our present budget cycle, the state will spend a total of about $20.7 billion, but more than 8 percent will come from the federal government and over half of Washington’s dollars will be spent on Medicaid and childcare subsidies.

Spending attitudes at the local level also reflect a disconnect between taxpayers’ burdens and public officials’ wants. Readers of this paper recently learned that Haywood County Community College proposed to spend over $10 million for a new complex for teaching arts and crafts. Taxpayers and county commissioners coping with a deep recession and a 11.2 percent state unemployment rate are right to question this expenditure.

For decades, the big spenders of both parties skillfully manipulated the political system. Entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare offered great benefits to the elderly as a declining number of the young labored. Agricultural subsidies and increasing federal aid to states and cities concentrated the benefits of public largess on a few while the costs were dispersed upon the many. It could not last.

Public apathy has been replaced with citizen activism. Middle-class Americans have seen their future, and the futures of their children and grandchildren, erode before their eyes. Thousands of citizens have protested publicly. They will not shut up and go home. Last week in this paper, Bruce Gardner made a compelling case why Haywood’s 9/12 Project and the Tea Party Movement will change America.

But there is also another transformation. A new Republican Party has emerged. It is young, dynamic and will not compromise its fiscal integrity (full disclosure: I am a member of the Haywood Republican Executive Committee.)

On the national scene, articulate Republican Congressmen like Eric Cantor of Virginia, Mike Pence of Indiana, and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin are fighting for fiscal reform, as is former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, the primary frontrunner for a U.S. Senate seat.

On the local scene, the Republican primary offers a lineup of qualified conservatives. Our standard-bearers will bring real change.

Stay tuned. The best is yet to come.

(Kirkwood Callahan is retired and lives in Waynesville. He has taught government courses at four southern universities. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

Comment

A malicious prosecution lawsuit by a woman accused of misappropriating flood relief donations was dismissed by a federal judge last week.

Denise Mathis, former director of the Haywood County Council on Aging, claims she was wrongly accused of mismanaging the finances of the agency she once led. Mathis lost her job and was charged with 14 counts of embezzlement in 2006 for allegedly misappropriating $100,000 in aid in the wake of massive flooding along the Pigeon River in 2004.

In an attempt to clear her name, Mathis sued District Attorney Mike Bonfoey and Waynesville Detective Tyler Trantham for malicious prosecution and accused them of inadequately investigating her case. She also sued them for conspiracy and making false public statements.

But a federal judge disagreed that Bonfoey or Trantham set out to malign Mathis. They were acting in their official capacity and cannot be sued simply because the target of an investigation doesn’t like the outcome.

“To do so would subject every prosecutorial decision, every investigation that leads to charges, and every decision of a grand jury to be second guessed by a federal court,” Federal Magistrate Dennis Howell wrote in a recommendation that laid the groundwork for the dismissal by the judge.

The embezzlement charges against Mathis were ultimately dropped. While the $100,000 in question did not make it into the hands of flood victims as donors intended, Mathis used it to cover expenses of the nonprofit agency rather than personal gain, Bonfoey said of his decision to drop the charges.

Mathis could appeal the case.

Comment

Soccer coach Nathan Trout recalled, with a tinge of jealousy, the four “unbelievable” sports parks in his Florida hometown, including six soccer fields.

“It’s almost embarrassing for the community to not have nice facilities for their kids,” said Trout. “I’m just surprised that there’s not a piece of land where they can build it all.”

Trout said he doesn’t understand why the county can’t accommodate athletes from multiple sports in one convenient location.

Trout, who coaches a traveling girls’ team for Carolina Mountain Soccer Club, says he’s had trouble convincing other teams to come to Haywood County.

“Here, we’re so limited,” said Trout. “Obviously, baseball is facing the same problem.”

Currently, the county has no regulation-size soccer fields, and the facilities that are around are either not well-maintained or not publicly available after hours. None of them are striped for soccer, according to soccer coach Geoff Chitea.

Not infrequently, slack mowing schedules allow grass to grow too high for play, while fields remain wet long after rainfall.

Some field owners bar access after hours due to potential liability issues, and others drag the goals off the field to specifically discourage soccer games after hours.

“They don’t want the grass messed up,” said Chitea, who likened playing soccer without goals to playing basketball without a backboard.

Both Trout and Chitea argue that developing soccer fields at the Jonathan Creek Park would benefit more people than the community realizes.

Trout estimates that 600 kids play soccer in Haywood County alone, while Chitea emphasized that adults like to play casual games all throughout the year. On most evenings and weekends, about 15 to 20 people regularly show up to play pick-up games of soccer.

“We’ve had nights during the summer where our numbers swell up to 30 people,” said Chitea.

While football and baseball enthusiasts pack up whenever their season ends, Chitea says there’s really no such thing as a soccer season.

“You see soccer players out on those fields all year long whenever the weather’s nice,” said Chitea.

Trout and Chitea said they are disappointed with the three options presented by the recreation board at the last meeting.

“Obviously, soccer really took a backstage to baseball/softball,” said Chitea. “They all look like we built a baseball facility, not a community park.”

Chitea says the multipurpose field seems more like an afterthought, with restrooms situated much closer to the baseball fields in all three options. Kids who play anything other than baseball or softball will face a much longer trek to the bathrooms.

Chitea says he does appreciate the walking trails at the park, and hopes that the multipurpose field will at least be Astroturf to allow for soccer play year-round.

Meanwhile, Trout would like to see the Haywood County community readjust its focus. Citizens placed too much stress on the park’s ability to drive revenue at the first public meeting, Trout said.

Rather than chasing athletes from other towns, the county’s primary concern should be taking care of the youth at home.

“I think there’s too much focus on worrying about tournaments and driving revenue, rather than taking care of the kids and the community that presently play here,” said Trout.

Comment

Limit prior to 2008: .08 parts per million

New limit set in 2008: .075 parts per million

New limit pending in 2010: Between .06 and .07 parts per million

How WNC stacks up

Ozone levels have improved gradually in WNC over the past 10 years. They can vary widely from year to year depending on weather, however. Wetter and cooler summers see fewer bad ozone days that hotter, drier ones.

To determine whether WNC meets the new ozone limits, an average of three years worth of ozone readings — from 2008 through 2010 — will be used.

Here’s the levels for ozone monitoring stations in the region based on the three-year average from 2007-2009. Ozone is worse at higher elevations and surprisingly consistant across the mountains.

Waynesville    .068 parts per million

Bryson City    .064 parts per million

Asheville    .069 parts per million

 

High elevation sites

Purchase Knob    .074 parts per million

(near Hemphill Knob above Jonathan Creek in Haywood County)

Frying Pan    .074 parts per million

(near Mount Pisgah off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County)

Mount Mitchell    .074 parts per million

(highest elevation on the east coast)

• A monitoring station has been recently installed on Barnet Knob on Cherokee Indian Reservation and will be providing data this year.

Comment

In 1980, Gov. Jim Hunt signed a proclamation declaring Franklin as the “Quilting Capital of the World.” That tradition has been preserved and is being expanded in a major way. Maco Crafts — a nonprofit cooperative that operated from 1969 until 2001 — produced many quilts, but three unique creations have continued to draw admirers and promote Macon County.

These three quilts, after many years, are now reunited in Franklin, and will be welcomed home at a special showing on April 17. “Patterns of our Heritage” will feature the quilts, but will also have various exhibits that show not only how the quiltmaking tradition is being preserved, but how it is expanding and evolving into an important part of the economy.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “Quiltmaking is a $3.3 billion industry today, with 27 million enthusiasts.” These quilts can play an important role in attracting folks to Franklin and Western North Carolina. The Folk Heritage Association of Macon County is developing plans for a Living Heritage Center that will showcase the way of life in these mountains. The quilts will ultimately be displayed there, but in the interim, they can be displayed at many locations around the area.

The Original World’s Largest Quilt was created in 1980 and has been a “roving ambassador” for Franklin since that time. Measuring 18-feet by 21-feet, it was displayed on the “World’s Largest Bed” at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tenn. In addition to appearing at many fairs and festivals, the quilt hung in the John F. Kennedy for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. for one month. A bus was chartered to take the quilters, the mayor of Franklin, and many local folks to Washington where they were hosted by Rep. Lamarr Gudger and his wife. The Friends of the Kennedy Center held a reception for them.

Some other major appearances of the Big Quilt were at the Master’s Golf Tournament, the Southern Living Show in Charlotte, and in New York City.

In 1980, Philip Morris Corporation began assembling the “North Carolina Collection” of North Carolina crafts at their cigarette manufacturing plant in Concord. The design firm of Chermayeff and Geismar Inc. in New York contracted with Maco Crafts to produce a giant wall hanging for this collection. Made up of 333 different traditional patchwork patterns, it is 10-feet high and 38-feet wide, with the colors blending from one to the next in a rainbow-like effect. When the Philip Morris plant closed in 2009, they chose to return the big wall hanging to the place of its creation, donating it to the Folk Heritage Association.

The third quilt in this trio was in the process of production when the 9/11 tragedy occurred. Originally designed as just a celebrity autograph quilt, the focus was changed to “The Celebrate America Autograph Quilt.” Centered by a hand-painted American flag and the motto “Out of Many, One,” the quilt is bordered with autographs of heroes like emergency medical workers, firefighters and law enforcement officers. In addition, there are around 40 celebrity autographs from all walks of life; for example, Kenny Rogers, Maya Angelou, Richard Petty, Alan Jackson, Bill Friday, Dean Smith, Elizabeth Taylor, and Tom Glavin. The quilt was given to KIDS Place, a local center for child abuse services, to use as a fundraiser. The winner of the raffle, Linda Tyler, chose to donate the quilt to the FHAMC so others could enjoy it.

Co-sponsored by Folk Heritage Association of Macon County, the Town of Franklin and Macon County, the event on April 17 is designed to do four things:

• Recognize the role of quiltmaking in the cultural heritage of Western North Carolina’s mountains and in its future.

• Showcase three priceless examples of this art form.

• Honor those who created these unique, incomparable treasures.

• Appreciate those who so generously made these quilts available to the Folk Heritage Association and the people of Macon County.

It is easy to forget the hundreds of hours of work that went into the creation of these treasures, but on this day, the guests of honor will be those women who worked so hard. Sadly, many of them have died, but any family members present will be recognized.

