Smoky Mountain News | April 17, 2024

Page 1 Western North Carolina’s Source for Weekly News, Entertainment, Arts, and Outdoor Information April 17-23, 2024 Vol. 25 Iss. 47 Sylva Town Council member resigns abruptly Page 13 Q&A with GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash Page 27


On the Cover:

Vinyl records hold a special place in the hearts of folks old enough to remember the days before CDs came to dominate the music industry. Now, with CDs long past their era of dominance and people coming back around to enjoying physical media, records are again surging in popularity. As National Record Store Day approaches, The Smoky Mountain News gets to the bottom of what makes vinyl so appealing. (Page 18)


Rescue program provides a lifeline for four-legged friends during hardship....4

Waynesville planning board to study short-term rental regulations ....................6

WCU Faculty, students collaborate on Health Equity Data Consortium............7

Large apartment complex appears likely for Canton outskirts................................8

Smoky Mountain Robotics Team makes an award-winning impact ....................9

Macon County will not sell Pine Grove School........................................................10

‘We will march’: Sylva community members support Pride Parade ................12

Newman resigns from Sylva Town Council ..............................................................13


The hamster wheel of human well-being....................................................................16

Library board member is an embarassment..............................................................17


Greening Up the Mountains in Sylva..........................................................................23

HART presents ‘I’ll Eat You Last’..................................................................................24


Smokies Life celebrates ribbon cutting at new welcome center........................26

Notes from a Plant Nerd ................................................................................................32


Maddie Woodard. .

C LASSIFIEDS: Scott Collier.

N EWS E DITOR: Kyle Perrotti.

WRITING: Hannah McLeod.

Cory Vaillancourt.

Garret K. Woodward. .

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Welcome to Summer Camp

Rescue program provides a lifeline for four-legged friends during hardship

Summer camp. Memories of the great outdoors, new friends, fun adventures.

But around Misfit Mountain in Haywood County, the rescue’s Summer Camp Program means something entirely different, and that vital service may have just saved Frankie Scott’s life, if not his dog, Koda’s.

Frankie Scott, 41, was in the Army from 2001-2009 and was a forward observer, a job that took him to the front lines.

“As a forward observer, I was responsible for observing enemy locations and calling in field artillery, naval gun fire or air support, if available — being the eyes on-target during initial combat operations and assessing aftereffects,” Scott said.

on his feet. He’s been in Asheville now going on about 11 years.

Scott wanted to point out that homelessness doesn’t always affect who people may think based on the stereotypes.

“I’m educated,” he said. “I have a degree in psychology and early U.S. history.”

While times had been tough over the last year or so, beginning with Scott coming out of a long-term relationship and eventually again experiencing homelessness, his dog, Koda, helped him immensely. But it’s tough to try to get back up on your feet with a dog to take care of.

“When I was homeless, the thought of putting him back in a shelter was unthinkable,” he said. “I could live in a cardboard box, but I just want to make sure he’s taken care of.

After having the husky by his side for four years, it was time to find someone to take care of him. A case manager at of AVRQ he’d been working with told him about the summer camp program. The folks at Misfit Mountain immediately took Koda in.

Misfit Mountain was technically founded in December 2021 but got moving in February 2022 after founders Tera and Amy McIntosh bought the property where the rescue is now.

Scott deployed to Iraq from late 2003 to early 2005, a period when the fighting in that country was particularly intense. Once he got out, Scott, a Rowan County native, moved around a bit but ended up coming to Asheville the first time he experienced homelessness. He said that while it’s hard to overcome homelessness while battling depression and anxiety from stemming from PTSD, Asheville Veterans Restoration Quarters has been vital in helping him get back

The summer camp program is unique in that it allows someone experiencing hardship to leave their pet in good hands while they sort out whatever issue they may face. And it’s done without judgment. Tera said they have taken in animals whose owners are experiencing addiction, brief incarceration, homelessness or even domestic violence. They are also willing to do it anonymously. For example, in a domestic violence situation, it’s not uncommon for an abuser to try to use an animal as leverage against their victim, so the last thing Tera and Amy want to do is make it known where the animal may be. While the period they will take an animal is usually capped at three months, that can be flexible depending on the situation.

“And when they come into the summer camp program, we get them vaccinated, spayed and neutered if they’re not already,” Amy said. “So they’re you’re also preventing more accidental litters.” Those services alone can total around $500.

Tera wanted to be clear that no one should feel hesitant to reach out if they may be in a situation where the Summer Camp program can help.

“We had one case where a nurse called us and said ‘hey,

the owner of this dog is being admitted to the hospital,’” Tera said. “He was disoriented and didn’t know what was going, but he told the nurse ‘my dog is at home and nobody is there. I don’t have anyone.’ Amy said, ‘what’s your address, and how can I get into your house?’ He ended up being in the hospital for a week and then a stepdown facility for a couple of weeks, so we fostered his dog for about three weeks total.”

In Scott’s case, Koda was fostered by River Eure from December of last year until early March. Eure is the shelter manager for the Madison County Animal Shelter and has a husky of his own named Griffin. He said Koda and Griffin got along well and that fostering was essentially a breeze.

“He’s actually happier when we have a foster dog in the house, so it just worked out,” Eure said. “I saw their Facebook posts looking for a foster that didn’t have any cats. And it was some weird, serendipitous thing because my cat died three days before the universe brought [Koda] to us.”

“River was amazing,” Scott said. “They lived like two or three miles down the road from me, so I was able to come see Koda any time and spend time with him.”

Earlier this year, Scott found housing. Two men, whom Scott referred to by first name, Patrick and Chuck, wanted to use an extra room in his home to provide housing for a veteran experiencing homelessness, F

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Frankie, pictured here with Koda, credits the Summer Camp program with saving both of their lives. Donated photo Clockwise from top, Tera McIntosh, River Eure and Amy McIntosh. Kyle Perrotti photo Smoky Mountain News

especially since Patrick is a retired Navy Lieutenant Commander. Scott, now with stable housing, was able to take Koda back.

“I was completely over the moon elated about it. The reunification was amazing. Koda was over-the-top excited,” Scott said.

Scott made a point of expressing how thankful he is for the likes of Patrick and Chuck, as well as Veterans Restoration Quarters. Without the help of others, he said, he may have never made it out of his dire circumstance. Likewise, he had tremendous gratitude for Misfit Mountain and Eure.

“They saved Koda’s life, and they probably saved my life,” he said.

Eure said programs like Summer Camp are becoming increasingly vital as shelters and other rescues spend months at a time at or exceeding capacity.

“It’s absolutely, from a sheltering standpoint, a necessary program,” Eure said. “The future of sheltering and how we get out of the nationwide problem that we’re currently having is rescues offering fosters. In this case, like everybody has tough times, everybody needs help sometimes, and that’s totally okay. There are owners who love their animals who don’t necessarily want to have to surrender their animals, but they need help.”

In addition, if one person uses that service, that’s one fewer dog in the shelter system

“You keep that dog out of the shelter, so not only do you potentially save his life, you have a shelter space open to save another life,” Eure said. “You can theoretically run eight to 10 foster or shelter dogs through that one kennel in three months, whereas if a shelter was expected to hold him, that’s one dog and all of those other eight to 10 dogs are being told, ‘you have to wait until we out in space.’”

As successful as the Summer Camp program has been, Tera and Amy wanted to make it clear that they hope to grow as much as they can within the limitations of their space and the time they can put into

the rescue. For those looking to help, Amy has the answer.

“Obviously, financial donations help, and supplies help,” Amy said. “But there’s nothing that compares to someone’s time.”

She specified that while there is a lot of time and work that needs to be put into maintaining the facilities, fostering an animal may be the most valuable thing to the folks at Misfit Mountain.

“Bonding with an animal, connecting with them, taking them on an adventure really means a lot to us,” she said. “I would say foster help and volunteer help are probably the two biggest things we need.”

For those who feel like money or resources may be a barrier to fostering, Misfit Mountain will provide just about everything needed, from food to leashes to crates.

Anyone interested in adopting, fostering, volunteering or donating can visit

River Eure, pictured here with Misfit Mountain dog Zennia, has worked in animal shelters in the past, but Koda was the first dog he’d fostered for the rescue. Kyle Perrotti photo Tera McIntosh does the rounds and checks on some of the animals at Misfit Mountain. Kyle Perrotti photo

Waynesville planning board to study short-term rental regulations

Seeking to balance the economic benefits of short-term vacation rentals with the negative effects they have on housing affordability in a tourist-driven, service-based economy, Waynesville’s planning board has taken up deliberations on new regulations that could eventually be presented for consideration by Town Council.

“This is a topic all across the United States, people struggling with these issues,” said Planning Board Chair Susan Teas Smith in opening the board’s April 15 meeting.

Short-term rentals (STRs) are private residential dwellings that can be reserved for 30 days or less through online platforms like Airbnb, VRBO and more than 70 others. According to the planning board’s staff report, STR rental compliance consultant Granicus said there were 319 such rentals within Waynesville’s town limits in 2019, but 444 in 2021. Last week, there were only 234, however listings fluctuate seasonally or even at the owner’s discretion.

Haywood County’s Tourism Development Authority reported that in 2023 a slight majority (53%) of visitors to the county stayed in one of the estimated 1,975 STRs instead of one of the county’s 1,615 hotel rooms. While not all of those STRs are suitable for long-term rental by local workers and families — multimillion-dollar mountaintop homes, for example — a 2021 report from the Dogwood Health Trust counted a 1,600-unit deficiency of long-term rentals in the county, which by restricting supply drives up costs and leaves locals with little choice but to pay rents far above the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s recommended level.

Unaffordable housing isn’t the only undesirable effect stemming from the proliferation of STRs. Livability concerns for neighbors, including noise, parking and trash management also arise, as does increasing competition in traditionally residential neighborhoods between working class homebuyers and corporate interests with near-limitless resources.

STRs do, however, encourage real estate investment and allow many Americans a second income, or their sole income — including workers engaged in cleaning, maintenance and management enterprises. Director of Development Services Elizabeth Teague said that revenue from STRs had helped fuel the renovations that make Waynesville’s Main Street so unique.

“No one in Waynesville wants to ban short-term rentals,” Teague said.

The town has been monitoring STR activity since 2018. The planning board discussed possible regulations in 2019, in 2023 and earlier this year, when a draft ordinance was presented. That vigilance has come with a fair degree of uncertainty, not simply over maintaining a balance but also over attempts at pro-landlord intervention from the General Assembly and the courts.

In 2023, Sen. Tim Moffitt (R-Henderson) filed an unsuccessful bill that would prohibit municipalities from enforcing regulations that restrict the ability of homeowners to use residential property or accessory dwelling units as STRs. Moffit is a realtor.

That same year, a court case in Wilmington set the guardrails for how municipalities could regulate STRs — that is to say, barely at all.

The draft ordinance considered by the planning board on April 15, reviewed by planning board attorney Ron Sneed, attempts to thread the needle between what municipalities can and cannot do.

Previously, the town’s land development standards didn’t define the difference between a homestay and an STR.

The proposed definition for a homestay is “lodging that occurs within a resident-occupied dwelling, duplex or townhome, or an accessory dwelling unit on the same property” while an STR doesn’t need to be owner-occupied.

Homestays, per the proposed ordinance, would be protected in all of Waynesville’s neighborhoods, however members of the Town Council would have to decide where, exactly, STRs would be allowed or prohibited.

The ordinance would also create a regulatory structure for the management of STRs, to minimize the impact of guests on neighbors.

For STRs, one off-street parking space per bedroom would be required, as would $500,000 in commercial general liability insurance. Parties or other large gatherings would be prohibited, and any trash would have to be stored in bear-proof containers until collection day, at which time empty bins would have to be removed from the streetside collection point.

Existing STRs in retroactively prohibited neighborhoods could end up being treated as pre-existing nonconforming uses, unless and until STR rental activity lapses for a period of one year.

The planning board quickly realized that nearly every aspect of the proposed regulations, including the defini-

tions of “homestay” and “STR” could carry unanticipated consequences, and that the issue needs further study before recommendations could be made.

Near the end of the meeting, the board appointed by motion three members — John Baus, Michael Blackburn and Travis Collins — to head up a working group that will recruit people from the community to provide input on the regulations.

If that input is anything like that of the six people who spoke during the meeting’s public comment session, the working group will be inundated with one-sided misinformation.

Three of the six speakers, including David Plyler, Tricia Hollifield and Carlos Vasquez — all STR owners — asserted in no uncertain terms that STRs do not contribute to housing unaffordability.

“You cannot tell us what to do,” Hollifield said.

Numerous studies dating back years draw a direct correlation between the proliferation of short term rentals and significant increases in housing prices.

In Haywood County alone, where developable land is scarce and housing inventory is extremely limited, nearly 2,000 properties have been taken off the long-term rental market in favor of operating as STRs, which has led to scarcity in the long-term rental market. Scarcity drives up the price of any commodity.

Smith lamented the fact that no one on the affordable housing side of the issue showed up to speak out at the meeting. Whether that precedent continues in the working group remains to be seen — the board recommended local property developer Jackie Curé as the first member of the working group, but will continue to seek others.

Once the working group gathers enough input, the planning board has the option to recommend the proposed regulations as presented, to alter them or to recommend so regulations whatsoever.

Any adopted regulations would only affect STRs within Waynesville’s town limits and its extra-territorial jurisdiction. STRs outside town limits and outside the ETJ — even those with a Waynesville mailing address — would not be affected.

Perhaps the biggest challenge ahead of the planning board, and eventually the Town Council, is the threat of litigation. In October, Iredell County voted to implement STR regulations, but a quick injunction will prevent enforcement of those regulations until the court rules otherwise.

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 6
According to the planning board’s staff report, STR rental compliance consultant Granicus said there were 319 such rentals within Waynesville’s town limits in 2019, but 444 in 2021. Stock photo

WCU Faculty, students collaborate on Health Equity Data Consortium

Although it has been four years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the effects are still being felt around the world, especially in rural communities that do not have adequate access to health resources.

This is where the Health Equity Data Consortium comes in, to try and bridge the gap between underserved communities and access to health care by conducting the COVID19 Impact Survey, a statewide project funded by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Yiqing Yang, an associate professor of sociology at WCU, along with several sociology students, is collaborating with WCU faculty members Katie Pincura, director of the health sciences program and Terri Durbin, director of the School of Nursing. Together, they represent WCU as part of 11 universities within the state tasked with engaging faculty and students to assess the impact the pandemic has had on North Carolina residents.

The purpose of the statewide project is to expand COVID-19 data surveillance into North Carolina’s six Medicaid regions. WCU is part of region one.

Five undergraduate students majoring or minoring in sociology were recruited last fall as paid research assistants for the project. They received training on data collection from experts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina A&T University and NCHHS, as well as researchers from other participating universities.

The student team was actively involved in data collection, conducting phone calls in the call center and attending community events across WNC to set up tables, aiming to attract survey participants.

Anjili Romero, a senior from Statesville, said she’s proud to be able to make a difference in the lives of those who share her heritage.

“Being able to work with the Spanishspeaking community through the tabling events and outreach has been very rewarding,” Romero said.

Like Romero, Zekariah Lackey, a sophomore from Clayton, Georgia, is thrilled to have the opportunity to make an impact.

“As part of the call center, I get to help people of color get access to resources related to emergency events like the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Through this surveillance, the state can gain a more comprehensive understanding of how the pandemic impacted social, health and economic outcomes in historically marginalized communities.

“While the consortium primarily consists of historically Black colleges and universities, WCU and Appalachian State are involved to represent the Western North Carolina population,” Pincura said.

Data was collected from the fall 2023 semester until mid-February of the current spring semester.

The project provides crucial insights into the specific health impacts of the pandemic in North Carolina, informing targeted interventions and policies to address disparities.

“This approach reflects a genuine commitment to diversity, equity and community engagement,” Yang said. “Moreover, it offers a remarkable opportunity to contribute to meaningful research aimed at addressing health disparities and promoting health equity in North Carolina.”

Lola Hickey, a junior from Oklahoma, was thrilled to have the opportunity to see different parts of Western North Carolina through this project’s tabling events.

“This unique project has let me see so many different parts of our region,” she said. “I also really loved engaging with the community and representing our region at events.”

Yang expressed her gratitude to Dave Kinner, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Anthropology and Sociology for their support of this project.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of this opportunity and am genuinely grateful for the chance to contribute,” Yang said. “As a methods person who teaches methods of social research, being involved in a renowned, large-scale collaborative survey like this has always been a dream of mine. Now, as we enter the data analysis phase, the excitement only grows. I am eagerly anticipating analyzing the combined data collected from over 10,000 responses statewide.”

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From left to right, WCU students Lola Hickey, Zekariah Lackey, Anjili Romero and Yiqing Yang, associate professor of sociology. Donated photo

Large apartment complex appears likely for Canton

The Town of Canton’s governing board will soon consider approval of a substantial residential project after the town’s planning board unanimously voted to accept staff recommendations in favor of the proposal on April 10.

