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Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

Gus the gruffy grouse gets territorial

Jerry Smathers is public enemy number one for a ruffed grouse named Gus that lives on the forest bordering Smathers’ pasture in Dutch Cove of Haywood County. Whenever Smathers boards his all-terrain vehicle to ride from his house to his…
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

Park: Don’t blame us for the ladybugs

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials say they have been erroneously blamed by some residents for introducing large, black and orange ladybeetles that congregate en masse in residential areas.
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

I wanna another peep outta ya!

Jeepers creepers, don’t ya here those peepers. Gram for gram, Pseudacris crucifer is one of the loudest amphibians out there. The spring peeper weighs in at three to five grams and is about an inch long. When males congregate around…
By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer There are two things Arthel Watson fans are sure to mention when asked about the folk musician — his voice and his character. They say his voice channels everything that is true Americana. They…
As part of an innovative fundraising effort called “Doctors for Doc,” Haywood County physicians affiliated with Haywood Regional Medical Center are helping fund an upcoming concert featuring Grammy Award-winning musicians Doc Watson and David Holt.
By Chris Cooper The name Radney Foster takes me back to the earlier days of home satellite dishes and music television. It was still a novelty to have access to so many things to watch, and in an effort not…
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

Recommended diversions

National Poetry Month April may have been “the cruelest month” for poet T.S. Eliot, but for me it is truly a gift, a time of budding flowers and warming weather. April is also National Poetry Month, a time to honor…
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

An attempt to straighten the world

There is a passage in the heart of Ron Rash’s novel, The World Made Straight, in which Leonard Shuler remembers a visit to Shelton Laurel with his grandfather shortly before Shuler leaves to attend the University of North Carolina.
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 00:00

Stillwell earns fans the hard way

By Chris Cooper What do the words “music career” mean to you? For many it’s big fancy studios, nice cars and whopping cash advances from a record label. Maybe a house in Malibu with a gold plated toilet. Worldwide superstardom…
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 00:00

Recommended diversions

Drive-By Truckers: A Blessing and a Curse I first saw the Truckers eight or nine years ago in a little dive in Asheville called the Basement. There might have been 20 people there, including the staff and guests of the…
By Michael Beadle It’s Thursday morning and Cherokee High School junior Brandi Oocumma is preparing to read a news story on the radio about the risks and benefits of caesarian deliveries. She wants to become a pediatrician one day, so…
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 00:00

Simple significance

Writers typically aim to give the reader a protagonist who is likeable. Most of us don’t want to spend hours of our life getting to know protagonists who leave us cold inside, central characters who are so odd or so…
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 00:00

Cherokee anthem realized through WCU

What began as a request to translate “The Star-Spangled Banner” into Cherokee evolved instead into a new song, the “United Cherokee Nations Anthem,” which was recorded in a studio for the first time at Western Carolina University. The anthem opens…
When CNN chose John Armor’s web blog as the political site of the day several years ago, coining him an “intellectual redneck” in the process, Armor accepted the tagline proudly. From his home in Highlands, Armor posts satire columns on…
By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer Voters in Jackson County will elect predominately Democratic county commissioners in this May’s primary elections, regardless of voter turnout. Twelve of 13 candidates in the county’s unusually large commissioners campaign pool — fueled partly…
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 00:00

Local PAC exerts influence

For the first time in Haywood County, a group of residents has formed a political action committee with the goal of influencing the county commissioners race. The political action committee, called the Good Governance Legion, is less concerned with the…
By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer Michael Morgan sits at a table near the back of Malaprop’s Bookstore Café in Asheville eating from an unlabeled can of applesauce, his 6-foot plus lanky frame casually folded, one leg across the other.…
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 00:00

Squirrel stories

It seems to me that the general reputation of squirrels has declined within my own lifetime. I don’t recall hearing negative remarks about squirrels when I was growing up; indeed, most folks that I encountered back then seemed to hold…
The words still ring in my ears, coming as they did from a teacher who had spent years playing by the book: “I’ve got to spend the money by the end of the school year or it’s gone, so I’m…
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 00:00

Forging a wise immigration bill

Amnesty? In the immigration controversy that is dividing Congress and the nation, this has become the most misused term in the politician’s vernacular. It’s being used as wedge by those who favor a policy that is heavy on relentless enforcement…
By Michael Beadle Some people bike for the fun of it. Some people bike to race. For Franklin’s Owen Simpson, it’s a bit of both. Over the past three years, Simpson — who also goes by O.J. — has been…
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 00:00

The ivory-billed swami predicts

For those not acquainted with the ivory-billed swami, I will give you a bit of history. This is from the Smoky Mountain News edition on Jan. 30, 2002, as Zeiss Optics was mounting a search for the ivory-billed woodpecker in…
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

Winged migration of a different sort

After getting all the two-leggeds to bed last night I went out to the yard to wrangle the four-leggeds. Dusk was slipping into night. The full “fish moon” was climbing above the mountains on the southeastern horizon.
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

Taylor tangled in Abramoff’s web

The recent revelations about Rep. Charles Taylor’s ties to a lobbyist who has confessed to federal bribery charges is a serious problem for this region’s Congressman, a controversy that calls into question his ethics and reveals close ties to the…
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

