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A group of Christians paid a visit to Haywood County commissioners Monday night to urge them to pray to Jesus when opening each meeting. Commissioner Kevin Ensley, the sole commissioner who referred to Jesus during invocations, decided in late January…
Dozens of local businesses owed money by Ghost Town are mulling over ballots this week that will ultimately decide the amusement park’s fate. Ghost Town, which landed in bankruptcy a year ago, owes a total of $13.5 million. It hopes…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Geologists: Maggie landslide still unstable

While residents wait for answers and 16,000 tons of debris hangs precariously over the Rich Cove community, an army of people are assessing the aftermath of the latest landslide in Maggie Valley. Representatives from the North Carolina Geological Survey, the…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Nuts and bolts of landslide mapping

Macon County was the first to be targeted under a statewide initiative launched in 2006 to map areas prone to landslide in the mountains. Over a one-and-a-half-year period, a team of state geologists led by geologist Rick Wooten surveyed 770…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

An American original

Devil’s Dream by Madison Smartt Bell. Pantheon, 2009. 352 pages. Although several biographies of Nathan Bedford Forrest have found publishers over the last 60 years, Civil War buffs, serious followers of fiction, and those who simply enjoy a great read…
Jackson County Sheriff Jimmy Ashe may not have done anything illegal, but he’s stepped into the middle of a controversy in the run-up to his re-election campaign. Ashe used state and federal money from narcotics seizures to operate an informal…
Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park was behind on its general liability insurance payments in the months leading up to a massive landslide that originated from its property. Ghost Town has been struggling with bankruptcy for the past year.…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Haywood acquires fiberoptic line

Haywood County recently dropped a lawsuit against Wynncom, after the telecommunications company agreed to hand over its fiberoptic network to the county for $6,500. Wynncom, based in Lexington, N.C., was hired to build a fiberoptic line for Haywood and be…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Making sure Swain County gets its due

The cash settlement now signed and sealed for Swain County in lieu of building the North Shore Road is a good thing, right? Well, it’s a good thing only if the entire $52 million comes through, and that’s something that…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

The Naturalist's Corner

Snow Day! Enough already with the “Enough already!” I know it’s snowing again. Yep school is closed again. I’ve got an idea — call in well. To paraphrase Blowing Rock’s mountaintop yogi, Tom Robbins, from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

A book about beer, food, and Gnometown cooking

Cooking with wine is familiar. Cajun chef Justin Wilson, one of television’s first real food celebrities, liberally tipped Chablis into his etouffe (who-wee), and Julia Child introduced America to the French style of cooking, deglazing and saucing with wine in…
A disagreement over Duke Energy’s placement of a power substation near Cherokee’s most significant cultural site has instigated a meeting between the top leaders of the tribe and the company. Principal Chief Michell Hicks, the tribal council, and the attorney…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Watching sleazy 80s movies late at night

“Don’t do it, Dan.” Michael Douglas is Dan Gallagher, and he is sitting across the table from Alex Forrest, played by the incomparable Glenn Close. Alex is beautiful, all right, but she is also not his wife, who is out…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Rich Cove may be a portent of things to come

Writing about the weather is usually about as exciting as a yawn. For 12 months, though, we in the mountains have been taking it on the chin time and again, and it’s got me wishing for a bit of a…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

A taste of Appalachian poetry

This past weekend was given over to reorganizing the books in my home library. In the process, I relocated a volume of poems I had feared was long lost. My favorite “Appalachian” poets would be Robert Morgan, Kay Stripling Byer,…
Chris Carver found himself in the unusual position of being both rescuer and evacuee when a massive mudslide struck Rich Cove Road in Maggie Valley on Friday night. “I live there, right where it stopped,” said Carver, assistant chief of…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Sylva teen club closes quietly

A Sylva teen club that sparked controversy two months ago by disseminating a flyer inviting high school students to “come as wasted as you want” has closed its doors. In December, concerned parents brought 500 signatures to a town board…
What happens when a smart, talented young man desires to serve God, but is mostly driven by his fear of death and Hell? How is a conflicted heart torn by love and desire? And what happens when that heart finally…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Cash settlement here at last

Swain County officially signed a cash settlement with the federal government in a moving and historic ceremony Saturday, ending a bitter decades-long dispute over the North Shore Road. Swain will received $52 million from the government, and in exchange will…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

The Naturalist's Corner

The good; the bad and the ugly The good Ben Morrison, compiler of the Wilmot, Ohio, Christmas Bird Count, contacted the Ohio Birds Records Committee and provided documentation for the purple martin I wrote about in the Jan. 20 Naturalist’s…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Messy lawsuits likely left in landslide’s wake

It could take months or even years for lawsuits over a massive landslide in Maggie Valley to be resolved, leaving affected property owners in limbo over who is financially responsible for the damage to their homes. The landslide originated from…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Corridor K sent back to drawing board

A proposed four-lane highway through a mountainous region of Graham County has suffered a setback. The N.C. Department of Transportation was nearing the final planning stages and hoped to start construction in a few years on what is commonly known…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

The Oak Tree and the Great Dumpling Debate

By Karen Dill The ancient oak tree is bare. It stands majestic in the yard of our old two-story farmhouse. Our house sits on a small knoll and is surrounded by magnolias, dogwoods and mountain laurel, but it is the…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Going, going, gone

When Duke first broached the idea of tearing down the Dillsboro dam eight years ago, Mark Singleton thought he would see this day come much sooner than it did. A champion of dam removal both for the ecological and recreation…
By Buffy Queen • Guest Columnist As the middle school girls trailed out of the classroom one morning last spring, I began packing up my materials after sharing my last “Safe Dates” session at their school. My Safe Dates topic…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Recipes - Feb. 2

