Holly Kays

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The U.S. Forest Service is now requiring anybody who stays overnight in Panthertown Valley to use a bear canister or place odiferous items in one of the three bear lockers installed in the popular backcountry area. More bear lockers will be installed in the future.

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Sandwiched between the flowing waters of Raven Fork and the final southern stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a new championship-caliber disc golf course  in Cherokee beckons to locals and tourists alike.

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Just three days after protesters gathered on the courthouse lawn in Waynesville to demonstrate  their support for legal abortion, a nonprofit with a different perspective on the issue that has roiled the nation since May 2 — when a leaked draft  of a U.S. Supreme Court decision showed that the landmark Roe v. Wade precedent is in danger — opened on the other side of Depot Street in downtown Waynesville.

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Haywood County Medical Director Dr. Mark Jaben is sounding the alarm that COVID-19 case counts are increasing again, and people should take precautions to avoid contracting or spreading the virus as summer begins. 

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Henry Owl was the first person of color, and the first Native American, to attend the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Now, 94 years after he first enrolled, a building has been named in his honor — on May 13, UNC’s student affairs building was officially christened  the Henry Owl Building.

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Preston Jacobsen, a man some know better as the Local Yokel Weather guy, comes by his love of meteorology honestly.

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According to public documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a decision on whether to pursue removal of the Ela Dam in Swain County is coming up in the next month or so.

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One of the world’s top amusement park companies, France-based Puy du Fou, is partnering with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to create a “themed spectacle” centering Cherokee history at the 200-acre property under development by Kituwah LLC, at Exit 407 of Interstate 40 in Sevier County.

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Tribal Council voted last week to spend $15 million for the tribal government to acquire 95 acres of trust land for housing and cannabis production.

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One of the world’s top amusement park companies will partner with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to create a “themed spectacle” centering Cherokee history at the 200-acre property under development by Kituwah LLC at Exit 407 of Interstate 40 in Sevier County, Tennessee.

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With more than 600 people and 70 speakers from 24 states gathering for a four-day event, the 2022 Outdoor Economy Conference  held April 4-7 in Cherokee is difficult to sum up in a sentence, a paragraph or even a conversation.

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When the first transmission lines began popping up in the mountains 100 years ago, only one type of power provided the energy traveling through them — hydroelectric.

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Cherokee Central School was in the home stretch of a $22 million construction and renovation project on the 13-year-old campus when contractors found an unwelcome surprise — dampness on the walls of the old central office building, and inside them, mold.

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Following an April 21 vote from the N.C. Rules Review Commission, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission might not be allowed to implement a new rule  allowing bear hunting in three Western North Carolina sanctuary areas that are currently off-limits to the practice.

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A new rule allowing bear hunting in three Western North Carolina sanctuary areas currently off-limits to the practice might not take effect following an April 21 vote from the N.C. Rules Review Commission.

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As Earth Day bloomed under one of spring’s sunniest skies yet, more than 150 people gathered on a concrete bridge spanning Hominy Creek just outside Canton to celebrate what Mayor Zeb Smathers termed a “gift of genesis” — the long-awaited opening of Chestnut Mountain Nature Park .

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The decades-old model used to determine state funding requests for University of North Carolina System schools is set to change following a vote the UNC Board of Governors took during its April 7 meeting  in Cullowhee. While the current formula looks only at total enrollment when determining funding, the new model will consider performance-based measures, as well.

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A parking fee  proposed for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has earned support from organizations ranging from the National Parks Conservation Association to the North Shore Cemetery Association — but also opposition from a growing list of governments and elected officials.

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Since its official opening in 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been free  to enter, to park, to hike, to explore. The intervening years have made free access a core principle of the park’s identity, cherished by residents of gateway communities like Bryson City and Gatlinburg — many of whom are descendants of the families forced from their homes to make way for the park’s creation.

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In a special-called meeting Wednesday, April 13, Tribal Council approved a plan from EBCI Holdings, Inc. , to bid on an opportunity to build two new out-of-state casinos. 

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Since July 2021, institutions across the University of North Carolina system have been experiencing massive increases in employee turnover — and Western Carolina University is no exception.

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Jutting off from the left side of a typically busy Blue Ridge Parkway pull-off overlooking Mills River, an unassuming dirt path dips into the woods and winds its way east, just out of view of the famed scenic drive.

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A visit to the nation’s most popular national park could cease being free if a groundbreaking proposal  put forth by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last week is enacted.

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Through at least fall 2024, applicants to University of North Carolina System schools won’t have to sit for SAT or ACT testing to be considered for admission, following a vote of the UNC Board of Governors Thursday, April 7. 

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Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribal leaders frequently travel to Washington, D.C., to make their case to lawmakers on a variety of issues, and soon they hope to have their own space to conduct business in the nation’s capital. 

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park today announced a groundbreaking proposal to charge a daily fee for parking and significantly increase existing frontcountry and backcountry fees within the enormously popular national park. A public comment period is now open, and a virtual public meeting is planned for Thursday, April 14.

