Smoky Mountain News | June 26, 2024

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Study counts Western NC elk population Page 30

On the Cover:

As the country gears up for one of its most patriotic, festive holidays, counties and towns across Western North Carolina are preparing for their own events and parties. Check inside as the Smoky Mountain News brings a comprehensive round-up of events taking place across the newspaper’s coverage area. (Page 22) Jackson County Tourism Development Authority photo


Sylva to create economic development board............................................................4

Despite challenges, no tax increase in Canton budget............................................5

Haywood reappraisal will bring huge numbers, huge choices..............................6

Public safety, personnel costs push Waynesville tax increase ..............................7

Swain County commissioner expelled from meeting................................................8

All lanes of I-40 in Pigeon River Gorge now open....................................................9

Old Edwards Inn changes ownership........................................................................10

EBCI reveals census results..........................................................................................11

Free opioid overdose kits available in three Haywood locations........................14

Haywood County’s inaugural Pride festival kicks off this weekend....................16


Let’s get real about ‘school choice’..............................................................................20

Stop spending on illegal immigrants............................................................................21

Reflections on lessons learned at Bonnaroo............................................................25 Great American Bash comes to Waynesville............................................................26


DNA study yields new estimate of Smoky Mountain elk population..................30 Notes from a plant nerd: Orchidaceous! ..................................................................34



Maddie Woodard. .

C LASSIFIEDS: Scott Collier. . . . . .

N EWS E DITOR: Kyle Perrotti. . .

WRITING: Hannah McLeod. .

Cory Vaillancourt. .

Garret K. Woodward. .


D ISTRIBUTION: Scott Collier. .


C ONTRIBUTING: Jeff Minick (writing), Susanna Shetley (writing), Adam Bigelow (writing), Thomas Crowe (writing)


WAYNESVILLE | 144 Montgomery, Waynesville, NC 28786

SYLVA | 629 West Main Street, Sylva, NC 28779

P: 828.452.4251 | F: 828.452.3585

I NFO & B ILLING | P.O. Box 629, Waynesville, NC 28786



Sylva to create economic development board

The Town of Sylva is looking to create an economic development board made up of business owners outside the downtown area after Mayor Johnny Phillips presented the idea to Sylva commissioners earlier this month.

“I’d like to do this economic development board, people to make recommendations to the full board, from successful businesspeople here in town,” said Phillips when he presented the plan at the June 13 town board meeting.

Phillips envisions a five-member board made up of business owners that do not live in the Town of Sylva, who own a business in Sylva, but not within the Main Street corridor. Businesses in the Main Street portion of Sylva, Phillips pointed out, have representation with the town government through the Main Street Sylva Association.

“It gives business owners that do not live in the city limits a way to have a voice with our town in a way that isn’t just paying taxes,” said Phillips.

According to Phillips, all five members of the economic development board would be appointed by Sylva Town Council, and those board members would then elect their own chairman. Anyone who wished to be a part of the board would apply in a similar manner to other town boards.

Phillips also said that in order to avoid ever having a completely new board, two of the original appointments would be for a one-year term, and three would be for threeyear terms. Board members would then be appointed on a staggered basis.

The board, as currently envisioned, would only include and represent business outside of the downtown area.

“I didn’t even want to include Main Street in this, and I didn’t want to appoint anybody from Main Street because they have the Main Street [Sylva] Association,” said Phillips. “But the businesses off of Main Street don’t have any way to have any voice, and I also think some successful businesspeople sitting down in a room together might come up with some ideas that might be of great help to us.”

“Especially with the N.C. 107 project,” said Commissioner Blitz Estridge.

Phillips did say that even though the board would be made up of business owners who don’t live in Sylva, it would be restricted to local business owners that live in Jackson County.

“I think this would give a great opportunity to hear from business owners that have nothing, other than paying taxes,” said Commissioner Mark Jones. “It actually gives us a little more information. It’s kind of like

Sylva town board can consider for approval at a future meeting.

“I generally like the idea. I’m just curious about the dynamic between Main Street businesses and non-Main Street businesses,” said Commissioner Brad Waldrop. “I bring that up because it seems like a little bit of duplicity there between the two organizations, because both are made to represent businesses more or less.”

In the fiscal year 2023-24 budget, Sylva commissioners approved a one-cent tax

Economic Vitality Committee to oversee economic development activities downtown. The job of the Economic Vitality Committee is to identify new market opportunities for the traditional commercial district, find new uses for historic commercial buildings and stimulate investment in property.

“Businesses downtown have the downtown association that they can all be members of,” said Phillips. “Those businesses off of Main Street don’t have that option.”

Town staff are still in the process of for-

“It gives business owners that do not live in the city limits a way to have a voice with our town in a way that isn’t just paying taxes.”

the military or the police, the more boots you put on the ground, the better off you are. This could open up some fantastic ideas.”

Phillips sought consensus from the board at the June 13 meeting to allow staff to work on creating bylaws for the board that the

— Johnny Phillips

increase to pay for a full-time economic development director position. This transitioned the Main Street Sylva Association director from part-time to full-time, with expanded responsibilities, and was one of the board’s top budget priorities.

The Main Street Sylva Association has an

mulating bylaws for the proposed board, which will have to be considered and approved by Sylva commissioners at a future meeting.

“We’ve got a great number of successful business owners here that are really what make our town, that really have no say in anything but what date they mail a check to the town,” said Phillips. “I just think it’s a way to give those folks a voice, I think they’re all successful businesspeople, and I think they care as much about trying to help our town redevelop and get back to where we were before we had 42 buildings torn down. I think they can be a help to us.”

Sylva Town Council will likely appoint the members of the economic development board.
Hannah McLeod photo

Despite challenges, no tax increase in Canton budget

Afull year after one of the county’s largest employers — the Pactiv Evergreen paper mill, in downtown Canton — shut its doors, Canton’s governing board adopted a conservative budget for fiscal year 2024-25 that contains no property tax increase.

will continue its streak of not raising the property tax rate since 2007.

The town did, however, increase water and sewer rates for both inside and outside customers, and instituted a $30 vehicle registration fee that will go a long way towards improving the condition of Canton’s roads.

Canton’s property tax rate of 54 cents per $100 in assessed value remains the highest among all Haywood County municipalities, but the new budget ensures that the town

To balance the budget, the town used a substantial chunk, $1.34 million, of a $4 million direct allocation from the General Assembly specifically appropriated to the town to plug budget holes attributable to Pactiv’s departure.

Pactiv was the most recent owner of the 115year-old paper mill, until it closed in June 2023, throwing roughly a thousand employees out of work. Last month, a letter of intent to purchase the property was submitted by Spirtas Worldwide, a St. Louis-based demolition and development firm. Spirtas remains in the due diligence period, at the culmination of which it may or may not elect to purchase the property, or parts of it.

Nantahala Health Foundation launches grant cycle

to benefit youth

Nantahala Health Foundation will launch its next competitive grant opportunity on July 1 with a focus on investing in educational, healthcare and workforce programs that benefit youth and young adults, ages 5 to 24.

