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What’s a college without a college town? It’s an almost unimaginable scenario to those who love the unique, quirky places that grow up around major universities. But it’s very much the reality when it comes to Western Carolina University and…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:04

A chat with Carolinas Healthcare president

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer The Smoky Mountain News caught up with Carolinas Healthcare System Chief Operating Officer and President Joe Piemont this week. The hospital system — the largest in the Carolinas and the third largest public non-profit…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:00

All things wild and wonderful

By Karen Dill It is in April that the wild things emerge. Bears crawl from their dens; baby wolves are born while their parents howl at the moon; and mysteriously tender green shoots climb bravely from the ground. To an…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:00

When to celebrate

Depending on how you slice it, the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park could be celebrated on a variety of days. The park has deemed the official anniversary date to be June 15, 2009, exactly 75 years…
Officials at Ghost Town in the Sky continued to pressure Maggie Valley leaders this week to pony up a $200,000 loan to help the beleaguered theme park get up and running. In a special meeting Monday (April 27), Ghost Town…
A Haywood Community College wildlife student brought home a second-place finish in the STIHL Timbersports Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Challenge this month. Daniel Jones, 22, from Hayesville, combined precision, strength and speed to bring home the honor. Jones is a freshman majoring…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 16:57

Dispatches from the kinky South

Surreal South: an Anthology of Short Fiction and Poetry edited by Laura Benedict & Pinckney Benedict. Winston-Salem: Press 53 $19.95 – 378 pages The co-editors of this anthology, Laura and Pinckney Benedict, know “surreal” when they see it. In fact,…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 16:56

Perdue’s no-show was a missed opportunity

“Gov. Beverly Perdue probably didn’t set out to give Western North Carolina a slap in the face Wednesday. “But we know a slap in the face when we see one, and this sure qualifies.” — Asheville Citizen-Times editorial, April 23…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 16:54

Wild mountain boars

Numerous non-native plants have been introduced into the southern mountains during the last century or so. Many of these are now classified by wildlife biologists as “exotic pests.” Few would argue that kudzu does not fall into that category. And…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:53

Fighting the fear that comes at night

I don’t really know when nightmares begin. I guess it is possible that babies have nightmares, shaken awake in the night by dreams of stuffed giraffes turned suddenly sinister or a nipple that you chase and chase and never quite…
Should a private business receive taxpayer money to stage an event? That was the question of the hour at two recent meetings of the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority as the board discussed how to dole out its dollars. The…
Business owners hoping to be annexed by Waynesville in order to serve alcohol be out of luck. At a meeting of the Waynesville board of aldermen on April 14, town leaders failed to approve an annexation request by Grandview Lodge…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:50

The Naturalist's Corner

A picture is worth a thousand words When the 1968 Apollo astronauts rounded the moon for the first time the deepest impression was not the view of that barren, never-before-seen lunar landscape, but the sight of a dazzling, beautiful blue…
The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce’s Green Initiative is one of those projects that is good on many different levels, not the least of which is the admirable goal of reducing the impact the business community has on the environment.…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:48

Ghost Town didn’t withhold sales tax

Among Ghost Town’s debts is $136,000 in back sales taxes owed to the state of North Carolina. It was previously reported that Ghost Town failed to remit sales tax to the state collected as part of ticket sales. Ghost Town…
By Josh Mitchell • Staff Writer The bad economy may be good for business along the Appalachian Trail. The AT typically attracts recent college grads, young people taking a break from their jobs, and a growing number of retirees. This…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:46

Ghost Town appears in bankruptcy court

Ghost Town in the Sky revealed last week that it was driven into bankruptcy by the threat of foreclosure from BB&T, which holds outstanding debt on the property to the tune of $9.5 million. In a bankruptcy hearing in federal…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:45

Bradbury succeeds again with new novel

We’ll Always Have Paris by Ray Bradbury. William Morrow, 2009. 224 pages Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Ill., — the town became Greentown in Dandelion Wine and many of his short stories — in 1920. He published his first…
A jailer and the murder suspect she allegedly freed from the Swain County Detention Center a month ago were apprehended in Vallejo, Calif., on Sunday (April 19). The jailer, Anita Vestal, 32, was unharmed, much to the relief of her…
An angry crowd stormed downtown Franklin on tax day last week, protesting the federal government’s bailouts, high taxes and pork barrel spending. The Tea Party protest was one of hundreds that took place across the nation April 15, the first…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:42

Tourist industry lines up to tap TDA coffers

Requests for Haywood Tourism Development Authority money this year ran the gamut from the predictable to events making their debut this season. The TDA generates a pot of money from a 4 percent tax levied each time someone pays for…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:41

Local activist arrested at Cliffside protest

Avram Friedman, leader of the Sylva-based air quality group the Canary Coalition, was arrested during a protest march in Charlotte Monday (April 20) against Duke Energy’s new Cliffside power plant proposed for Rutherford County. More than 400 marchers, including Friedman,…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:40

Art as a spectator sport

More than 40 artists will race against the clock this weekend, crafting a piece of art from scratch in just one hour during the annual Quick Draw event in Waynesville. Quick Draw will be held from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:39

When is it safe to plant?

