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Faced with a collapsing tourism marketplace caused by a national recession and the pullout of its featured attraction — the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad –– Dillsboro’s voters elected a new leadership team to steer the town towards an uncertain future.…
Western North Carolina has so embraced mountain vernacular architecture that local planning boards across the area are prodding developers into adopting the style. While officials stop short of handing over a checklist to architects that includes stacked stone, steep pitched…
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 20:00

21 write-ins get votes in Webster

In an unusual election storyline, voters in Webster cast ballots for a total of 21 write-in candidates because too few candidates signed up to run for the five available seats on the town council. When the new town council convenes,…
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 20:00

Blue Ridge Parkway kicks off 75th anniversary

The Blue Ridge Parkway will kick off its 75th anniversary celebrations this month with several historical, symbolic and entertaining events, even though the official anniversary isn’t until next year. • A program called “Natural Resource Stewardship – An American Indian…
The National Park Service and Swain County appear locked in a stalemate over how much the federal government should pay up for breaking its long-standing contract to replace a road flooded by the creation of Lake Fontana in the 1940s.…
Lessie Williams, a well-known and nationally recognized gospel singer, will give a concert of inspirational music at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Community Services Building in Sylva. The performance is a fundraiser for the new Jackson County library. Williams’…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:42

NOC expedition gains attention

An outdoor expedition to Bolivia that puts paddlers to work delivering medical supplies to remote villages organized by Nantahala Outdoor Center got a major plug by National Geographic ADVENTURE. The November issue of the magazine listed the trip in its…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:41

Old houses, spirits and comfort food

By Karen Dill • Special to Smoky Mountain News October is a glorious month. Brilliant colors dot the mountains against clear blue Carolina skies. Fall leaves turn our world into an amazing canvas and spirits soar like the geese that…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:39

Canton’s future pivots on heated board race

When voters head to the polls in Canton next week, they will face a daunting and even unwieldy list to choose from: 10 candidates for four seats on the board. Town politics in Canton have been marked by division the…
Despite their requests, Haywood County commissioners will not be guaranteed a spot on the new joint operating board of Haywood Regional Medical Center and WestCare. Commissioner Mark Swanger initially called for the seat to ensure transparency and accountability to the…
Affluent property owners in Balsam Mountain Preserve have raised commitments of $16.3 million in an effort to stave off foreclosure of the development by lenders. Balsam Mountain Preserve, a mega development on 4,400 acres in Jackson County, owes nearly $20…
By Gibbs Knotts • Guest Columnist Some local sportswriters have expressed bewilderment at a recent ranking by a nationally circulated magazine, The Sporting News, that placed Cullowhee at No. 199 among the United States’ top 399 sports cities. These pundits…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:35

Meet the candidates

Two of the five seats on the Sylva town board are up for election. Both incumbents are running for re-election and will face three additional challengers. The mayor’s seat is up for election as well, but Mayor Brenda Oliver chose…
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to one of the most intact and comprehensive collections of early Americana, lining row after row, room upon room, of metal shelves, drawers and floor space in a sprawling, albeit hidden, storehouse.…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:31

Withstanding winter’s cold

Editor’s note: George Ellison is on sabbatical this week and will return next week. This is a previously published column. As I write this on Monday morning, we’ve just had our initial hard frost of the year here in Swain…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:30

Irritating public comment must be tolerated

Haywood County elected officials may sometimes get fed up dealing with the incessant public record requests and the three-hour meetings that a new wave of public scrutiny is forcing upon them, but there’s no good alternative except to take the…
Is it true that Haywood and WestCare have merged? No. The boards of Haywood Regional Medical Center (HRMC) and WestCare Health System (WestCare) have formally agreed to form a unified healthcare system that will integrate the strategic, operational, and financial…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:26

Waynesville Rec Center struck by vandals

The Waynesville Recreation Center was vandalized late sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday morning. The vandals entered the building through a broken window into the pool area. Once inside, they broke internal windows, threw furniture around, pulled clocks off…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:25

HRMC, WestCare affiliation creates MedWest

A long-awaited affiliation of the hospitals in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties will become official in January 2010. That’s when a newly created hospital company, dubbed MedWest Health System, will take over day-to-day operations for Haywood Regional Medical Center and…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:24

A peculiar angst

Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy. Picador, 2000. 272 pages. Walker Percy not only wrote these lines (see below), but he also lived them. He recognized early on that he was indeed a peculiar bird.…
The election for Sylva town board next week will determine the philosophical direction for the town. The board has been marked by split votes over the past two years, stemming from deep-seated ideological differences. Two years ago, the majority on…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:21

No quick fix for rock slide that closes I-40

Western North Carolina is bracing itself for the impact of a massive rockslide that will shut down a major chunk of Interstate 40 near the Tennessee border for about three months. The rockslide occurred 2 a.m. Sunday morning three miles…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:18

Meet the candidates

There are 10 candidates running for four seats on the Canton town board. Only two sitting aldermen are running for re-election, with eight challengers. All four seats are up for election every two years. Mayor Pat Smathers is running for…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:16

The Naturalist's Corner

The rush to be green is making me blue Let’s see, automakers can get CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) credits for making gas guzzlers like Chevy’s suburban that can run on ethanol. That way they can rate one of those…
By all indications, the closing of Interstate 40 due to a massive rockslide will be more than just a minor headache for many. Through traffic heading west to Tennessee will be directed to I-26 from Asheville, where cars would have…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:13

