An epileptic woman in Macon County is alleging that she did not receive proper medical attention after being arrested for a DWI last January. Maureen Lackey, 45, is suing Macon County in a U.S. District Court and has filed complaints…
A new cell phone tower has been proposed on the south-facing side of Utah Mountain above Lake Junaluska. It would bring cell phone service to the dead zone on Dellwood Road (U.S. 19) when driving between Lake Junaluska and Maggie…
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 14:29

Pooches pose problem in Sylva

A debate has erupted in Sylva over whether dogs should be allowed in the town’s new Bridge Park, a small green space adjacent to downtown with a covered pavilion for holding concerts and community events. The issue has split members…
Haywood County Tourism Development Authority is employing an ambitious new marketing strategy to lure tourists, and their dollars, to the region. The plan calls for a narrowing focus on certain niche markets, as well as soliciting sponsorships from local businesses.…
Graham County has thrown a curve ball in an ongoing debate with Swain County over ambulance service in Deal’s Gap, a motorcycle mecca that sees a disproportionately large share of wrecks. Deal’s Gap is an outlying area of Swain County,…
By Julia Merchant • Contributing writer As a professional storyteller, Tim Hall is no stranger to spinning yarns — but it’s in Western North Carolina that Hall hopes to weave his biggest story yet. Hall’s ambitions of creating a five-story…
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 14:45

Free clinics feel recession’s pinch

Amy Street thought she could finally afford health insurance this year. But that was before Street’s employer slashed 25 hours from her 40-hour work week. Street, a 62-year old Waynesville resident, recently applied for retirement and social security benefits, but…
Western Carolina University has enacted mandatory testing for the sickle cell trait among all student athletes following the death of a football player during summer workout drills in July. Ja’Quayvin Smalls, a junior defensive back from Mount Pleasant, S.C., was…
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 14:59

Macon group takes aim at day care shortage

By Julie Ball • Correspondent Working parents in Macon County have few choices when it comes to child care for their infants, according to members of a committee tasked with coming up with some solutions to the county’s child care…
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 15:00

Borrowing bikes a big hit at university

Ever since the launch of the Yellow Bike Project in late August, a new bike culture has quickly sprung up around campus at Western Carolina University. The student-led initiative, which makes a fleet of fixed-up bikes available to anyone who…
Health insurance reform has garnered a seemingly incongruous ally: the already well-insured workers of the State Employees Association of North Carolina. The association held a forum in Haywood County last week to educate state employees on exactly what the 1,017-page…
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 15:06

Haywood gets rolling on methane project

Haywood County commissioners have taken the first step in constructing a more than $1 million methane collection system at two landfills. After two 4-1 votes, the board this week approved doling out $92,200 to McGill Associates to handle the design…
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 15:07

WCU to pass on electric rate hike

Those who buy their power from Western Carolina University have historically enjoyed cheaper electric bills than their neighbors, but that is soon to change. WCU buys electricity at wholesale rates from Duke Energy and resells it to customers on its…
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 15:08

Lake J seeks state help for dam, sediment

Lake Junaluska Assembly is asking Haywood County commissioners to help it land state grants for maintenance on the lake and dam. The Assembly faces two major issues: repairs to the aging dam and sediment removal from the lake. An engineering…
With an economy still recovering from a recession, local businesses are reaching for ways to keep customers coming. Downtown associations in Franklin, Sylva and Waynesville will assist in those efforts by bringing in the expertise of a small business consultant.…
The battle over healthcare reform hit home in Sylva last week. A crowd of more than 50 people gathered on Main Street at the foot of the historic courthouse Wednesday evening holding signs in support of a public health care…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:35

A seven-year vigil for peace

A quiet gathering of people stood outside Haywood County’s courthouse on a recent Wednesday afternoon holding colorful signs and flags calling for peace. They waved back to smiling drivers who honked their car horns in support or gave thumbs up…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:37

Macon wades gingerly toward transportation plan

As the main coordinator of a comprehensive transportation plan for Macon County, Ryan Sherby faces a long road ahead of him. Sherby and a local steering committee — with the help of public input — aim to determine the transportation…
Jackson County’s lawsuit against Duke Energy to seize the Dillsboro Dam and surrounding river shore through eminent domain has been kicked up to federal court. Jackson County filed the condemnation lawsuit in state court in August, but Duke attorneys argued…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:47

