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The Swain County Board of Commissioners now has a vacancy after the sudden and saddening loss of longtime Commissioner David Monteith.

Smaller cities and counties with smaller tax bases can’t always afford the capital expenses of their wealthier neighbors — it’s a simple fact of life for rural Appalachian governments that often have to do without the luxuries afforded to the better-off.

When speaking to the many people in Swain County and beyond who knew David Monteith either personally or professionally, they all used the same word to describe him — integrity.

Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City, has introduced House Bill 260 in an effort to help Swain County recoup millions of dollars the federal government owes to the county for never rebuilding North Shore Road from Bryson City to Tennessee.

It was July or August of 1999, best I remember, and the Swain County Commissioners at that time were meeting in a cramped boardroom in the Administration Building. I’m not sure if anyone from a newspaper other than The Smoky Mountain Times covered these meetings, but we had published the first issue of our upstart newspaper in June of that year. As its only reporter at that time, I was finally getting around to one of Swain’s meetings.

I was a little out of sorts as I wandered in unannounced. I found an empty chair against the wall that was so close you could have touched the commissioners. They all greeted me as I told them who I was and what I was there for.

Sherry and Gary Patterson vacationed in Bryson City for the first time about 20 years ago and now they can’t get enough of it.

Swain Community Hospital is still trying to overcome misperceptions in the community regarding its recent emergency department changes as well as the local medical services available to residents. 

Barbara Robinson can find artistic inspiration wherever she may be. 

Sometimes it’s looking out over Frye Mountain from her art studio window at home, while at other times perhaps a particular barn she spots while driving through Swain County will pique her interest. Other times it’s a vision in her head that works its way out over time.

Swain County recently spent more than $350,000 in order to better secure its trash site and cut down on sanitation department costs, but recent illegal dumping continues to be a costly and time-consuming problem.

“The smartest countries tend to be those that have acted to make teaching more prestigious and selective; directed more resources to their neediest children; enrolled most children in high-quality preschools; helped schools establish cultures of constant improvement; and applied rigorous, consistent standards across all classrooms.”  

— “What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries,” The New York Times

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