Smoky Mountain News | May 15, 2024

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EBCI inches toward recreational marijuana Page 16 Western North Carolina’s Source for Weekly News, Entertainment, Arts, and Outdoor Information May 15-21, 2024 Vol. 25 Iss. 51 Jackson, Swain balk at proposed library changes

On the Cover:

It’s been years in the making, but the main renovations at Haywood County’s Cataloochee Ranch are complete and guests are again enjoying the fine accommodations and spectacular views. Now, as the busy season approaches, Arts & Entertainment Editor Garret K. Woodward sits down with the couple behind the reopening. (page 22) Donated photo


Jackson, Swain refuse proposed FRL agreement changes....................................4 Trans person filmed in WCU bathroom........................................................................5 Community Action conference comes to WNC........................................................6 Canton leaders make ‘big stink’ over big stink............................................................8 Sylva budgets for future uncertainty..............................................................................9 Western Dems sense an opportunity on abortion..................................................10 WCU Call Me MiSTER program graduates its first cohort..................................14 EBCI inches toward adult marijuana use ..................................................................16 Community briefs..............................................................................................................19


To be a moderate takes real courage..........................................................................20 When history really does repeat itself..........................................................................21


Steve Sutton Memorial Festival comes to Black Mountain..................................26 HART presents ‘The Secret Garden’..........................................................................28


Invasive plant removal begins in Pinnacle Park........................................................30 Notes From a Plant Nerd: ..............................................................................................34



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May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 2
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Jackson, Swain refuse proposed FRL agreement changes

Neither Jackson County nor Swain County commissions have agreed to approve the changes Macon County proposed to the Fontana Regional Library agreement, citing legal and logistical concerns. Next steps in the novel and increasingly complicated process might involve a more collaborative meeting.

“There’s no doubt that there’s going to be fuss over the agreement no matter what happens from either side,” said Jackson County Commissioner Todd Bryson. “But we need to come up with an agreement that’s going to make everyone happy and get this done.”

The Fontana Regional Library system governs libraries in Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. The interlocal agreement is currently undergoing its 10-year renewal process and this time around, county commissions are looking to make some changes. Macon County, the partner spearheading the changes, proposed revisions to the agreement last year.

When the Jackson County Commission reviewed the changes proposed by Macon County at its December meeting, then-County Manager Don Adams recommended that the county attorney review the document and provide legal counsel. Board attorney John Kubis did so and presented his findings to the commission during a January meeting. Since that time, attorneys for both Jackson and Swain counties have been reviewing the document and the suggested changes from Macon in order to provide needed revisions.

Fontana Regional to make sure that everybody is getting an opportunity to have their say in how this ultimately plays out and we finalize this document,” said Kubis.

But Jackson County commissioners were not pleased with the back-and-forth nature of the work on the FRL agreement and just how long the process is taking. Commissioner John Smith suggested choosing representatives from each county commission to sit and work collaboratively on the agreement, rather than each county working through it individually.

“This process started last November, and we’re not any further along than we were in November when Macon County passed theirs,” said Smith. “Get us in a room, hash it out, and then we’ll have something, but we won’t have to

boards, committees, never has the chair had to answer questions by the public. We’re not allowed to engage with public comment, so I think that needs to be taken out.”

The changes proposed by Macon County sought to address complaints from community members about the lack of spoken public comments at all library board meetings. Proposed changes to the rules would require a public comment period before each library board meeting with no less than three minutes allowed per speaker. The comment period would be limited to 45 minutes, but the board may allow for additional time. The proposed change also says, “the public shall be permitted to ask questions for clarification directly through the chair, who shall attempt to answer to the best of his or her ability.”

Kubis came back before the Jackson County Commission during its May 7 meeting to give an update on that process.

“We recently met with county attorney for Swain County and came up with a consensus on how best to restructure or streamline this agreement that you have before you to make sure that we are getting everyone’s considerations into this process to make sure that the Fontana Regional Library interlocal agreement continues to be a living document that folks are happy with and it’s carrying out its intended purpose,” said Kubis.

Macon County first passed its recommended changes to the document in November of last year.

“Obviously, this is one step in what’s going to be a continuing process in communication with the other counties and

pass it around for another five or six months.”

Chairman Mark Letson directed County Manager Kevin King to organize a meeting with two commissioners from each county — so there would not be a quorum from any county, which would require public meeting laws to take effect — the county attorneys, county managers and a representative from the Fontana Regional Library.

“That’s a good starting point,” said Letson.

Commissioner Mark Jones raised some preliminary concerns that he has with the changes Macon commissioners suggested to the agreement, one of which involves the proposed requirement that the chair of the FRL board address questions raised during public comment periods.

“It’s great to have public comment,” said Jones. “But I question this language. I’ve been involved with a lot of

Like Jones in Jackson County, Swain County commissioners also brought up concerns with this proposed change when they discussed the Fontana Regional Library agreement during their May 7 meeting.

“Some of the language are things that I would oppose, for example, our public comment time, we basically say, we listen to you but we don’t have to respond or don’t need to respond or maybe don’t even want to respond,” said Swain County Commissioner Roger Parsons. Parsons said this language insinuated that the public could direct the chair through public comment and expect answers immediately for all questions.

“I don’t have any issues with keeping the old [agreement] like it was,” Parsons said. “That was my position then, that is kind of my position now, just to keep it the way it was without any changes.

“We haven’t had any issues,” said Parsons. “These are issues that have kind of been heaped on us from another county, is what it seems like to me. So, I want us to be very careful in this. This seems to be from another county trying to bring their issues to us instead of us just dealing with our own issues.”

Swain County Commission Chairman Kevin Seagle said that he feels like the focus of this whole process has diverged from its original purpose of protecting children.

“I’m 100% for protecting our children on every avenue that there is, but I am also 100% not being bullied by somebody else, and that’s kind of the way it’s been thrown at us,” Seagle said.

U.S. Attorney’s office announces action against Money Mules

The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of North Carolina announced the completion of the Money Mule Initiative, an annual campaign to identify, disrupt and criminally prosecute networks of individuals who transmit funds from fraud victims to international fraudsters.

Fraudsters rely on money mules to facilitate a range of fraud schemes, including those that

predominantly impact older Americans, such as lottery fraud, romance scams and grandparent scams as well as those that target businesses or government pandemic funds.

Some money mules are recruited into what they initially believe to be legitimate work-at-home jobs. In order to educate and deter these types of unknowing money mules, the letters served by law enforcement warned

individuals that their activities are facilitating fraud and outlined the potential consequences of continuing to transmit illegally acquired funds.

Agencies are conducting outreach to educate the public about how fraudsters use money mules and how to avoid unknowingly assisting fraud by receiving and transferring money.

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 4
Macon County proposed changes to the FRL agreement in November. File photo

Trans person filmed in WCU bathroom

In its final week of classes, Western Carolina University became the subject of a video that went viral on social media in which a trans woman was filmed inside a women’s bathroom on campus.

In a video posted by Payton McNabb, a student at WCU, on X at 5:04 p.m. on May 2, an unidentified trans woman appears to be trying to leave the women’s restroom. As the trans woman is drying her hands, a voice behind the camera asks, “What are you doing?” To which the woman responds “Going to the bathroom.”

When the voice behind the camera asks why the subject of the video is in the girl’s bathroom, the person replies, “I’m a trans girl.”

addressed by appropriate campus officials,” the university said in a statement. “We are looking into the issue and have no further comment at this time.”

McNabb later posted a statement on X saying, “Currently, I’m facing reports to the school for alleged ‘transphobia,’ alongside attempts to tear down my sorority, despite it having nothing to do with it. I believe in everyone’s right to their own opinion, and I shouldn’t face punishment simply because I felt uncomfortable with a man being in our bathroom.”

The voice behind the camera goes on to say, “But you’re not a girl,” and later, “I pay a lot of money to be safe in this bathroom.”

The video, posted with the caption “A man using the girls bathroom at Western Carolina University. Unreal” had 295,000 views on McNabb’s X account as of May 14, and 15 million views on the Libs of TikTok X account.

North Carolina was at the center of the debate over the rights of transgender people to use public restrooms in 2016 with the passage of HB2, the bill that, among other things, required transgender people to use the bathroom associated with the sex on their birth certificate. However, that law was challenged in court and later repealed, permitting transgender people to use the bathroom that most closely aligns with their gender identity.

North Carolina law does prohibit filming people in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like bathrooms, showers and dressing rooms. The law does not make it clear whether that expectation holds in the common area of a bathroom rather than a stall.

In response to the video, Western Carolina University told The Smoky Mountain News, “Western Carolina University is dedicated to fostering a safe and welcoming environment for all students. The university’s primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of all members of its campus community.”

“Unlawful discrimination against any member of our campus community is not accepted at WCU. WCU is committed to upholding its principles and ensuring that all students have equal access to education and opportunities. Violations of any university policies or state and federal laws will be

McNabb is not new to public issues surrounding trans rights. Last year McNabb publicly supported bills aiming to regulate trans athlete participation in North Carolina public school sports after she claimed to suffer a concussion from a ball spiked by an allegedly trans athlete on the Highlands volleyball team. McNabb now works as a spokeswoman for the Independent Women’s Forum, an American conservative nonprofit organization focused on policy issues.

“Sylva Pride calls upon the administrators of WCU to investigate this event and set a precedent of inclusion for current and future Catamounts.”

— Sylva Pride statement

“We are gravely disappointed to hear about events that unfolded on May 3 on the campus of WCU,” Sylva Pride said in a statement about the incident caught on video. “Universities are places where all students should feel safe to grow as individuals and be challenged by diverse perspectives.”

Sylva Pride cited the WCU Code of Student Conduct, section 2.02 (g) which states that “WCU Students have the responsibility to interact with others in a manner that does not discriminate against them on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, political affiliation, or veteran status.”

“These actions are a clear violation of the Code of Student Conduct as well as the Community Creed and should be met with swift justice,” Sylva Pride wrote. “Sylva Pride calls upon the administrators of WCU to investigate this event and set a precedent of inclusion for current and future Catamounts.”

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Community Action conference comes to WNC

The annual conference paid special homage to several regional leaders

True freedom isn’t attainable without economic freedom. This was the central theme of the 2024 North Carolina Community Action Association’s annual convention held at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino last week. The event, which celebrated NCCAA’s 60th anniversary, was held over several days and included trainings, break-out sessions, various speakers, and of course, celebration.

Community Action was created on the heels of a March 1964 message to congress from President Lyndon Johnson during which he urged the body to pass his Economic Opportunity Act. Ultimately, the act created the Office of Economic Opportunity, including the creation of Community Action Agencies (CAAs) to “strike poverty at its source — in the streets of our cities and on the farms of our countryside.”

While the event celebrated community action organizations around the state and was well attended by folks from the Charlotte area and the Triangle, Western North Carolina often took center stage, especially considering the group’s board president is Patsy Davis of Mountain Projects, an organization that serves Haywood and Jackson counties. Davis is set to retire this time next year, which will put an end to her 35-year run with the nonprofit. She recalled her career, starting off in Mountain Projects’ senior program before becoming director. She said getting involved with NCCAA at the state level has been particularly rewarding.

“I started realizing that people didn’t really have a voice,” she said. “The west was not represented as well as it should have been, and it felt like people thought the state stops at Asheville, so I went to Raleigh to bring attention to the needs of Western North Carolina.”

A major challenge for Mountain Projects in recent years has been addressing the growing housing needs of the community as many working-class families are finding themselves priced out of a market that is still lacking inventory. But Davis also noted that while much of the focus of Mountain Projects is tackling the affordable housing problem, the organization does so much more.

“We serve people not just on economics, but also with independence and self-sufficiency, like with our senior programs,” she said. “You know, that’s not an income-based program. We do a lot of preventive programs with trying to educate youth on the risk of substance abuse and those kind of things. We also do public transit in Haywood County, which has nothing to do with your income.”

of other nonprofits, too. I’m already seeing some signs of things getting better because of their involvement.”

Davis wasn’t the only representative of a Western North Carolina community action agency. Chuck Sutton, who heads up Macon Program for Progress, also attended. A Macon County native, Sutton has been with MPP since 2002. While Sutton used to be in private industry, he said he was called to serve.

“I was just always having a spirit for the community and

“I was just this young kid running around, five or six years old, having a good time learning all this stuff, and then I grew up and ended up working in community action again through a summer youth employment program,” she said.

Indeed, Goodson has always been called to serve, something she credits to growing up with “incredible” parents who instilled the values of caring and empathy. Plus, being in a small town where everyone knew each other made it difficult to look past a neighbor who may be struggling.

helping others, whether it was a food drive or any other type of pursuit that was trying to have a civic change,” Sutton said. “And then I saw that community action was a way to do that as a career.”

MPP focuses on a similar mission to Mountain Projects and aims to help low-income individuals in that county, including a large childcare effort through Head Start as well as short-term and long-term job training and housing programs. Sutton noted that NCCAA has helped MPP significantly.

“Over 60 years of community action, the needs of our community have changed, and so the funding opportunities have changed,” Sutton said. “So we try to match that and help our community the ways that are needed at the time.”

“I started realizing that people didn’t really have a voice. The west was not represented as well as it should have been, and it felt like people thought the state stops at Asheville, so I went to Raleigh to bring attention to the needs of Western North Carolina.”

“I think it was a family foundation about love and respect for other people, and caring about other people, and being willing to give people a hand up and not a handout,” Goodson said. “So that’s what my family did for me. And then I got into this thing called community action.”

Goodson said that as tough as circumstances may be at times, the mission now is quite clear.

“It’s about economic mobility,” she said. “We look at a community and assess what it needs, and the work being done across the state is amazing.”

At the end of the day, it’s about the big picture. Even beyond helping the individual, it’s about improving society.

“Community action groups help people and they grow taxpayers, which makes our communities better for all people,” Goodson said. “It’s about better parks, better facilities and better local programs.”

Goodson specifically spoke about how much she values the community action groups in the oft-overlooked far-western counties, as well as everywhere else in the state.

Davis said community action has been a driving force her whole life and that she hopes that can continue for other generations. She said she thinks that’ll be the case, especially with partners like Dogwood Health Trust shouldering a ton of the load.

“Dogwood Health Trust really changed the landscape in Western North Carolina,” she said. “And not just with the support they’ve given community action agencies, but a lot

State Executive Director Sharon C. Goodson, who works out of the organization’s main Raleigh office, also spoke with The Smoky Mountain News. Although she has been working with the North Carolina Community Action Association for a little over two decades, she said she’s really been in community action her whole life without realizing it, going way back to her youth when she was in one of the first Head Start programs.

“The west is just as important to us as the east or anywhere else,” she said. “This is about helping all people. It didn’t say people in Raleigh, it didn’t say people in a certain spot. We take our promise of the Community Action promise very seriously. We care about the people in these mountains we love.”

Sen. Kevin Corbin (R-Macon) closed out the week with an address to the group Friday morning. In an interview with SMN, he said he has always supported community action groups, especially MPP since it’s in his own backyard. As the chairman of both the Senate Health Care Committee and the Appropriations on Health and Human Services Committee, he said community action groups are F

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky news 6
Mountain Projects Executive Director Patsy Davis speaks to the crowd at the NCCAA conference. Donated photo

always on his radar.

“The day before I spoke to them, I put a provision in the state budget to increase the childcare subsidies for rural counties,” he said. “There’s a formula they use; it factors size of the county and other things. The formula is unfair to rural counties, so Haywood or Jackson doesn’t get the same childcare dollars per child that bigger counties do.”

