Haywood County

Meadows Says He Won't Support Privatizing Vets Health Care

Aug 13, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

Western North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows is playing a leading role in the national health care debate.  While back home in his district on recess, Meadows engaged in a series of events with veterans, talking about benefits and health care.

But not everyone was happy to see him.

Cory Vaillancourt

The harm caused by intravenous drug use extends far beyond the user, sometimes even to innocent bystanders, like hikers, boaters or young children on playgrounds.  But the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, along with volunteers in Haywood County, are becoming more active in efforts not so much aimed at winning the drug war, as containing it.

Folkmoot's Cultural Exchange Goes Both Ways

Jul 23, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

You can’t just invite several hundred foreign performers to a festival in Western North Carolina without showing them some good old-fashioned Southern hospitality.  And that’s just what many local volunteers do each year, serving as a bridge between cultures at Waynesville’s Folkmoot Festival.

Cory Vaillancourt

Waynesville’s Folkmoot Festival is again underway.  In its 35th year, organizers say the folkdance festival has never been more relevant - or more necessary.

Maggie Valley's 'Ghost Town' Could Reopen Later This Year

Jul 12, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

The tiny Haywood County town of Maggie Valley has long been a familiar tourist destination – especially when its well-known mountaintop amusement park was operating.  Opened in 1962, Maggie Valley’s Ghost Town in the Sky was a wild west-themed amusement park high atop Buck Mountain in western Haywood County.

In its day, the park attracted crowds that powered an economic development engine that drove motels, restaurants and related attractions to a town that had a five-lane road, but just 200 residents.   

Cory Vaillancourt

Replacing the leader of a high-performing organization is never easy.  But that’s what Haywood County Schools did this week after the March departure of a longtime superintendent who led the district to new heights. But as the district looks to the future, it didn’t have to look far for a replacement.

Rejuvenated Lake Junaluska Looks Toward Second Century

Jun 11, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

For generations, Methodists from across the United States have converged on a small community in Haywood County that’s been a place of renewal and transformation.  But Lake Junaluska has undergone some transformation of its own over the past few years, and as the historic Christian retreat emerges from funding cuts and the Great Recession, it’s poised remain an important economic engine well into its second century.  

Storied Breakfast Spot Re-Opens In Maggie Valley

May 24, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

For more than five decades, an iconic eatery in Maggie Valley served up healing helpings of homey charm and a hash brown casserole that can’t be beat.  That all changed last summer, when owner Brenda O’Keefe closed the restaurant, citing health concerns. Residents worried that it would be the end of an era, but a year later, under new ownership, Joey’s Pancake House is set to reopen.

Cory Vaillancourt

Every corner of the United States has its own special, niche ingredient that’s as much a part of the culture as it is of the cuisine.  For Western North Carolina - love ‘em or hate ‘em – it’s ramps. 

#MeToo Rallies In WNC Seek To End Stigma Of Being A Victim

May 3, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

Just six months after the emergence of the #MeToo movement, change has begun to occur. In Western North Carolina, change showed up as a first-of-its-kind rally in Waynesville – where spectators said even though progress has been made, there’s still a long way to go.  Someone is sexually assaulted in the United States every 98 seconds. Even more startling, less than one percent of offenders ever face jail time for their crimes, due in large part to the stigma of identifying as a victim.

Governor Roy Cooper wrapped up a 2-day tour of Western North Carolina Tuesday.  His visit was designed to put a light on many issues affecting the region.  And no issue may be affecting Western North Carolina more than opioid abuse.

Up until about three years ago, David Dick had been abusing opiates for 35 years. After a workplace accident left him barely alive and badly injured, the subsequent opiate prescriptions left him hooked.   “It’s just the constant prescribing of opioids, left me with nothing else on my mind,” said Dick.

WNC Students Voice Opinions On School Safety

Mar 21, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

Last week, students across the country walked out of classrooms to acknowledge the 17 people shot to death at Parkland, Fla.’s Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School.  Several Western North Carolina counties saw similar student activism – including Jackson and Haywood – and although weather dampened the events for some students, it didn’t dampen their desire for change.

Smoky Mountain News/Donated Photo

The squabbling within the Haywood County Republican Party is showing no signs of stopping.  Last year, four members of the county GOP were officially kicked out of the party.  Now, a the vice chair of the Haywood County Republican party Debbie King is suing the faction of the county party those members belonged to over some internet memes.  Smoky Mountain News reporter Cory Vaillancourt has been following this story from the start and joined BPR's Matt Bush in studio f

ncleg.net

(CORRECTION - This story has been updated to reflect other WNC legislators who sponsored medicinal marijuana legislation) 

Opioid abuse claims almost four lives per day in the state of North Carolina – leaving some patients to shun the post-surgical benefits of these powerful painkillers altogether.  Recent comments from a Western North Carolina legislator suggest there may be a renewed effort to fill that gap by putting some medical marijuana laws on the books.

Cory Vaillancourt

Through a unique regional partnership, Haywood County recently outsourced much of its economic development activity to the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.  More than simply a marketing deal, the partnership has the Asheville Chamber touting development opportunities in Haywood County alongside its own, citing mutual benefit to the region as a whole.

