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Wednesday, 08 January 2014 14:30

Folkmoot to finally get title to old school

An old elementary school in Waynesville that serves as a giant bunkhouse for troupes of international performers during the signature Folkmoot festival each summer is being relinquished by the Haywood County school system and turned over to Folkmoot for good. 
From Clingmans Dome to Juneywank Falls to the winding Blue Ridge Parkway, Swain County is rich in natural beauty. But all that public land can make the budget tight for county government, which depends on property tax for much of…
Nearly six months after a staged gunfight left a Ghost Town gunfighter injured, the incident is still not resolved.  Ghost Town amusement park in Maggie Valley was issued a $2,000 citation last month by the N.C. Department of Labor’s Occupational…
Jake Flannick • SMN Correspondent He campaigned on the promise of making Franklin fertile ground for new ideas and encouraging more openness and transparency in government. 
By 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 2, the sky had long gone dark and rain was turning to snow. It was the perfect night to watch a football game. But Steve Kloster had barely gotten past the kickoff of the Sugar…
Canton residents will have the chance to weigh in on the town board’s yearlong search for a town manager at a public forum scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Colonial Theatre.
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 14:36

Jackson County has a new slogan; now what?

Jackson County tourism leaders are weighing the best way to get their message to the masses.
Controls on mountainside development in Jackson County could be loosened following a year-long line-by-line rewrite of steep slope rules by the Jackson County planning board.
The Golden LEAF Foundation and Duke Energy recently funded a trio of advanced manufacturing training grants, totaling $1.3 million, to Southwestern Community College and several partners. The funding has ensured that ConMet and other manufacturers throughout Western North Carolina can…
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 14:42

HRMC labor and delivery unit to be remodeled

The Haywood Regional Medical Foundation has donated $400,000 to MedWest Haywood for a remodel of the fourth floor, which includes the Women’s Care Unit and Progressive Care Unit. “We are so grateful to the HRMC Foundation for making this remodel…
The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority will see unprecedented turnover on its board this month, with five of the 12 seats being filled by newcomers.
Editor’s note: Alice Aumen has been a major voice in Haywood’s tourism landscape for more than half a century — as a founder of Cataloochee Ski Area, operator of the third-generation family-run Cataloochee Ranch and a leader in the Maggie…
After a split vote that followed nearly an hour of discussion, the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority hired three different marketing companies for a five-month period ending when the new fiscal year begins in June. 
Hunters from all over the mountains came together last weekend to speak out against the tactics used by undercover wildlife officers in a multi-year investigation  — one that presumably targeted bear poachers.
Jake Flannick • SMN Correspondent Some homeowners in Waynesville might have started wondering why a certain visitor who had routinely appeared in their yard is no longer coming around: town public works employees, pen and paper in hand, jotting down readings…
Attorneys in the seven western counties will to be called on in the coming weeks to weigh in on their top pick to fill a vacancy on the judicial bench.
On Sept. 12, Jeff Clontz walked out of Haywood County Jail a free man. It wasn’t his first time, though. Jail, release and failing to pay child support comprised a cycle he knew well, but this time was different. When…
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 14:19

Reforming lives on a wing and a prayer

A proposal to convert a closed-down state prison into a halfway house and homeless shelter in Haywood County is gaining steam. The old prison was given to the county two years ago after the state shut it down, but the…
Jacob Flannick & Holly Kays • Correspondent/Staff writer When Scott Cline graduated from Swain High School in the mid-1990s, the community had barely begun talking about forming a school soccer team. And while the sport is gaining popularity in Swain County,…
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 14:15

Forum aims to create new vision for Canton

When Heidi Dunkelberg first entered the town of Canton, she couldn’t imagine ever living there.
Sales of the Friends of the Smokies specialty license plate in North Carolina increased in the fourth quarter, benefiting priority projects in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) including science education programs. The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles has…
Swain County students may have been cheering when the high school football team’s trip to the state semifinals meant everyone got out early that day, but not all parents felt the same way. Elizabeth Wilmot, a Bryson City resident with…
Haywood’s elected leaders plan to invite their three General Assembly representatives to a March meeting in hopes of reviving a bill that would raise the tax on overnight lodging stays and using the additional money for capital projects to boost…
Time has nearly run out for the beleaguered N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to fix the systemic problems plaguing its food stamp program. After months of admonishments, the federal government has given the state until Feb. 10 to…
Maggie Valley town leaders are questioning the amount of money the town plows into its festival grounds each year and how much of a support role the town should play for outside events staged at the venue.
Haywood County leaders have substantially lowered the asking price for the empty, run-down, old hospital — it’s now free.
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 14:55