During the event, attendees will be invited to take part in the design and creation of another quilt, “Macon County Treasures.” When completed, it will become part of the Macon County collection of quilts.

Throughout the day, music will be provided by Macon County’s own Ronnie Evans. Playing his classical and steel string acoustic guitars, he will perform pieces that range from pop standards of the past to bluegrass and easy listening.

For more information, call 828.342.0644 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Comment

N.C. House District 119 represents Jackson, Swain and portions of Haywood and Macon counties. In the Democratic primary, incumbent Phil Haire faces challenger Avram Friedman. The winner will face Republican candidate Dodie Allen of Jackson County in the November election.

Phil Haire, 73, attorney in Sylva

Experience

Haire has served five terms as a state representative. He is chairman of the N.C. House Appropriations Committee. Haire served in the U.S. Air Force and obtained the rank of captain.

Platform

As chairman of the appropriations committee, Haire has seen the state’s budget crisis firsthand. He is running on a platform that features bolstering the economy, preserving jobs and balancing the budget.

“My number one interest is maintaining the fiscal integrity of the state. Let’s keep us strong without having to cut employees and services,” Haire said.

Haire points to his voting record on environmental issues — sponsoring steep slope development and clean air bills and promoting farmland preservation –– as proof that he is a champion for keeping the mountain region pristine.

“My people go back 250 years in the mountains, and I’m a mountain person, so it’s one of the first things I think about –– protecting this place,” Haire said.

Haire also emphasizes his record of helping critical local development projects –– like the Jackson County Senior Center in Webster –– and his advocacy for Southwestern Community College funding as evidence of his attention to detail in his district. His tenure has given him clout to help gets things done that a newcomer would not enjoy. He has pledged to keep education strong, and he said he will continue to press NCDOT to get I-40 open as soon as possible.

“I never get into finger-pointing,” Haire said. “I just run on what I’ve done, and if people like it, I hope they’ll vote for me.”

Comment

Like many of the stakeholders in the argument, county commission chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick wishes the county could build enough fields for both sports. He played baseball in college, and his daughter is currently a soccer player.

But if he has to pick, Kirkpatrick believes the baseball and softball community is next in line for an upgrade, citing the county’s recreation master plan showing a greater deficit of softball fields than soccer fields.

The county’s Allens Creek park — constructed nine years ago — elicited a similar debate between soccer and softball. Ultimately, it was designed as purely a soccer park since the need for soccer fields was greater at the time. It has three playing areas, although none are regulation size required for hosting tournaments.

Baseball/softball advocates argue it is their turn now. The county doesn’t operate any baseball or softball fields. Instead teams rely on private fields, town fields and school fields available for teams.

“The main thing that I see is the lack of county-owned baseball fields, but that’s why I also support a multi-use field out there,” said Kirkpatrick, who is also a member of the recreation board. “It’s just hard to get a full-sized soccer field or a full-sized baseball field in the mountains.”

Kenny Mull, assistant commissioner of Mountaineer Little League, is in the same boat as Kirkpatrick, having also been parent of soccer players. But he says the opportunity of having a county-owned baseball/softball facility has been a long time coming.

“I don’t have anything against soccer, but I’ve been with the Little League for 35 years,” Mull said. “It is our time, I think.”

For nearly the entire existence of Mountaineer Little League’s boy’s baseball and girls’ softball programs, games and tournaments have been hosted on fields owned by private civic organizations like the Elks and the American Legion.

The result has been that Mull and other Little League administrators have had to undertake field maintenance on their own, adding a huge amount of cost and labor to the league’s operations.

“It’s really something we need badly and we’ve never had the opportunity to get,” Mull said. “We’ve never even had the chance to push for it until now.”

What Mull is pushing for is a county-owned and maintained tournament caliber baseball/softball complex for the more than 500 boys and girls ages 8 to 16 in the Mountaineer Little League system.

The plan they favor calls for a “wagon wheel” four-plex field setup that would accommodate the new Little League field specifications. As the game has developed, the regulation distance for fences has been moved from the old distance of 200 feet to 225 feet.

Mull said a “wagon wheel” field setup at Jonathan Creek could allow the Little League to hold regional tournaments with four games going simultaneously. The facility could also be a home for adult softball tournaments, though softball fields require 300-foot fences.

“If you had a field like that, you could host Little League tournaments and traveling tournaments any weekend you wanted to,” Mull said.

Mull explained that the Mountaineer Little League currently hosts tournaments among a variety of locations, making it hard for out-of-town visitors to enjoy the experience because they are rushing from one site to another.

He sees the potential for a centralized tournament complex as a revenue boost for the county.

“It’s a great moneymaker for the county, because it brings people into the hotels and restaurants and everything,” Mull said. “It’d be a really good thing. I hope it works out.”

Lee Starnes, past president of Mountaineer Little League, has attended the planning meetings and looked at the proposals. For Starnes, the proposed baseball/softball complex would provide much-needed practice space and solve a longstanding problem.

“Because of our location in the mountains, we simply don’t have the available space and what is available is expensive,” Starnes said.

Like Kirkpatrick, Starnes said he wished the county could build both tournament soccer and softball facilities, but he knows the county budget won’t allow it.

“I’m in for all of it,” Starnes said. “It’s for the kids, and whatever we can do for the kids is great.”

Comment

By Dr. Robert H. Spiro Jr. • Guest Columnist

Friday, April 6, 1945, is a day emblazoned in my memory. Sixty-five years ago this week, off Okinawa in the East China Sea, a Japanese kamikaze plane crashed into the port (left) side of my destroyer (called by sailors a “tin can”), penetrating the hull and exploding on the opposite side of my ship — the USS Morris. The bow was almost severed from the ship, and the explosion was catastrophic. When it was over, 24 men were dead and 44 wounded, almost 30 percent of the ship’s crew.

America and its allies landed 182,000 soldiers and Marines on the southwestern coast of Okinawa Gunto, a small island in the Pacific Ocean just south of Japan’s main islands. I was aboard Morris as supply and disbursing officer, a lieutenant (junior grade) in my eighth Pacific campaign of WWII.

More than 2,528 ships descended on Okinawa in a last, devastating amphibious operation envisioned as the final onslaught before invading the Japanese home islands in October to end the war.

I recall the tension aboard the Morris on the eve of Easter Sunday, April 1. Before midnight, in the pitch dark, USS Morris and ships nearby quietly moved forward to be ready for the pre-dawn bombardment and landings. Dozens of destroyers were stationed about 14 miles offshore to intercept the expected attacks by swarms of desperate kamikaze planes.

April 6 was the most momentous day in the history of USS Morris. This was no accident, for the admiral who commanded all Japanese forces in the East China Sea (Admiral Toyoda) began his Operation Ten-Go in earnest that day, trying to stem the American tide. He had available 699 aircraft, 355 of them kamikazes. This was to be the first of 10 massed kamikaze onslaughts called kikusu, or “floating chrysanthemums.”

A total of 182 Japanese planes in 22 groups attacked the U.S. Navy off Okinawa that day. Seventeen American ships were sunk or damaged by swarms of planes. Morris survived unscathed ... until just 38 minutes before sunset. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison noted that a Japanese plane, later identified as a “Kate” torpedo bomber carrying either a heavy bomb or a torpedo, appeared out of the setting sun, skipping just above the waves, and crashed into Morris midship. Fires spread rapidly and ammunition exploded. The fire main forward was severed. Fire hoses had insufficient water to stop the blaze.

I was at my battle station in the combat information center when it happened, with about a dozen shipmates, perhaps 20 to 30 feet from the explosion. We were knocked violently to the deck and the CIC was engulfed in total darkness. Dazed but uninjured, we dashed out on deck to find total chaos, with terrible damage to the forward half of the ship. The scene was one of dark wreckage, twisted metal, oil, fire and the noise of wounded and dying men. We pulled the wounded to safety, administered first aid, manned the fire hoses, organized rescue parties, and tried to save the ship.

Another destroyer and a destroyer escort finally arrived to help with the wounded and to fight fires. We thought that the ship would have to be abandoned as it developed a severe list (leaning) to the port side. But with the help of other ships and the heroic efforts of Morris’ surviving crew, it was saved.

About midnight, six or seven hours after being struck, the official action report notes that Morris slowly limped into the nearby anchorage archipelago of Kerama Retto:

“Underway with port engine ahead one-third, starboard engine ahead two thirds, maneuvering with the left rudder because of a large section of the hull bent outboard on the starboard side-at a speed of seven knots. Steering control in after steering with directions from bridge over JV circuit. Commenced pumping A-4 and A-6 to remove a 5 degree port list.”

The repair officer at Kerama Retto recommended that Morris be towed to sea and sunk, because it was “junk.” But during two months at anchorage, by incredible efforts of the surviving crew, Morris was patched up and set sail, returning to port in San Francisco’s Hunters Point shipyard on June 18, 1945.

American casualties in the Battle of Okinawa (65 years ago this week) were the highest of any campaign in WWII’s Pacific War: 49,151, including more than 12,000 killed or missing and more than 36,000 men wounded. The Army alone suffered 4,482 killed and 19,099 wounded. Navy and Marine losses were also high. The United States lost 36 ships sunk and 368 damaged. Japanese losses were staggering, with approximately 110,000 combatants and service troops killed. More than 42,000 Okinawans also perished.

Following the carnage, President Truman ordered two atomic bombs, and the terrible war was ended by Japan’s unconditional surrender on Sept 2.

(Dr. Robert H. Spiro Jr. left active duty in the Navy after the war, but remained in the naval reserve, retiring as a Rear Admiral in 1978 after 37 years of service. He earned a doctorate in history and served as a university professor, dean and president, Undersecretary of the Army, and National Executive Director of the Reserve Officer’s Association. He has served his country and his community in many other capacities over the years. A native of Asheville, he now lives in Charlotte. His son, Jay lives in Jackson County with his wife and their children.)

Comment

When I took my morning walk with our miniature dachshund to the mailbox to get the mail last Friday, I wasn’t really expecting much — a couple of bills, maybe a movie from Netflix, the usual mix of junk mail. I found all of that, along with an oversized padded envelope, the sort of thing you get when someone is sending you an “official document” and wants to be sure it arrives unharmed. I checked the return address and saw that it had come from my Aunt Janie.

