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Although college for many is an oasis of learning, fun and social interaction, it is also a sprawling crime scene for everything from drug busts to rape. Despite its idyllic mountain setting, Western Carolina University is no exception. Last month,…
A group of Western Carolina University students are leading a charge to get N.C. 107 from Cullowhee to Cashiers designated as a scenic byway, but they first must appeal to skeptical county commissioners for their backing.
Jackson County is crafting a new long-range recreation master plan to set priorities and guide spending for its parks, open spaces and recreation centers during the next five years. But, the process can be a tug-of-war between residents with varied…
For the elderly, disabled and carless residents of Haywood County, the public transit bus is an indispensable resource that keeps them mobile.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 00:00

Political events

Governor-elect to headline holiday dinner North Carolina Governor-elect Pat McCrory (R) will be the keynote speaker at the 20th annual Charles Taylor Holiday Dinner at 7 p.m. Dec. 8, at Grove Park Inn in Asheville. The event will be McCroy’s…
Patty Atkinson took a short break from helping the constant flow of customers at a local family pharmacy in the heart of Hazelwood to talk about the evolution of the community around her — from a bustling blue collar factory…
She is every Main Street merchants’ dream. With a penchant for the eclectic and a passion for supporting independent businesses, Carolyn Phinizy worked downtown Waynesville’s shopping district during the post-Thanksgiving spending days like it was her civic duty, not calling…
Before the gravy had turned cold and the Thanksgiving Day turkey had been packed away in Tupperware, shoppers were already lining up at the Walmart in Waynesville for one of the earliest Black Friday door busters ever — Thursday night.
Try scaring up a parking space, hunting down an empty bench or pushing a double-stroller along the crowded sidewalks on peak days, and the popularity of downtown Waynesville’s quaint, tree-lined shopping district is obvious. But for merchants, getting those browsers…
A $2.5 million expansion at Pisgah High School in Canton will relieve chronic overcrowding and a classroom shortage that forces some teachers to spend their days as “floaters.”
Haywood County is making plans to bring recycling operations back in-house — a move that would eventually mean dollar signs for the county.
Some schools are thinking twice about the long standing practice of passing out fast-food coupons to children as rewards.
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:53

Confederate group refuses to surrender

The ongoing Confederate flag tug-of-war in Haywood County took an unusual turn last week.
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:51

Heating assistance applications needed

One-time assistance with heating expenses is now available for low-income disabled or senior citizens through county social services departments. The funding provides for a one-time payment for heating assistance for qualified low-income households that include disabled persons or at least…
Maggie Valley’s ABC Board has put any plans to close one of its two liquor stores on the backburner for now. “It is doing better than we thought it was initially,” said Colin Edwards, an ABC Board member.
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:49

ABC store diverts money that schools once got

Haywood County Schools will lose about $30,000 in yearly revenue now that the Waynesville ABC Board has decided build a second liquor store. The town shares a cut of profits from liquor sales with the county and law enforcement. Haywood…
Construction on a new ABC store in Waynesville could begin as early as January at the cost of $1.3 million, including the land.
Twice a year, Dorothy Posey arrives for her job at Mountain Credit Union in Cherokee knowing one thing: the lines will be long. Not the sort of long by normal bank standards, like the 10-person-deep line that might form during…
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:42

Nonprofits getting creative for funds

From charity golf tournaments to bluegrass concerts to spare change jars, nonprofits lending a helping hand with heating costs for the needy use a variety of means to get people to pitch in for the cause.
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:38

Struggle to afford heating costs hits new ­high

It looked like any wood yard, piles of tree trunks in various stages of processing: long logs still bearing their bark, shorter stacks cut into rounds and neatly split triangles of firewood ready to be shoveled into a piping stove.…
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:36

New Jackson tourism agency launches

After more than a year of wrangling, a new Jackson County tourism authority was finally created this week, its board members officially named, and formal marching orders handed down. The overhaul of tourism operations in Jackson County are intended to…
When a strange man approached an 11-year-old girl in Waynesville’s Walmart more than a week ago and asked her to take off her clothes, police say the young girl did the right thing — she refused.
Some downtown merchants in Franklin have clashed with town leaders in recent weeks over a perceived lack of support for new ideas and initiatives to boost commerce.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 14:07

On the job with Franklin’s Main Street director

Franklin’s Main Street Program has found itself in an uncomfortable spotlight in recent weeks as Franklin merchants have complained that the town’s formal downtown association isn’t doing enough.
A side drama playing out in the downtown Franklin fracas involves an unusual public display of the tension that often exists between newspapers and the government leaders they cover.
Both sides in a downtown Franklin dispute have pledged to work together after publicly locking horns in recent weeks. “It seems there were a lot of issues because people were bumping in the dark. Both sides really need to reach…
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:53

