Cory Vaillancourt

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Almost 50 years after the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling was handed down by the United States Supreme Court, justices earlier today overturned it — throwing the issue back to the states to decide for themselves, just as they had for the previous 185 years before Roe.

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A much-needed, much-lamented bridge replacement project planned for U.S. 74 in Haywood County will be postponed, per a June 10 statement from North Carolina Department of Transportation Division 14 engineer Garrett Higdon.

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The biggest knock against North Carolina’s city- and county-based Tourism Development Authority system is that while it does collect and spend room occupancy taxes to market specific cities and counties as travel destinations — driving Western North Carolina’s tourism-based economy — it does almost nothing for residents of those destinations who have to bear the brunt of soaring housing costs due to short-term rentals, overcrowded attractions and excess demand on infrastructure like roads and water systems.

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A  bipartisan Senate bill that would address persistent outcry from Asheville residents over the negative impacts of tourism could reflect a new way of looking at the room occupancy tax revenue collected by North Carolina’s tourism development authorities.

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A long-simmering feud between city and county governments over TDA revenue will finally be settled, if a bill entered by Rep. Mike Clampitt (R-Swain) can make it through the General Assembly.

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It may look like any other rustic vacation community, but beneath the placid surface of Lake Santeetlah, division runs deep. 

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In retrospect, it’s no surprise Ken Howle ended up at a place where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body — because that’s exactly where he started.

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Haywood County is taking the first steps to establish a comprehensive greenway plan that could end up linking all the county’s municipalities with nearly all its attractions. 

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Haywood County may have found a buyer for a county-owned 22-acre plot off Jonathan Creek, as long as everything goes smoothly during the lengthy due diligence period.

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Not long ago, it was an issue so contentious that it resulted in a three-year budget stalemate, but with Republican opposition in the General Assembly softening, Medicaid expansion has a better chance than ever to become the law of the land — if a few final hurdles can be overcome.

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A bill filed by Haywood County Republican Rep. Mark Pless to make all local elections partisan didn’t exactly receive a warm welcome, but now one municipality has gone on record as formally opposing it.

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While the instances of personal heroism, professional bravery and private donations are well documented, perhaps the most incredible story to come out of last year’s flooding is reflected in the Town of Canton’s proposed budget — which does not contain a tax increase.

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An internal poll commissioned by the Democratic nominee for NC-11 just days after the May 17 Primary Election suggests the race could be tighter than district demographics suggest.

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After nearly 13 years at the helm of the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority, Executive Director Lynn Collins has decided to call it a career.

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In one of the most highly watched contests of the 2022 Primary Election season, voters gave their approval to six-term incumbent Sen. Ralph Hise , who will now serve his seventh term as senator of the newly-drawn 47th Senatorial District.

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Unlike elsewhere, Western North Carolina’s westernmost legislators had a relatively quiet election night on May 17. 

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Huddled in a semicircle around a blacked-out glass door in the bay of a former auto detail shop in downtown Hendersonville, a few dozen supporters and a handful of national media outlets waited anxiously for Madison Cawthorn to appear.

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Haywood County residents are a step closer to learning who will replace a longtime lawman in December, after convincing Primary Election wins by private investigator Bill Wilke and retired Haywood County Sherriff’s Office Chief Deputy Larry Bryson.

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Opting for experience over upstarts , Haywood County residents gave incumbent commissioners Jennifer Best and Tommy Long a vote of confidence in Tuesday night’s Republican Primary Election, and also pushed retired wrecker operator Terry Ramey on to November.

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A bill introduced by Haywood County’s two state House representatives would make all of the county’s municipal elections — as well as school board races — a partisan affair.

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Saying that it invests in North Carolina’s “families, businesses and communities,” Gov. Roy Cooper presented his proposed 2022-23 budget, full of significant appropriations meant to deal with some of the state’s biggest problems — out-of-control housing costs, an increasingly competitive economic development landscape, a lack of law enforcement resources, threats to the natural environment, an underfunded educational system and affordable access to health care coverage.

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Less than 17 months after being sworn into office, Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn has been voted out of office by his Western North Carolina constituents.

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Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara delivered on expectations, running away with the Democratic nomination in the 11th Congressional District.

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Voters in Senate District 47 won’t have to wait until November to find out who their next senator will be, after a slim Primary Election victory by incumbent Sen. Ralph Hise over fellow Republican Sen. Deanna Ballard.

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November’s field for the Haywood County Commission is set as three Republicans and two Democrats will compete for three seats in November’s General Election after voters whittled down the Republican primary field Tuesday night.

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As it often does, the Historic Haywood Courthouse played host to a rally on May 14 that drew about 50 people, an equal number of signs and a small contingent of counterdemonstrators. Unlike in recent years, it wasn’t a rally supporting Black Lives Matter, or law enforcement officers, or local issues like the proposed jail expansion.

