Jessi Stone

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Drake Enterprises is spreading its wings further into the community as it takes over management of the Macon County Airport. 

Under the new subsidiary Macon Air LLC, Drake assumed responsibility for airport operations as of Oct. 1 after its former management entity — Franklin Aviation, led by Neil Hoppe and Peggy Milton — decided to retire. Hoppe and Milton had managed the airport for 20 years under a contract with the county. 

Comment

While the North Carolina Legislature included Macon County in a pilot program to change the way court-appointed lawyers are paid, Chief District Court Judge Richard Walker requested to opt out of the program. 

Comment

The success of a pretrial release program being piloted in Jackson and Haywood county’s judicial district hinges on a handful of lawyers being willing to dedicate at least one day a week to handling first appearances for indigent clients. 

Comment

After conducting a limited review into the death of a Bryson City K9, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations issued a decision that it’s unlikely a criminal offense occurred. 

Comment

The Macon County Industrial Park will be getting a new tenant after county commissioners approved a lease for TECO Inc. Solid State Lighting, a Tennessee corporation.

Comment

Rumors of Consolidated Metco Inc., staying open in Bryson City have been circulating around the community, but unfortunately the plant still has plans to close operations in the near future. 

Comment

Swain County voters have typically been adamantly opposed to any sort of tax hike, whether it’s a property tax or a sales tax, which is why many were pleasantly surprised to see a quarter-cent sales tax increase approved following the Nov. 6 election.

Now that the election is over and three incumbents have reclaimed their seats on the Macon County Board of Commissioners, one of the board’s top priorities will be to continue analyzing the county’s infrastructure needs and create a long-range capital improvement plan. 

Comment

Unchanged over last year, all four Swain County Schools earned a ‘C’ on their 2017-18 annual report card handed down by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. 

Comment

Eight of the 11 schools in Macon County either met or exceeded their academic growth expectations for the 2017-18 school year. 

Comment

Beth Cline-Stroud, the executive director of PAWS in Bryson City, was on her way to an important event when a call came into the shelter about another dog in need. 

Comment

Despite challengers’ loud cries for change in Macon County leadership, voters have given incumbents Ronnie Beale (Democrat) and Gary Shields (Republican) another four-year term on the board of commissioners.

Republican Robert Holland will serve a fifth term as Macon County sheriff after a clear victory Tuesday night.

With six candidates running for three seats on the Swain County Board of Commissioners, it was a close call Tuesday night as election results began to roll in.

Incumbent Republican Curtis Cochran has secured his fourth term as sheriff of Swain County after facing off against Democratic challenger Rocky Sampson. 

Eric Giles, a candidate for Macon County sheriff, is back on patrol duty for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office after being on paid leave for more than a month despite having a Giglio Order against him from the 30th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Comment

It’s a crisp fall day in Swain County. As the sun finally peaks over the trees around lunch time, the cars fill up the parking lot at the Deep Creek Campground and visitors are ready for a day of hiking and exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

Comment

Lynn Nicholson has always been a good saleswoman — not because she’s pushy and overbearing but because she’s personable and treats everyone like family. 

Celeste Ybanez was a junior in high school when her parents Clark and Jenny Williams started brewing up the idea that would become Frog Level Brewing Company. 

The multifaceted roles women have played in society are often overlooking in the history books, but if you dig deep enough you’ll find their behind-the-scenes work was meaningful and ahead of its time — even here in Western North Carolina. 

Comment

The four westernmost counties in North Carolina can be described with three words — rugged, rural and Republican. 

Haywood County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested four people Thursday night (Oct. 18) charging them with trafficking heroin and cocaine. 

Comment

Two incumbent candidates running for re-election to the Macon County Board of Commissioners say they want to see the current board’s progress continue, but the two challengers — one Republican and one Democrat — say the county is moving in the wrong direction. 

Swain County Schools are looking at a long list of capital improvement needs to keep students safe and plan for future growth, but it won’t be possible without a more steady revenue stream to support such projects. 

Comment

Swain County is once again trying to increase its sales tax rate a quarter of a cent with the intent of putting additional revenue toward school improvements, but the final decision will be left up to voters. 

Six candidates are campaigning for three open seats on the Swain County Board of Commissioners — four of the candidates are competing for two seat while the other two are competing to fill a two-year unexpired seat left vacant by the death of David Monteith. 

On the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 3, Haywood County Schools administration was notified by public health officials that a student at Bethel Elementary School has been diagnosed with chickenpox.  The student is not currently in school and is receiving appropriate medical treatment. The school sent a letter home to parents at Bethel Elementary informing them about the diagnosis.  

