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Editor’s note: Cherokee Tribal Police would not allow Smoky Mountain News Staff Writer Holly Kays entry into the Cherokee Tribal Council chambers to report on this meeting, which took place on Dec. 11. This story was written after watching a…
Underground contamination leaching from an old, closed-down landfill in Haywood County will cost millions to clean up, a burden homeowners countywide will be forced to bear through higher trash fees over the coming decade. County commissioners got their first glimpse…
Wednesday, 24 December 2014 00:00

Jackson considers renovations for service centers

The large, cavernous room at the heart of Jackson County’s Community Services Center doesn’t see much action these days. It’s no longer open to the public. A trash can sits solemnly collecting water dripping from a leak in the ceiling. …
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 16:33

Mistletoe’s link to romance goes way back

The custom of decorating with mistletoe goes back to the ceremonials of the Druids. It is a reminder of the ancient custom of keeping green things indoors in winter as a refuge for the spirits of the wood exiled by…
A $10,000 grant will go toward building up food banks in Western North Carolina in partnership with agribusiness.  The award, given to the Western North Carolina Food Policy Council, comes from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 16:25

Permaculture school launches in Asheville

A 12-week permaculture school in Asheville will launch in 2015, teaching students how to create landscapes that maintain the health and resilience of natural systems while also providing food, water, energy, shelter, income and spiritual fulfillment. 
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 16:18

Comment call for red wolf rules

A series of three public hearings in January will take public input on the future of protection for the reintroduced red wolf and continuation of coyote hunting in the five-county area in northeastern North Carolina where the wolf was reintroduced. 
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 16:16

Internships for Smokies fans

Five summer internship positions are available for undergraduates looking to get involved with Discover Life in America’s mission to learn as much as possible about the species inhabiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park through the Mary Raoul Fitzpatrick Photography and…
Just after putting the final touches on the Chimney Tops Trail this month, the Trails Forever program in Great Smoky Mountains National Park will begin restoration on the popular Alum Cave Trail in 2015.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 16:14

Congressional act could expand National Parks

The National Parks System could see its largest expansion in decades after bipartisan legislation in Washington, D.C. was introduced proposing a significant national parks package.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 16:13

Aquatic invaders found in Macon County

For the first time, gill lice have been found in brook trout in the Southern Appalachians. The parasitic crustaceans are common in the northern states but had never been found this far south. 
The opening of the Swain County Visitor Center in downtown Bryson City this year represented the culmination of a $3.46 million investment from the Great Smoky Mountains Association on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail had been in the back of Andy Smith’s mind for a while, ever since a coworker at Cherokee Hospital, where he was chief of physical therapy, told Smith about his 1989 thru hike. As 2014 dawned,…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:50

Country noir masterpiece gets its due — again

One of the things that I admire about the New York Review of Books is a special honor that they reserve for what they call the “lost masterpieces of American fiction.” In effect, they acknowledge that occasionally, a major literary work…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:47

Faster than thought: two book covers

By Steve Ellis • Guest Columnist As we leave this political season, which has been nasty, brutal and long, I’d like to offer some thoughts. If you doubt my description of nasty, brutal and long, I remind you of our…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:45

This is no time to devalue our wild heritage

By Bill McLarney • Guest Columnist We humans are highly skilled and devilishly clever. We can create ball fields, schools, prisons, highways, airports, strip malls, industrial parks, reservoir lakes, landfills, farms of all kinds, Superfund sites, babies  and sustainably managed…
A roomful of hunters and hikers turned out at last week’s Macon County Commissioners meeting. It was the first meeting after Franklin Mayor Bob Scott went public with a plea for the county to reconsider a resolution it passed in…
Out of the gate, the U.S. Forest Service’s first stab at listing potential wilderness areas in the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests met with criticism following its release in late November.  Whether concerned about which areas were on the list,…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:22

Ridgetop towers OK’d in draft Jackson ordinance

Cell phone towers will now be allowed on Jackson County ridgetops — at least according a draft ordinance that’s on its way to commissioners after meeting planning board approval last week.  The final vote on the draft ordinance was unanimous,…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:21

Tribe’s new justice center opens

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will open its new state-of-the-art, $26 million Cherokee Justice Center on Dec. 17 following two years of construction. 
Jackson County commissioners will decide in the coming weeks whether to keep Jay Coward on board as their county attorney. Commissioners will consider other candidates in January. Coward said he will put his name back in the hat and hopes…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:19

Folkmoot named a Top Ten Festival by USA Today

Folkmoot USA was recently named a Top Ten Festival by USA Today, the only festival in the state of North Carolina to receive such recognition.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:16

Noise ordinance in the works for Macon

A noise ordinance could be in Macon County’s future as the planning board starts in on writing a set of draft rules this week.  The board’s been taking comment and researching similar ordinances in nearby counties since September, and last…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:15

‘Play On’ poised to go online

The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority will launch its new website that will support its “Play On” branding campaign at 1 p.m. on Dec. 17 in the auditorium of the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching in Cullowhee.
When Haywood County put up $35,000 to replace a chronicly leaky roof on the Pigeon Community Center in Waynesville, it was both a tangible and symbolic gesture, one that saved a major landmark of African-American community from certain demise.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:13

Former, current tax collectors build rapport

The outgoing and incoming tax collectors in Haywood County appeared shoulder to shoulder at the podium of the Haywood County commissioner meeting this week, pledging to work together to make the transition a smooth one. “There’s a lot of animosity…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:06