Among the things some children and young adults need to thrive are a sense of belonging and community, healthy relationships that surround and support them, access to quality healthcare and schools and, as they move into adulthood, job opportunities that ensure they can provide for themselves and their families later in life.

Since 2019, the foundation has been working to improve health and well-being for everyone, said Executive Director Lori Bailey. This year’s focus on children and young adults marks a modest shift in the foundation’s priorities to create measurable change for good.

The foundation’s grantmaking work has invested nearly $3.5 million into regional programs over the last five years and mobilized more than $15 million for enhanced health outcomes. This latest grant cycle, which opens online July 1, is anticipated to invest up to $300,000 in additional grant dollars into the region. Award announcements are expected in December.

Though not required to apply, agency representatives are invited to attend an in-person presentation to learn more about our funding priority and application details, including how and when to apply, what criteria will be reviewed and what outcomes the foundation expects. Sessions are planned for early July in Franklin and Murphy. Registration is requested so that adequate space can be reserved for each session. Visit or call 828.634.1527 to register.

NHF is asking for public support to amplify its efforts. Fundraising for this effort has begun, with a year-end goal of $50,000 coming from individuals and business leaders who share the foundation’s values and want to be a part of improving the lives of our youngest citizens.

Donations for the FRIENDS of the Haywood County Animal Shelter appreciated.

Haywood reappraisal will bring huge numbers, huge choices

Appraisers are still in the field putting the finishing touches on the upcoming countywide property reappraisal set to take effect Jan. 1, 2025, but Haywood County commissioners are already battling misinformation about why it’s happening and what effect it could have on next year’s property tax bills.

As with most local governments, property tax revenue is Haywood County’s largest single income stream, this year accounting for 53% of the county’s $106 million general fund.

State law requires a property reappraisal at least once every eight years. Haywood County currently operates on a four-year reappraisal cycle, because it’s a more timely and accurate reflection of the true market value of the $10.2 billion of taxable property within the county. State law also requires Haywood County to conduct a reappraisal this year due to soaring real estate prices in a fast-moving market.

“We’re a subdivision of the state, the county is, so we don’t do anything that’s not in the General Assembly’s General Statutes,” said Haywood County Commission Chairman Kevin Ensley after a June 17 presentation by Tax Assessor Judy Hickman. “That’s what we’re having to do now.”

taxable property is at least 15% higher than county appraisal figures show, it must begin to conduct another revaluation.

In 2022, Haywood County’s sales ratio was 72%. In 2023, it dropped further to 63%, according to Hickman’s presentation.

That sales ratio suggests that the current assessed values are only capturing 63% of the true market value of all taxable property, which translates to an expected 37% hike, on average, in property values countywide once the revaluation is complete.

Not all taxable property in the county will see a market valuation increase of that scale.

Learn more

Haywood County’s property reappraisal process is not yet complete; however, property owners with questions about the process are encouraged to contact Haywood County Tax Assessor Judy Hickman’s office during normal business hours with questions, comments or concerns.

Address: 215 N. Main St., Suite 220, Waynesville Phone: 828.356.2754


are and how we got there, I think that helps educate everybody that’s involved in this process,” Rogers said after mentioning the calls and emails he’d received about rumors that the expected 37% increase in property tax values automatically means homeowners’ property tax bills will be 37% larger next year.

Each quarter, the county must file with the North Carolina Department of Revenue a sales ratio report that reflects the sale prices of real property since the last reappraisal, which in this case took effect in January 2021.

For example, if a home was appraised at $250,000 in 2021 but sold later that year for $500,000, the new homeowner would not be paying their fair share of property taxes until 2025, when the reappraisal process revalues the property closer to its true market value of $500,000.

In essence, the threshold also reflects how much of the true market value of all real property the county taxes. On the day the previous revaluation took effect, the sales ratio was at 100% because all properties were being taxed at 100% of their true market value as of that day. But as soon as one property sells for more than its county-appraised value, that ratio starts to go down.

The DOR says that any time a county drops below an 85% sales ratio threshold, meaning the true market value of all

Request a presentation

Haywood County Commission Chairman Kevin Ensley wants the county’s reappraisal process to be as transparent as possible, and wants property owners to be informed as possible. During the June 17 commission meeting, Ensley said he’d be happy to make county staff available to deliver presentations on the reappraisal — what it is, what it does and what to expect — to community groups, neighborhood associations or other gatherings. To request a presentation by county staff, call 828.356.2754 or email

Differences in individual parcels of property — location, size, quality — play the biggest role, along with statistics showing the sales price of comparable properties. Ultimately, market value is determined not by the tax assessor or county commissioners but instead by arm’s-length transactions facilitated mostly by real estate agents between willing buyers and sellers. Some properties will see little or no increase in market value. Others, in theory, may actually lose market value.

Commissioner Jennifer Best told Hickman that it was important for people to hear that the 37% increase in market value is not “across the board.”

But examples provided by Hickman during her presentation do show some massive increases in recent sales prices of individual homes all over the county — including one luxury Waynesville home recently sold for $976,000 but taxed at $413,400 — that lend credence to the escalating values.

Further proof of the county’s market value growth can be found in the monthly email updates from Canopy MLS, the property listing service used by realtors in Haywood County.

In December 2020, before the last reappraisal took effect, the median sales price of a home in Haywood County was $263,500, the average sales price was $329,959 and the average list price was $331,717.

In April 2024, the last month for which real estate data from Canopy was available, the median sales price had grown to $365,000, the average sales price was $413,000 and the average list price was $494,044.

Commissioner Brandon Rogers thanked Hickman for her presentation.

“A lot of misinformation floats around, and for you to come out and share the details and the facts about where we

Commissioner Tommy Long has been getting the same calls and emails.

“As Commissioner Rogers said, we get blamed for a lot of things that’s just not real,” Long said. “Somebody started with one that said that our taxes are going up 37% and that went like wildfire. Somebody was misinformed and spreading misinformation.”

The confusion stems from a lack of awareness as to how property tax bills are calculated. The tax rate, 55 cents per $100, is multiplied by the assessed value of the property to come up with the amount of property tax due each year.

With every new annual budget, local governments raise or lower the tax rate, or leave it the same, but they don’t establish the assessed values — the market does.

If assessed values go up 37% but the tax 55-cent rate stays the same, the tax collector would of course receive 37% more revenue; however, that’s most assuredly not going to happen.

Instead, commissioners will address the one thing they can control — the tax rate. By adjusting the rate downward, the county could raise the same amount of money with a lower tax rate multiplied by the higher assessed values. That new lower tax rate is called a “revenue neutral” tax rate, because it neither increases nor decreases the amount of revenue collected.

“We have the option of going revenue-neutral, which folks will be paying the same amount if we do that,” Rogers said. “A lot of people don’t understand that. They think that because their valuation is going up, their price is going up, they’re going to pay more taxes. That’ll be a decision we make next year and if we decide to go revenue neutral, of course they’ll pay the same.”

