Smoky Mountain News | April 24, 2024

Page 1 Western North Carolina’s Source for Weekly News, Entertainment, Arts, and Outdoor Information April 24-30, 2024 Vol. 25 Iss. 48 Waynesville
increase Page 8
No revote for Sylva Pride parade Page 11


On the Cover:

It’s been a long time coming. Now, as the project to widen N.C. 107 in Jackson County nears, dozens of businesses have already been relocated. The Smoky Mountain News breaks down the current status of the project and talks to area residents. (Page 4) Sylva Fire Department conducts controlled burn on an N.C. 107 property slated for demolition. Sylva Fire Department photo News

Haywood realtors lend a helping hand..........................................................................6

Francis takes experience, expertise to Haywood Chamber....................................7

Mounting capital needs put tax increase on the table in Waynesville ................8

Macon residents urge funding for arts........................................................................10

No revote on Pride parade, listening session scheduled......................................11


PlottFest not just about canines....................................................................................12

Letter to the editor............................................................................................................12


One World Brewing welcomes Annie in the Water................................................14

Folkmoot celebrates Latin American heritage..........................................................17


First Waynesville skateboard competition to be held in May..............................20 April 30 Deadline to Apply for Tremont Writers Conference..............................25


Maddie Woodard.

C LASSIFIEDS: Scott Collier. . .

N EWS E DITOR: Kyle Perrotti. .

WRITING: Hannah McLeod.

Cory Vaillancourt. .

Garret K. Woodward. .

Smoky Mountain News 2
April 24-30, 2024
STAFF E DITOR /PUBLISHER: Scott McLeod. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ADVERTISING D IRECTOR: Greg Boothroyd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ART D IRECTOR: Micah McClure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D ESIGN & PRODUCTION: Jessica Murray. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jack Snyder. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D IGITAL MARKETING S PECIALIST Tyler Auffhammer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Question: If there is a long list of ingredients that sound like chemicals on a food package, should I avoid buying

Answer: This is not an easy “yes” or “no” answer and on your preferences and any allergies or ingredient sensitivities have. Also, remember that we eat foods as part of a meal, not in isolation – so eating a variety of foods is more important hyper-focused on an individual “bad” or “good” food or ingr

Ingredients added to foods may serve very important purposes. For example, vitamins and minerals such as folic acid

acid may reduce the risk of neural tube defects in infants, important for women in their child-bearing years.

Ingredients appear on the label in order from highest to lowest

few listed. Flavoring agents and additives often appear ingr lists and can serve the purpose of protecting food color or preventing microbial growth. These are often in very, amounts and appear towards the end of the list.

sound like ng it? may depend sitivities you eal, not in t than being ingredient. purposes. may be added s, which is to lowest in ingredient r, , taste, smell very small

Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN Ingles Market Corporate Dietitian


Leah McGrath - Dietitian

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Slow Burn

The towns of Sylva, Webster, Cullowhee and Cashiers are all connected by five lanes of chaos, better known as N.C. 107.

Due to dangerous conditions on the thoroughfare, plans for upgrades have been in the works for over a quarter of a century and finally, those plans have started to come to fruition. But debate over the road’s future and the merits of the construction project are far from complete.


The first recorded upgrades to N.C. 107 came in the 1930s when two bridges were constructed over Scotts Creek just west of Sylva Fire Department and east of the Jackson Paper Mill.

The road remained largely the same until the 1980s, when it was found to have one of the highest crash rates in the state. The road had previously been expanded to four lanes without a dedicated turn lane in the middle, and the stream that once flowed alongside N.C. 107 was encased in six-foot pipes and buried under the road.

To reduce the high crash rate, the road was restriped in the mid-1990s to add a center turn lane, but it was not widened. The additional lane did help improve crash rates, but traffic continued to worsen due to development, and officials requested a study for ways to improve the road.

In 1995, plans for a “Southern Loop” were presented that would add a bypass around N.C. 107, central Sylva and Dillsboro. The N.C. Department of Transportation also explored the idea of a bypass through the Cane Creek area that would have routed traffic between Balsam and Western Carolina University. Both these ideas were met with strong public opposition, part of which was the concern from business owners that the new construction would cause most traffic to bypass their business establishments.

The plans set off a debate that would last more than a decade after the Smart Roads Alliance was formed in 2002 to represent Sylva citizens against the roadway improvement plans. The Smart Roads Alliance sought to protect not only local businesses, but also mountain landscapes where construction would have taken place.

It wasn’t until 2013, after years of community input and back and forth with DOT, that upgrades to N.C. 107 were deemed a higher funding priority than the N.C. 107 connector project. In that same year, the N.C. 107 connector was removed from Jackson County’s comprehensive transportation plan and replaced with the current plan.

After a long design process with more input from the public along the way, plans for upgrades to N.C. 107 were set in motion by late 2019.

“Essentially, we’re at the point where we have to move for-

ward with the engineering design that we have,” NCDOT Division Engineer Brian Burch told residents at a September meeting that year. “The opportunity for public information or public comment has passed. We either move forward into right-of-way and construction, or we stop completely and essentially restart the process, which in my estimation would take 10 more years.”

The next delay to slow the process came in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Right-of-way acquisitions had been set to start in early 2021 with construction planned for early 2023, but after combined effects of the pandemic and financial shortfalls faced by the DOT, the project was pushed back roughly two years.

And while Sylva and Jackson County facilitated immense public input throughout the entire process, the project, planning and funding were always firmly in the hands of the department of transportation.

Sylva Town Commissioner Brad Waldrop posted a poll on his Facebook page asking people what official role they understood the Town of Sylva played in the approval or design of the N.C. 107 projects. Reactions and understanding were mixed among the more than 70 respondents.

Still, some residents opposing the project pleaded with

town and county officials to do something about the impending construction even though they can’t alter the project.

The only financial contribution the Town of Sylva made to the project was to budget $200,000 for sidewalks for its part in matching funds for sidewalks when the time came. However, because the DOT built more into their project design than expected, the town will only spend $40,000 on sidewalks associated with the road construction.

“The remainder will be used for streetlights along the corridor or other betterments,” said Town Manager Paige Dowling.

The only other link between the town and DOT is through the Regional Planning Organization, on which the town gets one appointed seat. The board is responsible for ranking roads for needed improvement but has no say whether those roads get improved — or how.

Where we are

As of 2014, there were 32,400 vehicles traveling along N.C. 107 every day. The traffic volume is projected to increase to 39,200 vehicles per day by 2035.

A crash study between 2011 and 2016 found there were a total of 254 crashes from N.C. 116 to U.S. 23 Business during those years. That is roughly 234 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, higher than the state average of 221 crashes per 100 million vehicles miles of travel between 2013 and 2015. Between 2017 and 2023, there were a total of 707 crashes on the road, 85% of which involved property damage, 15% of which resulted in injuries and three of which were fatal.

Data from the 2022 ranking of cities with populations of less than 10,000 based on all reported crashes from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2022, ranked Sylva 10th out of 432 cities. Jackson County ranked 42nd in 2022 for crashes in all counties in North Carolina, down from 51st in 2019.

At this point, right-of-way relocations are in progress, along with the associated demolition. These relocations have come to be one of the more contentious aspects of the project.

So far, DOT has relocated 38 businesses and two churches. There are three more businesses that need to be relocated. According to DOT, this is the largest business relocation project required for any project in North Carolina’s 14th Division over the last 30 years.

To help support businesses that are forced to move due to the road project, the Jackson County Economic Development Office and the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce created a business relocation grant program in which businesses having to relocate were eligible for up to $1,000 each. That money is intended to help with fees and permitting required by relocation.

NC 107 work marches on F

“We can’t waive those permitting fees; how can we help them feel like we’re not trying to double charge them for something that they paid for when they got established to begin with?” said Economic Development Director Tiffany Henry. “This was a way for us to sort of circumvent not waiving the fee, but then also show them that we’re trying to help them.”

To date, 22 businesses forced to relocate have completed a grant application through the chamber. All those businesses were able to relocate within Jackson County. It is not yet clear how those businesses and their movements or closings will affect the tax base in Sylva.

“We will have a better idea of the

April 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 4
median in
of the current turn lane. NCDOT photo
NC 107 include a
Sylva Fire Department conducts controlled burn on an NC 107 property slated for demolition. Sylva Fire Department photo

impact to the property tax base next January since the structures will likely all have been torn down,” said Dowling. “It will be impossible to estimate the impact on sales tax revenue during construction.”

Last year the town budgeted for expected revenue losses over the next two to four years.

“The next property tax revaluation will be in 2025, which is during construction. The town will not realize the complete loss in property value until after the 2025 revaluation. Sales tax revenue will also be negatively affected during the construction project, as a majority of the project area covers the primary commercial corridor,” Dowling said during the 2023 budget process. “The degree of impact on sales tax is unknown, therefore the town will budget conservatively for future cycles.”

And while everyone is concerned for the businesses having to relocate and what effects that might have on the local economy, the process of demolition came as a score for the Sylva Fire Department.

For seven of the buildings that required demolition, the DOT permitted the Sylva FD to conduct controlled burns. This is a complicated process in which the building must be inspected for dangerous chemicals like asbestos, which must be removed if located.

Traffic may only turn right, merging onto the main road, which then has U-turn lane access and allows for left or right turns onto the intersecting roads.

This means that the center turn lane will for the most part become raised concrete median with intermittent turn lanes. The concrete median will transition in most places to a grass median to prevent traffic from crossing. There will be 18 U-turn locations along the roadway. Bike lanes and sidewalks are also built into the design.

After the completion of right-of-way relocations and demolitions, the first utility relocation phase will commence. According to DOT scheduling, this is expected to occur over the next five months and owners will be relocating utilities and adjusting the position of poles.

Project plans are well-advanced, though not yet complete, and are expected to be delivered by April 2025. The project is scheduled to go out for bidding in July 2025 and construction is anticipated to take about four years.

According to NCDOT, most of the construction will take place at night, with the first construction beginning outside of traffic lanes.

“The current traffic management plan calls for working on one side with traffic on the other, and then switching sides,” said David Uchiyama, NCDOT western communications manager.

No reroutes are planned at this time.

But some citizens are concerned that this isn’t sufficient to reduce congestion or increased traffic on sideroads not built for heavy traffic flow. Kelly Timco has lived on South River Road since 2000 and is worried about both traffic and environmental effects of increased usage on the road.

Then the fire department has to apply for an air quality permit with the state, which takes about 30 days for approval.

“It enables the firefighters to have actual burn experience like you would have in a house fire or something, without actually burning somebody’s house down,” said Fire Chief Mike Beck. “You get experience operating the trucks, the pumpers, moving water like we do on regular fire calls, interior attack, for the guys that do that, it’s good training for everybody. That’s why it’s a benefit to us.”

What’s next?

The N.C. 107 project is largely aimed at widening the road, which is why so many businesses along its edges have had to be torn down, but the project will also change the configuration of the highway with the goal of improving safety and relieving congestion. The turn lanes will be replaced by a superstreet format that includes a bicycle lane. A superstreet, also referred to as a reduced conflict intersection or restricted crossing U-turn, restricts any direct crossing or left turns.

“There seems to be zero planning where all the traffic backed up on N.C. 107 would go and North River Road is in no better condition to handle more traffic,” said Timco. “Many wrecks have happened at night on these roads, which then also blocks and backs up all traffic, so I don’t see that improving with more vehicles on these side roads that are not built to handle the traffic.”

“Night is also when nature can actually get to the river to drink and feed; traffic will not help that,” Timco added. “The amount of litter will increase on roads and in the river. River roads could and should be the crown jewels of a county for tourism.”

Timco said he thinks that routing traffic and large semi-trucks down N.C. 116 past Ingles would make sense since this is a commercial sized road that has room for traffic.

A.J. Rowell also lives on South River Road and shares concerns about the amount of traffic that will be diverted to South River, North River and Old Settlement roads.

