Fri10242014

     Subscribe  |  Contact  |  Advertise  |  RSS Feed Other Publications

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, at its office in Waynesville. The Friends office is still located beside Blue Ridge Osondu Books on Main Street,…
Over the past month a slow-moving landslide behind the Craftsmen Village development in Macon County has worsened, leaving one property owner facing life without a home. Michael Boggan’s house was condemned by the county last week, a decision arrived at…
A pivotal moment arrives every time a pregnancy test turns positive at public health departments across the state. The new mother could walk out the doors, overwhelmed and underprepared, never to return again. She could receive little or no prenatal…
William and Mary Alice Fryar presented the Cashiers Historical Society with the 19th century Zachary family bible earlier this month. The Bible belonged to one of Cashiers’ early pioneer families, that of Mordecai Zachary. From 1842 until 1852, Zachary constructed…
With federal and state grants in hand, work will soon get underway to stabilize the remnants of a massive landslide still looming precariously over Maggie Valley. “You can see the cracking of the soil. It is obviously very unstable and…
Every so often a dissatisfied electorate injects a third current into the country’s two-party dialogue. It’s happening this year with the Tea Party movement, and it’s also happening spontaneously in Jackson County. Four Jackson County residents who want to be…
Four years ago, Principal Chief Michell Hicks issued a proclamation intended to move the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians towards environmental sustainability. Last week, leaders from the tribe gathered to discuss the impact of Generations Qualla, a grant program created…
Haywood County residents have another chance to steer plans for a park in Jonathan Creek at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 25. The meeting will be held at the County Office building on Russ Avenue past K-Mart,…
Buying alcohol will become a lot more convenient for residents in Haywood County. For the first time in 43 years, a new ABC store will be constructed in Waynesville. The second location will be situated behind Hardee’s on South Main…
A Sylva sewer line that overflowed on a residential property last month has sparked a difference of opinion between the sewer authority and the town that may have larger implications for Jackson County. According to Sylva officials, the owner of…
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 18:34

Library friends reveal interior design plans

The construction of the new Jackson County Main Library has been a community-driven project all along, and last week the community got its first glimpse of what the interior will look like. Friends of the Jackson County Main Library held…
The Town of Maggie Valley recently transferred the responsibility for building inspections to Haywood County. Now, Maggie is considering handing over soil and erosion control, too. “We could really become a one-stop shop,” said Maggie planning director Nathan Clark. Town…
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 18:34

Swain passes moratorium on utility projects

The setting may have been humble –– a nondescript meeting room in a county administration building –– but the Swain County commissioners’ vote to pass a moratorium on communications and utility projects may prove monumental. The vote could force utility…
Haywood Community College leaders are at odds with county commissioners over funding for the college. The county slashed capital contributions to the community college by two-thirds due to the recession. The college counted on the annual funding for repairs and…
Smoky Mountain Center has begun the process of transferring its mental health services to private companies in a move that signals the advent of the latest overhaul to the state’s mental health provider network. Last week, Smoky Mountain Center closed…
Cindy Robertson never for a minute believed in ghosts — that is, until she moved into her new restaurant outside Cherokee. And she’s not alone. A mysterious presence has made converts of every restaurant owner who’s moved into the building…
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 18:34

Maggie eases proposed design standards

The Maggie Valley Planning Board has eased requirements on a proposed set of design standards that would shape the town’s appearance in the long-term. The board hopes to replace the haphazard look of the town with more earthy colors, natural…
The U.S. Small Business Administration plans to hand over more than $1.4 million in disaster relief loans to a host of unlikely recipients in the region. The low-interest loans are meant to aid businesses distressed by a rockslide that shut…
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 16:12

Dixie dog transport saves lives

With the euthanasia rate at area shelters fluctuating between 50 and 70 percent, animal rescue advocates are literally going the extra mile to save pets that haven’t been adopted. Each month, local volunteers load crates of cats and dogs into…
Waynesville is a leader when it comes walkable communities, according to a consultant hired to develop a long-range pedestrian plan for the town. “I would like to say this is a unique situation,” Terry Snow with Wilbur Smith Associates told…
Ghost Town is far from off the hook for repairing the latest landslide in Maggie Valley. The Rich Cove slide originated from Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park more than a month ago. About 16,000 tons of material remain…
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 16:12