In addition, Corbin was one of the first Republicans in the state to get fully behind Medicaid expansion, which finally passed last year.

“Since Medicaid opened, we’ve enrolled about 450,000 North Carolinians,” he said.

In his speech, Corbin also focused on North Carolina raising the standard deduction from $11,000 up to $29,000, as well as lowering the personal income tax rate from 4.75 to 4.5, moves he said help low-income families in particular.

“It’s putting more money in working people’s pockets,” he said.

Corbin said he stands firmly behind the community action agencies that aid the counties he represents in Raleigh.

“I think they do a lot of good work in North Carolina,” he said. “In particular, I can speak to Macon Program for Progress. They are very instrumental helping in the housing market and with childcare. They’re a valuable resource.

One of the most impactful moments came at the awards luncheon Thursday as yet another Haywood County figure, District Court Judge Donna Forga, offered her testimony of how Community Action — specifically Mountain Projects — helped her when she couldn’t necessarily help herself. Forga told her story, one of hardship and redemption, a journey from the depths that was made possible through Mountain Projects. It was difficult to find a dry eye in the room.

Forga broke the ice by admitting how nervous she was for her speech, joking that she, in a sense, set herself up for a life of discomfort, an introvert who has to not only campaign, but also deliver decisions in court that are subject to scrutiny by courts of appeals.

“So much for being insecure,” she joked. Forga’s relationship with Mountain Projects goes back about 40 years. After getting married right out of high school, she took a job at a sewing plant in Jackson County. However, after giving birth to a daughter, she was again pregnant with a son, and her employer wasn’t going to give her paid time off after giving birth. Her husband, a mechanic, didn’t have the ability to support the family on his own.

“We were the working poor,” Forga said. “I was stressed beyond belief,” she added.

In 1985, she applied to put her children in a Head Start program. First, her daughter was enrolled, and then her son a few years later. All the while, she was thrown into further turmoil when her husband left her on Mother’s Day.

“Thinking homelessness was imminent, I reached out to the HUD program,” she said. But the waitlist was long, and things weren’t getting much better. Forga said that at that time, she was thrown into the most

depressing, overwhelming time of her life.

“I was hopeless, drowning in a dark pit that I could find no way to escape,” she said. “Then, what was clearly the most miraculous hand of God, I got a phone call the next week saying that my name was up on that list.”

This was the beginning of a slow crawl out of that dark pit. Over the next few years, Forga received her associates and then her bachelor’s degree. Even as the first college graduate in her family, she still struggled to find employment. However, she said Mountain Projects was there every step of the way to make sure she had a safety net. Eventually, thanks to Mountain Projects, she was able to work in a few volunteer positions that helped her develop confidence she hadn’t felt in years.

“The shackles of self-doubt began to fall off,” Forga said.

Then, she made a radical choice.

“I had come to the conclusion there was no good, long-term employment on the horizon, and there’s nothing like a good divorce to make you want to become an attorney,” she said.

Forga and her children went to law school “as a team,” with her kids learning how to be self-sufficient to help alleviate the burden on their mother. While her kids helped, she said it was her support network back in Haywood County that also pushed her across the finish line. During her toughest times, she’d receive phone calls, cards and letters reassuring her of her purpose.

“I knew who to reach out to in my time of need for help or encouragement, and that was my friends at Mountain Projects,” Forga said.

Upon graduating law school in 2000, Forga came back home, where she practiced in state, federal and tribal courts. In 2010, she was elected District Court Judge, a position she has held now for 14 years. But no matter how far she’s come, she said she will never forget her tumultuous past and the key people who helped her help herself — especially Davis.

“The folks who were there for me moved on, and now with one more retirement next year, the folks that made my success possible will no longer be working at Mountain Projects,” she said. “There was never before and will never again be another Patsy Davis. God broke the mold when he made her.”

Ultimately, Forga had a final message for the rapt audience. She told those in attendance that their work matters, not only to her, but to countless others.

“Can you see the miracle now over the last 40 years?” she said, “that this love and support gave me the opportunity to turn every difficulty, every burden, every hurdle into a chance to see promise in the world, to see the hand of God in the actions of people with a servant’s heart.”

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 7 Jane Hicks & Thomas Alan Holmes presennt t their latest books of poems, t The Safety y ng o offSmallThinggs s 00 p YLVLVVA A p. . m. 828/586-9499 • more@citylight TR 3 EAST JACKSON S REEET • SY , Ma ay Saatturdayy, ay y 18th • 3:0 f Small Thi & In the Backhoe’’ssShadow 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 Nutrition Facts serving size : about 50 pages Amount per Serving Calories 0 % Daily Value * Total Fat 0g 0% Regional News 100% Outdoors 100% Arts 100% Entertainment 100% Classifieds 100% Opinion 100% * Percent Weekly values based on Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain and Buncombe diets.
Patsy Davis (left) and Judge Donna Forga. Donated photo Sen. Kevin Corbin (center) stands with Patsy Davis (right) and NCCAA Director Sharon C. Goodson. Donated photo

Canton leaders make ‘big stink’ over big stink

Festering frustration with nearly every aspect of Pactiv Evergreen’s actions taken in closing its Canton paper mill a year ago spilled over into a town meeting May 9, when board members took the opportunity to dump all over Pactiv for its latest putrid mess.

“One of my favorite George Strait songs says, ‘there’s a difference between living and living well.’ There’s also a difference between running something and running it well,” said Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers in reference to recent social media complaints about the smell of human feces emanating from the treatment plant Pactiv uses to treat the town’s wastewater.

Since at least 1964, Pactiv has treated the town’s wastewater for almost no cost, alongside its own waste from the papermaking process. An agreement in place since then stipulates that Pactiv must continue to treat Canton’s wastewater for two years after any shutdown. That two-year period will end on March 9, 2025, per a termination notice served on the town by Pactiv on March 8, 2023.

Pactiv has indeed continued to treat Canton’s wastewater, but it’s thought that a change in the chemistry of the treatment process due to the decrease in biproducts from the papermaking procedure has resulted in the unpleasant odor.

“This is not acceptable. It is their responsibility to run it and run it well, because how you run something shows me what you think and how you respect us,” Smathers said. “I am not happy. I wish I could say I was surprised, but [Pactiv] needs to do what they need to do legally. They’re still members of this community, but you’re going to respect us, period. We’ve been through enough.”

On March 6, 2023, Pactiv officials plunged the region into uncertainty when it told workers during a closed-door meeting that the 115-year-old mill would shut down within three months. Local leaders were given no notice, and many of the thousand-odd millworkers found out on social media, some while they were at work.

Over the ensuing weeks and months, governments, educational institutions and nonprofits had to scramble to help soon-tobe displaced workers find jobs and access benefits. Pactiv failed to inform its health care coverage carrier about the closing, throwing some workers into a dangerous health care coverage gap. Five months later, Pactiv was blamed for a milk carton shortage that affected jails, nursing homes and schools. The company went on to ask for a tax break on its 185-acre parcel, which was rejected but is currently being appealed. That budget year, a growing Canton put the brakes on several projects in anticipation of a massive deficit in tax revenues. This budget year, tax collector Wanda Lurvey broke down in tears while informing Canton’s governing board of a projected million-dollar hole in its $12 million budget.

All the while, closed-session economic development negotiations have been taking place with Pactiv over the future of the mill site, which straddles the Pigeon River and takes up a significant portion of Canton’s downtown.

Thus far, those fruitless negotiations have left local officials feeling drained; government administrators want the parcel put back into productive use as soon as possible, but without a solid plan for wastewater treatment, further economic development opportunities could go down the drain.

Canton wants to continue operating the plant after Pactiv’s obligations are satisfied in order to give the town time to construct a new plant, estimated to be at least five years,

and well that they have a stranglehold on us,” said Alderman Ralph Hamlett. “And I think they know good and well, they can twist it and try to make us bleed or maybe even make concessions along the way which otherwise we wouldn’t make … it concerns me how they’re going to continue playing this game — and make no mistake about it, in large measure it is a game. It’s a game for everybody except the town of Canton.”

Mayor Pro Tem Gail Mull, a longtime Canton governing board member who retired from the mill after decades of employment, expressed her general annoyance with Pactiv’s conduct, accusing the $6 billion multinational company of acting in bad faith.

we’ve got to realize that, and, we can’t trust them. There’s no agreement we can make with them that they’ll follow through. That’s what I believe.”

Alderman Tim Shepard, usually a man of few words, stuck to that strategy with a brief statement that was profound nonetheless.

“It’s a simple thing that I think gets lost sometimes,” Shepard said. “If you say you’re going to do something, you do it. And you do it like it’s supposed to be done — you do it right.”

Smathers said that Pactiv has sole responsibility for the proper operation of the plant and that on top of everything else the town is currently dealing with — economic instability, the possible loss of wastewater

but per the terms of the agreement Pactiv could theoretically begin charging the town exorbitant rates for treatment at any time.

“The milk of human kindness does not flow through [Pactiv’s] veins. They never intended to make an honorable agreement.

“The milk of human kindness does not flow through [Pactiv’s] veins. They never intended to make an honorable agreement. They closed under cover of night. They’ve done everything on earth to shaft us.”
— Gail Mull, Canton Mayor Pro Tem

treatment, federal involvement in pollutionrelated remediation and the threat of a century-old paper mill rotting to the ground as the site languishes into its second year of silence — the town doesn’t have the capacity to act as Pactiv’s complaint department.

“We shouldn’t be the middleman,” he said.

Smathers asked that all complaints about the odor be directed to Pactiv.

Pactiv could even cut the town off, even though it has to continue to operate the plant so it can treat leachate oozing up from one of its landfills there. Effectively, Canton’s businesses and residents are being held hostage.

“I think everybody really knows good

They closed under cover of night. They’ve done everything on earth to shaft us,” Mull said. “All that aside, they are just not nice people. They’re not one of us, I can tell you. They’re the neighbor that lives next door that plays his music too loud and shoots your dog. This is the neighbor they are, and

Residents with concerns should email, an address that is forwarded to Pactiv. The company’s main phone number for its American headquarters in Lake Forest, Illinois, is 847.482.2000.

Pactiv did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the situation.

Alderwoman Kristina Proctor was not present at the May 9 meeting due to a family emergency.

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 8
Potential problems with Pactiv’s wastewater treatment plant in Canton are being reported by area residents. Google Earth photo

Sylva budgets for future uncertainty

The Town of Sylva will not see a tax increase for the coming budget cycle, but with work looming on N.C. 107, staff are preparing for falling revenues over the next two to four years.

“I’ll caution you that this is an easier budget process than we generally have,” said Sylva Town Manager Paige Dowling.

“Looking at what we have in front of us, we’re going to face harder budgets with more difficult decisions to make, so enjoy this one.”

The proposed fiscal year 2024-25 budget is balanced with a rate of $0.45 cents per $100 of property valuation. One cent on Sylva’s tax rate will generate $50,500.63. The budget does include fee increases in the general fund.

“This budget was built to address current needs along with strategic planning which will put Sylva in a position for future growth and improvements,” said Dowling.

The town’s proposed general fund budget totals $5,969,219, an increase of only $1,730, or less than .003% from the 2023-24 budget.

“That is one of the closest that I have seen in 11 years of working for the town,” said Dowling.

While general operating expenses have increased in all departments, the budget is relatively flat because the town is purchasing less capital equipment in the upcoming year. The proposed budget does include two new patrol vehicles, an equipment trailer and a tire machine for public works.

Not including grants and other proceeds, the general government budget totals $4,388,855, an increase of $45,716 from the 2023-24 general government budget.

The proposed budget maintains the town’s capital replacement schedule and post-employment benefits contributions are funded at the recommended level.

“The town board recognizes that employees are the organization’s strongest asset and are essential to providing highquality services to our citizens,” said Dowling.

There is a 3% cost of living adjustment for all employees and a merit increase of up to 2% for full-time employees based on performance.

“This budget provides funding for our imperative needs, but other wish list items will need to be funded as funds become available,” Dowling told the board. “This budget’s been reduced to meet imperative needs and utilize our revenue in the most fiscally responsible manner. Reductions have been made in capital equipment and other expenditures wherever possible.”

Long-term priorities for the town that

are being put on hold until funds become available include cross walks, hazard abatement, paving the parking lot next to the pool, expanding housing, trails at Black Rock Creek, landscaping and beautification, signage, town hall improvements and repairing the rock wall in Scotts Creek behind Town Hall.

The primary concern in creating this budget was the N.C. 107 project.

Construction on the project is expected to start in July of 2025, with right-of-way acquisition and property transfers currently underway.

“These acquisitions will affect tax revenues for the town for several budget cycles,” said Dowling. “Budget shortfalls will be realized as the tax base is reduced going into the start of construction. The town should expect revenue losses over the next two to four years as the changes in tax values and revenue fluctuate as acquisition dates vary.”

The next property tax revaluation will be in 2025, and it will likely happen during the construction phase of N.C. 107. Therefore, staff estimate that the town will not realize the complete loss of property value until after the revaluation.

Sales tax revenue will also likely be negatively affected during the construction phase of the road project as a majority of the project area covers the commercial corridor.

“The degree of the impact on sales tax is unknown, therefore it is imperative for the town to budget conservatively for future budget cycles,” Dowling said.

The proposed budget appropriates $44,750 from the capital reserve fund, which has $1,067,015 available.

“Looking at our upcoming capital equipment needs, the town needs a healthy capital reserve fund to cover the next few budget cycles since we’re going to be operating with less revenue,” Dowling told the board.

Sylva’s current unassigned fund balance is at 68% and is estimated to be at 66% after the adoption of the proposed budget. This adheres to Sylva’s financial policy that the fund balance does not fall below 40%, but it does not meet the town’s target fund balance goal to maintain an unassigned fund balance of 73% of the general operating budget.

The budget will be up for public hearing at the May 30 Sylva Town Board meeting.

During this meeting, the board will also swear in its new commissioner, who will fill the seat vacated by Natalie Newman last month. Applications were given to board members during the May 9 meeting. Three people applied for the seat — John Brown, Luther Jones and Sarah Hirsch. Applications will be voted on at the May 23 meeting.

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Western Dems sense an opportunity on abortion

It’s been just over two years since a leaked draft opinion suggested the U.S. Supreme Court would vote to overturn its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, and it’s now been nearly two years since that actually happened. Many states rushed to reckon with the consequences, but it’s been nearly all bad news for Republicans since then.

in place. Based on post-Dobbs election results, she and other Democrats may be onto something.

According to decades of Gallup polling, as of May 2023 only 13% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal under all circumstances, down from an all-time high of 23% in May 2009. Conversely, 34% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all circumstances and 51% think it should be legal under certain circumstances. A Pew Research poll

Democrats across the nation and across North Carolina are hoping to keep that losing streak going as voters head to the polls during the General Election this “Roevember.”

“I think, as a whole, the Republicans have bought something and I think that they may regret it,” said Mark Burrows, a Brevard Democrat running against Republican Rep. Mike Clampitt (R-Swain) in the 119th House District this fall.

Burrows and several other Democratic candidates gathered in Franklin’s Big Bear Park on May 11, speaking out in favor of a topic many of them think will be the defining issue of this election cycle.

“We understand what’s at stake here. I grew up when a woman didn’t have a choice, really. Her choice was either get married or her parents may send her off to live somewhere else,” said Nancy Curtis, former mayor of Andrews and Dem nominee for the 120th House District seat currently held by Rep. Karl Gillespie. “In some cases, some of these young women took their lives. Those are the days that I remember, and I don’t think those are real options.”

released May 13 says 63% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 36% saying it should be illegal in all or most cases.