If approved, the project would include 12 apartment buildings with 24 units each, and three carriage house buildings with four units each for a total of 300 units on 13 separate lots that will be joined to form one 37-acre parcel. That would likely make it the largest residential development in Haywood County history.

“It certainly is the biggest in the town of Canton’s history,” said Byron Hickox, the town’s planning director.

At 8.2 units per acre, the project falls well below the maximum base density of units per acre specified in the town’s zoning ordinance. Project plans show a clubhouse, more than 2 acres of open space and parking spots for 525 cars. Buildings will rise to a maximum height of three stories and

NC launches Haywood Homeownership Assistance Program

The N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) is supporting Haywood County in the April 22 launch of its Homeownership Assistance Program (HAP) to assist homebuyers displaced by Tropical Storm Fred or first-time homebuyers that are income qualified.

More than $1 million is available to offset homeownership costs, including up to 30% in down payment assistance and up to 5% in closing cost assistance. Homebuyer education and counseling will also be offered and must be completed prior to closing.

The Homeownership Assistance Program in Haywood County will be operated through a collaboration between Haywood County and the NCORR Community Development Office. The program will serve low- to medium-income households pur-

Currently, the parcels are not located within town limits; however, developers have applied for annexation, which would benefit both the project and the town.

The current assessed value of the parcels is right around $1.5 million, which is likely to go up once purchase prices are considered, the countywide property revaluation takes effect in 2025 and construction is completed, likely late in 2026.

Whatever the final number ends up being, it’s property tax revenue the town doesn’t currently have, and with severe municipal budget challenges in the wake of the closing of Pactiv Evergreen’s 115-year-old paper mill in Canton, the town needs every nickel it can get.

The town would also gain hundreds of new water and sewer customers.

In turn, residents would receive other town services like fire and police coverage as well as garbage pickup.

In a larger sense, the project could end up having a positive impact on the county’s affordable housing crisis. A 2021 Dogwood Health Trust report noted a deficiency of almost 1,600 rental units in Haywood County, which parallels the approximately 1,700 short-term vacation rental properties available.

plans meet all building location and setback requirements.

Tucked away just off Champion Drive on Livestock Market Road, the proposed development offers easy access to Interstate 40 to the north as well as the Ingles grocery store to the south. Plans call for the improvement of Livestock Market Road to town standards, including a paved width of 22 feet with curbs, gutters and sidewalks on both sides. Livestock Market Road will also be extended to North Canton Road.

The project’s developers are acting through a Hickorybased LLC called Canton Investors, which includes several principals from another development company, HVY Holdings, which has completed several similar projects in the Hickory area. The project does, however, include one well-known local name — Michael Parrott, a Pisgah High School graduate who played fullback for the Miami Hurricanes in 2020 and 2021.

“I think it will be a high-quality product similar to Plott Creek [apartments, in Waynesville],” Hickox said.

chasing a home in Haywood County. Details about program eligibility and awards, as well as the program manual, can be found on the Haywood County HAP webpage.

The program is just one of several in Haywood County that is replacing housing lost due to Tropical Storm Fred.

In addition to the HAP, NCORR and Haywood County are partnering to manage an Affordable Housing Development Fund to provide new affordable housing development projects.

The Homeownership Assistance Program–Haywood County is supported by North Carolina’s HUD Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding for Tropical Storm Fred. The HAP program is one of multiple housing programs overseen by NCORR through its Community Development Office, which also administers the Affordable Housing Development Fund, Multifamily Development Fund, Public Housing Restoration Fund, Homeownership Assistance Program and Infrastructure

Although the project is expected to charge market rate rents and doesn’t specifically include any units priced on a sliding scale for income — like the Mountain Creek apartments at the former Bi-Lo site in Waynesville does — it’s thought that any increase in market-rate rental units helps open up workforce housing and affordable units for new renters.

Carl Cortright, a planning board member, said only one person spoke out at the meeting against the project, but plenty of nearby residents showed up to ask questions — quality questions the planning board would have asked anyway, according to Cortright.

“I think it’s a quality project. That’s what impressed me about the presentation,” he said. “To me, it’s the best possible use of the land if we do have to build something on it. We don’t have a multi-family complex like this in Canton.”

Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers said he’s supportive of the project and looks forward to hearing it presented before the town’s governing board on April 25.

“I’m appreciative of both the planning department and the planning board’s work on this project,” Smathers said April 12. “Both have done their due diligence, followed our guidelines, and I’m confident this can be a successful economic and housing win for the town.

Recovery Program. In addition to disaster recovery and affordable housing, the office manages programs that support resiliency, mitigation, strategic buyout, infrastructure, local government grants and loans and pandemic-related rent and utility assistance.

Haywood to conduct property reappraisals

The Haywood County Tax Assessors Office is currently conducting a comprehensive reappraisal of all properties within the county for the 2025 tax year. This staterequired initiative ensures property values are fair and accurate, reflecting today’s market conditions for everyone in our community.

Every four years, the reappraisal process in Haywood County is crucial for property taxes. By reviewing property values, the county can set fair tax rates that match market changes, ensuring taxes are distributed fairly.

“We are committed to upholding transparency and fairness in our property tax system,” said Judy Hickman, Haywood County Tax Assessor. “The reappraisal process allows us to accurately reflect changes in property values, ensuring that all property owners contribute their fair share to support essential services and infrastructure within our community.”

Haywood County residents can expect to receive notifications regarding the reappraisal process well in advance. These notifications will provide important dates, steps, and resources for property owners to address any questions or concerns they might have during the reappraisal period. Property owners are encouraged to stay informed and engaged in the reappraisal process to better understand your valuation.

In an effort to keep the community wellinformed, Haywood County tax officials are extending an invitation to interested groups for informational sessions. Contact Hickman at to set this up.

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 8
A rendering provided by developers shows what the proposed apartment buildings might look like. Town of Canton photo

Smoky Mountain Robotics Team makes an award-winning impact

The Smoky Mountain Academic Robotics Team (SMART) brought home the Impact Award at the Mecklenburg District FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition event in Charlotte last month and will advance to the FIRST North Carolina District Championship.

The Impact Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST, honoring the team that best embodies the mission of FIRST, representing a model for other teams to emulate. The award was created to highlight the goals of the FIRST Robotics Competition to encourage more youth to become science and technology leaders, transforming the culture to inspire greater respect and honor for science and technology.

FIRST is a global organization founded in 1989 that encourages students of all ages to explore technological and scientific concepts through various competitions, including FIRST Lego Leagues (FLL), FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). Each year, FIRST teams from across the country build robots and participate in game challenges at district competition events.

SMART was established as a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team in 2017 and their first season was in 2018. SMART has student members from Smoky Mountain High School and Jackson County Early College. The team was chosen for this award because of its commitment to advancing STEM in Western North Carolina through creating robotics summer camps for kids, helping to establish FIRST Lego Leagues (FLL) and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams in the mountain region, mentoring teams throughout WNC,

participating in regional fairs and events and building community partnerships with local businesses, Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University.

To apply for the award, members of SMART prepared both video and written applications, then presented to, and were interviewed by FIRST judges.

“This is a milestone event in the life of a FIRST team and reflects sustained performance of the team over a period of years,” said Dr. Paul Yanik of Western Carolina University, former NCFIRST board member and regular FIRST Robotics Competition judge advisor.

Smoky Mountain Academic Robotics Team lead mentors are Ty Dengler and Larissa Miller. The team is also mentored by WCU students and FIRST alumni Elvis Perez Galarza and Taleigh Verrault. The team also receives support from community members and Dr. Paul Yanik, Dr. Scott Huffman, and Dr. Yanjun Yan of Western Carolina University.

At the Asheville District FIRST Robotics Competition event held March 15-17 at UNC- Asheville, SMART advanced to the finals in the game competition, finishing in the second-place alliance. At that event, the team was honored with the Judges Award, which honors a team’s unique efforts, performance, or dynamics that merit recognition but does not fit into another award category.

The NC FIRST state Championship competition event will be held April 5-7 at East Carolina University. For more information about SMART and how to become a team member, mentor or sponsor, please visit or email the team at

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The Smoky Mountain Robotics Team took first place at the recent event in Charlotte. Donated photo

Macon County will not sell Pine Grove School

After extensive input from Macon residents who wanted to see the old Pine Grove School remain available for community use, the county commission has decided not to sell the old school building.

“Thank you for coming out tonight,” Commissioner Josh Young said in an address to the members of the public that showed up to advocate for the Pine Grove School. “Thank you for your time. Your presence is powerful.”

During the April 9 county commission meeting, the board held a public hearing on the possible sale of the old Pine Grove School. The school building, originally constructed in 1912, is situated on a 1.26-acre tract of land located at the junction of Peeks Creek Road and the Highlands Road.

Seven people took to the podium during the public hearing, five of whom spoke against the sale of the property. At least one of those speakers advocating against the sale spoke on behalf of a larger group.

The old Pine Grove School is used as a polling place for the Sugarfork voting precinct, and according to Macon County Board of Elections Director Melanie Thibault, the building has served that purpose for over 80 years.

“We know that the old Holly Springs and the Scaly Mountain schools have both been restored for community use as well as voting polling places for their districts and we are respectfully asking you all to designate that the Pine Grove School be reserved for the same purpose and continued to be used for that and not be sold into private hands,” said Macon resident Marci Holland.

The site where the building is located served as a school in the community from 1855-1949.

“I grew up on Peeks Creek. I think that the best history lessons are taught by your grandparents, and my first encounter with the old schoolhouse, other than seeing it, was my grandfather’s history stories about how he went to school there and walked to school and had to leave there in 8th grade because the family had fallen on hard times,” said Julie Tastinger. “My second history lesson was a civics lesson that involved the old schoolhouse, and that was [from] my mom because every single time she voted she took us with her and we got a lesson about democracy and freedom and the constitution and how we had a civil obligation to vote every single time.”

In 2006, there was an effort to restore the building for community use. The building

Jackson County man convicted in fatal collision

An intoxicated Jackson County man who drove at a high rate of speed and careened into two other cars, killing the second vehicle’s driver

was updated to add bathrooms, a kitchen area, new windows, a handicapped accessible ramp and roof repairs. Each of the original pine floorboards were pulled up, sanded and re-laid. Part of the effort included the creation of a community club, called the Macon County Preservation Society, to maintain the building moving forward.

“I would like to ask you to preserve the old schoolhouse because I don’t think she’s done

teaching history lessons to the kids of Macon County or to any of us,” said Tastinger.

During the renovations, a memorial was also erected for the Peeks Creek Disaster landslide caused by hurricane Ivan in 2004, in which five people lost their lives.

After the public hearing, Commissioner John Shearl made a motion not to discuss and take action on the Pine Grove School property. Young suggested that the group that showed up to the county meeting try to put together a nonprofit entity that could provide funds necessary for insurance and maintenance of the building moving forward.

“Essentially, the community built a building for the community, and I have interest in

and seriously injuring a passenger, will serve more than 14 years in prison, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.

A jury in Jackson County Superior Court last week found Johnnie Ray Arch, 51, of Cullowhee, culpable in the July 15, 2019, death of Hazel Jones Shultz, 78, of Bryson City.

A test revealed Arch’s blood alcohol concentration at .11, exceeding the legal limit of .08.

According to board attorney Eric Ridenhour, some time after renovations were complete, interest in the organization waned and upkeep of the building fell back to the county.

“Then it was brought before the board as to whether or not the county wanted to reaccept title to that, and it did, so we got the title back,” said Ridenhour.

Several members of the public indicated that they wanted to reconvene the community organization to maintain the building.

“We did not learn of, until recently, the disbanding of the original community club and that the Pine Grove School was turned back over to the county in 2021,” said Holland. “So, the people that I am here with tonight and some others that couldn’t make the meeting are willing to serve as a new community club to oversee the maintenance, the upkeep and the use of the building by the community.”

Arch was charged and found guilty of felony death by motor vehicle, felony serious injury by motor vehicle, reckless driving to endanger, hit and run, drive left of center and no operator’s license.

N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Rocky Deitz’s investigation showed Arch’s vehicle initially hit a Toyota SUV on South River Road, damaging the vehicle’s right-front quarter panel. Arch had

giving it back to the community the way it was intended to be,” said Young. “I feel like the building should go back in the hands of the rightful owners as long as there is a proper, nonprofit setup to properly oversee all needed aspects and maintenance of the building.”

With unanimous support from the board, the commission asked that the community members convened, led by Marci Holland, put work into creating a nonprofit to support the community space, as well as determining whether the school building can be designated as a historically significant site. Commissioners asked those community members to come back before the board after that some of that research and work has been completed.

ignored double yellow lines and attempted to pass.

He did not stop after hitting the SUV; instead, Arch drove to and continued along North River Road at a high rate of speed.

In a sharp curve, Arch crashed his Volkswagen Beetle head on into Shultz’s Kia Sorrento. She and a passenger were airlifted to Mission Hospital, but life-saving efforts for Schultz proved unsuccessful.

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 10
The Pine Grove School was built in 1912. Donated photo
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‘We will march’

Sylva community members support Pride Parade

On Thursday night, Sylva community members marched to the town council meeting to show their disappointment in a recent vote to not allow the annual Sylva Pride event to close part of Main Street for a parade.

A crowd of more than 50 people gathered on Main Street to show their support for a Pride parade in downtown Sylva.

“March for Love. March for Pride,” was one of the chants echoing down the street.

The group marched on sidewalks around town to the Sylva Town Hall. Sylva resident Jessie Roberts, one of the organizers of the event, explained that this was a community effort. Roberts and many attendees wore shirts that said, “We Will March,” a group Roberts said it is a new organization that wants to be able to march for Pride.

“This is about visibility. This is about being seen. We deserve to be seen…” Roberts said, citing negative effects of state legislation like SB49 on local children. “It’s about showing up and showing them that they have a future where they are allowed to sit at the table and eat with everybody else.”

Lauren Calvert, owner of In Your Ear music store on Main Street, spoke outside of town hall. Calvert said she opened the store in

1994 with her girlfriend and faced stigma in the form of obscene phone calls and other insults.

“I never - I’m going on 30 years in Julythought that I would ever see Pride happen in Sylva,” Calvert said.

Last year she was moved when she marched in the parade with her daughter last year.

“We got to walk arm in arm in the Pride parade last year. I cried. She cried. And she got to see what community was all about,” Calvert said. “It makes all the difference in the world. We don’t need permission. We should march.”

Calvert was one of 25 business owners to sign an open letter to the Town Commissioners in support of Pride at last month’s meeting.

Just after the town meeting started at 5:30pm, the advocates walked into the hall. Sylva Police Chief Chris Hatton cautioned the group about protocol.

“You can’t disrupt the meeting,” he said.

The 20 people filed quietly into the meeting as Town Commissioner Brad Waldroop gave his report.

“….I believe the parade brought a spirit of inclusivity and positivity to our town that was special and it also represented an opportunity for members of the LGBTQ+ community from

other places that aren’t as inclusive to feel part of our larger mountain community,” Waldroop said. He was not able to attend the previous meeting where the vote took place.

“I think we let our community down by changing our position. I believe that we have gone backwards.”

Waldroop advocated for the board to reconsider Sylva Pride’s application and said he

thought Sylva should have an official Pride Day coinciding with the event.

Commissioner Mark Jones made his report sharing a fundraiser for a premature baby born to a firefighter at the Savannah Fire Department. He said there will be an event to raise money for medical care next Friday. Commissioner Blitz Estridge did not have a comment.

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 12
More than 50 people started at the fountain below the Old Jackson County Courthouse to march in support of a Pride Parade. Lilly Knoepp/BPR photo

Newman resigns from Sylva Town Council

Natalie Newman has been serving her community on five different boards and associations for the past several years, but announced suddenly over the weekend that she was stepping away from it all.

“Effective immediately due to concerns I cannot and shall not publicly express, I resign in every capacity from every board I currently hold seat on,” Newman said in a Facebook post. “Thank you for allowing me to serve my community.”

Newman served on the Main Street Sylva Association Board, the Southwestern NC Housing Consortium, Carolina Smokies Association of Realtors, Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, and was elected to the Sylva Town Council in 2021, making her the first Black woman in Sylva history to hold the position.

Newman also ran for mayor of Sylva during the 2023 election, but ultimately lost to Johnny Phillips.

According to Town Manager Paige Dowling, Newman sent a message to board members and town staff on Saturday afternoon with the same language in her Facebook post announcing her resignation and asked that recipients not respond to the message.

The board will advertise the vacancy on the board in the Sylva Herald. Applications for the board vacancy will be due to town hall by May 1 and distributed to the board for review in open session during the May 9 meeting. During its May 23 meeting the board will vote by ballot to fill the vacancy.