Chicken and Dumplings: 1 chicken, about 3 pounds 2 Quarts water 1 Teaspoon Salt 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper 2 Cup All-purpose flour 1/2 Teaspoon Baking soda 1/2 Teaspoon Salt 3 Tablespoon Shortening 3/4 Cup Buttermilk A dash of sherry Place chicken…
Betty Miner was standing in her kitchen getting ready to fix supper last Friday when the pictures on her walls fell to the ground. “I heard a sound and ran to where I heard it and that’s when the mud…
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians may pursue legal action against Duke Energy after learning about the utility company’s plans to put an electric substation near Kituwah mound, the tribe’s most sacred site. On Friday the EBCI’s tribal council passed…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Power struggle

Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell. Saint Martins Press, 1998. 397 pages Several years ago, when I was reading everything I could find about mythical figures such as King Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere, Tristan, Iseult and Galahad, I blundered on the…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

AT license plates fund mini trail grants

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy will hand out mini-grants for projects in the region that benefit the long-distance hiking trail. Grants can include trail work, conservation projects and trail promotion and education. Past projects have included: • Efforts by the Nantahala…
Chronic wasting disease, a deadly disease that affects deer, elk and other hoofed animals, has been detected in white-tailed deer in Virginia. The discovery has ramped up concerns about the disease migrating into North Carolina. Chronic wasting disease is a…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

No road in or out

On Friday night, a mudslide thundered across Rich Cove Road in Maggie Valley, taking out a section of a guardrail and bending a drainage pipe in its path, causing water to flow alongside the road and collect at the bottom.…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Waynesville moves on skate park

Skateboard enthusiasts in Waynesville will be happy to hear the town has been busily preparing for a long-awaited skate park on Vance Street near the recreation center. The town board recently dropped $28,500 on a California firm called Spohn Ranch…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

What is Kituwah?

Kituwah is a concept much larger than the mound site proper, which is recorded with the state register of historic places. The name signifies the mothertown of the Cherokee, a kind of original community with which all Cherokees identify. “The…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Safeguards in place, but cracks remain

While buckling and cracks were readily visible in old retaining walls built out of railroad ties at Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park owners failed to officially notify anyone with Haywood County of the town of Maggie Valley. Mountainside…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

A time for healing

The signing of a cash settlement deal for Swain County last week was a heartbreaking end to a lifelong struggle for many. For decades, road supporters held on to hope — hope that the government would honor the promise it…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Local fishermen sad to see the dam go

The first day of demolition on the Dillsboro Dam attracted hundreds of spectators last Wednesday. A roadside pull-off overlooking the Tuckasegee afforded a bird’s eye view of the machinery chipping away at the dam below. Some vying for a spot…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

All three incumbents to run again in Macon

Macon The Macon County board has four commissioners and one chairman. This year, the seats of two commissioners and the chairman are up for re-election. A party primary in May will narrow the field to one Democrat and one Republican…
County commissioners in Western North Carolina face a fork in the road after a federal judge in Forsyth County made it clear last week that prayers mentioning “Jesus” at county meetings are unconstitutional. They can submit to the law, or…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Where ideology meets environmental reality

The term “off-the-grid” means living in a self-sufficient manner without the services of a public utility. Wikipedia estimates that in 2007 there were around 250,000 off-the-grid households in the U.S. that supplied their own water, electrical and sewer systems. Living…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Fitzgerald comes to life in Asheville

The Fitzgerald Ruse by Mark De Castrique. Poisoned Pen Press, 2009. 250 pages. Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and magazines like Black Mask are the great-grandfathers of the American detective novel. Readers, for example, can open a Chandler novel and from…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Two wide-open seats will define Swain race

Swain The Swain County board has four commissioner seats and one chairman. All five seats are up for election every four years. A party primary in May will narrow down the field of candidates on the ticket to four Democrats…
There’ll be a movie for every taste at the third annual Short Circuit Traveling Film Festival this year. The festival’s selections include both fiction and documentaries, with experimental and animated films also in the mix. This festival is the only…
Back in early January, I found myself waking early to pack for a day-long excursion into the backwoods of Chunky Gal Mountain with a friend who was home from graduate school in Forestry. It was close to 10 degrees up…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Road to Nowhere crusade over at last

A defining moment in the decades-long debate over the North Shore Road will play out in Swain County this week. Commissioners are slated to vote in favor of a cash settlement from the federal government in lieu of building the…
Two contrasting images of the Pigeon River emerged at a public hearing on a controversial new water pollution permit for Evergreen Packaging, a paper mill in Canton. The mill needs to renew its state permit to continue drawing roughly 29…
By Chris Cooper Kea was a filthy, grease-covered little miscreant when she was found by In Your Ear Music Emporium owner Lauren Calvert some 16 years ago hiding in some random machinery (in the snow, no less). Sixteen years ...…
Leaders of the town of Dillsboro and members of Western Carolina University’s faculty unveiled the framework for an ongoing partnership that will help Dillsboro build a business identity. Discussions between former mayor Jean Hartbarger and WCU Chancellor John Bardo last…
Haywood The Haywood County board has five commissioner seats. Three seats are up for election this year. A party primary in May will narrow down the field to three Democrats and three Republicans for the three vacant seats. Haywood Commissioner…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Simple signs of the evergreen

You can almost smell the word “evergreen.” The word is at once one of the most aptly descriptive and highly evocative botanical terms. Simply reading or hearing it conjures up a mix of personal associations with particular landscapes. Evergreens are…