It’s not a new scenario for commissioners. During the 2021 revaluation, Hickman told commissioners that she expected a substantial increase in assessed values. When that increase came through at an average of 17%, commissioners cut the tax rate by a nickel, from 58.5 cents to 53.5 cents.

Although the revenue-neutral rate that year was 50.7 cents, commissioners voted 3-2 to adopt the budget at 53.5 cents, due to ongoing spending needs. Current commissioners Rogers and Best voted against that budget. Commissioners Long, Ensley and Kirk Kirkpatrick voted in favor.

The county’s revaluation will also affect property owners who live in municipalities that impose their own additional property taxes, like

Public safety, personnel costs push Waynesville tax increase

In the second split budget vote in the last four years, Waynesville’s Town Council approved a property tax hike of 3.98 cents to address mounting capital needs and maintain competitive employee compensation packages meant to reduce costly turnover.

“There are things we need, and I’m differentiating between wants [and] needs that are essential to maintaining the high level of service this community deserves,” said Council Member Jon Feichter during a June 11 meeting. “The amount of revenue that we receive under the current tax rate is insufficient to pay for the things that are essential.”

town provides. Another big chunk of the tax increase is devoted to hiring four more firefighters — a process that began in 2016. Mayor Gary Caldwell was adamant that the town move forward with bolstering the fire department’s roster.

Council Member Julia Freeman, Council’s lone Republican, expressed support for some of the budget items and said she would have supported an increase of up to 2.5 cents, but as the proposed budget was well above that level, she said she wouldn’t be voting for the budget.

Chuck Dickson, perceived as one of Council’s more liberal members, has counterintuitively become its greatest anti-tax advocate.

“There are things we need, and I’m differentiating between wants [and] needs that are essential to maintaining the high level of service this community deserves. The amount of revenue that we receive under the current tax rate is insufficient to pay for the things that are essential.”
— Jon Feichter, Waynesville Town Council

Next year, Haywood County’s state-mandated property reappraisal will be complete. On June 17, Haywood County Tax Assessor Judy Hickman presented commissioners with an update on the process, telling them to expect another double-digit percentage increase in the true market value of all properties in the county, which could average up to 37%.

That will put Waynesville right where it was in 2021, with another budgeting choice — go revenue-neutral by cutting the property tax rate to a level that will generate the same amount of money as this year’s tax rate or stay slightly above revenue-neutral to increase general fund revenues to pay for the town’s long list of needs.

Feichter explained that there are only two ways to solve that problem — raise taxes, or rein in spending. He expressed confidence in staff’s efforts to cut costs, leaving only one solution. The amount of the proposed increase, however, left Council divided.

Council Member Anthony Sutton continued to push for higher starting salaries for police officers. Currently, it’s about $42,000. Council proposed $47,000. Sutton wanted $48,000. Feichter wanted even more.

“I do struggle with what it will take to get there this year. In the short term, we should be shooting for $49,000,” Feichter said, adding that he’d be comfortable with an increase somewhere above $47,000 with the express understanding that next year Council would aim for $49,000.

Over the past year, the Waynesville Police Department lost three officers to the Haywood County Sheriff’s office, one to the Sylva Police Department, one to Asheville and another to the probation and parole department. Feichter explained that it costs 1.5 times an officer’s annual salary to replace an officer.

The town currently spends more than 70% of its general fund revenue on the personnel who provide the services the

Canton, Clyde, Maggie Valley and Waynesville, meaning elected officials in those jurisdictions will also have to figure out whether they can afford to go revenue neutral next year or will keep some of the largesse for spending needs.

Waynesville in particular found itself in quite a fight in 2021. The town’s tax rate had been 49.57 cents, but in light of increasing property values, the revenue neutral tax rate became 41.27 cents after the reappraisal. The recommended budget, however, listed 45.45 cents as the preferred tax rate.

Council members Jon Feichter and Chuck Dickson opposed the recommended budget’s proposed tax rate and subsequently voted against the final budget, which ended up with a 43.92-cent rate (see WAYNESVILLE, p.7).

The Town of Canton did the same thing after its 2021 revaluation. Previously, the tax rate had been 58 cents. The revenue-neutral rate was 50 cents. The governing board settled on 54 cents.

Maggie Valley followed suit. In 2021, the town lowered the tax rate from 43 cents to 40 cents, although the revenue-neutral rate was 38 cents.

The new values will take effect on Jan. 1, 2025. Property tax bills will be mailed later that year, around August.

After property reappraisal values spiked in 2021, Waynesville was faced with a budgeting choice. At the time, the property tax rate was 49.57 cents, with the revenue-neutral rate around 41.27 cents. The proposed budget was 45.45 cents, which through debate was whittled down to 43.92 cents and passed. Dickson, along with Feichter, voted against that budget; although the property tax rate was cut from 49.57 cents to 43.92 cents, some property owners saw higher tax bills due to the increased property values — essentially, a tax increase.

“I’ve said how I feel about this several times,” Dickson said during the June 11 budget discussion. “We’re raising electric rates on our customers by 7%. That’s a lot of money. We’re assessing a stormwater fee, and again the low- and middle-income folks, the folks on fixed incomes, the folks that really can’t afford this tax increase are the ones that are going to be paying for this. I can afford it, we can all afford it here, but there’s plenty of people in the town that can’t afford this and I would rather wait until next year with the revaluation year. Some of the property values might go up on the commercial properties and things might stabilize a little better so that we could do what we need to do without raising taxes.”

At the end of the discussion, Caldwell, Feichter and Sutton had coalesced around an increase of 3.78 cents, to 47.7 cents, but Feichter pushed Council to increase it slightly, in order to put an end to complaints about an unusual issue — the shabby state of the town’s trash cans.

The late addition to the proposed rate, two-tenths of one cent, will generate roughly $30,000 for the town and cost the average homeowner with a $250,000 house an additional $5 per year.

Caldwell, Feichter and Sutton voted for the budget, which contrary to incorrect reporting in The Waynesville Mountaineer did not contain a 4-cent increase, but instead the 3.98 cents agreed to by the majority of Council. Dickson and Freeman voted no.

Most of the region’s local governments have already passed their 2024-25 budgets — most of them without a tax increase, despite inflationary pressures and lingering supply chain issues that arose during the Coronavirus Pandemic. In North Carolina, fiscal year budgets run from July 1 to June 30.

Swain County commissioner expelled from meeting

As seen here, David Loftis, far

was present prior to the closed session, but was absent once commissioners returned and video resumed. From YouTube

Following a heated exchange with another county commissioner during a closed session, Swain County

Commissioner David Loftis was expelled from the board’s June 18 meeting.

While closed sessions are typically not accessible to the public, the incident that led to the expulsion was captured by a microphone that apparently was accidentally left on while the board discussed a newly created animal control officer position.

