Swain County

Lilly Knoepp

  While policymakers are working to change the laws around opioid prescriptions, local communities are working to educate parents about how to talk to their children.  

We head to the Bryson City library where a nonprofit is trying to educate parents about drugs.

Kaye McConnell of Renew Bryson City is taking parents around a bedroom she has set up in the auditorium of the Marianna Black Library.

“So do you like the vase?” asks McConnell.  “It’s a pretty bong.”

Courtesy of NOC

Aurelia Kennedy, co-founder of Nantahala Outdoor Center passed away on Saturday morning at her home in Wesser, NC. She was 84 years old. Kennedy moved to Swain County with her husband Peyton in 1973 to start the company with their friend Horace Holden. Holden passed away earlier this year. Now the company is a multimillion dollar business with locations in four states.

US Forest Service

Hazardous conditions due to rockslides that occurred last weekend have closed the Nantahala River through the Nantahala Gorge according to the U.S. Forest Service.  That means all boating and other uses are prohibited through one of the most popular areas for outdoor water recreation in the region.  

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. 

Lilly Knoepp

Nantahala Health Foundation has hired Lori Bailey as executive director of the organization. The new nonprofit health foundation formed after the February sale of Mission Health to for-profit HCA Health.

Lilly Knoepp

  Horace Kephart is remembered as one of the seminal authors of Southern Appalachia. He was also a key player in the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The first-ever biography of his life was just published. Here’s more on the book, “Back of Beyond” - and his complex life -  from Swain County.

 

Lilly Knoepp

  The sale of the Mission Health System means more than $1-billion in proceeds would be awarded to groups in Western North Carolina through grants.  The first grant applications are now being accepted by one legacy foundation of its hospitals. BPR attended one of the workshops for the grant in Cashier.

 

 

Lilly Knoepp

Despite this week’s summer temperatures, the weather will chill across the mountains this weekend. Here are tips from a horticulture expert on when you should start planting for summer.

 

Don’t be fooled by the flowers and tomato plants on sale across the region, says Christy Bredenkamp Horticulture Extension Agent for NC State. We aren’t past the “frost-free” date just yet: “So the Internet says the end of April is the last frost date and May 4th or 5th and May 10 and May 15th. I’ve seen all those dates - so which one is right?”

 

  A bill in the North Carolina General Assembly would allow Swain County to control more of the money it was paid by the federal government for the so-called ‘Road To Nowhere.”

Cory Vailliancourt

Additional reporting by Cory Vailliancourt

 

Governor Roy Cooper visited Nantahala Outdoors Center as a part of his Western North Carolina tour on Friday.

 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Blue Ridge Public Radio will hold its first ever joint listening session with Smoky Mountain News on Thursday April 18th in Bryson City.  We want to hear from you - what are the issues impacting your community most, and how might our outlets best cover them.  Tell us from 6:30 to 7:30 at Nantahala Brewing at 61 Depot Street in Bryson City.  We hope to see you there!  This will be the first of many listening sessions BPR will hold with our news partners across across our listening area over the next ye

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Blue Ridge Public Radio will hold its first ever joint listening session with Smoky Mountain News on Thursday April 18th in Bryson City.  We want to hear from you - what are the issues impacting your community most, and how might our outlets best cover them.  Tell us from 6:30 to 7:30 at Nantahala Brewing at 61 Depot Street in Bryson City.  We hope to see you there!  This will be the first of many listening sessions BPR will hold with our news partners across across our listening area over the next ye

Photo courtesy of Great Smokies Health Foundation

  Since the Mission Health-HCA sale officially closed, the charitable foundation created with the proceeds of the sale - Dogwood Health Trust - is now official too.  While it will be the largest such foundation for Western North Carolina, it’s not the first created by the sale of a health system.  

 

Lilly Knoepp

 Access to healthcare can be difficult all over Western North Carolina - but that’s especially true in the rural parts of the region, where hospitals are far apart and average incomes are lower than in Asheville.

One of the few free clinics in Western North Carolina is located in Bryson City.

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:

 

Lilly Knoepp

The U.S. government came through on a 75-year-old promise to Swain County when it paid the final dollars of a settlement for the so-called “Road To Nowhere” this month. However, officials say that the county won't see the additional funding until next year.

The federal government said it will finally pay a debt it has owed the state since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.

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.

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.

Davin Eldridge

Local governments in the far reaches of Western North Carolina are working to lure more internet service providers to the region.  BPR’s Davin Eldridge spoke with a few homegrown providers about the growing demand for quality internet service, and why it's such a difficult area to do this kind of business in the first place.

The FBI arrested seven Cherokee residents last month following an investigation into marriage fraud, and authorities are still looking for four others they allege were involved. BPR’s Davin Eldridge has more…

Among the many federal programs and agencies President Donald Trump is proposing to eliminate in his budget plan is the Appalachian Regional Commission.  The agency serves parts of 13 states, including Western North Carolina.  President John F.

ncparks.gov

    

For a few short weeks, every year, the mountains of Western North Carolina are renowned for their bright autumn leaves. The generations have brought to the region countless so-called “leaf-lookers” enthralled by their fiery shades of yellow and red come mid-October. Even this year, when area biologists are expecting fall leaves to be duller, and less-vibrant, all local economists can see on the horizon is the color of money for the mountains.

New In-Roads For WNC Public Transit

Sep 22, 2016
ashevillenc.gov

 

For millions of people across the United States, the beginning of their day starts at a bus stop.

 

WNC's Burgeoning Tourism Industry

May 31, 2016
Davin Eldridge

 

On the tailgate of an old rusted red pickup truck, a bumper sticker reads, “Why is it called tourist season if we can’t shoot em’?”.  

 

The vehicle is parked alongside dozens of others in the fields of Darnell Farms, just outside of Bryson City, for its seventeenth annual Strawberry Jam farm-raising event. In the air an aroma of boiled peanuts and kettle-cooked corn mixes with the sounds of bluegrass and children playing, along the banks of the nearby Tuckasegee River.

Corporal Punishment, a Dying Practice in NC Schools

Apr 26, 2016

The use of corporal punishment as discipline in North Carolina schools is now practiced in just three counties.  Child advocacy groups are urging them to end it, saying that it does more harm than good. Davin Eldridge has more.

In Their Words: Rep. Joe Sam Queen

Apr 14, 2015
blueridgeheritage.com

We’ve been hearing from area lawmakers over the past week.  Many were home last week for their version of spring break and that gave us a chance to speak with many of them.  Today we hear from Joe Sam Queen.  He’s a Democrat representing Haywood, Jackson, and Swain counties in the state House. 

Area Democrats are not backing down on their call for the state to expand Medicaid, something the Republican-led General Assembly has refused to do.   Queen says North Carolinians are already footing the bill.