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A delay in supplies for the Ramsey Prong Bridge replacement project is causing an extended closure for Ramsey Prong Road and Greenbrier Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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The first-ever drive-thru Winter Lights experience at the N.C. Arboretum brought record numbers of people to see the bright holiday display, though the event netted fewer proceeds than previous years that used the traditional walking format. 

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Bob Clark • Guest Columnist | The request to the Haywood County commissioners from the Sheriff’s Department for $15 million to expand the county jail helped create a great opportunity for the commissioners. That opportunity arose when a significant, broad-based and factual public response was made questioning whether some of that money wouldn’t be better spent to help people stay out of jail as well as out of our clogged court system.

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By Dr. J. Scott Hinkle • Guest Columnist | The COVID-19 crisis is winding down. This time last year we were thrust into panic, social distancing, masking, and hopelessness. Today, another crisis is revealed, namely mental health problems that will be felt for years after the pandemic is over. Many people are experiencing anxiety, depression, loneliness and isolation.

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To the Editor:

I’m beginning to understand what Benjamin Franklin meant when encountering a woman on the street following the constitutional convention. “Mr. Franklin, what have you bequeathed us?”  His reply: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

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To the Editor:

I have often been critical of our educational system for being more enamored of trendy fashions than common sense. Except for specialized fields, a degree from a university may be a net negative for a student. The higher up the prestige ladder one goes, the more this applies.

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A new grant from the Center for Craft is supporting an effort to share traditional metal working techniques with the western North Carolina community. 

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Downtown Waynesville Association Executive Director Buffy Phillips has apparently told members of the DWA executive board that she plans to resign when a replacement can be hired, according to a report in The Mountaineer newspaper.

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Mountain Pediatric Group’s Canton location, temporarily closed during the pandemic, has now reopened and is accepting new patients. 

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By Sally Kestin | Asheville Watchdog

They taught students in school, delivered the mail, advised Congress, and served the country in wartime and peace.

One led public affairs for NASA and became the voice of launch control for Apollo space missions. Another was a composer and pianist who played in the original Mickey Mouse Orchestra.

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Key Updates:

  • Haywood County has opened vaccination to all groups eligible under North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidelines. Groups currently eligible are Group 1: Health Care Workers, Group 2: Older Adults, Group 3: Frontline Essential Workers, Educators, Group 4: Individuals with higher risk medical conditions. Pre-registration and appointments will still be required.
  • The Haywood County mass vaccination site will be at the Smoky Mountain Event Center (Fairgrounds) next week.

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Macon County Public Health received notification that two Macon County residents diagnosed with COVID-19 have passed away.

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SYLVA – Just one short phase remains before a major bridge project in Jackson County is functionally complete.

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A major milestone has been reached in the planning phase of a project to improve Corridor K in Graham County.

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Q: I am looking for recipes to share with seniors through the community center, do you have any suggestions? 

To the Editor:

As a member of the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community in Jackson County, the attack in Atlanta on the Asian American community was shocking and heart breaking, but not really surprising. Violence against Asian Americans has increased by 150% in 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic with more than 2800 hate incidents recorded by the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate.

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To the Editor:

Protecting our freedom of speech may be one circumstance where liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, Independents virtually all Americans can agree and unify. When did we begin to lose that freedom?  

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To the Editor:

I can’t recall ever writing a letter to the editor in all my 64 years; but I feel compelled to do so now. I received my first COVID Moderna vaccination today, administered by Haywood County at the Lambuth Inn, Lake Junaluska. My husband received his first vaccination last week at the fairgrounds and raved about what an impressive operation it was; but hearing about it didn’t have the same effect as seeing it for myself.

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A recently published report shows significant loss in seagrass along the North Carolina coast. 

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The new Cashiers Greenway Ramble StoryWalk is now complete, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, April 2, set to coincide with International Children’s Book Day and a socially distanced visit from the Easter Bunny planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, April 3. 

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Help keep WNC’s hiking trails in shape by joining on of the Carolina Mountain Club’s many ongoing maintenance crews. 

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A new project in Waynesville involving the Richland Creek Greenway and new park property across Richland Creek in front of the Waynesville Recreation Center is in the planning stages, and public input is needed. 

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During its business meeting Feb. 25, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission reviewed proposed rule changes and accepted 40 of them. 

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Newfound Gap Road has been designated an All-American Road, joining the Blue Ridge Parkway in claiming a designation that recognizes it as one of the country’s most scenic roads. 

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Haywood County Health and Human Services have received notice of another COVID-19 death, bringing the total number now to 94.

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The Jackson County Department of Public Health (JCDPH) has transitioned to a new online scheduling portal, https://myspot.nc.gov/. To make an appointment through this online portal, follow these steps:

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Macon County has identified an additional rabies positive raccoon, bring the total of rabies positive wildlife detected in Macon County to seven since December 2020.