Cory Vaillancourt

Many small towns sponsor holiday parades, complete with everything one might expect to see – sidewalks crammed with people, garland-draped lampposts and high school marching bands keeping the beat on the street.  But at the town of Cantons two most recent parades – including last night’s Christmas parade – some were also greeted with the sight of the Confederate flag.

Cory Vaillancourt Smoky Mountain News

8 out of 10 Americans live 'paycheck to paycheck' according to the employment website Career Builder.  That's just one of the factors contributing to homelessness that Smoky Mountain News reporter Cory Vaillancourt studied before he decided to voluntarily go 'homeless' for three days late last month.  He sat down with BPR's Matt Bush to discuss his experiences and the resources for the homeless he encountered in Haywood County.  Vaillancourt's travels took him from his home i

Smoky Mountain News

The so-called 'Haywood 5' are a group of Republicans in that county that were brought up on official party disloyalty charges.  The faced a trial of sorts this month before state GOP officials in Cary, which ruled four of the five are banned from the Republican party for differing amounts of time.  The charges against the five included social media posts that indicated support for candidates who were not Republicans.  The battle goes back further than that, to when the five started the Haywood Republican Alliance and challenged the party establishment in the county.  Smoky Mountain News re

Smoky Mountain News

Parades are a holiday season staple.  The town of Canton's Christmas parade is scheduled for December 7th.  It will be the first parade in the Haywood County town since the Labor Day parade, where several marchers showed up carrying Confederate flags.  Town officials have been trying to decide how to prevent similar displays in the future.  Canton Alderman Dr.

wunc.org, Michel Tronchetti

A common frustration for residents throughout the mountains of Western North Carolina is the lack of high speed internet access.   They now have a place where they can vent. BPRs Davin Eldridge has more…

Author's Note: a link to the survey is provided at the bottom of the article.

Waynesville has more galleries per capita than Asheville. BPR Arts & Culture Producer Matt Peiken captured a view from Waynesville's Main Street, meeting artists and gallery owners along the city's monthly visual arts showcase "Art After Dark."

Derek Blanks

Singer Gladys Knight will headline a benefit show Sunday night at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in Asheville.  Other performers include Little Big Town - and a host of 'surprise guests' that Knight is promising will be there.  All proceeds from the show will toward a proposed community center outside of Canton in Haywood County.  Knight's husband Billy McDowell is behind the plan to turn the former Reynolds School in an area known as Gibsontown into a community center by 2019.  McDow

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

Population and job growth continue to be strong in the Asheville region, but wages are lagging far behind.  That's according to a report released by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County.  The report studied a six county area (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Madison, Transylvania) and found the average wage per job is $44,800.  The national average is $62,100.

Davin Eldridge

In the age of the internet the future of the American department store has grown increasingly uncertain.

Earlier this year, Toys "R" Us—a company with nearly 900 stores across the country— filed for bankruptcy. Kmart and Sears underwent another round of store closings—from nearly 1,600 last year, to just over 1,200 this year.

Whenever these so-called “big box” stores close, it can often stifle development in the communities they once served, and hurt the bottom line of nearby small businesses. BPR’s Davin Eldridge takes a look at the little-known phenomenon of “ghost box stores”, and how these stores impact Western North Carolina in their own small way.

An AMBER Alert was issued Wednesday morning after authorities say a 3-month-old child was abducted in Clyde.  Cali Cochran was taken by her non-custodial parents according to the Haywood County sheriff's office.  She's described as white with brown hair, 20 inches in length and weighing 10 pounds.  Her alleged abductors are 39-year-old Rex Cochran Jr and 31-year-old Heather Marie Cochran.  Authorities believe the pair are traveling to either Valdosta, Georgia or Ocala, Florida in either a gray 1999 GMC Suburban with a North Dakota license plate 489-AWH.

The 34th annual Folkmoot Festival gets underway Thursday in Waynesville and runs until July 30th.  What started more than three decades ago as a showcase for folk dancing has transformed into a 'meeting of people' designed 'to build global relationships, foster cultural understanding and develop community prosperity.'  Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt joined BPR's Matt Bush to discuss the festival's history and evolving mission, as well as what to expect at this year's gathering.

Infighting in political parties is nothing new.  But Haywood County Republicans have taken it to a new level with a so-called 'disloyalty' resolution targeting certain members of the party.  Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt joined BPR's Matt Bush in studio to discuss the latest.

Davin Eldridge

The need for safety between buyers and sellers on websites like Craigslist is essential.  But it’s not always guaranteed. One Western North Carolina town is on a quest to provide that safety.

Smoky Mountain News

Joey's Pancake House in Maggie Valley, which first opened in 1966, will serve it's last breakfast this coming Tuesday June 13th.  Owner Brenda O'Keefe lists many reasons for why she's closing, including her health and increasing difficulty in keeping enough employees to ensure the restaurant runs to her high standards.  Joey's is an institution in Maggie Valley, regularly seeing lines of up to 50 people waiting for a table on the weekends.

Buncombe County's larger population gives it advantages in economic development its smaller neighbors in Western North Carolina don't have.  So what's there to do for those counties?  Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt has been looking at what Haywood County has been doing.

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