“Ballots will contain the board member’s name and a list of candidates to choose from,” said Dowling. “The announcement of

Commissioner Natalie Newman’s report was a critique of the board’s decision and of any attempts to stifle protests or criticism from the community.

“My observation is that the Sylva Pride board has remained gracious and calm throughout this disappointing decision, however, many individuals in our community are obviously upset,” Newman said.

Newman said she felt that the vote was taken too quickly, especially considering Waldroop’s absence. Newman noted how prior decisions were delayed when members were absent, citing a delay of a vote on streetlightsa previous meeting when two members were absent.

“It’s very sad that we could take the extra time to choose streetlights but refused to give a moment more to the parade permit,” Newman said.

She highlighted the costs of other events which close Main Street for much longer than Pride.

After the vote at the March 21 meeting, Mayor Johnny Phillips told WLOS that the town has only approved five parades or events that closed the street: Christmas Parade, Greening Up, Western Carolina University Homecoming, Treat Street and the 4th of July.

Newman said the Halloween Trunk or

the vote must be public including the board member’s name and selection choice.”

The newly appointed board member will be sworn in on May 30.

In the recent vote over whether to allow Sylva Pride’s application for a partial street closure for a parade during its Pride event, Newman and Commissioner Brad Waldrop were the only members of the board who advocated for permitting the application.

“I want to make it very clear that I am deeply hurt and disappointed following our last meeting and the recent decision and vote to deny Sylva Pride’s application for a two-block street closure,” said Newman during the board’s April 11 meeting. “It is not the denial that has been so troubling to me, more so it is how flippantly and hastily this board made that decision with little to no consideration about what was before us.”

Similarly, in a February vote on a panhandling ordinance, Waldrop and Newman were the only two board members to vote against the ordinance.

“Natalie has inspired me in our relatively short time together on the Sylva Town Board of Commissioners with her intelligence, compassion and bravery,” said Waldrop in a Facebook post. “I suspect few people realize how committed she has been to serve our town and community. In fact, I have no idea how she’s made time to do it with such passion and dedication considering everything she’s been involved with. She’s one of the most impressive people I know. It’s a tremendous loss for our town and community to no longer have her serving us in an official capacity, but I know she will continue to excel in other ways and be able to spend more time with her sweet family. Thank you, Natalie.”

Treat festivities shut down the entire length of Main Street for the evening event while Pride only closes two blocks for less than an hour.

“If anyone fears that me speaking out about this will result in retaliation from the powers that be and hinder any future Pride events, I urge you to see what is happening. What has already been taken and realize that if using your voice causes you to lose these liberties then realize that not using your voice, hiding in silence is the only thing allowing you to hold onto those few things,” Newman said.

The only item on the agenda was a report on plans about Pinnacle Park which both Mayor Pro Temp Mary Gelbaugh and Commissioner Waldroop said looked good. No action was taken on the issue.

The meeting ended with a closed session which the agenda said was called to consult with their attorney.

The group headed back to the fountain for a few final speakers. Roberts said the gathering will not be the only protest.

“The idea that if we are just quiet and go with the flow that maybe we will get it next year is going to be exactly why we don’t get it next year and the year after that,” Roberts said.

The Pride event is scheduled in September at Bridge Park in Sylva.

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 13
April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 14

Community Almanac

Lake Junaluska to host National Day of Prayer

A National Day of Prayer service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 2, at the outdoor amphitheater below the Cross at Lake Junaluska. The Rev. Dr. Stephen Buys, lead pastor of Orchard Church in Waynesville, will direct the service, assisted by community prayer leaders. Music will be under the direction of Hilda Ryan.

Prayer leaders will be:

• Family – Jennifer Mathis, homeschool parent, Canton

• Church – the Rev. William “Billy” Staley, of Harris Chapel AME Zion Church, Canton

• Workplace – Pastor Heath Davis, Pinnacle Church, Canton

• Education – Chuck Francis, chairman, Haywood County School Board

• Military – Dave Nicholson, retired United States Marine Corps colonel and former director of Lake Junaluska

Assembly Public Works

• Government – Haywood County Sheriff Bill Wilke

• Art, media and entertainment –Carolyn Olliff, biblical counselor

The theme for the 2024 National Day of Prayer is “Lift up the Word – Light up the World,” based on 2 Samuel 22:29-31: “For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. …”

A crowd gathered in 2023 at the Lake Junaluska amphitheater below the Cross to participate in Haywood County's National Day of Prayer service. The National Day of Prayer is designated as the first Thursday of May each year. Donated photo

Parking will be at Lambuth Inn with disability parking available by the Cross. Seating will be available above the amphitheater for those who are unable to descend or climb the steps.

Come out to Hempfest

This Saturday, April 20, the Pied Piper will host Hempfest in Dillsboro’s Montieth Park from noon to 7 p.m. The event will feature local craft and art vendors, live glass blowing, live music from Twelfth Fret, food from Dogs on Wheels. There will also be hourly raffles, a drum circle from 2-4 p.m. and a “community light up” at 4:20 p.m.

Brasstown hosts monthly food pantry

The Brasstown Community Center, partnering with Matt's Ministry, will be hosting its monthly Food Pantry on April 18 from noon to 2 p.m. for individuals or families experiencing food insecurity.

If anyone could benefit from some supplemental food, they are welcome to attend. Brasstown Community Center is located at 255 Settawig Road in Brasstown.

Sylva Rotary Club pancake breakfast

The Sylva Rotary Club is inviting people to a pancake breakfast with all the fixings at the club's fundraiser on Friday, April 26. Breakfast will be served from 7-9:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, located at 77 Jackson St.

Tickets are $10 each and are available from any Rotarian or at the door. Free delivery is available for orders of five or more. To place an order, or for more information, contact

Pisgah to hold Volleybuff Showdown

Pisgah High School’s Honors Sport and Event Marketing II class will host the 2024 volleyball tournament in the Pisgah gym on Friday, May 10.

“This event is a great opportunity to raise money for United Way of Haywood County, Pisgah’s DECA chapter, volleyball program, and SGA while giving young men at every grade level the chance to compete in a fun and competitive event,” said junior Jake Lowery.

Teams in this showdown are coached by members of the current JV and Varsity volleyball teams.

“Volleybuff is a unique way to compete to see who is the top dog. I hope all our work pays off,” said senior Kole Smathers.

The Sympleaf Sport Volleyputt promotion during the championship match will feature a chance for one lucky constant to take home a grand prize of $10,000. The contest is open to anyone over the age of 14. Potential contestants will have the opportunity to register in the gym lobby. Tickets can be purchased online via the GoFan website. Admission is $5. Concessions and door prizes will also be available. The first match of the tournament will begin at 4:30 p.m.

Foundation for their investment in our mission,” said Amma North, community living coordinator at the Arc. “This new vehicle will not only transport our clients, but it will also transport dreams, independence and community connections. Thanks to their generosity, we are moving toward a brighter future for the individuals we serve.”

Free sports physicals at HRMC

Haywood Regional Medical Center and Haywood Sports Medicine will host their annual sports physicals for area middle and high school student-athletes Thursday, May 16, with corresponding times for each school. The physicals are free, and insurance is not required.

Physicals for each school will be held at the following times on May 16 at Haywood Regional Health & Fitness Center:

• Canton Middle School: 3:30-4:30 p.m.

• Bethel Middle School: 3:30-4:30 p.m.

• Waynesville Middle School: 4:30-5:30 p.m.

• Tuscola High School: 5:30-7:00 p.m.

UCM's Walkathon a success

United Christian Ministries expressed its deepest gratitude to everyone who participated in the third-annual Walk 4 Jackson, the “Superhero Stroll,” on March 23.

Thanks to the donations and support, the church raised over $8,000 for its food pantry and crisis assistance programs.

“We are grateful to the Summit Church Band for their uplifting music, Smoky Mountain Kettle Corn for their delicious donation, Andrew Beck for his artistic face painting, and to everyone who donated items for the raffle,” a news release said.

Arc of Haywood receives client services grant

The Arc of Haywood County, a nonprofit dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, announced a $16,000 grant from the Evergreen Foundation.

The grant will be instrumental in furthering the Arc’s mission by providing critical transportation services to clients. With the new vehicele, the Arc will be able to expand its programs and offerings, enabling clients to access essential appointments, community activities and opportunities that contribute to their independence and empowerment.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Evergreen

Rising 6th grade student-athletes need to attend the date for the representing school they will be attending in the coming school year. Participants must have all required forms with them signed by parents and completed to receive their physical. It is not necessary to sign up for an appointment, just come anytime during the allotted time frame for your representing school. Contact your school’s front office for registration paperwork and further information or questions. Any student-athlete that does not participate in this free event will have to consult their primary care physician or pediatrician to obtain their sports physical evaluation. Need to find a local provider? Call 800.424.DOCS (3627) be connected with a provider.

Pie-Makers Take the Stage at the Peacock

The Scribes on Stage 2024 series at the Peacock Performing Arts Center in Hayesville presents another stage production again honoring the local old-time festival, LIES and PIES at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.

With this year’s stage evening production of LIES and LIES of tall tales, big fibs, music and stories will include a pie-making silent auction with local merchants providing pies for the evening.

Bidding for the scrumptious home-made pies will start as the doors open to the Peacock at 7 p.m. and continue at intermission. Pie winners will be announced after intermission, so everyone will take their pies home right after the night’s performance. The highest bid gets the pie. All proceeds are donated to the Peacock for up-coming special projects. Everyone is invited to join family and friends for this evening of entertainment and fun.

Tickets and information are available at the Peacock box office, 301 Church St in Hayesville. 828.389.2787 or

Smoky Mountain News 15

The hamster wheel of human well-being

I’ve become fascinated with studies and lifestyle changes focused on longevity and biohacking. A few recent “revolutionary health and wellness suggestions” made me realize our cave dwelling ancestors already had everything figured out. Other than inventions like the wheel, penicillin, various vaccines, water filtration and modern dental care, much of what we consider innovative or progressive could actually be negatively impacting our well-being.

To put it simply, we are spoiling our bodies and minds to a degree that is harming us. A number of studies indicate that for optimal physical and mental fitness, our genetic code demands challenges to the cells, challenges that stimulate the expression of “survival genes” that encode for proteins to enhance the ability of the cells to withstand oxidative and metabolic stress.

Essentially, actions that positively stress our bodies and minds (rigorous exercise, eating less and mostly plants, cold water immersion, walking barefoot outside, spiritual awakening, being forced to move with the cycles of nature) keep us alive longer.

In terms of movement or lack thereof, the new adage is, “Sitting is the new smoking.” The modern lifestyle of sitting most of the day, snacking on processed foods and looking at screens is killing us prematurely. Conversely, the benefits of routine exercise are limitless. Our ancestors were required to move all day to find/harvest food, avoid predators, secure their habitat, take care of young ones and make tools and other household items. We’ll never go back to that exact way of life, but adopting activities like gardening, yard work, DIY projects and dog walking are simple things to implement movement throughout the day aside from a formal exercise routine.

Regarding food, research suggests we should only eat until

Don’t loosen floodplain restrictions

To the Editor:

Last week, we were informed that one of our Macon County commissioners is planning to eliminate the floodplain (development) ordinance. My small eco-tours business will be negatively impacted by this.

Creating more second homes and temporary lodging in our floodplains is not worth the long-term consequences of filling and building in the corridor of the river from which I draw my modest income, and which we all enjoy as a natural resource and defining feature of the place we call home.

I hope you’ll come to the Macon County Planning Board’s meeting on May 2 at 5 p.m. at 1830 Lakeside Drive and speak up for those who can’t. More development in the floodplain will permanently impact eco-tourism and wildlife habitat and increase risks and damage to other property owners downstream.

The one thing our river doesn’t need is fill dirt so that everyone can have their river view that wants it. We know from what happened, during Hurricane Ivan to Peeks Creek and what happened, more recently, to Haywood County during their flood — we can not continue to build on and create more impervious

we’re 80% full and focus primarily on plant-based foods. According to a meta-analysis on this subject by the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and published in the “Journal of Gastroenterology,” restriction of calories can slow down aging and prolong life span in 60 percent of experimental animals.

Eating too much food requires our organs to secrete extra hormones and enzymes to break the food down. When breaking the food down, the stomach produces hydrochloric acid, which backs up into the esophagus resulting in heartburn. More and more research supports a way of eating that encourages whole, plantbased foods and discourages dairy products, meat and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.

Recent research also shows that breathing through our noses has positive benefits for all bodily systems. The nose, as opposed to the mouth, evolved specifically for breathing. Our ancestors had wider noses and bigger nostrils which promoted nose breathing but as the structure of the human face shifted, we started breathing more out of our mouths which can cause issues.

Breathing through the nose lets the body take in the proper amount of oxygen for the body’s needs. Air is filtered when inhaled through the nose and therefore possesses less irritants and allergens. When the mouth is closed, the tongue and jaw remain in the correct position and therefore allow the facial bones and muscles to develop correctly, resulting in straighter


surfaces in our floodplains.  I won’t go into the habitat needs of freshwater mussels, nor how Haywood County now requires an act of congress to amend their floodplain protections. The local and regional experts can do that. Nor will I go into the real implications of what additional building in the floodplain means for my ecotours business and the creatures that require intact land. Let alone what it ends up meaning for Macon County taxpayers.

Plastic grocery bags don’t recycle

To the Editor:

The Environmental Action Community (EAC) of Western North Carolina, a nonprofit organization based in Haywood County, is participating in a reusable bag give-way at four of the county convenience centers this month as well as other activities in April, the month of Earth Day. Sturdy, large reusable bags supplied by Haywood County’s Recycling Office, will be given away to help combat the

teeth. Breathing through the mouth dries out the oral cavity which can cause tooth decay. Inhaling and exhaling through the nose slows down overall breathing which is optimal for all bodily systems, including the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Breathing through the mouth promotes short, shallow breathing which can impact the body as if we were hyperventilating.

Moving in sync with Mother Nature is another way to mimic our ancestors. Something as simple as exposing your skin to the first light of each day can offer monumental benefits to your well being. Intentional sun exposure in the first 30 to 60 minutes after waking up can increase alertness, boost mood, lower stress, and improve sleep quality. This time of day also offers a boost of vitamin D with much less UV intensity than later in the day. There are other ways to move with Mother Nature, such as being outside as much as possible, noticing the moon phases, and eating with the seasons. Additional cave dwelling ways to consider are focusing on tribes and community, medicinal plants, intentional quiet time and storytelling. Even though technology and innovation make our lives easier and more efficient, they don’t make them more joyful or healthier. Instead of primarily focusing on history in terms of wars, declarations, kingdoms and architecture, let’s also study the history of mankind’s way of life in terms of caring for our bodies and the planet. With minimal external help, our ancestors honed in on what felt right internally and with the earth. Now these same methods are resurfacing as new-age remedies. Maybe one day we’ll pause the hamster wheel, step off and enjoy the boundless pleasures of what we already know.

(Susanna Shetley is a writer, editor and digital media specialist.

misunderstanding that plastic bags distributed at grocery stores and the large blue recycling bags, plus large dark garbage bags are recyclable at our convenience centers, commonly called “dumps.”

“Often, well-meaning folks put their recyclable materials into a plastic bag and throw the whole thing into the recycling bin. We understand that the thin plastic bags ‘gum up’ the machinery in the facility where the majori-

ty of Haywood County recycling is taken, causing big problems,” noted Kathy Odvody, board member of EAC. “That facility had to hire additional staff just to empty the lightcolored plastic bags whose contents can be seen for recycling. All those bags are sent back to Haywood County landfills. If the recyclables arrive in one of the blue recycling bags or other darkly colored plastic garbage bags, then the bag AND all the contents are automatically sent back to Haywood County because the company does not want to take a chance on what might be in the dark bags that could affect their employees.”

Not only do the plastic bags take up expensive landfill space, they

Opinion Smoky Mountain News 16
Susanna Shetley

Library board member is an embarrassment

To the Editor: Diann Catlin is a member of the Macon County Public Library (MCPL) Board of Trustees. It is her job to act professionally and remain neutral in regards to the business of the library. She has not done this. At the meeting on April 9, Ms. Catlin handed out a 29-page document outlining her grievances against the MCPL and Fontana Regional Library (FRL). She addressed me directly on two points and stated her First Amendment rights were violated. I will address those here.

I am the one who challenged a children’s Bible. I challenged this book knowing that my challenge would be denied. I sent a follow-up email to the board explaining that I challenged the book to point out the absurdity of challenging a book based on information gleaned from the internet that actually had nothing to do with the book. I was only doing what Ms. Catlin had done. I am sorry that she did not understand my purpose. I truly do not care if that book is in the library, nor do I care if a parent chooses to read that book to their child.

What I do care about is that my right and my child’s right to read what we choose within the library is being threatened by people like Ms. Catlin who believe their particular moral values outweigh my decision as an individual and parent.

Now I will address the pamphlet that Ms. Catlin referred to. She seems to have associated this pamphlet with me. I do not know why she made that association. Here are the key points regarding that pamphlet about condoms.

