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Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Canton Mill pursues new pollution permit

Evergreen Packaging, a large paper mill in Canton, is seeking a new water pollution permit for the Pigeon River. The paper mill sucks roughly 29 million gallons a day out of the river and uses it in myriad aspects of…
It may be illegal to throw away plastic bottles in North Carolina these days, but don’t expect a landfill patrol to start picking through your trash any time soon. The state is still trying to divine how exactly to enforce…
Haywood Regional Medical Center was in better financial shape than expected as it embarked on an affiliation with neighboring hospitals under WestCare and entered a management contract with Carolinas Healthcare System this month. The latest financial report for Haywood Regional…
Fellow ice carvers Jeff Pennypacker and Cary Shackelford are ever ready to etch out any sculpture that will satisfy their client’s whimsy. The recently departed holiday season means Pennypacker has carved heaps of reindeers, snowflakes, New Year’s signs, champagne bottles…
Elder abuse takes many forms and, thanks to a national grant program, law enforcement officers in Western North Carolina now know what to look for. In 2007, the Department of Justice awarded the 30th Judicial District Sexual Assault Alliance a…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Golf club to restore Upper Cullasaja

The Upper Cullasaja Watershed Association and the Cullasaja Club are pursuing state funding to restore the headwaters of the Cullasaja River. The partners have applied to the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund for money that would allow them…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Haywood County poised to buy abandoned Wal-Mart

Haywood County Commissioners are expected to vote this week to buy the abandoned Wal-Mart shopping center near Lake Junaluska and retrofit the space to house the Department of Social Services. Commissioners will convene a special meeting on the issue Wednesday…
For the first time in history, the government, the military and private healthcare providers are working together to deliver the appropriate counseling resources to returning war veterans. This year, the Haywood Regional Medical Center, working with a Department of Defense…
The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently upheld a state law that bans video gambling everywhere but the casino in Cherokee. The video gambling industry challenged the ban, claiming it was unfair to outlaw the machines statewide while allowing them…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Suspenseful guest drives novel

For some 30 years now, Bernard Cornwell has been one of the most prolific writers in the western hemisphere. With over 40 books to his credit, he has settled comfortably into the “historic fiction” genre and has become famous for…
Religion and its place in local government have once again arisen as issues in North Carolina. This means that many Christians — especially those holding elected office — are having to search for a balance between their personal prayer practices…
Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park received a record $385,000 from drivers sporting the special “black bear” license plate program in 2009 — the park’s 75th anniversary year. Support from North Carolinians for the Smokies’ license plates increased $46,720…
At a time when Waynesville’s appearance standards are under scrutiny for being too strict, three proposed developments cruised past the town’s Community Appearance Commission. Last week, the advisory board approved the Noland Retail Center and Holland Car Wash, both on…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Antenna users left in the lurch

Television viewers in Jackson and Macon counties who get their reception the old-fashioned way — with an antenna — have been without UNC-TV for the past month. The UNC-TV translator on Coweee Mountain malfunctioned in early December. New equipment finally…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Commissioners commit to former Wal-Mart site

After a marathon five hours of discussion on Wednesday (Jan. 13), Haywood County commissioners voted unanimously to buy the abandoned Wal-Mart shopping center near Lake Junaluska and retrofit the space to house the Department of Social Services and health department.…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Finding a WNC solution for ‘aging in place’

With so many unknowns ahead, it’s comforting there are proven solutions to one big challenge — the aging of the population. From research, and experience, experts have identified factors for remaining independent, resilient and happy as we grow older. Key…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Soldiers face a second battle at home

Citizen soldiers. The National Guard’s moniker evokes the best of American values and hearkens back to a Greek ideal. The citizens of a nation, its moral fiber during times of peace, should be ready to take up arms during war.…
An attorney that forged judges’ signatures was caught thanks to the sharp eyes of a law enforcement officer, a fellow attorney and a court clerk who noticed red flags. But for at least a year, fraudulent driving privileges provided to…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Congregation backs leaders’ stand on prayer

Responding to a Smoky Mountain News article covering the debate over prayer at public meetings, a group of Macon County residents attended the county’s first board meeting of the New Year to urge the commissioners to hold their ground on…
Duke Energy could start tearing down the Dillsboro Dam any day after Jackson County lost a final and critical legal battle this week. Judge Zoro Guice denied a move by the county to temporarily halt demolition on the Dillsboro Dam.…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Masters of the night sky

The New Year has arrived and the great horned owls have commenced their annual “singing” along the dark ridges. These birds don’t sing, of course, in the manner of true songbirds like warblers and orioles — but the quick cadence…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

A snowflake by any other name

It was one of those rare winter mornings when Haywood County Schools were on a two-hour delay. Izzy, my second-grader, and I dropped her sister, Maddy, at First Methodist’s outstanding daycare center, blasted by Smoky Mountain Coffee Roasters, grabbed a…
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:43

New generation takes over at City Lights Books

What is a bookstore? The question was unimaginable when Joyce Moore bought City Lights Books in Sylva from Gary Carden in 1986. But as Moore calls time on her career, e-books and online booksellers have challenged bricks and mortar bookstores…
Elk could lose their status as a species of special concern under a new rule change proposed by the N.C. Wildlife Commission. A public hearing on proposed changes to state hunting and fishing rules will be held at 7 p.m.…
A year ago, state officials promised a group of Macon County residents that they would get a cost estimate for what it would take to rehabilitate the McCoy Bridge, a single lane truss bridge that dates from the 1930s. That…
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…