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Daniel “Danny” Steven Lucas will spend a minimum of almost 19 years in prison for operating a substantial opiate and marijuana operation in Macon County, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said this week.

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Online dating is an absolute minefield. When our parents were being raised, gentleman callers either had to ring the home phone number and check in with a parent, or sneakily meet up in a restaurant on the bad side of town. The recent development of being able to hide behind a screen has not only led to an increase in cyberbullying and innocent ‘catfishing,’ but to the internet becoming an increasingly dangerous place. Unfortunately, the world wide web is open to the whole world and has not got a firewall for keeping the bad ones out. 

Gladys Knight, “Empress of Soul,” and her husband William McDowell recently received their COVID-19 vaccinations in Haywood County. The couple, who reside in North Carolina and created a community center and nonprofit RHS Community Foundation in Canton, wish to set an example for others and dispel vaccination fears within the community. 

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A new online platform now allows visitors to the Nantahala, Pisgah and Croatan National Forests to pay day-use and annual pass fees through www.recreation.gov at no additional cost. 

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Two popular springtime events at the N.C. Arboretum in Asheville won’t take place this year due to ongoing virus-related safety precautions. 

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A pilot project that last year kept Cades Cove Loop Road vehicle-free on Wednesdays will continue this year. 

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Despite the pandemic, Sylva’s Cub Scout Pack 999 has been staying active and is currently seeking new members to join the group. 

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By Mary Jane Curry • Guest Columnist

“Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.”

— William Wordsworth, 1798

Agreeing generates peace and optimism — emotions hard to come by over the past year. Fortunately, a growing majority of Americans do agree that we must do more to lessen the climate crisis and they want to be part of the solution. But how and what?

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To the Editor:

Budgets, it has been said, are moral documents. This is because how a community chooses to spend and invest its money demonstrates the priorities of that community and, ultimately, our values. More than just a dry process of bureaucracy, budgets shape our future and impact who we, together, will become.

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To the Editor: 

There has been a bit of discussion and controversy over the proposal for Haywood County to spend in the neighborhood of $15 million to build a new jail. One of the arguments is that there are other needs that could be addressed for that amount of money. The problem is that some of the arguments don’t address the issue for the need of a new detention facility.

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To the Editor: 

Thank you for your February 3 primer on the history of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as well as an update on its reintroduction this session in the North Carolina General Assembly. 

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A woman who wrecked while driving impaired, killing a close friend after the two left work from the now-shuttered No Name Sports Pub in Sylva, will spend three days a year in jail for three consecutive years, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said. 

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Over the past decade at Southwestern Community College, serving as Heritage Arts Department Chair has become much more than a fun job for Jeff Marley — it’s a passion.

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Question: What are some snack ideas for someone with diabetes?

Uncertainty about university schedules, childcare and other variables prevented some prospective students from enrolling in college classes this spring.

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The supply of COVID-19 vaccine from N.C. DHHS to Macon County remains limited at this time and a waitlist was established in late January. Currently, only individuals in Group 1 (Health Care Workers with in- person Patient Contact) and Group 2 (Individuals age 65 and over) are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time according to the NC DHHS schedule. However, Macon County leaders urge residents to register to receive the vaccine regardless of eligibility criteria.

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On Tuesday, Feb. 9,  Haywood County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped a vehicle on North Canton Road around 4 p.m. A search of the vehicle produced 74.7 grams of methamphetamine, 21 grams of heroin, 1.3 grams marijuana, $443 in cash and a variety of drug paraphernalia.

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Haywood County Health and Human Services has received notice of three more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number now to 84.

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Two investigations and subsequent arrests in cases that were first initiated in Fall 2020 has Macon County Sheriff’s Office detectives continuing their extensive investigations. 

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With freezers now on campus, staff in place, and volunteers on the way, Western Carolina University is in the final stages of preparations to open a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, targeting a Feb. 18 opening date.

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February is Teen Dating Violence and Awareness Prevention Month. This issue affects not just teens, but their families, friends, and community as well.  Teen Dating Violence is comprised of four types of abuse: sexual violence, physical violence, psychological aggression, and stalking.

PINK® Adventure Tours recently announced the addition of the Gatlinburg Loop Smoky Mountains Tour to its current adventure tour offerings through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

By Leilah Stone | What do prom portraits, CBD chocolate truffles, and cherry pie scented candles all have in common? They’re all perfect Valentine’s Day gifts available in the stores of Asheville’s women-owned businesses. Shop this guide for some of the area’s most creative designers, illustrators, and retailers whether you’re looking for something more traditional like flowers and chocolate or a unique find off the beaten path like bespoke jewelry or a hand poured candle. 

Question: Will drinking cold-pressed juices help me lose weight?

Several parking areas in DuPont State Recreational Forest will be closed the next few months due to N.C. Forest Service maintenance and repair projects, beginning with the Hooker Falls access area. 