• I moved here in 2018. That pamphlet was already in the library. I noticed it on my first trip.

• That pamphlet had a business card with it from the Western North Carolina AIDS Project (WNCAP). I do not and have never worked for that agency.

• Whether or not the pamphlet was in the teen section with the library staff’s knowledge, I do not know. The staff has changed since 2018. Maybe, Ms. Catlin should ask them and not assume things.

break down into microplastics that release toxic chemicals into our food, water and the air we breathe. Plastic production now has grown to more than 380 million tons per year. More plastic has been produced in the last ten years than in the entire 20th century, and the industry plans to grow explosively for the indefinite future. Many plastic bags have a working life of a few minutes, followed by an afterlife of centuries.

One of EAC’s major projects, Bring Your Own Bag Haywood, converts the heavy-duty feed and seed sacks that are donated to the group into waterproof, reusable bags that hold a large amount of groceries without tearing and last for years. Donated fabric is repurposed into bags, aprons, wine totes,

Personally, I did not care about that pamphlet being in the teen section. The average age of a person’s first sexual encounter in the United States is 16 for boys and 17 for girls. If Ms. Catlin did even a modicum of research, she would find these statistics online from multiple scientific sources. Since teenagers have sex, it makes sense that any materials explaining sex, birth control, etc. would be in the teen/YA section of the library including books she deems to be “sexually explicit.” Teens are not little children and should not be treated as such. It is condescending.

Now I will address Ms. Catlin’s accusation that her First Amendment rights are being violated. Since she is a member of the library board, I would like to think she has actually read the by-laws and understands the rules by which meetings are conducted. In years past, very few people attended the library board meetings, which are technically business meetings. When the public did attend, the library allowed public comment as a courtesy. Public comment was never a requirement for these meetings. As the current, completely manufactured controversy began to take hold in Macon County, public comment turned into chaos. I either have watched on video or attended board meetings where the public, especially Ms. Catlin, yell, scream and accuse the librarians of being pedophiles, groomers and sex traffickers. This type of behavior should have been stopped as soon as it started and has gone on for far too long.

Have her and others’ First Amendment rights been violated? Absolutely not. They are all still allowed to submit what they wish to say in writing, as I have done numerous times. They do not have the right to hijack meetings and verbally abuse the board members and library staff.

Diann Catlin is an embarrassment to Macon County. She never should have been appointed to the library board and should be removed immediately.

napkins, and other goods. These items will be sold at “The Whole Bloomin’ Thing” in Frog Level on Saturday, May 11, as well as other community events.

The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Planet vs Plastics,” and the EAC has information displayed in both the Waynesville and Canton libraries. Coming very soon is a chance to participate in a raffle to win an electric vehicle which will be a major fundraising event for the organization.

For more information on the Environmental Action Community and how you can help, please visit the website at:

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 17

30 years strong

an experience. She wanted people to walk away with more than they bargained for and a big part of that came in the form of recommendations.

“I would just spin off and tell them, ‘check this out,’” Calvert recalls. “I had a policy where I’d be like, you buy this and don’t like it, you can bring it back. No one ever brought it back.”

$1.4 billion — the 17th consecutive year of growth and only the second time since 1987 that vinyl albums outsold CDs in units. Data for 2023 shows 43 million vinyl albums sold compared to 37 million CDs.

Back in those early days, CDs accounted for the vast majority of sales at In Your Ear Emporium.

This summer will be 30 years since Lauren Calvert opened the doors to In Your Ear Emporium, downtown Sylva’s record store. Over the years, the way in which people consume music has changed drastically, but the heart of Calvert’s business has not.

“We need the community,” said Calvert. “Community has always been at the center of what we do.”

Back when Calvert was still attending Western Carolina University in the early 1990s, anyone looking to buy a CD or a record had to make the drive over to Waynesville, which had the closest music store.

“That was the only place to get CDs, and there’s an entire campus here,” said Calvert. “We all love music. So that’s when it started.”

But starting her own business wasn’t as easy as just finding a niche in the market. Calvert, 25 at the time and a recent college

graduate, found several financial institutions unwilling to take a chance on a young woman.

“Women in business, it’s come a long way in 25 years,” said Calvert. “We’re still not recognized as the top of the food chain, but it was even harder back then. Banks didn’t really want to lend to us.”

However, Calvert was undeterred and eventually found a private investor to help kickstart the project. When doors opened in 1994, CDs were nearing their golden age.

“CDs were really starting to take a stronghold,” said Calvert. “All that killer grunge was coming out, Pearl Jam, Nirvana; and I was Pandora.”

Since the beginning, Calvert has done everything she can to be more than a music store. She has always wanted the emporium to be

Want to celebrate Record Store Day?

In those early days, big releases didn’t look like modern albums the moment it’s released on streaming services. Back then, it was midnight release parties with a store full of people waiting to buy the new album.

One of those big releases Calvert remembers well was for a Nine Inch Nails album.

“We ordered three boxes, that’s 90 CDs, and that was a lot of money for us,” said Calvert. “And we ran out. It was so cool. Now when I order a new release, I’m hesitant to get two.”

There’s no question that CDs have fallen victim to the proliferation of streaming services. In 2023, streaming accounted for 84% of all recorded music revenue totaling over $14 billion in the United States. The average number of paid subscriptions to streaming services reached 96.8 million in 2023.

Meanwhile, CDs sales hit their peak in the 2000 at $13.2 billion sold in the United States according to the Record Industry Association of America. In 2023, CD sales in the United States totaled just $537 million.

Last year, vinyl record sales grew 10% to

“Nobody back then was even asking for records,” said Calvert. “I don’t want to diminish vinyl. Vinyl has always been a thing, but there’s a difference.”

There was a long period of time between the 90s and the 2010s when new vinyl wasn’t getting made at a high rate. Some niche stores dealt in vintage, but artists releasing new music were rarely pressing new vinyl.

“For a long time, you were on the cutting edge if you not only dropped a CD, but you had it in vinyl too,” said Calvert. “That was a big deal. Like you must have a lot of money or you’re just cool. So, they weren’t even pressing vinyl as much.”

These days, most merch tables that concert goers come across will sport vinyl sales, and independent music stores like In Your Ear Emporium are focused heavily on selling vinyl.

“I’d say probably three or four years before the pandemic we started dabbling in used records,” said Calvert. “Vinyl has always been the one media that has never faltered because there’s a nostalgic trend to it. People grew up on it and the sound quality is so much better.”

And while interest and sales in vinyl were on the rise prior to the pandemic, the ensuing shutdown had a big impact on the resurgence of the retro way to listen to music.

“People were stuck at home, they were doing puzzles… people were home again, they were getting their old stuff out,” Calvert said. “It became kind of a resurgence. That’s what kept us in business during the pandemic — ukulele sales and vinyl.”

Calvert sees the resurgence of physical media as a craving for presence in a world where so much of daily life has gone online, reducing the need for physical presence or human interaction.

“It’s about being present of mind. You have to get up and turn the record over, right? There’s your intention. You are intently listening to that record,” said Calvert. “You’re doing it with more purpose. And also, the sound quality is way better.

“If you’ve ever been in a room where you’ve had a fluorescent light on and then you turn it off and you all of a sudden realize there was a buzz that you were hearing,” Calvert continued. “That’s the difference between vinyl and CDs. It’s like there’s a thickness, a dimension to vinyl.”

After 30 years and multiple changes in the scope of business, it’s safe to say that running In Your Ear Emporium remains a labor of love.

“I’m just really proud that we’re still here. I’m not going to say it’s not a struggle,” Calvert said. “Running your own business is not easy.”

But what comes next for In Your Ear

A&E Smoky Mountain News 18
Record Store Day will take place Saturday, April 20. In Your Ear Emporium will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with food and drinks and gifts for the first five people in line, as well as giveaways all day. Toad-Stool will be live in store from noon to 2 p.m. For more information or to support In Your Ear Emporium visit S EE R ECORD STORE, PAGE 20
As In Your Ear Emporium celebrates 30 years, founder Lauren Calvert hopes to continue serving the community. File photos
Store Day
In Your Ear Emporium
Lauren Calvert.

Record renaissance

Since its opening in October 2020, Citizen Vinyl has become a melodic hub for artists, music lovers and the curious alike. Located in the former Asheville Citizen-Times building on O. Henry Avenue, across from the Grove Arcade in downtown, the property itself has become a beacon of creativity and connectivity.

Inside is a full-scale record manufacturing facility, where vinyl albums are popping off the production line at a furious pace. It’s another indicator of the rising popularity and incredible full circle moment currently underway for vinyl records — once a dusty memory of the past, now part of the future of the music industry.

The massive property also features Session (bar/cafe), Coda: Analog Art & Sound (immersive art gallery/record store) and Citizen Studios (WWNC-AM radio’s former broadcast station, now an in-house recording and mastering facility). And at the helm of this ever-evolving project is Gar Ragland.

A longtime professional musician, record producer and label head, Ragland brought WWNC’s legendary Studio A back to life. The studio is a sacred space, one where countless musicians performed decades ago, including the first on-air performance by the “Father of Bluegrass” himself, Bill Monroe, in 1939.

In celebration of Record Store Day (April 20), The Smoky Mountain News caught up with Ragland, to chat atlength about his love of records, what it means to immerse yourself in an album and where Citizen Vinyl stands amid this record renaissance.

Smoky Mountain News: When you think of a record store, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? To that, growing up, was there a record store you still hold fond memories of?

Gar Ragland: When I think of a record store, the first thing that comes to mind is, oddly, the smell of a freshly opened vinyl record. This smell takes me right back to my childhood and my first vinyl purchases.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my dad and I record shopping at our local record stores in WinstonSalem. It seems like most weekends we would pay a visit to

Camelot Music or the Record Bar to comb through crates of new albums. I saved my allowance and lawn mowing money to purchase records from my favorite artists, most of whom I first heard on the radio.

The first record I ever purchased was an Elvis Presley “Greatest Hits” album around 1977. Phil Collins’s “No Jacket Required” was an early favorite, as was Loverboy, along with most of The Police records.

I couldn’t wait to get those records home and head straight to my room to open them up and listen for the first time. I savored the smell, look, sound and feel of a new record, along with its liner notes, album credits, lyrics, photos and artwork.

To this day, a vinyl album is a collectible piece of art that engages most of the senses.

SMN: In all the white noise and distraction of modern society, what is the purpose of the record store?

GR: We currently live in such a digital society and, as a

result, the tactile, communal, in-person and analog experience of brick and mortar record shopping is something many of us seek.

There’s a beautiful intentionality surrounding all facets of vinyl culture. From discovering a record store while traveling to new places, to combing through crates of new and used records, to talking about music and listening to vinyl records with other shoppers or a record store employee.

The practice of listening to music on vinyl records is somewhat ceremonial. It requires a level of engagement that doesn’t exist when listening to music online. Vinyl records are highly collectible art, which celebrate albums as the body of work that the artist intended.

Given their collectible nature, there’s a very social element to showcasing and sharing one’s record collection with others. I’ve been to many gatherings where someone’s vinyl library serves as a great conversation piece.

SMN: What would we be losing if we lost the intrinsic idea and tangible reality of the record store?

GR: Record stores embody the communal nature surrounding the love of music. For music nerds, like myself, record stores are a safe and inviting place to celebrate a shared passion for music. If they were to disappear, communities would lose important cultural landmarks that bring people together — that’s frightening.

SMN: Now that Citizen Vinyl has established itself as this bastion of vinyl record production, creativity, history and interaction, what’s been your biggest takeaway with how the property has taken shape and evolved in these last few years?

GR: Despite being open for three and half years already, I feel like we’re just getting started. We’re still tweaking and experimenting with the model to best serve our community here in Asheville and Western North Carolina.

From the beginning, Citizen Vinyl’s goal has been to create an authentic, inspiring and inclusive space that celebrates our area’s rich history of music, craft, food, drink and manufacturing. And we simultaneously seek to support our creative community here and now through our events, vinyl pressing services and historic recording studio.

We see an amazing opportunity to help foster new creative

energy that’s built upon connecting the dots of our history.

SMN: When you walk into the beehive that is Citizen Vinyl, what do you see, experience and feel when you’re immersing yourself in this dream that’s now come to fruition?

GR: Nothing excites me more than to walk into Citizen Vinyl when it’s busy and alive with energy. Our number one goal is to inspire people. When we’re at our best, there’s a creative energy that’s truly palpable, which is precisely what we set up to create.

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 19
The former Asheville Citizen-Times building is on O. Henry Avenue. Photos courtesy of Citizen Vinyl Gar Ragland. Studio A at WWNC.

Emporium will largely be decided by the community itself.

“We need our community support now more than ever,” said Calvert.

Countless people in the community, as well as those who visit Sylva, have memories of shopping or spending time at In Your Ear Emporium. But that nostalgia alone doesn’t translate into staying power for the music store.

“I’ve always built my business on what my community wants,” said Calvert. “So, the answer to what’s next is really whatever the community wants to see; whatever the community can support.”

On the second floor of the shop, there are opportunities for meeting spaces, artist booths or music classes, anything that could bring the community together and provide a place for people to be in creative fellowship. Community members should stay on the lookout for a call for input on what they want to see at their local record store.

Come what may, In Your Ear Emporium

will continue to celebrate Record Store Day, an annual event, held this year on April 20, to celebrate the culture of independently owned record stores and connect people to those local businesses. The inaugural Record Store Day took place in 2008 and was conceived to celebrate and spread the word about what these stores have to offer.

Each year, special vinyl and CD releases are coordinated exclusively for the event and disseminated around the nation. People spend the day going from record store to record store hunting down these exclusive releases.

“I get a list of about 3,000 titles and I pick what I want,” said Calvert. “There might be an album that’s only 400 made for the whole world. The store might have one of those 400, it might have five of them. So, it’s a lottery.”

The event is all about getting people through the door of their local music store and creating an experience. The same positive, enlightening experience Calvert has been aiming to deliver to her customers for the last 30 years.

“People can buy a CD anywhere,” Calvert said. “I want them to leave here and think, that was such a great conversation, or that was such a fun experience, we’ve got to go back. That’s what I’ve always lived by, and it’s done well for me.”

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 20
American act Bird In Hand. File photo

This must be the place

‘Plates slammed onto the counter, coffeepot burped, voices ask of a loved ones’ whereabouts’

The title of this column is a sentence written in my old road journals. Back on Dec. 26, 2007. I was 22 years old and leaving my hometown of Plattsburgh, New York, heading west to start my first reporting gig post-college at the Teton Valley News in Driggs, Idaho.

I found myself thinking of that entry, that moment in time while sipping coffee at the newly opened Main Street Diner in downtown Waynesville. Seated next to the front windows last Wednesday morning, I gazed onto the sidewalks, observing passerby faces and motorists. Coffee. Eggs. Bacon. Toast. The ole standby feast.

The mind drifts into faraway realms of one’s memory when sitting at a diner in Anywhere U.S.A. That’s the beauty of the diner itself. As far back as I can remember, the diner was (and remains) a place I’ve always cherished and admired. This refuge, this crossroads of humanity. The road weary. The in-a-hurry. And those with simply nowhere to be but in the here and now of breakfast, maybe even in the depths of conversation over coffee with an old friend. There are several old road journals of mine gathering dust in the closet of my quaint Waynesville apartment. Almost every single word in those notebooks was scribbled down with a reckless abandon while in college in Connecticut, on the road somewhere or merely trying to figure out my next move in life. Nowadays, most of those thoughts land in this here column for your amusement.

Regardless, what mattered most was the time spent in diners and in thought. Fueled by coffee and eggs. Learning how to express myself within the written word. Exposing to the page with ink utensil in-hand my hopes and dreams, queries and conclusions, happenstance moments quickly fleeting in real time. Only to now be a time capsule of the good, bad and ugly on some yellowed page of a Moleskin in the back of a Haywood County closet, located between a couple shabby guitar cases and musty winter jackets.

That sentence (‘Plates slammed onto the counter, coffeepot burped, voices ask of a loved ones’ whereabouts’) took place at 7:32 a.m. at the Homestead Restaurant in West Plattsburgh, tucked away in an industrial complex as the city itself transitions into rolling farmland in the wintry depths of the North Country that is the Champlain Valley and Adirondacks.

The night prior, I only slept a couple

hours at my parents’ farmhouse, just outside of Plattsburgh, in anticipation of hitting the road for the long cross-country journey in the morning. “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country” as it was stated by newspaper editor Horace Greeley in 1854.

The rest of the journal entry: “Hey Jim, when’s that snowstorm ah-comin’?” the elderly veteran shouts down the line of stools to another consuming his biscuits-n-gravy. “Sometime tonight or tomorrow morning I think,” a voice replies. Each time the waitress did her rounds with the coffee, I accepted another cup. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want this to be it. I didn’t want to know the next time I came in here for breakfast that the old man nearest to me “has been six-feet-under the last few months.” Idaho awaited me. I couldn’t be late.