“Of course, we don’t want any more traffic on South River but neither do the folks on those other roads,” said Rowell. “None of the roads listed have seen any significant upgrades over the years and clearly little is being done to plan for what’s ahead with the extra traffic. South River Road’s surface is in terrible shape and there are multiple places where the road is caving towards the river. A stop sign at each end will not be enough to safely accommodate the thousands of extra cars that will utilize South River Road over three plus years of projected construction.”

April 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 5
Firefighters prepare for a controlled burn. Sylva Fire Department photo

organizations trying to address unmet housing needs, but that’s not the only way they’re working to ameliorate the impact of the nation’s affordable housing crisis on a local level.

On the other side of the county, in a bucolic little Waynesville neighborhood tucked up near the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, a number of other Canopy realtors slogged through mud and over coarse gravel at a Habitat for Humanity work site, putting the finishing touches on a new home.

Haywood’s Habitat for Humanity builds about three homes a year on average, with each requiring somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 person-hours to complete. Habitat just broke ground on one house, is nearing completion on another and plans two more in Chestnut Park over the course of the next year. While the mechanical work is usually subcontracted out, the rest of those work hours are filled by volunteers.

Haywood realtors lend a helping hand

While many real estate agents spent last Friday morning the usual way — listing homes for sellers, finding homes for buyers or taking classes to increase their knowledge of the industry — a group of nearly 30 Haywood County realtors took time out of their busy schedules to build community in the towns they call home.

“I think all the realtors I know are involved with multiple nonprofits, are active in their churches, in their kids’ schools and sports,” said Fines Creek resident Amy Spivey, regional chair of the Canopy Housing Foundation and broker with Christie’s International. “I think it’s actually kind of who we are.”

Spivey was one of a dozen or so who showed up to Canton’s Sorrells Street Park on April 19 to mark Realtors Care Day by collecting donated food and pet food to benefit the Community Kitchen and the Haywood County Animal Shelter, respectively.

Volunteers also mulched the park’s landscaping beds, planted new shrubs and delivered four new benches for seating around the splash pad, thanks to a $7,500 placemaking grant from the National Association of Realtors and a $500 donation from the Canopy Realtor Association.

Back in 2020, the Haywood Realtor Association merged

with the much larger Charlotte-based Canopy Realtor Association, which gave Haywood’s real estate professionals greater access to educational opportunities, greater influence statewide and a cost savings that it could use to benefit the community.

“The merger with Canopy for Haywood has been extremely positive,” Spivey said.

At the time, the HRA was only able to donate a few thousand dollars a year towards community-based beautification efforts and charitable housing upkeep — cleaning gutters, painting homes and the like.

Now, thanks in large part to the merger, they’re able to do much more. Since 2009, Canopy’s charitable arm has had a $1.2 million impact across Mecklenburg, Iredell and Haywood counties for more than 300 families and countless visitors to parks like Sorrells Street. When the HRA merged with Canopy, local realtors became part of Realtors Care Day.

“Through the Canopy Housing Foundation, we’ve awarded over $60,000 in grants back to the community, we give three $1,000 scholarships to the Haywood County Schools Foundation and then we participate in the Realtor Care Day,” Spivey said. “And obviously this year, we were also able to secure those placemaking grants.”

Spivey said that the Foundation is currently nearing the end of a grant cycle that awards up to $5,000 to community

“We have a couple of very reliable crews that come out every week, eight to 10 people, and they’re experienced, they work very hard and very diligently, but we always have a need for volunteers,” said Jared Iraggi, Habitat’s construction manager. “It’s not super easy and I’m not sure a lot of people know that Haywood Habitat is out here building these homes and that we have an active construction site that they can come and volunteer with.”

Canopy’s volunteers were hard at work building a sup-

“I think all the realtors I know are involved with multiple nonprofits, are active in their churches, in their kids’ schools and sports.”
— Amy Spivey

port platform for a storage unit, but it’s about more than simply putting in the work.

“It’s great to have Canopy out here doing this stuff,” Iraggi said. “It’s always great to have members of the community touching these houses, to let the homeowners know that they’re supported and the community has their back.”

And that, said Canopy Vice President of Marketing and Communications Kim McMillin, is exactly the kind of community Canopy’s realtors are trying to build.

“First and foremost, our realtors are members of the community,” McMillin said. “They really do live, work and play here, and it’s important to them to be able to connect with a community that they’re passionate about — not only selling and listing homes but making that community a better place.”

For more information on the Canopy Realtor Association’s Realtors Care Day or to get involved, visit To learn more about Haywood Habitat for Humanity, visit

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Volunteers from the Canopy Realtor Association prepare to plant a small shrub in Canton’s Sorrells Street Park on April 19. Cory Vaillancourt photo

Francis takes his experience and expertise to Haywood Chamber

In a move that’s expected to bring the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce’s economic development efforts into even closer coordination with Haywood County government, county Community and Economic Development Director David Francis has been named the new president of the chamber, effective in July.

“I am truly honored to have been chosen to lead the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. I love Haywood County and look forward to working together with other regional leaders to foster economic growth, create jobs and enhance the quality of life for all residents,” Francis said in an April 17 press release. “I want to thank the citizens of Haywood County for giving me the privilege to work for them over the last 25-plus years. It’s been an honor.”

Francis has extensive public and private sector experience, nearly all of it in Western North Carolina’s business community. He’s served in key leadership roles within several aspects of county government, and even as Haywood County’s elected tax collector from 2010-14.

Jake Robinson, CEO of Champion Credit Union and member of the Chamber board, extended a warm welcome to Francis and said he looks forward to a prosperous, collaborative future of impactful growth under Francis’ leadership.

Chamber Board Chair Laura Tragesser, a financial sales manager at First Citizens Bank, said the Chamber had conducted a four-month nationwide search for a new leader to replace retiring president CeCe Hipps.

“We had applicants from all over the country,” Tragesser said in the release. “After interviewing several candidates, we knew that David’s years of experience within Haywood County government and his deep

understanding of regional economic development would be keys to long-term success.”

Hipps arrived shortly after the 2004 floods and helped guide the county’s business community through the Great Recession, ensuing economic stagnation, another flood, a global pandemic and most recently, the heart-wrenching loss of a major employer.

free. A two-year grace period following the closure requires Pactiv to continue operating the treatment plant, but that’s drawing to a close.

Bryant Morehead, Haywood County’s manager, said he’s not yet begun to consider if, when or how Francis will be replaced in county government.

“We’ll have to talk through it,” said Morehead, who added that there are already

The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Board (pictured here) announced the appointment of David Francis (seventh from left) as its new president. Donated

Of late, Francis has emerged as a central figure in recovery efforts related to the closing of Pactiv Evergreen’s Canton 115-year-old paper mill, which had employed roughly a thousand workers at wages high above the county’s average until closing last summer.

Concerns remain over the future of the 185-acre mill site in the heart of Canton, as well as a solution to the town’s wastewater treatment problem — since the 1960s, the mill had treated Canton’s wastewater for

some key county personnel involved with important ongoing projects who will work to deliver them while simultaneously working on general economic development within the county. “We’re already got a relationship with the Haywood Chamber and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, and we’ll be looking at that — particularly, how we can make that partnership stronger will be my focus.”

Republican runoff elections nearing

The Primary Election season isn’t quite over in North Carolina, as several races didn’t meet the 30% vote threshold to deliver outright wins to top finishers. In The Smoky Mountain News coverage area across Western North Carolina, voters have two Republican runoffs to watch — Hal Weatherman and Jim O’Neill for the lieutenant governor position currently held by Republican Mark Robinson, and Jack Clark and Dave Boliek for the state auditor position currently held by Democrat Jessica Holmes, who was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper after fellow Democrat Beth Wood resigned in 2023. The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor will eventually face Mecklenburg

Democrat Rachel Hunt, while the Republican auditor nominee will face Holmes, a former Wake County commissioner who is running for her first full term as auditor.

In-person early voting for the Tuesday, May 14, runoff election begins on Thursday, April 25, and ends at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 11. Hours and locations vary by county, so contact your county board of elections for detailed information or visit the North Carolina State Board of Elections website for a complete list of sites. Bring any one of nearly a dozen state-approved forms of ID to cast your vote.

Requests for absentee ballots must be

in by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, and can be made online via the N.C. Absentee Ballot Portal, or in person at your county election office. Absentee ballots must be returned to county elections offices no later than 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Consider dropping yours off in person, as mail can be unpredictable and ballots received after the deadline won’t count.

Voting in this election is limited to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters who either didn’t vote in the March Primary Election, or voted Republican.

To check your registration status or to learn more about the specifics of casting your vote in the May 14 runoff, visit

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Mounting capital needs put tax increase on the table in Waynesville

Waynesville’s town government has kept taxes as low as possible for as long as possible, but is quickly finding truth in the adage, “It’s easier to keep up than to catch up” — over the years, capital spending hasn’t kept up with the town’s needs, and now taxpayers may be looking at a costly game of catch-up.

“I’m loathe to raise taxes unless there’s some dramatic need like what we did in 2016 when we hired the eight new firefighters,” said Jon Feichter, a member of Waynesville’s Town Council, at the outset of an April 17 budget meeting.

Back in 2016, Waynesville raised its property tax rate by four cents to pay for additional firefighters to meet federal guidelines for staffing. It was the town’s last substantial tax increase, and like Haywood County’s 2023 tax increase to fund additional school resource officers, it garnered nary a whimper of opposition due to the public-safety nature of the spending.

The ongoing countywide property revaluation, expected to show double-digit percentages of growth similar to the last one, won’t be reflected on tax bills until next

budget year, so council will have the option of kicking the can down the road again, one more time, or tightening up spending, raising taxes and moving forward.

On the bright side, the town expects a

$516,000 boost in revenue, including $211,000 from natural growth and property development over the past year, a $100,000 increase in investment income, a projected 3% increase in sales tax collections worth $135,000, a $50,000 increase in distributions from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and $20,000 in additional revenue from the town’s recreation services.

The town was also able to negotiate a 0% increase in its health care coverage, and tax collection rates remain incredibly high, but none of those factors alone will be enough to solve all of Waynesville’s issues.

To that end, town staff presented three budget options to Council during the workshop — lean, leaner and leanest.

The leanest option projects general fund revenues of $18.4 million with no property tax increase, no sewer and water rate increase and no increase in fire taxes for outside districts.

Under this option, that $516,000 in new revenue would be completely eaten up by increasing costs for gas, tires and electricity, a 1% cost of living adjustment for town workers totaling $103,000, career track payments for employees and police totaling $248,000 and a 1% increase in contributions to the state’s employee retirement system. The only general fund capital spending proposed would be $155,000 for new meter readers, a timeclock system for the payroll department, an electric vehicle and charger for the police department and an electric mower

A 7% rate increase is proposed for the town’s electric customers, which would eventually be offset by revenue from new customers plugging in at the new residential developments within the town’s service area.

The second, “leaner” option projects general fund revenues of $18.6 million and includes a one-cent property tax increase per $100 in assessed value. At current valuations, each one-cent tax increase generates roughly $165,000 in revenue. Adding that increase to the $516,000 in new revenue gives the town $681,000. This option includes no fire, water or sewer rate increases, maintains the 7% electric rate increase as well as the COLA, career track and retirement contributions, and proposes a new stormwater management fee.

Assistant Town Manager Jesse Fowler constructed and presented a complicated and elaborate tier system for residential and commercial property owners that would be used to buy, maintain and construct various apparatus for the town’s stormwater management system and help the town comply with an unfunded mandate from the state to prove it is spending money on the elimination of inflow and infiltration into the town’s wastewater treatment system.

Fowler’s fee structure was devised to ensure that properties having the greatest impact on the stormwater system — very large properties or properties with lots of impervious surfaces — pay their fair share.

Right now, the biggest residential contributors to stormwater runoff would pay about $7.20 a month, while the largest commercial contributors would pay about $12 a month. The vast majority of residential customers would end up paying about $1.20 a month, with the smallest commercial customers paying $2.40 a month, although Council members aren’t yet firm on where they want those rates to be.