In 2022, voters in the liberal states of California and Vermont established state constitutional protections on reproductive rights along with Michigan, a battleground state. Meanwhile, legislative efforts to restrict reproductive rights in the conservative states of Kansas, Kentucky and Montana failed.

“I just believe that women are their own agents of their own health care, and they’re their own best decision makers, and I’m not going to try and make that decision for them.”
— Adam Tebrugge, Democrat nominee for 120th House District

Curtis believes the issue will be “huge” for swing voters, especially young people who have lived their entire lives — until recently — with solid federal protections for abortion

and building a winning coalition that is clear-eyed about the stakes in this election,” said Sophie Mestas, a spokesperson for the Democratic coordinated campaign in North Carolina. “By overturning Roe v. Wade, Trump has unleashed dangerous abortion bans in more than 20 states across the country, including in North Carolina. North Carolinians agree that reproductive health care decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor, yet Donald Trump would be ready to further rip away reproductive health care access in all 50 states, including in our state.”

Adam Tebrugge, a Jackson County attorney and Democrat challenging Sen. Kevin Corbin (R-Macon) this year, said he’s been receiving strong responses on reproductive rights from voters as he campaigns across the sprawling 50th Senate District, which encompasses much of the far west.

“Abortion is at the moment a state issue, because apparently they’re not going to recognize that as a constitutional right,” Tebrugge said. “I just believe that women are their own agents of their own health care, and they’re their own best decision makers, and I’m not going to try and make that decision for them.”

Tebrugge happens to be running in what can be called the epicenter of the debate over reproductive rights in North Carolina; Corbin, a popular incumbent who’s spent nearly his entire adult life in public service, had a major role in drafting Senate Bill 20, North Carolina’s post-Dobbs attempt to capitalize on the ruling. Currently, abortion is prohibited in the state beyond 12 weeks and six days, with limited exceptions. The bill was vetoed by outgoing Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, but became law anyway.

It would make sense that if anyone’s to pay a price at the polls for the state’s stance on abortion, it might be Corbin.

“If you’re talking about hardcore Republican voters, I’m not expecting to get too many of them, but I am open to their support,” Tebrugge said. “Now, undecided voters, who knows what issues they’re paying attention to? It’s a difficult demographic to get ahold of, honestly.”

“If [Republicans] keep the supermajority, regardless of what happens in the governor’s race, they can do whatever they want, whenever they want.”

— Sen. Julie Mayfield (D-Buncombe)

Analysts speculated that the fight over reproductive rights led to disappointing results for Republicans in the 2022 election that saw predictions of a “red wave” fizzle out well short of Washington, D.C.

In 2023, voters in Ohio — also a red state — approved a constitutional amendment establishing various reproductive rights.

This year, Planned Parenthood’s pledge to invest an unprecedented $10 million in North Carolina races and a press release issued by President Joe Biden’s North Carolina campaign apparatus both seem to indicate a sense of optimism in a state Donald Trump won by 3.7 points and 1.3 points in 2016 and 2020, respectively.

“In North Carolina, we’re meeting voters where they are

To Corbin’s benefit, his district has performed at about 62% for Republicans from 2016 through the 2022 election, according to nonpartisan redistricting website, so absent a monumental revolt among unaffiliated and Republican voters, he’s probably safe from abortion-related fallout. Likewise, Rep. Gillespie’s district (72% red) will be a tough fight for Curtis just as Rep. Clampitt’s district (55% red) will be for Burrows.

For Democrats, complex dynamics in the General Assembly won’t become clear until after the election. With a high-stakes gubernatorial race underway between Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein and Republican Lieutenant Gov. Mark Robinson, the real focus is on the Republican supermajority in both chambers and whether Democrats can break it.

“If [Republicans] keep the supermajority, regardless of what happens in the governor’s race, they can do whatever they want, whenever they want,” said Sen. Julie Mayfield (D-Buncombe). “We do know that many F

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 10
Democrats rallied for reproductive rights and healthcare at a May 11 event in Franklin. Cory Vaillancourt photo

Discounted preorder for Gary Carden’s

memoir now available

Legendary Western North Carolina storyteller Gary Caden is at it again, this time, with a new memoir due out from UNC press later this year.

“Stories I lived to tell” showcases the faces and places that connect the rural Southern Appalachia of the past to the present — as only the witty, erudite Carden can deliver.

Carden, nearly 90 years old, was born in Sylva and has spent much of his life dedicated to the folklore that first captivated him as a child. A past winner of the “Book of the Year Award” from the Appalachian Writers Association, Carden was also awarded the Brown Hudson Award for Folklore in 2006 and the North Carolina Arts Council Award for Literature in 2012.

He returned to his signature “Liar’s Bench” storytelling events in 2022, and still occasionally performs around the area. A film about Carden’s life, “Storyteller,” premiered in Sylva in 2023. Carden’s memoir was edited by noted Emmy award-winning documentarian Neal Hutcheson, who also produced the film about Carden. Hutcheson is also known for his works about other Southern Appalachian personalities, especially late moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton.

Preorder for paperback copies of “Stories I lived to tell,” priced at $22.95, is now available at Use promo code 01SOCIAL30 at checkout to shave 30% off that price.

members of the Republican caucus want to go farther. They alluded to that last year. And we know that within their party, this was very much a compromise bill. There were people who wanted a heartbeat bill, there were I think people who would have been fine to leave it where it was [generally around 20 weeks].”

That’s part of the reason Democrats have been, and will be, hammering the issue through November.

“If Democrats do their job right, every voter will go into the ballot box with Roe on their mind,” Mayfield said. “That is the issue for this election and to the degree that people don’t know that their rights have been reduced, that the freedom that women have to make their own decisions, to define their path in life, to decide what’s best for their families — to the degree that people don’t know that we have lost those things, they will know.”

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 11
Gary Carden. File photo

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WCU Call Me MiSTER program graduates its first cohort

When Andrue Smith walks across the stage this spring after earning his bachelor’s degree in middle grades education and history, he will have charted a path for men of color wanting to become teachers.

Smith will be Western Carolina University’s first graduate of the Call Me MiSTER program.  MiSTER stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models — the program aims to increase male diversity in teaching.

“Call Me MiSTER helps meet a great need in our community,” said Kim Winter, dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions. “We know that North Carolina must diversify its teacher pipeline and build pathways into education for students of color and bilingual students. Our MiSTERs are more than representation — they graduate as novice teachers who are well-prepared to engage students in academically challenging and affirming learning experiences. We are so proud of Andrue and look forward to watching his journey unfold.”

Charmion Rush, WCU’s Call Me MiSTER program director, said the program helps break barriers that hinder potential teachers entering the workforce.

“Statistically, our classrooms are very diverse in terms of student population, but we don’t have varied representation in our teaching positions,” Rush said. “We want students to see themselves when they look to the front of the classroom and to develop a broad conception of what a teacher can look like. We have a mission at WCU for inclusivity and this is another great example of how we’re pursuing that goal.”

Each MiSTER receives a $5,000 scholarship along with laptops and software, an academic support system, and professional development and career support. Also, all members live together in the same residence hall to create a learning community cohort model for social and cultural support.

“MiSTER creates community, a brotherhood, as these students live and study together. It’s important to provide emotional and social support,” Rush said.

Smith, who comes from Easley, South Carolina, said that being the first MiSTER in North Carolina was a responsibility he was happy to accept.

“It was important to me because I wanted to represent this great program and the other students who would come after me as well,” Smith said. “I wanted to set an example.”

Smith said some of his best college memories were traveling to conferences on diversity and equity with other members of the program.

“I got to be a big brother, part of a community. We joked around and looked after each other. We held each other accountable,” Smith said. “My favorite memory is riding on

Shannon Swimmer

named director of WCU Cherokee Center

Shannon Swimmer received a master’s degree in human resource management from Western Carolina University in 2007. After several years working in tribal law, Swimmer has returned to WCU in a new capacity, as director of the Cherokee Center.

Prior to being hired at WCU, Swimmer earned her juris doctor from the University of Kansas Law School in 2013 and worked as a judge in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribal court and is a licensed attorney in the state of North Carolina.

“When the director position came open for the Cherokee Center, I felt that this was a great opportunity to make an impact in my community as well as share my background

the bus down to Greensboro for a conference. I think we laughed the whole way down — we just all enjoyed each other’s company.”

Through the MiSTER program, Smith was afforded a summer internship at Asheville Middle School for two consecutive years.

“I had a lot of fun there. Guiding young students, being a part of their formative years and helping them find their path

growth as he adapted and applied feedback toward classroom management. He has a great enthusiasm and his communication skills have grown this year.”

In 2000, Clemson University was the founding institution for the MiSTER program, serving students attending three historically black colleges and universities — Claflin University, Benedict and Morris College. The Call Me MiSTER Network now consists of 28 partner institutions in South Carolina and

is rewarding,” Smith said. “I learned more about classroom management and patience.”

During his senior year, Smith took on a teaching internship at Cherokee Central Schools. He observed, taught his own classes and received constructive criticism to help him mature as a teacher.

“Anyone who is going to be successful in a teaching program needs to have a willingness to learn, to receive feedback and apply their learning to grow,” said Chris Wilmoth, instructional facilitator at Cherokee Central Schools. “Andrue showed

and knowledge with our students,” Swimmer said. “I also was excited to continue to foster the relationships between the tribe and WCU.”

Swimmer began her role May 1.

“Former WCU Chancellor Dr. (Myron) Coulter is a founding member of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and when I was working there, I saw the potential for what WCU and Cherokee could do together,” Swimmer said. “Working in law was very emotionally draining and I saw so many people at their worst. I really wanted to make an early impact on the lives of these people and started looking for ways I could do that.”

WCU’s Cherokee Center was founded in 1975 as a hub for professors that taught college level courses in Cherokee. Once those courses were no longer needed, the center morphed into WCU’s headquarters for outreach in the Cherokee community.

The center provides several services to

the program has expanded to 11 states. WCU is the only institution in North Carolina to offer the Call Me MiSTER program. Smith is unsure if he will stick around Western North Carolina or head back home to start his teaching career but Rush said he will thrive regardless of his location.

“He is a natural teacher,” said Rush. “He is upbeat and connects with the students. He makes the content relatable and that’s what the students need to see, someone genuine. Every time I observed him, I saw him grow. He has a great future in front of him.”

EBCI students and the surrounding region including application process, transcript request, scholarships, internships placement, high school recruitment and much more.

Smoky Mountain Host celebrates 36 years

The Smoky Mountain Host held its annual meeting on May 1 at Harrah’s Conference Ballroom, bringing together businesses from across the seven counties of the region and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI).

For 36 years, the Smoky Mountain Host has been a champion for tourism in the North Carolina Smokies. This year’s meeting celebrated the continued collaboration between businesses of all sizes, from familyowned inns to major attractions, in promoting the region’s outdoor recreation, authentic experiences and unique offerings.

The event also recognized the tireless dedication of Monica Brown, operator of Bryson City’s Fryemont Inn and the longestserving member and Chairwoman of the Smoky Mountain Host Board of Directors. In recognition of her decades of service, the Host presented Ms. Brown with a plaque in her honor.

The meeting also offered exciting news for businesses in the region. Del Holston, curator from Audubon Marketing, unveiled the new regional website, This extensive website serves as a powerful tool for businesses to reach a wider audience.

David Huskins, Director for Operations, also presented the newly released 8-year regional tourism economy pocket factbook. This data showcased the significant impact tourism has on the region and highlighted the opportunity for collaboration to raise the tide for all businesses.

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 14
Andrue Smith was among the first group of graduates from the Call Me MiSTER program. Donated photo


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EBCI inches toward adult marijuana use

Adults may soon be able to purchase marijuana for recreational use from Cherokee’s new dispensary.

At a work session last week, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian’s Tribal Council discussed several questions they had regarding a potential ordinance that would legalize sales of cannabis to any adult with a valid ID. At the outset of the meeting, Chairman Mike Parker noted that he’d invited regional law enforcement leaders, including Haywood County Sheriff Bill Wilke, Jackson County Sheriff Doug Farmer, Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran, Sevier County Sheriff Michael Hodges and Great Smoky Mountains National Park Chief Ranger Lisa Hendy but got no responses.

The work session ultimately led to the discussion of when a vote would be held by Tribal Council, and all indications point to the June meeting, about nine months after EBCI passed a referendum to approve adult use with about 70% of voters in favor.

The first question that arose regarded other legal “hemp” shops that sell cannabinoids such as CBD, Delta 8 and Delta 9. As written now, the ordinance would prohibit those businesses from selling their products unless they were licensed by the cannabis

control board. Currently, the only licensed distributer is the Great Smoky Cannabis Company dispensary that opened on 4/20 and has since been serving customers with EBCI-issued medical cannabis cards.

Estimates for how many hemp shops exist on the Qualla Boundary ranged from four to seven.

Discussion around such businesses included concerns about how products are tested and regulated to whether those establishments may compete with the tribe’s cannabis venture. Currently, the proposed fine for selling cannabis without a license is $5,000.

Although EBCI Attorney General Mike McConnell noted that it may be a more efficient use of time to address the hemp shops later, council members made it clear they wanted to discuss it right then and there.

While McConnell thought enforcement of any ordinance would fall to the Cherokee Police Department, others posited that the tribe’s alcohol law enforcement may be more appropriate.

“It would fall just perfectly for them,” said councilman and former CPD Chief Dike Sneed.

Ultimately, Tribal Council determined that they would have to regulate the hemp shops, to include testing and enforcement. When it came to the competition those

Tribal Council made it clear it still plans on voting for recreational adult use of marijuana next month. File photo

businesses may provide, it was clear that most councilmen prioritized the success of Qualla Enterprises, the LLC behind the cannabis venture. Councilman Michael Stamper noted that those shops could market their products dishonestly in a way that could hurt both Qualla Enterprises and


“What’s stopping people from saying we have the same product cheaper?” he asked. It was brought up that perhaps Tribal Council could ban the hemp shops altogether, considering at least 17 states have already banned Delta 8. F

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“What’s stopping people from saying we have the same product cheaper?” he asked. It was brought up that perhaps Tribal Council could ban the hemp shops altogether, considering at least 17 states have already banned Delta 8.

Former councilwoman Teresa McCoy advocated for letting the hemp shops continue to operate as they are. McCoy said she believes in free enterprise, but her real point was that Tribal Council needs to move forward with adult use and figure out the minute details later.

“What you should focus on today is moving forward as soon as possible,” she said, noting that 70% of voters — the same

Cherokee’s dispensary opened last month on 4/20.

sion, it was determined that there’s certainly still room for it. For one, a medical card can be used in other states where reciprocity applies. Tribal Council members also floated the idea of either offering a discount or waiving an excise tax for medical card holders.

And while Tribal Council seemed to lean toward outlawing tribal members growing their own marijuana plants, it was noted that it may be more practical for those with medical cards to grow their own. Also, for those who live off the boundary, it may make more sense for folks to grow their own to avoid transporting marijuana and risking criminal prosecution.

“The more


come to this town the more levy we get, because you sure ain’t getting any gaming money, are you?”
— Teresa McCoy

voters who elected Tribal Council — wanted recreational marijuana to be legalized, and it was high time to take the leap.

“Bring these questions up during business committee; that’s where your answers are,” she said. “In the meantime, leave those businesses alone. The more businesses come to this town the more levy we get, because you sure ain’t getting any gaming money, are you?”

