Haywood County

Lilly Knoepp

Campgrounds are a way of life in Western North Carolina – and have been long before the current camping craze which helped bring more than 12-million visitors to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park last year.  BPR went to Laurel Bank Campground in Haywood County.  Camping there is more than a weekend activity or a vacation.  It’s life – and family. 

Sherrie Lynn McArthur still remembers growing up at Laurel Bank Campground in Cruso. She is now 66 years old.


On August 17th, historic flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred devastated Western North Carolina.  Haywood County was hit hardest, as six people were killed in the Cruso, Canton, and Bethel areas.

WNC Flood Survivor Recounts Harrowing Tale

Aug 30, 2021
Natasha Bright

Residents in Haywood County are holding their breath that remnants of Hurricane Ida don’t add to their misery this week.  For some, the trauma of what happened two weeks ago is still front and center.     

Lilly Knoepp

(7 p.m. Friday )    Haywood County Emergency Services say  they've recovered the sixth and  final missing victim of the flooding resulting from Tropical Storm Fred.

Out Of The Shadows: Moonshining In The 21st Century

Aug 19, 2021
Cory Vaillancourt

Among the many regional delicacies produced in the Smokies is one that’s got a little bit of a stigma to it. In Haywood County, it’s also a cultural tradition that’s always been in danger of disappearing. But there is hope, and it comes from the most unlikely of places.

Scott McLeod / Smoky Mountain News

This page is no longer being updated.  To get the latest info, go here. 

(4p.m. Sunday)  Release from Haywood County Emergency Services: Search efforts today focused on locating the last remaining person still unaccounted for following Tropical Storm Fred.   Five individuals have been confirmed dead — Frank Mungo, 86, Franklin McKenzie, 68, Judy Mason, 73, Charlene Mungo, 83, all of Cruso have now been identified and families notified.

The fifth victim, Frank Lauer, Sr., 74, of Cruso was located today, and his family have been notified. “I extend my deepest condolences to Mrs. Lauer and her family. We are holding the Lauer family close in our hearts, and are praying for them now in the time of their loss,” said Sheriff Greg Christopher

Courtesy of NC DHHS

COVID-19 numbers have spiked across North Carolina in recent days. BPR’s Lilly Knoepp has a look at what’s going on in the far-western counties…

When infections spiked at the beginning of this year, Western North Carolina was a few weeks behind more urban parts of the state in seeing high COVID-19 numbers.  That’s not the case in this newest wave explains Haywood County Health Department spokesperson Allison Richmond.

Haywood Homelessness Task Force Issues Report

Jul 14, 2021
Cory Vaillancourt

Homelessness was the key issue in the most recent municipal elections in Haywood County. In late 2019, newly-elected leaders in the Town of Waynesville created a task force to gather information.  It’s now issued recommendations, which will likely generate new controversy.

Anti-Police Message Proves Divisive In Maggie Valley

May 13, 2021
Motel sign for Our Place In in Maggie Valley reading "ACAB, The Barrel Is Rotten."
Cory Vaillancourt

Owners of a Maggie Valley motel are getting death threats over a sign disparaging police officers and now a “Back the Blue” rally is scheduled in response. This follows heated and confrontational demonstrations at a pair of Black Lives Matter marches in this small Appalachian tourist community last summer.

 There’s a strip of Soco Road in Maggie Valley lined with quaint mom-and-pop motels built in the 1960s. Usually the signs out front say things like, “Welcome to our valley” or “Kids eat free,” but last week one of them had a different message – ACAB.

Cory Vaillancourt

A race in Haywood County this weekend raises money for survivors of gun violence and honors a fallen hometown hero.

The Mighty Four Miler on Saturday morning supports the Riley Howell Foundation Fund.  It’s been almost two years now since Riley Howell, a Waynesville native, was killed during a shooting at UNC Charlotte.

Cory Vaillancourt

COVID-19 caused the cancellation last fall of one of the nation’s greatest high school football rivalries – Pisgah vs. Tuscola.

Although the game has finally been rescheduled for next week, the coronavirus pandemic will have an impact on the number of spectators in the stands, due to capacity limits.

Courtesy of Haywood Health and Human Services

Local health departments across Western North Carolina are depending on volunteers to help them with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

BPR talked with a former public health director who came out of retirement to help administer the vaccine.

Patrick Johnson retired as the public health director for Haywood County’s Health and Human Services Department last fall, after working in public health for 36 years.

“When I decided to retire, they talked me out of it once,” said Johnson. He’s 66 years old.

An unexpected vacancy in one of Western North Carolina’s state house districts has two candidates scrambling for a victory that could have major consequences in the General Assembly.

Two people are dead after a fire early this morning at the Evergreen Packaging mill in Canton.

Lilly Knoepp

COVID-19 cases in Western North Carolina have stabilized says Dr. Mark Jaban, medical director of Haywood County Health and Human Services.

Sales Tax Projections Impact Local Government Budgets

May 21, 2020

The Coronavirus Pandemic popped up just as local governments across the state were in the heart of budget season. That’s forced many to reassess plans that were made back in January. As cities and counties ponder budget cuts, they’ll look closely at the pandemic’s impact on sales tax revenue.

Adobe Stock

With orders to stay at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, calls to domestic violence hotlines are increasing in Western North Carolina. Local agencies that support survivors of abuse are particularly concerned about those who are undocumented. 

Haywood County Protestors Want Businesses Open

Apr 20, 2020
Cory Vaillancourt

Protestors calling on North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to re-open the state’s economy no later than May 1 are expected to hold a second protest Tuesday in Raleigh, but one group of protestors got a head start Sunday in Haywood County.

The U.S. Forest Service says is arson is the suspected cause of a wildfire reported Sunday night near the Lake Appalachia Dam in Cherokee County.  It’s estimated at 80 acres in size on land owned by the Forest Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority.  

Coronavirus Challenges Nation's Funeral Industry

Apr 2, 2020
Cory Vaillancourt

The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of American life – schools, corporations and governments have all had to change the way they do business, but they’re not the only ones.

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.