Sylva board blesses Community Table move

Community Table, Sylva’s nonprofit community kitchen, has outgrown its existing facility and is targeting a move to the town’s now-vacant senior center. The county built a new senior center, freeing up space in the old one, which is owned by…
The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee has saved a key tract from development along the Little Tennessee River near Cowee Mound. The Land Trust bought three acres that were being marketed for an RV park. The low-lying land, which…
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 16:12

Fighting hunger, one bowl at a time

Fill a bowl, feed a soul, and help fight hunger with a warm heart and a full stomach. The second annual Empty Bowls Dinner is set for Friday, March 12, at Tartan Hall in Franklin. The fundraising event is a…
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 16:12

Sylva pedestrian plan takes shape

The Town of Sylva finalized an agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation last week that clears the way for a continuous sidewalk to Dillsboro. The town will pitch in $83,000 to build the missing link and maintain the sidewalk,…
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 16:12

No relief for crowded schools

Despite using every nook and cranny available, Swain County schools are still struggling to track down classroom space for its exploding student population. The number of students at Swain County High School has shot up so dramatically that the school…
Sylva resident Susannah Patty thought her trip to Chile would be an adventure, but she didn’t count on living through the fifth biggest earthquake of the century. In her late 20s now and no stranger to travel, Patty says she…
A proposed health board rule in Haywood County has reignited a debate about how far officials can go when it comes to private property. Public outcry crushed a nuisance ordinance considered by the county last spring. Now, it’s made a…
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 16:12

Cullowhee school grows beyond expectations

Landmark Learning based in Jackson County offers 80 courses a year providing wilderness medical training to 2,000 people across all sectors of the outdoor and medical industry. Many of the courses are held at their campus in Cullowhee and around…
When the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians took over the Cherokee Indian Hospital from the Indian Health Service in 2002, the hospital’s administrators faced a challenge. They wanted the hospital to feel like it belonged to the community, but they…
If you believe people usually get what they deserve, then the recent conviction of a Jackson County man on elder abuse charges was welcome news. Best of all, it could open the door for similar charges against others taking advantage…
Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park could be foreclosed on as early as June unless investors step forward with a cash infusion between now and then, according to Ghost Town’s bankruptcy attorney. The theme park in Maggie Valley has…
Macon County Airport Authority members are confident their application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is moving forward, but the project may still face significant procedural hurdles. The airport is planning a 600-foot extension of its runway. In order…
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 16:12

DOT plans ahead to stave off slides

Rather than continuing a reactive approach to rockslides on Interstate 40, the DOT is making a widespread effort to prevent disasters like the Oct. 25 slide from occurring again. The DOT says it will invest $4 million to stabilize five…
Harsh winter weather has delayed the reopening of Interstate 40 until late April, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Snow, rain, heavy winds and bitter cold shut down operations for a total of 14 days, leading to the…
The conviction of former Jackson County employee Marc Hawk on elder abuse charges last month closed the book on a painful family struggle. Now, the relatives of the victim, Earla Mae Cowan, are hoping the case also changes the way…
Swain County has entered the fight over Duke Energy’s proposed electrical substation that would mar views in a rural farming valley near a highly sacred Cherokee site. Swain commissioners are considering a moratorium that would halt any electrical and telecommunications…
With a large loan payment looming and not enough money to pay it, the fairgrounds turned to Haywood commissioners this week to save it from foreclosure. Commissioners voted Monday to purchase the fairgrounds facilities and apply for a 40-year U.S.…
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 16:12

Beating bugs the natural way

It all started with a stranger’s death. At the time, Carl Hughes was working as a construction supervisor for the oil corporation Chevron in Angola. A worker came into his office to ask permission to take the afternoon off to…
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 16:12