Macon finalizes property values

Macon County’s tying up the loose ends on a property revaluation that will likely cause tax hikes for some and breaks for others, and the county’s tax director gave commissioners a heads up that they’ll probably be getting some phone…
If Waynesville has a dirty little secret, it’s this: a cash cow runs through its power lines. Of course, it’s not dirty and not a secret — not really. Town leaders don’t hide the fact they have a lucrative electric…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 14:59

Bomb threat disrupts WCU graduation

A bomb threat was received by the Jackson County 911 office shortly before the beginning of Western Carolina University’s fall commencement ceremony, scheduled to be held in the Ramsey Regional Activity Center on Saturday, Dec. 13, prompting university officials to…
A tug of war between two Jackson trucking companies over a high-stakes contract for hauling trash was settled last week following days of political tension. Jackson County commissioners had to decide which of the two local truckers would snag a…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00

HCC builds desk for Forest Service

Haywood Community College Professional Crafts Wood instructor Brian Wurst and students recently finished a project for the U.S. Forest Service to build and install a reception desk for the visitor’s center at their headquarters on the National Mall in Washington…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00

‘John Parris’ Christmas’ returns to Webster

The Webster Historical Society will present its 4th annual “John Parris’ Christmas” at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at the Webster Methodist Church. Curtis and Janice Monteith Blanton will both read the Christmas stories of Parris and the second original…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00

Carolina Brass to play Waynesville

Carolina Brass will feature a variety of holiday and classical songs at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, at the Waynesville First United Methodist Church.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00

Balsam Range, Meals on Wheels raise $12K

On Dec. 6, acclaimed bluegrass group Balsam Range began it Winter Concert series with The Molly Tuttle Trio at The Colonial Theatre in Canton.  Along with the concert was a fundraising event to honor, recognize and celebrate the Haywood County…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00

This must be the place

I’ve always felt the greatest gift is the gift of music. Though I’ve never been a huge fan of receiving presents (I’d rather spend quality time with a loved one, save your money), the gifts that meant the most to…
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00

Maggie Valley venue enters second act

With one flick of a light switch, Grier Lackey is illuminating a dream. “What do you think?” he said with a smile. Standing inside Eaglenest, an 800-seat theatre in Maggie Valley, Lackey scans the enormous room, pointing out design details…
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 16:04

WCU dorm gets LEED certification

Western Carolina University’s Harrill Residence Hall has become the university’s second building to be LEED-certified for its comprehensive energy-efficient and environmentally friendly features.
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 16:03

Giving Tuesday nets Smokies $18,000

Friends of the Smokies raised more than $18,000 for Great Smoky Mountains National Park on GivingTuesday, far more than its $4,500 goal. 
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 16:01

Smokies hires superintendent

For the first time since Dale Ditmanson retired in January 2014, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a permanent superintendent. A string of three acting superintendents have served in the post over the past year.
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 16:00

Franklin greenway gets some extra acreage

The Little Tennessee Greenway will offer users a bit more space to enjoy the outdoors following Dick and Melissa Jones’ gift of a .66-acre piece of property adjacent to the greenway.  “The greenway is a  tremendous asset out our community,”…
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:59

Graffiti for a good cause

Ten high school students from the Haywood Community Learning Center recently armed themselves with colorful spray paint to mark the storm drains of Hazelwood with a message: “Don’t Dump … Drains To Pigeon River.” 
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:58

Tuscola takes all in FFA event

Tuscola High School students dominated Future Farmers of America’s Land Judging competition this year. The competition tests students’ ability to identify different types of soil and, based on the soil’s position in the landscape, develop recommendations for various uses. 
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:56

Trail crews drill for backcountry emergencies

Appalachian Trail license plate funds are helping to make the woods a little safer for the volunteers who maintain the trail. Using the plate money, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy funds Wilderness First Aid certification courses, taught by Cullowhee-based Landmark Learning,…
There’s plenty of tradition and symbolism that goes along with the holiday season, but for birders no tradition is more part of the holiday than the annual Christmas Bird Count.  The count is just what it sounds like: Every year…
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:52

Extreme commenting on plan for national forests

Yogi Berra said it best — “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” When I read Holly Kays’ Nov. 12 article about the USDA Forest Service’s Plan Revision in The Smoky Mountain News (, I was taken back to the…
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:38

Start your holiday shopping at the bookstore

For all of you who haven’t started your holiday shopping yet, for you who scorn Black Friday, who keep telling yourselves day after day that you will go buy gifts tomorrow (tomorrow: what a wonderful word!), for all of you…
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:36

Letter writer needs help connecting the dots

To the Editor:  I certainly hope Santa brings Bob Wilson a “Connect the Dots” book — he could use the practice. His meandering letters are clearly out of touch with verifiable fact, but then his goal is plainly to give…
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:36

Time for many to relearn tolerance

To the Editor: The letter “Democrats hurting African Americans” (SMN, December 3) confuses race with economics. The implication that Democrats have re-enslaved African Americans with social programs that rob them of the incentive to work and be productive is both…
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:35

Plutocrats drive modern GOP agenda

To the Editor: It’s amusing to hear Republicans and other reactionaries describe Democrats and the Democratic Party. Contrary to their fiction-based descriptions, Democrats are not intent on keeping minorities dependent on the government nor do they any longer support segregation. Those who…
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 15:34

What do people really want?

Dr. Graeme Potter • Guest Columnist As one of the practicing, board-certified OB/GYNs in the community who provide prenatal care, I’ve been honored to care for more than 800 babies born in Western North Carolina. When I moved here in 2007,…