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A movement is afoot to roll back some of the smart growth principles of Waynesville’s land-use plan by loosening commercial development guidelines. A blue-ribbon committee appointed by the town has spent the past few months combing through the town’s land-use…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

One dollar reaps rewards seven times over

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce 2009 Business Directory. With the final throes of Christmas shopping underway this week, the message seemed particularly relevant and is reprinted here with permission. It’s all about…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

Holiday gear guide

Nobody knows their way around the gear section of an outfitter store better than the people who work in them every day. The purveyors of serious outdoor clothing and equipment are almost always addicted to their own product. The Smoky…
As the holiday shopping season nears its final frenzy, Sylva’s business community is stressing the importance of buying local. The Downtown Sylva Association has seized on a national campaign called the 3/50 Project to encourage local people to patronize their…
Franklin’s leaders are trying to decide what to do about a valuable piece of property on the outskirts of downtown, and they’re hiring outside consultants to help them. The town purchased the Whitmire property in January 2005 for $1,585,373 with…
When store owners pack up their holiday decorations next month, there’s one thing Karen Wilmot hopes they will leave up — a sign that reminds residents to shop local. As director of Swain County’s Chamber of Commerce, Wilmot handed out…
Local governments have begun the process of regulating cyber sweepstakes machines, which are multiplying rapidly across Western North Carolina. The responsibility for regulating cyber sweepstakes has largely been left in local governments’ hands until a consensus is reached at a…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

The Naturalist's Corner

Junaluska waterfowl are plentiful, varied A quick turn around Lake Junaluska last Sunday revealed 13 species of waterfowl and/or wetland birds. This tiny (200-acre) clear dot nestled at 2,500 feet in the highest county east of the Mississippi River must…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

Early mapping of the Nantahala

The economic destiny of a given region is ultimately determined by its geology, flora and climate. That’s certainly been the instance here in the Smokies region, where logging and mining have been supplanted as the major industries by recreation and…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

State snuffs out smoking in bars and restaurants

Promptly after ringing in the new year, North Carolina will usher in a smoking ban in restaurant and bars on Jan. 2. While most restaurants are moseying on with the status quo for now, Pasquale’s Italian Restaurant in Waynesville is…
In the news business, the interplay between the Internet, mobile devices, television and print is at a precipitous crossroads where everything is changing so fast no one truly knows what the future will hold. It’s both exciting and scary for…
Under the Dome by Stephen King. Scribner, 2009. 1,074 pages Before I had read 20 pages of Stephen King’s new opus, I found myself thinking about Thornton Wilder’s Our Town — not because the small town, Chester’s Mill in Under…
Last week, Waynesville’s town board linked up with a growing grassroots movement that is calling for increased rail capacity. The town board unanimously passed a resolution to support a move to rail service in North Carolina. “To me, it’s just…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

Recipes, 12/16/09

My Mother’s Chicken Pot Pie • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves—cubed • 1 cup sliced carrots • 1 cup frozen green peas • 1/2 cup of sliced celery • 1/3 cup butter • 1/3 cup chopped onion •…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

Health care facilities to create new jobs

After successfully enlisting the help of local government, Haywood Regional Medical Center and Maggie Valley Health Investors are chasing state grants to fund two new medical facilities in Haywood County. Haywood County commissioners agreed to apply on HRMC’s behalf to…
In 2005, two investment partners from Atlanta broke ground on a massive project on the slopes of Cowee Mountain in north Macon County with hopes of creating a new paradigm for mountainside development in Western North Carolina. However, four years…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Jonathan Creek park moves closer to reality

Haywood County commissioners decided Monday to move forward with the design phase for a proposed public park and sports field in Jonathan Creek. The county’s Recreation and Parks Department is accepting conceptual proposals from local consultants until Dec. 30. Though…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Poore chosen as CEO for MedWest Health System

Haywood Regional Medical Center CEO Mike Poore has been named as the new chief executive officer of MedWest Health System following a unanimous vote of the MedWest System Board and the recommendation of Carolinas Heathcare System. MedWest is the name…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

New Sylva board member could help bridge rift

Sylva’s incoming Mayor Maurice Moody said he wanted to start his career with a consensus vote and that’s exactly what he did. In its first act, the newly seated Sylva town board unanimously voted to appoint Christine Matheson to the…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Casino one step away from the total package

Let’s just say it’s about time. A state special deputy attorney general said in a Nov. 25 letter that alcohol sales could indeed take place on the gaming floor at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, clearing away the last barrier blocking patrons…
Despite the daunting road ahead, Franklin High School principal Gary Shields is steering his undocumented students toward the naturalization process. Gaining citizenship would give his students a shot at higher education and better job opportunities. “They’re not going home, and…
Editor’s note: These articles first appeared in the St. Petersburg Times and are reprinted with permission of the writer. Lawyers for 13 people who bought land in a controversial Big Ridge subdivision in Cashiers say federal prosecutors in Miami and…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Rockslide cleanup could last through spring

The Interstate 40 rockslide cleanup could now take until May, according to Joel Setzer, head of the N.C. Department of Transportation for the region. At a Haywood County commissioners meeting on Monday, Setzer stated the cleanup could take between three…
North Carolina’s community colleges may have flung open their doors to illegal immigrants once again, but only a handful of undocumented students are likely to trickle into area colleges next fall. Most undocumented students face a practical dead-end after graduating…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