Later that morning, I’d start my meander across the Midwest and high desert plains to Driggs, some 2,262 miles from Plattsburgh. Whatever didn’t fit in my small GMC Sonoma pickup truck didn’t come with me on the trek westward. All along the way, it was diners in Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming. And it’s remains a focal point in my life — the American diner.

Heck, the same exact day I left the Teton Valley News (Sept. 15, 2008), Lehman Brothers collapsed. The American economy went into a freefall. Freshly unemployed, I found myself heading east for Plattsburgh. The last entry in that particular journal was at Walt’s Diner in Old Forge, New York. Sitting there at the counter. Coffee. Eggs. Bacon. Toast. Home fries (with onions). Back to the starting line of my youth, the North Country. Where to from here?

The entry is as follows:

The last stop before Clinton County. It had been years since I found myself in Old Forge, a well-known Adirondack community. Thoughts of a childhood camping in these parts conjured once-optimistic possibilities my family thought unbreakable. These days, those moments exist only on photographs gathering dust or carelessly tossed in attics and storage units.



A multi-day event celebrating Appalachian heritage, Carolina Heritage Weekend will take place April 18-20 around Haywood County.


Smoky Mountain SpringFest will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the Stecoah Valley Center in Robbinsville.


A community jam will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City.


Author Tiffany Hall will present her new book, “Bigger,” at 1 p.m.

Saturday, April 20, at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville.


The North Carolina Symphony will host a special concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center at the Cherokee Central School.

I ordered breakfast and looked over my ruffled atlas.

“You must be a traveler,” the older woman said from down the counter.

“I am, but, I’m on my way home now.”

“Where were you?”

“Oh, I was a reporter out near Jackson, Wyoming,” I said sipping coffee. “I ran all over out there. Heading home to write a book about the madness, spend the holidays with my folks.”

Her name was Barbara Carmer. She had spent the better part of her life exploring the United States in her unassuming Toyota RV pickup. A guide in the Adirondacks for years, a true road scholar since. She traveled alone and seemingly has been alone for the duration of her life. But she was “happy and wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“I got something for you,” she said while rummaging through her vehicle.

It was a copy of “Hard Times” by Studs Terkel.

“I think you’d like this. It definitely has kept me going all these years. I’m driving down to Florida today. Hopefully this book will keep you company through the winter.”

We shook hands and parted ways. As I scuffed my sandals against the sidewalk, I turned around to wave goodbye, but she started the engine and was off on her next quest before I could even raise my arm.

All I could do now was go home. Within the next few hours I would be pulling into my old driveway, rummaging through my old fridge and sleeping in my old bed. I still didn’t know how I felt about the whole idea.

Sweat rolled down my filthy forehead. I wiped it off with my sleeve and smiled. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but I knew I was somehow aiming in the right direction of my intent. It was an awkward feeling, one that I was eager to embrace even though it was rough on the edges and a little slippery to grasp. Soon enough I’d get the hang of it. Soon enough it would be mine.

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.

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St. Augustine, Florida. Garret K. Woodward photo

On the beat

Carolina Heritage Weekend

A multi-day event celebrating Appalachian heritage, Carolina Heritage Weekend will take place April 18-20 around Haywood County.

• April 18: Folkmoot USA will present The Well Drinkers at 7 p.m. at the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville. Having shared the stage with the likes of Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, Ketch Secor,

Americana, folk at Mountain Layers

Rising singer-songwriter and multiinstrumentalist Alma Russ will hit the stage at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at Mountain Layers Brewing Company in Bryson City. Based out of Western North Carolina and with her unique brand of “patchwork music” (country, folk and Appalachian styles pieced together), Russ enjoys playing guitar, banjo and fiddle.

Russ was also a contestant on “American Idol” Season 16. Her most recent album, “Fool’s Gold,” was recorded in an abandoned church in the West Texas desert while Russ was on a national tour.

Free and open to the public. To learn more, call 828.538.0115 or go to

• Blue Ridge Beer Hub (Waynesville) will host the Main Street NoTones from 7-9 p.m. every first/third Thursday of the month and Doug & Lisa (Americana/folk) 5 p.m. April 20. Free and open to the public. For more information, go to


• Boojum Brewing (Waynesville) will host music bingo 7 p.m. Mondays, karaoke 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, trivia 7 p.m. Thursdays, “Open Mic Night” 10 p.m. Thursdays, Smooth Goose (rock/jam) April 19, The Shed Bugs (rock/jam) April 20, DJ Kountry April 26 and Shane Meade & The Sound (indie/soul) April 27. All shows begin at 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted. 828.246.0350 or

• Breadheads Tiki Shak (Sylva) will host “Tiki

Balsam Range and many more, the Americana/bluegrass ensemble is a consistent force in the Western North Carolina live music scene.

Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to

• April 19: Americana/bluegrass star Darren Nicholson will perform at 7 p.m. in

For more information on Russ, go to

Bryson City community jam

A community jam will be held from 6-

Trivia” at 7 p.m. every first Thursday of the month and semi-regular live music on the weekends.

• Currahee Brewing (Franklin) will host “Music Bingo” 7 p.m. Thursdays and Alton Lane Band April 20. All shows begin at 7 p.m. Free and open to the public. 828.634.0078 or

• Folkmoot Friendship Center (Waynesville) will host The Well Drinkers (Americana/bluegrass) 7 p.m. April 18. For a full schedule of events and/or to purchase tickets, go to

• Frog Level Brewing (Waynesville) will host its weekly “Tuesday Jazz Series” with We Three Swing at 5:30 p.m., Shane Meade (indie/soul) April 19, Rich Manz Trio (Americana) April 20, Andrew Rickman (country/rock) 3 p.m. April

the Hemlock Auditorium at Haywood Community College in Clyde.

Dubbed “An Evening of World Class Bluegrass,” the showcase will feature Nicholson, Shawn Lane, Aubrey Haynie, Ron Stewart and Aaron Ramsey.

The event is free and open to the public. Donations accepted. To reserve your ticket, go to

• April 20: The “Appalachian True: Mountain Market” is a showcase of the craftsmanship, creativity, skill and ingenuity that have shaped mountain culture for centuries.

A special collection of artisans, performers, demonstrators and educational displays will celebrate Appalachian culture and preserve the sacred ways of mountain life. The festival takes place between two historic Waynesville locations — the Main Street District and historic Shelton House.

To learn more, go to

• April 20: The “Haywood Made: An Evening Celebrating Today’s Appalachia”

7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City.

Anyone with a guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dulcimer or anything unplugged is invited to join. Singers are also welcomed to join in or you can just stop by and listen. The jam is facilitated by Larry Barnett of the Sawmill Creek Porch Band.

The community jams offer a chance for musicians of all ages and levels of ability to share music they have learned over the years or learn old-time mountain songs. The music jams are offered to the public each first and third Thursday of the month — spring, summer, fall.

This program received support from the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency funded by the State of North Carolina and the National Endowment of the Arts.

For more information, call 828.488.3030.

21, Rene Russell (singer-songwriter) April 26, Ross Hollow April 27 and Stomper Kitty 3 p.m. April 28. All shows begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.454.5664 or

• Happ’s Place (Glenville) will host Kayla McKinney (singer-songwriter) April 25, Corey Stevenson Band April 26 and The Remnants April 27. All shows begin at 6 p.m. Free and open to the public. or 828.742.5700.

• Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort (Cherokee) will host “Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles” 9 p.m. April 26. For a full schedule of events and/or to buy tickets,

• Highlander Mountain House (Highlands) will host “Blues & Brews” on Thursday evenings,

will be held from 5-8 p.m. on the top floor of The 37 on Church Street in Waynesville.

Hosted by the Haywood County Arts Council, the event will kick off with a performance by the Maggie Valley Band (bluegrass/indie). Guests will also have the opportunity to participate in line dancing lessons led by professional instructors from the American Ballroom Company dance studio.

“Haywood Made” will also feature a display of local youth art and a silent auction featuring a variety of handmade goods and services generously donated by local businesses and artisans.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for youth ages 10-18 and free and kids under age 10. All proceeds from the silent auction will go towards supporting the HCAC and its mission to promote the arts in our community.

To learn more, go to

For a full schedule of Carolina Heritage Weekend events, go to

Cherokee welcomes NC Symphony

The North Carolina Symphony will host a special concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center at the Cherokee Central School. The group will perform the music of John Williams, Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and selections from Grieg’s “Peer Gynt.” Local support for this event is received from the Swain County Community Foundation and the Balsam Mountain Preserve Gift Fund for Jackson County.

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information and/or to reserve your tickets, go to

“Sunday Bluegrass Residency” from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and the “Salon Series” with Lillie Mae (Americana/indie) 8:30 p.m. April 18. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to

• Innovation Brewing (Sylva) will host “Monday Night Trivia” every week, “Open Mic w/Phil” Wednesdays, Adi The Monk (singer-songwriter) April 20 and Alma Russ (Americana/old-time) April 27. All shows and events begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public.

• Innovation Station (Dillsboro) will host “Music Bingo” on Wednesdays and semi-regular live music on the weekends. All events begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public.

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 22
Nicholson will play HCC April 19. File photo
Alma Russ.
File photo

On the street

Greening Up the Mountains

Presented by the Town of Sylva, the 26th annual Greening Up the Mountains festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in downtown Sylva.

The festival will host over 150 vendors and attendees from around Western North Carolina. Arts/crafts and nonprofit vendors will be located along Main Street and at Bridge Park. Food trucks and beverage arts vendors will be in the paved parking lot beside Bridge Park.

Water stations, installed by the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority, will once again be available on Main Street and at Bridge Park. Paper cups will be available at each station. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own personal refillable water containers as the festival does not allow plastic water bottles.

The day will begin with a 5K Race kicking off at 9 a.m. Registration is available online at The awards ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. The race starts and ends at Mark Watson Park in Sylva. All proceeds benefit the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department.

Live music will be performed throughout the day at the Bridge Park music stage. WRGC will be providing live interviews and information from their sponsor booth located at Bridge Park in between performances.

Musical acts include the Maggie Valley Band (10-11 a.m.), PMA (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), Whitewater Bluegrass Co. (1-2 p.m.) and Shane Meade & The Sound (2:30-4 p.m.).

Blacksmithing and glass blowing demonstrations by vendors


On the stage

HART presents ‘I’ll Eat You Last’

from the Green Energy Park will take place in the Southern and Sunkissed parking lot across from First Baptist Church.

Children’s activities will also be scattered along Main Street with Fusions Spa being one location of interest. The Jackson Amateur Musicians will be performing from the Fusions Spa porch at 11 a.m.

Some parking spaces will be available around the Sylva pool, the Presbyterian Church and the old courthouse/library parking lots, but most of the available spaces will be found at Mark Watson Park and at the Jackson Plaza. Limited handicapped parking will be available in the lot behind the Sylva Police Department.

First Methodist will offer parking spaces in their large parking lot for a $5 fee, which will be used for church mission projects. Pinnacle Relief, located across from Bridge Park on Grindstaff Road, will also have parking spaces available for $5.

Jackson County Transit will offer shuttle service from the Jackson Plaza parking lot between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Cost for shuttle service is $1 per person. JCT Policy does not allow children under 80 pounds or under the age of 8 years old to ride without a car seat.

Restroom facilities will be scattered throughout the festival on both Main Street and in Bridge Park.

For more information, visit

• Farmland Heritage Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at Darnell Farms in Bryson City. Food and craft vendors, live entertainment, bounce houses and much more. For more information, go to

• Jackson County Public Library (Sylva) will host a “Spring Recital” by the Piano Department of the Western Carolina University School of Music 3 p.m. April 20. Free and open to the public. 828.586.2016.

• Lazy Hiker Brewing (Franklin) will host Karaoke on the second/fourth Friday of the month, Madison Owenby (singer-songwriter) April 19, Roscoe’s Road Show (Americana/rock) April 20 and Grizzly Mammouth (funk/jam) April 27. All shows begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.349.2337 or

• Lazy Hiker Brewing (Sylva) will host “Music Bingo” 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Scott Stambaugh (singer-songwriter) April 19 and Ray Ferrara (rock/blues) April 26. All shows begin at 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.349.2337 or

• Lineside at Frog Level Brewing (Waynesville) will host the “Night of the Wolf” music festival w/Billingsley (rock/jam) and special guests 611 p.m. April 20. For more information, go to

• Macon County Public Library (Franklin) will host Angela Faye Martin (singer-songwriter) 6 p.m. April 24. Free and open to the public. 828.524.3600 or

• Marianna Black Library (Bryson City) will host

a “Community Music Jam” at 6 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of each month. Free and open to the public. All musicians and music lovers are welcome. 828.488.3030.

• Mountain Layers Brewing (Bryson City) will host an “Open Mic w/Frank Lee” Wednesdays, Mountain Gypsy (Americana) April 19, Alma Russ (Americana/indie) 5 p.m. April 21, Bird In Hand (Americana/indie) April 26, Ron Neill (singer-songwriter) April 27 and Woolybooger (blues/folk) 5 p.m. April 28. All shows begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.538.0115 or

• Orchard Coffee (Waynesville) will host Daniel Rodriguez (singer-songwriter) 8 p.m. April 26. Tickets are $25 per person. To purchase tickets, go to 828.246.9264 or


• Otto Community Center (Otto) will host James Thompson (singer-songwriter) 6 p.m. May 3. Bring a beverage and snack of your choice. Free and open to the public. or 770.335.0967

• Peacock Performing Arts Center (Hayesville) will host “Songwriter’s Showcase #46” April 20 and “Switched On Piano 2.0” (classical/piano) 2:30 p.m. April 28. All shows begin at 7:30

p.m. unless otherwise noted. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to or call 828.389.ARTS.

• Pinnacle Relief CBD Wellness Lounge (Sylva) will host “Art On Grass: A 4-20 Celebration” 1-7 p.m. April 20, Logan Neff Cole (singer-songwriter) 2 p.m. April 27 and Bird In Hand (Americana/indie) 3:30 p.m. April 27. Free and open to the public. or 828.508.3018.

• Quirky Birds Treehouse & Bistro (Dillsboro) will host Open Mic Night at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and semi-regular live music on the weekends. Free and open to the public. 828.586.1717 or

• Salty Dog’s Seafood & Grill (Maggie Valley) will host “Karaoke w/Russell” every Monday and semi-regular live music on the weekends. Free and open to the public. 828.926.9105.

• Scotsman (Waynesville) will host Bridget Gossett (singer-songwriter) April 18, Jacktown Ramblers (Americana) April 19, Alma Russ (Americana/old-time) April 25 and Arnold Hill (rock/jam) April 27. All shows begin at 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.246.6292 or

• Slanted Window Tasting Station (Franklin) will host Zorki 6 p.m. April 19, Blue Jazz 6 p.m. April 20, Harvest String Duo (Americana) 5 p.m. April 21, Steve Vaclavik (singer-song-

A production of “I’ll Eat You Last” will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. April 19-20, 26-27 and 2 p.m. April 21 and 28 at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville.

A captivating one-woman show that offers an intimate glimpse into the life and secrets of legendary talent agent Sue Mengers, now portrayed by Lyn Donley, promising an evening of laughter, scandal and Hollywood behind-the-scenes tales.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $12 for students. To reserve your seats, call the box office at 828.456.6322 or go to

• “Lies & Pies: An Evening of Tall Tales, Big Fibs and Tasty Treats” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Peacock Performing Arts Center in Hayesville. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to or call 828.389.ARTS.


writer) 6 p.m. April 26 and Dave & Daughters Trio 5 p.m. April 28. 828.276.9463 or

• Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts (Franklin) will host The Barricade Boys (Broadway) 7:30 p.m. April 25 and Always Olivia (Olivia Newton-John Tribute) 7:30 p.m. April 26. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to or 866.273.4615.

• Stecoah Valley Center (Robbinsville) will host a Community Jam 5:30-7:30 p.m. every third Thursday of the month and semi-regular live music on the weekends. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, call 828.479.3364 or go to

• Swain Arts Center (Bryson City) will host ChiTown (Chicago Tribute Band) w/Swain High Jazz Band 7 p.m. April 23. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students.

• Unplugged Pub (Bryson City) will host Mile High Band April 19, Mountain Whiskey April 20, Mountain Gypsy (Americana, no cover) April 25, Second Chance April 26 and Carolina Freighshakers (classic rock/country gold) April 27. All shows are $5 at the door and begin at 8 p.m. 828.538.2488.

• Find more at

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 23
Downtown Sylva. File photo

Abstract art, surrealism showcase

Artwork by Ralph Verano will be on display through the month of April at the Macon County Public Library in Franklin.

Verano was born in a small town in Southern Central New York State. He became fascinated with art at a very early age when his grandfather would draw comic characters for him.