Watershed assessment still underway

The team of experts conducting an ecological assessment of Waynesville’s 8,600-acre watershed has collected so much data that they have had to hunt down a bigger software package that can actually handle the load. “We cannot fit this on Excel,”…
Illegal temporary signs are so commonplace in Waynesville that Byron Hickox — the town’s land use manager — does a sign sweep once every week. Hickox drives around the main thoroughfares, grabbing any sign that is not allowed and amassing…
Plans for a 300-acre golf course on Cullowhee Mountain in Jackson County have been temporarily sidelined after developers failed to follow through on a federal environmental permit. Several creeks were in the way of Legasus’ golf course design. Nearly two-thirds…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:55

Sheriff, Swain point fingers over budget shortfall

The on-going tension between Swain County commissioners and the sheriff has surfaced yet again, this time over the root cause of the county’s $1 million budget shortfall. “If it hadn’t been for the expenditures of the sheriff’s office we would…
Three years later, Denise Mathis, former director of the Haywood County Council on Aging, is still fighting to restore her reputation and seek monetary damages for being wrongly accused of mismanaging the finances of her former agency. Mathis lost her…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:00

Duke countersues Jackson

Duke Energy has fired back at Jackson County’s attempt to seize the Dillsboro Dam with a counterclaim of its own. Duke claims that it is the victim of abuse of process by the county and is seeking damages. Despite the…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:03

Swain makes cuts to plug million dollar shortfall

The recession has finally caught up with Swain County. While other counties began bracing for declining revenues in late 2008, Swain County has only just begun to tackle a $1 million shortfall eating its way through the county budget. Swain…
With much controversy circling around how to conduct the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a conference at Lake Junaluska this weekend will instead focus on how to bring about lasting peace. The second annual Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, scheduled for…
By Julia Merchant • Contributing Writer A year and a half ago, Fatie Atkinson spent most of his time in an office designing custom furniture and tossing around ideas with other creative professionals. Today, instead of the chatter of a…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:26

County settles Cameron lawsuit for $75,000

Haywood County is shelling out $75,000 for an out-of-court settlement that resolves an ongoing lawsuit by a landowner over the county’s erosion control laws. The county’s liability insurance pool will cover the remaining $105,000 of the $180,000 settlement. “It was…
The Macon County committee charged with proposing regulations for building on steep slopes is still swimming in a sea of ideas but has agreed on one point. It will incorporate landslide hazard maps into a proposed ordinance, though the maps…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:33

After delay, schools getting lottery dollars

By Julie Ball • Correspondent Some lottery money used to pay the debt on local school projects is coming to Western North Carolina months after the payments were frozen amid the state budget crunch. The money, which was withheld by…
After years of fruitlessly demanding fire protection from a local volunteer fire department, homeowners on Buck Knob Island in the middle of Lake Glenville are finally inching toward their goal. So far, the state fire marshal’s office has assessed the…
Small business expert Tom Shay told local store owners in Franklin, Sylva and Waynesville that recessions are good for one thing: weeding out the weak. “A recession is a wonderful thing,” said Shay. “It clears the landscape.” At the same…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:40

Local restaurants support Haywood County farmers

Local chefs are proving to be some of the best supporters of Haywood County farmers. “The Buy Haywood project is having a great year, from new produce sales at Ingles grocery stores to a new map and brochure to encourage…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 18:43

Corridor K inches forward

A road project known as Corridor K will boast the longest tunnel in the state of North Carolina if built as planned: a 2,807-foot passage through the side of a mountain in the Stecoah area of Graham County. Construction on…
Developers looking for shortcuts around erosion laws won’t find amnesty in a recent court case between a landowner and Haywood County erosion officials, according to the state authority on erosion enforcement. The landowner, Ron Cameron, won a lawsuit claiming he…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 18:51

Duke faces stiff opposition to proposed rate hike

Duke Energy’s rate hike request met strong opposition at a public hearing before members of the N.C. Utilities Commission in Franklin last week. Duke claims the 12.6 percent hike is needed to pay for upgrades to power plants and infrastructure…
Some members of the Jackson County Transportation Task Force feel like the list of road projects bearing their name has not properly been vetted, despite the work of the task force being declared finished. “I think the task force has…
Western North Carolina has steadily lost out on tens of millions in federal highway dollars over the past decade, despite the money being specifically earmarked for the region. Mountain leaders sent a message to both Raleigh and Washington this week…
The Haywood Tourism Development Authority announced some good news last week for all those miffed by the incorrect spelling of “Smoky” on its official Web site’s address. The TDA has put up $14 to buy a new URL, www.visitncsmokies.com, to…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:04