“I’m loathe to raise taxes unless there’s some dramatic need like what we did in 2016 when we hired the eight new firefighters.”
— Jon Feichter, Waynesville Town Council member

“It’s not a tax,” Fowler said. “We’re charging people for a service that’s incredibly expensive.” As proposed, the stormwater fee would go into effect in September with bills due Jan. 1, 2025 and raise about $150,000 in its first nine months of operation, which would instantly free up $75,000 in general fund revenue currently allocated to pay for maintenance and improvements to the system. The next year, the stormwater fee’s first full year, it’s expected to gross around $200,000.

Between the stormwater fee and the onecent tax increase, the revenue generated would allow the town to hire a planner to manage the stormwater program and would also allow the town to purchase all of the capital items in the leanest option, plus pay for $66,000 in police requests — including new ballistic armor — along with a $100,000 leaf collector, an electric vehicle for development services and some, but not all, cardio equipment

April 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 8
for the town’s cemeteries.
Waynesville’s Town Council has some tough decisions ahead. Cory Vaillancourt photo

requested by the town’s recreation department.

The second option also includes a new position, environmental sustainability director, with the town’s four funds (general, water, sewer and electric) all splitting the cost. Although technically an outlay, the director would be responsible for helping the town save money by ferreting out wasteful energy practices.

The third option, the “lean” option, proposes a two-cent property tax increase that would generate approximately $330,000 in new revenue on top of the $516,000 that will be realized regardless of which option Council selects. Like the “leaner” and “leanest” options, no increase in fire, water or sewer rates is expected. The electric rate increase would survive, however the stormwater fee would not, resulting in general fund projections of $18.7 million in revenue.

This option, like the others, includes the 1% COLA and the career track and retirement contributions. The only real change in expenditures under this option would be reverting the stormwater spending to the general fund instead of a new stormwater fund, and spending $101,000 to purchase all of the cardio equipment requested by the recreation department.

Council members briefly haggled over the three options, trading horses and attempting to find consensus, but Council Member Anthony Sutton made quite a splash by presenting his own fourth option, one he jokingly called the “platinum plan.”

“I think a 1% cost-of-living increase is kind of a slap in the face to our employees,” Sutton said, noting that for someone making $50,000 a year, the 1% raise would be less than $10 a week before income taxes.

Sutton’s plan consists of a two-cent increase, plus the stormwater fee, and an increase in the COLA to 2%. He called the 2% COLA his “line in the sand.” Council Member Julia Freeman appeared to agree with Sutton on the 2% COLA but offered her own twist on the town’s budget priorities.

“I want to do [all] that with no tax increase,” Freeman said.

In recent years, the town has redoubled its efforts to take good care of its employees, as have most local governments in the county. After years of sluggish pay increases, the call of higher-paying jobs from across the region became too much to ignore for most municipal employees, resulting in turnover that costs more than keeping an employee working with steady raises.

One thought on how to reduce expenses would be to require municipal retirees to contribute 35% to the cost of their coverage, instead of the current 25%. The town could also eliminate health care coverage in retirement for new employees, or cap payments once retirees have been gone for 15 years. The projected savings wasn’t discussed at the meeting, and the idea didn’t seem to gain much traction, leaving Council to deliberate on the four options before them.

While there seemed to be consensus on the 2% COLA and the stormwater fee, most Council members were guarded with their opinions, prompting Sutton to reiterate his

desire to raise taxes to pay for critical town needs.

Sutton noted that he, along with Julia Freeman, are both up for reelection next year — the result of the town’s switch to staggered terms. Previously, all four Council members plus the mayor would be up for election every four years, but now, Waynesville will fall into line with other Haywood County municipalities, electing two Council members every four years. As the lowest vote-getters in the November 2023 election, Sutton and Freeman only won two-year terms.

“I’m willing to lose an election to get what our people need,” Sutton said, reiterating the town’s employee-centric budgeting trends.

For pretty much his entire tenure on Waynesville’s governing board, Sutton has pushed the town to take a more aggressive stance in planning for predictable, ongoing capital needs — things like police cars, fire trucks and the like. At one point, Council even discussed the possibility of a bond issue to clear out the backlog, even though that would result in a regular long-term loan payment in the face of annual capital spending.

Town Manager Rob Hites remarked that when he calculated the cost of fulfilling all extant department budget requests a few years ago, the cost would be equivalent to a 10-cent increase on the property tax rate, or more than $1.5 million.

“I think a 1% cost-ofliving increase is kind of a slap in the face to our employees.”
— Anthony Sutton, Waynesville Town Council member

Chief David Adams said he’d be willing to give up some of his department’s equipment requests — Sutton said he wouldn’t allow the police department to go without new body armor — in exchange for a 3% COLA and so other departments could get some of their needs fulfilled. At the top of Adams’ cut list was the proposed electric vehicle. Assistant Chief Brandon Gilmore said he’d talked with other police departments about their electric vehicles, and reported that they simply can’t withstand the rigors of police use at the moment.

Elizabeth Teague said the same about a proposed electric vehicle for the planning department — it’s not completely necessary.

Fire Chief Joey Webb said his department has huge needs, including a new fire truck that wouldn’t be delivered for three years, well past his imminent retirement, even if the truck was ordered immediately.

The meeting ended with Council asking department heads to prioritize their budget requests and submit them to Hites.

Per statute, municipal budgets must be passed no later than July 1 each year, so Council still has some time to review the requests and make final budget decisions.

Smoky Mountain News news 9 28 MYRA BAGS AND WALLETS NEW SPRING SHIPMENT M SHIP SP AN MEENT PRRING ALLE A D ET ND W 120 N Affffairs aynesville . Main St. • W of the He 2 eart 8 828.452.052 6 • om

‘Carousel of the Arts’

Macon residents urge funding for arts

Emergency federal funding provided quick relief to school systems burdened by costs incurred during the COVID-19 Pandemic. For Macon County Schools, some of that funding provided the opportunity for additional art teachers. Now, with that federal funding coming to an end, those additional art positions could be in jeopardy.

At the commissioners’ April meeting, a swath of Macon County Students showed up for “Carousel of the Arts” to show commissioners just how much they appreciate art classes in school and plead for funding for the arts.

“The goal I had in organizing the event was to foster an initiative by our board to be more diligent in sharing with the board of commissioners the talent, creativity and successes of our students,” said school board member Diedre Breeden. “The commissioners are responsible for a lot and support the school system so much. We wanted to show them the fruit of their efforts and express our appreciation.”

Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Funds were distributed as part of the American Rescue Plan to provide nearly $122 billion to states to help reopen and sustain school operation during the pandemic while addressing its impacts on students’ academic, social, emotional and mental health needs. North Carolina Schools received $3.6 billion in ESSER funds.

With its ESSER funding, Macon County Schools was able to add five fulltime art teachers and four full-time music teachers to its ranks. It was also able to add one STEAM teacher.

“We were able to reinstate art classes at Macon Middle School. ESSER funds expire at the end of this school year, and we will have to acquire supplemental funding in order to continue the art and music classes that we currently have,” said Superintendent Josh Lynch.

According to Finance Director Angie Cook, if no additional funding comes through then those ten positions added with ESSER funding would be eliminated.

“Unfortunately, we do not receive enough funding to provide a full-time music and art teacher at each of our schools,” said Lynch. “The ESSER funding allowed us to provide this needed service. Therefore, our students have been able to experience art exhibitions, musical performances, and choir at the elementary and intermediate levels.”

Several residents touted the importance of the arts in schools and share personal anecdotes about how art classes and teachers impacted their lives.

“In years past I’ve taught students with learning disabilities that can make grade level reading and math extremely difficult

and sometimes stressful for the student,” said Macon County third grade teacher Mariah Rascati. “As we continue to cheer each other on and celebrate growth no matter how big or small, I can’t help but think of these students and how their eyes light up when they know its art day, or music day.”

The Carousel of the Arts started prior to the commissioners meeting with artwork on display in the halls of the county building. It continued after public comment with student-made gift baskets for each commissioner and performances by student artists and musicians.

“What we hope is that tonight is just the start of an initiative of our board to be better at informing you of the ways your investment in our schools is being used to create a very powerful ripple effect,” said Breeden in an address to the county commission. “When you invest in our students, you’re investing in our families and you’re investing in our community, and we are very appreciative of that.”

Students from Iotla Valley and South Macon Elementary performed and presented work. Chase, a fourth grader from Iotla Valley, spoke to the county commissioner about art and architecture.

“Did you know that this building was built in 1972 and designed by Kyle C. Boone?” Chase asked commissioners. “The building is in a modern style architecture and was not the first courthouse for Macon County. This is actually the third building. The first building was built in 1829 and the second one was built in 1881.”

Chase said he learned about North Carolina architecture and what architects do in his art class.

“Who knows, one of us may decide to be an architect one day here in Franklin,” said Gavin, another fourth-grader at Iotla. Elizabeth Bennet, a fourth-grader at Iotla Valley told commissioners that she thinks they should keep music classes in schools.

“Without music, everything would be boring,” said Bennet. “Without music I would feel very sad, depressed and like I do not belong anywhere. I would be sad because I would not be able to listen to my favorite song. What I have enjoyed most about being able to participate in musical theater club and choir at Iotla is singing fun songs and being able to express my feelings with everyone.”

Students in the Iotla program are performing the Willy Wonka musical and sang one number for the commission. Students from South Macon Elementary also performed the song “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman.

“In our school, music gives us confidence and a place to belong,” said one South Macon student. “Thank you for supporting us and thank you for listening.”

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No revote on Pride parade, listening session scheduled

After the Sylva Town Council denied Sylva Pride’s road closure application for the annual Pride Parade, the community organization has decided to hold “Chalk About It,” to talk to community members and garner input on the best path forward.

“We are committed to listening deeply, speaking respectfully, and encouraging a spirit of collaboration as we grow in greater unity,” Sylva Pride Board of Directors said in a statement.

For the past three years, Sylva Pride has held a Pride festival downtown that included a march on a portion of Main and Mill streets, requiring a partial road closure. The town board is responsible for approving temporary road closure permits and submitting road closure resolutions to the Department of Transportation to stop, block or detour traffic on state-maintained roads.

However, during its March 21 meeting, the town board denied Pride’s road closure application in a 3-1 vote with one member absent. This decision came despite a letter of support for Pride’s parade from over 25 downtown businesses, and assurance from Pride’s director that the organization could pay for the town resources required for the road closure.

“Sylva Pride is prepared to make this happen in any way we can,” said Burgin Mackey at the time.

Following the decision to deny the application, thenCommissioner Natalie Newman suggested that the board take a second look at the application during its April 11 meeting.

In order for an item that has been denied by the board to come back up within a year, someone on the prevailing side needs to bring it back for reconsideration.

“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,” said Newman.

According to Newman, she spoke with Commissioner Blitz Estridge, and Commissioner Brad Waldrop spoke with Commissioner Mary Gelbaugh to try and convince either of them to bring the issue back before the board. No member of the majority who denied the application was willing to bring it back for reconsideration.

“During that meeting and the weeks following, I began considering the precedent set if we allowed all parades to take place with the caveat of them covering costs and I began considering how this could negatively spiral,” said Gelbaugh. “During a parade there is the budget concern, the safety of the general public and parade participants, the idea that our Main Street is a primary DOT road that affects traffic with little to no alternatives — for example, semi-trucks — the nearby commercial and residential residents affected and lastly, and I believe most important, staff retention. Keeping all positions filled in our police and public works department proves to be an ongoing challenge.”

Shortly after that April 11 meeting, Newman resigned from not only the town council, but every public board she served on.

“The handling of this vote by this board does not reflect our proposed town values and our claims to be committed to inclusivity. And for me at least, that’s hard to swallow,” Newman said.