Another question raised was, once recreational is legalized, what becomes of the medical program? The initial thought was to do away with it, but after some discus-

After discussing the specific questions, Councilman Richard French reiterated the point McCoy had made earlier, stating that he thought they would have a clean copy of the ordinance to discuss with the aim of voting on the ordinance in next month’s Tribal Council meeting.

“I’m getting calls every day saying ‘do what we ask youns to do,’” French said.

McCoy returned to the podium and further chastised council, saying that she, like French, thought councilmen would have the ordinance in front of them.

“If you don’t have your information in front of you, I don’t even know why youns are having this discussion,” she said.

However, council members were quick to push back against the urge to rush the ordinance, saying that when considering something of this magnitude, it’s important to take into account every angle before implementation.

“This was the plan, to come in here and discuss these issues so they could get a consensus from us,” Stamper said.

“We’re not kicking the can down the road,” he added. Principal Chief Michele Hicks agreed.

“We’ve seen examples of rushing into some of our investments that are not paying off, so I think this is good,” he said. Stamper added that he has every intention of bringing the ordinance to a vote next month.

“As long as we agree, I don’t see any reason to not bring it forward in June,” he said, a sentiment that seemed to be unanimously held.

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 17
File photo
May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 18

Community Almanac

WOW to host country karaoke fundraiser

Women of Waynesville will host a “Queens of Country” themed karaoke party starting at 8 p.m. Friday, May 24, at The Gem at Boojum Brewing Co. in downtown Waynesville. Dress in your country best, boots and cowboy/cowgirl hats strongly encouraged. The event will also feature a Dolly Parton lookalike contest to honor the Queen of Country herself. There will be a $10 entry fee and the winner will get a cash prize. Attendees will be able to vote for their favorite with a donation to WOW. A WOW member will be leading some line-dancing basics on the dance floor while others serenade on stage with country classics. There is a $5 cover at the door.

All proceeds will benefit WOW, an all-volunteer organization with the mission of supporting women and children in Haywood County. Since forming in 2012, WOW has helped raise more than $250,000 for local charities like Habitat for Humanity, Mountain Projects, Haywood Pathways Center, Big Brother Big Sisters, KARE, REACH, Haywood County Schools Foundation and many more.

The funds raised during this event will help WOW replenish its “Stealth Fund,” which is used to help women in emergency situations. The fund has provided women with financial assistance to secure affordable housing, complete car repairs, buy fuel cards to get to work, pay past due utility bills and more. For more information, visit or follow WOW on Facebook at

Calling all ham radio enthusiasts

On June 22, the Haywood County Amateur Radio Club is participating in an annual nationwide exercise to conduct radio communications “in the field.” This is a long-standing tradition among ham operators.

The event is open to the public and will be held on Saturday, June 22 at the Evergreen facility on Old Howell Mill Road in Waynesville. Operators will set up equipment that prior Friday night. Saturday’s event will end around 6 p.m. with a barbecue for members and guests.

Haywood event center to host listening sessions

The Smoky Mountain Event Center will hold community listening sessions to gain input from local stakeholders about the facilities.

Listening sessions will be held at the Haywood Ag Center located at 589 Raccoon Road in Waynesville, across from the Test Farm.

Homeowners living within a half-mile of the property will have a special session from 5:307:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, along with the county’s agricultural community from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28. The general public is invited to attend a listening session from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on

WOW members (left to right) Jessi Stone, Katie Vanderpool and Celeste Ybanez don their Dolly Parton wigs during the 2024 Mardi Gras Ball fundraiser for Haywood County Schools Foundation. Donated photo

Thursday, May 23. Sessions will include snacks. For more information, go to or call 828.400.1704.

Hospital education specialist wins award

remark that she spreads joy effortlessly through her lighthearted attitude and funny personality.

projects, including maintenance of Lake Junaluska gardens such as the Rose Walk, Corneille Bryan Native Garden, Biblical Garden and Inspiration Point; the Swan Feeding Program; the Community Chorus; Christmas decorations at the Lake; Lake Junaluska cleanup programs; sponsorship of Clothes to Kids and the monthly book review program.

For the comfort and safety of all shoppers, no dogs are allowed at the flea market except for official service animals.

Women’s group announces grants

The Women for Women (WFW) giving circle awarded six grants totaling $288,000 at a recent awards celebration. WFW has exceeded $5.2 million in grants to more than 60 programs serving WNC women and girls since 2006. Women for Women’s mission is to improve the lives of women and girls through collective giving.

“We are thrilled that our 2024 grants are reaching small grassroots organizations as well as established, larger nonprofits,” said WFW Grants Committee Chair Jill Preyer. “Our focus on economic empowerment will help lift up hundreds of women and girls in Western North Carolina over the year.”

The 2024 grants in The Smoky Mountain News coverage area are:

• Mountain BizWorks — $30,000 over two years to serve 80 aspiring and existing Latina small business owners in actively growing their business skills and knowledge through Spanish language business courses, one-on-one coaching and access to technology. The project will serve 18 counties in the WNC region, with a specific focus on expanding reach into rural communities.

Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital recently announced that Jeanette Apperson, CMA, clinical education specialist, has been recognized as the facilities’ 2024 Mercy Award winner. The Mercy Award recognizes one employee from each of Lifepoint Health’s facilities who profoundly touches the lives of others and best represents the spirit and values on which the company was founded.

A certified medical assistant, Apperson has been an integral part of the Harris Regional and Swain Community Hospital system for over two decades, during which time she has consistently gone above and beyond her job duties to ensure the well-being of our patients, her peers, and her community.

In addition to exemplary performance in her role, Apperson's thoughtfulness and generosity extend beyond the workplace. She consistently goes out of her way to support her coworkers, friends, and family members during difficult times, as well as celebrating their successes, demonstrating her genuine care and concern for

Lake Junaluska flea market

The annual Lake Junaluska Flea Market will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 8, at the open-air Nanci Weldon Memorial Gym at Lake Junaluska. Special early bird shopping is available from 7:30-8 a.m. for $5 cash.

This year’s flea market will feature home decor items, books, linens, tools, yard equipment, furniture, holiday decorations, small electrical appliances, office supplies, kitchenware, an expanded toys and games section, sporting and camping goods, plus homemade baked goods and more. Be sure to stop at the tent to check out the antiques and collectibles.

The flea market is hosted by The Junaluskans, a volunteer organization of Lake Junaluska Assembly made up of people who love Lake Junaluska. The annual flea market is the Junaluskans’ largest fundraising event of the year.

Proceeds from the flea market go toward many

• Mountain Housing Opportunities — $125,000 to expand its Down Payment Assistance program. Leveraged with matched funds, individual household support will range from $5,000 to $40,000. This project will support up to 100 lowincome households, 60-70% of which will be women-headed households, in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties.

• The Women’s Fund, a CFWNC endowment addressing the unmet needs of women and girls, contributed $73,510 to the grants.

Women for Women is an initiative of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC). New members are always welcome; information is at

Mariana Black Library hosts fitness classes

The Marianna Black Library in Bryson City has Fitness Classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1 p.m. Fitness is known to build strength and energy, help with focus and assist with weight loss. This program has cardio, stretching and strength training. Classes allow participants to work out at their own speed with no pressure. The class is free and open to ages 16 an up. Ages 12 and over must be accompanied by an adult.

Smoky Mountain News 19

To be a moderate takes real courage

One good thing about being skeptical of your own opinions is that if the wrong candidate wins you can reassure yourself by thinking that perhaps you were wrong all along and the people who voted the wrong way were right.

By “being skeptical” I mean to try to avoid extremes or to resist dogmatic positions; i.e., to be moderate.

But isn’t such wishy-washy-ness weakness?

Well, I was beginning to think so until I stumbled across a lecture by a professor named Aurelian Craiutu ( which made me see that moderation is not cowardly, but courageous.

Mr Craiutu reminds us that moderation is a virtue, one that is taught by Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Washington called it a foundation of our liberal democracy, and it is referred to throughout the Federalist Papers. Moderation is not flashy or proud, but rather, modest, humble and prudent. It is being unsure that one is right. A moderate is willing to learn from others. Moderates reject all-or-nothing thinking. They accept new evidence and they listen to their opponents. They promote civility and compromise. They do not try to crush the opposition.

On the other hand, to be moderate is to know when not to be moderate, or as the old adage says, “Moderation in everything except moderation.” In other words, there are times to be immoderate and those times differ in different ages. What was moderate in 1950 may be immoderate today, and vice-versa.

Once heart beats, life begins

To the Editor:

I’ve never written a letter to an editor but I cannot sit silent after reading Mr. Hoffman’s opinion that “fertilized eggs are not living beings.” Obviously he has never carried a child in his body and heard the heart beat nor felt the movement of the child. I would agree with him that “fertilized eggs” often do not make it to live birth, but once the heart begins to beat, life begins!

His reference to Exodus 21:22-25 and the fetus being treated as property does not take into account that women were treated as property in that day also.

When Elizabeth’s unborn child (John the Baptist) leapt in her womb when Mary entered the room, in my opinion that is Biblical evidence that both Jesus and John were living beings in their mother’s wombs.

Trump masterfully uses false fears

To the Editor:

I’m writing in response to the “Democrats try to scare voters” letter in the May 8 edition of your paper. That idea is totally preposter-

There can be moderate conservatives and moderate liberals, which is good because moderation means these sides cooperate to keep the ship “trimmed.” So there are no litmus tests, no lists of dogmas you must adhere to or else be cancelled. Thus, a moderate often swims against the current of the traditions of his or her own political leanings, because moderation resists echo-chamber thinking.

Consequently, moderates are often accused of being weak, or mediocre, or lacking moral principles, or being opportunists. Moderates get it from both left and right. Moderation isn’t charismatic. If you’re moderate, you’re going to be accused of many ugly things, which is one reason it takes guts to be a moderate. Craiutu likens a moderate to a tight-rope walker who must have great courage while keeping the weight balanced, so as not to fall off the rope.

Moderation accepts the world as it is and does not expect perfection or utopias. It hesitates, and it resists categorizing others as good or evil. Most political issues have more than one solution, so moderates preach plurality of opinion. Moderates seek piecemeal solutions and do not expect miracles. They avoid seeing the world as evil people versus good people. That way of thinking is tied up in what the journalist


ous considering that the standard bearer of the Republican Party is a fear master.

Rolling Stone reporter Neil Strauss described Trump’s tactics well in a 2016 article entitled “Donald Trump: Fearmonger in Chief.” Strauss wrote: “Pick a fear. Spread misinformation to turn it into outrage. Then, turn that outrage into passionate support for your own agenda.” That’s Donald Trump in a nutshell.

Trump is the one who repeatedly said (without evidence) before the 2018 midterm election that “migrant caravans” full of hardened criminals from Central America and “unknown Middle Easterners” were headed to the southern border. Then, there was the following ABC News report on May 20, 2020: “ABC News finds 54 cases invoking ‘Trump’ in connection with violence, threats and alleged assaults.” At a March 2024 rally in Ohio, Trump vowed there will be a “bloodbath for the country” if he doesn’t win in November.

In a speech he delivered near the Mexican border on February 29, Trump described recent migrants as “entire columns of fighting-age men and said, ‘they look like warriors to me; something’s going on and it’s bad.’”

The CNN report continued to say, “some of his words were too conspiratorially vague to definitely fact check.”

In contrast, the fears that President Biden and other Democratic candidates discuss — like losing health care, Social Security and

Terry Mattingly calls the false idea that good people do only good things and bad people do only bad things.

We all tend to think ideologically, but moderation helps us to think politically. A moderate can combine principals from different traditions, so that if one opposes abortion one can also oppose capital punishment; if one supports some forms of gun control one can also defend the Second Amendment. Since power is abusable, a moderate seeks to spread out that power among people who hold different political opinions.

The ethics of moderation is based on the principle that we are each responsible for our own actions. It is a practical ethics that gets things done, instead of being mired in winning one for one’s ideology. Moderates make decisions based upon changing circumstances, so they are flexible. Maybe a favored policy will work, maybe not, so give it a try, but be willing to change it if it doesn’t work.

Well … perhaps there is still hope for moderation as an effective political position. Of course, it doesn’t mean one believes in nothing or in everything, but it does mean one is willing to question one’s own opinions. Nevertheless, we should ponder the words of Peter Kreeft: “We don’t want to be skeptical about everything. Skeptical about everything makes us a dogmatic skeptic. We want to be skeptical skeptics. We want to have an open mind about having an open mind.”

(Steven Crider is retired physician who lives in Waynesville. He can be reached at

Medicare — are legitimate. Trump entered office in 2017 promising to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare). In March 2017, Time magazine reported that the U.S. House had voted more than 50 times to repeal the ACA. With his “thumbs down” vote in July 2017, Sen. John McCain cast the deciding no vote and essentially killed GOP repeal efforts.

As of March 25, approximately 40 million people are enrolled in coverage under the ACA marketplaces and Medicaid expansion. They have every reason to be afraid if Trump is elected in November 2024. In a March 25 interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, Trump acknowledged that he is open to cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

In summary, the fears Democrats express regarding Trump’s return to the White House are based on factual information. The fears Trump evokes are fabricated and based on misinformation.

We should support individual freedom

To the Editor:

This writing is not the product of extensive research. It is an opinion. The opinion of an octogenarian American male. Much like millions of Americans express. An opinion

regarding our government “of the people, for the people and by the people.”

How can we claim to be the “greatest nation on earth” if we refuse/fail to protect the lives of living men and women who call themselves Americans? We should encourage women (especially) to seek and follow the best medical advice available to them. Instead, some politicians apparently want to be the gods of infertility/fertility. They have even chosen to use the highly political U.S. Supreme Court to exert some type of moral/religious/legal control over women. The political moves so far have endangered the lives of many women.

Please don’t tell me this is an honest effort to protect the unborn. Our goal should be to exhaust every effort to protect the safety/security of living Americans. We have abandoned that role of government.

Regardless of your political lean do you really believe that the U.S. Supreme Court is acting to empower individuals? What are/should be the moral/religious/legal limits of the U.S. Supreme Court? Has our highest legal body been poisoned by politics already? What could be done to correct/prevent that abuse?

Democrats aren’t perfect. Yet, a Democratic House, Senate and presidency in 2024 could/would begin the process of restoring individual rights to Americans!

Opinion Smoky Mountain News 20
Dave Waldrop Webster Guest Columnist
LOOKING FOR OPINIONS: The Smoky Mountain News encourages readers to express their opinions through letters to the editor or guest columns. All viewpoints are welcome. Send to Scott McLeod at, fax to 828.452.3585, or mail to PO Box 629, Waynesville, NC, 28786.
Steven Crider

When history really does repeat itself

Recently someone described me as a “longtime columnist for the Smoky Mountain News,” which made me realize I’ve been sharing personal stories, revelations and anecdotes with this audience for quite a while. My first column was published in January 2016, so by the end of 2024, I will have written for this newspaper for nine years.

Throughout that time, I’ve told stories about personal and professional losses, transitions and achievements. I’ve offered opinions on various matters, inspiration regarding health and wellness, and many tales of motherhood. My two “little boys” are now 15 and 12, and as they get older and become more independent, it no longer feels right or fair to share stories about them unless it directly impacts my own experience as a person, mother or woman.

I’m a firm believer that authentic storytelling is the best way to feel compassion toward other humans. I want to continue writing about my life in hopes of entertaining and inspiring readers while at the same time protecting the privacy of my boys as they grow into young men.