On the way back to the house, I thought about what it might be. Maybe a newspaper with an article about one of our relatives in it? Maybe a magazine she wanted me to know about for some reason? I hadn’t heard from her, so obviously I wasn’t expecting anything. When I got back inside, I opened it up and beheld a bright purple folder, bulging with whatever was inside. I opened that, and saw what must have been two dozen photographs, along with the original funeral “programs” from my grandparents’ funerals, one for my grandmother, who we lost in August of 2001, and one for my grandfather, who died when I was just 9 years old, in March of 1971.

In those days, it was pretty common to have the viewing in the home, and I remember standing in the large entry way leading into the living room, watching as Papaw’s children, including my father, went up one at a time to see him once more before they shut the coffin lid. My mamaw sat at the kitchen table, with just the slightest trace of moisture in her eye.

That was the only time I can ever remember my dad crying. I may not have understood death exactly, but I knew then that no one is immune from pain and suffering and loss. I knew that something had changed and that things would not be as they were before, that the family would not, that my mamaw — in spite of her incomprehensible strength — would not, that I would not.

I shook out of this reverie and spread the photos over the kitchen counter. Some of them I knew already, including one of my dad and his four siblings, including Janie, that I have always cherished. It was taken when they were all still in their 20s or early 30s. Somebody — my mother probably — somehow convinced my dad to wear a suit for the photo, although his older brother John R got away with a green button down shirt that looks as if it could be flannel. But they all look good in it, and it occurs to me that this is the way I think of them, my aunts and uncle, because I have seen this same picture on the walls of various houses since I was 5 years old. Now it is going up in mine. This is them. It will always be them.

While a few of the other pictures were nearly as familiar, most of the photographs were completely new to me, including various photographs of my dad as a child. In one of them, he is 9 years old, hair still blonde, swept over — but not really combed — from one side to the other as he posed for what appears to have been a school picture. He is not pleased to be in the photograph, although his countenance is one more of studied indifference than a scowl. Is it over? OK, then.

In the next photograph, Janie is standing in the yard, waving at whoever is taking the picture. In the background is the “old house,” which was once directly across the road from the house they built and moved into in the mid 1960s. Janie has written a pretty extensive message on the back of this one, part of which is that she and her sister Louise were born in the old house, and that Lillie’s two daughters were brought home there, and spent their first few years of life in that same house.

It may be that my earliest memories were of that house, not so much when people still lived in it but rather as an old, mostly empty house across the street where we would steal away and play inside. I remember the rusted tin roof, the creaking floors, the strange feelings I had being in there with my siblings and cousins.

In another picture, taken from the porch of the old house, Janie and Louise stand in front of a boxwood tree — the two of them no more than 4 or 5 years old. But it’s the background that startles me. There are all the buildings I remember from boyhood. The chicken house, the granary, the pig pen, and finally the barn.

All of these buildings are long since gone. The pond that used to be down below the barn, where we fished for bream with a Zebco 33 and caught tadpoles in mason jars, has long since filled in and grown over. As far as I know, I have never seen a single photograph of any of these buildings, which existed until now only in my memories, these memories.

Watching my grandmother reach underneath chickens in the chicken house and magically come out with eggs. Climbing on bales of hay in the barn and leaping over cow pies while she milked the cows. Tossing apples from the ground at ones still attached to the big apple tree, trying to knock them loose. Teasing the bull from the safety of the barbed wire fence. Picking gooseberries, huckleberries, and chinquapins, eating more than we put in the bucket. Hunting under rocks in the creek for crawdads and lizards. Digging out big holes in the bank across the road, looking for shiny quartz or mica. All of this comes back with a force I can no better understand than the force I could not understand as a 9 year old, watching my father cry over his father. But here it is. His childhood, my childhood, somehow all collapsed into one thing and one place.

As I have grown older, I have become less certain about my earliest memories — what is real, what I might have dreamed or imagined. I believed I could make it out, yes, but sometimes have struggled to find my way back there. Now that Aunt Janie has delivered this map, this portal in a purple folder, the going is much easier. And it’s a place I still need to go, will always need to go.

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Haywood County. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

Comment

Join children’s advocates from across the United States at the third annual Lake Junaluska Peace Conference September 18-21, 2010, as we seek to create “Peace for the World’s Children.” With keynote speakers and leaders such as Marian Wright Edelman and Jeni Stepanek, the plight and promise of children will be featured during the 2010 Lake Junaluska Peace Conference.

“Ministry to children has been an important mission of The United Methodist Church and Lake Junaluska. We are proud to once again offer a venue for peacemakers to come together, this time to explore peace for the world’s children,” said Jimmy L. Carr, Lake Junaluska’s Executive Director. “This year’s conference promises to be exciting and unique, incorporating a Peace Celebration for Youth and Children in addition to its annual Peace Conference. We hope that children, youth, and adults grow as peacemakers during their time together.”

Keynote speaker presentations led by Edelman and other notable children’s advocates, as well as hands-on workshops will prepare participants to be strong advocates for children in every arena of their lives. Over twenty workshops are planned, dealing with topics such as The State of the World’s Children and the Church’s Response, Forming Children as Peacemakers, Advocacy on Behalf of Children, and many more. Coupled with Marian Wright Edelman’s emphasis on national issues, other speakers at the conference will help participants take a hard look at global challenges. Edelman is a renowned children advocate, as well as founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund.

For the first time, the Lake Junaluska Peace Conference includes a Saturday - Sunday session specifically for children, youth and their adult leaders, led by Jeni Stepanek. The Peace Celebration for Youth and Children will encourage and show youth how they can become peacemakers themselves. Celebration participants will engage in hands on learning experiences with various organizations that are working for peace and that are meeting the needs of youth and children throughout the world. Jeni Stepanek is a noted advocate for children’s and families’ needs in health and education, and she is a motivational speaker on topics ranging from disability to hope, peace, and spirituality.

“No segment of the world’s population suffers more from war and poverty than do children. At the same time, hope and promise for the future burns brightly in the lives of the young,” said Garland Young, the Chair of the Peace Conference Committee. “We want to be advocated for and collaborators with the children and youth of the world.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the conference, and the Lake Junaluska Peace Committee hopes that many of those coming for the Sunday-Tuesday conference will arrive in time for a “bridging” of the two sessions on Sunday afternoon during the first annual Peace Walk around the lake and Festival of Peace, which will be led by youth and children. For more information and to early register by July 1, call 828-454-6656 or visit www.lakejunaluska.com/peace/.

Comment

Steve Lloyd, executive director of Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville, has been honored with The Herman Middleton Distinguished Service Award, given by the North Carolina Theatre Conference for service to the state’s theatre community.

Lloyd has worked as an artist, director and performer in North Carolina and has served the theatre community at large through many years of dedicated service, including chairing the state’s Community Theatre Festival. Lloyd has been the driving force of this festival, reaching out to other theatres across the state, encouraging participation and shared resources. He has served on the NCTC Board of Directors and is a past President of the organization. Lloyd is one of the field’s most articulate and passionate advocates for community theatre funding and development.

The North Carolina Theatre Conference is a statewide organization whose mission is to improve and enhance the environment for quality theatre in North Carolina through service, leadership, and advocacy.

The Herman Middleton Distinguished Service Award is named after one of the founders of NCTC and is one of the organization’s highest honors.

The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre, founded in 1985, is a volunteer-based community theatre showcasing the talents of the people of the region. HART, under the leadership of Executive Director Steven Lloyd, has grown into one of the most active theatres in the Southeast, producing a year-round schedule of plays and musicals from its home, The Performing Arts Center at the Shelton House in Waynesville.

Comment

Haywood Heritage Trail: Quilts of Bygone Years opening Wednesday, May 12, will feature traditional quilt squares for sale by area quilters and quilting guilds. In addition, several full-sized and heirloom quilts will be displayed alongside tools of the quilting trade like frames, antique sewing machines, and more.

The Haywood County Arts Council gallery show runs through Saturday, June 19.

A special artists’ reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 4, at Gallery 86. The reception is being held in conjunction with the Waynesville Gallery Association’s Art After Dark where shops, galleries, and businesses remain open until 9 p.m. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m,, Monday through Saturday.

Participating artists include members of the Cruso Quilting Guild, the High Country Quilting Guild, and the Shady Ladies Quilting Group, among others. Members of both the High Country Quilt Guild and the Shady Ladies Quilting Group are donating proceeds from the sale of their quilt squares to the Haywood County Arts Council for the Haywood County Quilt Trails project.

The gallery exhibition not only helps reinforce the rich tradition of quilting in Haywood County, it also raises awareness of the newly-launched Haywood County Quilt Trails project. The idea is to develop heritage trails comprised of painted quilt blocks that have been installed on barns and buildings throughout the county. Each block tells a unique story about the location or family history. The Shelton House Museum will receive the first quilt square on the Haywood County trail later this summer.

For more information, visit www.haywoodarts.org.

Comment

By David Huskins • Guest Columnist

Much of the talk nationally, as well as locally, has been centered on how to get our economy moving again. Policy proposals and local budgets are being measured by whether they will create jobs and stimulate spending.

While a contentious debate about the right policy rages in Washington, D.C., there may be an answer that is much less controversial, easier to implement and, best of all, could yield better results right here in Western North Carolina.

I’m talking about investing in our travel and tourism economy.

Many people don’t realize it, but the travel and tourism industry is one of our most important economic drivers.

Nationally, travel and tourism is responsible for $704 billion in direct spending, 7.4 million direct jobs, $186 billion in payroll and $111 billion in tax revenue. There are few industries that can compete with this kind of output.

The story applies locally. Here in Western North Carolina alone, travel and tourism in 2008 was responsible for 27,100 jobs, $509 million in payroll, $2.4 billion in expenditures, $99.7 million in local tax receipts and $119.3 million in state tax receipts (N.C. Department of Commerce).

Simply put, when people travel either for leisure or business, the economy grows, jobs are created, and tax coffers filled.

So how can we in WNC invest in this precious resource and leverage it to bring our economy back?

Here are some ideas:

Promote meetings and events. Meetings and conferences are essential to business productivity. We need to support them. Corporate meetings are a major driver of local jobs and a boost to local spending. When these meetings dry up our communities’ small businesses and workers suffer. So we need to do what we can to support the meetings and events industry, and encourage more businesses and associations to bring their meetings to Western North Carolina. We have some of the nation’s finest resort and convention hotels right here in our backyard.