Computing for the future

Waynesville residents will soon be reaping the benefits of an information technology makeover at town hall. While town employees will be happy to see the last of the decades-old computers some of them have been using, residents will notice an…
Waynesville will soon have a new section of walking path along Richland Creek and, if all goes as planned, public access to a 15-acre wooded area adjoining the trail. 
Jake Flannick • SMN Correspondent For as long as he can remember, Austin Brown’s fascination with plants has remained rooted in their relationship with people.
By Holly Kays & Becky Johnson • Staff writers An embezzlement investigation at the Macon County Board of Elections locked down the office for nearly a week between Jan. 17 and Jan. 23, but business is far from returning to usual. 
It’s been six months since the N.C. General Assembly passed a budget earmarking $10 million for school vouchers to low-income students, but the issue is just heating up in Western North Carolina. On Jan. 9, Macon County became the first…
A plan to turn the old state prison campus in Hazelwood into an epicenter for changing lives is moving forward fast. 
By Jake Flannick • SMN Correspondent Years have passed since Jack McJunkin’s dog was struck and fatally injured by a car on a Swain County road. But memories of the episode linger.
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 00:00

Finding a culprit behind parking crunch in Canton

Free parking has its drawbacks, at least for the Country Music and Dance Parlor in downtown Canton.
David Brooks grew up dirt poor. His dad farmed corn, apples and tobacco, always with a plow and mule, never with a tractor. Brooks’ mom and five siblings were often left to tend to the 100-acre hillside farm in Jackson…
Who shows up and speaks out at a steep slope public hearing in Jackson County next week could alter what mountainside development looks like for decades to come.
After discovering $50,000 worth of unauthorized checks had disappeared from its budget and placing director Kim Bishop on paid investigatory leave, the Macon County Board of Elections is now trying to regain its footing.
Three weeks after the State Bureau of Investigation launched a probe into possible embezzlement at the Macon County Board of Elections, county leaders are still sifting through the paperwork to figure out just where it all went wrong.
When inflated real estate values in the second-home market came back down to earth, the touchdown wasn’t gentle.  It was more of a crash-landing, and five years later two mountains counties are still sifting through the wreckage.
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 16:53

Jackson fire tax goes up in smoke

Jackson County commissioners have nixed the idea of making volunteer fire departments financially autonomous.
County leaders in Western North Carolina breathed a collective sigh of relief after the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law Feb. 7. The bill includes a one-year extension of the PILT program, which stands for payment in lieu of…
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 16:51

Cherokee Bear Zoo fined by OSHA

Cherokee Bear Zoo has been fined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violating worker safety regulations. Cherokee Bear Zoo was cited for allowing workers to have “unprotected contact with bears while feeding, cleaning cages and assisting in…
Four Asheville residents were arrested after an attempt to steal a logsplitter from Lowe’s in Waynesville drew the attention of an alert citizen. Something about the scene apparently didn’t sit quite right: a person in the bed of a pickup…
Limits on mountainside development and standards for steep slope building are once again in the spotlight in Jackson County.  The Jackson County planning board has spent the past 14 months rewriting steep slopes regulations first put in place seven years…
By Jake Flannick • SMN Correspondent A design for a new gazebo on the town square in downtown Franklin has been sent back to the drawing board.
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 16:35

Ghost Town gunfight negotiations finalized

A compromise has been reached between Ghost Town in the Sky and state inspectors over a violation and fine stemming from a staged gunfight at the Maggie Valley amusement park.
Robert Holland has been pushing to place a resource officer in every school for years — long before the Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy catapulted cops in schools to the top of county funding debates, and even before assuming the…
Usually, you’d expect a school system to jump at the chance to give its teachers a raise, but superintendents statewide are now rolling up their sleeves for an unpleasant task: figuring out a process to determine the top 25 percent…
Restaurants in Haywood County are being encouraged to jump on the Melange of the Mountains train, which will return this year April 10-13. The event is expanding again this year, with a growing  lineup of culinary-themed festivities over several days. …
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 16:28

Canton debates alcohol policy at armory

A request to serve keg beer at an event in the Canton Armory prompted a broader discussion of the town’s alcohol policy at public venues it rents.
By Jake Flannick • SMN Correspondent Haywood County leaders have all but signed off on plans by a pair of faith-based groups running social service ministries in the county to convert a defunct state prison into a homeless shelter and halfway…
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 14:48