Sometimes column topics land in my lap as if saying, “Write about me!” Other times, it’s another person or something I read that sparks an idea, but one way or another, the universe always delivers. One morning this week, I asked myself, “What should my column be about?” Minutes later, I pulled up behind a pick-up truck with a tag that said 1968, but it was written in a cryptic combination of letters and numbers in the way that license plates often are. Since I’d just sent the question about a column topic into the ether and then immediately saw the license plate, it nudged me to look into that particular year in history.

Much like this year, 1968 involved global unrest resulting in numerous demonstrations and marches across American college campuses. It was also a year of a contentious presidential election as well as the Summer Olympic Games. It was the height of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed while standing on his balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, which further ignited fury over equal rights.

In February 1968, police opened fire on students protesting segregation at South Carolina State University, killing three protesters and injuring 27 others. In March, approximately 15,000 Latino high school students in Los Angeles staged a walkout to demand a better education. Around that same time, 500 NYU students picketed a university-sponsored recruiting event for the Dow Chemical Company, the principal

manufacturer of napalm, while hundreds of students protested at Howard University seeking a greater voice in student discipline and curriculum.

In late April, students took over five buildings on Columbia University’s campus and held a dean hostage, calling for the university to cut its ties to military research. At the Democratic National Convention in August, police and Illinois National Guardsmen go on a rampage, tear-gassing and clubbing hundreds of anti-war demonstration, journalists and bystanders, much of which was broadcast on national TV.

On the sports front, Arthur Ashe won the U.S. Open Singles Tennis Championship, becoming the first Black man to ever win a Grand Slam event. Meanwhile, Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos earned Olympic gold and bronze medals in the 200meter dash. While on the medal podium, they raised gloved fists during the national anthem to protest violence toward and poverty among Black citizens resulting in the International Olympic Committee stripping their medals the following day and sending them home.

As I went down the rabbit hole of history, it was eye opening how we the people haven’t changed very much after all these decades. At the end of the day, the fire that burns within us, both then and now, centers around power or compassion. It’s a spectrum, but essentially there are people who want control and there are people who want fairness and goodness.

I’ve had some entertaining conversations with teenagers lately who honestly wonder why they spend so much time learning history when we basically keep repeating ourselves over and over. I’ve also spoken with history teachers advocating for changes to history curriculum and a move toward current events and/or how history affects our systematic beliefs, as opposed to the old school way of teaching focused on memorizing dates of battles or names of notable politicians. Good teachers encourage students to question history and critically think about why we’re still behaving in similar ways to those who came before us.

In 1968, it was the evening news broadcast that pulled our attention from everyday life and tugged at our hearts as we watched people being killed or discriminated against. Now, we see it online 24-hours a day. It’s a lot for our ancient hearts and psyches to handle. I’m hopeful there will be a seismic shift in the way people approach things and a move away from hyperfocusing on control and power. If we don’t make changes to our approaches and philosophies, folks 50 years from now will be doing the same thing I’m doing, pondering why after so many decades, we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. (Susanna Shetley is a writer, editor and digital media specialist.

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 21
Columnist Susanna Shetley

Cataloochee Ranch rides into next chapter

Meandering up Fie Top Road in Maggie Valley, just as your vehicle’s engine is pushed to the limit and it seems you may eventually drive off the edge of the earth, you emerge atop a mountain ridge, a large rustic lodge appearing in the distance — the Cataloochee Ranch.

“The ranch has an amazing history and it’s always had this unique identity,” said Annie Colquitt. “It’s this special place in Haywood County and has been a draw [for almost a century].”

Alongside her husband, David, the Colquitts recently reopened the beloved Cataloochee Ranch. Purchased by the couple in 2020, the extensive and expensive renovation project itself has taken the better part of the last two years to complete. The official grand reopening ribbon cutting celebration was held in March.

“A hospitality property without guests feels like an empty shell,” Annie said of the renovation process. “It feels so good to be sharing this place again.”

Originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, the Colquitts initially put deep roots down in Haywood County when they acquired The Swag, a highly lauded mountain getaway abutting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in 2018. On the heels of that purchase and rejuvenation of the 250-acre Swag property, word spread from just across the ridge the Cataloochee Ranch might also be for sale.

“And there were concerned neighbors who wanted the ranch to be the ranch forever — something had to change or it wouldn’t stay,” Annie said. “We started paying attention and thinking about how we might get involved in the ranch, because we really wanted to protect the land and keep it a place for guests to enjoy.”

At the time the ranch hit the real estate market, the Colquitts were still in the midst of a renovation and operating

The Swag. But, that didn’t deter them from seeing a great opportunity to not only preserve the ranch property and its history, but also perpetuate its legend and legacy into the 21st century and beyond.

Want to go?

An iconic Western North Carolina property, the Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley is now open year-round to the public for lodging, lunch, dinner and/or beverages onsite. There are also a handful of outdoor recreation amenities and experiential opportunities available. To learn more about the ranch and/or to make a reservation, go to, call 828.926.1401 or email Reservations are strongly encouraged.

“You want to preserve that sense of place because it’s really an important part of so many people’s stories,” Annie said. “I get messages all the time from folks, that [the ranch] is where their family’s dearest memories are for vacations, marriages or best childhood memories — it’s that special.”

And just as the ink was drying on the Colquitts’ purchase of the Cataloochee Ranch, the 2020 shutdown occurred. This left the Colquitts in a state of limbo and unknowns of how to properly navigate the future and fate of the property in real time.

“What’s happening in the world and what’s the world going to look like?” Annie said. “No one knew what was going to happen, so we didn’t start any renovations projects until about two years ago. And it was almost exactly four years to the day between when we bought the ranch and when we reopened it to the public.”

Coming to fruition in 1933, the Cataloochee Ranch was created by the Alexander family as a place of divine respite and outdoor adventure in the heart of Western North Carolina.


A&E Smoky Mountain News 22

This must be the place

‘Little pink houses for you and me’

Bearing witness to a few fine folks chomping down on handfuls of raw ramps last Saturday afternoon at American Legion Post 47 in Waynesville, it dawned on me that I’ve lost touch with this region.

It’s not that I’ve stopped paying attention. Far from. I still write numerous stories each week, continually getting the word out about local bluegrass musicians and cloggers, heritage festivals, area fundraisers, family gatherings, farmer’s markets, beloved restaurants, backwoods characters, annual events of interest and seemingly everything else under the hot southern sun.

But, I guess what I’ve lost touch with is slowing it up, dropping it down a couple of gears and smelling the flowers along the road of life. Simply enjoying nothing and everything I may come across in our vast, bucolic backyard that is Haywood County and greater Western North Carolina.

Pulling into the packed parking lot on Legion Drive, the parking gods were looking kindly on me at that moment when an older gentleman backed out in what could only be stated as “prime real estate” — a shaded spot under a sweaty sun, right next the entrance to the Legion.

Wandering into the bar, numerous familiar figures lined the large horseshoe counter. Seat after seat of Haywood County’s finest. Faces and names I initially befriended over a

You get so busy and consumed by assignments as a journalist with day-in-day-out responsibilities and priorities, where you find yourself realizing how much time has passed since you, well, took a moment to sit and watch a ramp eating competition. Or something like that. The compartmentalization of life, full tilt.

Nowadays, I’m pretty much on the road every weekend. Tracking down stories around Southern Appalachia and beyond for The Smoky Mountain News and our sister publication Smoky Mountain Living, not to mention doing articles for a bevy of our in-house travel publications — Blue Ridge Motorcycle Magazine, WNC Travel Guide, Beverly Hanks “Welcome” Guide, Haywood Chamber, etc.

And as a contributing writer for Rolling Stone and The Bluegrass Situation, whatever “free time” I may have is spent roaming the Southeast and as far away as California, Montana, Florida and Ontario, Canada, in an effort to document people, places and things that may be of interest to readers, either at home or abroad.

It is, quite literally, a constant flow of work, where all I’m doing every single damn day is one of three things — traveling to an assignment, interviewing a subject or writing a piece on said subject to meet a usually tight deadline. However, I love this gig more than ever. Thus, it was a refreshing feeling to find myself actually in town last Saturday. Sitting on my underutilized porch at my apartment in downtown Waynesville, I was texted about possibly meeting up at the 92nd annual Ramp Convention at the nearby American Legion. Well, heck, I’m around. Why not? I haven’t been to the Legion in years. See you there. Save me a seat, too.

Buck Owens classic “Act Naturally,” an old buddy of mine tapped me on the shoulder to say hello. I turned around and he had a handful of freshly-plucked ramps. “Well, look at that bunch of ramps, my brother,” I said. He replied with a grin and chuckle, “Yep, it’s a bouquet of flowers for my future bride if I happen to finally meet her here today.”

Mosey over to the concession stand. Order two hot dogs. Chow down under the sunshine and humidity of a lazy Saturday afternoon. Another day in paradise right here in Haywood County. Sips of a cold Coors Light draft between bites of the dog slathered in mustard. A great day to be alive, eh? Channel the gratitude and share the vibe. Extend that hand of fellowship to the person next to you.

Not even a couple of minutes after Nicholson finished his set and packed up his gear, it started raining cats and dogs. The heavens above unleashed a short flood of thick raindrops and thunder. Back inside the lounge.

And just in time, as the karaoke DJ on the small indoor stage announced on the microphone that “whoever wanted to sign up could do so now.” I moseyed on over and scribbled down the same song I always sing at karaoke, the 1969 country classic “Okie from Muskogee” by Merle Haggard.

decade ago when I would do boots on the ground community interest pieces. These circled dates on the calendar where generations of family members and lifelong friends would convene over pies, barbecue and sweet tea, all while “spilling the tea” about lord knows what.

Handshakes and bear hugs. Smiles and hearty laughter. Catching up about “this, that and other.” Updates about sick relatives. News about property sales or relocating further south. Mostly small talk, albeit genuine, about the state of things right here in our backyard. Talk of the upcoming presidential election, gas prices or a white-hot real estate market licking its lips over pristine farmland owned and operated by the kind souls sitting around the counter.

And yet, the overarching tone of the banter was merely that of appreciation of one another, here in this fleeting moment in time. Young and old and those somewhere in the middle of the journey of life, once again crossing paths to celebrate the sheer essence of being in the presence of salt of the earth human beings in all too crazy world of meaningless distraction and white noise.

Head out the back door for the baseball field bordering Green Hill Cemetery. No games in motion, just a slew of vendor tents and a concession stand. Way high up on the hillside stage was “local boy done good” Darren Nicholson and his murderers row of talented regional bluegrass and country musicians. The melodies echoed out of the PA speakers, ultimately radiating into the surrounding mountains and ether just beyond where the dirt turns to sky.

As I leaned against the bleachers and listened to Nicholson & Co. roll through the

Belt out the tune with gusto, “We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse and white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all.” End the number with a smattering of applause from those around the counter and in the dining area. Exit the stage. Shake a few more hands, pat a few more backs, all while plans were already in the works for another rendezvous at the American Legion.

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



A special concert in memory of late Haywood County banjo great Steve Sutton kicking off at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19, on the big outdoor stage at Silverados in Black Mountain.


The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre will open its 40th season with the enchanting Tony Award-winning musical “The Secret Garden,” which will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 17-18, 24-25, 3031 and June 1 and 2 p.m. May 19, 26 and June 2 on the Steve Lloyd Stage in Waynesville.


Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center (Franklin) will host Zoe & Cloyd (Americana/folk) 6 p.m. Saturday, May 18.


Poets Jane Hicks and Thomas Alan Holmes will present their latest book of poems, “The Safety of Small Things” and “In the Backhoe’s Shadow,” at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.


The 22nd annual Strawberry Jam festival will be held May 18-19 at Darnell Farms in Bryson City.

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 23 Attention: Local Artists, craftsmen & vintage dealers vendors needed: to fill Exciting new business venue in Beautiful Maggie Valley Get in on the Ground floor of this all-new venture & Grow with us! 1595 Soco Road Maggie Valley, NC call Bob Polyanchek 828-507-7239 pm 2-5 Sunday y Ever Folk Celtic dible Incre eltic Sunda y EV C ENTS ys burgten RyanFurs Thursday, May 23 Country • 11pm to 8pm and d B orrowe The B day, May 18 Satur Roots Time Old Country- - Folk 10pm to 8pm errell ndy F A 16 Thursday, May n our Guin ong with y l tion a Relaxa eams e t pm S Y rd th th E com ness! place 2nd & st or 1 es f e priz ertificat t C Gif Y O PLA FREE T 0p 0pm-9:3 y 7:3 da ues y T Ever DAY S E U T A I V I R T A Folk Appalchian 10pm to 8pm an F VILL W OWNTOWND • TREETS HCHUR 37 C • ScotsmanPublic.c hl l 1un:S PM-12AM t: ari-SF AM 214PMTh: @thescotsmanwaynesville 11AM-12AM e
The annual Ramp Convention in Waynesville. Garret K. Woodward photo

“The Alexander family worked so hard and poured so much of themselves into [the ranch],” Annie said. “It was this incredible vision and hard work, this labor of love that’s an asset to the community.”

Whether it was horseback riding up to Hemphill Bald, hiking around the vast 700-acre property, evenings eating a hearty homecooked meal with gusto or storytelling and music around a campfire under a canopy of stars, the Cataloochee Ranch remains an escape hatch from the organized chaos of daily life way down below.

“We want the ranch to be a place that locals love, but also a place that folks come from all over,” Annie said. “And we’ve built this adventure programming, where it can be horseback riding, the ropes course or even taking a watercolor class — adventure is not knowing how the story is going to end.”

For those wondering about the old-time aesthetics of the ranch, almost all of the buildings many are familiar with are still standing and operational. Besides the cozy cabins, there’s also the horse barn, which has now been transformed into The Hayloft event space with The Horseshoe outdoor amphitheater behind it, the numerous ranch horses grazing along the ridge just beyond that.

“Just like with The Swag, I see people come here and rest,” Annie said. “They leave their stress and their to-do list when you get to the top of these mountains — this is a different world.”

But, what about the main lodge at Cataloochee Ranch? Well, the Colquitts preserved the original stone walls of the notable

“We’ve built this adventure programming, where it can be horseback riding, the ropes course or even taking a watercolor class — adventure is not knowing how the story is going to end.”

ranch house when they constructed the new lodge. The aweinspiring building now houses Switchback, a Southern Appalachian and European Alpine themed restaurant. It’s also home to The Hideout wine cellar, Tack Room bar and The Forge al fresco dining space.

“We still have a long way to go figure more things out, to do it better and to make sure the business is strong and healthy as it can be to be a ranch forever,” Annie said. “But, it’s so fun see it actually starting.”

Now that the proverbial horse is out of the barn for the Cataloochee Ranch, the Colquitts and their staff are already in the midst of a busy spring, with an even busier summer just around the corner — the ball is rolling as this next, bountiful chapter of the property is now unfolding in real time.

“When I think about our guests, I believe we’re giving them something that their souls really need,” Annie said. “We’re providing something to people that humans need, something that makes us feel alive — it’s happening, it’s working.”

What to know

With the reopening of the prestigious 700-acre Cataloochee Ranch, below are a handful of facts and notable tidbits about the property and what you can expect upon arrival.

• Member of Relais & Châteaux association.

• Boutique property with 18 unique suites.

• Peak elevation at Hemphill Bald is 4,800 feet.

• Borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cataloochee Ski Area.

