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Wednesday, 02 October 2013 16:09

Wide-open race for district attorney in 2014

District Attorney Mike Bonfoey publicly announced plans to retire next year when his current term of office expires. Bonfoey has been the lead prosecutor for the seven western counties for 10 years, directing a team of 10 assistant district attorneys.
Assistant District Attorney Ashley Welch, a Republican from Macon County, announced this week she will be running for district attorney next year. 
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 14:32

Jackson sheriff’s race shapes up

With campaign season barely off the ground, the Jackson County sheriff’s race has already drawn a hefty list of candidates — and of issues.
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 14:47

Hipps brings work ethic to race

When Jane Hipps began toying with the idea of running for state Senate as a Democratic challenger, a wave of excitement crept through party circles.
Ron Robinson thinks a state senator should represent all of his constituents. 
The North Carolina Senate seat for the seven western counties could be one of the few swing races in the General Assembly this year as Democrats vie to make a dent in Republican dominance in Raleigh.
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 02:04

County races: Haywood

Haywood County Haywood Commissioners  What’s up for election? Three out of five seats on the county board.  About the race: The current Haywood commissioners have enjoyed a stable tenure, consistently winning their seats when they come up for reelection. They…
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 13:08

County races: Jackson

Jackson County  Jackson Sheriff  About the race:  This promises to be one of the most hotly contested elections in the region this year. Current Sheriff Jimmy Ashe will step down and that has thrown the floodgates wide open for contenders…
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 13:08

County races: Macon

Macon County Macon Commissioners What’s up for election: One seat in the Highlands district and two seats in the Franklin district. About the race: There are three commissioner seats up for election in Macon County: one seat for the district…
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 13:08

County races: Swain

Swain County Swain Commissioners What’s up for election? All five seats on the county board are up for election, including four commissioner seats and commissioner chairman. Both Republican commissioner candidates here automatically advance. About the race: As usual, there’s a…
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 02:01

Statewide races

U.S. Congress About the race: This used to be a toss-up district, but clever redrawing of voting boundaries by the Republican-led legislature in Raleigh two years ago tipped the scales to the right. The liberal stronghold of Asheville was carved…
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 16:48

2014 election filing season opens

The 2014 election season officially got underway this week. Candidates could begin signing up to run for office on Monday. The candidate sign-up period runs for two weeks, closing on Feb. 28.
A fifth attorney has added his name to the list of possible nominees for an open District Court judge position in the seven western counties.
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 17:18

Snap shot of US House race in WNC

About the race: This used to be a toss-up district, but clever redrawing of voting boundaries by the Republican-led legislature in Raleigh two years ago tipped the scales to the right. The liberal stronghold of Asheville was carved out and…
A trio of Republican candidates have lined up to challenge N.C. Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, for his District 119 House seat. One is barely old enough to drink, one campaigned for Barry Goldwater and one features Second Amendment-chest thumping…
North Carolina’s District 50 senator represents the state’s seven western counties. In 2010, Sen. Jim Davis (R-Franklin) narrowly wrested the seat from incumbent John Snow but then beat Snow by a much-wider margin in 2012. 
Meet the candidates, pick one Three seats are up for grabs on the Macon County Board of Commissioners this year, but only one has a primary contest: two Republicans vying for one seat in the Highlands district. Any Republican or…
N.C. House of Representatives, seat 118 Is this my state rep? Yes, if you live in Madison and Yancey counties and part of Haywood — namely Canton, Clyde, Bethel, Cruso, Maggie Valley, Jonathan Creek and Crabtree areas. Is there a…
Three of the five seats on the Haywood County board of commissioners are up for election this year. A field of five Democratic candidates — the three incumbents and two challengers —  will be narrowed down to three in the…
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 17:28