Macon County requests auditing assistance

As the State Bureau of Investigations continues to probe embezzlement allegations in Macon County, the county is calling in the experts to help it pinpoint any internal policy failures that may have contributed to the alleged seven-month-long, $50,000 fraud at…
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 14:45

Jackson eyes courthouse expansion

Just shy of a decade after county offices moved into a brand-spankin’ new Haywood County Justice Center, Jackson County is considering its own courthouse overhaul — and it’s using the Haywood project as a model. Jackson pulled in Heery International,…
Political backlash against the new conservative policies of state lawmakers has given rise to two local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Haywood and Jackson counties — the first such affiliates to be formed…
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 14:42

Sapphire knows how to throw a ‘potty’

Sitting on a toilet, Kyle Iezzi is ready for victory. “The main thing is that I hope we go straight,” the 15-year-old said.
A group of Jackson County locavores is hoping to bring the Ramp-Berry Community Market Co-op, a store that will sell all things local, to fruition before the year ends. 
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 14:40

Jane Hipps officially kicks off Senate campaign

Jane Hipps of Waynesville will officially kick off her campaign to run against Sen. Jim Davis at an “Announcement Celebration” at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at Junaluska Elementary School.  Hipps says she is running for the N.C. Senate because she…
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 14:39

Macon sheriff wants more money for drug buys

Sheriff Robert Holland is looking to ramp-up his department’s crackdown on drug dealers in Macon County, requesting that the county commissioners multiply his allocation for undercover drug buys from $1,000 to $20,000 in its upcoming budget. 
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 14:39

CCC gives out annual Community Pride Awards

The Commission for a Clean County (CCC) has announced the winners of its annual Community Pride Awards program, who will be honored at luncheon ceremony at the Waynesville Country Club on Feb. 26. This program honors businesses, community groups, civic…
A Maggie Valley restaurant owner who was also a figure in town politics has been charged with sexually abusing two boys several years ago.
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 14:35

Pisgah student persists, forms secular club

A club for non-religious students is being formed at Pisgah High School after a freshman enlisted the help of a national group to go to bat for her.
When Becky Olson first began making house calls, she was barely old enough to walk. She spent her childhood following behind her physician father’s coattails when he made house calls and shadowing her mother, a nurse, through various clinics and…
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:14

Mad Batter to reopen in Sylva

From the ashes of a recent fire, Mad Batter Bakery & Café will reopen. But, instead of returning to the campus of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee where it was located for 15 years, the beloved establishment will set up shop…
The Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Foundation is $2 million richer thanks to a $1 million donation by philanthropist Jane Woodruff and a matching $1 million gift from Mission Health.   Highlands-Cashiers Hospital recently announced it has merged with Mission, based in Asheville.…
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:12

WCU professor studies healthy eating demographics

Green space and gardens dominate much of the Western North Carolina landscape, but what determines whether people here actually eat the fruits and veggies that abound? That’s what April Tallant, health professor at WCU, hopes to find out as she…
Electric car owners will soon have the option of charging their vehicles in downtown Waynesville.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:07

Waynesville looks to diversify fuel use

The town of Waynesville plans to convert half of its fleet of police cars — 15 in all — to run on propane. Conversion kits have an upfront cost of $5,600 each.  “The anticipated payback on propane conversions is between…
Equipment replacement schedules were some of the first line items on the chopping block for local governments when the economy tanked.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:03

Parks and rec grants decrease across state

Macon County can count itself lucky for landing a $500,000 state recreation grant to help pay for a softball and baseball complex.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:02

Macon hopes for home run

Macon County commissioners decided in a split vote this month to spend $3 million building a tournament-scale baseball and softball recreation complex. “It’s been two years of pretty steady work, but it’s well worth it,” said Seth Adams, Macon County…
There is no “I” in team for Jimmy Cleaveland. “Listen, I don’t know where you’re going with this story,” he modestly said. “But, I sure don’t want this about me. I want it to be about these kids, for sure.”
A wrongful firing suit by Tammy Cagle, the former director of Swain County Department of Social Services, has shed light on a series of unorthodox payments funneled to Cagle’s family members for social assistance.
A wrongful firing claim by the former director of the Swain County Department of Social Services has been rejected by the state.
“A hundred years from now everybody in this room will have passed on but the mountains will still be baring the scars that we leave on them. We should respect these treasures that have been entrusted to us. The air…
A standing-room only crowd turned out for a public hearing on steep slope rules in Jackson County last week and implored county leaders to uphold existing protections against mountainside development.
The seventh Western Carolina University physics research balloon to be launched to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere – Cat 7 – left Cullowhee on Saturday, Feb. 1, and traveled unexpectedly to Tennessee, across Virginia and on to the Atlantic…
The informal process for picking people to serve on the planning board in Jackson County has come under scrutiny, prompting county commissioners to double-down on the how, when and who of their appointments.
The daunting challenge of courting industry, cultivating entrepreneurs, helping businesses expand — and ultimately adding new jobs to the economy — will soon become an all-hands-on-deck affair in Haywood County.
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 02:16