Despite student pleas, WCU hikes tuition again

Western Carolina University’s Board of Trustees approved an 8 percent increase in tuition next academic year — much to the vexation of its student body. “We came in here, and it was not an easy decision,” said Trustee Grace Battle. “I…
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:49

Professors struggle with increased class sizes

While Western Carolina University’s budgets have been shrinking in recent years, its class sizes have been growing.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:46

New dental clinic should bring a smile to WNC

Citing a statewide shortage of dentists, East Carolina University is opening 10 clinics across North Carolina with the mission of training upper-class dental students as well as providing services to the underserved public.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:43

DOT negotiates buyouts for Haywood interchange

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is in the middle of buying nearly 40 Haywood County properties that stand in the way of its plans for redesigning “malfunction junction” — the interchange where Lowe’s and Shoney’s are — but there…
A Jackson County resident has taken it upon himself to show county decision-makers that a Cashiers ABC store is a must.
Most Everett Street business owners support Swain County’s pending investment in the privately owned Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, but some have questions about the mechanics of exactly how the deal will work.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 00:00

HCC hopes to finally choose president in January

The Haywood Community College Board of Trustees will meet on Dec. 19 to interview eight candidates who hope to be the college’s next president.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 00:00

Adopt a pet, hang a stocking at animal shelter

Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation is holding its “Home for the Holidays” promotion, in which “Youth For Sarge’s” members make Christmas stockings and each time a cat or dog is adopted, hang them at the Haywood County animal shelter to celebrate…
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 00:00

Feds help local students stay in school

Southwestern Community College has been awarded a nearly $1.3 million grant under the Upward Bound Programs from the U.S. Department of Education. Upward Bound is among seven federal programs that serve middle, high school and college students with the goal…
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 00:00

Work grant to train poker dealers

Southwestern Community College will launch a training program for live game dealers, in conjunction with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort, thanks in part to a nearly $400,000 back-to-work grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce. Specifically, the grant will help…
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 00:00

WCU earns grant to train family nurses

Western Carolina University’s School of Nursing is the recipient of nearly $700,000 in federal grant funding to help address a shortage of primary health care providers in Western North Carolina. The Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department…
The economic situation seemed to be looking up in Jackson County: unemployment was on a steady decline; the real estate market was rebounding; and tourists were finding more expendable income to travel.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 14:27

Haywood County economy outpaces its peers

Joey Del Bosque scrolled through his appointment book for the week; time slot after time slot was filled, with just enough room to breathe. Belle On Main, a salon and massage parlor along South Main Street in Waynesville, opened in…
More doom and gloom or a light at the end of the tunnel? For five years, the nation has waited eagerly for economic forecasters to tell us what we want to hear — that home sales are rebounding, wages are…
Since the town of Sylva’s curbside recycling program was reinstated about five years ago, its participation has stagnated, with the vast majority of residents not partaking.
The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled last week that state lawmakers indeed have the power to ban video gambling in its various forms, including the latest reincarnation known as video sweepstakes.
What to do with a hulking, four-story, run-down, decades-old, now-empty former hospital in Waynesville?
The Haywood County Board of Commissioners have postponed voting on a controversial flag display policy until after the New Year, but that did not keep Confederate flag supporters from protesting outside the county courthouse Monday.
Ever wanted a magic button you could press to make the stoplight turn green? Macon County Emergency Medical Services will soon hold that power for one stoplight at an intersection near its ambulance garage in Franklin.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was accidentally overbilled $2.7 million for IT service over several years by the company that manages Harrah’s Casino.
Two years after being saved from imminent death in the nick of time, WBHN began broadcasting regularly in Bryson City last week. Lloyd Brown, pastor of Spruce Grove Baptist Church, bought the Swain County radio station in 2010 and has…
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 00:00