In addition to the original application coming back

WOW is an all-women, all-volunteer organization. The group currently has about 30 members and is operated by a six-member board of directors and working committees. Donated photo

Women of Waynesville host open house

before the town council, Sylva Pride was within its rights to reapply for a partial street closure on a different day than the one originally applied for. However, in a statement, the board of directors announced it would not seek a street closure for a different day.

“While our Board of Directors strongly disagrees with this decision, we have decided to not reapply for a parade permit with the Town of Sylva, we will improvise and overcome as we always do, however, Sylva Pride weekend is still on,” the statement read.

The directors said that they have seen immense support from the community and that they are “actively listening.”

“Chalk About It” will take place from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, April 26, in front of the Sylva Pride mural in downtown Sylva. The event is intended to get community members talking about recent local events and chart a path forward.

“We would like to thank everyone who has shown initiative as we work to make our town a more beautiful and inclusive place,” the board of directors said. “We urge everyone to join us as we continue to make Sylva Pride 2024 the biggest and best yet.”

Women of Waynesville, a nonprofit organization that supports the needs of women and children in Haywood County, is inviting all interested women to attend an open house and membership drive event. The event will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at the Folkmoot Auditorium, 112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville, and will give prospective members an opportunity to learn more about WOW and its mission before making the decision to join.

WOW is an all-women, all-volunteer organization. The group currently has about 30 members and is operated by a six-member board of directors and working committees. Members meet twice monthly at Folkmoot, with the mission of coming up with new and fun ways to raise money for women and children. Since forming in 2012, WOW has helped raise more than $250,000 for other nonprofits and individuals in need, including Haywood Habitat for Humanity, Haywood Pathways Center, Mountain Projects, Pigeon Community Multicultural Development

Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters, KARE, REACH, Haywood County Schools Foundation, Meals on Wheels, Feeding the Multitude and so many others.

While WOW works hard to meet its goals, members also know how to have fun with regularly planned socials like whitewater rafting, cookouts, concerts and other team-building activities, to give everyone a chance to get to know each other. New members will be paired with a mentor in the group to show you the ropes and support you through your WOW journey.

“We work hard toward our mission, but we also take time to support each other as women, which is not something you’ll find with other nonprofits,” said WOW President Becca Swanger. “Our tight-knit group is strong, and we want to continue that momentum by bringing in new members who share our passion for being a positive force in the community.

The Open House is a free event and open to all women who live or work in Haywood County. WOW will provide food and drinks.

For more information about WOW visit womenotwaynesvilleorgor follow us on Facebook.

April 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 11
Ever since Sylva Pride’s request to close downtown street’s was denied, people have rallied in support of the parade. File photo

PlottFest not just about canines

PlottFest 2024 will be held at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds Saturday, April 27th from 9 a.m. until 10 p..m.

There are many reasons to attend. First, it’s affordable, entertaining, educational, and just plain good family fun — with something for everyone.

There will be 54 local artisans selling their handmade wares and 10 or more additional craftsmen and a primitive camp demonstrating authentic Appalachian culture such as leatherwork, pottery, flintlock rifle displays, powder horns, hand forged knives, wood carvings and books — much of it for sale as well.

Moreover, from these 64 folks, 55 are from Western North Carolina — mostly Haywood County — with the remainder from other nearby areas of Appalachia, giving you the opportunity to support authentic regional artists.

Secondly, there’s great food and drinks available — with more than 10 food trucks on site, all mostly local too, with a wide variety of delicious food.

And we have your entertainment needs covered with great local entertainers like the J Creek Cloggers, The PlottFest AllStar Bluegrass Band, Creekside Collective and William Ritter

Columnist fashions his own reality

To the Editor: Your guest columnist Steven Crider has a unique way of twisting and re-labeling reality that leaves clear-thinking readers scratching their heads — or should. A while back (SMN, Feb. 21), he tried to convince us that the flawed Electoral College system, which periodically hands the highest office in the land to the loser of our national popular vote for president, is actually a big plus for American democracy. (Visit

More recently (SMN, April 3, “Are the ‘deniers’ practicing better science?”), Mr. Crider introduced us to the 19th century European physician Ignaz Semmelweis, who demonstrated conclusively that disinfecting hands and instruments in a medical setting prevented the transmission of disease. I agree Semmelweis is a genuine if largely forgotten hero. Lacking the theoretical underpinnings that would come only decades later, he nonetheless did the hard work of science: a grasp of the problem — people were dying unnecessarily — keen observation, statistical analysis and experimentation. Yet Crider, for his own purposes, casts Ignaz Semmelweis as a “denier.” In reality, the man’s life more closely fits the profile of an “alarmist” and an “activist,” types that Crider clearly has little use for! Are you scratching your head yet?

Look, the “scientific skepticism” that Mr. Crider touts, if practiced for its own sake and unsupported by solid data, is pointless, distracting and potentially dangerous. Be a denier if you must, according to your political and philosophical lights, but please don’t call such knee-jerk rejectionism “science.” True and correct science, competing in the market-

& Tim McWilliams.

Most importantly, PlottFest is a celebration of the official state dog of North Carolina — the Plott Hound — and a celebration of Appalachian culture. Plott Hound competitions and programs are scheduled all day, including a UKC Bench show and various other competitive events, all showcasing the magnificent skills of the Plott breed.

All dog competition winners will be honored onstage with awards of handcrafted pottery by Cory Plott of Plottware Pottery. And multiple awards are being presented to past and present legends of the Plott breed, almost all of them from WNC or east Tennessee.

Let’s not forget that while the Plott Hound is indeed our official state dog, Haywood County is where the breed first found worldwide notoriety when it was recognized as an official pure-bred dog by the UKC in 1946. What better place is


place of ideas, will (like Semmelweis) be vindicated in the end.

WCU-Jackson Schools partnership is valuable

To the Editor:

I am an emeritus faculty member in the College of Education and Allied Professions at Western Carolina University. I am concerned about the possible ending of the cooperative agreement between WCU and the Jackson County Public Schools regarding the Catamount School. I am closely related to individuals in both entities, including the Catamount School. I have worked with faculty and students in both. From my direct observations, I believe removing the Catamount School from the Jackson County school site would be a mistake for Jackson County students and teachers. However, for several reasons, I think the broader implications of such an action are even more important.

First, there has been a long, fruitful twoway relationship between the JCPS and WCU. Over 80 years ago, Carl Killian, a WCU psychology professor, started the first child guidance, reading and speech and hearing clinics in the area. He provided the first audio-visual materials to the schools. He was instrumental in bringing the Teacher Corps and Head Start to the county. Since Killian’s time, countless WCU faculty members from across the university have provided workshops, consultations, tutoring, and many other services to the JCPS, usually without compensation. In return, JCPS has provided expertise, mentoring and supervision of WCU teachers in

there to celebrate this milestone than in the literal cradle of Plott Hound history, Haywood County?

Nor should we forget that while the Plott family is indeed proud of our achievements pertaining to this storied hound, we are also quick to recognize that the Plott breed would likely have remained a regional phenomenon were it not for other friends and associates not related to our family. Folks not only from this region and around the state, but from across the nation as well.

If you or your family is from anywhere in this state, then it is likely that this is your story too, and we want to share that story with you and the integral role that you and your ancestors played in the success of the Plott breed at PlottFest 2024.

If you’ve never seen a Plott dog in action or just want to meet or pet one, here is your chance! Remember, when you touch the face of a Plott dog, you are truly touching the face of North Carolina history.

For more details on PlottFest 2024, go to

preparation. Our teachers and children in Jackson County have benefited from these collaborations. It would be a shame to see this long history of cooperation affected by something as minor as an issue of space.

Second, as a child psychologist, I believe children and youth need as many options for success as possible. For many reasons, students I have worked with and observed at the Catamount School have struggled in their prior placements. Providing fewer options for

those students is not helpful. What they often need are the relationships that can be built in small, stable settings like a lab school.

Finally, the media reports have focused on only one part of the intended purpose of the state’s laboratory schools, serving underachieving students. An equally important legislated purpose of the lab schools is the enhancement of teacher preparation. I have

been involved in teacher preparation for almost a half century. I know of no better model for preparing good teachers than a high-quality laboratory school. When teachers in preparation can observe master teachers in action and then critique and discuss what they have seen, opportunities for learning are maximized. The Catamount School offers just such opportunities. Good teachers have never been harder to find. Fewer strong students are entering the profession. It is hard for me to believe that the JCPS does not want to be part of an effort to educate more potential North Carolina teachers in this effective way. There has been talk about building a new middle-level school in Jackson County. There has probably never been a more important time for educators in JCPS and WCU to find creative ways to work together. We need to model Carl Killian to find ways to provide more options for our county’s children, not fewer.

Opinion Smoky Mountain News 12
Guest Columnist Bob Plott
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Carry the music

One World Brewing welcomes Annie in the Water

Within the greater Upstate New York live music scene, there’s a vast landscape of ebbs and flows — peaks and valleys of sonic textures, weaving effortlessly from rock to soul, funk to folk and back again.

From weekend warrior neighborhood bar bands to old road dog national touring entities, it’s a wide palette of musical outfits meandering about the backwoods, back alleys and Main Streets of the North Country.

And with rising jam-rock act Annie in the Water (AITW), we’re currently seeing the emergence of one of the next leaders of this rich, vibrant scene, one quickly spilling out of the northeast and into the rest of the country.

“What we strive to generate is a feeling within our listeners,” said AITW co-founder and singer/guitarist Michael Lashomb. “We take pride in interacting with our fans and friends, to see how the music changes people and puts them in a state of bliss.”

Want to go?

Jam-rock group Annie in the Water will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at One World Brewing West on 520 Haywood Road in Asheville. Admission is $10 per person. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to and scroll down to the show date.

To learn more about Annie in the Water, go to

“My vantage point onstage allows me to see and absorb an overwhelming landscape of joyful faces — everyone in the crowd who all have their own little journeys that led them to that dance floor.”

— Michael Lashomb

Formed in the fall of 2006 on the campus of Hobart College in Geneva, New York, AITW came together when Lashomb and singer/guitarist Brad Hester crossed paths while teammates on the school’s lacrosse team. The duo formed an immediate bond through music, this shared love of rock, indie, acoustic and improvisational music — something that quickly translated into early performances all along the Eastern Seaboard as a twopiece act.

“When I release this music into the world alongside my bandmates, a ripple effect happens that is just unique to us — the music seems to build some sort of mystical and inevitable response that isn’t so much seen, but it’s felt,” Lashomb said. “Whether that’s a hug, a drink, a dance or an expression, it all means something more when it’s accomplished by a good connection and sharing in that vibe.”

Eventually, more faces came into the fold, with AITW morphing into the sextet as it stands today, which now includes Joshua West (drums), Chris Meier (bass/vocals), Matt Richards (keyboards/vocals) and Brock Kuca (percussion/vocals).

“Each member started in this band by a mixture of opportunity and serendipitous circumstances,” Lashomb said. “What I believe the reason why the band is together is because we believe in something bigger than ourselves, but also realize that it happens by us sharing a part of our authenticity in an honest way.”

That team mentality residing at the core of AITW is the essence of what the band is trying to put forth within the realm of live performance — this “sum of its parts” that conjures a two-way street of musical exploration and immersion from both sides of the microphone.

“This vision of this band from its early inception was to become a multi-genre/multidimensional band to make music that makes people dance and feel good. Part of what makes that all happen is the wonder and fate that is outside of our control that pulls it all together,” Lashomb said. “And these moments when we are unsure presents a possibility to not only go deeper with the journey, but also times of reflection for us to take a good look at each other — to see how we can better ourselves to keep the building process continuing with intention, love and vitality.”

And it’s an undying thirst within AITW for making a connection with its audience that erupts each night in the midst of a gig — facing a crowd of unknown faces, albeit curious to see just what the band can stir up in the heat of the moment, the groove.