Promote WNC as a regional tourist destination. Our 23-county region has everything a leisure traveler wants. With the nation’s two most visited national park units — Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway — and the the two highest recreation-user-day national forests (when snow skiing is excepted) — Pisgah and Nantahala — we’re an outdoor Mecca. Our natural resource base provides some of the most popular warm climate snow skiing, fishing, hunting, backcountry hiking and camping, bicycling and whitewater recreation areas in the nation.

We’re the home of the Cherokee, the most recognized Native American Indian Tribe in the world. Our craft, culture and heritage are significant, bringing us recognition by the U.S. Congress as the 23rd National Heritage Area — the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. And just last month, our Nantahala Gorge was chosen by the International Canoe Federation in Budapest, Hungary, as the site of the 2013 World Canoe Freelance Championship (the X Games of canoeing and kayaking). That event will attract 500 competitors from 50 countries and 100,000 spectators over 10 days, garnering WNC unparalleled international sports media coverage.

It’s time that we help our local tourism organizations understand the value of working more closely together and allocating some of their resources to promote collectively WNC as a true regional destination. It’s time that we help our local economic development organizations understand the value of the travel and tourism industry to our regional economy and how to engage it and support it in their various initiatives.

Attract international visitors. When people travel from other countries, they tend to stay longer and spend more when they are here — a windfall for our local retailers and other small businesses. A national communications and marketing program called the Travel Promotion Act was just passed by Congress, which will invest in marketing to these visitors. That is great news for us since tourism research studies indicate that European and Asian leisure travelers identify our Blue Ridge-Smoky Mountains-Cherokee region as their favored destination for a trip to America.

On a final note, we need to make sure our local, state and federal elected officials understand the value of travel and tourism to our regional economy. And we need to make sure they are recognized when they go to bat for travel and tourism. Our regional economy is beginning to turn around, but we need to continue to invest in the recovery.

The week of May 8-16 is National Travel and Tourism Week. It’s a great opportunity to let our elected officials know that we support and appreciate everything they are doing to get people moving again.

(David Huskins is the managing director of Smoky Mountain Host of N.C., a regional travel and tourism promotion and development organization created in 1987 for the state’s Smoky Mountains region of Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Clay, Cherokee, Graham and Swain counties and the Cherokee Indian Reservation. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

Comment

Enjoy plow demonstrations, food tasting, sack races, live music and more at the 10th Annual Strawberry Jam starting 10 a.m. Saturday, May 15, at Darnell Farms in Bryson City. The event is hosted by The Swain County High School Future Farmers of America and the Swain County FFA Alumni will be hosting

Musical groups will include BeanSidhe, Paul Cataldo, and the Darnell Farms Band. All organized entertainment will end at 11 p.m. with an open jam session at that time. There will be several vendors present, including a shaved-ice snow cone machine and a bouncy gym for young children. The festival will go on rain or shine.

There are still several spaces open for local vendors and performers, but time and space is limited. For more information, visit www.strawjamdarnells.webs.com or call 828.488.9803 during the day. After 5 p.m., call Robert Lowe at 828.736.6911 or Afton Roberts at 828.736.9882.

Comment

An election night glitch in McDowell County led to some votes being counted two or even three times instead of just once, skewing the results in the Republican primary for a state Senate seat spanning six mountain counties, including Haywood.

The winner remained the same after new vote totals were in, but the second- and third-place candidates switched places. Normally that wouldn’t matter, since the top vote getter is the only one to advance to the fall election.

But in this case, Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine got less than 40 percent of the vote in the primary, which entitles the second place winner to a runoff. When Andy Webb of Marion thought he was that second-place winner, he had called for a runoff. The new second-place winner is Tamara Frank, and she said she won’t be calling for a runoff.

“I have always fought hard against petty politics,” Frank said in a written statement, pledging to throw her weight and energy behind Hise.

Hise, the 33-year-old mayor of Spruce Pine, will take on Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, in the fall.

Frank trailed Hise by 700 votes in the primary. McDowell County’s election glitch happened when transferring electronic results from one computer to another. Results are sent electronically from polling locations to county election headquarters. At headquarters, they are transferred from one computer to another. In that process, votes from some precincts were transferred multiple times.

Webb, who ultimately didn’t fare as well as it appeared on election night, hails from McDowell County.

— By Becky Johnson

Comment

While the summer bounty of tomatoes, corn and green beans are still a couple of months away, there is still plenty of local grown food items to be found as local farmers markets gear up for the season.

Markets are overflowing with spring greens and lettuces right now. The markets are a great place to stock up on vegetable and herb starts for your garden, and perennials and annuals, as well as hanging baskets. Other all-season staples found at many markets include locally grown eggs, herbs, jams, with some even offering local meat, cheese and fish. All markets listed have opened for the summer unless otherwise noted.

Haywood County

• Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market. 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday. Located in Waynesville at the HART Theater parking lot on Pigeon Street (five blocks off Main Street from the Exxon station.)

• Waynesville Tailgate Market. 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday and Friday. Located in parking lot of American Legion on Legion Drive (Turn beside Bogart’s on Main Street.)

• Canton Tailgate Market. 8 a.m. to noon on Tues. and Thurs. Town hall parking lot on Park Street in downtown Canton. 828.646.3412.

Jackson County

• Jackson County Farmers Market. 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Downtown on Mill Street in the parking lot next to Bridge Park.

• Cashiers Tailgate Market. Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. In the parking lot of Cashiers Community Center on N.C. 107 between Cashiers and Highlands.

• Blue Ridge Farmers Co-Op. 8 a.m .to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Not a farmer’s market per say, but a year-round co-op where local farmers bring their bounty. Located at 3111 on N.C. 107 N between Cashiers and Glenville. 828.743.5106.

Macon County

• Franklin Tailgate Market. 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Located at West Palmer Street across from the old post office, between the barber shop and the antique store. (Opens first week of June.)

• Friends of the Rickman Store. 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays. Located at the T.M. Rickman General Store, seven miles north of Franklin on N.C. 28.

Swain County

• Swain County Tailgate Market. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.

Located in the parking lot beside Fred’s Market Take Bryson City Exit 67, go to the second light, take right onto Old Hwy. 19 West.100 yards on left. When: Fri., 9 a.m to 1 p.m. (Opens in June.)

• Cherokee Farmers Tailgate Market. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. Located on Acquoni Road in downtown Cherokee. (Opens mid-June)

Comment

Candidate Mitchell Jenkins decided last week to revive arguably the most heated race in Swain County for one more round.

After coming in second in the Democratic primary for sheriff, Jenkins has called for a runoff against top vote-getter John Ensley.

Competing with a whopping seven other candidates, Ensley’s 28 percent of the vote was impressive, but insufficient to secure his win. A runoff can be held whenever the winner fails to get 40 percent of the vote.

Jenkins said he didn’t like the idea of a runoff from the get-go, but he received calls from more than 50 people, urging him to fight on.

“They said ‘You can’t back out now, you still have a chance of winning this thing,’” said Jenkins. “They more or less put me on the spot.”

Though Jenkins trailed behind Ensley’s 513 votes with 285 votes of his own, he expects that margin to be a whole lot closer this time around.

Ensley said he is disappointed about starting all over again but acknowledged Jenkins’ full right to call for a runoff.

“We’re definitely prepared to go the distance,” Ensley said. “I had hoped that our party would unite, that we could look towards the fall.”

Whoever wins will face Sheriff Curtis Cochran, a Republican who has held the seat for four years. In the Republican primary this year, Cochran won in a landslide with 525 votes, compared to his lone competitor Wayne Dover’s 156.

Ensley said it’s a shame the runoff election would cost county taxpayers, who will foot the bill for printing the ballots and manning the polls.

But in this case, the county was already planning a runoff between Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate when Jenkins signed up. Adding sheriff candidates to the same ballot won’t cost the county any more than it was already shelling out.

Another of Ensley’s concerns is the high chance of low turnout at a second primary.

“I think it’s going to be a challenge,” Ensley said. “We’re having to bring people back out to vote.”

While that is normally the case, in the primary earlier this month, Swain had a voter turnout of 28 percent, nearly double the state average, showing widespread interest in local races.

The runoff election will be held Tuesday, June 22, while early voting will take place from Tuesday, June 3, to Saturday, June 19.

To find out more, contact the Board of Elections.

Comment

A visitor in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park got nipped on the foot by a bear after getting too close last week.

The visitor was on a high-traffic foot path at the entrance to the park right outside Gatlinburg, Tenn. In an effort to photograph the bear, the visitor allowed it to approach within inches. The bear bit the man’s foot and left a puncture wound so small that it did not require medical attention.

The bear will be euthanized, however. It’s park policy to euthanize a bear that injures a person for fear the bear may repeat the behavior. The bear had been hanging out around the trail that day, based on sightings by other visitors. Park rangers were unable to catch it that day, but went back again the next day and found it.

Given the bear’s willingness to approach humans, park rangers believe he had grown accustomed to being fed by park visitors, and even got reports from visitors who witnessed the bear being fed. Bears that develop a preference for human food can become more aggressive in their attempts to get it, which usually ends poorly for the bear.

It is illegal to approach wildlife, but in this case, the visitor technically was approached by the bear rather than approaching it.

“Our regulation is for individuals who willfully approach within 50 yards of a bear or elk,” said Nancy Gray, a spokesperson for the park. “That doesn’t apply if there is an encounter on the trail.”

Bears are usually hungry in the spring. They’ve depleted their winter fat stores, yet few foods are available yet. Bears are particularly hungry this year. They typically fatten up on acorns in the fall, but the acorn crop was scant last year. Many bears are underweight and in poor body condition, especially yearlings.

All visitors are advised to be even more diligent in keeping their distance and securing food.

Comment

What is the enrollment audit?

A review of the nearly 14,000 people on the tribe’s roll to determine whether they qualify as being Cherokee. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians requires members to be one-quarter Cherokee by blood and to have a direct link to the Baker Roll of 1924.

An outside firm, The Falmouth Institute, was hired to do the audit. So far, the Cherokee have spent $746,000 on the audit, with another $100,000 budgeted for its completion, which is slated for September.

What is the Baker Roll?

The final roll of the Eastern Cherokee, prepared by United States Agent Fred A. Baker, in 1924. Termination of the Tribe as a government and political entity was the ultimate goal of the Congressional act that initiated the Baker Roll. After termination efforts failed, the Tribe continued to use the 1924 Baker Roll as its base roll. Descendants of those persons of the original Baker Roll are enrolled on the Baker Revised Roll, providing they meet the membership requirements of the Tribe.

