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Tuesday, 26 February 2013 21:18

Haywood flips for pancake day

It’s 6:15 a.m., and Woody Griffin is ready. “It’s the calm before the storm,” he chuckled.
The far-flung Nantahala School in the remote reaches of Macon County is putting a financial drain on local coffers, prompting county leaders to ask the state for extra money to cover the cost of operating such an isolated school. Nantahala…
The Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen got an earful from hotel and motel owners Monday during a nearly three-hour meeting held specifically to hear views about a proposed increase to the overnight lodging tax. The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority…
When LeRoy Roberson and his wife, Gale, opened an optometric business on Waynesville’s Main Street 35-years-ago, about a quarter of the storefronts sat empty.
A team of laid-off state geologists will soon start mapping landslide hazard zones in Haywood County after a coalition of environmental nonprofits raised money to keep the project alive. The state two years ago axed an ongoing effort to map…
Jackson County planning board members are considering whether to re-start a landslide hazard mapping initiative that was axed by the state two years ago. A team of state geologists had been creating landslide hazard maps for every mountain county. They…
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians could decide soon whether to move forward with a second casino near Murphy, but some tribal members are raising concerns.
People attending productions at Western Carolina University’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center may soon have the chance to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer before a show or during intermission. WCU’s board of trustees Friday…
It’s a room full of strangers, ideas and alcohol. Still in its infancy yet gaining steam, the Drink-N-Think congregation came together last Wednesday evening at the Mad Batter Bakery & Café in Cullowhee, near the heart of Western Carolina University.
The Haywood Community College Board of Trustees has decided not to release the names of its finalists for president of the community college — even though it did so during the first round of searching last year. Three finalists have been…
The number of children in foster care in Haywood County is on the rise, a depressing sign for Department of Social Services workers whose first goal is to keep a family together. “Growing up in foster care or growing up…
In a move that could save nearly 100 jobs and keep a Franklin factory from closing, an English-based company struck a deal early this week to purchase the assets of the Whitley Products plant, a struggling metal manufacturer. For nearly…
Jackson County commissioners have postponed a decision on hiring deputies to man the county’s elementary schools. The school board and sheriff’s office made a joint request recently for funding for four additional deputies to serve as school resource officers in…
There’s a new sheriff in town. Greg Christopher, a 51-year-old former lieutenant in the N.C. State Patrol, assumed the role of top lawman in Haywood County this week.
Walmart has asked Sylva leaders for a pass on local sign regulations as it prepares to replace its older signs with a new design and logo.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 22:26

Riverside development proposed in Cullowhee

A large residential development proposed near Western Carolina University could boost Cullowhee’s revitalization movement and cater to the region’s professional crowd seeking an outdoor lifestyle, but its proximity to the Tuckasegee River has also attracted criticism from area environmentalists.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 22:24

MedWest asks patients: What do you want?

The new CEO of MedWest-Haywood is rounding on the county, asking residents about the hospital’s past performance and how to improve in the future. “I really want to engage your community,” said Janie Sinacore-Jaberg, who came on board with the…
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 22:21

Nonprofits struggle to win back funding

It’s been five years since the recession hit, and nonprofits in Haywood County are still struggling to get by after losing their monetary contributions from the county. Before the recession hit, Haywood County gave about $472,000 to nonprofits, among them…
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians became the first tribe in the nation to receive a Presidential Declaration of Disaster for damages to tribal lands from severe rainstorms in January.  The designation means that the Eastern Band is eligible for…
State funding cuts for magistrate judges are taking a toll on rural counties and the judges themselves. Long hours, a growing workload and a shrinking workforce are changing the way this staple position in the state justice system does business.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 22:04