In the minute leading up to the verbal altercation, voices can be heard discussing

Swain County raises taxes


Swain County will be raising its tax rate for the first time in 11 years in fiscal year 2024-25. Commissioners passed the ordinance in a 3-2 vote with commissioners David Loftis and Kenneth Parton against. “A bigger government and more spending is not going to solve our problem,” said

problems with snakes on properties, presumably discussing how an animal control officer may handle that situation. In the background a couple of voices grow louder and suddenly a woman is heard saying in a calm tone, “we need law enforcement now.”

Within seconds, a man’s voice can be heard saying, “I will beat your butt.”

“Don’t you ever stick your nose into something I’m doing,” the voice continues.

A few seconds later, the audio cuts off for about a half hour before the board — minus Loftis — returned to announce no decisions were made during the closed session.

In a June 24 interview with The Smoky

Loftis. “It’s never solved [them], it creates bigger ones.”

The tax rate will be raised to $0.41 cents per $100 of assessed property value, resulting in an additional $900,000 revenue. Previously, the rate was $0.36 cents, the second lowest in North Carolina behind Macon County. The increase will go toward needs in the county’s school system and employee salaries.

According to Lottie Barker, Interim County Manager, 30% of the increase, about $270,000, will go toward schools while the

Mountain News, Loftis admitted that he’d been expelled from the meeting but that there were no charges following the incident. While he wouldn’t say who he was angry at because the altercation occurred during a closed session, he did admit that the issue being debated was the animal control officer position.

When asked whether he was concerned about any kind of sanction from his fellow board members, Loftis stated his opinion bluntly.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t care what they do,” he said. “A bunch of crooks in my opinion.”

remaining $630,000 will go toward raises for employees. Raises for those employees will be determined by how many years they’ve worked in their respective departments.

The increase is important to Swain County as their budget is heavily handicapped by federally owned land that cannot be taxed. Between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Nantahala National Forest and the Qualla Boundary, less than 25% of Swain County’s land can be taxed by the county.


Contract crews for the North Carolina Department of Transportation have completed major operations at two locations of Interstate 40 in the Pigeon River Gorge, allowing all four lanes to open Tuesday for the summer travel season.

Kiewit Construction operated since November with one lane closed in both directions from mile markers 18-20. The closures allowed crews to safely finish building three new structures to replace the “High Bridge” over Jonathan Creek and White Oak Road (one bridge in each direction) and the “Low Bridge” over White Oak Road in Haywood County.

Although some of the construction is complete, more is on the way. NCDOT photo

Even though major operations are complete at these locations and all lanes are open, crews will operate with occasional nighttime lane closures through the summer to complete paving and median wall construction.

These necessary replacements are part of a five-bridge project, the first of its kind in the state administered in a new method with the intent of forming a partnership between NCDOT, the contractor and the design team. The construction manager/general contractor method is designed to expedite delivery from the first step in the design phase to the last inspection. Kiewit earned the contract for $84.3 million.

Contract crews will next mobilize to begin replacing one bridge over Fines Creek Road at exit 15 and another bridge over the Pigeon River near mile marker 16. Lane closures will return this fall to expedite construction of these bridges.  Transportation officials remind drivers to plan ahead, drive alert and obey all posted signs in the Pigeon River Gorge.   For real-time travel information, visit or follow NCDOT on social media.

Old Edwards Inn changes ownership

Old Edwards Inn — the historic Highlands landmark and premier worldwide travel destination — has been sold, but little is expected to change at the level that residents, visitors or even employees will notice.

According to a press release, the Old Edwards Inn Hospitality Group, the company under which the property had been owned, was purchased by James and Jessica Whitley of Athens, Georgia. The sale was finalized on June 14, and includes all the hospitality group’s assets — Old Edwards Inn and Spa, 200 Main, Half- Mile Farm, Four65, Highlands Burrito, Old Edwards Club, GlenCove, and Norton Ridge.

Williams. “Only when the Whitleys came to us did we believe we could hand it off with full confidence our friends and guests and members would continue to experience Old Edwards hospitality at the same level of excellence.”

According to the release, the Williamses have always been heavily active in Highlands, “helping to develop and grow” it from an intimate mountain vacation town into one of the most sought after areas in the South for full-time residents and those looking for an elevated, serene escape from busy lives. The couple still plans on spending time at the various Old Edwards properties with a team and membership base that has become like family over the years.

“Art and Angela have created something truly special. Anyone that has ever stepped foot in one of their properties has surely felt this,” said James Whitley. “They’ve spent the last 20 years pouring themselves into

Art and Angela,” said Jessica Whitley. “The conversation of us taking over their properties has been a long and thoughtful one on both sides. Our intention is to let this unbelievable team keep doing the same great work they’ve always done and honor the Williams family by being great stewards of the legacy they’ve spent decades building.”

Old Edwards’ President and Managing Director Richard Delany noted that while the transaction is a large change for the company itself, not a lot of change will be seen on the surface.

“Old Edwards Hospitality Group has simply changed ownership,” he said. “All staffing, operations, events, memberships, partnerships, policies, vendors, and contracts remain the same. We are all very excited about James and Jessica Whitley taking ownership and the positive momentum this represents for the future of the company.”

Likewise, in an email to The Smoky

The sale price was not disclosed.

The previous owners, Art and Angela Williams, purchased Old Edwards Inn more than 20 years ago after visiting and falling in love with the town of Highlands in their younger years. Over the last two decades, they renovated the original inn and spa, added rooms, restaurants, shops, wedding and event venues, and two golf clubs. A full hospitality group began to grow and Old Edwards Inn and Spa, as well as the Old Edwards Club, has become a beloved destination for families across America.

“As Angela and I entered our eighties (we both turned 82 in April), we began to realize we didn’t have the energy or stamina to continue owning and overseeing this amazing company. But we weren’t willing to hand it off to anyone we didn’t think we could trust to treat it like we did,” said Art

this incredible place — ensuring that every guest and member feels truly taken care of — and setting a bar for hospitality that is studied by hotels, restaurants, and private clubs all over the country.”

James Whitley is the co-founder and COO of Athens-based Landmark Properties, and he has been involved in the orchestration, design, development, construction, and management of over $4 billion worth of student housing projects across the United States. Jessica Whitley is the Creative Director of Jessica Whitley Studio and leads the design across all the family’s projects, including their recently opened boutique hotel in Athens, Rivet House. The couple also owns The Reserve at Lake Keowee, a private, mountain and lake club in Sunset, South Carolina.

“We had an immediate connection with

Mountain News, Highlands Chamber of Commerce/Visit Highlands Executive Director Kay McHan said there will be no noticeable affect on that organization’s operations or the local economy, stating it will be “business as usual.” McHan, however, did take some time to thank the Williamses for their contributions to the town, its economy and its culture.

“Art and Angela Williams were pivotal in elevating Highlands from a seasonal mountain town to a much sought-after year-round destination,” she said. “We support their decision to pass the torch of Old Edwards Hospitality to James and Jessica Whitley of Athens, Georgia. While ownership has changed, the commitment to exceptional service standards and deep community involvement will remain steadfast, ensuring Highlands continues to thrive.”