Swain at last makes foray into animal control

Swain County Manager Kevin King has an ambitious idea for finally addressing the years-old issue of animal control, or lack thereof, in the county. King would like to set aside some money to hire an animal control officer to handle…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:06

Cat lovers quietly care for wild colonies

Move over rabbits, it’s cats that multiply like crazy in Haywood County. According to the Haywood Animal Welfare Association, there are about 12,000 lost or stray cats in the county, nearly a fifth of the Haywood’s total human population. To…
Graham County delivered yet another jolt to the three-month debate over who should provide emergency services to Deal’s Gap, a motorcycle mecca in a satellite portion of Swain County that sees serious wrecks each year. Graham commissioners voted 3-2 at…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:11

Maggie chases festivals as ticket to tourism

When the Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen purchased land for a town festival ground in 2002, it had high hopes for success. Events held there would reel in visitors to stay at local motels, eat at local restaurants, and shop…
Home to 3,000 motel rooms yet only 1,610 year-round residents, Maggie Valley can’t exactly escape the term “tourist town.” Anyone driving through the main drag passing a long line of lodging options would know. But perhaps less evident to visitors…
Macon County has hired a full-time economic development coordinator, finally joining the ranks of most counties who employ paid directors tasked with growing jobs and recruiting businesses. Trevor Dalton, 24, has no economic development experience or training — but the…
Haywood County leaders held a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday on the steps of the newly renovated historic courthouse. The $8.2 million renovations to the 1932 courthouse have been a long time in the making. The project has been under discussion…
Proposed cuts to the state budget have threatened after school care for middle school students, with programs in Canton, Franklin, Bryson City and Sylva already shut down or in jeopardy of closing. As a result, middle school students who have…
Despite public pressure from animal rights activists, including a visit from legendary game show host Bob Barker, Cherokee leaders do not plan to address the living conditions of captive bears at three small zoos in Cherokee. A campaign to shut…
Jackson County leaders are considering an economic development incentive that will provide property tax credits to Stonewall Packaging in exchange for a minimum $10 million investment in a new facility in Sylva and creation of at least 40 full-time jobs…
By Andre A. Rodriguez • Special to the Smoky Mountain News A new travel study revealed potential visitors lack awareness about activities and attractions in Cherokee and the surrounding region, detering them from planning a visit. “People don’t have a…
Haywood County is being sued for $2 million by the contractor in charge of renovations to the newly restored historic courthouse. Haywood County commissioners fired the contractor 18 months into the job, citing serious delays and poor work. The construction…
Trevor Dalton, Macon County’s first paid economic development coordinator, is back on his home turf. Dalton, 24, grew up in Macon County, and majored in business administration at Appalachian State. He worked in the Wilmington, N.C., area in the insurance…
Jackson County’s Economic Development Commission has again been thrust into turmoil, a near constant state of affairs for the entity in recent years. The county’s economic development director announced her resignation last week, and along with it, offered her views…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:23

Homeschooled students on the rise

More parents in Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties opted to teach their children at home this year, concurring with a recent statewide report that found a record high in the number of students being home schooled in North Carolina.…
They came. They saw. And this past Saturday, they — nearly 1,000 volunteers from almost 50 churches — painted, scraped, powerwashed, mulched, planted and repaired the campuses of 14 Haywood County schools. When First United Methodist in Waynesville put out…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:33

Land swap integral to Cherokee school

The Cherokee faced a long, uphill battle spanning decades to secure the idyllic tract of land now housing a brand new K-12 school for the tribe. The 143-acre parcel was part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park until a…
While some students dread returning to the classroom this time of year, children in Cherokee have been asking for weeks about when they would get to go back to school. With the unveiling of The Eastern Band of Cherokee’s new…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:41

Megow-Dowling announces resignation

Jackson County’s economic development director Dorothea Megow-Dowling had been on the job for less than a year when she announced her resignation last week. She came from a long career in economic development and specialized in strategy and planning processes.…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:43

Lake island dwellers lobby for fire protection

Homeowners on Buck Knob Island in the middle of Lake Glenville say they are owed fire protection by local volunteer firefighters and have appealed to Jackson County commissioners to settle the conflict. The homes lie within the 135-square-mile territory covered…
It’s not an uncommon scene: people rattling a tin can outside Wal-Mart to raise money, whether it’s a cheerleading squad saving up for new uniforms or the Salvation Army bell ringers. There’s no shortage of good samaritans asking shoppers to…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:51