Cherokee becomes first tribe in space

It’s 20 degrees outside and Spencer Thomas is standing on a Cherokee soccer field holding a balloon. “Hopefully, everything goes according to plan,” he said.
Cherokee Tribal Council was asked to green light the construction of a second $110 million casino and hotel near Murphy last week but instead voted to table the issue for further study. The new casino could add about 800 jobs…
The Jackson County Planning Board last week approved a preliminary plan for the Cullowhee River Club housing development proposed along the Tuckasegee River near Western Carolina University. Planning department staff gave a report saying the master plan for the large…
Sweepstakes establishments in Jackson County may be getting the boot from the U.S. 441 Corridor leading to Cherokee. Although sweepstakes-style gambling was outlawed by a recent N.C. Supreme Court ruling, County Planner Gerald Green believes it doesn’t hurt to have…
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Cashiers) has opened 18 offices throughout the 11th Congressional District. “Constituents can set up meetings at any of the district office locations to receive help with anything from navigating the federal government to assistance with their Social…
In honor of Sunshine Week in North Carolina, Carolina Public Press will hold a “Full Disclosure” workshop in the Cardinal Conference Room at Western Carolina University from 2:30-6 p.m. on April 4. The event will give journalists, students, public information…
Law enforcement officials in Haywood County are stepping up to keep a watchful eye on schools as leaders plot their next steps toward increasing safety. Parents have probably already noticed one simple and cost-free solution to better school security: deputies…
The Jackson County Planning Board voted last Thursday to eliminate a pivotal component of the county’s steep slope building rules. The planning board wants to do away with a controversial limits on how many homes can be built on steep…
Howard Brown doesn’t sleep well when there’s rain in the forecast. His trout farm in Nantahala — teaming with $400,000 worth of rainbow trout at any given time — has twice been victim of near miss landslides from a road…
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 13:11

Swain school leaders set bar low on budget

Despite a big wish list, Swain County school leaders won’t be asking the county for more money next year. Swain school officials instead have posed a quite modest request — just don’t cut our budget. 
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 13:10

Cherokee bear zoo debate roars on

As the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ leaders mull the fate of bear zoos on the reservation, representatives from two of Cherokee’s three bear zoos have said they are being unfairly harried because of one bad egg.
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 13:09

SCC wants money for building plan

A contingent of administrators from Southwestern Community College made a pitch to Jackson County commissioners Monday to help pay for a campus building plan.
The mountains are an undeniable tourist magnet, but with so many WNC destinations to chose from, the crusade to stand out from the pack is prompting county tourism agencies to constantly refine and redefine their message. What will entice a…
Ed Green has plenty of time for contemplation during his 15 mile runs on the paths circling Lake Junaluska. One of his recurring thoughts turns to what’s underfoot: how lucky he is to run in such a beautiful place.
Janie Sinacore-Jaberg has run a lot of hospitals — small hospitals, financially precarious hospitals, turf-war embattled hospitals, hospitals in the midst of a merger, even hospitals in the midst of hostile take over.
Jackson County is one step closer to giving money to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad to outfit the scenic rail line with a refurbished steam engine in hopes of getting a tourist boost in return.
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 12:59

Service with a smile

If you want a seat at one of Bobby Harracks’ tables, you better get to Clyde’s Restaurant early. A steady crowd of customers makes a beeline for Harracks’ section of the mainstay hometown diner in Waynesville, filling in the booths…
Thursday, 28 March 2013 13:50

HCC named new president

Barbara Sue Parker, a native of Haywood County, has been appointed president of Haywood Community College this morning.She most recently served as assistant superintendent for Rutherford County Public School System. Before that, she worked in Haywood County schools for 20…
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 13:32

From the holler to Hollywood

Catapulting classic cars and blowing up helicopters just isn’t enough for Lance Holland. “You’ve never had fun until you’ve wrecked a freight train,” he chuckled.
After years of stops and starts, construction is now imminent on a long-awaited skateboard park in Waynesville.
A study that revealed that most Macon County government employees were underpaid compared to counterparts in other North Carolina counties is catching flack from some critics for alleged design flaws, as well as calling into question the worth of a…
In late February, a Macon County youth was checked into the local emergency room in need of psychological care. Because the hospital, Angel Medical Center, does not provide that type of service, he spent the night in the ER while…
The story is all too familiar. A property developer buys a large swath of land with grand plans to build high-end homes and sell them for a substantial profit. But the housing bubble bursts. The lots don’t move. The property…
Ivan Abrahams didn’t come to hold the top spot in the World Methodist Council because he abided by the rules. At more than one point in his spiritual career, he was a bit of a thorn in the clergy’s side.
The Canton Police Department is considering selling two 80-year-old submachine guns and using the proceeds to pay for new and better equipment for the force — before the federal government possibly bans such weapons.
MedWest hospital leaders have hired an outside consulting firm to help them analyze the pros and cons of staying together versus dissolving their fledgling partnership. Also at stake: whether Carolinas HealthCare System will stay on as the hospitals’ management company.
Employees at Western Carolina University are distilling the recently released results of a Harvard University study to see if regional comprehensive universities have lower faculty satisfaction rates.
Every three years, Western Carolina University gets a report card. It does not prescribe the university an A, B, C or even F, but the report does tell WCU what it does right and where it needs to improve. Then,…
A faction of lodging owners in Maggie Valley is hoping to derail a tax increase on overnight accommodations. The money brought in — roughly $450,000 a year — would be dedicated solely to building tourism attractions or improving existing ones.
The prospects of Haywood County’s tourism development tax increase making it through the General Assembly in Raleigh this year is highly likely — or perhaps highly unlikely. It depends on whom you ask.
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 00:00