Sylva may be stuck with cell tower

The Sylva Town Board opposes the construction of a 195-foot-high cellular communications tower on the main commercial drag of N.C. 107, but a state law passed in August may allow the tower to go up anyway. The cell tower, planned…
Haywood County commissioners are reluctant to hand over taxpayer money to stabilize the latest landslide in Maggie Valley — even if the federal government chips in for much of the cost. At a commissioners meeting on Monday, the Town of…
On Monday evening, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners met with leaders from Jackson County Schools to talk about next year’s budget, but any outstanding fears had already been put to rest. County Manager Ken Westmoreland said because the county…
What if the driveway to the county’s administration building were lined with blueberries? It was January, and Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin and Heather Stevens were on a walk, dreaming about how green Jackson County could be. They had read an article on…
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 17:37

HCC comes out on top in Recycle Mania

Haywood Community College shot to the top in a nationwide recycling competition by doing little more than what it already does to promote sustainability. More than 600 colleges signed up for RecycleMania across the country, recycling and composting more than…
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 17:37

I-40 opens at last

Interstate 40, closed since October due to a massive rockslide, reopened with little fanfare on Sunday evening. For the people who depend on the road for their living, seeing the traffic flow again brought a sense of relief. “We are…
With Haywood County’s revenues down by 4 percent, schools are looking at another year of disappointing budget allocations at the local level. Preliminary budget figures show the Haywood County public school system might receive $335,000 in capital outlay funding from…
In a 2002 referendum, the members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians voted to authorize an audit of the tribe’s enrolled members. Almost eight years later, the process is coming to a head as the Tribal Council considers how…
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 17:37

Key candidates missing at Swain forum

Swain County citizens might have been more thrilled about a candidate forum that was held Thursday, April 22, than the people actually running. About 75 residents came to forum to see candidates candidly answer questions submitted by fellow citizens. It…
When John Miele, co-owner of the Golden Carp, left a social media class recently taught by Western Carolina University students, his Dillsboro business had a new home. Now, visitors can find information such as the store’s hours and location on…
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 17:37

Rallying around a historic tree

Against all odds, a 250-year-old scarlet oak tree still stands on N.C. 110 south of Canton, despite being struck by lightning, despite neighboring a busy road, despite being forgotten by many for more than three decades. A Native American council…
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 17:37

A huge pile of good intentions

Haywood County Solid Waste Director Stephen King did not spend his interview with The Smoky Mountain News sitting at an office, pointing to encouraging recycling statistics. Instead, King was constantly on the go, picking up a stray glove he spotted…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

N.C. 47th Senate

North Carolina’s 47th District Senate seat represents Haywood, Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, Avery and McDowell counties. Republican voters will choose between Andy Webb, Ralph Hise, and Tamera Frank in the May 4 primary, and the winner faces incumbent Democrat Joe Sam…
The Jackson County Sheriff’s race is hot and getting hotter. While a controversial pay raise and allegations of questionable financial transactions are dogging incumbent Sheriff Jimmy Ashe, the possibility of a politically-motivated arson at challenger Robin Gunnels’ business has provided…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

Candidates weigh in

Democrats Donnie Dixon: “I can’t rightfully say he’s done a bad job. It could reflect the commissioners’ doings...I have nothing against the man. I’m not going to point a finger.” Janice Inabinett said the county must rely on an evaluation…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

Evergreen Foundation needs to be reined in

It is past time someone looked closely at just what is going on with the Evergreen Foundation, because apparently those in control of a whole lot of what should be public assets have strayed very far from their original mission.…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

Sylva board elects to pay music licensing

With Sylva’s annual street festival Greening Up the Mountains right around the corner, town commissioners had a somewhat unusual decision land on their doorstep last week: risk a lawsuit or pay a licensing fee to a music industry group. Apparently,…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

N.C. 50th Senate

The 50th Senate seat represents Jackson, Macon, Swain, Clay, Graham, and Cherokee counties, along with a portion of Haywood. Republican voters will choose between Jim Davis and Jimmy Goodman on the May 4 primary, and the winner will face Democratic…
In the lead-up to the primary elections on May 4, criticism of the current administration is stewing underground in Swain County. Most commissioner candidates admit reluctantly that much of that frustration is directed toward County Manager Kevin King, though few…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