• Onsite activities include horseback riding, hiking, adventure course, arts and crafts, archery, axe throwing and fishing. Future planned amenities include a spa, pool, an expansive onsite garden and more.

• Both private and group horseback rides across the ranch and the national park are currently available, ending in a picnic at Gooseberry Knob or a spa treatment at The Swag, a neighboring resort.

• The ranch’s onsite restaurant Switchback, led by Chef Jeb Aldrich, provides a handcrafted menu of Southern Appalachian food with European Alpine influence.

• The Forge, a multi-use, all weather al fresco dining space off the back of Switchback, offers guests full mountain views.

• An expansive wine list and signature cocktails are available in The Hideout wine cellar, Tack Room bar and Switchback.

• The Hayloft event space and The Horseshoe outdoor amphitheater hosted 2023’s popular “Cataloochee Summer Dinner Series” and are available for a variety of events.

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 24
David and
Annie Colquitt.

On the wall

‘Spark of the Eagle Dancer’ at WCU

The exhibit “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. The showcase features works of contemporary Native American art from the collection of one of Western North Carolina’s most notable art enthusiasts, the late Lambert Wilson. This exhibition brings together a selection of baskets, pottery, carving, painting, photography and more.

To learn more about the exhibition and reception, visit 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.

Lambert Wilson was a notable collector of Native art. File photo

• “Art & Artisan Walk” will be held from 5-8 p.m. every third Thursday of the month May through December. Stroll the streets in the evening and discover handcrafted items, artwork, jewelry, pottery, antiques and more. Look for the yellow and blue balloons identifying participating businesses hosting artists.

• “May Makers Market” will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 25, 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

• “Art After Dark” will be held from 6-9 p.m. Friday, June 7, in downtown Waynesville. Each first Friday of the month (MayDecember), 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

• “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

• Marianna Black Library (Bryson City) will host an adult arts and crafts program at 1 p.m. every second Thursday of the month. Ages 16 and up. Space is limited to 10 participants. Free and open to the public. To register, call 828.488.3030 or email

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

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

• Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center (Franklin) will host semi-regular arts and crafts workshops. For more information, go to

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 25 A P W NEW E ARE ve with t li ’Don pain, we have soolutions. May Tyyler Drr. DelBene r..Robert smokymo Call Us to Make a Appointment T Tood ACCEPTINGNEWPPAATI Dr .T Przynosch . Robert r. Dennis r. 289 Access Rd, W Waaynes 188 Georgia Rd, Fran 49 McDowell St, Ashe 35 NC Hwy 141, Mur n day! ENTS Dr Dr Matt r. om ville · 452-4343 nklin · 349-4534 ville · 254-7716 rphy · 835-8389 Dr MEDICARE PR THER INSURANCES A RS & MOST O ACCEPTED

On the beat

Steve Sutton Memorial Festival

There will be a special concert in memory of late Haywood County banjo great Steve Sutton kicking off at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19, on the big outdoor stage at Silverados in Black Mountain.

Performers will include Lonesome River Band, Ashley Heath & Her Heathens, Darren Nicholson & Shawn Lane, Whitewater Bluegrass Co., Mountain Tradition Cloggers and J.A.M. All-Stars.

This event is a benefit for the Steve Sutton Memorial Charitable Trust. The trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to continue Sutton’s legacy of sharing joy and helping others through music. Proceeds from this event will benefit local music scholarships, as well as the International Bluegrass Music Association Trust Fund.

A longtime member of The Darren Nicholson Band and Whitewater Bluegrass Company, Sutton was 60 years old when he passed away in his sleep on May 13, 2017, one day shy of his 61st birthday.

“I basically owe my musical career to him,” said mandolinist Darren Nicholson of International Bluegrass Music Association “Entertainer of the Year” bluegrass act Balsam Range, who was Sutton’s best friend and longtime collaborator. “He got me my first professional job, which led to all the relationships that are still relevant in my current career. Steve believed in me so much that he took me to Strains of Music in Waynesville and paid cash for a Gibson mandolin. Steve was kind to everyone he met and helped countless peo-

Bryson City community jam

A community jam will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City. Anyone with a guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dulcimer or anything unplugged is

ple — he just had a good heart.”

A Grammy-nominated, multiple IBMA award-winner himself, Sutton graduated from Tuscola High School in Waynesville. Upon graduation, he was simultaneously offered gigs with the “Godfather of Bluegrass” Bill Monroe and bluegrass legend Jimmy Martin.

“But, Jimmy offered me something like $10 more a week, so I took it,” Sutton chuckled in a 2015 interview with The Smoky Mountain News.

In 1974, Sutton joined Martin on the road, kicking off a career that took him across the globe, ultimately gracing the Grand Ole Opry stage numerous times. Sutton also had stints with Alecia Nugent and Rhonda Vincent. And through his lifelong pursuit of bluegrass and mountain music, Sutton also remembered where it all began, alongside late banjo great and Bluegrass Hall of Famer Raymond Fairchild.

“[Steve’s] talent and free-flowing sense of humor constantly fed that professional effort to the highest levels,” said Marc Pruett, Grammy-winning banjoist of Balsam Range. “Steve was a valued, respected member of a heritage-schooled, living culture. He was ‘the real deal,’ and his warm smile and largerthan-life talent leaves a void in our mountains that can’t be filled.”

Tickets to the performance are $35 per person. Gates open at 1 p.m. The show will be all ages. For more information and/to purchase tickets online, go to

• American Legion Post 47 (Waynesville) will host an “Open Mic” 3 p.m. every Tuesday. Free and open to the public. 828.456.8691.

• Balsam Falls Brewing (Sylva) will host an open mic from 8-10 p.m. every Thursday. Free and open to the public. 828.631.1987 or

• Balsam Mountain Inn (Balsam) will host an “Open Jam” 6 p.m. every Tuesday.

• Bevel Bar (Waynesville) will host We Three Swing at 8 p.m. every first Saturday of the month and semi-regular live music on the weekends. For more information, call 828.246.0996, email or go to


• Blue Ridge Beer Hub (Waynesville) will host 8Trk Cadillac May 25. All shows begin at 5 p.m. Free and open to the public. For more information, go to

• Boojum Brewing (Waynesville) will host Hammock Theory (rock/reggae) May 18, Women Of Waynesville “Queens of Country Music Party” May 24 and Smashing Mouth (alternative/rock) May 25. All shows begin at 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted. 828.246.0350 or

• Breadheads Tiki Shak (Sylva) will host “Tiki Trivia” at 7 p.m. every first Thursday of the month and semi-regular live music on the weekends.

• Classic Wineseller (Waynesville) will host Mean Mary (singer-songwriter) 7 p.m. May 17. Tickets are $70 per person, which includes music, food, tax and gratuity. Beverages are extra. To reserve a table, call 828.452.6000 or

• Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center (Franklin) will host Zoe & Cloyd (Americana/folk) 6 p.m. May 18. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to

• Farm At Old Edwards (Highlands) will host the “Fireside at the Farm” sessions on select weekends. For more information, go


• Friday Night Live (Highlands) will host Silly Ridge May 17 and McClain Family May 24 at Town Square on Main Street. All shows begin at 6 p.m. Free and open to the public.

• Frog Level Brewing (Waynesville) will host its weekly “Tuesday Jazz Series” w/We Three Swing at 5:30 p.m., JR Williams (singer-songwriter) May 17, The Dirty French Broads (Americana) May 18, Syrrup (Americana) 3 p.m. May 19, Len Graham & Paul Koptak May 22, Color Machine May 24, Bridget Gossett Duo May 25 and Krave Amiko 3 p.m. May 26. 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 Charles Walker (singer-songwriter) May 17, Rock Holler (Americana) May 18, Dillion & Company May 24 and Young Mountain Magic May 25. 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 Parliament Funkadelic (rock/funk) 9 p.m. May 17. For a full schedule of events and/or to buy tickets,

• 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, Jacob Donham (singer-songwriter) May 18 and The Knotty G’s May 25. All shows and events begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public.

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.

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 26
Lonesome River Band will play Black Mountain May 19. File photo

• Lazy Hiker Brewing (Franklin) will host Karaoke on the second/fourth Friday of the month, Blue Jazz May 18 and The Log Noggins (rock/blues) May 25. 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, Alma Russ (Americana/folk) May 17 and Blue Jazz (soul/jazz) May 24. All shows begin at 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.349.2337 or

• Legends Sports Bar & Grill (Maggie Valley) will host an “Open Mic Night” 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday. Free and open to the public. 828.944.0403 or

• Long’s Chapel (Waynesville) will host the Haywood Community Band 4 p.m. May 19 in the Community Room. Free and open to the public.

• Macon County Public Library (Franklin) will host Marshall Ballew (Americana/blues) 6 p.m. May 16 and Grizzly Mammoth (rock/jam) 7 p.m. May 18. Free and open to the public. 828.524.3600 or

• Marianna Black Library (Bryson City) will host a “Community Music Jam” at 6 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of each month. Free and open to the public. All musicians and music lovers are welcome. 828.488.3030.

• Mountain Layers Brewing (Bryson City) will host an “Open Mic w/Frank Lee” Wednesdays, George Ausman (singer-songwriter) May 17, Ron Neill (singer-songwriter) May 18, The Dirty French Broads (Americana) 5 p.m. May 19, Bird In Hand (Americana/indie) May 24, Zip Robertson (singer-songwriter) May 25 and Mountain Gypsy (Americana) May 26. All shows begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.538.0115 or

• Otto Community Center (Otto) will host James Thompson (singer-songwriter) 6 p.m. May 17. 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 Gnarly Fingers (Americana/rock) May 25. 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.

• Pickin’ On The Square (Franklin) will host The Rusty String Band (bluegrass/gospel) May 25. All shows begin at 6 p.m. at the Gazebo in downtown. Free and open to the public.

• Pinnacle Relief CBD Wellness Lounge (Sylva) will host Shelly Vogler 4 p.m. May 18. Free and open to the public. or 828.508.3018.

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

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

• Saturdays On Pine (Highlands) will host Continental Divide May 18 and Southside Station May 25 at Kelsey-Hutchinson Park on Pine Street. All shows begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public.

• SlopeSide Tavern (Sapphire) will host ALR Trio May 2. All shows begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.743.8655 or

• Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts (Franklin) will host Lee Greenwood (country/oldies) 7:30 p.m. May 24. Tickets start at $28 per person with upgrade options available. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to or 866.273.4615.

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

• Swain Arts Center (Bryson City) will host The Legacy Motown Revue (R&B/soul) 6 p.m. May 10. Tickets are $10 per person.

• Ugly Dog Pub (Highlands) will host “Bluegrass Wednesday” at 6:30 p.m. each week. 828.526.8364 or

• Unplugged Pub (Bryson City) will host Mike Cowen (singer-songwriter, free) May 16, Ricky Gunter (country/rock) May 17, Mile High Band (classic rock/jam) May 18, Mountain Gypsy (Americana) May 23, Macon County Line May 24 and Jon Cox Band (country/rock) May 25. All shows are $5 at the door unless otherwise noted and begin at 8 p.m. 828.538.2488.

• Yonder Community Market (Franklin) will host David Childers (singer-songwriter) 4 p.m. May 26 and Tommy Stinson (singersongwriter) 7 p.m. May 30. Family friendly, dog friendly. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to

• Find more at

Cowee welcomes Zoe & Cloyd

Popular Asheville-based Americana/folk act Zoe & Cloyd will hit the stage at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center in Franklin.

The innovative “klezgrass” music of Zoe & Cloyd springs from the rich traditions and complementary styles of fiddler/vocalist Natalya Zoe Weinstein and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist John Cloyd Miller.

Descending from a lineage of klezmer and jazz musicians, Weinstein trained classically in her home state of Massachusetts before moving south in 2004. Miller, a 12th generation North Carolinian and grandson of pioneering bluegrass fiddler, Jim Shumate, is a first-place winner of the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest and the Hazel Dickens Songwriting Contest.

For more information, go to

Mean Mary returns to Classic Wineseller

Americana/indie singer-songwriter Mean Mary will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Classic Wineseller in Waynesville.

Mean Mary produces music and videos, with extensive tours in the United States and overseas. She’s writing a novel trilogy about the music world and is also an endorsing artist for Deering Banjos.

To note, Mean Mary plays 11 instruments and has recorded 18 albums, her latest being “Portrait of a Woman.”

Reserve your table by calling 828.452.6000. Tickets are $70 per person. Cost includes music, food, tax and gratuity. Beverages are extra. Tickets are non-refundable and seating is limited. Advance ticket purchase and menu selections required when reserving a table.

On the table

• “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

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 27
the beat
Zoe & Cloyd will play Franklin May 18. Sarah Johnston photo Mean Mary. File photo
arts & entertainment

HART presents ‘The Secret Garden’

The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre will open its 40th season with the enchanting Tony Award-winning musical “The Secret Garden,” which will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 17-18, 24-25, 30-31 and June 1 and 2 p.m. May 19, 26 and June 2 on the Steve Lloyd Stage in Waynesville.

Based on the famous 1911 novel and possessing one of the most glorious scores ever to hit Broadway, “The Secret Garden” is a family friendly, yet sophisticated production and one of the most highly anticipated shows of HART’s 2024 season.

This literary classic, brought to life by composer Lucy Simon and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman, tells a compelling tale of forgiveness and renewal. At its core lies the poignant idea that grief, like a garden, must be tended to, lest it overwhelm us.

“The Secret Garden” plants the seed of this symbolic expression of grief from its opening moments, nurturing it until it blossoms into a moving finale of healing and joy.

“This cast is full of powerhouse singers who appreciate the complexity of the overall story and are in tune with one another every step of the way, listening and responding actively,”

‘The Secret Garden’ will play at HART this spring. Donated photo

Director Kristen Hedberg, herself a veteran of the stage, said of the performers. “That alone is enough. Combined with the beautiful and intriguing visual elements of the show, this production will transfer the audience’s and characters’ experiences or witnesses of grief to hope

• The Comedy Zone at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino will host Shaun Jones May 15-19, Dale Jones May 22-26, Southern Momma May 28-June 26 and Marc Yaffee May 30-June 5. Doors open at 6 p.m. Dinner and drinks will be served from 67:45 p.m. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to

• Peacock Performing Arts Center (Hayesville) will host semi-regular stage productions on the weekends. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays unless otherwise noted. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to or call 828.389.ARTS.

and beyond even that, to joy.”

To make reservations, call the HART Box Office at 828.456.6322 or go to HART Box Office hours are Tuesday-Friday from noon to 5 p.m. HART is located at 250 Pigeon St. in Waynesville.

On the street

Ready for the ‘May Gemboree’?

The “May Gemboree” will be held May 17-19 at the Robert C. Carpenter Community Building in Franklin.

Rough and cut gems, minerals, fine jewelry, supplies, beads, door prizes, dealers, exhibits, demonstrations and more. Doors open at 10 a.m. each day.

Sponsored by the Franklin Chamber of Commerce and the Macon County Gem & Mineral Society. For more information, call 828.369.7831 or go to

May Gemboree. File photo

Do you like strawberries?

The 22nd annual Strawberry Jam festival will be held May 18-19 at Darnell Farms in Bryson City.

The Darnell family celebrates their locally grown strawberry crop. Enjoy local music, local food, fresh fruits and vegetables, craft vendors, plow demonstrations, children’s play area, hayrides, fishing, camping and much more.

Gates open at 9 a.m. each day. For more information, go to or call 828.488.2376.