News in brief

WCU to offer courses at Harrah’s Western Carolina University is taking its masters in business degree on the road to Cherokee, offering MBA coursework at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino for part-time students over a three-year period starting in spring 2014.  WCU…
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 19:30

A cut above the rest

You get what you pay for, and a haircut is quite possibly the finest example of that timeless concept.
A parade of Haywood County department leaders went before county commissioners during a budget work session Monday, each pleading their case for why their department needs an additional employee or two next fiscal year.
Don’t light, chew, smoke or spit that tobacco in Jackson County parks, and if you do, you could be slapped with a $50 fine. That is the gist of a proposed law that will soon be voted on by county…
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 19:27

Changes at dog park gets owners riled up

Dog park patrons have issued a collective howl over recent changes to the fenced in canine play yard along Waynesville’s Richland Creek recreation complex.
The lone evergreen tree left standing on the lawn of the historic courthouse in downtown Waynesville will soon be coming down.
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 19:25

Tug-of-war continues in Maggie over tax hike

Maggie Valley leaders on opposing sides of the tourist tax hike both claim to have the majority in their corner. Maggie Mayor Ron DeSimone presented a stack of letters of support from hotel owners to state legislators during a trip…
Joyce Porter had just finished cleaning her house in Jonathan Creek and was planning to hop in the shower, but when she turned on the faucet, no water came out.
Haywood Community College trustees cited leadership, community rapport and deep local roots as key factors when naming Dr. Barbara Sue Parker the next college president last week.
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 19:20

Indoor shooting range proposed in Franklin

All loaded up and no place to shoot — such is the plight of gun owners in Macon County, especially when its raining or snowing outside. That’s because the closest indoor shooting range to Franklin is as far as Asheville…
After struggling through a year of poor fundraising, the veterans’ memorial in Franklin desperately needs to sell some bricks.
The great Dillsboro train debate rolled on in Jackson County Monday with a public hearing this week on whether the county should give the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad $700,000 in exchange for the promise of more riders and tourists.
The numbers are unforgiving. One in three unexpected deaths in Haywood County are likely prescription drug overdoses. This year alone, there have been eight drug-related deaths — out of 25 unexpected deaths in all. And that doesn’t include two deaths…
All 12 seats on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Tribal Council are up for grabs this year.
U.S. Congressman Mark Meadows told Haywood County business leaders this week that the federal government should borrow a page  — or perhaps a whole chapter or two — from the private sector playbook when it comes to financial problem solving.
Police across Western North Carolina have been stamping out the last bastions of illegal video gambling machines in recent weeks, calling the bluff of defiant operators who refused to go quietly.
Without support from the Maggie Valley Lodging Association, a bill to increase the room tax in Haywood County could die in the N.C. General Assembly.
It’s been said that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death, but for Donald Davis, he couldn’t imagine doing anything else. 
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 00:00

Sylva faces tough budget choices

Sylva town officials are staring down three unsightly options to balance the upcoming year’s budget: tax increases, budget cuts or both.   None of the choices have much appeal to board members, but it’s understood that something must be done…
Main Street merchants are used to answering tourists’ questions: how do you get to the parkway, what’s the best place for dinner, and where are the public restrooms? But lately, Waynesville’s downtown store keepers have also become purveyors of news.
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 00:00

How the axe fell

Talk of cutting the historic courthouse maples in Waynesville has come and gone during the years. Reasons varied. It was hard to get grass to grow underneath. The trees masked the grandness of the historic courthouse. Heavy equipment parked under…
The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority is the latest voice to enter the fray as the county ponders a $700,000 grant to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in exchange for the promise of more tourists.
Religion and public schools have never been a black and white matter anywhere in the U.S., but the shades of grey can be even more complicated in the Bible belt.
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 00:00