Pointing kids toward a love of the park

Eric Sink, a teacher at Summit Charter School in Cashiers, N.C., looks forward to loading his fifth-graders up on a bus every year and heading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the woods become the classroom and a…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:53

Prison to remain open, but future not rosy

By Julia Merchant • Correspondent The minimum-security Hazelwood Prison in Waynesville is the only correctional facility of its kind to survive state budget cuts. It is now the sole remaining old-style prison left in North Carolina. “It’s a certain thing…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:10

McLean and Mathis part of Richland project

The Richland Hills low-income senior housing development was touted publicly as being under the auspice of the Asheville-based nonprofit Mountain Housing Opportunities, which has built similar projects in Buncombe County. Behind the scenes, however, two local players are involved in…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:12

The road to a cash settlement

1920s Forney Creek Township wants a road leading from Bryson City to Deals Gap on the Tennessee state line. It is the height of the timber boom, and the road would improve access to Knoxville. The community took out bonds…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:16

Waynesville looks at ways to cut energy use

Energy efficiency dominated the agenda at Waynesville’s last town meeting, with the passage of a strategic energy management plan and discussions on how to meet state requirements for contributing to renewable energy sources. The Town of Waynesville is exploring ways…
A Macon County group is one step closer to its dream of establishing a Living History Farm, a working replica of a pioneer village where visitors can witness what life was like for the earliest settlers in the area. An…
Haywood County commissioners have seen their share of hot-button issues this year. First came the proposed nuisance ordinance, with angry citizens accusing them of communist rule. The momentum rolled over to budget time, when a 1-cent property tax increase once…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:26

Jackson EDC still taking old board’s heat

Old records of the Jackson County Economic Development Commission are likely too spotty to complete missing audits from the years 2001 through 2005, although the county and EDC board say they will continue their quest to do so. “The citizens…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:27

Town helps HVO seek state grant

The Town of Waynesville plans to step in for Haywood Vocational Opportunities in procuring state money to help with an estimated $2 million expansion at the old Wellco site in Hazelwood. HVO must create at least 40 jobs in exchange…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:27

Cash settlement amount proves a sticking point

Negotiations over a cash settlement for Swain County have been stalled for more than a year as opposing sides argue over a fair dollar amount. Swain County officials have met three times with the U.S. Department of the Interior to…
A competitive state Senate race appears to be on the horizon once again for Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville. Andy Webb, a Republican challenger from McDowell County, has gotten a head start by already announcing his candidacy for the 2010…
Since its creation, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has loomed over Swain County. Its massive peaks flank life itself: as an engine for tourism, a stomping ground for locals, and a refuge for wild things. The park’s most lasting…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:33

Proposed apartments denied tax breaks

Neighbors of a proposed 64-unit apartment building to serve low-income seniors in Waynesville have renewed hope that their fight to stop the project isn’t over yet. They had opposed the project on the basis of its size: a three-story, 400-foot…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:34

Healthcare debate civil at tele-town meeting

Against the backdrop of a nation embroiled in an emotional, high-stakes debate on health care reform, the voices of Western North Carolina citizens seemed remarkably calm and polite during a telephone town hall meeting with Congressman Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, last…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:35

Q&A with Congressman Shuler

SMN: What did you learn from the teletown meeting? Anything new? Heath Shuler: “The meeting reinforced my belief that most people don’t fully understand what is in the health-care reform bill and they have many valid questions about it. It…
The Maggie Valley Zoning Board of Adjustments approved a special zoning exception to make way for a 114-bed assisted living facility in the Campbell Creek area. The proposed facility, located in a 5-acre section of a 16-acre tract, would be…
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 14:39

Bulb crusher helps recycling efforts

The state will ban plastic bottles, motor oil filters, and wooden pallets from landfills starting this October. The ban aims to fuel more recycling, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create more jobs. On the local level, Haywood Builders Supply in…
The latest U.S. News & World Report guide to “America’s Best Colleges” ranks Western Carolina University 10th among public universities in the South that offer master’s degrees. It is the first time WCU has made the U.S. News top 10…
Jackson County poll workers will contend with write-in ballots from at least two towns on election night this fall. One is Webster, where not enough people have stepped forward to run, leaving the town’s fate up to write-in candidates. The…
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 14:42

