Haywood County

Haywood County Issues Restrictions On Movement

Mar 26, 2020
Cory Vaillancourt

Haywood County became the latest in Western North Carolina to impose restrictions on movement due to COVID19, with an order going into effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Residents of Haywood County and all four of its municipalities can still go to grocery and convenience stores, seek medicines or medical care, order take-out, bike, hike and jog, care for loved ones in other households and tend to the needs of pets, among other things.

Distillers Begin Producing Hand Sanitizer

Mar 25, 2020
Elevated Mountain

As the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic continues to ripple through North Carolina’s economy, businesses and manufacturers are doing whatever they can to stay afloat – and some of them are getting pretty creative.

Laid-Off Bar And Restaurant Workers Band Together

Mar 23, 2020
Cory Vaillancourt

While the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on American society are readily apparent, there’s often a hidden side with a human toll.

Haywood Public Schools Step Up To Feed Hungry Children

Mar 19, 2020
Cory Vaillancourt

While the coronavirus pandemic has affected American life in many obvious ways with travel bans, social distancing and business closures, it’s also beginning to have unanticipated effects on many other aspects of society.  

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Public schools in North Carolina will be closed for the next two weeks.  Here’s how systems in the westernmost part of the state are handling it: 

Lilly Knoepp

 Macon County Commissioners voted to approve a constitutional support resolution Tuesday night.  This resolution was different from a 2nd Amendment sanctuary resolution many other counties in North Carolina have passed.

For 3 months, Macon County commissioners have been discussing this – and Tuesday night’s meeting was the biggest yet.

Important GOP Primary In NC House District 119

Mar 2, 2020

Voters in Tuesday's primary in North Carolina will decide party nominees at the federal, state, and local levels.  One race in Western North Carolina will decide whether the region’s biggest political rivalry will get another go.

Cory Vaillancourt

Another county in Western North Carolina has joined the ‘Second Amendment sanctuary’ movement.  Henderson County commissioners on Tuesday approved a resolution supporting gun rights.  Commissioners in Buncombe County also heard from supporters of a resolution, though no action was taken. 

Another county where this has been brought up is Haywood. 

2nd Amendment Sanctuary Push Hits Home In Haywood County

Jan 22, 2020
Cory Vaillancourt

On Monday, thousands of peaceful demonstrators converged on the Virginia state capitol in protest of proposed restrictions on gun sales.   A day later, the push for so-called “Second Amendment sanctuaries” picked up again in neighboring North Carolina.  That included the home county of the late Riley Howell, the hero of last year’s shooting at University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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.

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