• “G&LW Wholesale Gem Show” will be held May 17-19 at the Watauga Festival Center in Franklin. The trade shows are produced in many major trade centers across the United States for the convenience of wholesale buyers. For decades, G&LW’s multiple show venues continue to be a top gem and mineral buyer destination. Doors open at 10 a.m. each day.

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On the stage

Molon Labe: A review of ‘Gates of Fire’

Alittle over three years ago, a stranger in a coffee shop with whom I’d struck up a conversation excused himself from the table, walked to his car and returned with a copy of Steven Pressfield’s “Gates of Fire.” He handed me the book, said “He’s my favorite author,” and insisted I keep the book, telling me he had other copies at home.

About a month ago, on a whim, I finally pulled the book from its shelf, began reading, and found myself on a journey through one of the best novels I’ve read in years.

This best-selling novel tells the story of the epic Battle of Thermopylae, when 300 Spartans died facing countless thousands of troops of the Persian Empire and so won for themselves everlasting fame and glory. The grievously wounded Xeones, a Spartan squire, has survived the battle and is brought to the quarters of King Xerxes, where the Persian ruler asks to hear his story to learn more about the tough, gallant warriors he has just defeated. The king’s historian, Gobartes, records the prisoner’s soliloquies, interjecting from time to time with his own observations and news of the ongoing Persian military campaign against the Greeks. At age 12, Xeones finds himself, his cousin Diomache and a wise elderly slave, Bruxieus, on the run as outcasts after invaders kill the rest of the family and sack their city. After months of living largely in the open, scavenging food as best they can, Bruxieus dies from age and exhaustion. Diomache follows the advice of their old companion and departs for Athens, while Xeones strikes out for Sparta, whose fame as a city-state of warriors acts like a magnet on him. Though his foreign birth dooms

Xeones to Sparta’s helot class, who serve both the state and individual masters as serfs, his fortunes take a turn when he becomes a sparring partner with Alexandros, son of a respected leader, Dienekes. His loyalty to this family, his acceptance of Sparta’s customs and harsh military code and his service as a squire soon give Xeones access to other prominent men and women of the city.

As both insider and outsider, Xeones is in an ideal position to offer King Xerxes, and by extension the rest of us readers, unique observations on Spartan life and the killing machine that was its army. Moreover, it is through Xeones that Stephen Pressfield dazzles us with his command of language, his talents for storytelling, and his ability to

nect but who also seem as exotic and strange as the far side of the moon. Like the best of historical fiction, “Gates of Fire” brilliantly bridges these two worlds of past and present.

Just one example of many illustrates this success. The Spartan phalanx, with rows of men ranked deep one behind the other and with those behind pushing against those ahead to add the force of a battering ram when they met the enemy, Pressfield’s descriptions make us feel as if we ourselves were in those same ranks, pushing, shoving, moving forward for the kill.

Pressfield’s vivid recreation of ancient warfare and his running commentary on leadership and martial virtue earned “Gates of Fire” high praise from the American military. Unless circumstances have changed, the book is taught at West Point, Annapolis and the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. In “The Leader’s Bookshelf” by Ret. Admiral James Stavridis and R. Manning Ancell, “Gates of Fire” comes highly recommended by retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen. He notes that this is “a particularly powerful book about leadership,” with Spartan King Leonidas as the best exemplar of that virtue. “A king does not abide within his tent,” says Leonidas, “while his men bleed and die upon the field.”

City Lights poetry reading

Poets Jane Hicks and Thomas Alan Holmes will present their latest book of poems, “The Safety of Small Things” and “In the Backhoe’s Shadow,” at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.

“The Safety of Small Things” meditates on mortality from a revealing perspective. Images of stark examination rooms, the ravages of chemotherapy, biopsies and gelsoaked towels entwine with remembrance to reveal grace and even beauty where they are least expected.

bring to life this epic moment from the past when Greece was besieged and the budding flame of Western civilization might have been snuffed out forever.

That Pressfield spent countless hours absorbing Greek history is apparent throughout “Gates of Fire.” From the novel’s first pages, we are swept back in time to a place and a people with whom we can con-

Gen. Allen also remarks on what other readers will find in Pressfield’s novel, that love of their comrades and their families and friends back home are what inspired the Spartans to fight, and what makes soldiers stand side by side today. At one point, addressing his warriors and squires after a hunt and before setting out for Thermopylae, Dienekes says, “All my life one question has haunted me. What is the opposite of fear?”

No one, including Dienekes, can adequately answer that question until much later during a pause in the battle these men are doomed to lose. ‘“The opposite of fear,’ Dienekes said, ‘is love.’”

According to the Roman historian Plutarch, when Xerxes demanded that the Greeks lay down their arms, Leonidas replied with two words: “Molon labe,” or “Come and take them.” Those words, which have literally echoed from time to time throughout American history, are a reminder of the courage and defiance that are the safeguards of freedom.

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

Within “In the Backhoe’s Shadow,” one takes a brief rest amid responsibilities and needs, considering what comes next. In his debut poetry collection, Holmes offers a measured evaluation of a lost past, balancing the consequences of generational shift with expanded understanding of family, love and place.

A native of upper East Tennessee, Hicks is an award-winning poet and quilter. She also retired from Sullivan County, Tennessee, schools after 30 years of teaching.

The Jesse Stuart Foundation published her first book, “Blood and Bone Remember: Poems from Appalachia,” in 2005. The book met with popular and critical acclaim, winning the Appalachian Writers Association “Poetry Book of the Year” prize. It was also nominated for the Weatherford Award given by the Appalachian Studies Association. Her second poetry book, published in the fall of 2014 by the University Press of Kentucky, is titled “Driving with the Dead.” It also won the Appalachian Writers Association “Poetry Book of the Year” (2015) and was a finalist for the Weatherford Award. Her critically acclaimed third book, “The Safety of Small Things,” was published by the University of Kentucky Press under Hindman’s Fireside Press imprint in early 2024.

A native Alabamian, Holmes spent many years on the staff and masthead of The Black Warrior Review while completing his graduate degrees at the University of Alabama. He is co-editor of “Walking the Line: Country Music Lyricists and American Culture,” “Jeff Daniel Marion: Poet on the Holston” and “The Fire That Breaks: Gerard Manley Hopkins’s Poetic Legacies.” He specializes in Appalachian and African American literature as a professor of English at East Tennessee State University.

• Author Sarah P. Blanchard will present her latest novel, “Drawn from Life,” at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville. Within the work is a life-changing tragedy and conflicting memories — is she a victim or a killer? Free and open to the public. 828.456.6000 or

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 29
On the shelf ALSO:
Writer Jeff Minick

Managing invasive species Plant removal begins in Pinnacle Park

After a botanical survey identified the location of several invasive species in Jackson County’s Pinnacle Park, work has begun to manage the ecologically threatening pests.

“We live in a very diverse botanical environment and the exotic species will and do change the nature of habitats,” said environmental scientist Jason York. “It’s important to make sure we’re protecting the species that have been here for 80 million years.”

Pinnacle Park comprises just under 1,800 acres of land situated near Sylva and is bordered by other conserved lands. In 2007, the Fisher Creek Tract, about 1,100 acres of the former town watershed, was placed under a conservation easement and opened to the public for recreation shortly thereafter.

The Blackrock Tract, about 435 acres abutting the original Pinnacle Park property on the crest of the Plott Balsam Mountains, had previously been slated for development before those plans were abandoned. In 2016, The Conservation Fund started looking for partners to help conserve the 912-acre property.

Mainspring Conservation Trust protected

it under a conservation easement and Sylva acquired the 435-acre Blackrock Tract in 2019 after the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians purchased the adjacent 471-acre Shut-In Creek Tract, completing the complex conservation deal.

On the other side of the main Pinnacle Park property is the Dills Creek Tract, also a failed development. Mainspring is currently working on getting this 246-acre piece of land into a conservation easement and transferring it to the town.

to the town, to the foundation, is you have a gem,” said Owen Carson, plant ecologist for the Ashville based consulting, planning and design firm Equinox Environmental, in a presentation to Sylva’s town board following the survey. “You have a wonderful, amazing place with a lot of really special and important species, assemblages of natural communities, water resources and wildlife. And you have an opportunity at this point in time to take a positive step in the stewardship and management of Pinnacle Park.”

“What we’re dealing with at Pinnacle Park are invasive exotic species, so they’re not native to the region, in most cases not even native to the continent and they create a problem by spreading so quickly and efficiently and taking over a natural ecosystem, displacing native species.”
– Jason York, environmental scientist

of streams and seeps with excellent water quality and bio classification ratings and several rare species of vascular plants.

A natural community is a distinct and recurring assemblage of populations of plants, animals, bacteria and fungi naturally associated with each other in their natural environment.

After conducting the botanical survey, Equinox consolidated some of its findings into recommendations for the Pinnacle Park Foundation. These included protection of sensitive elements, poaching prevention, restoration of degraded roads and trails and control of nonnative invasive species.

In 2021, the Pinnacle Park Foundation released a request for proposals to conduct a botanical survey of the park prior to building any additional trails and amenities. “The overarching message from Equinox

The results of the botanical survey showed Pinnacle Park contains at least 25 different natural community types, some of which are very specific to certain topographic or elevational areas. The park contains over 19 miles

The botanical survey ranked invasive species according to their risk level and recommended taking immediate action on populations that pose a high risk to the area. For example, invasive kudzu, which is present on the lower end of the Pinnacle Park side and on the upper reaches of the Blackrock side of the park, is known to grow over native plants, pull down trees and does not hold soil back. The recommendation was to eradicate invasive species from the property.

“An overarching nonnative invasive plant management plan would be a good idea,” said Carson. F

Outdoors Smoky Mountain News 30
Hannah McLeod photo

The town has started in on such a plan, hiring an independent contractor, Michael Baker International, to manage and remove the invasive species that had been located and documented by Equinox Environmental. Work on the project began last fall.

Invasive plant species located within Pinnacle Park include kudzu (pueraria montana), multiflora rose (rosa multiflora), oriental bittersweet (celastrus orbiculatus), privet (ligustrum vulgare) and Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus).

“A lot of invasive species have gotten here in a lot of different ways, but oftentimes they’ve gotten here because people have planted them,” said York, one of the scientists working on the invasive plant management and removal project.

“Other times they’ve gotten here because we thought they were useful for things like erosion control, wildlife forage or habitat, and they were actually intentionally planted in places. Only to find out, 30, 40, 50 years later, that that was a big mistake,” York said. “But they were planted by everyone from the Department of Transportation, Fish and Wildlife Service, some were even used for shipping like packing peanuts.”

Northeast, Midwest and as far west as Oregon.

Multiflora rose was also introduced to the United States from Japan. It arrived in 1866 as rootstock for grafted ornamental rose cultivars. It spread in the 1930s when it too was introduced by the Soil Conservation Service for use in erosion control and as living fences, or natural hedges, to confine livestock.

Oriental bittersweet, privet and burning

For kudzu, this involves cutting vines and using an herbicide that’s approved for use near water.

“In a case like kudzu, there’s often not a lot of non-target damage to worry about because it grows in such dense patches,” York said.

After cutting vines and spraying, scientists will continue to go back in subsequent growing seasons to make sure they didn’t miss anything. They will retreat anything

Kudzu, sometimes known as “mile-a-minute” or “the vine that ate the South,” is a creeping, climbing perennial vine that can grow up to a foot per day during the summer, overtaking trees and other native species

bush are all ornamental plants that were also introduced from Asia to the United States during the 19th Century.

And while all of these species are exotic, not all exotic species are invasive. Likewise, not all invasive species are exotic.

“What we’re dealing with at Pinnacle Park are invasive exotic species, so they’re not native to the region, in most cases not

Kudzu, sometimes known as “mile-aminute” or “the vine that ate the South,” is a creeping, climbing perennial vine that can grow up to a foot per day during the summer, overtaking trees and other native species. Originally native to Japan and southeast China, it was first introduced to the United States during the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 where it was touted as an ornamental plant with sweetsmelling blooms and sturdy vines.

From the 1930s through the 1950s, the Soil Conservation Service promoted it as a tool for soil erosion control and planted it throughout the south. Kudzu spreads through runners, stems that root at the tip when in contact with moist soil, rhizomes and by vines that root at the nodes to form new plants. Today kudzu covers an estimated 7 million acres across the Southeastern United States and is making its way into the

even native to the continent and they create a problem by spreading so quickly and efficiently and taking over a natural ecosystem, displacing native species,” York said.

There are some native species that can be invasive. For example, poison ivy might cover a large area if not controlled.

“Invasive plants could be anything that just does a really good job of outcompeting its neighbors,” York said. “But we don’t typically treat invasive plants that are native. We typically only focus on non-native invasive species, which is to say invasive exotic.”

In order to eliminate or manage these invasive exotic plants carefully, environmental engineers use a system known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

“What that means is that you’re using a variety of methods to eliminate or manage it most effectively while doing the least damage to the natural environment,” said York.

that grows back or has sprouted from seeds existing in the soil from the infestation being there.

According to York, dealing with invasive species is never a one and done scenario. Follow-up usually continues for about three years, during which time the areas where invasive plants were thriving continue to be monitored.

“People have to understand what invasive plant management is, that it’s not eradication. It’s management, it’s control,” York said. “What we’re trying to do is to preserve areas that have unique and pristine ecosystems, so they don’t get overtaken by these species, as opposed to trying to control them.”

In the case of plants like burning bush and multiflora rose, engineers will cut them very low to the ground, so there is about an inch of stem left above the ground. Then they apply a much more concentrated form of herbicide directly to the stump so that it’s absorbed into the root system without impacting any of the other plants around it. From there, the team will monitor the site for another year or two.

“Inevitably you’ll have some of the root system start to come back up and when that happens, then you can retreat it,” said York. While most people have a negative view of the use of herbicides, those that are being used in Pinnacle Park have low toxicity to humans, animals and the environment. Applicators are careful to minimize herbicide application to native vegetation, water and non-target surfaces and access to treated areas is restricted during and after herbicide application. Only those herbicides registered by the EPA for use in water are applied around creeks and wetlands.

For a place like Pinnacle Park, early detection of and rapid response is key to combatting invasive species.

“Let’s preserve these ecological islands, these areas that are important that contain healthy populations and seed sources of these wonderful native species that we have,” York said. “If you can find a place like Pinnacle Park that is just beautiful and relatively pristine, get it to a point where there’s not so much that we can’t take care of it. Let’s get it before it goes crazy, and it becomes a problem.”

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 31
Kudzu is an extremely invasive plant species in Southern Appalachia. File photo
May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 32

Third-grader names new bike park mascot

Donovan, a spirited third-grade student from Junaluska Elementary School, is the winner of the mascot naming contest for the upcoming Haywood County Bike Park.

Donovan’s winning name is “Rowdy the Raccoon.”

The mascot naming contest, held in collaboration with Junaluska Elementary School, invited students to submit their ideas for the official name of the Haywood County Bike Park mascot. Donovan’s entry, “Rowdy,” captured the essence of the park’s adventurous spirit and resonated deeply with the selection committee.

“We were amazed by the level of enthusiasm and creativity shown by all the students who participated in the contest,” said Recreation Director Elli Flagg. “Donovan’s suggestion of ‘Rowdy’ perfectly embodies the energy and excitement that the Haywood County Bike Park represents. We are thrilled to adopt this name for our mascot.”

Donovan will have the opportunity to join officials at the grand opening of the Haywood County Bike Park, tentatively scheduled for Spring 2025. The bike park is located near Junaluska Elementary School at the old Francis Farm landfill.