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By Tom Fiedler | Asheville Watchdog — Back in 2006, when Scott Shuford was Asheville’s planning director, he reluctantly accepted a friend’s invitation to attend a meeting about the impact of climate change on local governments. 

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Thomas “Tommy” Glenn Palmer, 38, recently admitted in a Jackson County courtroom he shot and killed his stepfather, Tim Norris, in February 2016, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.

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By Lilly Knoepp — Growing up in Franklin, Barbara McRae was everywhere. It felt like she has always been in the community. As long as I can remember, her columns with that distinctive headshot in the Franklin Press educated me about the often-overlooked facets of the county. “Backyard Naturalist” and “Know Your County” always grabbed me with new facts about a local plant or a story that I had never heard about the history of in Macon County. 

When a registered nurse and an engineer combine passion with determination, beautiful things happen. Kyle Holman and Athena Garcia-Holman moved to Western North Carolina from Kansas City on January 1, 2017. It was a new year and a new beginning for this couple who traveled with their dog and young daughter halfway across the country in search of self-sustaining farmland.

Let’s take a look at one of the top protein performers in the dairy section.

A concerning number of goldfinch and pine siskin birds have been reported dead across the state over the past few weeks, and preliminary results from carcass testing point to salmonellosis, a common bacterial disease linked to birdfeeders.

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Invasive zebra mussels have been found in commercially available aquatic moss balls in North Carolina, and consumers who have purchased any such balls in the past month are urged to properly destroy them and clean their aquariums.

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A new flower species has been found in a South Carolina county bordering the Western North Carolina mountains, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

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By Case Brown • Guest Columnist | The on-and-off again investment deals for the embattled Ghost Town amusement park are familiar to anyone who reads these pages. Multiple meandering deals and their abrupt course corrections feel remarkably like the Black Widow ride that used to jerkily sling mountain ilk around to the soothing sounds of raging death metal picked by the latest pimpled carnie operator.

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To the Editor:

In last week’s edition of The Smoky Mountain News the editor gave us his thoughts of the bill in Congress to address childhood poverty by giving middle-income and low-income families $300 or $250 per child per month (until the child reaches 18 years of age in the original plan).

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To the Editor:

In the recent election Joe Biden received a majority of 7.1 million popular votes and 74 Electoral College votes. With this overwhelming number of votes, he could have lost the election if his opponent had received 270 of the 538 total electoral votes. With only a 65,000-vote swing from the 7.1 million majority this could have happened. Five times in history presidential candidates have won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College.

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Key Updates:  Haywood County’s Mass Vaccination clinic will move this week to a new temporary location at the Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska due to a scheduling conflict at the Smoky Mountain Event Center. A separate press release on this change will be forthcoming. As always, this clinic is only for those with an appointment.

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Haywood Community College recently held a Groundbreaking Ceremony on campus for the Health Sciences Education Building. During the ceremony, those in attendance heard remarks from HCC Board of Trustees Chair George Marshall, HCC President Dr. Shelley White, Haywood Healthcare Foundation Chair Anthony Sutton and Haywood County Board of Commissioners Chair Kevin Ensley.

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Gibbins Advisors is scheduling an informational online meeting open to all communities in Western North Carolina served by Mission Health. The webinar will take place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 7.

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 I love the flavor of mint, but I’m not a fan of food coloring. Today’s recipe offers the amazing taste of a traditional shamrock shake without the unnecessary green color. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up next week, this is a festive and healthy-ish treat for everyone in the family! 

By Megan McLeod Trawick

The 2021 ozone season began March 1, signaling the resumption of daily air quality forecasts across North Carolina. 

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After 10 years running the WNC Regional Livestock Market, John Queen is retiring from the job, and the WNC Communities Board of Directors announced that Doctors Steven and Melissa Matthews, a veterinarian group that currently operates the Cleveland County Agriculture Livestock Exchange in Shelby, will take his place. 

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A 175-acre prescribed burn is planned for this week along the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Wears Valley to the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, on the Tennessee side of the park. 

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A partnership between the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and Brevard-based Black Folks Camp Too is expected to encourage outdoor participation and engagement with diverse communities.

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The “Spirit of the Smokies” certificate program is starting up again, offered by the University of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountain Field School for adults who love the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and desire a deeper connection to this landscape. This will be the field school’s 44th season.

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To the Editor:

I am so sick of hearing this argument that we’re “changing” or “erasing” history by changing statues or county namesakes. The history of the Civil War and the history of how we treated Native Americans in this country will always be the same, because the past is the past. However, we can choose which parts of history we want to honor. Statues, memorials, and namesakes are created to honor people or events. Should we have statues honoring people who fought for a cause that, at its core, was over slavery? Should we have our county be named after a man who forced people off the land they’d inhabited for thousands of years so that white people could live there? 

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