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Foreclosure against Balsam Mountain Preserve could happen by month’s end barring a last-ditch financing deal by developers in the next couple of weeks. A court order gave lenders the go-ahead to move forward with foreclosure at a hearing last week.…
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:43

The Naturalist's Corner

Birrrrrding the big chill The annual Balsam Christmas Bird Count was scheduled for last Saturday (Jan. 2). However, scary weather conditions — snow, high winds and temperatures in the low teens — especially in the northern count area, caused the…
The Jackson County commissioners have breathed new life into the county’s airport authority by taking it over. After appointing themselves to five of the six seats on the airport board last month, the commissioners met in their new capacity for…
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:43

Characters mirror SMN readers

Rain Gods by James Lee Burke. Simon and Schuster, 2009. 448 pages. Readers of this column know that some authors turn up here regular as church bells, reviewed with each new book. Ann Tyler, Carol Goodman, Pat Conroy: these and…
In August a computer hacker broke into a North Carolina Community College System server and potentially gained access to the personal information of 51,000 library users across the state. The cyber break-in was deemed harmless by investigators in the wake…
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:43

My year-end list obsessions won’t go away

I have an irresistible urge to make a list. Apparently, it is what people must do at year’s end, especially if the end of the year is also the end of the decade. In the past few weeks, I have…
Area music fans will have a unique opportunity to help make history as a bluegrass/gospel music legend celebrates the 30th anniversary of his solo career with a live DVD recording session and concert at the Smoky Mountain Center for the…
A failed megadevelopment in the Lake Lure area around Chimney Rock has been conserved at a fire sale price, but a state budget crunch is leaving a local land trust with a big fundraising goal to pay for the conservation…
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:43

Aspects of life from a rural cove

This marks my tenth year of writing a weekly Back Then column for The Smoky Mountain News. In all that time I have belabored neither editors nor readers with my poetry. Brace yourselves. The time has come. It is winter…
Threat of a federal lawsuit won’t be enough to stop some county commissioners in Western North Carolina from praying in the name of Jesus Christ before their meetings. “I wouldn’t go out and deliberately break a law, but if there…
The census has been part of government since Roman times and it has the baggage to prove it. As the U.S. Census Bureau kicks off its 2010 effort, the federal agency is enlisting the help of local organizations to help…
What to say about 2009? How about this: it ended on a high note for the overall economy, and that is good for the citizens of this country and this region. Here’s a sampling of the business news that bodes…
They haven’t gone quietly, and they haven’t gone quickly, but Christians are losing the battle over prayer in public life. Courts have banned public displays of the Ten Commandments in a religious context. School prayer has been demoted to a…
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:43

Latest prayer case rekindles controversy

A federal magistrate’s recommendation that limits prayer before government meetings in Forsyth County has touched off a fiery debate across the state over the long-entrenched practice. In early November, Magistrate Judge Trevor Sharp determined that Forsyth County commissioners failed to…
The Fund for Haywood County recently handed out $16,000 in grants to county nonprofits providing services for recession relief. The Fund for Haywood County, an affiliate of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, was established in 1994 by a…
The hunt for a festival director for Maggie Valley is officially over. Beating out 22 other applicants, Audrey Hager took over the position in mid-December. With Hager at the helm of the town’s struggling festival grounds, Maggie Valley is hoping…
It’s the end of another year, and everyone knows what that means — a deluge of countdowns featuring the year’s best releases, of course. While every expert in the world pieces together a list of the best books, movies and…
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 15:54

2009: Looking back at the newsmakers

The Smoky Mountain News is paying homage this week to some of the newsmakers of 2009 by dishing out our annual awards. Few would chalk up 2009 as a year they want to remember, given the generally gloomy pall cast…
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 15:54

Worthy of support

Western North Carolina has a plethora of environmental groups, making it easy to find the one that best matches up with your own passion. Many groups rely on memberships not only for financial support. More members also give an organization…
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 15:54

The Naturalist's Corner

2010-to be continued Will 150-foot long fiberglass wands magically spin electricity from mountaintop zephyrs across Western North Carolina in the near future? The issue of industrial-sized wind turbines along the ridgetops of Western North Carolina is sure to blow up…
Folkmoot USA, North Carolina’s Official International Festival, has locked down its first presenting sponsor. Evergreen Packaging has partnered with the Festival as its presenting sponsor for 2010 through 2013, becoming the first international corporation to develop a multiyear relationship with…
After years of battling Duke Energy in nearly every legal arena it could scout out, Jackson County was dealt a major blow last week when the U.S. Court of Appeals denied its plea for federal intervention. Jackson County is trying…
It has been a difficult year for environmental nonprofits. State budget cuts have meant fewer grants and philanthropic endowments have suffered with the stock market. Meanwhile, the focus of giving has shifted towards social issues, like providing food, housing and…
By Mark Jamison • Guest Columnist I’ve spent most of my life minding my own business. I was raised by people who were reticent; reticent in their demeanor and in their culture. My grandfather didn’t have much education, only through…
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 15:54