SAHC marks 50 years

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) is celebrating 50 years of conserving clean water, plant and wildlife habitat, farmland and scenic beauty in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. The anniversary will be marked with a special celebration on Friday, May 31, called “Rooted in the Past, Growing for the Future.”

a spirited third-grade student from Junaluska Elementary School, has been crowned the champion for his imaginative suggestion,

Service, and New York Times best-selling author Wiley Cash.

“We look forward to sharing stories, reminiscing with friends, and soaking in the beauty of protected land,” says Kristy Urquhart, SAHC’s associate director.

The celebratory event will highlight milestone achievements of the past 50 years and announce major projects for the future of conservation. Special guest speakers include Dr. Mamie Parker, groundbreaking biologist and former Head of Fisheries for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife

North Carolina migratory bird seasons released

Officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission have announced the approved season dates, bag limits and applicable regulations for the 2024-25 waterfowl, webless migratory game bird (including doves) and extended falconry seasons. The dates are available on the website and will be published in the 2024-25 Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest this August.

Although the majority of seasons remain

“We hope SAHC members and folks new to the organization will savor the benefits conservation in the Southern Appalachians and be inspired by epic conservation plans on the horizon.”

The event will run from 1-3 p.m. at the Tennessee Welcome Center on I-26 near the North Carolina border. The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. More information is available at

unchanged, notable changes include:

Given that Sept. 1, 2024, falls on a Sunday, many 2024-25 migratory game bird seasons will not begin until Monday, Sept. 2, Labor Day. This includes doves, rails, gallinules and moorhens, and September Canada goose seasons. Federal frameworks do not allow any migratory game bird hunting prior to Sept. 1, 2024.

The daily bag limit for Canada geese (also includes white-fronted geese) in the Northeast Canada Goose Hunt Zone will decrease from two Canada geese or white-fronted goose to one Canada geese or white-fronted goose either singly or in the aggregate.

For more information, visit the Wildlife Commission’s Regulations webpage.

EBCI wins award for outstanding water protection

The N.C. Source Water Collaborative — a statewide drinking water protection group — has announced the winners of the Source Water Protection Awards during the Water Resources Research Institute’s annual conference, held last month, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians took home one of the prizes.

The annual awards program recognizes individuals and organizations that protect sources of public drinking water. Any individual, group, organization or agency that engages in activities to protect drinking water at its source is eligible for an award.

The award Cherokee won was the Surface Water Implementation and Education Award for their Honoring Long Man project.

To learn more about the Source Water Collaborative, visit

The daily bag limit for Canada geese will decrease this year. Stock photo

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 33 Offers Slow, Gentle Interpretive Wildflower Walks for Groups & Individuals, Ecological and Horticultural Consultations, Plant Surveys, Invasive Plant Removal, and a Variety of Lectures & Workshops! /bigelows_botanical_excursions/ /BigelowBotanicalExcursions 828.226.0398 • Available Year-Round Adam Bigelow
Donovan, ‘Rowdy’ the Raccoon. Donated photo

Notes from a Plant Nerd

The axe always forgets, the tree always remembers

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to cut it up and use it for heat or timber, is it a waste of resources? Or, put another way, are humans the only reason that all other life on Earth was created? My answer to both questions is no. We share this planet with many different kinds of neighbors, from the plants, trees, insects, birds and other animals, to fungi, bacteria and other microbes that live in the soil, to the water that courses through all things. But we in our modern culture tend to be selfish, thoughtless and uncaring neighbors.

I have been witness to a couple of major disturbances in the ecosystem lately and have been spending a lot of time thinking about disturbances, both their short-term and longterm harm, and their benefits. Often, a horrible tragedy can lead to beautiful changes. In fact, most everything that you know and love on this planet — wildflowers, poetry, song, art and even your friends, loves and family — are the direct result of the last mass extinction.

Everything is going to be OK, eventually.

That’s the thing with disturbances in our lives, both large and small. In the wake of tragedy, everything is destruction, desolation and loss, but when you zoom out, quite often, beautiful things develop as healing begins. This is as true in my personal life as it is in the forest. Of course, some distur-

bances and tragedies are not so small. But if we can take a long enough view of time, beauty and diversity always result. In the study of ecological disturbance, a major event like a tree falling, a landslide, a flood, or in the case of the forest just above my home in Cullowhee last week, a rare mountain tornado, is actually a driver of the ecosystem and the health and diversity of the forest. During the tornado and storm, all was terror, and in the immediate aftermath, it is a seeming wasteland of destruction and debris. But the forest has already begun its recovery, and it was almost immediate. New openings of light have signaled small trees to begin the race to become the next forest giants to fill in the canopy once again. Fungal spores were already covering all of the trees, shrubs and flowers that were killed or damaged, and have begun their work of processing, decomposing and returning the energy of the fallen to the system that produced the now-fallen trees. Wildflowers, fed by the products of decomposition, will thrive in the new openings. And through these and other intricate and interrelated processes, the forest will not only recover, but it will also thrive.

However, other kinds of disturbance can have a negative impact on the ecosystem. Especially anthropogenic disturbance, those caused by modern humans and our machinations. A single mowing of a wildflower meadow every few years will increase the diversity of that meadow. However, repeated and constant mowing will reduce the meadow to a field, pasture, or lawn with very little diversity. Same is true for clearcut logging of timber, for excessive sprawl and development, as well as our large-scale industrial agriculture systems that turned the diverse prairies of the Midwest to millions of acres of corn, soy and wheat. This system is currently clearing the Amazon Rainforest and turning it into millions of acres of palm oil plantations and cattle pasture.

Our way of life is causing major disturbances to the ecosystem we share, the ecosystem that supports life-onearth-as-we-know-it, of which I am a big fan. Over time, the earth will recover and flourish through this current mass extinction event. We witnessed the incredible regenerative nature of the earth during the pandemic lockdown. Nature returned to the cities and suburbs. Whales entered harbors which held no ships. To help save the world — and ourselves — we need to first stop the harm, and then we can help set up the initial systems that will allow the earth to heal itself. Because that is what she does. And she is very good at it.

When a tree falls in a forest due to storm or axe, there are plenty of eyes to watch it and ears to hear the thud, be they human or not, but the processes of healing and recovery are built into the system. I like to try and remember that those same systems of self-healing are also built into you and I, helping us to weather our own storms. Perhaps, we just need to get out of our own way and allow the healing to occur.

(Adam Bigelow lives in Cullowhee. He leads weekly wildflower walks most Fridays and offers consultations and private group tours through Bigelow’s Botanical Excursions. No matter how bad the storm, there will always be another rainbow. Donated photo

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 34 20+ YEARS OF SERVICE S 20+ Bklit + m Book online at: 828.456.3585 Haywood Square | 288 N. Haywood St. | Waynesville nclmbe 103 Puzzles can be found on page 38 These are only the answers.

WNC events and happenings


• The 15th season of Concerts on the Creek will begin Friday, May 24, at Bridge Park in Sylva and run through Friday, Aug. 30. There will be 15 Fridays of Concerts on the Creek held 7-9 p.m. every Friday.

• Smoky Mountain Ukulele Group invites all ukulele players to come for an hour of playing and sharing songs with fellow Ukers at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at the Folkmoot Friendship Center, Room A6. For more information call Stone Cottage Music School 828.456.4880.

• Full Spectrum Farms hosts a weekly pottery class 45 p.m. on Thursdays, led by in-house artist and teacher Christina Daniels. All supplies are provided. Class is suitable for kids and adults. For more information visit

• The Creative Thought Center will host a “Course in Miracles” for healing the mind 2-3:30 p.m. Thursday May 16, 23 and 30. For more information contact Randy Outland at 828.729.3949.

• Saunook Community Spaghetti Dinner will take place 5-7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at the Pleasant Balsam Baptist Church. Price is $10, with kids under six $5. Dine in or take out. Reservations required.

828.307.0075 or visit

• Mill Town Farmer’s Market opening day will take place 4-7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at Sorrells Street Park in Canton. Celebrate the season opening with live music, family-friendly activities and food.

• Worldwide Beatbox Fest will take place May 16-19 at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. The event will host beatboxers, vocal percussionists and mouth musicians from all over the world. For more information contact Tanner at

• Watercolor Class will take place 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Creative Thought Center in Waynesville. Admission is $35, payable online or in person. Limit 10 people per class. All supplies provided. For more information contact Joan at 818.957.6231.

• Autism Spectrum Disorder Teen/Adult Art Group takes place 12:30-2:30 p.m. Fridays at Full Spectrum Farms in Cullowhee. Drop-ins welcome. For more information visit

• Employment support is offered 1:30-4:30 p.m. on the first Friday of each month at the Jackson County Public Library with a career advisor available for assistance. To schedule an appointment, call 828.586.2016.

• Sew and Sip Embroidery Workshop will take place 68 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Birthstone Breastfeeding and Wellness Center in Sylva. Learn to make an embroidered pin with Amanda Clark.

• The 22nd annual Strawberry Jam festival will be held May 18-19 at Darnell Farms in Bryson City. Enjoy

local music, local food, fresh fruits and vegetables, craft vendors, plow demonstrations, children’s play area, hayrides, fishing, camping and much more. Gates open at 9 a.m. each day. For more information, go to or call 828.488.2376.

• A starter plant swap will take place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Waynesville branch of the Haywood County Public Library. Vegetables, herbs and flowers are welcome. All attendees are expected to bring plants to share. For more information contact Collin at or call 828.356.2507.

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

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

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


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

• The Pollinators Foundation and The Share Project organize weekly, Happy Hour Walks on Tuesdays, 5-6 p.m. at Lake Junaluska, meeting at the Labyrinth. More at or contact Marga Fripp at, or call 828.424.1398.

• The Pollinators Foundation is offering a 31-Day Wellness Challenge for a healthier and happier you during May 2024 for Mental Health Awareness Month. Events include Holistic Practices and Herbs for Mental Health and Longevity, at 5:30 p.m. on May 17, a Clay Playshop at 5:30 p.m. on May 23, and a Painting Demonstration at 5:30 p.m. on May 30. Register at

• 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.


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

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

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

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

• Mother Goose Storytime takes place 10:30-11 a.m. every Wednesday, at the Waynesville branch of the Haywood County Public Library. Ideal for children from birth to 2 years old. For more information, contact Lisa at or call 828.356.2511.

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

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

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

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

May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 35 R DINNERS INE & ASTINGS INE AILET VILLE A S W YNE Y N TOW OWN D We are now offerin more availability Cllbk k l g .com wnce-ag blueridgemass 828.246.9155 977 N Main St Wa Waayynesville NC 28786 Call or boo on ine


MarketPlace information:

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


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

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

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

p: 828.452.4251 · f:828.452.3585




IN RE: FORECLOSURE OF A LIEN HELD BY The Mountain Club at Cashiers Master Association, Inc., FOR PAST DUE ASSESSMENTS



with the Clerk of Superior Court on October 02, -

tions for The Mountain Club at Cashiers Master

Trustee, will expose for sale at public auction on May 23, 2024 at 11:00 AM at the usual place of sale at the Jackson County Courthouse, Sylva, North Carolina, thereon): Being all of Plat

Carolina in Book 2340, Page 1776,-

Clerk of Superior Court

High Rock Vis, Cashiers,at Cashiers, LLC. Theupon conclusion of the of the purchase price in balance of the purchaseto NCGS §45-21.29 in the clerk of superior court person who occupies the after October 1, 2007, -

Taliercio, 111 Wilson Street, Greensboro, NC 13, 2024.


Case No.2024 E 000225

of the Estate of Bertha Louise Putnam Price North Carolina, this is to Jul 24 2024, or this notice

shall also state that upon -

Fiduciary 79 Little Oak St Canton NC 28716



May 15-21, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 36
WILL NICHOLS Owner/Operator 828-734-6769 Fully Insured Commercial & Residential Serving all of WNC

before Aug 01 2024, or






Case No.24E272

Executor of the Estate of Patricia Pehl Davis

North Carolina, this is to

Housing Counselor who will learn how to help

Aug 08 2024, or this

Executor 6400 Bethel Church Road

Saline, MI 48176


Case No.2024 E 000263

istrator of the Estate of Linda Wells Hannah

North Carolina, this is to

Aug 08 2024, or this

Delia Wells Drive Waynesville NC 28786

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Administrator 21
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Counselor is responsible for outreach, recruiting, counseling, pre-



Border collies, e.g.

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Yaks, e.g.

Former Brit. Airways

Corrida shout

Stephen of "Roadkill"


Angsty rock genre

Land For Sale

HOME LOTS FOR SALE power run to each lot, 0161 or go to our web site



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FREE Quote – Call now before the next power out-


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THERAPY USERS! Inogen One G4 is capable of Pets

MIXED BREED DOG, BLACK &WHITE— VIRGO 1-yr-old boy, 58 lbs; silly, sweet, and spunky. Prefers to be only dog in household. Asheville Humane Society (828) 761-2001

KITTENS!! Asheville Humane Society has kittens available for adoption; all 2-6 months old and cute as can be! Fee includes vaccination and spay/neuter. (828) 761-2001 adoptions@

May 15-21, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 38 position requires EOE/AA
Medical HEARING AIDS!! -
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stars, maybe 84 Hooting bird 85
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kisses 100
capital 101 Yule drink 102 Singer Snow 103 One hanging ten 104 Ember 107 Eye-teasing paintings
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haze 114
sack 116
mode 117
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May 15-21, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 39 Real Estate Announcements PUBLISHER’S NOTICEing in this newspaper israce, color, religion, sex, or national origin, or an in-This newspaper will notRentals TIMESHARE CANCELLATION EXPERTS. Automotive 24/7 LOCKSMITH: WeClasses/ Instruction ONLINE PHARMACY TECHNICIAN TRAININGEntertainment DIRECTV SATELLITE Now For The Most Sports Home Improvement PEST CONTROL: PRO-237-1199 WATER DAMAGE CLEANUP & RESTORATION:BCI - WALK-IN TUBS. BCI Walk In Tubs are now on SALE! Be one of the consultation. DON’T PAY FOR COVEREDMAJOR SYSTEMS AND APPLIANCES. 30 DAY POPULAR PLANS CallSECURE YOUR HOME REPLACEMENT WINDOWS.-Maintenance Free. Free WINDOWS HatteraswinREPLACE YOUR ROOFELIMINATE GUTTER CLEANING FOREVER!ule a FREE LeafFilter es-Legal, Financial and Tax SAVE YOUR HOME!3269 SAVE BIG ON HOME INSURANCE!panies. Get a quote within Central) $10K+ IN DEBT? Call National Debt Relief Wanted to Buy BUYING FRESH PEELED POPLAR BARK * commun 2022 S the Nat “(My loc e erwans cen * tat oss the United S ities acr f 1,000 participants y oeurv ssociatioAspaperwional Ne orms me” in fspaper) in w al ne es/Applies” to the state Ye ed “Y who f adults tage o t es. omfr sn’ emen N NEWSPAPERPOWER Print, Dig NEWSPAPER POWER ital & Social Solutions for our advertisers. Great Smokies STORAGE LLC 10x10 and 10x12 units now ready to rent at Canton location! Can at now r a nton locatio ren un on! nt nits ORST Sm L L AGE mokies LC g reatsmo k C all 828.50 6 21HollonCoveR Champion D 34 4 iesstorag e 1 12 .4 WaynesvilleN Rd C rive, Canton, N .com C28786 N 21 Hollon Cove R , Waynesville , C 28786
May 15-21, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 40
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