The all-important push to bring high-speed internet to Western North Carolina generated a lot of optimism earlier this summer when the town of Waynesville and the Land of Sky Regional Council entered into an agreement with the goal of expanding high-speed internet service to the area.
Geography and population conspire to make much of Western North Carolina a terrible place for an airport; west of Asheville, commercial airstrips are practically nonexistent.
Allen Alsbrooks serves on the Maggie Valley Zoning Board, and used to serve on the town’s planning board; he’s also been the owner of the Hearth and Home Inn on Soco Road in Maggie Valley since 2007, so it’s safe to say he’s got his finger pretty close to the pulse of Haywood County’s tourism-based economy.
“It’s the best year I’ve ever had,” Alsbrooks said.
It’s a great time to be a Libertarian, according to Brian Irving, the party’s North Carolina chairman.
Cloud cover keeps the summer morning cool as Mark Hopey makes the rounds below Cowee Mound. By 8:30 a.m., he and his two wildlife technicians have already been working at the Franklin-area site for nearly three hours, making hay while the sun doesn’t shine — or at least doesn’t shine with the heat it will gather soon.
Hopey glances down a small trail leading to a net — higher than his head, wide as a volleyball net and strung with fine black netting — before walking on past. No birds there, but he’ll inspect it closer on the way back, just to make sure.
Everyone in Western North Carolina knows that once the Smokies shed their winterwear and the trees begin to bud, summer’s coming. They also know that when the dog days hit, the most refreshing thing going is Folkmoot USA’s International Folk Festival.
They all do something with their hands.
Meandering around Western North Carolina and greater Southern Appalachia, one thing becomes apparent — folk ‘round here are quite imaginative. It’s been said you can’t throw a rock in any direction without hitting someone with a zest for life coupled with a deep sense of the creative self.
A growing collection of roadside signs has been popping up along rural drives and main thoroughfares in Western North Carolina over the last decade, and while their presence might be barely noticeable to the untrained eye, they trace the history of a story that shaped the region before most of the roads they adorn were even built.
The Trail of Tears.
“How many thousand-thousand of untold white ash trees are the respected companions of our doorways, kindliest trees in the clearing beyond the cabin? No one can say. But this is a tree whose grave and lofty character makes it a lifelong friend.