The colors of winter

For my wife, Elizabeth, and me, winter doesn’t arrive until the first of each year. From now until spring is our finest season. She doesn’t have to keep her gallery-studio on the town square in Bryson City open all the…
Drood by Dan Simmons. Little, Brown & Company, 2009. 775 pages. I must admit, I’ve never been much of a Charles Dickens fan. Other than watching those wonderful film adaptations (“Oliver” and “A Christmas Carol”), I have only read A…
The Town of Maggie Valley decided Monday to lay off its building inspector after already trimming 10 hours off his weekly schedule earlier this year. Town Manager Tim Barth said there was a strong economic case to discontinue the town’s…
Anna Fariello believes that artifacts — somewhat like windows — can act as passageways to a culture’s soul. “Material culture can be a window onto the changes that occur in social and cultural history,” said Fariello, an associate professor and…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Fix the flaws, stay the course

Waynesville’s land-use plan is an ambitious set of ideas adopted during a booming economic era and thus full of the optimism of such times. Now that times are tougher, we hope task force members charged with updating the plan don’t…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Accomplished musician will head Junaluska Singers

Melodie G. Galloway will take over as the new musical director for the Lake Junaluska Singers starting Jan. 1. “Directing the Junaluska Singers represents a lifelong dream for me,” said Galloway. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work…
Claude Douthit has spent half his life fighting the federal government over the North Shore Road. The decades-old debate dates back to the 1940s, when the federal government flooded a road outside Bryson City with the construction of Lake Fontana.…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Tourism turnaround set back by rockslide

After a slight increase in overnight visitors this fall following a dismal summer, Haywood County tourism officials are dreading November reports.“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Lynn Collins, executive director of Haywood County Tourism Development Authority,…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Locals do what it takes for fresh tracks

For seasoned Smoky Mountain outdoor enthusiasts, snow in the forecast means the chance to indulge suppressed fantasies. Whether its getting fresh tracks on some obscure slope they see on the road to work or heading up to the blocked-off Blue…
In the space of five years Tuscola High School’s football program has produced two big-time college quarterback prospects. While Friday night lights are a huge draw in the mountains of Western North Carolina, the relatively small pool of athletes makes…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Naturalist's Corner

One less whooper Cayuga, Ind. – Wildlife Officials announce arrest. Enforcement agents for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources have announced the arrest of a suspect in the recent shooting of a federally…
Business owners in Western North Carolina are wrapping up an absurdly challenging year. On top of dealing with a lingering recession and a rockslide that has shut down a major section of Interstate 40 for months, they faced a major…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Mistletoe and sycamore ring in winter

Each season has characteristic features that signal its arrival. Winter is no exception. Two of my winter favorites: mistletoe and sycamore. Coon Cove — the name assigned to our valley on a late 19th century deed — is surrounded on…
State officials have not turned a blind eye to the economic pain caused by the rockslide in Western North Carolina, but Haywood Tourism Development Authority officials say their strategy is off the mark. First off, the state’s tourism division is…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Love and sonnets meet in Shakespeare’s Italy

The Sonnet Lover by Carol Goodman. Ballantine Books, 2007. 368 pages. In The Sonnet Lover (Ballantine Books, ISBN 978-0-345-47957-0, $24.95), Carol Goodman takes her readers on yet another exploration into worlds literary and classical. Known for works relating to the…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Sylva bypass makes the cut

Jackson County commissioners were split over whether to endorse the construction of a controversial new highway outside of Sylva when the issue came up for a vote at a county meeting Monday. The highway was included on a wishlist being…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

EDC audit out of reach due to spotty records

Jackson County commissioners closed the book on a painful chapter in the county’s history on Monday, announcing they would give up their quest for an audit of the economic development commission. The commissioners had hoped to present an audit of…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Skiing the Blue Ridge: A newcomer’s tale

So the snow is coming down in sheets Friday, and Bethany says, “Do you think it’s going to be real snow?” We just moved to Waynesville from northern Wisconsin in November, so at that point we’d largely disregarded the previous…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Safeguarding the settlement

A cash settlement with the federal government in lieu of the long-promised North Shore Road will reap annual dividends for Swain County for years to come. The county will put the money in a lockbox and only use the interest…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Striking while the iron’s hot

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has found a silver lining in the Interstate 40 closure following a massive rockslide in late October near the Tennessee line. It is taking advantage of the months-long shut down by fast-tracking maintenance work…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Jackson commissioners take over airport authority

Facing a moribund governing body and a facility once again in need of expensive repairs, the Jackson County board of commissioners did what it’s been unwilling to do in the past –– assume management of the airport. The commissioners totally…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Outrage erupts over Sylva teen club

A little-known teen club shook the Town of Sylva out of a slumber last week and shone a bright light on the private lives of young adults. Concerned parents brought 500 signatures to a town board meeting demanding that it…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Yeah right, sure it’s gonna snow

“Winter Storm Warning, Haywood County.” That’s what it said on television Thursday night, up in the top right corner of the program we were watching. Winter storm warning. Yeah, we’ve heard that one before. “Better get to Ingles quick,” I…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

Christmas gifts from the heart

According to the government standards defining poverty in the 1950’s, I was poor. My father did not hold a regular job. My mother took in ironing for neighbors before landing a job in the Bethel School cafeteria washing dishes. We…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

SCC gaming management program takes off

Wanda Morris walked into uncharted territory when she started teaching Gaming Management Technology three years ago at Southwestern Community College. “We were the first community college in the state to offer the program so we took our chances thinking outside…
Swain County commissioners have settled a ten-month long lawsuit with Buckeye Construction for $30,000, far less than the $127,000 originally demanded. “I think the county came out a winner on this, even though it cost us,” said Commissioner Glenn Jones.…