“My vantage point onstage allows me to see and absorb an overwhelming landscape of joyful faces — everyone in the crowd who all have their own little journeys that led them to that dance floor,” Lashomb said.

When asked about what makes the North Country music scene so storied and unique, Lashomb points to the sincerity of the local/regional musicians, venues and audience members, where survival is more than just getting through the long winter months — it’s about connectivity and a shared vision of bettering one’s community through art, music and fellowship.

“What matters to me is seeing how the music that I’m part of can unify people and connect them to a feeling, to the country and to their families,” Lashomb says. “It’s not easy living in the North Country and it can be rough, but I like that. It’s poetic in its own way and I let the energy of the people, rivers, lakes and mountains permeate into my music.”

Lashomb notes that the key to the continued evolution of AITW lies in a deep, genuine regard for open communication with the ensemble — onstage, on the road and in the recording studio.

“How we talk as a band is how we progress. Learning to improve our musical language, how to communicate how we feel about things, sharing jokes and deep conversations,” Lashomb says. “These bits of information or emotions that we share together blend into the body of the music — either melodically or lyrically — and then bleed out into the recordings or live shows.”

Peering into the rearview mirror at the last 18 years of AITW and also looking ahead through the windshield of purpose, promise and possibility that resides within the group, Lashomb can’t help but simply be grateful for the memories, moments and opportunities that have arisen.

“Since day one, our intention was to write music from our unique center,” Lashomb says. “The lessons learned or experiences we’ve had — all of it — started from the interactions and connections we have made to one another and the bonds we have built within all the beautiful communities that supported us along the way.”

A&E Smoky Mountain News 14
Annie in the Water will play Asheville May 2. Donated photo

This must be the place

‘Subway steam like silhouettes in dreams’

Last Thursday, it was decided to go bowling. Galaxy Lanes & Games on the outskirts of downtown Sylva, in a somewhat dormant shopping plaza buffering the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway and greater Jackson County.

Myself, my girlfriend, Sarah, and another couple, who are dear friends. They’ve made a habit of bowling once a week as a way to switch things up in their social lives, but mostly because who doesn’t love bowling? Fun for all ages, in method and in truth.

Walk through the entrance into Galaxy Lanes. The overhead music radiating through the speakers some late 1990s or early 2000s rock, pop or hip-hop melody. Limp Bizkit. Britney Spears. Ja Rule. You get the idea and you’ve also probably got one of those artists’ melodies stuck in your head right now because of reading this.

Meander along the endless racks of community bowling balls. Plastic spheres of bright neon colors. Many with numerous chips in the armor due to misuse or overuse. Finger holes of all sizes. Small for kids and the like. Enormous for god knows who. I grab for two balls. One heavy ball for potential strikes. One lighter ball for more accuracy in cleaning up my lane for a potential spare. Place the balls at our lane and now head for the bar counter. Bucket of cold domestic beers. Six for $12. What a deal in this day and age, this current economic climate, eh?

Lanes as the outside world is none the wiser to your whereabouts. Galaxy Lanes — the escape we all need, but usually forget exists. By the second frame of the first game, we’d settled in to our evening. Comments made about the nostalgia of the overhead music. All of us millennials remember when those Limp Bizkit, Britney Spears and Ja Rule tunes were brand new, usually seen and heard for the first time on MTV’s long-gone afterschool video program “Total Request Live” (aka: TRL). It’s host, Carson Daly, was my initial inspiration to someday become a music journalist.



PlottFest 2024 will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds.


Crack’em open and salute the athletic endeavor at-hand. Type in our names on the digital scorecard above. Hit “Start Game.” Proceed into friendly competition.

Much like attending a baseball game, bowling is one of those unique experiences where although you’re either watching something or participating in something, you also have moments in-between the action to catch up with friends and loved ones. The same type of actual, genuine conversation that hits deep depths, similar to that of coffee with an old friend in back booth tucked in a diner in Anytown U.S.A.

Quality time with quality folks, which is something all too often either lost or forgotten in our modern world of white noise and endless distraction at the hands of technology. Hide out in the diner booth or the bleachers at the baseball field. Hide out at Galaxy

Flashbacks of my hometown bowling alley, the Bowl Mart, in the Canadian Border town of Rouses Point, New York (population: 2,225). Although the Bowl Mart is also long gone like TRL, the deserted structure is still standing on the edge of town — paint peeling exterior walls, a parking lot filled with cracks and weeds emerging from said cracks in the aged, crumbling pavement.

It may seem hard to imagine, but, back in the day, the Bowl Mart was the play to be and to be seen, at least when it came to my middle and high school years. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was where all the cool kids, wallflowers, punk rockers and whoever else would head there each weekend — this beacon of irresponsible enlightenment in the darkness of the high ocean waves of cornfields and desolation that is the North Country.

In those days, we were wayward, haphazard teenagers. No plans for the future, at least not yet. No real responsibilities, either. Wives, kids, mortgages, dead-end jobs and unrelenting bills were way beyond the horizon of our youthful intent. In those days, it was shitty weed from local dealers in trailer parks smoked in the parking lot of the Bowl Mart. A couple Coors Light cans snatched from your grandfather’s garage fridge. Head in and bowl a few games, maybe even get a cute girl’s phone number, written down on a piece of paper to call on your landline house phone.

Most of those teenage faces from the Bowl Mart are still up there in North Country. They’re parents to teenagers themselves now. They’re employees of some local business. Some own small businesses. Boating and four-wheelers in the summer. Ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter. CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” on Saturday night TV. Cold Labatt Blue bottles in the refrigerator.

Sure, times were “simpler” back then. Hell, there was even a government surplus when it came to the national budget. But, there were still wars being fought in countries we’d only heard of in social studies class. There were still cultural, societal and moral battles over a person’s politics, skin color, sexual orientation or what a woman has for control (or lack of control) over her own body. The clock keeps ticking faster and faster, even if it seems like “same shit, different shovel.”

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.

3 Folkmoot USA will present Maritzaida & Raíces Emma-Erwin Latin America Dancers at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville.


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


The Haywood Choral Society will perform its spring concert, “Cry Out for Peace,” at 4 p.m.

Sunday, April 28, at First United Methodist Church of Waynesville.

I don’t yearn for the past. But, I do, however, think of it often. I know we all do, but the old soul sentimentalist in me will pull back a few more layers than most. I want to make sense of where I came from, even if a lot of what happened and with who it was with seems skewed in hindsight and, perhaps, a little unfair as to how the cards fells, the dominos toppled or the cookie crumbled.

By the second game at Galaxy Lanes, I had found my rhythm, literally and figuratively. Whirlwind thoughts on a rainy day in April 2024. Knock’em dead strikes here and there. A handful of spares. Mostly open-ended frames of seven or eight pins down, the neon pink ball somewhat useless when I needed to pick up a spare in the clutch moment. No matter, good company surrounded me. Hearty laughter and new moments carved out the time spent together. Gratitude in abundance.

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

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Cold Springs Creek Road. Garret K. Woodward photo

On the beat

Folkmoot celebrates Latin American heritage

Folkmoot USA will present Maritzaida & Raíces Emma-Erwin Latin America Dancers at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville.

Maritzaida’s professional music career began while singing for the U.S. Air Force Bands and touring internationally alongside her husband and guitarist, Aaron Weibe. Their sounds resurrect the classic style of traditional bolero music with the authenticity of past generations, bringing it to a global audience in the modern age. Enjoy the timeless melodies of Latin America’s romantic heritage.

Raíces Emma-Erwin offers a celebration of the traditional music and dance of Latin America. Their mission is to build greater awareness and understanding of Latino culture through the arts and bring unity to our diverse communities

Rock rolls into Scotsman

Regional rock/jam group Arnold Hill will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at The Scotsman Public House in Waynesville.

Formed in 2011, the Jackson County band is named after a road in Sylva where the musicians lived and practiced. In method, Arnold Hill adheres to the playful nature and creative possibilities that reside in the rock quartet.

The show is free and open to the public. 828.246.6292 or

through the beauty and fun of traditional Latin American music and dance.

Raíces Emma-Erwin is a nonprofit organization that works with youth from the community of Emma/Erwin and surrounding areas. One of the programs is the Ballet Folklórico that disseminates among our youth, the culture and dances of the regions of Latin America.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $5 for students (promo code: STUDENT). The Delish Venezuelan Food Truck will also be onsite.

Folkmoot is honored and grateful to be awarded a grassroots grant from Haywood County Arts Council. This project was also supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to

Bryson City community jam

A community jam will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, 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.

Mountain Layers gets the blues


Americana/folk singer-songwriter Woolybooger will perform at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at Mountain Layers Brewing in Bryson City Dubbed “music to grow your hair out to,” the Murphy musician, whose real name is Gavin Graves, is well-regarded in this region for his mix of blues and roots music into a unique Southern Appalachian tone.

The show is free and open to the public. 828.538.0115 or mountainlayersbrewingcompany.

Haywood Choral Society spring concert

• 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, DJ Kountry April 26, Shane Meade & The Sound (indie/soul) April 27 and Bald Mountain Boys (Americana) May 4. All shows begin at 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted. 828.246.0350 or

• Classic Wineseller (Waynesville) will host Mean Mary (singer-songwriter) 7 p.m. May 17. 828.452.6000 or

• Currahee Brewing (Franklin) will host “Music Bingo” 7 p.m. Thursdays, Dusty Martin (singer-songwriter) April 26 and Dirty Dave (singer-songwriter) April 27. All shows begin at 7 p.m. Free and open to the public. 828.634.0078 or

Directed by Don Kirkindoll, the Haywood Choral Society will perform its spring concert, “Cry Out for Peace,” at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at First United Methodist Church of Waynesville.

Accompanying the 68-member group will be chorus pianist Hilda Ryan, FUMC organist Rhonda Furr and guest saxophonist Clifford Leaman. This season’s concert features songs that call for peace, an end to social injustice and a reminder for us to remember those who lost their lives in the Civil Rights Movement.

Works included will be James Whitbourn’s “Son of God Mass,” Kyle Pederson’s arrangement of “Soon We Will Be Done,” Dan Forrest’s “Abide,” based on a poem by Jake Adam York and gospel original “Praise His Holy Name” by Keith Hampton. Additional musical works evoke feelings of thankfulness, hope and charity.

Leaman has served as a professor of saxophone at the University of South Carolina since 2000. He is in great demand as a soloist and has performed concerts and taught master classes in saxophone worldwide.

Kirkindoll has conducted the Haywood Choral Society since spring of 2023 and serves as the Director of Music and Worship Arts at First United Methodist Church in Waynesville.

Haywood Choral Society was founded in 1997 by The Junaluskans, with the goal to preserve and present the classical works of the past and present. The chorus performs classical, contemporary, spiritual, folk and gospel music.

Admission is free. Donations are welcome. For more info, visit

• Folkmoot Friendship Center (Waynesville) will host Maritzaida & Raíces Emma-Erwin Latin America Dancers 7 p.m. May 2. 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., 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

• Frog Quarters (Franklin) will host live music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Free and open to the public. Located at 573 East Main St. or 828.369.8488.

• Happ’s Place (Glenville) will host Kayla McKinney (singer-songwriter) April 25, Corey Stevenson Band April 26, The Remnants April 27, Darren Nicholson (bluegrass/country) May 3 and Blue Jazz May 4. 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,

April 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 16
Maritzaida and Aaron Weibe will play Waynesville May 2. Donated photo) Woolybooger. File photo Haywood Choral Society. Donated photo Arnold Hill. Garret K. Woodward photo

On the beat

• Highlander Mountain House (Highlands) will host “Blues & Brews” on Thursday evenings, “Sunday Bluegrass Residency” from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and semi-regular live music on the weekends. 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, Alma Russ (Americana/old-time) April 27 and Shane Davis (singer-songwriter) May 4. All shows and events begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public.