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When Ron Lance found out he’d been chosen for a prestigious Southern Appalachian Botanical Society award, he was astonished.

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The friends and family of two Sylva boys who died following a tragic shooting incident Sunday, March 27, gathered in the dark Saturday, April 2, for a candlelight vigil at Sylva’s Bridge Park to commemorate lives ended too soon and show support for the grieving parents. 

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Victims of crime on the Qualla Boundary will now have a defined list of rights to rely on as they navigate the legal process, following unanimous passage of an ordinance  before Tribal Council Thursday, March 1. 

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The wildfires that ripped through the mountains last week are now mostly under control, but as of Tuesday afternoon, April 5, fire danger remained high in Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee — even as the first drops of rain from a large system headed north began to blanket the region.

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Crews are getting the Thomas Divide Complex Fire in Swain County and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park under control, with the size of 941 acres measured last night representing a decrease from the 960 acres reported the previous day. The difference is due to more accurate mapping, and the fire is 60% contained.

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The Thomas Divide Complex Fire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now 60% contained at 960 acres, but a challenging day awaits the 70 people engaged in firefighting efforts.

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The 60-day objection period for the Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Management Plan is now over, and while there’s not yet an official tally of how many people are contesting the final plan, it’s safe to say it’s a high number. 

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High winds over the weekend felled trees and downed power lines, sparking a wildfire that covers 950 acres straddling the jurisdictional line between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Swain County. Meanwhile, a fire in the Cherokee National Forest near the state line is burning 180 acres.

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Two boys, ages 15 and 10, are dead following a shooting in Sylva Sunday, March 27.

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High winds over the weekend felled trees and downed power lines, sparking a wildfire that now covers 950 acres straddling the jurisdictional line between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Swain County. Meanwhile, a fire in the Cherokee National Forest near the state line is now burning 180 acres.

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UPDATE, March 29: Both Tonya and Tracy Tolliver have been located, and they are safe.

On Monday, March 14, at approximately 11:30 p.m., officers with the Cherokee Indian Police Department responded to a disturbance call at a gravel parking lot near the casino. During that time, CIPD officers had an interaction with Tonya and her husband, Tracy Tolliver.

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A Sylva man arrested for his involvement  in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot  at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty last week to a felony charge.

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With just about 2 inches to spare on each side, an 81-seat electric school bus eased into The Cherokee Convention Center exhibit hall last week for a celebration commemorating a milestone for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and both North Carolina. Cherokee is home to the first — and, for now, only — electric school bus in the state.

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When a child goes missing, the first 48 hours  are the most critical portion of the response. If it ever happens on the Qualla Boundary, the Cherokee Indian Police Department wants to be ready to hit the ground running the moment the call comes through — and an award from the The AMBER Advocate’s Amber Alert in Indian Country Initiative  aims to ensure officers are ready should the worst occur.

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A master plan envisioning campus needs for the decade ahead received unanimous approval from the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees during its March 4 meeting, setting the stage for a long-term effort to reshuffle campus programs into a more logical and efficient configuration.

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After tabling  it last month for further discussion, on March 3  the Cherokee Tribal Council unanimously approved two referendum questions that will ask voters to approve term limits and staggered terms for Tribal Council.

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The capital of Kazakhstan, Alma Ata, translates to “full of apples” — an homage to the country’s heritage as the birthplace  of the now-ubiquitous fruit. In the approximately three-quarters of a million years since people first discovered wild sour crab apples in a central Asian forest, the apple has traveled the world, splitting into 7,500 varieties as diverse as the orchardists responsible for breeding them, separated by miles and millennia.

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On July 21, 2015, Cherokee resident John Michael Arkansas was convicted of violating a domestic violence protective order. He received a year of probation and $1,600 in fines and restitution, with a 75-day sentence hanging over his head should he violate the terms.

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Josh Taylor is seven months into his job as chief of the Cherokee Indian Police Department. Asked how it’s going, he pauses, clasps his hands together atop the table, and leans forward.

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A requested athletic fee increase at Western Carolina University met approval from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors at its Feb. 24 meeting, but this month WCU trustees passed a resolution pledging that increase would stick around only as long as the debt for the projects it seeks to support.

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Sylva Fire Department is requesting funding from Jackson County for the salary of additional paid personnel in the split paid, volunteer fire department. At a March 10 commissioners meeting, Sylva fire chief Mike Beck made his case.

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Just six months after Cherokee voters said yes in a referendum election , a liquor store is open on the Qualla Boundary — making the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians the first tribe in the country to have one.

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In mid-November 2021, a group of friends was passing the evening gathered around a campfire at Lake Keowee, South Carolina, when the conversation turned to plastic, its tragic overabundance in the world, and how a small group of people might address the issue at home in Western North Carolina.

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A Cherokee man was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder by a federal jury. Shane McKinley Swimmer, 22, will also have to serve eight years of supervised probation following his release from 365 months in prison. 

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