What did the audit find?

The report found 2,251 “actionable” files, meaning that some action needed to be taken to correct their status. Most were only minor incongruities that were easily cleared up.

The audit turned up only 303 tribal members with no direct link to the Baker Rolls, the majority of them the result of missing birth certificates.

Perhaps the most crucial number turned up by the audit was the 50 enrolled members who were revealed to have insufficient blood quantum levels to meet the enrollment requirements.

What’s at stake?

Enrollment bring with it a host of benefits, including the right to own land in the Qualla Boundary and about $8,000 a year per person in shared casino revenues.

Comment

The Blue Ridge Parkway unravels gracefully across the landscape, at times suspended from high cliffs and etched into rocky crags, then deftly shifting gears to skim over hayfields and past log cabins bound by split-rail fences.

The road seems unfazed by mountain topography. Arched bridges skirt rugged crevasses and stone-faced tunnels bore through the mountainside itself, always coursing onward and never compromising its smooth, undulating curves.

The Parkway moves so harmoniously through the scenery and lays so gently on the terrain, it seems possible that perhaps the Parkway was there first, or at the very least born at the same time as the mountains themselves.

“I can’t image a more creative job than locating that Blue Ridge Parkway, because you worked with a ten-league canvas and a brush of a comet’s tail,” said Stanley Abbott, the chief landscape architect of the Parkway during its construction in the 1930s.

The task facing the early Parkway designers was enormous, with little more than vague parameters of where to put the Parkway. Blazing a scenic road through high and rugged mountain passes in the 1930s was an engineering and artistic feat. It also pushed the boundaries of competing American ideals.

The country was in the midst of a burgeoning national park movement, and many in the general public had already accepted a popular concept of preserving America’s grand landscapes. Meanwhile, a love affair with the automobile had likewise gripped the country. These two notions gave rise to the newfangled Parkway concept.

Yet merging the two was not easy.

“A road and a park are very different things,” said Ian Firth, an historical expert on Parkway design and professor emeritus in the College of Environment and Design at the University of Georgia. “Roads are meant to bring progress and development. A park is 180 degrees different. It is where you preserve something from progress and from development.”

Abbott, just 26 years old when he was hired as chief landscape architect for the Parkway, possessed both the skill and instinct to capture the Appalachian countryside and its sweeping mountain vistas from behind the windshield of an automobile. He often likened his approach to that of a cinematographer, training his camera on one frame after the next and eventually producing a 469-mile masterpiece.

While the Parkway’s design is often compared to art, Abbott and his colleagues applied a mathematical formula to achieve the serpentine line.

Abbott was a master of the spiral curve, a highly engineered and deftly calculated arc that eases cars gently into a curve and exits them smoothly. The turning radius broadens as you move through the curve, much like a spiral expands as it moves outward from the center. The Parkway owes its sweeping nature to the equation, which avoids the unpleasant centripetal force of standard curves.

The formula was perfected by railroads in previous decades.

“They had all these cars they were pulling, and if you didn’t have a gentle change in curve, you had lurches, bumps and screeches that were very uncomfortable for passengers and bad for freight and prone to derailment and accidents,” said Mary Myers, a Parkway expert on landscape architecture and chair of the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture department at Temple University.

Abbott deployed another geometric tool called the reverse curve, essentially two back-to-back spiral curves in opposite directions. Drivers barely exit one turn before they slalom into the next one. The reverse curve creates a rhythmic experience, as if swaying back and forth through the mountains.

“I don’t think you can find a better example of that beautiful line of grace,” Myers said of the Parkway. “The reverse curves do everything.”

Not only do they achieve a rhythmic motion, but they aim the car’s windshield toward the views, whether it’s a mountain vista on the outside curve or a rhododendron-capped boulder after rounding the bend.

While the Parkway often plunges in elevation from mountain peaks to rolling valleys, the grade is gentle, another area of careful calculation. There’s also one road feature markedly absent from the Parkway: no painted white lines at the edge of the pavement.

“They tried to make a very gentle transition between the road and landscape,” Myers said.

Abbott’s crew faced a great conundrum. Roads, by nature, scar the landscape, sometimes obliterating the natural topography, especially when forging a new mountain passage. Yet the Parkway’s success depended on protecting the scenery it passed through.

“As landscape architects they were very concerned about that,” Myers said.

Luckily, Abbott had hundreds of CCC men at his disposal to install the massive landscaping on the denuded road edges left in the wake of road builders. If a road bank wasn’t sculpted to his liking, he asked the CCC men to cart off more dirt and re-contour it by hand.

A bitter tug-of-war played out in the political arena over the Parkway’s basic route — mainly pitting North Carolina against Tennessee. Once North Carolina came home victorious, road builders and designers were left with little instruction on exactly where to put the Parkway aside from a few general mountain ranges. They embarked on a year-long reconnaissance mission through the mountains, arguing over which mountain ranges to pass over within the otherwise broad parameters of connecting point A and point B.

“Nobody came to the Parkway with a blueprint,” Firth said. “The design evolved and you can see it evolving as you read the correspondence and debates.”

Abbott didn’t set out to chase one panoramic view after another, fearing the high-elevation vistas would grow monotonous.

“Too much of any one thing becomes very boring,” Myers said. Even breathtaking vistas from mile-high mountain tops.

Instead, he brings the road to the cusp of a sweeping view, lets it hang there for a moment and then retreats, perhaps diving into a rhododendron tunnel or ducking behind a grassy boulder-strewn knoll. The compression and re-emergence of vistas creates surprise and intrigue.

“The physiognomy of the eye dictates that your eye has to be constantly scanning to stay alert. The Parkway does that very well,” Myers said. “Within each quarter mile, you have a variety of scenery. There is a sense of anticipation of what is to come.”

But when passing through the Craggy mountains and Plott-Balsams in the final 100 miles of the Parkway, Abbott was forced to get creative to break up the tedium of vistas. The best asset became the rock cliffs themselves, with the road often passing so close that it seems you can reach out and touch them from the passenger seat.

And, of course, tunnels.

“The tunnel produced a wonderful drama when you emerge from it,” Firth said.

The majority of the Parkway’s 26 tunnels occur on the southernmost section, starting in the Craggy Mountain range and continuing through the Balsams, where sheer rock faces leave few other options for passage other than boring into the mountain itself.

Tunnels preserved the natural contour of the ridges, avoiding a massive excavation that would gouge up the mountainside and mar its silhouette from a distance.

“When you travel in the valley below and look up, you don’t see the Parkway,” said Carlton Abbott, the son of Stanley Abbott, who, like his father, became a landscape architect.

Geology occasionally posed an impasse, however.

“They started to excavate tunnels and the roof collapsed,” Firth said. Some tunnels were abandoned and the mountain subjected to significantly more excavation instead.

When it came time to tackle the finer points of Parkway design, Abbott and his team worked in 10-mile sections, walking each one and staking three potential routes before picking one. Then they drew plans for each quarter-mile section, detailing every inch of the landscape for the 469-mile road.

Up to 50 landscape architects, many of them students, worked under Abbott to hone the drawings. They diagramed split-rail fences and rock walls. They mapped out how many trees and shrubs to plant and of what species. They labored over the placement of boulders and how wide the grassy areas should be before giving way to the tree line.

Gary Johnson, the chief resource ranger at the Blue Ridge Parkway, often consults those maps — 850 sheets in all — as the guiding management vision.

“It is a landscape that is very labor intensive,” Johnson said. “You can’t just let it go back to nature.”

Ironically, images of Appalachia were one of the most highly orchestrated elements of the landscape. Abbott’s vision of varying landscapes relied on pastoral farm scenes — not merely in the distance, but enveloping the road with split rail fences, rows of corn and grazing cattle. The National Park Service certainly couldn’t be tasked with farming hundreds of acres along the roadside, but nor could the land be left in the hands of farmers for fear it would one day be sold. So the Parkway bought the land, then promptly leased it back to farmers for $1 a year to keep on farming it as they had been, giving rise to the practice of agricultural leases still used in 400 sites along the Parkway today.

To complete the idyllic scene, the Park Service rounded up log cabins and put them on display as if they’d always been there.

“It has been criticized for being such a selective view of Appalachia,” Firth said.

But the distortion was deliberate, intended as a powerful symbol of American ingenuity and self-reliance during the Depression when a reminder of human perseverance from days gone by was an important message.

The scenes of early Appalachia on the Parkway look like archetypes, according to Ted Coyle, an anthropologist at Western Carolina University.

“There was a time in American history when we made these kinds of scenes,” Coyle said. “At that time in history, we wanted to mythologize our past. I’m not saying that because it is false we should get it rid of it, but it is important to point out that it is not the actual history.”

It was a departure from most national parks, however, including the nearby Smokies that attempted to wipe out signs of human presence on the land in favor of nature. Once again, Parkway designers made a conscious decision to set up landmarks such as old mills for future generations to see.

“They were concerned if they didn’t, this fragile image would disappear from the landscape,” Carlton Abbott said.

That farm scene has changed. Tractors have replaced the draft horse and plow. The hand-baled haystacks that once stood as sentinels along the Parkway are gone, with tight, machine-rolled bales in their place.

The notion of Abbott penning the Parkway’s design in one fell swoop is far from the truth. Abbott plugged away dutifully from 1935 to 1944 until he was called into service for WWII. By then, only two-thirds of the road had been completed. Construction resumed immediately after the war and continued in sections until 1967.

“It is amazing it was completed because everything had changed so much after the war,” Firth said. “But the Parkway was always a blue-eyed boy and got certain preferential treatment.”

The final missing link around Grandfather Mountain wasn’t finished until 1987. Given the duration of road building that long outlasted Abbott’s tenure, it is amazing that the Parkway design retained its unity.

Abbott briefly took up the reins as the Parkway’s landscape architect following the war, but it was Ed Abbuehl, Abbott’s one-time college instructor and right-hand man in the Parkway’s early stages, who remained at the helm another 20 years.

“You find him saying ‘This is the way we have always done it, and this is the way we should do it.’ He was one of the forces saying ‘Let’s keep the original design going,’” Firth said.