• Lazy Hiker Brewing (Franklin) will host Karaoke on the second/fourth Friday of the month, Grizzly Mammouth (funk/jam) April 27 and Rich Nelson Band (Americana) May 4. 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, Ray Ferrara (rock/blues) April 26 and Rich Nelson Band (Americana) May 3. All shows begin at 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.349.2337 or

• 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

• Mountain Layers Brewing (Bryson City) will host an “Open Mic w/Frank Lee” Wednesdays, 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 “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 Logan Neff Cole (singer-songwriter) 2 p.m. April 27, Bird In Hand (Americana/indie) 3:30 p.m. April 27 and The Fuzzy Peppers (rock/jam) May 4. Free and open to the public. or 828.508.3018.

• Scotsman (Waynesville) will host Alma Russ

On the street

‘Airing of the Quilts’

The Appalachian Women’s Museum “Airing of the Quilts” will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the museum in Dillsboro.

If quilts could talk, they would tell of decades of cold nights and warm bodies, of wrapping up babies and comforting the elderly. A quilt might tell of the loving hands that created it and even the individual pieces — the tan from a loved one’s shirt or stripes from an old tie — can tell stories of years past.

The airing of the quilts is a traditional rite of spring in the mountains. After a long winter with families snuggled under layers of warm handmade quilts, the warmer


weather of springtime gave women a chance to freshen up and air-out these essential covers.

To honor this tradition, the AWM held its first event in 2018 with more than 65 quilts hanging on the wraparound porch, from clotheslines in the yard and on quilt racks and other surfaces throughout the first floor of the museum.

There will also be a fabric scrap exchange, a quilt pattern and book exchange, raffle and music. Unlike previous events, organizers are allowing repeats for those who have something so special they want to air it again. For more information, email the museum at or go to

‘Airing of the Quilts’ will be May 4 in Dillsboro. File photo

• Spring Fling Festival will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 4, at Darnell Farms in Bryson City. Food and craft vendors, live entertainment, bounce houses and much more. For more information, go to

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 event starts and ends at 86 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

(Americana/old-time) April 25, Arnold Hill (rock/jam) April 27 and Abby Bryant (Americana/soul) May 3. 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 Steve Vaclavik (singer-songwriter) 6 p.m. April 26 and Dave & Daughters Trio 5

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 (2:304 p.m.).

Blacksmithing and glass blowing demonstrations by vendors 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.

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.

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

• Unplugged Pub (Bryson City) will host 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 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 17
The Maggie Valley Band will play Sylva April 27. File photo

On the wall

Waynesville art walk, live music

A cherished gathering of locals and visitors alike, “Art After Dark” will launch its 2024 season from 6-9 p.m. Friday, May 3, in downtown Waynesville.

Each first Friday of the month (May-December), Main Street transforms into an evening of art, live music, finger foods, beverages and shopping as artisan studios and galleries keep their doors open later for local residents and visitors alike.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, go to

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.

On the stage

‘I’ll Eat You Last’ will be at HART through April 28. File photo

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 represents 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

• “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.

• “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 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

• “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

HART presents ‘I’ll Eat You Last’

A production of “I’ll Eat You Last” will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. April 26-27 and 2 p.m. April 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.

painting and more. For a full list of classes, go to For more information on CRE828, email 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.

• 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.

On the table ALSO:

• “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 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.

• “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

April 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 18
1A’ is a work by Ralph Verano.
Donated photo
Jo Ridge Kelley is a featured artisan at ‘Art After Dark.’ File photo

On the shelf

The path toward a brighter future

Ervin Laszlo (Nobel Peace Prize nominee, science philosopher and founder of the Laszlo Institute of New Paradigm Research) and David Lorimer (chair of the Galileo Commission and editor of Paradigm Explorer) are the authors of the anthology “The Great Upshift” (Light On Light Press, 2023, 384 pages), a book that author Gregg Braden says “… reveals practical steps to awaken a heartfelt world based in love rather than a bleak future born of fear.”

participation by a critical mass of dedicated people.”

From the introduction, we move into the nuts and bolts of the various conscious activities that will hopefully pave the way for not only our survival but also for our upshifted evolution as a species here on planet Earth.

world and at this critical time. Or, as an educator on cosmology and consciousness, Arabella Thais adds in her essay on beauty: “Beauty is the truth and the reason, and it is pulling us forward like a magnet towards a perfect and complete aesthetic masterpiece.”

This book sports the subtitle “Humanity’s Coming Advance Toward Peace and Harmony on the Planet” and is a compendium of 35 world-renowned scientists and visionaries focusing on the question of “how we can upshift ourselves — our ways of healing, of thinking and feeling, and even of intuiting — to respond to the pressing requirements of our world troubled by climate change, conflict, and unsustainable conditions.”

The best way to talk about this book is just to dive in and choose essays that strike your fancy. In my deep dive, I was drawn to essays like: “On the Cusp of a New Era,” “Awakening the Power of the New Human Story,” “Ascending to the Age of Planetary Consciousness,” “Transforming a Death Economy to a Life Economy,” “Healing the Wounds of Separation: Soil, Soul, and Society,” “Intuition and the Great Evolutionary Upshift.” “Upshifted Relationship to Beauty,” “Love, the Force of All Creation.”

All these and many others create a platform of forward and positive thinking from the various authors in this collection that will separate the human future from its past. Or as Laszlo and Lorimer say in the Introduction:

“Today’s world is neither a happy nor a peaceful or even a sustainable place. We have entered a path of development replete with conflict and prone to multiple crises. Continuing on this path would lead to the sixth global extinction on the planet — one that is triggered by, and includes, the human species. We must adopt better ways of conducting ourselves on the planet. We need to upshift our world, and for that, we need to upshift our consciousness. To create an upshift to a better world, in the end it depends only on us, but it calls for conscious

‘The Tribes of the Littles’

In her essay “Intuition and the Great Evolutionary Upshift,” Anna Bacchia, who is the winner of the Luxembourg World Peace Prize and founder and director of the Consciousness Institute in Lugano, Switzerland, asks: “What if we sparked the Upshift through Art — the Art of the Life which we are, through intuitive actions that do not ask us for energy, but offer us energy? Such experiences open us to an expanded intuitive mode of knowing, thinking, and conceiving ordinarily unexplored in western culture, a wisdom that is generated from being and which, from direct experience, grasps in an illuminating flash that we are 100% diversity and 100% oneness.”

As a word artist, this line of thought — of intuitive awareness — rings true to me and always has. Now, scientists are saying from their knowledge and studies that intuition may be a more all-consuming way of “thinking” and understanding life in this

And apparently, this more intuitive upshift in thinking and being also applies to the practical side of our lives, as in business. In his essay “Upshifting the Business Mindset,” Steve Rogers, a business consultant, executive coach, board advisor, speaker and author says: “I suggest that the concept of business is not just about making money or conducting transactions, but about a way of being in the world. It can be understood as a way of fulfilling our purpose and mission and of making a positive impact on the world.” Similarly, David Talmor, a management consultant for major business firms, says: “The Upshift Movement advocates that people relate to the world with a vision of ‘wiser living,’ and Upshift for Business advocates that business owners relate to the world with a vision of ‘wiser working.’”

In “The Great Upshift,” we are given synchronous ways of thinking in all the areas of human life —social, spiritual, ecological and environmental, political, psychological, medical, technological and artistic — that represent aspects of our being and our lives and which have been collected and represented in this book from the various agencies of our lives as humans living together on this planet. There is a lot to take in here in “The Great Upshift,” but it is all relevant and insightful and is summed up by Erwin Laszlo in the book’s Afterword: “The outlook for the future is not entirely dark. There are signs that we are waking up. A spirit of cooperation and solidarity often arises in the midst of chaos. The great upshift is before us. It is up to us to enter on the path that leads to it. The vision and the courage to do so could be, and will be, our salvation.”

(Thomas Crowe is a regular contributor to The Smoky Mountain News and author of the multi-award-winning non-fiction nature memoir “Zoro’s Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods.”)

Local author Pamela Volpert will read from her book, “The Tribes of the Littles,” at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.

Have you ever wondered about the Little people that live under the plants and flowers? The Littles, led by Master Elder Krog, have a great love for all the people and animals that share the Hollows. With their companions, they coexist with nature. Henna Rose is a grandmother that loves baking for her ever-growing family. Honey cakes are her specialty. She is a healer for the Hollow. She and the other Littles will go on an exciting adventure with a special purpose and find themselves in a much larger world.

The event is free and open to the public. To order copies of the book in advance, call the bookstore at 828.586.9499 or stop by the shop.

April 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 19 is here discussing his b Duckett Alan R. Auth - 1•72 LIRP Y A A , D DAAY, T ATSA ok, 3 Anyone can produce a fa “ tree. But not everyone c amily an ” ing it to life ill45660 W WOOD A W 428 HAZEL Magazines & Newspap Yoour Ho Y metown Bookstoresince2 00 Ave. v ers 007 9- T MON-FRI 9-5 | SA aynesville • 456-60 a -3 We are now offerin more availability Cllbk k l ng y. .com wnce-ag blueridgemass 828.246.9155 977 N Main St Wa Waayynesville NC 28786 Call or boo on ine
Writer Thomas Crowe

Throwing it down in Waynetown

First skateboard competition to be held in May

To hear local skateboarding impresario Jared Lee tell it, there wasn’t much to do in Haywood County for young skaters growing up during the sport’s early boom in the 1980s.

“It was much different. We had no public skate park when I started in middle school,” Lee said. “First Methodist Church would let us skate in their parking lot. The middle schoolers would walk there, the high schoolers would drive there and they’d let us put a few ramps and rails out there. That’s really where it started.”

But the local skateboarding scene has come a long way in the past decade, with the completion of an 8,000-square-foot free public skateboarding facility on Vance Street in 2013, and now, the first skate competition in the park’s relatively short history.

Skateboards weren’t exactly “invented.” Rather, they evolved organically when kids in the early 1900s took the trucks off of their roller skates and affixed them to the bottom of long narrow boards. Often, they’d have milk crates or wooden handles affixed to the boards to offer some modicum of control. Half a century later, skateboarding, strongly associated with the California surfboarding scene, had come into its own with the 1965 American Skateboarding

Championships televised on ABC. But for years after, the sport itself had suffered undue scrutiny due to stereotypes that painted skaters as countercultural, anti-social slackers, delinquents or vandals.

“I think skateboarding teaches you a lot about persistence, and that failing is OK. Really, you’re going to have to learn to be OK with failing most of the time. You’re going to fail multiple times compared to the few times that you nail it, but that makes it all-themore rewarding.”
— Jared Lee

Those negative sentiments ebbed when the sport found new exposure and greater mainstream acceptance through the high visibility of 1990s heroes like Tony Hawk and competitions like the X Games.

Throw down

Suitable for skaters ages 8 and up, the Waynetown Throwdown skateboard competition consists of three divisions — beginner, intermediate and advanced/open. Skaters will be judged on use of course, consistency, creativity and trick difficulty. Awards will be given to the top three skaters in each division. There will also be a separate “best trick” competition. Entries are $20 per skater. To register, visit before Friday, May 18. Day-of registrations will be accepted in person at the event, payable by cash only. Volunteer opportunities are also available. For more information, contact Waynesville’s Parks and Recreation Director Luke Kinsland at 828.456.2030 or

Time: 10 a.m.

Date: Saturday, May 18

Location: Waynesville Skate Park, 550 Vance Street

Waynesville was something of an early adopter in terms of committing municipal backing to a skateboarding facility on par with the tennis courts and basketball hoops most often found in city parks across the region and the nation.

In the late 1990s Waynesville’s now-Mayor Gary Caldwell, a longtime town alderman at the time, took notice of the emerging trend and pushed for the town to build a skate park — at least in part to keep young skaters out of danger and off the city’s streets.

It took Caldwell 15 years to cobble together a $60,000 grant from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, $20,000 from the Waynesville Kiwanis Club, $10,000 from the sale of inscribed bricks and $5,000 from Hawk’s foundation to fund the $445,000 project. Caldwell cut the ribbon on Sept. 27, 2013.

