Smoky Mountain News

Election Day is less than three months away, and the stakes are pretty high for both Democrats and Republicans in this year's General Assembly elections.  The GOP holds veto-proof majorities in both chambers, which the party has used on numerous occasions to override vetoes from Democratic governor Roy Cooper.  Democrats only need to flip four seats in the House of Representatives and six in the state Senate to end those super-majorities, and the party is off to a good start in achieving that at least in fundraising.  Smoky Mountain News reporter and BPR contributor Cory Vaillancourt

The 'Human Stories' Of David Joy

Aug 7, 2018
Garret K. Woodward

Author David Joy has been gaining recognition for a pair of critically acclaimed novels, both set in rural Appalachia.  With a third on the way, Joy has also been gaining national and international recognition as an essayist on Southern culture.

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.

Holly Kays


Holly Kays studied creative fiction in college and saw herself on a path to becoming a novelist.

 

“Everybody who likes to write is writing a book at some point,” she said. “Most of those books never actually wind up being written.”
 

Like most budding novelists, Kays has another job to pay her bills. Unlike most, Kays works for a sympathetic boss.

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.

Blue Ridge Public Radio is continuing to expand its news coverage of Western North Carolina.  After a national search, BPR has hired a full-time regional reporter that will be based in Jackson County. The station has also expanded partnership with the Smoky Mountain News.

WNC Greens Celebrate Ballot Access

Mar 29, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

Voters in North Carolina are used to looking at their ballots and seeing just three letters – D for Democrat, R for Republican and L for Libertarian.  Soon, they’ll start seeing a new one – the letter G.  And local members of the Green Party couldn’t be more excited.

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.

Cory Vaillancourt/Smoky Mountain News/BPR

Winning an election is just the beginning for a public official – governing is challenging, ever-changing and can become extremely technical in a legal sense.  So newly elected officials go back to school to learn what they can and can’t do, and what might land them in jail.

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

With a polarizing President in the White House and gerrymandered districts in the courthouse, disillusionment with the two-party system in American politics seems to be at an all time high.  A recently passed North Carolina law will make it easier for third parties to get on the ballot this year – but only if a partisan fight between Republicans and Democrats in Raleigh gets resolved. 

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.

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

Corey Vaillancourt Smoky Mountain News

Passenger rail service in Western North Carolina has been almost non-existent for more than 40 years.  There's still freight rail service throughout the region, and in the coming years we could see passenger service comeback, even in small forms.  Smoky Mountain News reporter Cory Vaillancourt has been looking at how rail service might return to the region.  He discussed the latest on the

Pexels

The so-called "Brunch Bill" that passed the North Carolina General Assembly means restaurants can now serve alcohol before noon on Sundays.  Local governments throughout the state quickly permitted the earlier sales under powers granted them by the state bill.  Hendersonville and Asheville quickly approved earlier sales.  To the west in the mountains of Western North Carolina, some localities have said yes to mimosas and bloody mary's before noon on Sunday - and some have not.  Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt

Davin Eldridge

In a region where thousands of acres of national forest can easily separate one mountain town from the next, it’s not unusual for some residents to describe it as “the middle of nowhere”. One area brewery is looking to dispel that stigma, with the launch of a new public forum it says will show that there are, in fact, plenty of big things happening in the region. BPR’s Davin Eldridge has more…

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.

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.

This week the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians Tribal Council voted to remove principal chief Patrick Lambert from office.  It’s only the second time in tribe history this has occurred.  Lambert was brought up on 12 impeachment charges, and has been a controversial figure since he was first elected principal chief in 2015.

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.

Pages