Old Edwards Inn is the oldest building in Highlands. Garret K. Woodward photo

EBCI reveals census results

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Census results have been finalized for the first time in over two decades.

During the June 5 reports to Tribal Council, EBCI Public Health and Human Services Director Anita Lossiah, who headed up the census project, presented the results. First, she had praise for the team that took on the tall task.

“It took a lot of people to implement this census process,” she said.

Unlike the U.S. Census, which is mailed to individual homes in addition to being accessible online, the EBCI Census was administered solely online. In a Smoky Mountain News story published last year, Lossiah said her team was not doing any door-todoor outreach to connect people with resources to complete the census but has been working to get the message out on multiple channels. Census information was included on GenWell and per capita checks, was published in the Cherokee One Feather and is available on tribal government web and social media pages. In addition, a $100 incentive was provided to participants.

Losiah noted during the June 5 meeting that the census, administered last year, generated a strong participation rate. She called it “very successful,” adding that of the 11,513 enrolled adult members, 56% participated.

new resolution authorizing the census to be carried out electronically.

The results will be used to determine the weighted votes for council members based on the populations of the communities represented. Voting outcomes on the 12-person Tribal Council are calculated using a weighted voting system, with the value of each member’s vote ranging from six to 12, depending on the population of the community they represent.

Along with complying with tribal law and determining the weighted vote, the census also collected a wide array of data, including members’ housing situations, health, personal priorities and even

Along with complying with tribal law and determining the weighted vote, the census also collected a wide array of data, including members’ housing situations, health, personal priorities and even Cherokee language proficiency.

The EBCI Charter and Governing Document dictates that the census must be administered every 10 years; however, it was last completed in 2001. Tribal Council authorized a census to be conducted in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017, but the tribal government failed to meet the deadline for requirements to secure federal help. The U.S. Census in 2020, coupled with the pandemic, prevented the Census Bureau from becoming involved after that point. In December 2022, Tribal Council passed a

Cherokee language proficiency.

Following Losiah’s presentation, council reps appeared to be pleased with her team’s effort, and Chairman Mike Parker noted that he’d like to see action taken based on some of the results; for example, he hoped to see more outreach to people who may be experiencing housing or food insecurity.

The full census results are available at


Potential SCC scanning day would explore campus history

Southwestern Community College (SCC), a crucial Western North Carolina educational institute since 1964, is exploring the possibility of hosting a scanning day. This event aims to create a comprehensive digital archive of SCC’s rich history.

SCC is looking for anyone that has old photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, memorabilia, or any document related to SCC. Any scanned information will be posted online and made accessible to the public. Visit to see SCC’s digital collection.

Personal items relevant to the history of Western North Carolina, even if unrelated to SCC, are also welcome. If enough interest is

SCC recognizes OTA graduates

The newest members of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program recently celebrated their completion of Southwestern Community College’s program with family and friends at SCC’s Jackson Campus.

generated, the scanning day will take place in February at one or more of SCC’s locations in its service area of Jackson, Macon and Swain Counties.

The scanning day would involve staff helping scan all documents into the online archive. Donated materials can be brought to the location, or a pickup service may be provided.

Norrie Meus, SCC History Instructor, said, “This is a great opportunity to have an accessible record of the ways SCC has contributed to the community since it opened.”

To learn more or sign up for scanning day at SCC, visit the “Latest News” section of

Sarah Jane Blackburn and Abigail Plemmons of Waynesville, Marissa Dean of Canton and Jessica Koch of Franklin completed two years of intensive classroom studies and clinical experiences, and a pinning ceremony was held in their honor on May 15.

“In our profession, we have the opportunity to help individuals gain — or re-gain — mobility and independence,” said Anna Walls, Southwestern’s OTA Program Coordinator. “It’s an extremely fulfilling career, and all four of these young ladies are going to be wonderful representatives of SCC and our program.”

For more information about SCC and it’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program, contact Walls at 828.339.4334 or, or visit

This photo of Southwestern’s campus in 1971 compared to the campus in 2024. Donated photos

Free opioid overdose kits available in three Haywood locations

Most people don’t realize that some accidental opioid overdoses are reversible with the quick administration of an opioid antagonist called naloxone, commonly found as a nasal spray and sold under the brand name of Narcan.

Narcan is safe, quick and easy to use — even by those with no training — and could give a person in distress good odds of surviving an overdose and a chance at recovery.

A local substance abuse awareness nonprofit, the SHARE Project, recently installed its third Overdose Aid Kit (OAK) in Haywood County. SHARE was started in late 2019 by two Haywood County moms, Lisa Falbo and Michele Rogers, after their sons Sam and Clay, respectively, died from overdoses.

The first OAK was installed about a year ago near the Friendship House at First United Methodist Church, in a parking lot off Haywood Street in Waynesville.

The second was installed four months ago in front of Pisgah Recovery Services, on South Main Street in

The newest OAK was just installed in front of the Behavioral Health Group office at 414 Hospital Drive, in Clyde.

Each OAK, a large metal box, is stocked with a dozen boxes of free Narcan and fentanyl test strips, along with resources to help persons with substance abuse disorder find help treating and beating their addiction.

Narcan is sold over the counter in most major pharmacies but can cost $50 or more. It can be stored safely for several years according to the National Institutes of Health, but conventional usage strongly suggests that it remains safe and effective for long past the expiration date.

It’s also relatively harmless to people not using opioids, so in the event an overdose is suspected but not actually occurring, the administration of Narcan won’t harm a person otherwise in distress.

The goal of SHARE is to install more OAKs in more locations around the county. The group is still searching for sites — especially in the eastern end of the county.

Rogers said that SHARE has restocked the first two OAKs a few times, meaning the Narcan is making its way into the hands of people who might use it to save a life.

Additionally, every Waynesville Police Department patrol vehicle has Narcan.

In 2017, the General Assembly adopted the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act, which was vigorously championed by then-Western

General Josh

Among other things, the STOP Act authorized the distribution and application of opioid antagonists like Narcan by laypersons, also holding them immune from criminal or civil liability for doing so.

For more information on the SHARE Project, visit


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North Carolina Sen. Jim Davis (R-Macon) and current Attorney
Metal boxes like these contain lifesaving help for opioid overdoses. Michele Rogers photo

Haywood’s inaugural Pride festival kicks off

Raymond Valentine has seen a lot of things in his long life, but after 80 years he doesn’t have to wait much longer to see a Pride festival in the rugged Appalachian county where he’s lived nearly his entire life.

“I never thought I’d see it in my own home town,” Raymond said.

Born in Maggie Valley, Raymond and his brothers were a rough-and-tumble crew who spent their days fishing, hunting and tooling around the woods when they weren’t helping their mother take care of the farm. Growing up in Western North Carolina during the 1950s, they were pretty typical boys, but Raymond’s mother always knew he was somehow different.