The job of chief landscape architect continued to be passed among co-workers and handed down to apprentices for four decades—providing a continuous line from Abbott’s founding philosophy well into the 1970s.

“Apprenticing is the traditional way landscape architects learn,” Myers said. “It’s the design knowledge being transmitted from one generation to the next.”

Bureaucratic institutions like the National Park Service also served to protect the continuity of parkway design over the years.

“People work there for a long time — you don’t have radical changes,” Myers said.

Tim Pegram, a former park ranger who has hiked the Parkway, likens the scenic motorway to Michelangelo’s statue of David.

“The day it was finished is the finest it will ever be,” Pegram said.

The statue of David was subjected to the elements for three centuries. His base was struck by lightning, angry rioters broke off his left arm, and a mad artist took a sledgehammer to his left toe. Even conservators tasked with the statue’s care erred terribly by washing it in hydrochloric acid and gooping it up with protective wax.

“The same thing has happened to the Parkway,” Pegram said.

Views are being undermined by development, landscaping carefully selected by Abbott 75 years ago is showing its age and rockslides continually reduce sections of the road itself to rubble.

“It is being chipped away a little a time,” Pegram said. “Even the Parkway managers have messed it up in places.”

The Parkway is a labor-intensive landscape and lacks the workforce to keep pace.

“If you really look closely, you can tell we are not maintaining the Parkway as we once did,” said Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis. “Overlooks are growing up. The mowing along the road shoulders is not as wide or manicured as it once was. Many of our historic buildings are suffering from neglect.”

The Parkway blames federal funding shortfalls. In the past decade, the Parkway has watched its maintenance staff shrink by more than one-third.

So they make compromises—the most striking is not keeping trees cut at overlooks. Many are so grown up they are hardly overlooks at all. An old signboard telling visitors about a view beyond the tree branches is the only clue it was once a vista.

“The number one, primary reason that visitors come to the Blue Ridge Parkway is to be able to look out from this table where they can see the mountains and drink in the views,” said Gary Everhart, a former Parkway superintendent in the 1990s. “It comes down to a simple little thing called dollars. Unfortunately the Parkway has been struggling with enough money to do all the things that need to be done.”

Ornamental trees and shrubs planted by CCC workers 75 years ago are now dying, and the Parkway must embark on a round of new plantings. Some specimens even require pruning by hand.

“Things change gradually,” Francis said. “It is like watching your kid grow. If you are the parent, it happens incrementally.”

Another challenge is rockslides, which are endemic to mountain roads, particularly those with the Parkway’s elevation. A year rarely passes without a rockslide or two, some knocking out sections of the Parkway for months during major slope repairs, while others may take just a few days to haul off a pile of debris.

There have been close calls — a boulder landed in a woman’s backseat — but no deaths or injuries from the slides, Francis said.

The constant barrage of minor repairs to Parkway infrastructure requires extra thought. Maintenance crews keep a stockpile of weathered and gray fence posts for repairing split rail fences. When the roof of an historic cabin springs a leak, park rangers spend their days splitting logs to make wooden shingles that will match.

Gary Johnson, the chief of resource management on the Parkway, is often torn between stop-gap measures versus more costly but permanent repairs. When a stone wall starts to crumble, he can slap some mortar in the holes and stuff the falling rocks back in place. But in the long run, the wall needs to be rebuilt on a better foundation.

A batch of federal stimulus money is allowing the Parkway to rebuild 31,000 feet of rock wall this year, which posed its own dilemma: balancing the historic character of the stone walls with a modern safety design. At two-feet-high, the rock walls aren’t terribly effective as guard rails, but Johnson is debating how high to make them without compromising their charm. The other question is whether to use traditional, dry-stack techniques versus super-strength mortar.

Park managers have learned to balance aesthetics with safety. For example, the historic wooden guardrails along the Parkway are reinforced by steel banding on the back that are not visible from the road.

When Johnson came to the Parkway in 1994 as its chief landscape architect, he was humbled by the footsteps he followed in. Nothing is taken lightly, he said.

“I often have the thought when we are making a design decision and are doing something differently than in the past I think, ‘What would Stan do?’” Johnson said. “Afterward I think, ‘I hope Stan is not up there somewhere looking down and thinking ‘Boy they are really messing this thing up.’”

Comment

Sylva Commissioner Sarah Graham will step down from the town board at the end of June because her family has decided to move outside town limits.

Graham said she and husband, Bill, had been looking at homes that offered more land for their growing family, when they found a perfect place on Fisher Creek Road.

“Because the house isn’t in the town I have no choice but to resign my position on this board,” said Graham, who lived downtown and loved being part of its vibrant scene.

As a result of Graham’s announcement, the four remaining board members –– Chris Matheson, Danny Allen, Ray Lewis, and Stacy Knotts –– will be left with the task of naming a replacement in June. Mayor Maurice Moody only votes in the case of a tie.

The board underwent a similar process last December. Moody was a sitting town board member when he ran for mayor. He won, but still had two years left on the town board, leaving a vacant seat to be filled on the board.

During that process, Moody was instrumental in searching out his own replacement, Chris Matheson, and ensuring she had the support of the entire board before she was nominated, although he technically couldn’t vote except in a tie.

“Chris has had a unifying effect on the board and has done a good job, and I would hope to find the same type of candidate this time,” Moody said.

Graham said she wanted to serve until the town’s budget for next year was finalized, which means serving until the end of June when the fiscal year ends.

The town board has been divided on the some budget issues for the past four years, most notably over whether the town should make annual financial contributions to the Downtown Sylva Association, a cause particularly close to Graham’s heart.

Moody commended Graham for her work as a commissioner, particularly on issues directly affecting downtown.

“I hate to lose her, but I think when someone is putting their family’s best interest first, you have to support them,” Moody said.

In leaving, Graham said she felt the town is moving in the right direction, and she will continue to work in its best interests.

“I think the town is moving in a great direction and that, given the state of the economy, the town is in a great financial situation,” Graham said. “I look forward to serving Sylva in any way I can.”

Graham served as the director of the Downtown Sylva Association before being elected commissioner. She was instrumental in the revitalization of Bridge Park, a downtown green space and concert venue.

Comment

The Friends of the Jackson County Main Library have completed their remarkable effort to raise $1.6 million to outfit the interior of the new library under construction on courthouse hill in Sylva.

The Friends announced this week that a $200,000 grant from federal stimulus money given out by the U.S Rural Development Program had pushed them over the finish line. The Fontana Regional Library system applied for the grant on behalf of the Jackson library project.

Mary Otto Selzer, co-chair of the capital campaign, credited the hard work of volunteers and the generosity of hundreds of donors for the campaign’s success. The grassroots fundraising campaign began in May 2008.

The Jackson County Public Library Complex is a $7 million project to renovate the 1914 Jackson County Courthouse for community uses and build a 20,000-square-foot addition on the back to serve as a new library. It is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2011.

“This grassroots campaign has been successful because hundreds of individuals, foundations and companies have shown their support through various levels of giving,” Selzer said. “Children have brought in their piggy banks; patrons have joined the Wall of Fame at the library; many young readers, through the Books for Bricks summer reading program, raised over $6,300; merchants have donation boxes on the counters in their businesses; companies wrote generous checks; and grantors have been charitable in providing funds.”

Of the total $1.6 million, about $1.15 million came in the form of large grants from institutions, charities and organizations.

Dr. John Bunn of Sylva, co-chair of the fundraising committee, said the iconic nature of the courthouse that’s even visible when passing Sylva on the highway made it possible to raise money for the project during a recession.

“You’d be talking to a foundation somewhere away from here and they’d say ‘I’ve seen that courthouse!’” Bunn said.

Bunn said the successful fundraising drive allowed for the addition of special features, like the outdoor reading patio that will rival the famous sunset patio at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville.

“They’ll have to eat their hearts out,” Bunn said.

He said the new library and courthouse restoration will be a point of pride for the community.

“If you had guests from out of town you normally wouldn’t say ‘Let me show you our library,’” Bunn said. But Jackson County will be an exception.

— By Giles Morris and Becky Johnson

Comment

A downtown Waynesville project that would put a live entertainment venue, a microbrewery and a pizza restaurant together in the old Strand Theater on Main Street has been awarded a $300,000 grant. Gov. Beverly Perdue will visit Waynesville this Friday (May 28) to see the project firsthand and to talk with other Main Street businesses.

Waynesville businessman Richard Miller owns The Strand, and he credited Downtown Waynesville Association Executive Director Buffy Messer with encouraging him to apply for the grant.

“I give her all the credit for bringing this to our attention,” said Miller.

Miller will partner with other entities to pull off the project, including Headwaters Brewing Co., which is owned by Kevin and Melanie Sandefur. Headwaters Brewing Co. was just last week named the winner of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce’s Business Start-up Competition, which comes with an $8,000 award.

Miller said the grant will be awarded to the Town of Waynesville, which is then obligated to give it to the developer who restores the building where the new businesses will be located. The money can’t be used for furnishings or business equipment, he said, only for permanent building upgrades.

In a best-case scenario, Miller said the project would be open for business by summer 2011.

The partners in The Strand project include the town, the Downtown Waynesville Association, The Strand Dynasty LLC, Headwaters Brewing Company, Delano’s Pizza Company and the Haywood County Arts Council.

In addition to Waynesville, seven additional communities will receive a total of $1.95 million through the state’s Main Street Solutions Fund. The grants are earmarked to “assist planning agencies and small businesses with efforts to revitalize downtowns by creating jobs, funding infrastructure improvements, rehabilitating buildings and finding other growth opportunities.”

“We know that some of the most creative and innovative economic development work is being done through small businesses and other economic partners in our downtown areas,” said Gov. Perdue. “Main streets can be at the heart of North Carolina’s economic recovery with the right support and investment. For every $1 invested by the state, an additional $4.72 will be invested by the local community."

Comment

The traditions of spinning, weaving, quilting, caning, blacksmithing, sewing, hand stitchery, and other folk arts have survived in the Appalachian culture through the generations.

At the Patchwork Folk and Fabric Festival, these skills will be showcased and honored, demonstrated and shared. The festival will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 5, at the Jackson County Recreation Center in Cullowhee.

During the week before the festival, sponsors have taken the arts and crafts a step further by offering classes to the public. Not only is this an opportunity for interested people to learn an old-time craft, but also share time and tales with the instructors.

• Annie Lee Bryson, age 88, will be teaching corn shuck doll making.