He graduated from Buffalo State College with a degree in graphic design. After living and working in Florida for 30 years, Verano’s love of the mountains eventually brought him to settle in Franklin.

Verano’s character-driven art repre-

• “April Makers Market” will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in The Lineside at Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville. Local arts/crafts vendors and more. Free and open to the public. 828.454.5664 or

• “Artisan Alley” will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in downtown Franklin. Handmade and homegrown goods, antiques and more. Located on Phillips Street between Main and Palmer streets.

sents his love of abstract art and surrealism with a desire to create something unique and original. His work has evolved over time because of his willingness to experiment with different techniques, ideas and styles.

Verano has always felt that discovery is the most important element in his work and the need to challenge himself is what maintains his interest in the thing that has been his passion since he was a child. The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, go to

air. Artists let their creativity take flight in an exhibit to dazzle and delight us.” The HCAC gallery is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to

• Smoky Mountain SpringFest will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the Stecoah Valley Center in Robbinsville. Children’s activities, arts/crafts, food vendors and much more. This event is free and open to the public. 828.479.3364 or

• “Community Art Day” will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center in Franklin. Activities for kids and adults. Free and open to the public. For more information, go to

ALSO: or call 828.283.0523.

• Gallery Zella (Bryson City) will be hosting an array of artist receptions, exhibits and showcases. The gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, go to or call 517.881.0959.

• Waynesville Photography Club meets at 7 p.m. every third Monday each month on the second floor of the Haywood Regional Health & Fitness Center in Clyde. The club is a nonprofit organization that exists for the enjoyment of photography and the improvement of one’s skills. They welcome photographers of all skill levels to share ideas and images at the monthly meetings. For more information, email or follow them on Facebook: Waynesville Photography Club.

• “Challenge Me” exhibition will run through June 2 at the Haywood County Arts Council in Waynesville. In the showcase, “Wings are used by animals and in man-made vehicles. They provide lift and propulsion through the

• “Evening of Art & Giving” will be held 4-6 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Uptown Gallery in Franklin. The event will be an inspiring celebration of creativity, featuring diverse artworks that reflect the vibrant spirit of our local art community. Presented by the Macon County Art Association. For more information, call Uptown Gallery at 828.349.4607.

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• “Far From Home” art exhibition featuring works by Jesse Butner will be displayed through May 3 at the Lo-Fi Gallery in Sylva. Mixed media collection. Opening reception will be held from 5-8 p.m. Friday, April 5, at the gallery, which is located at 503 Mill Street. For more information, email

• “Spark of the Eagle Dancer: The Collecting Legacy of Lambert Wilson” will run through June 28 in the Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. This exhibition brings together a selection of baskets, pottery, carving, painting, photography and more. To learn more about the exhibition and reception, please go to The Fine Art Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.

• CRE828 (Waynesville) will offer a selection of art classes and workshops at its studio located at 1283 Asheville Road. Workshops will include art journaling, watercoloring, mixed media, acrylic painting and more. For a full list of classes, go to For more information on CRE828, email

On the table

• Time Place Wine Co. will host a special tasting at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the Classic Wineseller in Waynesville. Tasting is $10 per person, with the admission cost also applied to purchase price of any Time Place Wine Co. bottles. To RSVP, call 828.452.6000.

• Haywood County Arts Council (Waynesville) will offer a wide-range of classes, events and activities for artisans, locals and visitors. The HCAC gallery is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Sundays. For more information and a full schedule, go to

• Jackson County Green Energy Park (Dillsboro) will be offering a slew of classes, events and activities for artisans, locals and visitors. For more information and a full schedule, go to

• Southwestern Community College Swain Arts Center (Bryson City) will host an array of workshops for adults and kids. For more information on the upcoming classes and/or to sign-up, go to

• Dogwood Crafters in Dillsboro will offer a selection of upcoming art classes and workshops. For more information and a full schedule of activities, go to or call 828.586.2248.

dinners, go to

• “Take A Flight” with four new wines every Friday and Saturdays at the Bryson City Wine Market. Select from a gourmet selection of charcuterie to enjoy with your wines. Educational classes and other events are also available. For more information, call 828.538.0420.

• Blue Ridge Beer Hub (Waynesville) will host a craft ale tasting with Birdsong Brewing Co. from 5-7 p.m. Friday, April 19. Free and open to the public. For more information, go to

• “Flights & Bites” will be held starting at 4 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays at Bosu’s Wine Shop in downtown Waynesville. As well, the “Spring Fling” wine dinner will be taking place April 16-17. For more information on upcoming events, wine tastings and special

• “Uncorked: Wine & Rail Pairing Experience” will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on select dates at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City. Full service all-adult first class car. Wine pairings with a meal, and more. There will also be a special “Beer Train” on select dates. For more information and/or to register, call 800.872.4681 or go to

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On the wall

The books I didn’t read

As often as not, I check out books from the library I never read. They sit on my dining room table or in a special pile of library books on the floor nearby, waiting to make my acquaintance. Like certain cats I’ve known over the years, they’re present, but they don’t call attention to themselves. I’ll thumb through them, put them down, look at them again the next day or so, and then return them to their home in town.

There’s nothing wrong with these books, it’s just that whatever spark of passion drew me to them has vanished.

Some are door-stoppers, too fat with words to fit into my limited time for reading. Some attracted me with the wink and a smile of a book blurb that loses its allure overnight while others disappointed my expectations, often, I suspect, revealing some flaw in me rather than in the book.

creator, of course, of the wildly popular strip, “Peanuts.” Given the hundreds of cartoon panels devoted to Schulz in “Funny Things,” DeBus and Matteuzzi obviously devoted a good deal of time and study to the creation of this visual biograph.

Like these men, I too am a lifelong fan of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy and the rest, but I just wasn’t ready to tackle 400 and more pages of these particular cartoons. Maybe another time.

Usually I’m a sucker for books about books, fiction and nonfiction, but I just couldn’t get into Shannon Reed’s “Why We Read: On Bookworms, Libraries, and Just One More Page Before Lights Out” (Hanover Square Press, 2024, 336 pages). All the fare that usually makes for a feast are on these pages: comments about books and authors, teaching literature to the young, personal anecdotes and clever writing.

So, here are four books I haven’t read, three from the library, one a review copy from a publisher, which strike me as deserving a nod and which readers might enjoy and find worth their while. Of course, thousands more equally worthy volumes are sitting on the shelves of libraries and bookstores everywhere, ready to work their magic on those in need or want of what these books offer.

First up is “Funny Things: A Comic Strip Biography of Charles M. Schulz (Top Shelf Productions, 2023, 440 pages). Graphics artists Luca DeBus and Francesco Matteuzzi are both Italian, skilled cartoonists who very much admire the work of Charles Schulz,

Blue Ridge Books welcomes Hall

Author Tiffany Hall will present her new book, “Bigger,” at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville.

The book is based upon true events and gives witness to the potential power and freedom of forgiveness. Playing the doctor game and riding horses sounds like fun, until people do things to

Chapters with titles like “Signs You May Be a Character in a Shakespeare Play,” “The Five People You Meet When You Work in a Bookstore” and “To Learn How to Die (and How to Live)” attracted me, but again it was a no-go. Maybe I’m just burned out right now on books about books.

As the old break-up line goes, “It’s not you, Shannon. It’s me.” In this case, that’s the simple truth.

This topic fascinates me, and Rosen’s approach to our Founding Fathers strongly appeals, but in this case too many obligations on my part at the time sent this one back home, a casualty of Chronos, mourned but unread. Words attributed to rock legend Frank Zappa sum it up: “So many books, so little time.”

Finally, there’s Owen Strachan’s “The War on Men: Why Society Hates Them and Why We Need Them” (Salem Books, 2023, 256 pages.) At my request, the publisher kindly sent me this book, which addresses a topic in which I take some interest. With one exception, however, none of the outlets for which I write reviews would be interested in a book so heavily religious. Strachan is a professor of theology, which I knew when I asked for a copy, but I hadn’t realized the preponderance of Biblical arguments in his book.

“The War on Men” is well-written, and makes cultural and political points, mostly conservative, that will appeal to many readers. I’ll hang onto the book, and if the mood strikes, I’ll read it one day out of curiosity and pleasure, but for now “The War on Men” and I are mismatched, like one of those online dating scenarios where you meet someone face-to-face for the first time and know immediately that it’s not going to work out, at least not at the present time. So there you have it, a review of unread books. I know, I know, that’s a bit like a professional food critic who visits a restaurant, never samples the cuisine, then returns home and knocks out a glowing piece for the local paper.

Meanwhile, there in the jumbled pile on the floor are more books, ranging from a scholarly study of the legends of King Arthur to a biography of Tucker Carlson to two Calvin and Hobbes collections. Unlike T.S. Eliot’s mermaids, who will not sing to poor, pitiable Prufrock, some of these books — hope springs eternal — will surely sing to me.

(Jeff Minick reviews books and has written four of his own: two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust On Their Wings,” and two works of nonfiction, “Learning As I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.”

Professor of Law Jeffrey Rosen attended some of the world’s finest universities, is a prolific author, and is president of the National Constitution Center. Tucked under my arm when I last left the library was his “The Pursuit of Happiness: How Classical Writers on Virtue Inspired the Lives of the Founders and Defined America” (Simon & Schuster, 2024, 368 pages). The come-on for me were some of those tags in the subtitle: “Classical Writers,” “Virtue” and “Lives of the Founders.” Open the book, and we find chapters dealing with Thomas Jefferson’s reading list, John and Abigail Adam’s selfaccounting, and Ben Franklin on humility and the quest for moral perfection.

Alex that make her feel confused. Keeping these secrets stores up sadness and anger at those who were supposed to be her friends.

From childhood to adulthood, Alex’s thoughts and feelings are bigger than she can handle. With the help of a counselor and using her Godgiven imagination, she faces the ultimate choice of whether to forgive and let go of hatred. Or not.

Hall’s curiosity to discover the best way to live a joyful life motivated her to write “Bigger,”

as she believes healing and wholeness are possible for all. As a gardener and a chaplain, she delights in nurturing plants and people — witnessing astonishing beauty in both.

Ten percent of “Bigger” sales will go to support KARE, Inc (Kids Advocacy Resource Effort) a child advocacy center serving children and their families in Haywood County.

For more information, call Blue Ridge Books at 828.456.6000 or click on

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On the shelf
Writer Jeff Minick

Smokies Life celebrates ribbon cutting at new welcome center

Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said the parking tag program has overcome some early hiccups and continues to improve. Kyle Perrotti

Now that the ribbon has been cut, the new welcome center will be used for a variety of meetings and events while also providing a hub for park visitors. Kyle Perrotti photo

GSMNP Superintendent talks visitation, parking tag program

Great Smokies Mountain National Park has seen new changes in recent years, from soaring record attendance placing it head and shoulders above the field for the most visited national park to a first-of-its-kind parking tag program designed to generate revenue while also protecting visitors and natural resources that has generated the ire of some surrounding communities.

One of the four nonprofit partners of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Smokies Life, now has a new home — The Great Smokies Welcome Center — a space to call its own that after recent rounds of renovations feels perfectly tailored to the organization’s mission.

Last week, Smokies Life held an event to celebrate the new headquarters with a ribbon cutting featuring locally elected officials from Townsend and Blount County, Tennessee, where the building is located; park officials; Smokies Life Board members; and others with a stake in the park.

The official opening of the new building is another step in a recent effort to rebrand the nonprofit. On Feb. 1, Smokies Life changed to its current name from Great Smoky Mountains Association; the organization was founded in 1953 as Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association. According to the organization, the most recent name change was meant to highlight a deeper connection to “life” in the Smokies. Since its founding, Smokies Life has provided more than $50 million in direct aid to the park. In addition to the welcome center in Townsend, it also has a presence at seven other park visitor centers and bookstores, including the Oconaluftee

Visitor Center and Swain County Visitor Center and Museum.

The new building is meant to bring people together around nature while serving as a vital hub for information at an entrance to the park that sees less traffic and perhaps enjoys fewer resources than the entrance at the edge of Gatlinburg. It features a large porch with plenty of room to meet outside under the sun, as well as a wide-open meeting space on its second floor. On the first floor is a gift shop and information center.

Stakeholders with a wide variety of connections to the park and Smokies Life came out to see the new building.

It’s a marked improvement from the previous headquarters right across the street at the Townsend Visitor Center, where it was housed for 31 years. Although it seemed that the board members were thankful for that space and thankful for the growth Smokies Life achieved there, it was time to move on and relocate to a building that feels more aligned with the mission.

“We worked with a local property owner here, Rob Cochran, and he was very gracious about renovating this building to our specifications,” said Smokies Life CEO Laurel Rematore prior to the event. GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash noted how vital the education and information component of Smokies Life’s contribution is to the park. From trail and road closure updates to information on parking passes, the welcome center is a vital stop for anyone hoping to visit the park in a responsible man-

Following the ribbon cutting of the new Smokies Life Welcome Center, The Smoky Mountain News spoke with Park Superintendent Cassius Cash, who offered a brief update on both the slight downturn in visitation since the height of the pandemic and the parking tag program, now entering its second year.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Smoky Mountain News: With parking tags, we’ve seen the revenue and what that’s gone into, but have you also seen improvement on some of the other issues you’ve seen like fewer people parking where they shouldn’t?

Cassius Cash: We have seen a significant difference and people parking in designated locations. It’s important to remind people why that is, is to make sure that from a safety standpoint that we are not having visitors unnecessarily getting in traffic. It’s about the millions of cars that come through here, and it also is resource-protection driven. And then, as you know, being the most visited national park in the country, congestion is an issue here, so with all of those factors, the parking is significantly F


“It’s important that people not only come to have a good time, but they can come to have a good time safely, so that first stop here really sets the tone,” Cash said. “What’s the etiquette? What are the safety messages that we want to make sure people can get?”

“With Smokies Life as a partner, there’s a force multiplier, and they help us get these various messages out,” he added.

Prior to the ribbon cutting, there was a series of speeches.

Smokies Life Board Chair Geoff Cantrell, a Haywood County native, spoke first. Along with recognizing elected officials, he discussed how Townsend in particular is a special spot for him and his family, as well as lovers F

Outdoors Smoky Mountain News

improved. We have gotten numerous compliments of being able to drive through a park now and not a parking lot, so the visitor experience has definitely seemed better to me.

SMN: I’ve heard that there were logistical issues early on like there would be with anything when you implement a new program like this. Do you feel like the parking program is a little smoother now?

CC: Absolutely. Even with the best laid plan, you will still have things that you didn’t see coming, but what’s been remarkable is that our response time to those has been meeting the expectations of the superintendent’s office. This is something that’s going to be in perpetuity and something that hasn’t been done before, so we were humbled knowing that there were going to be some things we need to not totally change but

of the Smokies in general, going all the way back to his childhood.

tweak. Now it’s a lot smoother than a year ago, and we continue to look for a continuation of process of improvement.

SMN: Has enforcement been going well?

CC: We talked about the three E’s: enforcement, engineering and education. That’s the three-legged stool, and when appropriate, we will tap one of those legs as appropriate, and it’s up to law enforcement discretion to do that.

SMN: Visitation has been down slightly looking at last March, and it seems like that about trends with tourism overall in the whole region. Do you have an explanation as to why that might be, why it’s gone down a little bit from that peak?

CC: Remember that last year, it was 13 million visitors, which was the largest number since coming out of COVID. Now, peo-

wiped away tears.

ple have more opportunity to have more options. People are getting back on airplanes and traveling to different countries. But we still remain a major destination, when you look at us being within an eighthour drive of half the United States’ population, the Smokies is still highly sought after. One of the things we want to point out is that visitation may be going down, but through some research and visitor surveys we’ve done, we found out that people that are coming, they’re staying longer, and they’re spending more money. The park still remains the economic engine for the surrounding community, which was the original design for it. Last year, we generated $2.1 billion, and that’s real money, and we’ve generated jobs for over 35,000 people. So visitation may be down a little bit, but it’s vital and has been the economic engine for the for the surrounding community, and

that hasn’t waned at all.

SMN: What does that mean for the park? I assume it’s almost a good thing because resources maybe aren’t stretched quite as thin, maybe facilities aren’t as abused? Have you seen any marked changes in any area with that decrease in visitation?

CC: The percentage that is down is very minuscule. When you’re still talking about over 12 million people, your jobs aren’t getting any easier. People are still coming and enjoying it. And we still have the rest of this year. And it’s only April now, so you still are talking about Fourth of July and October. What we’re suggesting to folks is, to reduce that congestion, to not come during the peak seasons and use trails during times that aren’t peak months or peak times of the day. We’re pretty pleased with how we’re getting that message out.

“[Townsend] it is still a wonderful town and just an incredible gateway community. And that’s much the same thinking for this nonprofit organization founded 70 years ago. Both have seen the ebb and flow of time. Smokies Life and Townsend have, in many ways, grown and evolved together as neighbors and partners.”