Compromise forged to save metal truss bridge

Macon County residents hoping to save an old metal truss bridge spanning the Little Tennessee River scored a small win, but the victory is bittersweet.
An ongoing investigation into gravestones purchased from Moody’s Funeral Home in Sylva but never delivered to the buyers has resulted in charges against the former funeral home director.
Federal authorities have dropped deportation proceedings against 10 Latino men, all suspected illegal immigrants, who were arrested at a Jackson County license checkpoint in May.
Swain County’s oversized jail will lose about one-third of its current inmate population and a sizeable revenue stream when the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opens a new justice center, complete with its own jail.
Margie Bradley has called a ramshackle shack in the hills of Cullowhee “home” for almost 60 years. The ceilings sag, the floor is made of plywood and the wind enters through the numerous cracks scattered about the windows and walls.
For liquor stores in Western North Carolina, the combination of Christmas and the New Year makes for the busiest time of the year. But with 1,800 different types of products to choose from — from the old standbys like Jim…
Tourism numbers are looking good for Haywood County so far this year, and tourism leaders are keeping their fingers crossed that a cold winter will drive visitors to Cataloochee’s slopes.
Wednesday, 26 December 2012 00:00

Haywood sheriff to step down early

Haywood County Sheriff Bobby Suttles announced last week he will retire in February, stepping down early despite another two years to go until his term is technically up.
The task of finding a new top lawman in Haywood County to replace retiring Sheriff Bobby Suttles will begin in early January and likely be decided by March.
Most people have heard of a sightseeing tour, perhaps a wine or beer tasting tour, and maybe even the all-encompassing pleasure tour. But Sylva residents got an ear-dose when they followed a musician and sound expert on a not-so-common sound…
The most wonderful time of the year — it’s a line is engrained in us all. But nobody embraces and exudes Christmas quite like Betty Porter. As she talked on the phone outside a cottage at Broyhill Baptist Children’s Home…
Tuesday, 01 January 2013 00:00

2012: The year in review

The Smoky Mountain News takes note this week of some of the newsmakers of 2012 by handing out our annual awards. Back issues of the newspaper never fail to reveal a variety of humdingers: the funny, the astonishing, the interesting,…
Lake Junaluska and the town of Waynesville are pressing ahead with the possibility of a merger. The two entities have put the wheels in motion to introduce a special bill in the N.C. General Assembly in March that would bring…
Tuesday, 01 January 2013 00:00

Soccer league seeking a leg up in Swain

Swain County suffers from a serious lack of soccer fields, a plight soccer enthusiasts there hope to do something about.
The National Guard 210th and 211th Military Police Companies from Western North Carolina were recently placed “on alert.”
Give a U.S. congressman a cookie, and he can eat it. But offer him some free pancakes, and he’ll have to pass. “I can eat a pig in a blanket, but God forbid if it’s a hot dog. If it’s…
Wednesday, 26 December 2012 14:51

News from the conservation front

Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust conserves five parcels in 2012 With the help of community members and donors, the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust will have conserved five new properties by the end of 2012. The properties include two in Highlands, one that holds…
By Becky Johnson & Andrew Kasper • Staff Writers For two years now, Jackson County’s planning board has systematically combed over and rewritten some of its development rules once hailed as the most protective — yet restrictive — in the…
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will establish a local field office in Haywood County where veterans who are new to the system can register and qualify for medical benefits in a more expedited fashion.
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 00:00

Help-wanted: new top lawman for Haywood County

Those vying to be the next sheriff of Haywood County have until 2 p.m. Jan. 17 to get their applications turned in. Haywood Sheriff Bobby Suttles is stepping down with two years left to go on his term. Because Suttles…
Western Carolina University has agreed to a $600,000 out-of-court settlment in a civil suit brought by the family of Ja’Quayvin Smalls, a junior defensive back from Mount Pleasant, S.C. who died during an off-season football practice in July 2009.
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 00:00

Canton to bid farewell to long-time town anchor

Canton Town Manager Al Matthews has announced his impending retirement, and while his last day won’t be for months yet, he’s already plotting ways to spend his new-found free time after a long career in town government.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is hitting domestic violence abusers in their pocketbooks. People convicted of domestic violence-related charges must now pay a $1,000 fine, in addition to other penalties handed down by tribal court. Tribal council approved of…
Carol Anthony sat at in the back corner of a sweepstakes parlor in Maggie Valley one afternoon last week, getting her last fix of video gaming in before the next day’s ban took away what she claimed was her sole…
Jackson County’s planning board is knee-deep in a page-by-page rewrite of the county’s steep slope rules — a controversial process that seems destined to rekindle past disputes over protecting the mountainsides versus stymieing development. A sweeping slate of mountain building…
Plans for a riverfront park behind the historic courthouse in Bryson City got a boost thanks to $150,000 from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.
“If at first you don’t succeed, simply make your case again” is the lesson the executives at the tribally owned Sequoyah National Golf Course learned earlier this month. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has been propping up the golf…
Despite being warned not to return to Cherokee without tribal permission, animal rights activists gathered once again last Saturday in front of Chief Saunooke Bear Park waving signs and even donning a bear costume to protest the allegedly inhumane condition…
When pediatricians at Cherokee Indian Hospital retreat to their desk between patients to log data, research puzzling symptoms or review lab results, they’re constantly looking over their shoulders.
Canton leaders are pondering how much time and money to invest in an abandoned summer camp and mountain property left to the town under one condition — its use benefit Haywood County residents. After it was deeded the 100-acre Camp…
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 13:37