• Pat Purdy will make available the art of Red Sock monkey dolls.

• Dot Conner takes you to yesteryear with old-fashioned tin punching.

• Judy Rhodes will be teaching the skill of ballad singing.

• Nan Smith shares crocheting.

• Judy Chliger’s students will quilt a “Rail Fence” wall hanging

• Krista Robb will teach cross-stitching from Seizing the Moment, a book of stitchery showcasing wild flowers found on the Blue Ridge Parkway

• Betsey Sloan teaches gourd art.

• Doreyl Ammons Cain will lead a botanical drawing class, encouraging wildflower art

• Ron Yount will teach wood-carving.

On the morning of the festival, Anne Lough will teach a two-hour class on the dulcimer. The students will assemble a sample dulcimer and learn to play.

Appalachian Homestead Farm & Preserve will also host an after school “Children’s Cultural Activities” class from 3:15 until 5:15 p.m. each day from June 1 to 4.

All products produced during all of the classes will be exhibited during the day-long Patchwork Folk & Fabric Festival Call 828.293.1013 to register for the children’s cultural activities class. For all other classes, call 828.399.0958 to register. For more information on the festival call 828.293.3053.

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Catch the steepest and deepest in high-adrenaline outdoor sport films when Radical Reels Tour comes to Asheville on Monday, Sept. 13.

Hurtle down steep untouched powder, feel the cold spray of stomach-dropping kayak first descents, fly high with the world’s wildest BASE jumpers, and much more in extreme mountain sports.

The annual Radical Reels Tour showcases 10 short films that capture some of the most progressive talent in action sports including mountain biking, skiing, whitewater kayaking and other mountain sports. The film tour will hit only 15 states.

The screening is being hosted by REI to benefit Wild South, a regional environmental organization.

Cost is $20 with $5 going to Wild South. The screening will be at 7 p.m. at Carolina Cinemas. Doors open at 6 p.m. To get tickets, contact REI at 828.687.0918 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Landscape design, botany, horticulture and gardening will be the highlight of “Landscaping and Gardening With Native Plants” conference held in Highlands on Sept. 10 and 11.

Hundreds attend the annual conference featuring two days of fieldtrips, workshops and speakers. Get inspired to use native plants in your garden. Learn new concepts in ecology and conservation. Gather tips on design principles. Come away with a list of native perennials, shrubs and trees that work best in our region. 

The annual conference is put on by the Highlands Biological Foundation and will be based at the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center in Highlands. The proceeds will benefit the Botanical Gardens at the Highlands Biological Station, a refuge and demonstration garden for over 500 species of Southern Appalachian plants.

There are nine fieldtrips to chose from on Friday, including The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with herbalist Ila Hatter, garden tours with landscape designers, photography and landscape design workshops, and hikes to Lonesome Valley, Devil’s Courthouse and Satulah Mountain.

Dr. John Pickering, an ecologist at the University of Georgia and creator of Discover Life, a web-based interactive encyclopedia of known species, will give a talk Friday evening on “Nurturing the Ecosystem in Your Own Backyard.”

A native plant auction will be held on Saturday afternoon where bidders can acquire rare and unusual native plants.

Saturday features a line-up of well-known speakers in the horticulture field, including: Peter Loewer of the Wild Gardener and author of over 30 books; Richard Bir, formerly of the NC Cooperative Extension Service; Dr. Sean O’Connell, microbiology professor at WCU; and landscape photographer Kevin Fitzpatrick.

The registration fee for the entire event is $135. 828.526.2602.

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A 5K race will traverse the front nine holes of the Old Edwards Club in Highlands on Saturday, Sept. 11, serving up a tranquil setting and a twist on the typical 5K route through town streets.

“Doing the PAR 5K on the Old Edwards Club golf course gives the ‘weekend warrior’ a chance to conquer hills of over 4,000 feet in elevation,” said Dave Linn, race organizer. “Everyone can run the street, but how many run the golf paths that roll up and down the mountain side?”

Linn hopes the race will become an annual staple and the new “must do” 5K in WNC.

Linn worked with the golf course to reassure them runners would stick to the paths and not damage the fairways.

Linn, an avid athlete, participates in races up and down the East Coast. He tapped into his network of race friends through Facebook to recruit runners. Rooms in the Old Edwards Inn sold out early due to the influx of out-of-town participants registering for the race and began spilling over to other local hotels.

“Many of the racers saw this as a chance to leave the big city and enjoy the cool Blue Ridge Mountain air for the weekend,” Linn said.

For Linn, who is typically in the starting line-up of races, cheering others on from the sidelines as the race organizer will be a change of pace.

“Boy, is it hard to sit back and not race in a race that you helped design and know every curve and straightaway,” Linn said.

Linn said support from the Highlands community has been very strong. Prizes were donated by restaurants and merchants who hope to see the race bring people to town. Each year a different charity will be chosen to receive the proceeds of the race. This year it is the Highlands Literary Council.

A Southern breakfast of buttermilk pancakes, applewood smoked bacon, scrambled eggsand local stone ground grits follow the race and are included  in the registration fee. The breakfast will be held at the Old Edwards Club and is open to the public from 8 to 11 a.m. to raise money for the literary council.

Cost is $35 on race day and includes a T-shirt and the breakfast. 828.421.7637 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also wee setupevents.com.

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With guns now allowed in national parks, red tape faced by hunters crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway en route to a hunting spot has been lifted.

Hunting is still illegal in national parks, but this year it became legal to carry loaded guns in parks.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, a national park unit, used to require hunters crossing the parkway with their guns to get a permit ahead of time. That way, rangers would know the hunters weren’t hunting on protected park land but just using the parkway to reach other public lands where hunting is legal.

Now, hunters will no longer need to get those permits since loaded guns are legal.

But hunters who shoot an animal and want to cross back over the parkway with it will need to contact a ranger.

“Under the new procedure, anyone taking game is directed to transport it in a way that does not cross park lands or use the parkway,” said Steve Stinnett, chief ranger for the Blue Ridge Parkway. “If the parkway is the only reasonable access for removal of game, hunters must request permission.” Contact a park ranger or call 828.298.2491.

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A Low Impact Development FastTrack Certification will be held at Haywood Community College on Wednesday, Sept. 15 through Friday, Sept. 17.

The course will give an overview of low-impact development from a holistic perspective and covers design, planning, implementation and maintenance. It is geared for planners, engineers, landscape architects, realtors, surveyors, local governments, and anyone interested in environmentally friendly, cost-efficient developments.

Low-impact development is an approach that caters to the landscape and terrain. The faculty of North Carolina State University’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering will instruct the class. Find out more or register at www.bae.ncsu.edu/topic/lid/workshops.html.

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A workshop on bringing local farm produce into the schools will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at Shelton Family Farms in Jackson County.

Participants will learn how to integrate school gardens, farm field trips, classroom cooking and locally grown food into the school curriculum and cafeteria. It is geared for elementary school teachers and school dieticians, and others with an interested in school nutrition.

The Farm to School Project in Jackson County is a partnership of Western Carolina University, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and the Jackson County Public School System.

Transportation to the workshop will be provided, if needed, and the event will conclude with a locally grown lunch. The cost is $10 and includes lunch. Cost waived for WCU students. To sign up, contact 828.236.1282 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Fox sightings in town are on the rise, including residential suburban neighborhoods and they have even been reported on busy town streets.

Simply seeing a fox is not a cause for alarm, according to the N.C. Wildlife Commission. Nonetheless, don’t approach them, especially a den or pups.

If a fox has made a habit of hanging out in your yard and you don’t want it there, try yelling, banging pots and pans and setting off legal fireworks to chase them away. Be aggressive and repeat until the fox leaves.

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Western Carolina University psychology professor Hal Herzog will celebrate his new book, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals, with an appearance at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.

While Herzog’s book draws on his scientific expertise, it is a aimed at the general reader. Published by HarperCollins, the book has gotten rave reviews from major public and scientific figures. Herzog has been investigating the complex psychology of our interactions with other species for more than two decades.

WCU’s Anna Fariello will offer a program based on her recent book, Cherokee Basketry: From the Hands of Our Elders, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10, at City Lights.

Fariello is director of the Craft Revival Project, a website and digital archive at WCU’s Hunter library. Fariello’s book looks at basketweaving forms, functions, and methods, and she records the tradition’s celebrated makers.

828.586.9499. www.citylightsnc.com

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Alan Jabbour and Karen Singer Jabbour, authors of Decoration Day in the Mountains: Traditions of Cemetery Decoration in the Southern Appalachians, will appear at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City.

Decoration Day is a late spring or summer tradition that involves cleaning community cemeteries, decorating them with flowers, holding a religious service in the cemetery, and having dinner on the ground. Little has been written about this tradition, but it is still practiced widely throughout the Upland South, from North Carolina to the Ozarks and beyond.

Through interviews, first-hand narrative, photographs, and extensive field and library research, the authors illuminate the meanings behind the rituals.

The Jabbours have many photos and new insights that are not found in their recently published book. The presentation at the library will include more than 90 photos and fresh perspectives.

828.488.3030 or www.fontanalib.org/brysoncity.

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Start your Labor Day weekend with free live music at the Concerts on the Creek series in downtown Sylva. The Porch Music Club, an old-time string band, will play a two-hour show beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, at the Bridge Park Pavilion.

The Porch Music Club band evolved from a Western Carolina University student group that plays music every Thursday at the Mountain Heritage Center on campus. The band plays a variety of old-time and bluegrass music. Some of the famous acts they cover include the Avett Brothers and Doc Watson.

Members of the band include fiddle player William Ritter of Bakersville, guitarist Andrew Payseur of Lincolnton, banjo player Patrick Brady of Cullowhee and guitarist Benjamin Rudolph of Asheville.

This was scheduled to be the last show in the summer-long Concerts on the Creek series, but a bonus performance has been added for Sept. 10. That night an all-star lineup of area gospel acts will perform.

Concerts on the Creek, held every Friday since Memorial Day weekend, are co-produced by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Jackson County Parks & Recreation, Downtown Sylva Association, Jackson Country Travel & Tourism, and the Town of Sylva.

800.962.1911 or www.mountainlovers.com.

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

Tickets for the event will go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 7.