“I’ve seen it 50 times and it’s still happening,” she said of the video. “Today, we are celebrating the relationship that all of us have with this park. This place is family. It’s regeneration. It’s tranquility and memories. It’s history. To our visitors and to locals alike, this park is life.”

“Townsend is still a great place to call home, or to come and visit, as it always has been intertwined with Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” he added. “And that is what makes the Great Smoky Welcome Center behind us here that much more remarkable.”

Rematore, who is set to retire at the end of this year, also spoke. Before she came up, a two-minute video highlighting the work Smokies Life has done in the park was played. At the end of that video, it’s noted that now is the time to “celebrate” the park with a focus on what it offers the nonprofit and what the nonprofit can offer in return. When Rematore came up to the mic, she

Rematore made a point of stating how thrilled she was with the new branding around the nonprofit’s new name. Likewise, Rematore was happy with the location of the new building, part of the legacy she will leave to the next generation of Smokies Life supporters.

“The messaging around our new name, Smokies Life, will help us thrive and grow by encouraging and elevating people’s connections to this very important place,” she said.

Cash spoke last. As he looked out over the grounds and toward the mountains in the distance, he marveled at the new facility and the effort that went into making it a reality, recalling a recent event and how it highlighted the importance of the relationship the park has with Smokies Life.

“We had a volunteer banquet this weekend. We have over 2,000 volunteers in this park, believe it or not, and we were giving thanks to them,” he said. “Laurel and Smokies Life help us be able to do that. I’m always reminded of how many hands it takes to be able to make this place move, to be able to welcome the 13 million visitors that come into the park to play. And I will tell you Smokies Life has been, I would say, my partner in crime.”

Cash said that the creativity and innovation Smokies Life has brought to the park is reflected in the new building, which offers

an abundance of both utility and inspiration. Finally, he said he was happy to see the words “Welcome Center” on the building’s sign.

“In the Park Service, we use the word ‘business’ a lot, but when you listen to Laura and think about how this place was designed, the word ‘welcoming’ means that it is part of the community; it is woven into the fabric of what this community stands for,” he said. “This is exactly what you were able to pull off. It’s a word of inclusiveness that reflects the things that we always try to do.”

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 27
Talking at the ribbon cutting for the GSMNP Welcome Center are (from left) Townsend, Tennessee Police Chief Kevin Condee, community member Brent Musick, GSMNP Deputy Superintendent Alan Sumeriski and GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash. Kyle Perrotti photo
April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 28

‘Bloom with a View’ returns to Arboretum

The North Carolina Arboretum is heralding spring’s arrival with the return of “Bloom with a View,” May 4-19.

This intricately designed floral installation provides guests with an immersive and unique experience that places them among tens of thousands of flowers. For two weeks, the Arboretum’s gardens, walkways and promenade will be festooned with displays of hydrangeas, lilies, calla lilies and much more. Throughout the campus, colorful and festive planters will elevate bursts of blooms to eye-level and guests are invited to wander, explore or even take a serene moment among the flowers.

During its inaugural year in 2023, attendance exceeded expectations as thousands came out to enjoy the spectacle. This year,

GSMNP to improve Gatlinburg entrance

Great Smoky Mountains National Park received approximately $11 million in funding from the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund to rehabilitate a two-mile section of Newfound Gap Road near Gatlinburg. The rehabilitation project will include single-lane closures.

Construction is anticipated to end by Sept. 27.

guests will be invited to join in a long and storied history of the “flower selfie,” with large displays highlighting the artistic legacy of self-portraits in gardens.

“Bloom with a View” utilizes the help and expert craftsmanship of Arboretum staff, local printers, plant producers, and woodshops to create a truly inspiring and elevating floral experience.

“Bloom with a View” takes place May 419 at The North Carolina Arboretum. While the exhibit is on display, parking for the Arboretum will be $30 per personal vehicle, purchased at the gate, and provides access to all gardens, trails and indoor exhibits. For more information, including upcoming special programs, please visit

During its inaugural year in 2023, attendance exceeded expectations as thousands came out to enjoy the spectacle. Donated photo

Jackson hosts youth tennis lessons

Youth Tennis Lessons at Mark Watson Park in Sylva will begin on May 4.

Registration is open online at

Lessons are for youth currently in grades 1-3 and 4-6. Lessons will be led by Scott Carson and held on Saturday mornings. Grades 1-3 will be 10-10:45 a.m. and grades 4-6 with be 11-11:45 a.m.

Contact Andrew Sherling at 828.293.3053 ext.6 or for additional information.

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File photo

WCU celebrates 40 years cleaning up the Tuckasegee River

For four decades, Western Carolina University has participated in a daylong effort of cleaning up a portion of Jackson County’s Tuckasegee River.

On Saturday, April 20, the university will hold the 40th annual Tuck River Cleanup.

Hosted by WCU’s Base Camp Cullowhee, the event is one of the nation’s largest single-day river cleanups with hundreds of volunteers working a 15-mile stretch of the Tuckesegee river, from Cullowhee to Whittier.

Last year, about 400 volunteers pulled about 2,500 pounds of garbage from the river.

Registration will take place on the Hinds University Center lawn by the Alumni Tower. To raft the river, volunteers must register the day of the event. Registration will take place from 9-11 a.m. Due to available gear, registration will be limited to about 500 volunteers.

There are alternative walking routes for those not meeting the requirements to raft the

Disaster relief available due to drought

Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack declared a natural disaster in North Carolina based on losses caused by

river or anyone who would prefer to not be on the river. Walkers can register between 10-11 a.m.

Requirements for rafters are:

• The minimum weight to raft the Tuckasegee River is 40 lbs.

• Base Camp Cullowhee will provide participants with a paddle, personal floatation device and raft.

• While on the river, each volunteer is required to wear a personal flotation device.

• It is imperative that you take an active role in getting your raft down the river.

Wear comfortable clothes that you can get wet and dirty.

• Each volunteer must wear shoes that will not come off during a swim. Flip flops and CROCS are not permitted.

Walkers should wear comfortable shoes and clothing that they don’t mind getting dirty. The number of walking volunteers will be capped at 30 due to the amount of available transportation.

drought that occurred beginning Nov. 1, 2023, and continuing.

As a result of this natural disaster, four North Carolina counties were declared eligible for federal disaster assistance, including Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency (EM) loans for eligible family farmers.

The first 300 volunteers to register will receive a free T-shirt. Trash bags and transportation to and from rafting and walking routes will be provided. Coolers and glass are not permitted on the river.

Those primary disaster counties are Cherokee, Clay, Macon and Swain counties.

In addition to those four primary disaster counties, Graham, Haywood and Jackson are named as contiguous counties where eligible family farmers may qualify

Other campus organizations assisting Base Camp Cullowhee with the Tuck River Cleanup include Campus Activities, which is promoting the Wild and Scenic Film Festival; the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning with promoting volunteer opportunities; and the Office of Sustainability and Energy Management, which is assisting with ways certain materials pulled out of the river are disposed of properly.

for FSA EM loan assistance.

Farmers in those counties may apply for EM loans for production losses. The deadline is Nov. 25 for filing an application. The local office is located at 61 Triple Springs Road in Hendersonville.Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 30
Volunteers help clean the Tuck each year. File photo

Ramsey Cascades Trail closes on weekdays

The National Park Service (NPS) will close Ramsey Cascades Trail on weekdays while trail crews finish the full-scale rehabilitation work started in 2022. The rehabilitation of this iconic Smokies trail is part of the Trails Forever program supported by Friends of the Smokies. The trail will be closed Monday through Thursday each week, except federal holidays. The weekday closures will be in place from April 15 to Nov. 14. The only weekend closure planned is May 3-5 while trail crews replace a log footbridge. Trail crews will repair tread surfaces, improve drainages, construct trail structures such as staircases, turnpikes, and retaining walls and remove trip hazards like exposed roots and rocks.  The rehabilitation will improve overall trail safety and protect the park’s natural resources. Located in the Greenbrier area, the popular four-mile Ramsey Cascades Trail is the only way to access the 100-foot Ramsey Cascades, the tallest waterfall in the park.

Work has already begun on the Ramsey Cascades trail. Donated photo

Significant flooding and storm damage caused the NPS to close the trail completely for several months in 2022 and early 2023. Trail crews rerouted 200 feet of trail, built and installed a new footlog bridge and built four new trail structures damaged by the flood.

‘Square-foot gardening’ class is April 30

The Haywood County Extension Office is presenting a free class on “square-foot gardening,” a simple, versatile system that takes up less space and requires less work and water to cultivate.

The class will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. on April 30 at Maggie Valley’s First Baptist Church.

Visit to sign up.

Lake J hosts annual plant sale

Lake Junaluska’s yearly plant sale is May 4

For sale will be a few thousand plants, including an assortment of annuals, perennials, herbs and vegetables, and several varieties of native plants from the Corneille Bryan Native Garden, said Melissa Tinsley, Lake Junaluska director of grounds. A few hybrid tea roses will also be available, as well as hanging baskets, six-inch and four-

inch pots and packs of four and six plants. Plants will range in price from $3 to $45 and can be purchased by cash, check or charge. Proceeds from the plant sale directly support landscaping at Lake Junaluska, where the grounds and gardens are open for all to enjoy and are made possible through charitable giving. Proceeds from the sale of the native plants will specifically benefit the Corneille Bryan Native Garden.

The sale will be held at the Assembly’s Nanci Weldon Memorial Gym on May 4 from 8 p.m. to 2 p.m.

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Square-foot gardens require less work and take up less space. Donated photo

Notes from a Plant Nerd

Spring, Sprang, Sprung, Sproing! What is Springtime?

Spring has fully sprung across Southern Appalachia, as we are awakened daily to birdsong and the bustling morning activity of bees and butterflies. Flowers are blooming in a progression like a great parade along the trail, lacking only a broadcaster’s color commentary: “And here comes the trilliums, all decked out in their finest shades of red, white and pink. And oh, don’t the larkspurs look splendid?”

the first week of June at the highest elevations of the Smokies.

The thing about trout-lily is that they are a true spring ephemeral, and each plant is only above ground for a few short weeks in any given area, yet they can be seen blooming from February through May, depending on where you live. So, if you miss the troutlily bloom on the trail next to your house, you can travel up higher in elevation to see them in bloom.

But, what is Spring? That word certainly means a whole lot of different things to different people, anything from a metal coil to a source of water to jumping over something. Of course, spring is the season of growth and renewal. One thing that most all definitions of spring contain are a connotation of resilience.

Puzzles can be found on page 38

These are only the answers.

And even within the definition most fitting for an article about plants, a time or season of growing, there is much confusion about when spring actually begins, leading me to another question, when is spring? is it a date on a calendar? Is it the time of year when everything is warm? I talked about that idea a bit ago when reminding folks that warmth all the time is a description of summer, and that spring contains all weather. And it does, but yet as springtime progresses, it tends to develop a whole string of lovely days.

When those warm periods and the corresponding blooms arrive depends on a whole lot of interrelated factors, primarily where you live. Northern hemisphere or southern? Latitude? Spring arrives much later for those who live in northern states than it does for those in the south. And around here in Southern Appalachia, when springtime arrives at your door depends on elevation, as we can yearly watch the progression of leaves emerging on trees that starts in the valleys in early April and works its way up to the mountaintops, filling in the canopy by the end of May.

I love to watch this progression in the emergence and bloom time of trout-lilies (Erythronium spp.) which I can go see in early February at lower elevations just off the mountain in Upstate South Carolina or North Georgia. They typically start blooming en masse around Cullowhee by the end of February and early March. And I have seen this plant’s remaining leaves as late as

Or you could drive northerly in latitude to catch them. It is similar as there is a relationship between elevation and latitude that makes for some interesting travel. Going from the valleys and town up to the high elevations along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains is similar in temperature and what is blooming as if you were driving north for hundreds of miles. When you go high enough into the Balsams where the evergreen trees grow, it is as if you are driving and walking across Canada or Maine.

If you do drive north to follow springtime’s blooms and you’re lucky enough in your timing, you might even catch a white fawn-lily (Erythronium albidum), which look very similar to the trout-lillies that grow around us (Erythronium umbilicatum and E. Americanum) except that instead of yellow flowers these bloom a beautiful white with hints of lavender in the petals.

No matter where you are or how you define springtime, it is a time of celebration and exuberance. And I encourage you to celebrate it exuberantly by getting out and looking at some wildflowers. I’ll join you.

(Adam Bigelow lives in Cullowhee. He leads weekly wildflower walks most Fridays and offers consultations and private group tours through Bigelow’s Botanical Excursions.

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 32 DON SHO VOLUN NAATTE P TEER CldSd&M ues.-Sat.Tu Closed Sunday & M O Md 10-4 • onday PEN 8282469135 ayn alnut 331 W SHOPPING C ALNUT V WA W haywoodhab eet t Str ENTER ILLAGE nesville bitatorg 828.246.9135 bitat.or 100 Charles St. WAYNESVILLE FREE ESTIMATES
A beautiful white fawn-lily in full bloom. Adam Bigelow photo



• The Jackson County Farmers Market meets every Saturday November through March 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and April through October 9 a.m. to noon at Bridge Park in Sylva, 110 Railroad St. Special events listed on Facebook and Instagram.

• The Jackson Arts Market takes place from 1-5 p.m. every Saturday at 533 West Main St. in Sylva with live music and an array of local artists.

• Cowee School Farmer’s Market is held Wednesdays from 3-6 p.m., at 51 Cowee School Drive in Franklin. The market has produce, plant starts, eggs, baked goods, flowers, food trucks and music. For more information or for an application, visit or call 828.369.4080.


• The Pollinators Foundation offers weekly Mindful Movement Qigong classes for all ages to reduce stress and improve health and well-being. Classes take place 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Wednesdays at the Folkmoot Center in Waynesville. For more information visit or contact Marga Fripp at 828.424.1398.

• The Pollinators Foundation and The Share Project host weekly Happy Hour Nature Walks 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at Lake Junaluska. The group meets at the Labyrinth. For more information visit or contact Marga Fripp at 828.424.1398.

• Mountain Area pregnancy Services and the WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor work together to provide a casual support group for prenatal and breastfeeding individuals from 1-2 p.m. on Tuesdays at Mountain Area Pregnancy Services, 177 N Main St. Waynesville, NC. All are welcome, registration is recommended. For more information, please call 828.558.4550.


• The Western Carolina Cribbage Club meets every Monday at 6 p.m. An eclectic group of young and old, male and female. The group supplies boards, cards, pegs and are always willing to help those still learning the finer points of the game. For more information contact

• Chess 101 takes place 3:30-4:30 p.m. every Friday at the Canton Branch of the Haywood County Library. For more information, email Ashlyn Godleski at or call 828.356.2567.

• The Canton Branch of the Haywood County Public Library Creative Writing Group meets 10:30 a.m. to noon on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. For more information, email Jennifer at or call 828.356.2561.

• Knit Night takes place at 5:30-7:30 p.m. every second Tuesday of the month at The Stecoah Valley Center. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP is recommended: 828.479.3364 or

• A Novel Escape Book Club takes place at 6:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month at the Novel Escape Bookstore (60 E Main St, Franklin). Every other month one book is selected for discussion. On alternate months the meeting is round-table discussion in which participants share what they’ve read lately. For more information call the bookstore at 828.369.9059 or visit

• Silent Book Club takes place at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Novel Escape Bookstore (60 E Main St, Franklin). Bring your own book and whatever makes you feel cozy and enjoy a quiet, uninterrupted hour of reading amongst friends.


• On Mondays, the Macon County Library will host Lady Violet, a King Charles Spaniel service dog, for children to practice their reading skills. Children who feel nervous reading aloud to an adult tend to feel more comfortable with a pet or a service animal. Sign up for a time to read with Lady Violet or to one of the library’s reading friends at the children’s desk or call 828.524.3600.

• On Tuesdays, Kelly Curtis will offer reading services to families from 3:30 -5:30 p.m. at the Macon County Public Library. Families may sign up for a 30-minute time spot at the children’s desk or by calling 828.524.3600.

• Creative Writing Club will take place at 3:30 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of every month at the Macon County Public Library. The writing club is intended for ages 8-12. For more information visit or call 828.524.3600.

• Move and Groove Storytime takes place 10:30-11 a.m. every Thursday, at the Canton branch of the Haywood County Public Library. Exciting, interactive music and movement story time ideal for children 2-6 years old. For more information contact Ashlyn at or at 828.356.2567.

• Mother Goose Storytime takes place 10:30-11 a.m. every Wednesday, at the Waynesville branch of the Haywood County Public Library. Ideal for children from birth to 2 years old. For more information, contact

Lisa at or call 828.356.2511.

• Wiggle Worms Storytime takes place 10:30-11 a.m. every Tuesday, at the Waynesville branch of the Haywood County Public Library. Ideal for children 2-6 years old. For more information contact Lisa at or call 828.356.2511.