“To be honest with you, I’ve been trying to do this forever and ever, but I never envisioned it to look like this. This is amazing,” Caldwell said at the time.

Lee noted that most counties in the region now have such a facility.

“I mean, it just really goes to show how much skateboarding has grown regionally and everywhere else,” he said.

“Hendersonville, Asheville, Cherokee, Highlands, Franklin, Brevard. Besides Sylva right now, most of the other surrounding towns have gotten a public

Outdoors Smoky Mountain News 20
Jared Lee. File photo

New Building Outdoor Communities cohort named

Six new recipients in Western North Carolina have been awarded grants to participate in the MADE X MTNS Partnership’s Building Outdoor Communities Program.

The program aims to support WNC leaders to better leverage their natural assets and collaborate to advance their outdoor economy and economic development goals.

The second round of participants includes the Valley River Heritage Trail Greenway/Blueway Master Plan project in Cherokee County, the Hiwassee River Greenway Project Scoping and Feasibility Study in Clay County, the Baily Mountain Preserve/Otis Duck Greenway Connector Feasibility Study in Madison County, the Arts in the Outdoor Strategic Master Plan in Watauga County, the Banner Elk Greenway Master Plan in Avery County and the Trail Feasibility Study in Caldwell County.

“These projects have been selected for their capacity to contribute significantly to the well-being of communities and natural spaces while bolstering our region’s outdoor recreation economy,” said Partnership Director Amy Allison.

Two rounds of planning and capacity building grants have been made possible through $250,000 in funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Dogwood Health Trust. This funding is part of the three-year “Accelerating Outdoors Grant” awarded to the MADE X MTNS Partnership.

skate park within the last probably five years or so.”

Since then, participation in skateboarding has only grown, according to market research reports, and the sport is now recognized for what it really is — a demanding exercise that requires strength, agility and balance, offering plenty of life lessons in return.

out there and you’re having fun, nobody can tell you that that’s the wrong way.”

“I think skateboarding teaches you a lot about persistence, and that failing is OK,” Lee said. “Really, you’re going to have to learn to be OK with failing most of the time. You’re going to fail multiple times compared to the few times that you nail it, but that makes it all-the-more rewarding.”

And in an era when electronic amusements conspire to keep kids confined to wherever they can find wi-fi, the sport provides strong opportunities for self-expression in a healthy, more physically active way.

“It allows you to be an individual. You really can be who you want to be, because in skateboarding, there’s no right way or no wrong way,” Lee said. “I feel like if you’re

In July, the world’s greatest skateboarders will again gather at the Olympics in Paris, after the sport was first included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Olympic competition isn’t much different than what will take place at the Waynetown Throwdown on Saturday, May 18 — a “best trick” competition alongside multiple runs judged on obstacle utilization, skill and style.

Throwdown judges will come from the local and regional skateboarding community, with Lee serving as the contest MC. He says he just wants to give back to the movement as a whole and to the next generation of skaters who will grow up with things he didn’t.

“I do think it’s going to be a big deal,” said Lee. “I think there’s going to be some real high-caliber skating at the skate park that day, and what’s cool is, you can already see kids showing up, practicing a lot and probably being there more than they normally would be.”

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained counselors will listen to you, understand how your problem is affecting you, give support, and get you the help you need. You can call or text 988 and you can chat at This service is available in both English and Spanish.

988 can help with many concerns, including:



Substance use

Suicidal thoughts

Mental and physical illness


Trauma Relationships

Worries about money

And more

When you contact 988, an automated message will tell you the available options. You are connected to the nearest crisis call center based on the first six digits of your phone number. Your privacy is a priority, and the lifeline protects all confidential information that you share.

988 FAQs:

1. If I call 988, will police be sent to me? – No. The goal of 988 is to reduce the need for police involvement and connect you with counselors who can help. 988 can’t find out who you are or where you are.

2. How are 988 calls routed? – When you call 988, your call is sent to the nearest crisis center based on the first six digits of your phone number, including the area code. It might not connect you to a center near you if you’re traveling or have a different area code.

3. Are 988 calls tracked? – 988 counselors can’t find out who you are or where you are. This is meant to make callers feel safe asking for help.

4. What do you mean by crisis? – The 988 Lifeline responds 24/7 to calls, chats or texts from anyone needing help for suicidal thoughts, mental health struggles like anxiety or depression, feeling overwhelmed, drinking too much, drug use, physical illness, loneliness, trauma, relationships, and worries about money.

5. When I call 988, how long will I have to wait to speak to someone? – 988 average answer time is typically under a minute. Sometimes, the wait may be longer.

Community participation is important for the program’s success. Together, we can make a difference in our community.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, you should call 911.

April 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 21
Waynesville’s first skateboard competition will allow local skaters to show their stuff. Town of Waynesville photo

More chronic wasting disease cases recorded

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) is confirming 13 new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from deer samples submitted since July 1, 2023. This brings the total number of positive results in North Carolina to 24 since the disease was first detected in a Yadkin County deer harvested in 2021.

Last fall, 36,146 samples were collected from wild cervids, and the NCWRC has received results from 98% of those samples. The 13 CWD-positive results this year came from counties where CWD-positive deer had been identified in previous years, Cumberland, Surry, Stokes and Yadkin counties. Preliminary testing indicated CWD-positive results for one deer harvested in Johnston County and one deer harvested in Franklin County. Secondary testing, conducted through the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, later reversed results for those counties.

Continued testing is imperative because it’s nearly impossible to tell if a deer has

Jackson County hosts BirdFest

Balsam Mountain Trust announced its seventh-annual Bird Festival celebrating World Migratory Bird Day.

This year, BirdFest’s theme is “Protect Insects, Protect Birds,” which aims to highlight the critical relationship between healthy invertebrate populations and thriving bird communities. BirdFest aims to raise awareness of this crucial interdependence and inspire action to safeguard both birds and their insect allies.

Attendees can expect a lineup of free educational programming, including bird, insect and native plant-related walks, live bird ambassadors and interactive crafts activities suitable for all ages.

Birdfest will begin at 10 a.m. May 11 at Monteith Farmstead and Community Park in Dillsboro.

For more information on the festival and pre-festival community events, visit

While the disease doesn’t hurt humans, it negatively impacts the deer population.

CWD by observation. Signs of illness may not be apparent for 16 months or more after a deer is infected, and given enough time,

ples from deer brought to their facilities.  CWD is caused by abnormal proteins, called prions, that slowly spread through a deer’s nervous system, eventually causing spongy holes in the brain that lead to death. The disease is spread between deer through direct contact and environmental contamination from infected saliva, urine and feces. CWD can be unknowingly spread to new areas by the transportation of hunter-harvested deer carcasses or carcass parts. There is no vaccine, treatment or cure. There is no USDA-approved live test for CWD, so effective surveillance methods require the testing of dead deer, primarily hunter harvests.

Importation of whole carcasses of cervids (deer, elk, moose or reindeer/caribou) from any state, Canadian province or foreign country is prohibited. Anyone transporting cervid carcass parts into North Carolina must follow processing and packaging regulations, and carcass parts or containers of cervid meat or parts must be labeled and identified.

the disease is always fatal. The Cervid Health Cooperator Program allows participating taxidermists and processors to collect sam-

For more information about CWD, including a chart with testing results to date, visit

Enjoy WNC’s hiking trails

Western North Carolina is a hiker’s paradise.

With so much land protected by national and state forests and parks, those who live in the Western North Carolina area have endless hiking

opportunities. Best of all, they can experience views, waterfalls, wildflowers, and quiet forest paths without traveling very far.

The Sierra Club will host a program discussing some of these opportunities at 7 p.m. on May 1 at the OLLI/Reuter Center on UNCA’s campus.

Marcia Bromberg, who will lead the program, is a retired university adminis-

trator who moved to Asheville to enjoy the mountains. When she’s not hiking (including leading hikes for the Carolina Mountain Club), she spends her time swimming, gardening and volunteering for various community organizations. She serves on the boards of the Friends of the Mountains to the Sea Trail and MANNA Foodbank and is past president of the Carolina Mountain Club.

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Expanding on the adaptive programs offered in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first time in 2023, this year’s lineup includes three opportunities for hiking, two for biking, one for kayaking and one overnight camping trip. Donated photo

More ranger-led programs set for 2024

The National Park Service (NPS), in partnership with Catalyst Sports, Knox County, Kampgrounds of America Foundation and Friends of the Smokies, announced the expansion of adaptive ranger-led programs in 2024.

Using assistive technology, the ranger-led programs are designed for visitors of all abilities and their families to learn about the natural and cultural history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Expanding on the adaptive programs offered in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first time in 2023, this year’s lineup includes three opportunities for hiking, two for biking, one for kayaking and one overnight camping trip:

• June 8-9: Hiking Cooper Rd Trail and camping at backcountry campsite #1

• June 22: Kayaking from Fontana Marina

• July 13: Hiking at Hazel Creek Hike/Boat Tour

• Sept. 7: Hiking at Bradley Fork Trail

• Sept. 14: Biking at Deep Creek Trai

• Sept. 15: Biking at Forge Creek Road

• Oct. 5: Hiking at Middle Prong Trail or Little River Trail

Register for the programs and find more information at Catalyst Sports, a nonprofit organization that provides outdoor adventures for people with physical disabilities. Registration is required to ensure equipment and volunteers are available for the programs. Registered participants are welcome to bring their own adaptive equipment. Information about volunteering can be found below.

Outside of the scheduled programs, four GRIT Freedom Chairs, a type of off-road wheelchair, will be available for visitors to check out and use on park trails evaluated for the equipment, like the Little River trails or Deep Creek trails.

To register to volunteer, contact Katherine Corrigan at

Bee swarms should not be bothered

The Henderson County Beekeepers association is reminding people that if they see a bee swarm, they shouldn’t disturb it. Honeybees are typically docile when

NC Arboretum names new director

University of North Carolina System President Peter Hans this week appointed Drake Fowler as the new executive director of The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville.

Fowler, who has served as the Arboretum’s chief financial officer and deputy executive director since 2015, will succeed George Briggs, who recently

announced his retirement as executive director after 37 years of leadership. Fowler’s appointment becomes effective August 1.

Fowler, a licensed and award-winning landscape architect, has for nearly a decade managed the Arboretum’s annual operating budget, currently $10 million in public and private funds. He has overseen the finance, development, horticulture, facilities and information technology departments, leading more than $5 million in capital improvements.

During his tenure, he has focused on building the Arboretum’s financial stability through grants, contributed funds and earned revenue, and led the process of renovating most of the key facilities in the gardens.

Prior to joining the Arboretum, Fowler managed operations for Design Workshop, an international, award-winning landscape architectural firm, in both the Asheville office and the flagship office in Denver, Colorado. Serving the American Public Garden Association as chair of the Chief Financial Officer Working Group, Fowler fostered a collaborative platform for CFOs to share strategy and benchmarked financial data among more than 600 American public gardens. He holds a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Michigan State University and a Master of Business Administration from Western Carolina University and is the current president of the North Carolina chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

they’re swarming. In a press release sent out by the HCBA, the organization notes that it keeps a list of beekeepers willing to come, collect and move the swarm to a protected apiary.

Find the swarm list, local honey sellers, and local beekeeping mentors at

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Drake Fowler. N.C. Arboretum photo
April 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 24

Word from the Smokies: Deadline to apply for Tremont Writers Conference

Frank X Walker and David Brill share a fascination with the Great Smoky Mountains. One has been cultivating his passion for four decades; the other just fell in love with the Smokies last year.

Both will be helping to lead the 2024 Tremont Writers Conference Oct. 23–27, and both are encouraging those who would like to apply to do so now, as the April 30 deadline is fast approaching.

Brill has written extensively about Great Smoky Mountains National Park, his articles on science, ecology, the environment, health, fitness, and adventure travel appearing in some 30 national and regional magazines, including Smokies Life Journal. He is excited to join this inspiring and immersive retreat for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry held inside the park itself.

