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Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:36

Schools vs. prisons is an easy choice

Haywood County’s 1930’s-era minimum-security prison was kept open for another year by our ever-diligent legislative delegation in Raleigh. They saved about 45 jobs and cheap labor for roadside cleaning by keeping the relic open. Meanwhile, Haywood County school supporters were…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:35

Q&A with Congressman Shuler

SMN: What did you learn from the teletown meeting? Anything new? Heath Shuler: “The meeting reinforced my belief that most people don’t fully understand what is in the health-care reform bill and they have many valid questions about it. It…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:34

Healthcare debate civil at tele-town meeting

Against the backdrop of a nation embroiled in an emotional, high-stakes debate on health care reform, the voices of Western North Carolina citizens seemed remarkably calm and polite during a telephone town hall meeting with Congressman Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, last…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:33

Proposed apartments denied tax breaks

Neighbors of a proposed 64-unit apartment building to serve low-income seniors in Waynesville have renewed hope that their fight to stop the project isn’t over yet. They had opposed the project on the basis of its size: a three-story, 400-foot…
Since its creation, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has loomed over Swain County. Its massive peaks flank life itself: as an engine for tourism, a stomping ground for locals, and a refuge for wild things. The park’s most lasting…
A competitive state Senate race appears to be on the horizon once again for Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville. Andy Webb, a Republican challenger from McDowell County, has gotten a head start by already announcing his candidacy for the 2010…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:29

Preserving Cherokee tradition

Anthropologist James Mooney (1861-1921) devoted his life to detailing various aspects of the history, material culture, oral tradition, language, arts, and religion of the Eastern Cherokee, Cheyenne, Sioux, Kiowa, and other tribes, adding a new dimension to the writing of…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:27

Cash settlement amount proves a sticking point

Negotiations over a cash settlement for Swain County have been stalled for more than a year as opposing sides argue over a fair dollar amount. Swain County officials have met three times with the U.S. Department of the Interior to…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:27

Town helps HVO seek state grant

The Town of Waynesville plans to step in for Haywood Vocational Opportunities in procuring state money to help with an estimated $2 million expansion at the old Wellco site in Hazelwood. HVO must create at least 40 jobs in exchange…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:26

Jackson EDC still taking old board’s heat

Old records of the Jackson County Economic Development Commission are likely too spotty to complete missing audits from the years 2001 through 2005, although the county and EDC board say they will continue their quest to do so. “The citizens…
Haywood County commissioners have seen their share of hot-button issues this year. First came the proposed nuisance ordinance, with angry citizens accusing them of communist rule. The momentum rolled over to budget time, when a 1-cent property tax increase once…
A Macon County group is one step closer to its dream of establishing a Living History Farm, a working replica of a pioneer village where visitors can witness what life was like for the earliest settlers in the area. An…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:20

Lawsuit filed to seize Dillsboro dam

Jackson County has formally filed a lawsuit against Duke Energy to seize the Dillsboro Dam and surrounding river shore, using eminent domain to create a public park and in the process save the dam from being torn down. The county…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:19

Conservation fund donates land to HCC

Haywood Community College recently acquired a 328-acre tract of land located at Balsam Gap through a generous gift from The Conservation Fund. Bordering the Blue Ridge Parkway for 3 miles, the property forms the headwaters of Dark Ridge Creek, which…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:18

Duke lobbies for rate hike amidst protest

Swain County commissioners expressed their disapproval of an 18 percent hike in electric bills being sought by Duke Energy to pay for construction of a new coal plant. Most of Jackson, Macon and Swain counties get their power from Duke.…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:17

The Naturalist's Corner

They’re back Actually they’ve been back for a while and now their bags are packed and they’re ready to go. But first, it’s time to eat. In early summer, every year, there is a buzz on most birding listservs regarding…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:16

Waynesville looks at ways to cut energy use

Energy efficiency dominated the agenda at Waynesville’s last town meeting, with the passage of a strategic energy management plan and discussions on how to meet state requirements for contributing to renewable energy sources. The Town of Waynesville is exploring ways…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:15

Goodman’s second ‘classics’ story

The Night Villa by Carol Goodman. Ballantine Books, 2008. 413 pages. Over the last decade, Carol Goodman has rightly earned a reputation as a skilled novelist whose themes and characters are often focused on the study of Latin and Greek,…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:12

The road to a cash settlement

1920s Forney Creek Township wants a road leading from Bryson City to Deals Gap on the Tennessee state line. It is the height of the timber boom, and the road would improve access to Knoxville. The community took out bonds…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:11

New boating ramp opens on Cheoah Lake

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has opened a boating access Area and Public Fishing Area on the bank of the Cheoah Lake. The Lewellyn Branch boat ramp provides boaters and anglers access to the popular lake in Swain and Graham…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:10

McLean and Mathis part of Richland project

The Richland Hills low-income senior housing development was touted publicly as being under the auspice of the Asheville-based nonprofit Mountain Housing Opportunities, which has built similar projects in Buncombe County. Behind the scenes, however, two local players are involved in…
Western North Carolina high school students bicycled 300 miles to the nation’s capital on one trip and canoed along the route of Lewis and Clark on another as part of summer activities sponsored by Talent Search at Western Carolina University.…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:54

The Naturalist's Corner

Bats make good just in time to salvage outing “Oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” That refrain from the old Animals song runs through my head every time I think about bats. Or I see images of women,…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:53

Prison to remain open, but future not rosy

By Julia Merchant • Correspondent The minimum-security Hazelwood Prison in Waynesville is the only correctional facility of its kind to survive state budget cuts. It is now the sole remaining old-style prison left in North Carolina. “It’s a certain thing…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:52

If not wind, then what?

