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An ordinance that would have allowed Sunday morning alcohol sales to begin in Dillsboro died for lack of a motion during the Jan. 8 town meeting.

The years ahead are likely to be lively ones for the tiny town of Dillsboro, with a new river park and brewery among the most game-changing developments coming down the pike — and seven people are running for five seats on the town’s board of aldermen to see those changes through the next four years.

It took over 30 years, but Harold Sims can now show the world.

“It’s been very rewarding,” he said. “I wanted to have a cat shelter, I made that come true. I wanted to have a cat museum, and I made that come true. It’s like the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ — ‘if you build it, they will come.’”

While rumors are flying around town about the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad looking to move its Polar Express event from Bryson City to Dillsboro, nothing has been confirmed.

A new river park in Dillsboro is no longer just a proposal after the Jackson County Commissioners voted unanimously April 3 to approve an economic development deal between the county and Western North Carolina Outdoor Development, a company owned by Jackson County businessman Kelly Custer.

With an April 3 vote on a proposed river park in Dillsboro just days away, all five members of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners are leaning toward approving the project after listening to an hour of public comment March 20.

A proposed river park development in Dillsboro drew a crowd of roughly 75 people to a public hearing March 20, with 20 people delivering comment on the issue and prompting the Jackson County Commissioners to postpone a final decision until they could fully research all the questions that were asked.

Kelly Custer has been a lifelong lover of the outdoors, from playing sports as a kid to mountaineering adventures in far-flung regions of Bolivia and Peru as an adult. Now, the Jackson County businessman is hoping to get others exploring Western North Carolina’s outdoor opportunities — specifically, those afforded by the stretch of the Tuckasegee River flowing through Dillsboro. 

Last year, Custer formed the company Western North Carolina Outdoor Development with an eye to bid on a piece of property that’s been publicly owned since 2013, when Duke Energy turned it over to Dillsboro following removal of the Dillsboro Dam. Dillsboro sold it to Jackson County for $350,000 in 2014, and ever since the county’s been looking for a way to turn the undeveloped tract into a win for economic development.

Construction on an outdoor adventure park offering everything from rafting to ropes courses could begin in Dillsboro as early as April if the Jackson County Commissioners give final approval to the project following a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 20, at the Jackson County Justice and Administration Building.

A vacant lot along the gateway to Sylva from Dillsboro will stay empty for a while longer following the town board’s decision to deny a request from Whittier-based C&D Towing and Wrecker Service to use the property for an impound lot.

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