Though the Corridor K debate was the impetus for the Opportunity Initiative Study, Opt-In wasn’t all about transportation. The results of the year-long regional visioning study has been enlightening, unifying and awash with great ideas to improve the area’s economic and cultural landscape, said Ryan Sherby, executive director of the Southwestern Commission Council of Governments.
A stalemate in the debate over Corridor K boils down to a central issue: can upgrades to the existing two-lane road do the job, or is a new four-lane highway the only solution?
After a year-long study capping off years of debate, the verdict is in on what’s next for the controversial Corridor K road project — sort of.
There were high hopes for the $2 million Opportunity Initiative Study at the outset: to find a clear answer for whether a four-lane highway through the remote mountains of Graham County is worth the enormous price tag and environmental damage, whether it is in fact wanted by the majority of people, and whether it will indeed be a magic bullet to bring the rural county into the 21st century economy.
It’s no secret that an accurate weather forecast is hard to come by in the Smokies. But after two months of intense measurements at more than 100 stations around the region, scientists working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are crunching data that could change that.
“I think we’ve made an important contribution to understand the hydrology and the water cycle of the Smokies,” said Ana Barros, professor of earth and ocean science at Duke University and principal investigator on the Smokies project.
This Fourth of July there will be plenty of places from which to watch a fireworks display. North Jackson County will not be among them.
“I understand Sylva’s not having them this year,” said Cindy Cavender, marketing director with the Franklin Chamber of Commerce.
Nothing says summer more than the Fourth of July, and in Western North Carolina, we celebrate Independence Day with gusto. Between majestic fireworks, sizzling hot dogs and hamburgers, cotton candy, games, live music and craft demonstrations, there’s a little of bit of everything for any and all. So, grab your lawn chair, sunglasses and adventurous spirit and enjoy America’s birthday in Southern Appalachia.
Economy of scale tends to lean toward effectiveness of action, and that’s a fact that three environmental advocacy organizations in Western North Carolina plan to take advantage of over the coming year. By January 2015, the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance, Western North Carolina Alliance and the Environmental Conservation Association, known as ECO, hope to have merged into one organization with a new name and a familiar purpose.
In a region still reeling from damaged land and dented lives in the wake of the real estate boom and bust, signs of salvation are few and far between. But here’s one for the history books.
Twice in the past year, Haywood County has used a little-known clause of financial legalese to hold developers’ feet to the fire after they walked away mid-stream. It’s a minuscule but unprecedented victory in a rocky world of marred up mountains and abandoned developments.
Six attorneys vying for a vacant district court judge seat in the region will try to win the endorsement of the legal community this week, which could help their chances of landing the coveted spot on the bench.
Warmer weather is on its way, but along with the sunny afternoons comes the return of ozone season. A bad forecast can cancel high elevations hiking trips and outdoor playdates, but North Carolina has been seeing a decrease in those high-risk days. In fact, summer 2013 was the lowest season on record, following a downward trend in ozone that’s held steady since 1999.
“In the environmental arena, you don’t always see those kinds of results, so it’s very rewarding for those of us who have worked on these issues to see those results,” said Bill Eaker, environmental planner for the Land of Sky Regional Council. “But we still have a lot to do.”