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The N.C. State Parks system has crossed the 250,000-acre mark thanks to recent acquisitions at Deep River and Salmon Creek. 

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To the Editor:

We all probably hate something. It could be a certain vegetable, a hard or distasteful task like doing laundry, going to the dentist, or even some kinds of weather. It is even not unusual to hate a person which in the case of the hate of Donald J. Trump turned into a derangement. 

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To the Editor:

Since 1963, Blue Ridge Health (BRH) has provided essential healthcare to residents with the greatest need in Western North Carolina (WNC). This care includes dental services for our youngest community members. Since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, I want to highlight an important partnership between BRH and the Dogwood Health Trust. BRH recently received a grant from Dogwood to restart our mobile dental clinic after a temporary COVID-19 grounding. The grant will be used to provide dental services in the rural counties we serve throughout Western North Carolina. 

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To the Editor:

In January 2020, Virginia became the 38th and final state needed for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). First introduced in 1923, the ERA finally received bipartisan congressional approval in 1972.  It then went to the states for ratification. The required three-quarters of the states (38) have finally ratified, making the ERA qualified to become the 28th Amendment. 

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Haywood Regional Medical Center has been recognized by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina with a Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) for Maternity Care designation, as part of the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program. 

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Dale Walksler, the founder and curator of the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, passed away peacefully, with his wife by his side, at home on Feb. 3, after a courageous four-year battle with cancer.

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The Jackson County Arts Council has awarded $50,250.06 in business interruption grants to local nonprofit arts organizations, other organizations with art programming, and individual artists through the North Carolina CARES for the Arts grant program.

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Two years before a total solar eclipse left area residents breathless in 2017, Southwestern Community College started working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in an effort to bring advanced Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education opportunites to Western North Carolina.

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COVID-19 Second Dose clinics are coming up in Haywood County, here is what you need to know.

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Macon County Public Health reported that three Macon County residents diagnosed with COVID-19 have passed away. To protect the family ́s privacy, no further information will be released about these individuals. This death brings Macon County to 22 deaths related to COVID-19.

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By Barbara Durr and Peter H. Lewis • Asheville Watchdog | Six months ago, as part of a reckoning on racial injustice, the City of Asheville and Buncombe County both passed resolutions to consider reparations to the Black community as a way to begin making amends for slavery and generations of systemic discrimination. The votes were hailed as “historic” by The Asheville Citizen Times, and ABC News asked, “Is Asheville a national model?”

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Since mid-January Haywood County Health and Human Services has received notice of five more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number now to 81. 

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The Center for the Study of Free Enterprise at Western Carolina University has issued an assessment of economic recovery, sustainability and growth in North Carolina following the pandemic. 

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Black History Events in February:

By Dana Murray Patterson, Ph.D. — Celebrating Black History Month as a Black person has become much like being the host at your own birthday party.

Musical duo Bohemian Jean is made up of Matt Welborn and Jessi Stone, who is also news editor from Smoky Mountain News and editor-in-chief of Rumble. With Valentine’s Day coming up, the couple wanted to share their love of music and information about their upcoming dinner show at Elevated Mountain Distilling in Maggie Valley. 

Recently I got asked what are my "cheat" foods. I'm not a fan of using the word "cheat" when it comes to food; it makes me think of being sneaky by eating "bad" foods. Words matter. 

By Steven Wall • Guest Columnist | With so much division in our country, and some  folks even losing faith in democratic government, I would like to offer a proposal concerning Medicare. I do this in the hope that such a proposal if implemented could help restore some  faith in  government. 

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To the Editor:

For weeks leading into the insurrection and ransacking of our Capitol on Jan. 6, Madison Cawthorn’s words and actions fomented a mob of traitors by supporting our former president’s lies. He did so instead of representing us in North Carolina’s 11th District. 

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To the Editor:

Humanity has a universal propensity for lies and distortions, and Trump-supporting extremists ruled by reality-free ideas are front and center in the public view, as events in D.C. show. But the truth is that we are all prone to fantastical intellectual views that confirm our entrenched internal biases, ideas that identify the bad and evil guys over there and the good guys that we hang out with.

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To the Editor:

I always enjoy the illuminating letters from Carol Adams. Her most recent (last week’s Smoky Mountain News, www.smokymountainnews.com/opinion/item/30705) was especially spirit-lifting.

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To the Editor:

In the aftermath of recent events in our nation’s Capitol, we are still reeling in shock, disbelief and consternation at how best to pick up the pieces and move on. We hope that leadership will emerge to restore the ship of state to a democratic, compassionate and confidence-building course. 

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A new professional outdoor industry certificate will be available through the Western Carolina University Office of Professional Growth and Enrichment this spring via an online course. 

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Friends of DuPont Forest will receive 100 free hours of public relations and marketing services thanks to the Stand Up Initiative, launched by Darby Communications in 2016. 

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