Mixed drinks won’t be good for Sylva

By Jason Kimenker • Guest Columnist What makes Sylva great? The people of rural Sylva, North Carolina are as unique as this area is beautiful. This small mountain town is so loved by tens of thousands of visitors year-round. With…
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

The healing power of slime molds

New research on slime molds at the University of Georgia has generated hope for the millions of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases that a cure could one day be possible.
When a heavy rain washed into Paul Super’s garage last month, soaking a couple of bags of freshly-purchased mulch in the process, it triggered a dormant slime mold in the mulch to spring to life in a bright yellow ooze,…
Western Carolina University students are filming the last scenes from the Theatre in Education Company’s performance of “Young Cherokee,” concluding a year-long theatre initiative that has captured attention at national conferences and connected university students with the Cherokee people.
By Chris Cooper I’ve seen Danielle Howle completely abandon the stage and microphone in the middle of a song and wander through the audience while singing, beating on the tables and bar counter as her only accompaniment.
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

Recommended diversions

Leonard Cohen What can you say about a man in his 70’s who is an international sex symbol in Paris, Berlin, London and Dublin? (He doesn’t do badly in Melbourne, Madrid and Stockholm either.) I think I’ll call him a…
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

King’s zombie nation

Yes dear reader, when Stephen King’s dread armies of the mindless begin their apocalyptic trudge through the devastated towns of New England, they march to the sweet trills of Debbie Boone. As they tread their way around the bodies of…
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

Candidates weigh in on the North Shore Road

Every four years when a county commissioner election rolls around in Swain County, there’s one question commissioners know they have to answer but that most wish they didn’t: how they feel about the North Shore Road.
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

Growth is on Jackson’s agenda

By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer This May 2 voters in Jackson County are faced with choosing a board of county commissioners that will enact and enforce ways to shape growth in the coming years. One hot button issue seemingly…
By Sarah Kucharski The heated race for sheriff in Jackson County is closing in on the May 2 primary date in which voters will decide which candidate, incumbent Jimmy Ashe or former sheriff Jim Cruzan, will head up the agency…
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

Pro-planning candidate holds ground at forum

By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer Democratic candidates running for two District 2 seats on the Macon County board of commissioners squared off at a League of Women Voters meeting last Thursday (April 13) in a growth debate that pitted…
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

Baseball’s scapegoat

San Francisco Giant outfielder Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball player of this era, and one can make a good argument that he is the greatest player in history. Bonds will almost certainly pass the legendary Babe Ruth on the…
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 00:00

Stuck in a stinky situation

Hopefully, any encounter you have with a skunk will be a sighting, not a spraying. Neither my wife nor I have ever been sprayed by a polecat. But our dogs have — and they were pitiful creatures for days afterward.
Grasping the extent of development sweeping across the Haywood County landscape is not always easy. So Marc Pruett, the county’s erosion control officer, came up with a little anecdote to put things in perspective. He tallied up all the private…
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Recommended diversions

Back-buying Have you ever noticed that people, for the most part, solidify their tastes — in music, and clothing, and what they like to eat — at a certain time in their younger years? I don’t mean that we can’t…
Besides being what T.S. Eliot called “the cruelest month/Breeding lilacs out of the dead land,” April is also National Poetry Month. To do honor to poetry, let’s look at two books that have much to do with the poem and…
For the first time in history, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is running for a seat on the Swain County Board of Commissioners. Ben Bushyhead lives just outside Bryson City and works for tribal government…
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Enforcement issues cloud zoning debate

By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer With growth on the forefront of Macon County’s election issues, commissioner candidates have staked out their stance on land use planning. A majority of candidates have recommended taking a cautious approach — avoiding zoning…
By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer They’ve said they want to strengthen the economy. They’ve said they want to help bring in higher paying jobs. They agree that doing it will require local schoolchildren to get the best education possible.
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Old-style ‘machine’ a factor in Swain

A slate of challengers running in the Swain County commissioners race are speaking out against what they claim is decades of control by an elite handful in the inner circle of the Democratic Party known as “the machine.”
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Political factions help define Haywood race

Two well-defined political factions emerged early in the Haywood County commissioners primary and have only grown stronger in the countdown to election day on May 2. On one side is the county commissioner chairman Mark Swanger, who is running for…
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Swain commissioner candidate snapshots

Three candidates are running for Swain County chairman in the Democratic Primary.
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Wild, mysterious and sometimes a bit sly

In the natural world here in the Blue Ridge, there are certain visual images that rivet the attention of human beholders. One such is a timber rattlesnake suddenly encountered in the wild. That sight literally galvanizes the senses. The vibrating…
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Get ready for the backroom abortionists

Three cheers for crime. If moralists have their way, it will only get worse. How coincidental that within three short weeks of Justice Sam Alito’s long-anticipated confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, the anti-abortion lobby of South Dakota suddenly convinced…
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Get over the fear and say it: ZONING is GOOD

Note to all candidates seeking office in Western North Carolina, and all their constituents: repeat these words, over and over — zoning, land use, high-impact ordinances, long-range planning, master planning. Say them again, and try to get over the fear…
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Rotten to the core

According to recent stories by Knight Ridder news services, the Bush Administration thinks our national parks are too fat. A mandate called the “core operation analysis” has been issued directing park officials across the country to cut between 20 and…