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A months-long undercover investigation led to a raid of three underground gambling parlors in Haywood County last week.

The private gambling houses were outfitted with video poker and keno machines. Officers seized 35 illegal gambling machines and $8,000 in cash during the raids, carried out simultaneously last Thursday.

fr deputiesHoping to combat a steady departure of officers, Haywood County entry-level deputies will see a 5 percent raise starting in January  — the first step in a three-year plan to bring salaries of Haywood lawmen in line with the rest of the region.

Haywood deputies are among the lowest-paid officers in Western North Carolina. That means high turnover as deputies take higher-paying jobs in neighboring counties.

fr monkeyAn Old World pigtail macaque monkey taken away from its owner in Waynesville now has a new home at a primate preserve in Kentucky.

The monkey — “Opey” — was the indoor pet of a Waynesville woman, who’d kept him in a cage in her home for almost seven years. After being picked up by animal control officers in November, Opey stayed at the Haywood County Animal Shelter for three weeks until a permanent home was found.

fr matthewsThe newly elected Haywood County Tax Collector took office Monday, one week later than scheduled after encountering a delay in securing a professional liability bond.

Mike Matthews, a Republican, was a longshot candidate, yet pulled out a narrow win in the fall election for tax collector. Haywood is the only county in the state with an elected tax collector, which was once the norm.

Haywood Regional Medical Center (HRMC) announced today that Phillip L Wright has been named chief executive officer (CEO) for the hospital. He will assume his new role on Jan. 5, 2015.

Wright is a seasoned healthcare executive with 17 years of experience in executive leadership roles. He is currently serving as CEO for Santa Rosa Medical Center in Milton, Fla. Wright has also served as CEO and administrator of hospitals in South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. 

Lingering underground contamination at an old Haywood County landfill in Waynesville has prompted the county to buy out a neighboring 25-acre tract, part of a costly plan to stop the spread of pollutants.

The county is purchasing the adjoining property for $850,000. The county estimates it will cost upwards of $5 million over coming years to tackle the contamination. State environmental regulations are forcing the county to fix the issue.

fr matthewsThe newly elected tax collector in Haywood County has been benched indefinitely.

Mike Matthews was supposed to take office Monday, but his swearing in ceremony was canceled at the 11th hour. Matthews wasn’t able to get bonded at the amount stipulated by county commissioners — namely a $410,000 professional liability bond. 

Haywood County commissioners are being accused of partisan politics for upping the liability bond for the county tax collector, although commissioners say it’s just a safeguard given the limited experience and less-than-stellar financial record of the incoming tax collector.

Critics say the Democratic commissioners are just trying to shut down the newly elected Republican tax collector Mike Matthews by setting his bond too high.

The newly elected tax collector in Haywood County was unable to take office Monday as scheduled after failing to secure a $410,000 bond.

For now, the long-time tax collector David Francis will continue in the role on an interim basis.

fr matthewsThe long-time tax collector in Haywood County was narrowly defeated in the November election, a surprise upset that has sent county leaders into a tailspin the past two weeks.

Haywood County commissioners fear the newly elected tax collector — who has no experience, no training and few qualifications for the position — won’t have any idea what he’s doing or how to do it when he assumes the job in just two weeks.

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