The gala will begin at 6 p.m. with an outdoor cocktail reception held under tents in the FAPAC courtyard. Reception guests will experience the unveiling of WCU’s new outdoor sculpture exhibition and have the opportunity to preview a Fine Art Museum exhibit of contemporary images of Appalachia by photographer Mike Smith.

Festivities move indoors at 7 p.m. for a performance by WCU’s resident Smoky Mountain Brass Quintet, followed by a 7:30 p.m. curtain time for “’S Wonderful.”

The new off-Broadway revue transports the audience to different places in different decades with scenes set in New York in the ’20s, Paris in the ’30s, Hollywood in the ’40s and New Orleans in the ’50s. Musical numbers include classics such as “Swanee,” “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Nice Work if you Can Get It,” “Summertime,” “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

Tickets are available in several price tiers. A ticket to the Gershwin revue plus entry to the cocktail reception costs $100. Orchestra seats for only “’S Wonderful” cost $50; club seating costs $35; and balcony seat tickets cost $25.

828.227.2479 or fapac.wcu.edu.

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Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and producer Brett James, along with Ginny McAfee, will perform on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Haywood Community College auditorium. Doors open at 6 p.m. Money raised from this evening’s concert will support art, music and literacy in local schools.

James, one of the most prolific and versatile songwriters in Nashville, has had more than 200 of his songs recorded by major recording label artists. He has become a fixture on the Billboard Country Chart with seven No. 1 hits and scores of Top 10, 20, and 40 singles to his credit. In 2009 alone, he posted three No. 1’s: “With Its America” by Rodney Atkins; “Our Last Night” by Kenny Chesney; and “Casanova Cowboy” by Carrie Underwood and charted eight overall singles including Billboard No. 2 hit “Summer Nights” recorded by Rascal Flats.

A few of the artists who have recorded James’s songs include Jon Bon Jovi, The Backstreet Boys, Chicago, and Leona Lewis. He also had two No. 1 songs in Europe and Worldwide Top 5 Latin hits.

He also appeared on Billboard Magazine’s Top 10 Country songwriter’s list for five consecutive years.

McAfee’s repertoire is an eclectic blend from country, soft rock, bluegrass and pop, plus gospel and the original Western North Carolina music that is written by her mother.

Concert presented by the Guild of the Haywood County Arts Council. 828.452.0593. $20 adult, $10 student, and $5 children 12 and under.

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A string band, an all-male chorus, irreverent sketch comedy and an environmental writer with a question fill the bill for the 2010-11 Arts and Cultural Events Performance Series at Western Carolina University.

The series entertainment is as follows:

• Doxita, 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, A.K. Hinds University Center theater. Doxita, a traveling festival, highlights diversity of nonfiction short films. Free.

• The Carolina Chocolate Drops, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center. Members Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson sing and trade instruments, including banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, snare drum, bones, jug and kazoo, to produce music in a style that Rolling Stone magazine has called “dirt-floor-dance electricity.” $10 ($5 for students).

• Chanticleer, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center. A blend of 12 male voices, from countertenor to bass, Chanticleer was founded in 1978 and has performed around the world. $15 ($10 WCU faculty/staff and senior citizens, $5 students) and go on sale Friday, Oct. 1.

• The Second City, “Fair and Unbalanced,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center. From the Beltway to Hollywood elite, “Fair and Unbalanced” explores the foibles of politicians, celebrities and even significant others. The 50-year-old Second City comedy troupe is improvisation-based with 11 touring ensembles and theaters in Chicago and Toronto. $10 ($5 students) and go on sale Tuesday, Jan. 4.

• Alan Weisman, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, Coulter Building recital hall (part of the 2011 Spring Literary Festival). Weisman’s 2007 scientific bestseller, “The World Without Us,” examined humanity’s effect on the environment by posing the question, “What would happen to the Earth if humans vanished?” The work was named Time magazine’s best nonfiction book of 2007 and was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction.

For tickets, 828.227.2479 or www.wcu.edu/fapac. For more information, 828.227.3622 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Modern country artist Corey Smith will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, at Western Carolina University’s Ramsey Regional Activity Center.

Smith is a Georgia-based singer/songwriter who has sold an impressive 150,000 albums and 700,000 singles to date — all without the help of a major record label or radio play. “Keeping Up With the Joneses” landed at #1 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Album chart.

Growing up on food stamps in rural Georgia, Smith’s story is very much that of an underdog. The independent artist, now grossing millions of dollars a year, beat the odds and has carved out a niche for himself as a sought after headliner at clubs across the nation.  

“Smith comes across something like a Southern-fried Jack Johnson, or maybe Dave Matthews with a country-music jones,” according to The Washington Post.

The concert is sponsored by WCU’s department of residential living and the A.K. Hinds University Center.

Students: $15 floor seats, $10 arena seating. Nonstudents & door prices: $20 floor seats and $15 arena seating.

828,227.7722 or 866.WCU.FEST or www.wcu.edu/ramsey.

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Wild Bill Turner will play the Sunday Series at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, at the Haywood County Public Library in Waynesville.

Wild Bill will show off his mastery of jazz skills on the saxophone, clarinet and trumpet, offering an exciting entertainment selection for all the big-band lovers out there.

A native of New York, Wild Bill was playing on Broadway by age 19. Soon after, he took his show to Las Vegas, along with his band, the Turner Band. From Broadway to Vegas lounges to television to the local library, Wild Bill Turner has never disappointed an audience.

The free concert is sponsored by the Friends of the Library and The Haywood County Arts Council.

www.haywoodarts.org.

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The Seventh Annual P.A.W.S. Wine Tasting and Silent Auction — benefitting the only animal welfare organization in Swain County — will be held on Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Lands Creek Log Cabins “Harmony Hall” in Bryson City. Doors open at 7 p.m. and bidding ends at 9 p.m.

The auction features about 250 items ranging from handcrafted jewelry to weekend getaway packages to restaurant gift certificates and more. Six North Carolina wines will be featured.

“This is our largest fundraising event of the year,” said Ellen Kilgannon, director of P.A.W.S. “It costs $165,000 each year to operate the shelter and the money goes directly toward caring for the animals, providing food, medical supplies, vet services and a low-cost spay/neuter program for the community.”

P.A.W.S. has provided financial assistance for more than 9,000 neuter/spay surgeries and has found loving homes for over 2,500 abandoned dogs and cats. All of this is done through fundraising, private donations, grants and sales from their thrift store. The Humane Society of the United States recently dubbed P.A.W.S. as “The Little Shelter That Could.”

Tickets $20. For directions, 828.488.9793 or  www.landscreek.com. Contact P.A.W.S. at 828.333.4267 or www.pawsbrysoncity.org.

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David Newell, also known as speedy deliveryman Mr. McFeely from public television’s “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” will appear at the Canton Public Library on Sunday, Sept. 12, and at the Waynesville Library on Monday, Sept. 13.

Newell played the role of Mr. McFeely on the long-running television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” from 1968 to 2001. His signature line was “Speedy Delivery!” and he often brought short films or videos to Mister Rogers to show children how things such as macaroni or plastic combs were made. Newell now travels the country and talks about what he learned working with Fred Rogers for 34 years. He keeps the character of Mr. McFeely alive for fans of all ages.

The Canton Library will host an adult oriented program at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Newell will talk about working with the legendary Fred Rogers through the years.

On Monday, Mr. McFeely will host special storytimes at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the Waynesville Library. Children of all ages are welcome to visit with Mr. McFeely and enjoy a very special story time.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Haywood County Public Library. Contact Carole Dennis at 828.452.5169 ext. 2511, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.haywoodlibrary.org.

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The Smoky Mountain Knitting Guild is offering free “Learn to Knit” classes — for both adults and children — on Tuesdays at the Waynesville Library. The adult class meets from 1 to 2:30 p.m. starting Sept. 7, while boys and girls ages 8 to 12 meet from 5 to 6 p.m. starting Sept. 14. Startup supplies are provided to both classes at no charge.

The Smoky Mountain Knitting Guild also hosts small informal weekly knitting circles for every level. Get together to knit, share small talk, patterns, trade tips and experience.

Registration required for beginner classes. Call Joanne at 828.246.0789. For more information call Mary at 828.246.4651 or visit www.smkguild.com.

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The next Sylva After Dark — held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, in downtown Sylva — offers an evening of art, music, food and shopping.

• Signature Brew Coffee Company will offer a free sampling of its new line of products by Audrey’s Whole Foods. Audrey’s features organic, fair trade, wheat free/gluten free, and vegan snacks and sweets.

• Papou’s Wine Shop and Bar will host a wine tasting with Nick Demos.

• Heinzelmannchen Brewery features its own beers paired with food from Spring Street Café from 5 to 8 p.m.

• Annie’s Bakery’s offers bruschetta served on its baguettes until 8 p.m.

• Live music at The Village at Sapphire Brewing Company.

• It’s by Nature features musical guest, Robin Whitley, along with wine and cheese.

• Spring Street Café has music with Los Dos. Eric Hendrix, Rafael Ridao and Pete Cortese come back for another lively evening from 7 to 9 p.m.

• Nichols House has 20 percent off the entire weekend starting at Sylva After Dark.

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Canton’s 104th Labor Day Celebration will run from Thursday, Sept. 2, to Monday, Sept. 6, at the Recreation Park.

The Band of Oz, a famous beach music band, will hit the stage from 7 until 10 p.m. Saturday.

This year the carnival rides will not open on Thursday but will begin Friday at 6 p.m. They will be open until 11 p.m. or until the crowd subsides. The rides will open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, close from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and then be open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, rides will open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., close from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and then open at 6 p.m. Monday, rides will open after the parade ends, close from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and then be open from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.

Wristbands for $20 are available each day that allow unlimited ride access.

“Pickin’-N-the-Park” will lead off the Labor Day festivities at 7 p.m. Friday night. Sunday, there will be gospel music from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday, there will be live entertainment from noon until 9 p.m. Bring chairs and enjoy the entertainment each day.

In 1978, the Band of Oz recorded and released its first single “Shaggin.” This was followed by “Star of My Life” in 1979 and national radio airplay. In 1995 they released the hit single “Shama Lama Ding Dong,” the People’s Choice Song of the Year at that year’s Cammy Awards, and one of the most requested beach songs of all time. In 1997, the band was inducted into the Beach Music Hall of Fame.

The Labor Day Parade will kick off at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 6. Any group that would like to put an entry in the parade or have a food or craft booth can call Denise at 828.235.2760.

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