Jackson sheriff's race: meet the candidates

The May 6 primary will narrow down the contenders for the Jackson County sheriff. The field of six Democrats and three Republicans will be whittled down to one candidate per party for the November ballot.   Glen Biller, D, 50…
While national pundits predict Republican challengers will steal seats from Democrats in Washington come November, Congressman Heath Shuler likely has little to worry about, based on a recent poll of registered voters in Jackson County. Shuler, D-Waynesville, has a general…
By Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts Beginning in 2009 with a series of protests focusing on what participants viewed as excessive government taxation, the TEA Party movement has grown into one of the most prominent political stories of…
By Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts A creature once roamed the American South that many now presume to be endangered if not extinct — the conservative Democrat. For nearly a century following the Civil War, almost all white…
By Michael Morris • Guest ColumnistThe sale of alcohol has become a hot topic in Western North Carolina. In 2010, voters in Burnsville and Weaverville passed ballot measures approving alcohol sales, and last August voters in Clay County approved countywide…
By Christopher Cooper and Gibbs Knotts Confidence in politics, politicians and government is low. President Obama’s approval rating hovers around 50 percent as he deals with two wars and what may turn out to be the worst environmental disaster in…
Though many Jackson County residents shy away from publicly airing their views on alcohol, a recent poll shows that a comfortable majority of voters support alcohol sales countywide. Whether you’re a college student in Cullowhee or socialite in Cashiers, stocking…
A year ago, Scott Cummings would never have pictured himself standing on the sidewalk pumping a homemade sign in the air for passing motorists to see. But last week, he found himself front and center in a 200-strong crowd at…
Government approval ratings are low all over the country. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re also low in Jackson County. “The state of the economy is the strongest predictor of trust in government that I know of,” said…
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 19:27

Jackson County Poll Results

1. Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Jackson County government? Favorable 33% Unfavorable 46% Not Sure 20% 2. Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the federal government? Favorable 29% Unfavorable 62% Not Sure 9%…
A new polling project developed by Western Carolina University’s Public Policy Institute and The Smoky Mountain News aims to get data that is the meat and bread of political scientists into the hands of the voting public. “As academics, we’re…
A large crowd turned out at the Swain County commissioners meeting this week to voice support for the beleaguered Department of Social Services Board. Supporters said local board members tasked with overseeing the agency have been unfairly criticized following the…
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 19:00

Cherokee trust shaken in Swain DSS

Tribal members and leaders alike vented their discontent with Swain County’s handling of child welfare for Cherokee children at this month’s tribal council meeting. The Eastern Band no longer wants to rely on Swain County’s Department of Social Services but…
Swain County social workers and supervisors named in a State Bureau of Investigation probe are no longer welcome to work child welfare cases on tribal land. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians asked the Swain County Department of Social Services…
The State Bureau of Investigation raided Swain County Department of Social Services Tuesday, hauling off computers and records in an investigation allegedly tied to the death of Aubrey Littlejohn, a 15-month-old baby who died Jan. 10. Littlejohn was brought to…
The Swain County Department of Social Services falsified records relating to the abuse and neglect of a 15-month-old baby who later died, according to an investigation by the Swain County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation. The specific…
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 20:21

Child’s death hits Cherokee hard

The mood is grim. Few people in this tight community want to talk to an outsider about the death of 15-month-old Aubrey Littlejohn. Here on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, kinship ties are strong and families are extended and extensive. It…
Relatives say they warned social workers repeatedly over the course of several months that Aubrey Littlejohn was being neglected and abused. Called by her middle name by family, 15-month-old Kina-Marie died on a mattress on the floor of a singlewide…
By Quintin Ellison and Colby Dunn • Staff writers The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is forced to rely on state social workers when it comes to protecting the tribe’s children from abuse and neglect. That might change in the…
The state could step in to run the Swain County Department of Social Services if the top leaders are among those put on leave during a probe into an alleged cover-up. Swain DSS falsified records relating to the abuse and…
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 19:50

Swain DSS director fired, lodges appeal

Tammy Cagle, once the leader of the Swain County Department of Social Services, has been given the ax by the department’s board of directors. Cagle, however, is fighting the decision. She’s appealed to the board, who handed down the decision…
Swain County social workers in charge of protecting children are paid less and handle more cases than those elsewhere in the state and region, factors that likely contribute to a higher-than-average turnover. Swain’s Department of Social Services has been plagued…
The former head of Swain County’s Department of Social Services won’t be getting her job back, members of the county’s DSS board decided in a called meeting on Monday. The board had dismissed Cagle following a hearing last month, but…
A county commissioner got financial aid from the Swain County Department of Services last year while his niece was serving as the DSS director, prompting the development of a new conflict of interest policy. The new policy prohibits the DSS…
An interim director is now at the helm of the Swain County Department of Social Services, bringing to the table an impressive resume with a focus on child welfare. “That was real important to us,” said Georgianna Carson, a newly…
The director of Swain County Department of Social Services has been put on leave with pay following a nearly clean sweep of the DSS board. A newly constituted DSS board placed Director Tammy Cagle on “nondisciplinary investigative status to investigate…
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 19:48