U.S. 441 work nears completion

Repairs to U.S. 441 are nearing completion. A football-field-sized portion of U.S. 441, which runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was completely washed away in January after days of heavy rain resulted in a landslide.
Judaculla Rock, a prehistoric gem of the Cherokee and the most heavily inscribed petroglyph in the East, is putting Jackson County on the map.
Tom Anderson barely batted an eyelash when he plunked down $300,000 in cash for a tiny lot along the Nantahala eight years ago in the Mystic River development.
Statewide parks and recreation funding is clashing with fiscal austerity in the current state budget process, in a showdown that has environmentalists and local governments bracing for the worst.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 13:12

Students to share ideas at Discovery Forum

Western Carolina University will host its inaugural Discovery Forum, an event designed to encourage students to share innovative ideas for making their communities a better places to live, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Monday, April 22, in Blue Ridge…
Seniors around the region are gearing up for Senior Games during the month of May. In Haywood County, registration will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 17-19 at the Haywood County Parks and Recreation office at 1233 N.…
Barium Springs, a nonprofit that serves troubled youth, is hosting its first Giving Them Hope Breakfast at 8:30 April 25 at the new conference center in the Burrell Building at Southwestern Community College in Sylva. The free, hour-long breakfast will…
A Swain County social worker pleaded guilty in court this week to doctoring and fabricating records two years ago following the death of a 15-month-old baby.
The town of Waynesville has hired a consultant to help create mandatory design standards for buildings in historic districts.
Macon County commissioners narrowly voted last week to buy a 50-acre tract for $550,000 to create a sprawling baseball and recreation complex. It would take another $550,000 to put in the first two baseball diamonds and a parking lot.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 12:59

Building freedom through mobility

It was a moment that forever stuck with Don Schoendorfer. While on vacation in Morocco several years ago, the southern California engineer/inventor witnessed a disabled woman dragging herself across a busy street. She had no wheelchair. Nobody seemed to even…
What if a tornado ripped through Western North Carolina? What if a tanker hauling dangerous chemicals overturned on Interstate 40? What if a blizzard caused power outages and trapped people in their homes?
Macon County government employees will have a fatter paycheck now, thanks to a new pay plan approved last week by commissioners. Three of the five commissioners voted in support of the pay raises.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 12:55

Robbery ring targeting vacation homes busted

Ten suspects have been charged in connection with a rash of property crimes in the Cashiers and Glenville area.
A new cell phone tower in the Pigeon River Gorge could mean fewer dropped calls as motorists cruise down Interstate 40.
Swain County commissioners said they have fielded queries lately about why jail inmates aren’t put to work picking up trash along the roadsides or Tuckasegee River, and so in turn they posed that question to Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran…
A state bill that would bring Lake Junaluska into Waynesville’s town limits has cleared the N.C. Senate and is now headed for passage in the N.C. House of Representatives. The Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center and the 760-home residential…
County commissioners across the state are protesting proposed state budget cuts and bills that they say pass the buck and put more burdens on counties.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians could open a new $110 million casino in Murphy as early as spring 2015, with a temporary gambling operation up and running on the site in just a year from now.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 12:48

Trial by dirt

While sunlight, water and good soil may seem a simple enough equation for getting a plant from seed to fruit, like anything it becomes a lot more complicated when people are involved. During the past decade, community gardens have been…
Western Carolina University is open to suggestions — from students, faculty and the general public — as it undergoes a campus-wide planning process that will steer infrastructure at the institution for the coming decade.
Landslide repairs to U.S. 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were completed early this week — reopening the primary tourist corridor through the park nearly a month ahead of schedule.
Chris Cooper, associate professor and head of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Western Carolina University, has been named one of the best teachers in the University of North Carolina system in recognition of his engaging and…
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 00:52

WCU names Drake to board

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors elected Phil Drake, chief executive officer of Drake Enterprises, and Kenny Messer, an executive with Milliken Corp., to four-year terms on the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees. A native of Franklin,…
The Fines Creek Community Association is offering $500 scholarships to graduating high school seniors living within the Fines Creek, Panther Creek and White Oak communities, as well as home-schooled students who graduate from a program certified by the N.C. Division…
A free kids festival featuring music, activity areas, performances and give-aways will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Haywood County Fairground by Haywood Smart Start. There will be craft and activity stations for…