Jackson EDC debate is over, again

Anyone who thought the discussion over the Jackson County Economic Development Commission’s missing audits was over when the board closed the issue last December got a surprise on Monday night. Chairman Brian McMahan announced that he had gotten a letter…
Haywood County Attorney Chip Killian had his response ready for the citizen activists who have incessantly demanded referendums on a string of controversial county decisions. At Monday’s commissioners’ meeting, Killian informed them that state law actually forbids counties from holding…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

Early voting off to slow start

Early voting began last Thursday, April 15, and runs through noon on Saturday, May 1. As of press time Tuesday, here’s how many people had voted early so far. Haywood 119 voted in the Democratic primary 54 voted in the…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

Meet the candidates

Three District Court judge seats are up for election in the seven western counties. The race for judge isn’t partisan, so candidates aren’t distinguished as Republican or Democrat on the ballot. Candidates have to designate which of the three seats…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

Politicking illegal at county meetings

At the last Haywood commissioners meeting, a citizen asked Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick and Commissioner Bill Upton to answer a political question as election candidates. This week, county attorney Chip Killian said that move was unlawful. Commissioners cannot use the forum…
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:37

Debate Web site new to WNC election scene

Shane Burrell’s idea was simple: create a Web site where political candidates can talk to directly to voters about issues. “I knew that a lot of the candidates just weren’t able to get out there and online is an easy…
Six Democrats and five Republicans are vying for three seats on the Haywood County board of commissioners. Only three from each party will advance past the May 4 primary to the November election. The Smoky Mountain News spoke with the…
Six Democrats and five Republicans are vying for three seats on the Haywood County board of commissioners. Only three from each party will advance past the May 4 primary to the November election. The Smoky Mountain News spoke with the…
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:37

Scant primary in Jackson commissioner race

While three of five seats are up for election on the Jackson County board of commissioners, there is primary competition for just one of the seats: the Democratic primary for the Cherokee/ Whittier/Dillsboro district profiled here. William Shelton, 47, Whittier,…
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:37

Swain commissioner candidates

Democratic candidates, pick four Steve Moon, 59, owner of a tire shop, incumbent Moon is finishing up his first term as commissioner and has served on the school board for six years. Moon said he’d like to be re-elected to…
This year in Macon County, three seats on the board are up for election. Each commissioner represents a geographic district in the county, although all voters get to vote for all seats. Once the board is elected, the sitting members…
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:37

Haywood commissioner candidates

Democrat candidates, pick three Raymond L. Brooks, 59, owner of trucking company Brooks has worked with citizens for more than 30 years as a preacher at Waynesville’s Bible Baptist Church. He wants to reduce the county debt and be more…
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:37

Cherokee casino renovation halfway home

Last week, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians celebrated the topping off of their new 21-story hotel tower, the centerpiece of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino’s $633 million expansion. “This, for us, is a game-changer,” said Harrah’s Cherokee General Manager Darold Londo.…
Swain County is nearing the end of an ongoing saga with neighboring Graham County over who will provide emergency services to Deal’s Gap. The sparring counties reached a tentative agreement last week pending approval by both boards. According to the…
Nine Democrats and four Republicans have set their sights on four open commissioner seats in Swain County. A primary on May 4 will decide which four Democrats will advance to the November election. All four Republicans will automatically advance, along…
Avram Friedman is not your average North Carolina political candidate. Born in the Bronx, Friedman studied political science at Hunter College, and he’s been a grassroots activist since the late 1960s. After spending his life affecting change from outside the…
Last month, officials from the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority and the Town of Sylva clashed over who was responsible for fixing a clogged town sewer line. The issue has since been resolved, with TWASA’s board voting 4-1 to reimburse…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Smoky Mountain Center privatizes services

Smoky Mountain Center, the mental health management entity for Western North Carolina, has finally gotten itself out of the game of providing services. The suite of programs known as Smoky Operated Services would be handed over to a partnership forged…
A handful of Haywood County residents are demanding a vote by the people before county leaders proceed with purchasing the abandoned Wal-Mart building. The request comes despite the county commissioners’ unanimous vote in January to buy the shopping center to…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