Schools weigh cost of increased safety

Officer Michael Harrison has confiscated everything from buck knives and Airsoft pistols from students at Swain High — but never a real gun. Until last week. Harrison and the principal discovered a .22 Remington rifle and assorted ammunition in the…
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 13:35

Veteran apartment proposed in Canton

An empty eyesore in Canton’s downtown could get a new lease on life. The former Jackson’s Appliance store, at the corner of Depot and Main streets in Canton, has lived several short lives during the last several years, but owner…
Beer had been flowing from the taps of Headwaters Brewing Company in Waynesville for just a few months when the bad news arrived — a cease-and-desist letter from another brewery claiming rights to Headwaters’ name. Victory Brewing Company out of…
As government aid shrinks and church groups step up to fill the void, the thin and sometimes fuzzy line between church and state has gotten even more complicated.
A four-day stretch of heavy rains fell on Western North Carolina, leaving residents wondering if it would ever end. Some areas witnessed up to 10 inches. The following collection of stories and interviews captures the drama and tension of the…
The longest-serving town clerk in Waynesville’s written history will retire next week, taking with her a vast store of institutional knowledge of the town’s inner workings.
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 00:00

Contenders line up to be next Haywood Sheriff

Three men, all with impressive law enforcement backgrounds, are vying to be Haywood County’s next sheriff. The current Sheriff, Bobby Suttles, is retiring next month, but with two years to go until the next sheriff election, a replacement must be…
Carolina Nights, a closed-down dinner theater in Maggie Valley, could make a comeback as an entertainment venue under new owners. A Haywood County couple with a track record as local business partners bought the building last month for $235,000.
A rewrite of Jackson County’s development regulations are well underway by the Jackson County Planning Board. It will be several more months before they finish, and final changes are ultimately up to the county commissioners.
With more than 15,000 applications for just 1,500 freshman spots last year, Western Carolina University has no difficulty attracting students. The harder part is getting them to stay.
Ghosts, spirits, swamp gas, gnomes and car headlights — there’s no shortage of hyphotheses behind the mysterious phenomenon along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The real question is, though, have you seen the light?
Wednesday, 27 June 2007 00:00

Whittier golf course to re-open

Following months of course reconstruction, Smoky Mountain Country Club in Whittier will re-open 9 holes of golf this weekend.
Wednesday, 27 June 2007 00:00

New life for an old Sylva graveyard

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer After decades of neglect, an overgrown hill in Jackson County holding the remains of residents of the old Jackson County Home was nearly forgotten. Thanks to the determination of one man, however, the old…
Wednesday, 27 June 2007 00:00

The mysterious art of dowsing

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Searching for the term “dowsing” on the Internet will bring up all kinds of Web sites related to the paranormal. But to many who practice the craft, including Alvin Fradey, dowsing is simply an…
Wednesday, 27 June 2007 00:00

Rise in dog bites sparks concerns

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Walking his dog in a Waynesville neighborhood one summer evening several weeks ago, fear was the farthest thing from Dan Elliott’s mind. So when a pit bull came charging after Elliott and his 80-pound…
When Howard Taylor heard what workers at Blue Ridge Paper Products were being offered as part of a pending buyout of the mill in April, he realized his work was cut out for him.
Bryson City’s tourism leaders have long touted this Swain County town as the Outdoor Adventure Capital of the Great Smoky Mountains, and a book now available in stores nationwide helps undergird their claim.
Wednesday, 20 June 2007 00:00

Rash of private dams altering WNC landscape

The damming of creeks and streams by private developments is on the rise in Western North Carolina — so much so that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has voiced concern over the cumulative impacts.
By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Parking for free Public parking for as long as you want in downtown Waynesville:
Wednesday, 20 June 2007 00:00

A great look, but too expensive

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Architects last week unveiled plans for a new three-level building that will house the Waynesville Police Department and town planning offices.
By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer It appears that the re-opening of Ghost Town in the Sky on Memorial Day weekend has made the town of Maggie Valley anything but.
As Chuck Bennett rang up a sale at his electrical supply store in Cashiers, he showed no fear of the business slowdown some predict as fallout from a slate of development regulations coming down the pipe in Jackson County.