The tidal wave of negative political news in 2016 was staggering in its magnitude and emotionally overwhelming. Thankfully all that is behind us. But we can’t say adios to the year’s local news until our writers and editors sift through those events and mold them into our annual tongue-in-cheek spoof awards. With apologies in advance to those who can’t take a joke, here’s our tribute to the people and events that left an indelible mark on 2016.
In keeping with the theme of The Smoky Mountain News spoof awards in this week’s edition, I thought now might be a good time to talk to you about fake news.
Christmas is a time of year when communities band together to help others in need, and there’s definitely no shortage of the giving spirit in Western North Carolina.
• Church delivers warmth of meals and companionship on Christmas Day
• Meeting a need
• WOW helps pay off Christmas layaway purchases
• Bryson City bar donates to family resource center
• Community helps fulfill a boy’s birthday wish
• Crabtree General brings Christmas to Franklin
Dowdy Bradley is 68 years old, and for nearly all of those years he’s been involved in some kind of farming, staying with the land through drought and flood, surplus and scarcity. The drought of 2016, however, has been the worst, hands-down — for him and for growers throughout the region.
“This has been some of the hottest, driest weather I’ve seen, “ Bradley said. “I was worried about the water because it was already getting low. A couple pastures just dried up.”
On Thursday, Dec. 4, 1941, newspapers in Western North Carolina revealed cities in full holiday swing — ads for Philco tube radios, canned Christmas hams and silk stockings filled their pages, along with announcements for holiday parties and special sales.
Despite gusty winds, dust-dry forests and interminable drought, firefighters made significant headway over the last week toward containing Western North Carolina’s explosive wildfire season, jumping on new starts to keep their acreages low and limiting existing fires to minimal acreage growth.
Western North Carolina is ablaze with 22 wildfires currently burning through more than 50 square miles in the seven most western counties. Smoke from the fires is posing health hazards while continued severe drought conditions are leaving many communities with a limited water supply.
Two dozen or so forest fires in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Western North Carolina have forced mandatory evacuations in WNC, but the impact is being felt and smelt far beyond the remote coves where they smolder.
Our backyard is on fire.
From Knoxville to Asheville, a large cloud of smoke is currently hovering over this corner of Southern Appalachia. In a seemingly “whack-a-mole” scenario, wildfires keep popping up or are combining at an alarming rate. And though officials are saying these blazes will soon be under control, one question lingers — when will they be extinguished?
The severe drought plaguing Western North Carolina has taken its toll on the local water supply, and residents are being asked to conserve what they can.