Jackson EDC says new direction key to future

A comprehensive economic development strategy would go a long way toward solving the quagmire that is holding back progress on the Jackson County Economic Development Commission, the EDC board decided this week. “This is probably the most important issue,” said…
Ghost Town in the Sky did not bring in enough revenue from its amusement park operations during the months of May, June and July to cover its overhead and operating expenses. Ghost Town recently filed financial statements with the U.S.…
A steering committee tasked with examining and recommending possible changes to Waynesville’s land-use plan is finally getting down to brass tacks. Town aldermen commissioned the project nearly a year-and-a-half ago as a five-year review of how the town’s new land-use…
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 14:51

Coalition builds momentum for Nikwasi park

A proposed park at the site of the Nikwasi mound in Franklin would provide a quiet place for residents to gather while beautifying downtown and educating passersby on the mound’s historical importance. The Nikwasi mound, located near East Main Street…
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 14:52

A popular road reveals a dark side

An inspiration for songs, poems, and pilgrimages by motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world, the challengingly curvy stretch of U.S. 129 that crosses over from Western North Carolina to Tennessee has become the center of a political dispute between Swain…
When voters head to the polls to elect town leaders in Webster this fall, the choices will be slim. Mighty slim. Only two candidates are running for five openings on the board — leaving three seats unclaimed. The tiny Jackson…
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 14:56

WCU welcomes freshman class

Probably very little about freshmen move-in day at Western Carolina University has changed over the years: the “nervous but excited” students, the teary-eyed, mostly just nervous parents following close behind, the authoritative, no-nonsense Resident Advisors directing their new underlings, and…
When the 3,500-acre Legasus development won exemptions from Jackson County’s development regulations two years ago, it raised the hackles of residents in the Tuckasegee community who claimed the hard-fought growth protections they ardently supported had failed when needed the most.…
Swain and Graham county commissioners agreed Monday to let their respective county managers look at solid numbers before deciding on a resolution to the Deal’s Gap quandary. Graham County, which provides rescue service to the satellite Swain County territory and…
Fundraising for the new Jackson County library may have entered the home stretch, but is far from home free. Friends of the Library is only $250,000 away from its $1.6 million goal. But the final leg will prove the toughest,…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:23

Wheels Through Time celebrates reopening

The Wheels Through Time Museum had a grand reopening in Maggie Valley after resuming five-day per week operations earlier this summer. Heralded as the “Smithsonian of Motorcycles,” the museum is regarded as one of the world’s premier destinations for motorcycle…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:21

MedWest chain aims for efficiency

MedWest’s three hospitals are undergoing major innovations in food service, housekeeping, plant operations and maintenance, and clinical engineering areas that will be complete by the end of the year. MedWest is working with Compass Group, a leader in healthcare support…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:15

Franklin businesses gear up for StreetFest

StreetFest 2010 will get underway at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, in Franklin, when Mayor Joe Collins cuts a ribbon spanning Main Street to celebrate the opening of four new businesses. The ribbon cutting will be followed by an…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:14

New spine center unveiled in Macon

The grand opening of Mission Outpatient Spine Center at Angel Medical Center in Franklin brings close to home spine care for residents of Macon and adjoining counties. The center will be staffed by three board certified surgeons from Carolina Spine…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:09

Estate-planning seminar set for Lake Junaluska

An estate-planning seminar will be held Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in the Bethea Welcome Center at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. It is sponsored by the Lake Junaluska Office of Development and the Foundation, and is free…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:07

WCU homecoming to be held Oct. 8-10

Western Carolina University will celebrate “The Power of Purple” during Homecoming festivities Oct. 8-10. The annual Alumni Scholarship Homecoming Golf Tournament will begin at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 8, at Sequoyah National Golf Club in Whittier. Then on campus, the…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:05

Health Department to begin flu vaccines

Flu vaccine is plentiful this year, and the N.C. Division of Public Health and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging everyone older than six months of age to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Haywood County The…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:04

Public debates paving, widening Needmore Road

More than 100 people attended last week’s public hearing on a state Department of Transportation proposal to pave and widen a 3.3-mile section of road that cuts through the Needmore Game Lands and parallels the Little Tennessee River. The crowd…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 19:57

Documents reveal DOT tug of war over Needmore Road

State and federal environmental agencies for more than a decade have questioned the need to make substantial improvements to Needmore Road. They’ve also repeatedly raised concerns about the possibility of serious environmental damage and worries about public reaction, documents on…