To the Editor: Well, I am at a disadvantage in this discussion on wind energy development in North Carolina. My friend and, in this case, adversary, Don Hendershot has his weekly bully pulpit and he used it to quote me…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:51

Pointing kids toward a love of the park

Eric Sink, a teacher at Summit Charter School in Cashiers, N.C., looks forward to loading his fifth-graders up on a bus every year and heading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the woods become the classroom and a…
It’s not an uncommon scene: people rattling a tin can outside Wal-Mart to raise money, whether it’s a cheerleading squad saving up for new uniforms or the Salvation Army bell ringers. There’s no shortage of good samaritans asking shoppers to…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:47

Oxford American: The best magazine ever

There aren’t many things that cause my weary heart to quicken. The local bookstore, Netflix, rain crows and, yes, the Oxford American which is “proudly published by the University of Central Arkansas.” I’ve stuck with them through bankruptcy, inept leadership,…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:45

Methane-powered foundry opens at JCGEP

The Jackson County Green Energy Park recently opened the first landfill methane-fueled art foundry in the world. “Because of the increasing costs of fossil fuels, as well as the environmental impact of the fire arts in general, demonstrating that landfill…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:43

Lake island dwellers lobby for fire protection

Homeowners on Buck Knob Island in the middle of Lake Glenville say they are owed fire protection by local volunteer firefighters and have appealed to Jackson County commissioners to settle the conflict. The homes lie within the 135-square-mile territory covered…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:41

Megow-Dowling announces resignation

Jackson County’s economic development director Dorothea Megow-Dowling had been on the job for less than a year when she announced her resignation last week. She came from a long career in economic development and specialized in strategy and planning processes.…
While some students dread returning to the classroom this time of year, children in Cherokee have been asking for weeks about when they would get to go back to school. With the unveiling of The Eastern Band of Cherokee’s new…
While most national parks serve as conduits for science, the Smokies is a window on history as well. Churches, schools, general stores, lumber camps, grist mills, farms and homes once filled the valleys and hollers that now constitute the Great…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:33

Land swap integral to Cherokee school

The Cherokee faced a long, uphill battle spanning decades to secure the idyllic tract of land now housing a brand new K-12 school for the tribe. The 143-acre parcel was part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park until a…
They came. They saw. And this past Saturday, they — nearly 1,000 volunteers from almost 50 churches — painted, scraped, powerwashed, mulched, planted and repaired the campuses of 14 Haywood County schools. When First United Methodist in Waynesville put out…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:29

Touch-me-nots and poison ivy

Jewelweed, or “touch-me-not,” is one of the most appealing wildflowers commonly encountered throughout Western North Carolina. Many recognize the plant from the time it appears in early spring as a pale green seedling, on through the long and showy summertime…
Former WCU student Matthew Link Baker will read from his new book, My Mountain Granny: The Story of Evelyn Howell Beck in the Mountain Town of Whittier, NC at 7 p.m. Aug. 14 at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.Baker met…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:27

Junior bids farewell to forest service

Harry “Junior” Ward, Jr. recently retired from the North Carolina Forest Service as the Haywood County Ranger. Ward was a success story who got his start in the Haywood Community College Forestry and Natural Resources program. His first job was…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:23

Homeschooled students on the rise

More parents in Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties opted to teach their children at home this year, concurring with a recent statewide report that found a record high in the number of students being home schooled in North Carolina.…
By Michael Beadle There’s a view on the way up to Clingmans Dome, an overlook where a maze of finger-like ridges unfurl at your feet and spread across the landscape before tumbling into the Oconaluftee River Valley below. Surveying this…
Jackson County’s Economic Development Commission has again been thrust into turmoil, a near constant state of affairs for the entity in recent years. The county’s economic development director announced her resignation last week, and along with it, offered her views…
“I can see test scores going down and higher dropout rates in high school,” he said. “These kids are struggling. They’re really not at the age that they need to be left home alone.” — Steve Claxton, Swain County Community…
The Mountain High BBQ & Music Festival will be held at the Macon County fairgrounds Aug. 7-8. Gates open at noon on Friday. Barbecue cook teams from all over the United States will be cooking and competing to be crowned…
Trevor Dalton, Macon County’s first paid economic development coordinator, is back on his home turf. Dalton, 24, grew up in Macon County, and majored in business administration at Appalachian State. He worked in the Wilmington, N.C., area in the insurance…
Although I sometimes wish that the maps of my Jackson County had a more beguiling shape — perhaps a bear or a quarter moon — its outline is pretty prosaic (it seems to resemble a pork chop). But marvelous events…
Haywood County is being sued for $2 million by the contractor in charge of renovations to the newly restored historic courthouse. Haywood County commissioners fired the contractor 18 months into the job, citing serious delays and poor work. The construction…
By Andre A. Rodriguez • Special to the Smoky Mountain News A new travel study revealed potential visitors lack awareness about activities and attractions in Cherokee and the surrounding region, detering them from planning a visit. “People don’t have a…
Jackson County leaders are considering an economic development incentive that will provide property tax credits to Stonewall Packaging in exchange for a minimum $10 million investment in a new facility in Sylva and creation of at least 40 full-time jobs…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:14

Particular parables and perverse ponderings

Willful Creatures Stories by Aimee Bender. Doubleday & Company. 208 pages. Recently, Garrison Keilor mentioned a new writer, Aimee Bender on his daily post, “The Writer’s Almanac.” Garrison noted that Bender’s quirky and enigmatic books were causing quite a stir…
As if the death of hemlock trees across the Southern Appalachians wasn’t bad enough already, forest researchers believe the loss of hemlocks will alter the carbon cycle of forests. An exotic insect known as the hemlock wooly adelgid has a…