By Jim Janke When is it safe to plant tender annuals and vegetables in Haywood County? The standard answer we give in the plant clinic is May 15th. Before then you risk damage from a frost. But is May 15th…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:38

Ancient chemical warfare

I’m sometimes asked if the prehistoric Cherokees used any sort of poisons on their blowgun darts. These darts (slivers of black locust, hickory, or white oak) were from 10- to 20-inches long with thistledown tied at one end to form…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:37

Grandview Lodge

When Terry Ferguson and his wife Nancy bought the Grandview Lodge in 2008, they knew they were taking on a responsibility above and beyond restoring the old building. With the purchase, the couple became the keepers of an important piece…
Maggie Valley will roll out the welcome mat next weekend for more than 3,500 motorcycle riders descending on the tiny Smoky Mountain town for the annual Thunder in the Smokies Motorcycle Rally held April 24 through 26. With hundreds of…
By Becky Johnson & Julia Merchant • Staff writer Haywood Regional Medical Center and WestCare announced plans to join forces under a newly created parent company. In addition, they will enter a management agreement with Carolinas HealthCare System, a large…
When most business owners cast their eyes about the office — noting the reams of white paper spilling off the printer, the blinking lights on computers not shut down at the end of the day, the drafty crack under the…
In response to a growing concern about a new malady that has killed an estimated 400,000 bats north of here and may be headed this way, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has closed all of its caves to public…
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:24

The Naturalist's Corner

Canaries in the coalmine As I passed the kitchen windows last Friday (4/10), a brilliant red streak caught my eye. I followed the streak to a branch in one of the large poplars at the corner of the deck. There…
Western Carolina University softball star Mollie Fowler painfully remembers the day her shin broke in half playing shortstop. She dove for a ball and collided with the second baseman’s cleat. Drama like this plays out on the athletic fields at…
Waynesville’s South Main Street — the two-lane thoroughfare that is the major artery between downtown and the new Super Wal-Mart — could be increased to four lanes and even have roundabouts, according to preliminary redesign options recently laid out by…
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:21

Swain’s tax base just got even smaller

Swain County, 86 percent of which is already owned by the federal government, lost a little more land from its tax rolls this month when commissioners voted to transfer 621 acres of land to become part of the Eastern Band…
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:20

Jackson Paper bucks manufacturing trend

Last week’s announcement that 61 new jobs are coming to Sylva with the expansion of Jackson Paper is relief for a town hurting from the closing of the T&S Hardwoods sawmill that employed 75. Stonewall Packaging LLC, a joint venture…
Waynesville leaders will finally kick off the town’s much-anticipated review of its six-year-old land use plan on April 22. Town aldermen have hired the Davidson-based Lawrence Group, renowned in planning circles, as the consultant for the project. A $10,000 grant…
The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority will weigh the merits of grant applications from tourism groups over the coming week. Every year, tourism initiatives, from festivals to visitor center operations, compete for funding from the tourism authority. Haywood County hopes…
Macon County commissioners voiced concern this week over a proposed sewer treatment plant that would discharge into the Little Tennessee River just across the state line in Georgia. The river, considered an environmental treasure and a future source of drinking…
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has announced plans for an affordable housing development and substance abuse treatment center in Swain County. The tribe plans to build an affordable multi- and single-family housing development on a 300-acre tract in the…
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:15

Everyone's mother

Mother Jones by Elliott J. Gorn. Hill and Wang, 2002. 408 pages. When Mother Jones celebrated her (allegedly) 100th birthday on May 1, 1930, our nation rejoiced with her. Hundreds of telegrams arrived from statesmen, celebrities and politicians, including Eugene…
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:14

Dogwoods in the mountains

In the Smokies region, there are three species of dogwood. Everyone is familiar with flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), which is starting to flower this week, but the others are less well known. Alternate-leaved or pogada dogwood (C. alternifolia) is the…
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:13

Nuisance debate both crass and credible

Every now and then a government proposal takes on such a vigorous life of its own that its intent gets clouded, those supporting it — or just discussing it even-handedly — get tarred and feathered and what started as an…
In Massachusetts, a vacant textile mill is now an art museum. An old city hall became a restaurant. In California, a sprawl of empty factories were transformed into a shopping district. Across the country, vacant industrial sites as well as…
A throng of about 150 angry members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians turned out to the Birdtown Community Center last week, protesting that the Tribal government is to blame for losing $57 million that was to go to…
Take note — members of the public with an agenda to push could learn a thing or two from the mass of Haywood County residents who came out repeatedly to protest the county’s proposed nuisance ordinance. Commissioners voted unanimously at…
Between blue skies and blue water, the inaugural Lake Junaluska Duathlon won over dozens of runners and bikers this weekend. “It’s basically the perfect set-up. I couldn’t imagine a better venue,” said Ken Howell, a racer who lives in Haywood…
The neighborhood covenants of a Maggie Valley homeowners association were put to the test in court recently. A developer sued the Sherwood Forest homeowners association after they tried to block his foray into rental condos. David G. Baker, formerly of…
Residents of a downtown Waynesville neighborhood are up in arms about a proposed three-story, 64-unit condo development that would provide affordable housing for senior citizens — and, they fear, also lower the property values of their homes. The development, called…
Owners of Ghost Town in the Sky hope to funnel up to $500,000 into the amusement park in order to get it open by summer. A recently created limited liability corporation called Resurrection Partners has emerged as a vehicle to…
Opposition to the airport runway extension in Macon County continues to mount, with a standing-room-only crowd attending last week’s Airport Authority meeting and an environmental group threatening to sue and stop the project. The controversial runway project would pave over…