After graduating from Western Carolina University, Raymond earned his master’s degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and then spent some time overseas, teaching English at military bases in Germany in the early 1970s. He returned to Haywood County and began a decades-long career that earned him at least one Teacher of the Year award.

“He was revered as an educator,” said Raymond’s niece, Lori Valentine, who lived with him for several years in the late 1980s. “He would even get letters from time to time from ex-students, thanking him for his creative ways of teaching and just how he capti-

vated his children. He was constantly looking for ways to intrigue them and to inspire them to learn.”

All the while, Raymond had to shield his

A host of Pride events are scheduled for this coming weekend. File photo

had to really keep his lifestyle under wraps. He couldn’t be true to himself.”

At the same time, Lori described Raymond as “fearless.”

true self from a society that still considered homosexuality a mental illness.

“It was grueling for him,” Lori said. “He

Once, Lori recalls, while weeding the elaborate gardens of dinner-plate dahlias outside her uncle’s home, a car full of

teenage boys drove by, slowing just enough to spew expletives at them. Raymond and his partner, a Marine, didn’t cower; they hopped in their car and tried to chase the boys down.

“It hurt him, you know? It hurt them both,” she said. “We’re talking about physically and mentally strong people that had to pretend they were people they weren’t for many years. For most of their lives.”

By the early 1960s, the 40year-old LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States finally began to score some important victories that affirmed basic rights, like free speech, freedom of association, even the freedom to be served drinks at a bar.

The movement’s watershed moment, however, was a 1969 riot at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Police had raided the popular gay bar around 1 a.m., leading to three days of protests and conflict with police.

The 1970s saw similar milestones — the first Pride parade, the first openly gay elected official, the first time the American Psychiatric Association did not list homosex- F

Want to go?

Haywood County’s first LGBTQ+ Pride festival will take place in Waynesville and other locations on the weekend of June 28. For more information, visit

Friday, June 28

n 8 p.m.

Live music featuring Savannah Paige

The Water’n Hole Bar and Grill, 796 N, Main St., Waynesville

n 9 p.m.

Pride dance party

The Water’n Hole Bar and Grill, 796 N. Main St., Waynesville

Saturday, June 29

n 10 a.m.

Speeches by community leaders

Historic Haywood County Courthouse, 285 N. Main St., Waynesville

n 10:30 a.m.

Parade kickoff

n 11 a.m.

Festival opens on Commerce Street in Frog Level

n 11 a.m.

Rhythm and Flow Community Drum Circle with Waynesville Bellydance

n Noon

Urban Combat Wrestling

n Noon

Live Canvas Art with Bobbi Silverwood

n 12:30 p.m.

Kim Smith Music

n 2 p.m.

Arnold Hill Music

n 4 p.m.

Festival closes n 7 p.m.

Glam & Glitz: A Drag Affair

The Lineside, 58 Commerce St., Waynesville n 10 p.m.

Post-show drinks at Amici’s Italian Restaurant 454 Hazelwood Ave., Waynesville

Sunday, June 30

n Noon

BYOGB (Bring Your Own Garlic Bread)

Misfit Mountain Animal Rescue, 922

Incinerator Road Clyde

uality as a mental illness — as well as a generally more relaxed attitude towards LGBTQ+ community than had prevailed at any time prior.

But then came the 1980s and a new wave of backlash against the LGBTQ+ community due to ignorance and misconceptions surrounding an infectious disease no one had ever heard of before.

“The bumper stickers on cars in Haywood County, I remember seeing them more than once, said ‘AIDS cures gays,’” Lori said. “His friends were dropping like flies.”

Raymond’s partner was one of them.

At the time, President Ronald Reagan was criticized for not doing more to address the AIDS epidemic — a silent symbol of society’s continuing reluctance to address challenges in the LGBTQ+ community.

His successor, former Vice President George H. W. Bush, signed the Ryan White CARE act in 1990, creating the largest federally funded program for people living with HIV or AIDS, but a few years later, the Department of Defense’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy still seemed like only a partial victory for LGBTQ+ advocates.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act was also seen as a tremendous letdown for marriage equality; basically, it said that no state could be required to recognize a marriage between same-sex spouses. When that law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, it marked perhaps the greatest civil rights victory ever for the LGBTQ+ community and paved the way for the marriage equality enjoyed by Americans today.

Raymond has lived through all of those consequential moments, but for him, maybe the biggest will come when the inaugural Haywood Pride on Main festival kicks off on Friday, June 28 — the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall riot.

“I’m happy with the progress,” Raymond said, “but it was decades too late.”

The significance of that sentiment wasn’t lost on event organizer Tera McIntosh.

“Many folks here in the South and in Appalachia have hidden their identities, because of fear, because of not knowing what the outcome would be, because of their families, because of their jobs,” McIntosh said. “I think just being the first Pride it creates a space for us to come together, and it also shows the community what businesses, individuals, organizations and groups are inclusive. That lets them make informed decisions on where they want to spend their money, their dollars, their time.”

Judging by the community response to the event, there’s been plenty of enthusiasm; Haywood Pride on Main is sponsored by individual donors along with more than 30 local and regional businesses. One of them has a story strikingly similar to Raymond’s.

“One of our largest donors asked to remain anonymous,” said McIntosh. “They stated that they never thought they would see a Pride festival in Haywood County, and they wanted to give back to the community even though they don’t live here anymore because they were so moved by it happening this year.”

The festival starts with bar events on Friday night. On Saturday morning, it begins with speeches on the Historic Haywood County Courthouse lawn, including by not one but two local trailblazers.

Anthony Sutton is currently serving his second term as Waynesville’s first openly gay member of Town Council. Amy Russell became Clyde’s first and Haywood County’s second openly gay elected official last November. Russell said she was honored to be part of Haywood County’s first Pride.

“We are hoping that our county, as well as people from surrounding counties, will come out and support the many attendees and vendors in a positive and respectful manner,” she said.

Sponsors and volunteers are still being accepted for the festival. For more information, visit

Community Almanac

Vecinos receives SECU Foundation grant

SECU Foundation recently awarded a $1.6 million grant to Vecinos for a new medical center and human services hub in Macon Count groundbreaking kicked off the initiative to bring greater access to healthcare and supportive services for low-income and uninsured adults in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties.

Challenged by the lack of urban centers and healthcare professionals in the region, Vecinos works with partner organizations to provide quality integrated primary healthcare services using mobile clinics and outreach programs. The new healthcare hub will increase its capacity to add 2,000 clinical patients in the first year and 1,000 clients through its partnerships.