Jackson’s optimistic cheerleader

After a few months on the job, Jackson County’s economic development director laid out the landscape for community leaders. He painted a portrait of cautious optimism. 
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 02:14

No more Mr. Nice Guy

With the bottomed-out real estate market still stagnant, some property owners are having trouble seeing the point of paying property taxes.
A big one got away in Cherokee earlier this year when the case against a drug dealer was thrown out by a federal judge who found Cherokee police officers had lied in a search warrant.
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 02:11

Fire at Cherokee motel under investigation

The cause of a fire that caused substantial damage to the Pageant Inn in Cherokee last week is being investigated. 
Nearly a year after cutting down the historic maple trees in front of the Haywood County Courthouse, the lawn still isn’t as grassy or green as county commissioners would like.
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 01:48

Voucher legislation hits roadblock

After a morning of arguments from both sides of the school voucher debate, N.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ordered the state to refrain from accepting voucher applications, selecting recipients, awarding money or implementing any other part of its program…
Haywood County Schools’ attorney has countered accusations that Pisgah High School administrators allegedly hampered a student’s attempt to form a club for atheists and non-religious students. 
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 14:32

Additional election results

Dillsboro Mayor Mike Fitzgerald: 18 Dillsboro Town Board  (five seats available) Tim Parris: 22 David Jones: 21 David Gates: 20 Beauford Riddle: 19 Jimmy Cabe: 15   Forest Hills Mayor Kolleen Begley: 30 Forest Hills Town Board  (three seats available)…
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 13:53

Sylva town board welcomes new member, new mayor

The race for Sylva town board was won by only a hair on Election Day. The results show Mary Kelley Gelbaugh edging Danny Allen off the town board by a mere four votes. Allen has been on the town board…
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 13:50

Franklin residents cast vote for change

Despite a crowded field in the Franklin election — a dozen candidates in all — a handful of victors emerged as clear frontrunners ahead of the pack. Most of the winning candidates for aldermen and mayor reflect a public desire…
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 13:48

Eveland, Price and Banks win in Maggie Valley

Candidates for Maggie Valley aldermen stood outside the polls on Election Day — one side staying toward the right and the other standing toward the left, both with signs exclaiming “Let’s Move Maggie Forward.”
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 13:46

Canton winners say they’ll work together

Canton has four new aldermen. In a close race, Carole Edwards, Ralph Hamlett, Gail Mull and Zeb Smathers won.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 00:00

Sylva candidates support helping downtown

The town of Sylva has struggled this year with balancing its budget and keeping businesses filling its downtown storefronts. Going into next year, those same problems will likely continue to challenge town leaders, and whoever is elected as mayor and…
Franklin’s mayoral candidates are offering voters distinctly different visions of leadership as they square off for the town’s top political position. Sissy Pattillo, who is completing her second term as a town alderman, used the word “collaboration” at least four…
Wednesday, 16 October 2013 12:51

Candidates all want more business in Canton

While infrastructure and economic development tops each candidate’s agenda, a far more consequential matter could await those who fill the four open seats on the Canton Board of Aldermen — who will Canton’s next town manager be?
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 02:07

Maggie boasts crowded field for town elections

Finances and the future of the festival grounds were front and center at a Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen candidate forum last week. About 30 spectators showed up to hear what the candidates for aldermen had to say. Each candidate…
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 16:07

Meet the candidates for Bryson town board

Candidates have lined up to run for the town board in Bryson City this November after two current aldermen have bowed out of public office, leaving two empty seats up for grabs in a wide-open race.
This year’s election in Franklin is shaping up to be one of the most interesting — and crowded — the town has seen in a decade, or more.
While political candidates are usually quick to point out their differences, this election season Maggie Valley residents are calling on them to come together.
Canton will witness a mysterious mass exodus of its elected town board members following the town election this fall.
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 14:02

DOT explains N.C. 107 survey letter mystery

A controversial bypass around Sylva that was supposedly tabled by the highway department last year suddenly and mysteriously seemed to be back on the drawing board last month.