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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…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Tiger hurts himself with silence

Poor Tiger Woods. He is not only the greatest golfer of all time, but also perhaps the world’s most popular athlete. He is still in his prime and is already rich beyond imagination, still at the top of his game.…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Between language and culture

Native American languages are unique. They came into being and evolved without the influence of writing. For scholars like Heidi Altman, a professor of linguistic sociology, that makes them fascinating. “The thing I’m interested in is how people organize knowledge…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Memories from ‘up at the barn’

You’ve noticed how old barns are recognized as special places? When a person says, “I’m going down to the barn,” he or she always emphasizes the “the.” That’s because each barn is a unique entity. They hold special associations. But…
The recession has taken a toll on liquor sales at the ABC stores in Maggie Valley and Waynesville, in turn reducing the profits paid out to the towns. Rather than curtailing their intake, customers are buying cheaper brands, according to…
Sweepstakes have never before been so controversial — or so complicated. Far removed from the days of dropping an entry form in the mail or peering under the cap of a soda bottle, sweepstakes have now taken the form of…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 15:03

An unstable past

Located atop a nearly 3,000-foot mountain in Cullowhee, the Jackson County Airport was built to avoid the low-lying fog that often shrouds the Tuckasegee River Valley. Its unique location provides pilots with an alternative landing strip to lower lying airports…
Macon County has joined a growing trend in deciding to postpone its property revaluation process for two years. The county was due for revaluation next year, but based on the testimony of its tax administrator, Richard Lightner, the board of…
Western Carolina University will sponsor its fifth annual Mountain Dulcimer Winter Weekend beginning Thursday, Jan. 7, and continuing through Sunday, Jan. 10, at the Terrace Hotel at Lake Junaluska. The husband and wife team of Larry and Elaine Conger of…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:55

Judgment day arrives

The Cleansing by Ben Eller. Fireside Publications, 2009. 292 pages In Ben Eller’s science fiction novel, The Cleansing, (2020), progress in the next decade is a mixed blessing. Although significant advances have been made in areas such as astronomy, weapons…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:54

Master plan underway for Sylva’s Pinnacle Park

Pinnacle Park, a favorite recreational haunt in Sylva that was once home to the town’s watershed, will benefit from a county effort aimed at mapping and restoring its trail system. Last Thursday Sylva’s town board signed off on a cooperative…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:53

The Naturalist's Corner

The hunter is back Orion the hunter, one of the most noted and most recognizable constellations in the heavens is once again gaining prominence in the Northern Hemisphere. The hunter begins stalking the eastern skies around 8:30 p.m. and will…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:52

Nantahala headwaters tract protected

A 248-acre tract known as Rainbow Springs at the headwaters of the Nantahala River in Macon County has been protected through a conservation agreement between the long-time landowners and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee. The property owners, Myra…
Macon County’s schools will get a long-awaited upgrade, but its taxpayers are going to have to pay extra for it. County commissioners voted last Tuesday to raise the property tax rate by one-and-a-half cents to build a $15 million elementary…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:48

Suspects nabbed in Macon church break-in spree

A string of church break-ins that had captured widespread attention in Macon County came to an end last week when law enforcement arrested four teenage suspects in conjunction with the crimes. Between Oct. 5 and Nov. 8 no less than…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:47

Franklin students’ hard work helps greenway

Franklin High students became active volunteers in a service-learning program this fall to improve the ecosystem along the Franklin Greenway. More than 40 students, along with local community members, conducted a three-day site inventory and extraction of exotic invasive plants…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:45

Future of Jackson airport up in the air

The Jackson County airport has reached a crossroads. For years the little aviation field above the clouds has been a financial burden on the county. Now, with its governing body dwindling in number and its revenues lagging behind its operating…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:44

The life and times of Cataloochee Ranch

Tom Alexander, a famed mountain man, forester and founder of Cataloochee Ranch, chronicled his adventures over the course of his lifetime. An edited collection of his writings were compiled into a book called Mountain Fever by Alexander’s son in 1995,…
The cost of repairing Interstate 40 after a massive rockslide in late October will now be borne by the federal government instead of the state. Last week, the Federal Highway Administration agreed to use emergency relief funds to fully reimburse…
Now that it’s clear that Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, did indeed mislead everyone about his involvement in a land deal that one of his companies negotiated with the Tennessee Valley Authority, constituents will be forced to make a character judgment…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:40

Legacy of a mountain family

For 75 years, Cataloochee Ranch has been serving up a taste of the Wild West in the Smokies. From its mile-high perch on Fie Top Mountain, the ranch offers respite and solitude, fishing and horseback riding, expansive rolling meadows and…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:36

Rutabagas and history of Hemphill Bald

Let us consider the relationship between grassy balds, Tom Alexander and the self-proclaimed “Potato and Rutabaga King of Haywood County.” Highland sites at about 5,000 feet of elevation in the Smokies region were often given over to potato farming —…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:35

At free clinics survival trumps politics

Dr. David Trigg, medical director at the Good Samaritan Clinic of Jackson County, doesn’t know if he should do more or less to treat the uninsured. While he and the other volunteer doctors at free clinics are their patients’ only…
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians played an integral role in the creation of the Parkway. The Parkway was envisioned as a scenic motorway connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. To reach the…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:10

Flirting with my own mortality

I felt something clutch, almost seize up, and then a shooting pain in my chest, and my first thought was, oh no, God, please, not this, not now, not yet. I was standing over a frying pan, just browning some…
Haywood County library is experimenting with novel methods for wiping out some of the $250,000 in late fees it is currently owed. For the month of December, the library plans to accept canned food in lieu of library late fees…
It was late September, and Travis George, a 27-year-old Waynesville resident, was almost done mowing his grandmother’s yard. With just five minutes left, his foot accidentally slipped right under the mower, chopping off three of his toes and part of…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:11

Past illness leaves woman ‘uninsurable’

Though Sylva resident Marsha Crites had no risk factors, she suffered a major cerebellum stroke at the age of 49. “Not only could I not walk, I couldn’t sit,” said Crites. “I would even fall out of bed for a…
Tickets go on sale Monday, Nov. 30, for an appearance at Western Carolina University by Garrison Keillor, host of the popular public radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.” An acclaimed author, storyteller, humorist and musician, Keillor will take center stage…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:11

The Naturalist's Corner

I wanna go home with the armadillo When you’re stuck in one place for 12 hours at a time, a lot of weird stuff goes through your head. The other night at work, the refrain, “I wanna go home with…
By Karen Dill • Special to the Smoky Mountain News My memories of Thanksgiving in the mountains are of simple seasonal foods spread on a rough plank table in my mother’s old home place in Madison County. My mother’s people,…