Social safety net failed Cherokee baby

Additional evidence has surfaced indicating Swain County social workers failed to act on reports of alleged abuse and neglect of a Cherokee baby who later died. Court papers reveal that Swain County social workers had reports of physical abuse of…
New Congressional districts crafted by state GOP leaders that appear to position the party for political domination in North Carolina for the next decade drew sharp criticism late last week during a state hearing in Cullowhee. Asheville and parts of…
Democrats are crying foul over new Congressional district lines that with seemingly surgical precision slice the City of Asheville, a liberal stronghold, out of the 11th Congressional District. The maps, drawn by state Republican leaders in the the GOP-dominated General…
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 12:42

Building districts by the numbers

This year, the math of moving districts will give virtually every western block a shift. Sen. Jim Davis’s, R-Franklin, Senate District 50, which now claims seven counties — Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon, Swain, Jackson and Transylvania — plus part of…
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 12:40

Redistricting to grow mountain districts

In legislatures around the nation, it’s that time of decade again — time to break out the old redistricting maps and rehash the legislative lines. Every 10 years, following the decennial census, lawmakers are constitutionally obliged to rearrange their districts…
Urban areas grew at a torrid pace over the past decade — so get ready, legislators in the mountains and on the coast, because your already large districts are about to expand. Why? Because, as Christopher Cooper, a political science…
Bringing together world culture and Southern Appalachia traditions, Folkmoot USA transcends any and all barriers. Whether it’s language, physical boundaries or appearance, the art of live performance found at this international dance and music festival erases any differences by creating…
Wednesday, 17 July 2013 13:50

Folkmoot: Schedule of events

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 13:56

The countries of Folkmoot USA

Japan: Quichar Paradise The name Quichar Paradise means “Be Happy Anytime.” This performing group is from Tokyo, Japan, but represent dance of the Okinawa region. The group has participated in numerous folklore festivals including Hohhot Inner Mongolia in China, Yilan International…
Wednesday, 17 July 2013 14:00

Tapping into Folkmoot

Folkmoot is a Western North Carolina tradition, and this year, the festival is tapping into the growing craft beer industry that has become a thriving part of the WNC cuisine scene.
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 13:23

Bringing the world into your home

The house is silent, but soon, it will be overflowing with voices, faces, words and languages known and unknown. Awaiting her guests, Jay MacDonald stands in the kitchen of her home in downtown Waynesville.
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 13:24

Folkmoot, 30 years in the making

It was a phone call Rolf Kaufman will never forget. The year was 1983, and on the other end of the line was the voice of Dr. Clinton Border, a Waynesville surgeon and Kaufman’s neighbor.
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 13:59

Kayaking Worlds kicks off in downtown Bryson City

Written by

kayak paradeA cacophony of voices and cheers echoed across Bryson City as a sea of humanity overtook the small town, a wall-to-wall crowd churning and pressing their way through downtown with excitement radiating from each face.

kayak mainA destination for paddlers around the world, the Nantahala River is known for its complexity of rapids and consistent waters levels, ensuring a level of competition that can’t be found anywhere else in the United States. The world’s top paddlers will descend on the river for a week of competition, camaraderie and cold water during the 2013 International Canoe Federation’s (ICF) Freestyle World Championships Sept. 2-8. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013 02:27

Meet the athletes

Written by

kayak competitorsPeter Csonka

Age: 28

Country: Slovakia

Awards: 2012 World Cup Champion

Day job: Kayak retailer

I was 12 when I started paddling. We had a group of kids doing canoe sports, traveling around and doing competitions. It was really nice to have those trips together. At that time, we all were just starting to race and do rafting, doing small competitions, sometimes winning, sometimes losing.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013 03:16

What is freestyle kayaking?

Written by

kayak whatisfreestyleCombining an array of difficult tricks, precision paddling and finely tuned choreography, freestyle kayaking can be described as aquatic gymnastics.