Recipes

Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil and Goat Cheese Salad (loosely based on the recipe from the October 2009 Bon Appétit magazine) • 3/4 cup lentils • 6 cups 1-inch pieces peeled seeded sugar pumpkin (from about one 2-pound whole pumpkin or butternut…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:11

Macon rallies to defense of river and wins

Macon County has won a partial victory in the fight over the permitting of an industrial wastewater treatment plant in Rabun County, just across the state line in North Georgia. Earlier this month, Georgia environmental protection officials issued a discharge…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:01

Downtown platform

Several candidates have made downtown revitalization the central tenet of their campaign and consider it the one of the most important issues on the town’s agenda. They include Gene Monson, Carole Edwards, and Kenneth Holland. “When I was growing up,…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:59

The Naturalist's Corner

Slogging through the watershed It was dark, 39 degrees and a steady light drizzle when I walked from the house to my truck last Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. By the time I got to town, the rain had stopped,…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:58

Is this the change you waited for?

By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist In the election of 2008 many Americans aspired for hope and change when Barack Obama won the White House and Democrats increased their majorities in Congress. Today signs of buyers’ remorse are everywhere. Disgruntled…
The joint board that will run the eventual Haywood Regional Medical Center-WestCare affiliation needs to have a sitting Haywood County commissioner as a permanent member, as one Haywood County commissioner is now suggesting. Commissioner Mark Swanger worries that the interest…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:55

Three seek two seats on Maggie Valley board

The Town of Maggie Valley has a town board with four aldermen/alderwomen and a mayor with voting power. Each official serves a four-year term. This November, two spots on the Board of Aldermen are up for election. Alderman Mark DeMeola…
A drill simulating the collapse of a tunnel on Interstate 40 in Haywood County tested and prepared the full gamut of emergency workers during an exercise that spanned 30 hours and involved hundreds of rescue personnel from across the region.…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:53

Whimsical tales defy explanation

Willful Creatures Stories by Aimee Bender. Doubleday & Company, 2005. 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…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:52

Tales from the trail

Jennifer Pharr Davis, the female record-holder for the fastest thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, spoke to a large crowd in the auditorium of Southwestern Community College in Sylva last week, enrapturing students with tales of her trail exploits. While Davis…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:51

WCU raises $50 million for endowment

Western Carolina University last week announced that the first comprehensive fundraising campaign in university history has netted a grand total of $51,826,915 in private giving for endowed scholarships, professorships and programmatic support. The tally is more than $11 million above…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:50

Fishermen to hear report on mercury and walleye

Fish biologists will discuss mercury contamination in fish in mountain lakes at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Swain Campus of Southwestern Community College. The talk will also discuss other issues related to lake fish populations and lake…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:48

Unfinished hotel mars Sylva landscape

The fate of an unfinished Clarion Inn in Sylva is up in the air after a bank foreclosed on the property earlier this month. The developer burned through a $5.1 million construction loan for the hotel but ran out of…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:46

Most make extra effort to hear public

As Haywood County commissioners grapple with a surge in this public input at their meetings, largely from the same crowd week after week, The Smoky Mountain News checked in with surrounding counties to see how they handle public comment periods.…
This November, the Town of Dillsboro will elect all five members of its town board, along with a new mayor to replace Jean Hartbarger, who is stepping down after eight years as mayor and eight years as alderwoman. One incumbent…
By Brent Martin • Guest Columnist When President John F. Kennedy formed a federal-state committee in 1963 known as the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission, one out of every three people living in Appalachia was living below the poverty line. Millions…
Haywood County commissioners are once again considering the abandoned Wal-Mart shell for a new Department of Social Services building. The current DSS building is housed in a cramped and crumbling 80-year-old building that was once the county’s old hospital. Patching…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:38

Haywood says state shirking responsibility

Haywood County commissioner sent a strong message to Raleigh this week, chastising state government for not stepping in to help when the county got sued by a landowner when trying to enforce erosion control standards. The county spent $282,000 on…
Jennifer Pharr Davis says she never set out be a speed hiker. When she first hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 2005 at the age of 21, she was mostly looking for an excuse not to get a job right…
If there’s a buzz word for Maggie Valley’s town board elections this year, it’s “balance.” Alderwoman Saralyn Price said she wants to “equal it out” between residents and businesses in town. Challenger Scott Pauley claims that he’ll bring balance and…
Downtown Sylva will host ColorFest: Art of the Blue Ridge from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24. The event spotlights Western North Carolina artists’ work in shops and on Main Street sidewalks. Artists will be demonstrating their work throughout…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:31

Robust citizen input vexes public officials

Johnnie Cure said she never expected to become a local celebrity when she started speaking up during the public comment period of Haywood County commissioners meetings. Typically taking the county to task over what she perceives as excessive spending, Cure…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:29

A great observer of the Smokies

Arthur Stupka (1905-1999) was the first naturalist in the National Park Service in the eastern United States. That was at Arcadia National Park in Maine, shortly before he became chief naturalist in the newly founded Great Smoky Mountains National Park.…
When Haywood County commissioners convened this week to discuss the fate of the county’s erosion control program, they were met by a deep bench of prominent community members who turned out to show support for Marc Pruett. Pruett is the…
The Haywood Community College Woodsmen’s Team finished first in the 2009 John G. Palmer Intercollegiate Woodsmen’s Meet and Forest Festival Day held at the Cradle of Forestry near Brevard on Oct. 3. The HCC Lumberjacks piled on victory after victory…