Comment

Incumbent Republican Curtis Cochran is running for a fourth term as Swain County sheriff. While he’s never had an easy race, he said, this election cycle has been particularly brutal with mudslinging coming from all directions.

Talk briefly about your past experience and why you are the most qualified candidate.

Mary Ann Morgan was a one-woman show with a shoestring budget for more than 40 years but still, she managed to change the lives of hundreds of people who walked into her office without much hope for their future.

Comment

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, Haywood and Jackson counties will be the first judicial district in the state to pilot a pretrial release program aimed at reducing the local jail populations, recidivism rates and increasing the efficiency of the court system.

Comment

District Attorney Ashley Welch doesn’t have an opponent in the 2018 election, but an online petition to remove her from office had 237 signatures as of Monday afternoon.

Comment

Accusations of dishonesty and inappropriate behavior lodged against Macon County sheriff candidate Eric Giles have led the district attorney’s office to label the law enforcement officer as an unreliable witness. 

Comment

Franklin Town Council members decided to hold off on providing input to the attorney general regarding HCA Healthcare’s impending $1.5 billion purchase of Mission Health until the board can agree on what it wants to say.

Comment

Between 1999 and 2016, more than 12,000 people in North Carolina died from opioid overdoses. 

Not only are families losing their loved ones to the opioid crisis, but addiction is also placing a heavy burden on limited local resources. Drug-related crime has led to overcrowded jails, a backlogged court system and a spike in the number of children placed in the foster care system.

Comment

Being incarcerated and not knowing what your future may hold is a terrifying experience, but being released from jail and having no resources to get back on your feet can be even scarier.

Comment

A majority of people wait until they’re ordered to undergo physical therapy after a surgery or injury, but physical therapy treatments can also be taken as a preventative measure. 

In addition to helping someone through a recovery, physical therapy can also help a patient avoid surgery, reduce or eliminate pain, improve balance and manage a number of conditions including diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and even heart and lung disease. 

It seems like every year there’s a new fad diet people swear is the panacea for quick weight loss.

This year has been no different with everyone on the keto bandwagon. A ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat plan known for quick weight loss results. But as with many fad diets, nutritionists and health experts say there are always risks. 

Mission Health’s Board of Directors and HCA Healthcare have entered into a definitive agreement for HCA to acquire Mission Health. 

Comment

Ronnie Evans tries to remember his cousin as the beautiful and spunky woman pictured on the cover of his new book — the sparkle emanating from her party dress and her eyes — but the image he can’t get out of his head is the one of her lying on a cold slab following her autopsy in 1963. 

“I see these beautiful photos of her and realize she’d be 95 today if she lived, but I also saw her on a slab after the autopsy was done,” he said. “That and knowing how it happened to her — to know what she was subjected to — that’s why I’ve kept searching for answers.”

Comment

A magistrate judge is often one of the first people you’ll come into contact with when you find yourself entangled in the criminal justice system.

Comment

With widespread reports of abuse and fraud, the bail bonds industry in the U.S. doesn’t have the best reputation.

Comment

Franklin Town Council called a special meeting for Aug. 21 to discuss a couple of mundane business items — street closures and uniform guidance policies — but the board added a closed session item to the agenda to discuss an economic development project. 

Comment

The use of bail bonds dates back centuries as a means to settle disputes peacefully and to ensure a defendant shows up to court by having a friend or family member agree to pay the debt if the accused flees. 

The Durham County Detention Facility opened in the summer of 1996 with a capacity of 576 single cells. By 2005, the jail was at or over capacity a majority of the time. 

District Attorney Greg Newman confirmed Monday morning that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of North Carolina released its toxicology report concerning Michael Scott Knibbs, who was shot by Macon County Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Wade Momphard, Jr. on April 30, 2018, after Knibbs aimed a loaded shotgun at the deputy sheriff. The toxicology report shows that Knibbs’ blood alcohol level at the time of the incident was 0.23, almost three times the legal limit of 0.08 when driving a car.  

Comment

Women make up the fastest growing segment of inmates in the U.S. correctional system.

According to a 2016 study conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice, the number of women in jail grew from under 8,000 in 1970 to over 110,000 in 2014 and nearly half of them are in small county jails. 

At 27 years old, Samantha Ledford found herself addicted to prescription pills and heroin. Her daily life had become consumed with finding her next high and there didn’t seem to be a way out. 

The debate over whether the town of Bryson City should relinquish its right of way on Fry Street has resurfaced, but this time the railroad is offering the town something in exchange for the closure. 

Comment

Marsha Crites doesn’t believe in tough love. She believes in second chances — and even third and fourth chances if that’s what it takes to get someone back on the right track. 

Comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.