• Next Chapter Book Club Haywood is a fun, energetic and highly interactive book club, ideal for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The group meets every second and fourth Monday of the month. For more information, email Jennifer at or call 828.356.2561.

• Storytime takes place at 10 a.m. every Tuesday at the Macon County Library. For more information visit or call 828.524.3600.

• Toddler’s Rock takes place at 10 a.m. every Monday at the Macon County Library. Get ready to rock with songs, books, rhymes and playing with instruments. For more information visit or call 828.524.3600.

• Culture Talk takes place at 2 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month at the Macon County Public Library. Travel the world from inside your library. This event features guest speakers and food sampling from the location being discussed. For more information visit or call 828.524.3600.

• Art afternoon takes place at 3:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the Macon County Public Library. For more information visit or call 828.524.3600.


• Uptown Gallery in Franklin is celebrating Youth Art Month. During the month of March, stop by the gallery to see Macon County Schools K-12 student artwork on display. A reception will be held 3-5 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at Uptown Gallery. For more information visit

• The Pollinators Foundation at Folkmoot offers creative arts playshops to reduce stress and cultivate joy and compassionate connection. More information at, or contact Marga at, or 828.424.1398.

• Trivia Night is hosted 6:30-8:30 p.m. every Thursday evening at the Meadowlark Motel in Maggie Valley. For more information visit

• Paint and Sip at Waynesville Art School will be held every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7-9:30 p.m. To learn more and register call 828.246.9869 or visit

April 17-23, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 33
WNC events and
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MarketPlace information:

The Smoky Mountain News Marketplace has a distribution of 16,000 copies across 500 locations in Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties, including the Qualla Boundary and west Buncombe County. Visit to place your ad!


• $15 — Classified ads that are 25 words, 25¢ per word after.

• Free — Lost or found pet ads.

• $6 — Residential yard sale ads.*

• $1 — Yard Sale Rain Insurance Yard sale rained out? Call us by 10a.m. Monday for your ad to run again FREE

• $375 — Statewide classifieds run in 170 participating newspapers with 1.1+ million circulation. (Limit 25 words or less)

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Note: Highlighted ads automatically generate a border so if you’re placing an ad online and select a highlight color, the “add border” feature will not be available on the screen.

Note: Yard sale ads require an address. This location will be displayed on a map on

p: 828.452.4251 · f:828.452.3585


Sealed proposals will be received until 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in

Director of Auxiliary Services for Macon County Schools, 1202 Old Murphy Road, Franklin, North Carolina 28734 for the Macon Middle School Track Replacement . The time and place for opening the proposals shall be 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in the Board Room located on the 2 County Schools Board of Education, 1202 Old Murphy Road, Franklin, North Carolina 28734. Bidders who mail their proposals SHALL address them to of Auxiliary Services, Macon County Schools 1202 Old Murphy Road, Franklin, NC 28734. To prevent accidental

opening, ALL Proposals shall be enclosed in a mailer and be clearly marked on the mailer


A Pre-Bid meeting will be held on site, Macon Middle School, 1345 Wells NC 28734, at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday April 23, 2024. It is strongly suggested that interested bidders attend. Requirements adopted by Macon County Schools for Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) will be part of this project. All minority businesses and historically underutilized businesses are hereby encouraged to submit proposals for this project. Complete plans and

project can be obtained from the Architect, LS3P Associates, LTD, by contacting Elizabeth Friedl

by phone or email:, 828-254-19 63. Plans available beginning April 15, 2024.

Macon County Schools

right to reject any and all proposals.

Signed: Macon County Schools

Mr. Josh Lynch, Superintendent




Pursuant to an order entered February 29, 2024, in the Superior Court for Haywood County, and the power of sale contained in the captioned Deed of Trust (the “Deed of Trust”), the Substitute Trustee will offer for sale at auction (the “Sale”), to the highest bidder for cash on:

APRIL 30, 2024, AT 11:30 A.M.


improvements thereon secured by the Deed of Trust, less and except any of such property released from the lien of the Deed of Trust prior to the date of said sale, lying and being in Haywood County, North Carolina, and being more particularly described as follows (the “Property”): ALL THAT CERTAIN LOT OR PARCEL OF LAND SITUATED IN THE CLYDE TOWNSHIP, HAYWOOD COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA AND MORE PARTICULARLY DESCRIBED AS FOLA NEW IRON PIN SET IN THE LINE OF SHELTON (DEED BOOK 376,NER OF THE TRACT CONVEYED TO LAAKKONEN (DEED BOOK WITH A FENCE LINE AND THE LINE OF LAAKKONEN, N. 84




1519 TWO CALLS: N. 89UTES 45 SECONDS E. 75.94 FEET AND N. 87


April 17-23, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 34



9.54 FEET) 248.10 FEET










The record owner(s) of the Property not more than ten (10) days prior to the date hereof are the Heirs of Roger Dale Putnam. Parcel ID: 8627-78-5112.

In the Trustee’s sole discretion, the sale may be delayed for up to one (1) hour as provided in Section 45-21.23 of the Statutes. deposit, or a cash deposit of $750.00, whichever is greater, will be required of the last and highest bidder. The balance of the bid purchase price shall be due in full in cash closing to take place within thirty (30) days of the date of sale. The Substi-

tute Trustee shall convey title to the property by non warranty deed. This sale will be made subject to all prior liens of record, if any, and to all unpaid (ad valorem) taxes and special assessments, if any, which became a lien subsequent to the recordation of the Deed of Trust. This sale will be further subject to the right, if any, of the United States of America to redeem the above-desc ribed property for a period of 120 days following upset bid period has run. The purchaser of the property described above shall pay the Clerk’s Commissions in the amount of $.45 per $100.00 of the purchase price (up to a maximum amount of $500.00), required by Section 7A-308(a)(1) of the Statutes. If the purchaser of the above-described property is someone under the Deed of Trust, the purchaser shall also pay, to the extent applicable, the land transfer tax in the amount of one percent (1%) of the purchase price.

To the extent this sale involves residential prop(15) rental units, you are following:

(a) An order for possession of the property may be issued pursuant to Section 45-21.29 of the Statutes in favor of the purchaser and against the party or parties in possession by the clerk of superior court of the county in which the property is sold; and

(b) Any person who occupies the property pursuant to a rental agreement entered into or renewed on or after October 1, 2007, may, after receiving the notice of sale, terminate the rental agreement upon 10 days’ written notice to the landlord. Upon termination of a rental agreement, the tenant is liable for rent due under the rental agreement prorated to the effective date of the termination.

The 29th day of February 2024.

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Jeff Williams-Tracy, Attorney for John W. Fletcher III, Substitute Trustee North Carolina State Bar Number 15503

100 Queens Road, Suite 250, Charlotte, North Carolina 28204







ROBINSON, JR. and wife, TERRALENEAL AMERICAN CORP., Trustee, dated JANUARY 16, 2003, recorded in

REFORMED MARCH 6, 2023, and recorded APRIL 20, 2023, in HAYWOOD COUNTY

Pursuant to an order entered March 26, 2024, in the Superior Court for Haywood County, and the power of sale contained in the captioned Deed of Trust (the “Deed of Trust”), the Substitute Trustee will offer for sale at auction (the “Sale”), to the highest bidder for cash on:

APRIL 30, 2024, AT 11:30 A.M.



the real estate and the improvements thereon secured by the Deed of Trust, less and except any of such property released from the lien of the Deed of Trust prior to the date of said

sale, lying and being in Haywood County, North Carolina, and being more particularly described as follows (the “Property”): -

at an old fence intersection post at Southwest corner of Rhinehart Tract (Deed Book 261, Page 688, Haywood County Registry) and Southeast

(Deed Book 172, Page 17, Haywood County Registry) and runs from the beginning point thus established: S 88-1120 W, passing an iron pipe set at 170.85 feet, a whole distance of 178.85 feet to the center of Thickety Road (S.R. 1513); thence with the center of Thickety Road three calls as follows: S 23-37-26 E 109.74 feet to a point; S 33-20-40 E 86.90 feet to a point; and S 52-32-13 E 99.41 feet to a point; thence leaving said road and running N 02-09-53 E, passing an

iron pipe found at 26.33 feet, a total distance of 235.42 feet to an iron pipe set; thence N 1138-30 W 4.06 feet to the

0.605 acres, as per plat and survey by L. Kevin Ensley, RLS, dated 11-888, Drawing No. A-09188, and being a portion of the property described in Deed Book 208, Page 534, Haywood County Registry. Also see Plat Book A, Page 89, Haywood County Registry.

SUBJECT TO right of way for State Road 1513 to its full legal width. -

erty described in deed dated September 29,

Robinson, Sr. (a.k.a. Max

Jean Robinson, to Max

recorded in Deed Book 475, Page 1012, Haywood County Registry. -

set, said iron pipe set being S 11-38-30 E 4.06 feet from the Southwest corner of Rhinehart Tract (Deed Book 261, Page 688, Haywood County Registry) and Southeast

(Deed Book 172, Page 017, Haywood County Registry) and runs thence from the beginning point thus established: S 2757-09 E 142.65 feet to an iron pipe set; thence S 42-02-11 W 111.66 feet to an iron pipe set; thence N 02-09-53 E 209.09 feet to the point and place of

0.172 acres, as per plat and survey by L. Kevin Ensley, RLS, dated 11-888, Drawing No. A-09188, and being a portion of the property described in Deed Book 396, Page 557, Haywood County Registry. Also see Plat Book A, Page 89, Haywood County Registry. -

erty described in a deed dated September 29, 1999, from Dean Robinson and wife, Mary Jane

Robinson, Jr. and recorded in Deed Book 475, Page 1015, Haywood County Registry. The record owner(s) of the Property not more than ten (10) days prior

to the date hereof is Terralene Robinson.

Parcel ID: 8657-19-7736

In the Trustee’s sole discretion, the sale may be delayed for up to one (1) hour as provided in Section 45-21.23 of the


deposit, or a cash deposit of $750.00, whichever is greater, will be required of the last and highest bidder. The balance of the bid purchase price shall be due in full in cash or to take place within thirty (30) days of the date of sale. The Substitute Trustee shall convey title to the property by non warranty deed.

This sale will be made subject to all prior liens of record, if any, and to all unpaid (ad valorem) taxes and special assessments, if any, which became a lien subsequent to the recordation of the Deed of Trust. This sale will be further subject to the right, if any, of the United States of America to redeem the above-described property for a period of 120 days following the date when has run.

The purchaser of the property described above shall pay the Clerk’s Commissions in the amount of $.45 per $100.00 of the purchase price (up to a maximum amount of $500.00), required by Section 7A-308(a)(1) ofal Statutes. If the purchaser of the above-described property is someone otherder the Deed of Trust, the purchaser shall also pay, to the extent applicable, the land transfer tax in the amount of one percent (1%) of the purchase price.

To the extent this sale involves residential prop(15) rental units, you are following:

(a) An order for possession of the property may be issued pursuant to Section 45-21.29 of the

Statutes in favor of the purchaser and against the party or parties in possession by the clerk

of superior court of the county in which the property is sold; and

(b) Any person who occupies the property pursuant to a rental agreement entered into or renewed on or after October 1, 2007, may, after receiving the notice of sale, terminate the rental agreement upon 10 days’ written notice to the landlord. Upon termination of a rental agreement, the tenant is liable for rent due under the rental agreement prorated to the effective date of the termination.

The 26th day of March 2024.

John W. Fletcher III, Substitute Trustee

North Carolina State Bar Number 15503

100 Queens Road, Suite 250, Charlotte, North Carolina 28204



Case No.2024E 000130

Robert Lee Reeves,

Administrator of the Estate of Robert Paul Reeves of Haywood County, North Carolina, this is to notify all persons having claims against the Estate to present them to the undersigned on or before Jun 27 2024, or this notice will be pleaded in bar of their recovery. All persons indebted to said Estate, please make immediate payment.

Administrator 141 Green Valley Rd. Waynesville, NC 28786


Case No.2024 E 000230

Marcus Holland West,

Executor of the Estate of Marcus Rhymer West of Haywood County, North Carolina, this is to notify all persons having claims against the Estate to present them to the undersigned on or before Jul 31, 2024, or this notice will be pleaded in bar of their recovery.

All persons indebted to said Estate, please make immediate payment.


313 Circle Park Place Chapel Hill, NC 27517

April 17-23, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 36



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ING MANAGER Mountain Projects, Inc. is looking for a: Smoky

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Mountain Projects, Inc. is seeking a Deputy Director to assist the Executive Director in the management and overseeing of the Organization and programs including various levels of compliance. The position requires a positive and encouraging personality to support the amazing staff of the Organization. Minimum

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37 Hour work week

Health Insurance with Mountain Projects paying 85% of the monthly premium. Dental and Vision coverage. Short/Long term disability and life insurance paid by Mountain Projects. Matching Retirement Plan 13 paid holidays a year Annual and sick leave Please apply in person to join our team at MPI 2177 Asheville Road, Waynesville, NC 28786 or 154-B Medical Park Loop, Sylva, NC 28779 or at www.mountainprojects. org EOE/AA


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Real Estate Announcements


All real estate advertising in this newspaper is subject to the Fair Housing Act which makes it illegal to advertise ‘any preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination’. Familial status includes children under 18 living with parents or legal guardians and pregnant women. This newspaper will not knowingly accept any advertising for real estate in violation of this law. All dwellings advertised on equal opportunity basis.



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April 17-23, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 38--
1 Extreme self-deniers 9 Common proof of age 15 Plotting band 20 Cousins of croci 21 Worker whose job is fitting 22 Nice smell 23 Stylized bow that's a token of affection 24 Godly 25 Fragment 26 Unwrap 27 Put on fancy duds, with "up" 29 Many Punjabi believers 30 Take forcibly 31 Marry 32 Cultural 35 Many August babies 36 Ford bomb 37 Writer Elinor or Philip 39 Praise highly 41 Toad feature 43 Toppings for nachos 45 "The King --" 46 Shakes up 51 Entertainer Falana 52 Nutrition std. 54 "-- Kapital" 55 Tapering off 56 Flying hooters 57 They have depots: Abbr. 58 Father of Beau Bridges 60 Most bizarre 61 Rugged truck, in brief 62 Sandy islets 63 Napoleon's isle of exile 64 News anchor Huntley 65 Hebrew holy scroll 67 Plus others: Abbr. 69 "Noah" actress Watson 71 Chewed Andean stimulants 75 Title for a fictional Southern rabbit 77 Cowboys' city, informally 79 Writer Dinesen 81 Suffix with Seattle 82 Behind bars 85 Bruno -- (shoe brand) 86 Moo -- pork 87 Be boastful 88 Hurting from hiking, say 90 Color tone 91 Gridiron stats 92 Pale brown 93 Legume-family plant 94 Incline 96 "Not so!" 98 PC memory units 99 19th-century Shakespeare editor Alexander 100 Chevy muscle car 101 Farfalle, e.g. 105 A8 carmaker 107 Paige of "Evita" 109 Gene-splicing need 112 Trellis plants 113 Current style 115 Finale 116 Colorado ski mecca 117 Vetoed 118 Early online protocol 120 Rip apart 123 Justice Kagan 124 Distinctive film director 125 Ripped apart 126 Impertinent 127 Meager 128 Jewel box holders ... or eight features of this puzzle? DOWN 1 Radiant 2 Incline 3 Neanderthal, e.g. 4 Eve's garden 5 "-- ToK" (Kesha hit) 6 Electrojet bit 7 Laundromat machine 8 Make a chair of 9 "-- be an honor" 10 Speaking stand 11 Passive resistance to laws 12 Quite similar 13 "Apollo 13" director 14 Equestrian training 15 Bit of outdated hi-fi equipment 16 Traveled in a curved path 17 Tennis' Becker 18 Astonish 19 Suit coat flap 28 -- monster (large lizard) 32 Lofty trains 33 -- del Fuego 34 Romantic evening meal 38 In-favor votes 40 Longtime politico Mo 42 Rival of Xerox or Canon 43 Political pull 44 DIYer's book 47 Build upon 48 Deadlock 49 Mil. officer 50 Mil. officer 53 Mgr.'s aide 59 Tasty tuber 62 December 25 64 Periodic payment to a stockholder 66 Taper off 68 Judges' org. 70 Very fine rain 72 Hora or hokeypokey 73 Classic arcade name 74 Smooth transition 76 31-Across on the sly 78 Viscous 80 Novelist Jane 82 Possibilities 83 This moment 84 Java 85 Fulfill expectations 87 Really tired 89 Sailing races 95 "Take it out" mark 97 Beatified Fr. woman 101 Really yearns 102 Teresa of -103 "Boxcars" roll 104 Cold temps 106 River mouth 108 Silly prank 110 Constituent of gunpowder 111 At -- for words 114 -- ex machina 116 Observe 119 III, to Italians 121 Inclined 122 '16 Olympics host


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