“Vecinos is deeply moved by the support of SECU Foundation and the members of State Employees’ Credit Union across North Carolina,” said Vecinos CEO Marianne Rupp Martinez. “The SECU Community Health Hub is an embodiment of the credit union People Helping People philosophy by providing desperately needed services in an extremely underserved region to those most in need. The Foundation’s support to actualize this project is both meaningful and deeply impactful to the landscape of healthcare in Western North

Vecinos CEO Marianne Rupp Martinez (left to right) with SECU Foundation representatives Jama Campbell, executive director, Chris Ayers, board chair, Parker Patterson, senior grants officer and Scott Southern, director of grants administration. Donated photo

Haywood Farm Bureau awards scholarships

Established more than 20 years ago, the Haywood County Farm Bureau scholarship program assists graduating seniors who have a financial need as well as a demonstrated history of community service with the cost of obtaining a college education. Recently, the Farm Bureau awarded scholarships to four students — Emily Ferguson, Taylor Sollie, Jacob Mills and Rylee Shoaf. To be eligible, students must be residents of Haywood County and graduating seniors currently enrolled in a Haywood County high school or in a two or four-year post-secondary school with a GPA of at least 2.5.Students must also be studying some form of agriculture, such as agri-business, environmental engineering, food science, beef cattle or dairy farming, agriculture education, horticulture, landscape architecture, soil science, agriculture technology, ag-mechanic technician, animal science, farm and ranch management, forestry, agriculture journalism, ag-safety and health, agriculture resource management or other related fields of agricultural study. Haywood County Farm Bureau members or their children are given first consideration. Scholarships may be renewed annually, contingent upon funds available, continued

post-secondary enrollment and the student’s good standing as confirmed by a transcript of the previous year’s work. To learn more about the Haywood County Farm Bureau or the scholarship program, contact North Carolina Farm Bureau County Liaison Mandy Stasi at

FUR hosts ‘Wet your Whiskers’ fundraiser

Haywood County’s Feline Urgent Rescue’s (FUR) seventh-annual “Wet Your Whiskers” fundraiser will be held Saturday, June 29, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Wells Event Center at 33 Events Center Way in Waynesville.

The event is a wine/beer tasting fundraiser with an appetizer and dessert buffet. All proceeds benefit FUR of Western North Carolina, a non-profit dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of abused, abandoned and neglected cats in Western North Carolina. Wine and appetizers are being catered by Bosu’s Wine Shop and beer is being donated by Boojum and Frog Level Brewing.

The event also includes a raffle and silent auction. Notably, the group has been selling tickets for a quilt all year. The quilt was handcrafted by Jane Stoner and donated by her daughter,

Automotive, Waynesville Art School, Ingles of Canton, Sassafras Toy Store, Twigs & Leaves Gallery, Medford Tree Service, Ricci Art Studio, Champion Credit Union Bank and The Print Haus.

Enjoy Lake Junaluska’s recreation opportunities

Lake Junaluska’s Summer Activities Program has kicked off the season with a slate full of activities for people of all ages.

New this year is a revamped recreation area featuring bocce ball, cornhole and shuffleboard courts, plus a new sidewalk that better connects the playground to the Lake Junaluska Outfitters’ swimming pool and kayak, canoe and paddle board area.

Equipment for the new games may be rented at the Lake Junaluska Outfitters window, which is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Now in its 11th year, Lake Junaluska’s Summer Activities Program begins in late June and continues through early August.

Also, this year, the Summer Activities Program is offering the following:

• Paddle to the Cross, 8:30-9:30 a.m. Wednesdays, June 19 through Aug. 14. Paddle to the Cross from the Boat Beach for a devotional. People can bring their own boat or rent one at Lake Junaluska Outfitters. Advanced registration is required at

• Storytelling and Music Around the Campfire, 8 p.m. Thursdays, Shackford Firepit, June 27-Aug. 15. Enjoy s’mores, music and storytelling. Bring a chair.

• Summer Worship Series, 9 a.m. Sundays, June 30-Aug. 16, White Lakeside Tent. Enjoy an outdoor worship service with music with our visiting theologians-in-residence. Bring a chair

renown local artist Kaaren Stoner. Tickets for this special drawing can be purchased ahead of the event at the following Waynesville locations: Cornerstone Mercantile (190 Depot St.), The Dog House (310 N. Haywood St.) or Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery (171 Montgomery St.). Tickets will also be sold during the event, two for $5 or five for $10.

Tickets for the event are $65 per individual and grants full access to the wine, beer and appetizer and dessert buffet. Sponsorships are available at three levels, and each comes with its own set of benefits.

Haywood County hosts children’s business fair

The inaugural Acton Children’s Entrepreneur Business Fair in Haywood County will be held from 1:30-4 p.m. Saturday, July inside the Green Room next to Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville.

The event will allow young minds to display their hard work and innovations. There will also be live music by Bob the Cellist and Photography by Ilumin8.

Sponsors include Allen Tate/Beverly Hanks Realty, New York Life, Blue Mountain Chiropractic Center, Angel Nest Massage, Appalachian

• Monday Morning Devotions, 8:30 a.m. Mondays, July 1-Aug. 12, Harrell Center back balcony. Devotionals led by our visiting theologiansin-residence.

• Yoga at the Lake, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Inspiration Point, July 2, 16, 23 and 30; Aug. 6. (No class on July 9.) Participation fee. Register at

• QiGong for Energy and Vitality | Nourish Soul, Mind and Body, 10 a.m. Wednesdays and 7 p.m. Fridays, July 3-Aug. 16, outdoor lawn near Memorial Chapel. Register at

• Family Games Tournament, 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 24, shuffleboard, corn hole and bocce ball. Register online at

• Will it Float? 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, Boat Beach. Bring your best homemade, manned watercraft. No motors allowed and watercraft must float. Register online at Additionally, Lake Junaluska Outfitters rents kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, PDFs and paddles for beginning and experienced boaters. Guided cruises are offered aboard the Cherokee IV pontoon boat from 1-8 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, weather permitting.

Lake Junaluska offers lodging specials to make it easy for the whole family to stay.

For more information about Lake Junaluska’s Summer Activities Program, visit

Into the wilderness we go

When this column is published, I’ll be emerging from five days in the wilderness of Southwest Virginia. A group from First United Methodist Church of Waynesville will be participating in the Wilderness Trail experience from June 21-26. The overarching mission of the program is, “to lead backpacking faith adventures that bring teens closer to God and to each other.”

Our own kids have participated in Wilderness Trail for many years, but this will be my first time. I’ll technically be an adult chaperone, although I have no doubt the more experienced teens and young adults will be teaching me way more than I can teach them in terms of surviving in the great outdoors. With that being said, I’m hoping I can offer a little wisdom that only comes with age and living life.

I’m still not sure why I signed up, other than to say I felt called to do it. Backpacking is not totally foreign to me as I’ve done it before in my life, but it’s been close to two decades since the last time I camped in a backpacking fashion (as opposed to car camping). Additionally, it’s been a long time since I’ve done anything significantly outside my comfort zone and it felt like it was time to stretch myself. We only grow and evolve through that which challenges us.