GOP contenders

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…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Malicious prosecution lawsuit dismissed

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…
The deserted Wal-Mart near Clyde will be hardly recognizable once Haywood County is through with its makeover of the megastore. Sunlight will stream in through 30 skylights scattered across the low-slung ceiling of the former big-box store. A new metal…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Live dealer conversation stalled in courts

After years of a stalemate with the state over live dealers at Harrah’s Casino, the election of Gov. Beverly Perdue signaled new hope for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians that an agreement finally could be reached. Perdue had signaled…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

The case for soccer

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…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Duke faces yet another hurdle on substation

A coalition of Cherokee and Swain County residents have stepped up the pressure on a proposed Duke Energy substation in the vicinity of the sacred Cherokee mothertown, Kituwah. Last week, a coalition of more than a dozen people filed a…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Haire seeks re-election in N.C. 119 race

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.…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

The case for ball and bat

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…
Imagine buying an idyllic piece of land in the mountains only to learn you’ll be living under a giant, humming transmission line the size of a 12-story building. That’s what happened to Swain County residents Paul Wolf and Jennifer Simon.…
With the county budget on everyone’s mind, two Haywood commissioners received a vote of confidence on the job they’ve done despite a staggering recession. Chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick and Commissioner Bill Upton both sailed through the Democratic primary with comfortable margins.…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Shelton beats Brown in Jackson primary

Incumbent William Shelton beat challenger James Bo Brown by almost a two-to-one margin to win the Democratic spot on the November ballot for the Whittier/Dillsboro district seat. The race was the only one of three county commissioners seats up for…
Removing sediment from Lake Logan would not only benefit its owner, Evergreen Packaging, it could potentially save homes and businesses from flooding, according to a study that was recently completed by McGill Associates. “If we’re successful, we could lower the…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

No Wal-Mart for Cherokee

Wal-Mart will not build a new Supercenter in Cherokee. After months of speculation that the deal between the tribe and the mega-retailer had fallen through, a company spokesperson confirmed the news this week. “We decided not to move ahead with…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Ashe holds on in Democratic primary

Jackson County Sheriff Jimmy Ashe proved he could survive a tough race during the Democratic primary, defeating challenger Robin Gunnels by nearly 700 votes on the unofficial count. Ashe may have another tough race in November, but on Tuesday night…
For the past year or so, Sylva Mayor Maurice Moody has been focused on cleaning up his town. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time, and in the last year we’ve made significant progress,” Moody said. The city’s…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Cochran hammers Dover in sheriff race

Despite widespread criticism of the job he’s done, Swain Sheriff Curtis Cochran proved unstoppable in this year’s Republican primary. Cochran buried opponent Wayne Dover in a landslide with more than 77 percent of the vote. In November, Cochran will go…
Going into the primary elections in Macon County, every candidate stressed the need for a fiscally conservative mindset as the county continues to contend with declining revenues. With little to separate the candidates’ platforms, it seemed like a foregone conclusion…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Low voter turnout in primary elections

Mid-term election primaries are normally characterized by poor voter turnout, and that held true this year as only 14 percent of the state’s voters made it to the polls. In Western North Carolina, the percentages were higher than the state…
Phil Haire is a fortress as a state candidate. The seven-time incumbent is head of the General Assembly’s appropriations committee, and he’s been endorsed by every kind of voters group from realtors to the Sierra Club. On Tuesday night, he…
Though both commissioner candidates running for re-election in Swain County have safely landed a spot in November’s election, a newcomer earned the top spot in Tuesday’s primary. With only four commissioner seats up for election, all four Republican candidates automatically…
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 15:18

Welsh TV crew visits Cherokee

Iolo Williams is one of the Wales’ most recognized TV personalities. “Wildlife” Williams, as he is known by some fans, or “Birdman” as he is known by others, revolutionized BBC nature shows by bringing heady ecology together with rugged good…
Faced with a tall and growing stack of bills in the solid waste department, Haywood County commissioners are seriously considering offloading part of county trash and recycling operations to private companies. Whether it’s the $4.5 million spent to expand the…