Haywood County

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Democrats have seen a sharp drop in voter registration in North Carolina's seven westernmost counties over the past four years.  Republicans have seen a similar increase during the same timeframe, as well as those registering as unaffiliated in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain Counties.

Lilly Knoepp

Resolutions calling for individual counties to become 2nd Amendment sanctuaries are sweeping the South due to gun control legislation moving through the Virginia Legislature. In Macon County, one such resolution was discussed Tuesday night: 

The crowd at the Macon County Courthouse was so big that the meeting was moved to a larger room. 

Matt Bush

  Drivers on Interstate 40 near the Tennessee border can expect delays into spring. 

Some of Interstate 40 from Haywood County to the Tennessee border will be moved down to two lanes as the state department of transportation makes various upgrades to the road says spokesperson David Uchiyama. 

“Folks should plan for delays in their travel plans,” says Uchiyama. 

Lilly Knoepp

The mountains of Western North Carolina offer beautiful views and outdoor activities but the topography is often a challenge for the state department of transportation. 

Here are a few important updates on local roads in the region:

US Route 441- Jackson County

Lilly Knoepp

The United Methodist Church has announced a proposal to split the church over LGBTQ issues. A committee of 16 announced the plan called the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation.  The committe was made up of bishops and members of a range of international Methodist g

Lilly Knoepp

  North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein this week joined three other state attorneys general in calling for a single $48 billion dollar settlement with five major pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic.  All 50 U.S. states would receive money under the proposed settlement. 

 Here are some reactions to the deal from rural leaders in Western North Carolina: 

Courtesy of WOW

 Waynesville holds its annual Apple Harvest Festival this weekend.  In between fruits and other fall treats, one booth is really hoping to "Wow" attendees.  

Garret K. Woodward

Noted banjo picker and Western North Carolina native Raymond Fairchild has died, following a heart attack.  He was 80. Fairchild performed at the Grand Ole’ Opry on numerous occasions and was inducted into Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2015.  Last month, Fairchild appeared in BPR’s “Exploring Southern Appalachia” series.   

Fairchild’s final arrangements haven’t yet been announced.  In addition to his storied banjo career, he and his wife Shirley ran the Maggie Valley Opry for more than 30  years.                                                      

Cory Vaillancourt

Election officials from across Western North Carolina gathered in Haywood County to be the first to witness public demonstrations of new state-certified voting systems.    

Lilly Knoepp

 For the first time ever, North Carolina’s seven westernmost counties met to discuss how to solve the opioid crisis.  BPR was at the summit in Bryson City.

For Graham County Commissioner Connie Orr, the issue is personal. Her son has been battling addiction since he was prescribed Vicodin at 15 years old. He’s now 51. 

“From that time until now my son has been fighting the addiction of opiates which has moved not only to opiates but to heroin, meth or any drug that is available right now,” says Orr. 

Pisgah View Ranch

A dude ranch outside of Asheville has become North Carolina’s 40th state park.     On July 19, Gov. Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 535 into law, creating Pisgah State View Park.    The 16-hundred acre parcel  in Candler is home to Pisgah View Ranch.    Senator Chuck Edwards  (R-Henderson)  introduced the bill in April and notes that the land  has been owned by the same family since 1790.

Lilly Knoepp

Lake Junaluska has hosted the Western North Carolina conference of the United Methodist Church for decades.  For many of those years, its felt more like a family reunion than a convention. But this year was a little different.

 

Kids play in swimming pool on the edge of the lake while adults get ready for another long day of voting.

 

NMPJ

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama features monuments for lynchings that occurred in more than 800 U.S. Counties.  That includes Buncombe, Haywood, Macon, and Cherokee Counties in Western North Carolina.  Exact replicas of each monument have also been created, with designers hoping they are taken to be displayed in the counties here each lynching has occurred.  That hasn't happened yet for those destined for Western North Carolina.

'Opportunity Zones' Ripe For Investment

Mar 7, 2019
NC Department of Commerce

A little-known provision in the Trump tax cut bill has the potential to bring economic investment in some of the poorest areas of the country, including all across Western North Carolina.

Many local governments have economic incentive policies designed to lure new businesses, but an overlooked provision halfway through President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 gave poverty-stricken census tracts a new tool for their economic development toolboxes, called “opportunity zones.”

Sunburst's Forgotten African-Americans

Feb 21, 2019
Cory Vaillancourt

Beneath the placid waters of a small Haywood County lake lies what’s left of a century-old logging camp. Although Sunburst’s history is well-documented, there’s very little available about the African-Americans who labored there under relative equality during the Jim Crow era.

Just outside the community of Bethel in rural southeastern Haywood County, sits Lake Logan.  It’s now home to an Episcopalian conference center as well as the Cold Mountain Music Festival.

For almost 15 years, North Carolina’s rigid school calendar law has led to complaints about its lack of flexibility.  Haywood County leaders are asking for change, but aren’t sure they’ll get it. 

Homeless Census Could Boost Funding

Feb 6, 2019

Homelessness is a growing problem in Western North Carolina, compounded by the difficulty in counting all those who are homeless.  That’s been a barrier to resources for those in need.

Living outdoors under a curious collection of tents and tarps isn’t easy, according to Sassy Fulp, but dealing with the wind, the cold and the rain aren’t even the hardest parts of it.  “[It’s] people riding by voicing out opinions in accusations and names,” said Fulp. “Pieces of trash, get a job, pick up the trash, drug addicts, thieves.”

Legalization Conversations Happening In North Carolina

Jan 24, 2019

Recreational marijuana is now legal for more than 72 million Americans in 10 states. North Carolina isn’t one of those states - but that doesn’t mean the conversation around legalization is quiet here.  

Waynesville To Incentivize Affordable Housing

Jan 21, 2019
A Shot Above of WNC/Allen Newland photo

The affordable housing crisis may be Western North Carolina’s most pressing problem.  One Haywood County town is taking concrete steps towards a solution.

Lilly Knoepp

  The North Carolina Department of Commerce released its economic development ratings for all 100 counties. Here’s more on what that means and how Western North Carolina ranked:

 

Homelessness On The Rise In WNC Again

Nov 21, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

A year ago, Smoky Mountain News Staff Writer Cory Vaillancourt went homeless for three nights over the Thanksgiving holiday to report on the realities of homelessness in Western North Carolina. This week, he revisited some of the people and places from that journey, and learned things are much different today.

WNC Republicans Win Some, Lose Some

Nov 7, 2018

Like the election results from across the country, results from across the state show a mixed bag, with some Republican gains but also some important setbacks. The same goes for Western North Carolina, where the political landscape will change, but not by much.

Cory Vaillancourt

Since Democratic Governor Roy Cooper took office in 2017, he’s faced veto-proof supermajorities in both legislative chambers. Democrats’ best chance to break that is with a pickup of four seats in the House this November, and two Western North Carolina races will prove pivotal in that effort.

September 9 marks the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week, but how many of us really know what to do when we see or hear things that could be construed as “red flags?”

Pisgah - Tuscola High School Football Rivalry Rolls On

Sep 4, 2018
Bill Killillay/Killillay.com

With fall fast approaching, high school football is already underway, and in Western North Carolina there’s no bigger rivalry than the one between two Haywood County high schools.

Canton Steelworkers Union Celebrates Labor Day

Aug 29, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

The South’s oldest Labor Day parade takes place in the Haywood County town of Canton on Monday.  You can’t have a Labor Day parade without labor.  And for more than 50 years, the United Steelworkers Union has represented workers at the century-old paper mill through the ups and downs of global economic trends in a right to work state.  

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.

Pages