WCU trustees adopt tuition increase

Western Carolina University’s board of trustees voted to increase the school’s tuition by 6.5 percent next year. The vote to adopt a voluntary tuition hike will only take effect if the North Carolina General Assembly backs off on its proposed…
A malicious prosecution lawsuit by a woman accused of misappropriating flood relief donations should be dropped, according to the recommendation of a federal magistrate reviewing the case. Denise Mathis, former director of the Haywood County Council on Aging, claims she…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Of golf, relationships and life

A Son of the Game: A Story of Golf, Going Home, and Sharing Life’s Lessons by James Dodson. Algonquin Books, 2009. The way we lead our days, wrote Hollins graduate Annie Dillard, is the way we lead our lives. The…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Tribal casino gets OK for gaming floor alcohol

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino may soon serve alcohol on the gaming floor, after receiving an unofficial go-ahead from a state attorney. The casino has already been offering customers beer, wine and mixed drinks at restaurants and lounges in its adjacent hotel.…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

The Naturalist's Corner

Tessentee birds Bob Olthoff and I took advantage of last Sunday’s (Nov. 29) Indian Summer weather for a couple of hours of birding at the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee’s Tessentee Bottomland Preserve (formerly Tessentee Farm). Not only was…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Five miles of Parkway views preserved

A 1,488-acre tract along the Blue Ridge Parkway in McDowell County has been protected from development thanks to a conservation agreement with the landowner, a railroad corporation. The long, linear tract is owned by CSX, a rail shipping corporation. A…
Ghost Town in the Sky, an amusement park in Maggie Valley, failed to pay employees for their final two weeks of work before shutting down for the winter. While most employees were told upfront that they might not be paid…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Putting Panthertown on the map

Every hiker has likely named a trailside feature or two in their day. Ferns sprouting from the banks of a waterfall give rise to Fern Falls, or a flat granite outcrop stumbled upon mid-day becomes the ever-descriptive Lunch Rock. For…
Christmas is still two weeks away, but I’ve been rehearsing the dramatic tale of Santa’s arrival with my toddler for a month already. “Talk about Santa on the roof again!” my 2-year-old daughter insists several times a day. It’s her…
Around Thanksgiving, they begin showing up outside stores with a red kettle, a jingling bell and a smile. In many people’s eyes, Salvation Army bell ringers are as integral to the holiday season as Christmas trees, carols and Santa Claus.…
Haywood County was more economically distressed this year, according to state rankings that essentially classify the counties from wealthiest to poorest. But Mark Clasby, executive director for the economic development commission, is far from disappointed about the news. “I’m very…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

A skunk by any other name

Five skunk species are residents in the United States: hooded, hog-nosed, western spotted, eastern spotted, and striped. Only the last two reside in the Smokies region. The striped skunk — which is black with two white stripes running up its…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

The kindest army

Though the bell ringers have seen how hard the recession has hit the local community, they are surprised at the amount of giving they witness. “It always amazes me,” said Fred Galloway, a Waynesville bell ringer. “The harder the times…
Small businesses struggling to pay bills after a rockslide shut down Interstate 40 now have the option of applying for federal low-interest loans. The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering up to $2 million in assistance to each company that…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Defective slot machine zaps gambler

A slot machine at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino malfunctioned, delivering a shock that floored a gambler, according to a lawsuit brought by the victim. While the incident occurred over three years ago, Willie Jean Robinson is still waiting to hear whether…
While the addition of alcohol sales at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel will undoubtedly be lucrative for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, they won’t be alone in reaping a windfall. Harrah’s will order all its liquor from the ABC…
Jackson County and Duke Energy squared off this week over the Dillsboro dam, marking the first major head-to-head courtroom battle in the nearly eight-year saga. Duke Energy wants to tear down the Dillsboro Dam, while Jackson County hopes to save…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

UNC students conduct research while in Highlands

University students conducting environmental fieldwork and research at the Highlands Biological Station have spent the past semester delving into the ecological diversity of the Southern Appalachians. The students conducted research and internships in conjunction with several local organizations. This year,…
Although Macon County passed its first subdivision ordinance more than a year ago, Commissioner Chairman Ronnie Beale wonders whether enough was done to protect developers with projects already underway. Developments that pre-dated the new rules may be hamstrung when attempting…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Consensus unlikely in Sylva board appointment

The moment of truth arrives for Sylva’s new town board on the day it starts work. When board members convene this week, the first item on their agenda will be pivotal in defining the town’s ideological direction for the next…
As developers grapple with financial woes forcing them to sell off holdings or succumb to foreclosure, environmental groups in Jackson County want to rein in vested rights previously doled out for those tracts. A whopping 238 subdivisions were exempt from…
Outside the annual Thanksgiving potluck dinner in the isolated Snowbird community, a remote corner of Graham County where the Cherokee language has deep roots, the parking lot is jammed full. It’s a dark night. The children play tag and the…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

The Naturalist's Corner

The omnibus stops here Reliable, undisclosed anonymous sources tell this reporter that the Fiscal year 2010 Omnibus Bill expected to be signed in a couple of weeks will seal the deal on the North Shore Road to Nowhere. The bill…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Satire hits hard, but it works

Satire is one of language’s most powerful weapons, and when used effectively, it can foster meaningful dialogue on important topics. A recent letter in The Smoky Mountain News brings this point home. Lamar Marshall poked fun at Macon County officials…
Every year for more than a quarter century, the village of Dillsboro transforms itself into a quintessential Christmas scene, warm with the glow of luminaries and white lights. This year, the festival, is slated for Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 11-12.…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Canton leaders to compare and contrast lists

As everyone else compiles wish lists for the holiday season, Canton’s four aldermen will put together a list of their own on behalf of the town. Soon after they were sworn into office last Tuesday (Nov. 24), Mayor Pat Smathers…