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Around midnight on Christmas Eve in 2006, Jonathan Lubecky found himself alone in a Raleigh tavern listening to church bells chiming off in the distance.

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When Haywood TDA Executive Director Lynn Collins showed up to the Haywood County Board of Commissioners meeting to deliver her mid-year report on May 2, her opening statement didn’t exactly take anyone by surprise.

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Just 24 hours after posting a graphic video of controversial congressman Madison Cawthorn, the web host of the site where it first appeared demanded the video be removed, citing terms of service violations. 

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Yet another video that depicts embattled Western North Carolina Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn in a compromising situation has surfaced, according to a story first reported May 4 by The News & Observer .

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Unlike most North Carolina municipalities, the Town of Waynesville operates its own electric service, giving it greater local control over billing, rates and policies that monopolies like Duke Energy don’t offer.

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Declining revenues and a growing list of capital improvements are both putting the squeeze on Waynesville’s finances, but a proposed 2-cent increase in property taxes might not be enough to address them all. 

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A 59-unit townhome development on 7.7 acres just off East Street in Waynesville has been approved over opposition from neighbors, several planning board members and a town alderman.

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As the completion of Haywood County’s 2022-23 budget draws near, it’s becoming apparent that inflation, the tight labor market and ever-increasing health care costs are conspiring against the county to the point of potentially impacting staffing, especially in public safety.

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Governing a small municipality is work enough, but add in unprecedented amounts of federal recovery funds that need to be appropriated and a strong undercurrent of residential development and the workload for Waynesville’s aldermen and planning board only gets bigger and bigger.

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Primary Elections in Western North Carolina will be held on Tuesday, May 17, but in-person early voting will get underway on Thursday, April 28. 

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As Greg Christopher enters his 43rd and likely final year in law enforcement, he goes out with his reputation intact and a scandal-free 10-year tenure as Haywood County’s sheriff.

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Western North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District has garnered national attention for electing one controversial Trump-affiliated Republican congressman followed by another controversial Trump-affiliated Republican congressman who now finds himself in the fight of his political life against fellow Republicans.

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Haywood County’s growing, and with that growth comes change – change not everyone is happy to see. Traditional hot-button issues like fiscal control are intricately tied into other issues like affordable housing, which are tied into still other issues like the opioid crisis, the mental health crisis and the homelessness crisis.

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Saying in a leaked recording that “we all want the ultimate goal of him never serving again,” Lisa Wiggins, a former caseworker and campaign aide to Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Henderson) has filed an employment-related campaign against the embattled congressman.

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In 2020, a trial court accepted the qualified immunity defense of Macon County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Anthony Momphard for the 2018 killing of Scott Knibbs.

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Redistricting brought small changes to many of Western North Carolina’s legislative districts, but nowhere are those minor changes more major than eastern Haywood County.

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It’s a critical time in the Town of Waynesville. Legacy problems like aging sewer and water infrastructure and a malfunctioning downtown association are almost in the rearview mirror, as are the uncertainty and disruption of the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

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Small in stature but towering in her decades-long influence on Haywood County, Alaska Presley passed away on April 7 at Smoky Mountain Health and Rehabilitation, according to an obituary from Wells Funeral Home. 

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Haywood County is known for its outdoor recreational opportunities that drive both tourism and the local economy. Now, with the county’s approval of a 236-page recreation master plan last week, commissioners are seeking to stay ahead of the competition in the outdoor recreation game.

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Haywood County commissioners took an important step forward on April 4 by selecting Moseley Architects of Charlotte as the preferred firm to handle architectural and engineering services for the county’s proposed jail expansion project.

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For more than 50 years, Haywood Christian Ministry has served as a safety net for some of Haywood County’s most vulnerable citizens looking for help with the most basic of needs – rent, heat, medication, clothing, utilities and, perhaps most importantly, nutrition.

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Haywood Pathways Center’s Holy Cow Food Truck returned to action earlier this week, but customers may notice something slightly different about the boxy trailer nicknamed “Elise” – they’re no longer charging a set price for meals.

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Update 4:20 p.m.: Aerial support in the form of a spotter plane and a helicopter carrying a bucket is now being used, and a reunification center has been opened at Cavalry Road Baptist Church, where separated loved ones can find one another.

 

Dry, breezy conditions over the past several days are contributing to increased fire danger across the region, and although four fires just across the Tennessee border appear to be contained, another one is now visible just outside of Maggie Valley.

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The war in Ukraine may seem a million miles away, but one doesn’t have to travel halfway across the world to find the Western perspective on it. A small group of scholars from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee — some with roots in the war-torn region — are using their experience and academic skillsets to help educate the public about a complicated, confusing conflict that is already beginning to have global implications.

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