“We writers often work in isolation, sitting alone in our garrets as we craft the stories we’ll send out into the world,” he said. “While the writing process itself may be solitary, what we write about and how we tell our stories generally reflects the cumulative influence of other writers whose work we admire because of its stylistic flourishes, its compelling narrative drive, its careful attention to detail and description.”

“But words on a page or computer screen are somewhat static compared with face-to-face engagement with the writers who crafted them, inviting them to explain the ‘how’ of it all, the tools, techniques and organizing structures they’ve

says Jeremy Lloyd, Tremont’s manager of field programs and collegiate studies. “One can trace the literary arts back to our earliest beginnings when students wrote poetry each day in their outdoor ‘sit spots.’ One also pictures the allure of our wild setting inspiring people to set pen to paper long before Tremont existed as an outdoor school and education center.”

Last fall, as leaves of all hues glided down from the immense trees in Walker Valley, Tremont Institute held its first writers conference in partnership with Smokies Life. The chance to be a part of this retreat into the wilderness drew more than 100 applicants from all over the country. Twenty writers were selected to spend five days deep in the Smokies — housed, fed, coached, and led by Tremont staff and author workshop leaders.

“We look forward to doing it all over again later this year when we’ll welcome back Frank X Walker as our guest author,” said Lloyd, co-coordinator of the conference.

Walker is the first African American to have been named Kentucky Poet Laureate. A professor of English, African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, he coined the term “Affrilachia” and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets.

“What excites me the most about the upcoming Tremont Writers Conference is re-entering a space at a slightly different angle that was so rejuvenating a year ago and bringing some of my family along to also soak up the mountain mystique,” he said.

Walker’s “Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers” won the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Poetry and

During the evenings, Tremont Writers Conference participants convene to enjoy discussion and fellowship. The first night of last year’s event found the group in the council house around an inviting fire.

In contrast, Brill — after having spent nearly 40 years in the field of journalism — doesn’t see himself as a teacher.

“I don the instructor’s hat with a degree of reluctance and, instead, tend to regard myself as one among a group of apt students eager to learn and develop as writers in the presence of other writers,” he said. “I’d prefer to cast myself as editor and facilitator whose chief aim is to inspire workshop participants to polish existing skills and cultivate new ones.”

The author of five nonfiction books including “Into the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune and Mayhem in Great Smoky Mountains National Park” (Smokies Life 2016) and “As Far as the Eye Can See: Reflections of an Appalachian Trail Hiker,” Brill is in the early stages of drafting volume two of “Into the Mist.”

“I fully expect that the workshop participants’ energy, combined with a five-day immersion in the national park’s rugged wilderness setting, will see my creative reserves fully recharged,” he said.

Walker is fully immersed in the final edits for a new collection of poems slated to be published later this year, “which means I will finally have time to get back to a fiction manuscript that is set in the mountain South,” he says. “Being at Tremont should give me an opportunity to breathe some new life into the character of the landscape in the manuscript.”

Tremont is probably best known for utilizing its unmatched landscape to teach visitors about science and the natural history of the Smokies. The writers conference is no exception: afternoon hikes and other outdoor activities provide ample opportunity for certified naturalist guides to introduce visiting writers to the fascinating flora and fauna of the region.

employed in telling their stories,” he added.

What better setting could one wish for to have that much-needed face-to-face engagement than the park’s historic Walker Valley? It’s a strikingly beautiful haven of biodiversity near Townsend, Tennessee, situated beside the Middle Prong of the Little River and not far from the breathtaking Spruce Flats Falls. Here, just a short distance from the famous Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont has been connecting people to nature for more than half a century — and many of them have been writers.

“Writing and literature are nothing new to Tremont,”

the Black Caucus American Library Association Honor Award for Poetry. Other honors he has garnered include the Denny C. Plattner Award for Outstanding Poetry in Appalachian Heritage, the West Virginia Humanities Council’s Appalachian Heritage Award, and the Donald Justice Award for Poetry from the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

“I truly enjoy helping to create a safe space out of which writers of every level can grow, be challenged, and discover something on the page that advances their craft as writers,” Walker said. “Teaching is what I do.”

Applications for the Oct. 23-27 Tremont Writers Conference are being accepted now through April 30. See faculty bios, view the full schedule of activities, read detailed guidelines, and apply today at

Frances Figart co-coordinates the Tremont Writers Conference as the creative services director for the 29,000-member Smokies Life, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the scientific, historical, and interpretive activities of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by providing educational products and services to park visitors. For more information, visit

April 24-30, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 25
Michele Sons photo. Mornings at the Tremont Writers Conference are spent with author workshop leaders in small cohorts like this one in poetry led by Frank X Walker, author of ‘Masked Man, Black: Pandemic & Protest Poems.’ Michele Sons photo

WNC events and happenings or call 828.356.2561.


years old. For more information contact Ashlyn at or at 828.356.2567.

• 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.

• 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


• 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 828.4224.1398.

• 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 828.4224.1398.

• 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 jennifer.stu-

• 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.


• Lucky LEGO STEAM, a St. Patrick’s Day-themed STEAM edition of LEGO Club will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at the Jackson County Library. For more information visit or call 828.586.2016.

• A special "Rain and Rainbows” themed family night will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at the Jackson County Library. There will be light refreshments along with science experiments and activities. For more information visit or call 828.586.2016.

• 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

• 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.

• 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.

• 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 Registration is required, $45.

• Mountain Makers Craft Market will be held from noon to 4 p.m. the first Sunday of each month at 308 North Haywood St. in downtown Waynesville. Over two dozen artisans selling handmade and vintage goods. Special events will be held when scheduled.

Puzzles can be found on page 30

These are only the answers.

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p: 828.452.4251 · f:828.452.3585





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.


285 N MAIN STREET, WAYNESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA 28786 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”):






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 North Carolina General 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 a closing 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 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 North Carolina General Statutes. If the purchaser of the above-described property is someoneciary 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 posses-

April 24-30, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 27

sion of the property may be issued pursuant to Section 45-21.29 of the North Carolina General 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.

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




6, 2023, and recorded APRIL 20, 2023, in BOOK 1084, PAGE 2166, HAYWOOD COUNTY REGISTRY

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”): TRACT ONE: BEGINNING at an iron pipe set at an old fence intersection post at Southwest corner of Rhinehart Tract (Deed Book 261, Page 688, Haywood County Registry) and Southeast corner of Green Tract (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 BEGINNING. Containing 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. TOGETHER WITH and SUBJECT TO right of way for State Road 1513 to its full legal width. BEING the same property described in deed dated September 29, 1999, from Max Gerry Robinson, Sr. (a.k.a. Max

Gary Robinson) and wife, Jean Robinson, to Max Gerry Robinson, Jr. and recorded in Deed Book 475, Page 1012, Haywood County Registry.

TRACT TWO: BEGINNING at an iron pipe 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 corner of Green Tract (Deed Book 172, Page 017, Haywood County Registry) and runs thence from the beginning point thus established: S 27-57-09 E 142.65 feet to an iron pipe set; thence S 42-0211 W 111.66 feet to an iron pipe set; thence N 02-09-53 E 209.09 feet to the point and place of BEGINNING, containing 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. BEING the same property described in a deed dated September 29, 1999, from Dean Robinson and wife, Mary Jane Robinson, to Max Gerry 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 North Carolina General 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 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) of the North Carolina General Statutes. If the purchaser of the above-desc ribed 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 North Carolina General 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.2024 E 000225

Wanda Parton, having of the Estate of Bertha Louise Putnam Price 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 24 2024, or this notice will be pleaded in bar of their recovery. All persons indebted to said Estate, please make immediate payment.

Fiduciary 79 Little Oak St Canton NC 28716


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.

Executor 313 Circle Park Place Chapel Hill, NC 27517

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April 24-30, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 28
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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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& Press 1. Financial April 24-30, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 29
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Home Improvement

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April 24-30, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 30
APPLICATION PROCESS ACROSS 1 Big trucks 5 "Serial" podcast host Koenig 10 Brothers Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan 15 Like GI garb, often 19 Woeful things 20 Bingham of "Baywatch" 21 Slobber 22 Nivea rival 23 Outfit 26 Lasses 27 All upset, with "up" 28 "... flaw -- feature?" 29 Actor Knotts 30 Wrung (out) 32 Deli classic 33 Bother a lot 35 Frank of rock 38 Outward display of courage 40 Attachable with a click 42 Hits, as a fly 44 Fill with love 45 "The X Factor," e.g. 47 Congeal 49 Short sleeps 50 Diane once of NPR 51 Gentlemen 53 Breather 56 Apple option 59 Cow sound 62 Primer for a wall, e.g. 67 Names anew 70 Outdoor enclosure for a tabby 72 Abundant 73 Cow sound 74 Despot Amin 75 It's often played during a massage 78 "Let us spray," e.g. 79 Recognize 80 Central Asia's -- Sea 81 Honking birds 82 Old Jewish ascetic 84 Snootiness 87 Cur's warning 89 Snake's warning 90 Not bogus 91 Small plateau 93 Give relief to 96 Choir female 99 Responses to massages 101 Something revealed by a scale 107 Fly without a co-pilot, e.g. 110 Like a famed Vatican chapel 112 Roll around in mud or dust 113 Mascara, e.g. 115 Writer Calvino 117 Ethiopia's -- Selassie 118 Ovid's lang. 119 Tubers often candied 120 Engine speed meas. 121 By way of 123 Tattooist's supply 124 Otherwise 126 What eight answers in this puzzle might say if they could talk? 131 Increase, with "up" 132 Internet sales 133 Increase, with "up" 134 Villain in "The Avengers" 135 609-homer Sammy 136 AC-- (big name in auto parts) 137 Promotes heavily 138 Leg joint DOWN 1 Most wealthy 2 Actress Douglas who starred in "Grace of My Heart" 3 Pertaining to an opening of the larynx 4 Former jet to JFK 5 Mix, as batter 6 Desi of Desilu Studios 7 Sleazy paper 8 King topper 9 Furry feet in back 10 Biblical utopia 11 Shirt part 12 Clemente of baseball 13 Oompah band genre 14 Shirt part 15 Tooth on a gearwheel 16 A Gulf state 17 Patroller around a food court 18 Bivalve mollusks 24 Sweltering summer day 25 Ivory, e.g. 31 Lion's hideout 34 Fast glance 36 Burnt residue 37 Gp. once led by Arafat 38 Raft wood 39 Soda brand 41 Utmost 43 Dickens' miser 46 Opposite of lge. 48 Three, to Fifi 52 Slippery road condition 54 "The Hunger Games" escort 55 Blueprint data, in brief 56 From Dublin or Cork 57 Jason's wife, in myth 58 "Ta-ta!," in Tours 60 Central Florida city 61 Crayon stuff 63 Less of a lie 64 Louvre Pyramid architect 65 Adjectives modify them 66 Message-leavers' cues 68 Astronomer Tycho -69 Mattress brand 71 Fierce female feline 76 1972 Eric Clapton hit 77 Chinese menu letters 83 Aussie girl 85 Newlywed man 86 "Got it, man" 88 San Luis -92 Slightly excessive 94 "How cute!" 95 Ugly foe of Popeye 96 Never-ending 97 Not deserting 98 Frightful flies 100 Like always 102 "Ode -- Grecian Urn" 103 Costa -- Sol 104 Use as a skating surface 105 Mount -- College (Elaine Chao's alma mater) 106 12-year-old kid, say 108 Set in place 109 Gave the nod 111 -- City (Ohio town named for William Henry Harrison's moniker) 114 Theatricalize 116 Like sheep 120 Move, to a Realtor 122 Tattooist's supplies 125 Green org. 127 Ocasek of The Cars 128 Endeavor 129 Spying setup 130 Big name in civ. rights
Answers on 26 ANSWERS ON PAGE 26

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