One of the pillars of Wilderness Trail is trust. Part of their

Stop spending on illegal immigrants

To the Editor:

Amidst an unprecedented border crisis in the United States, the United Nations’ aid plan for migrants heading to the United States border is a monumental effort, encompassing cash giveaways and assistance to illegal migrants. This comprehensive migrant aid package includes financial assistance, humanitarian transportation, shelter, food, legal advice, and protection against threats like human smuggling.

According to the United Nations’ “Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan,” nearly $372 million is being allocated to assist migrants en route to the United States border in 2024. According to these documents, the plan extends its intended beneficiaries to “all nationalities” and is a cornerstone of the United Nation’s aid plan.

Specifically, in collaboration with 248 nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations is set to distribute millions of dollars through “cash and voucher assistance” and “multipurpose cash assistance” to immigrants bound for the United States. These funds, as detailed in the “Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan” and other United Nations documents, are often provided via pre-paid, rechargeable debit cards but also include hard cash in envelopes, bank and mobile transfers. This comprehensive aid package covers a wide range of needs, assisting illegal immigrants in receiving their daily needs during their journey.

These millions of dollars represent a significant share of the financial support needed

mission statement says, “We believe that we have to continually push ourselves to the edge of our comfort zone to truly trust. Our faith begins in the places where we are being pushed to the end of our rope.” I’ve written before about something of a spiritual awakening I’ve been having over the past couple of years that feels much deeper and more meaningful than traditional “religion.” A component of this awakening includes trusting in the unknown and being confident the universe has my back, so what better way to practice these skills than to detach from everyday life and live in the woods for several days?

Another pillar is joy in the moment. As an Enneagram seven, I’m often very future-focused, concerned with what’s happening next or planning for something that’s occurring tomorrow or next week or next year. I’m trying to be more mindful of the present and live in the moment in all areas of my life. Hiking miles upon miles, carrying the weight of a pack, setting up camp each night and taking it down each morning, filtering water and all the other stuff that comes with backpacking will certainly


by illegal immigrants and feed into a larger vision to spend $1.59 billion in aiding roughly three million people reach and cross the United States border. Besides financial aid, the United Nations offers “humanitarian transportation,” shelter, food, legal advice, personal hygiene products, health care and protection against threats like human smuggling.

United Nations way stations have been set up across migration routes these immigrants utilize. These hubs clearly illustrate the United Nations’ support network, which extends south to Colombia and Ecuador.

A striking $27.5 million is allocated for shelter for travelers in Colombia, with Ecuador, Peru and Mexico also set to receive sizable shares for aid distribution.

The plan unreservedly acknowledges that its efforts support migrants who intend to illegally cross our border, aiming to provide access to “asylum procedures, migratory regularization activities and socio-economic integration.” Justifying this approach, the plan states that such assistance is important because it “gives growing numbers of immigrants the flexibility to cover their expenses and needs they deem most urgent, increasing their dignity and autonomy.”

As the details from the “Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan” for 2024 are made public, it’s evident that the United Nations’ migrant funding is a well-thoughtout United States border crisis aid plan that extends beyond mere financial assistance. It embodies an intricate support system that not only prepares migrants for their travel to the United States border but also acknowledges

help me practice mindfulness.

An additional pillar is being called into the wilderness, both in the literal and metaphorical senses. As it states in the mission statement, the wilderness “has a way of stripping away the layers of our lives we don’t really need. As the wilderness challenges us, it reveals who we really are and who God created us to be.” I’m looking forward to disconnecting from the overstimulation of daily life. I know this time will give my mind the space it needs to grow, heal and learn more about myself.

One of the mottos for Wilderness Trail is “trust the process.” I’ve used this in my own life many times and frequently say it to my boys, especially in terms of athletic training and development. We forget sometimes that the golden nuggets of life often take time to unfold. Whether it’s writing a novel, earning a degree, building a house, nurturing a relationship, mastering a new skill or backpacking, if we trust the process, everything will feel lighter and more intentional.

I’ve learned that when I feel overwhelmed or exhausted from the deluge of input, the remedy is to slow down, center myself in the moment and get as close to the metaphysical as possible. Although I know challenges will present themselves while we are in the woods, I’m also confident I’ll come back feeling more grateful for the simple pleasures in life and also for the magic moments that tend to happen when spending time with Mother Nature.

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

and addresses the complex layers of their journey, even as it gives rise to debate on the implications and legality of such support.

This unconstitutional spending to assist illegal immigrants in accessing and crossing our border can only be stopped if we, Haywood County Republicans and Republicans across the nation, get out and vote this coming November. It will require a change in administration to end the Democrat’s and Republican RINO’s spending on efforts designed forever to change the heritage and culture of the United States.

Lynn Gregory


We must learn to communicate

To the Editor:

No wonder some of us do not want to talk about nor listen to what we loosely call politics. At least not politics in this country at this time in the USA. Many of us have limited or stopped watching most or all television news. It’s also difficult to figure out why someone agrees or disagrees with news they have read, much less the credibility of its source. People of like minds play safe by venting their woes with each

Susanna Shetley

other. We choose not to talk with each other about issues we know and/or assume political disagreement among us.

We are allowing ourselves to be locked into oppositions: right/wrong, agree/disagree, win/lose, liar/lame, us/them. Neither divide and conquer nor win/lose unite people.

Some of us choose not to talk about “it” or not to talk about it with “you.” Many have limited or stopped watching most if not all television news. What and where we read political news coverage varies significantly in its claims and whether it is backed by credible sources.

Instead — right here on our own ground level, during these increasingly heightened political months between early summer and late fall — we can choose to talk and listen about what is best for our union.

Conversations to foster understanding rather than force agreement.

What happens or doesn’t happen when citizens of a country, state, county, town, village do not communicate? How long can this silent division continue before communities, organizations and public spaces begin to crumble?

Robinson’s question proves his ignorance

To the Editor:

I am writing about the opinion Mark Claxton of Bryson City gave regarding the Republican candidate for governor, current Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, and opinions he was quoted to have said.

Mr. Claxton was trying to “correct” Margaret Pickett, from Highlands, who was aghast by the comments from Mr. Robinson, and was saying that she took Robinson’s comments out of context. He then explains his version of the context saying this was a question “Robinson asked himself,” and explained his reason for saying, “he wanted to go back to an America where women couldn’t vote.” Claxton “explained” Robinson’s comment was saying America was better because, “Republicans fought for real social change.”

I believe Claxton was so intent on trying to clear Robinson of any misogyny, that he somehow believes it means the “Republican party was supporting women’s suffrage.” A somewhat unfathomable interpretation.

I for one, believe that Claxton misses the point: this doesn’t matter about context. In my opinion, the question itself was ignorant and drastically biased at best and should have been called out as unanswerable for those reasons. If, as Claxton wrote, Robinson asked himself this question, I’m not sure how it became so nationally known, but it would have been better to keep it to himself.

If someone cannot see the inherent racial and misogynistic prejudice in such a question, they are either of those beliefs himself or herself, or ignorant to the extreme pain

Let’s get real about ‘school choice’

There are some things John Hood (SMN, May 29) and his ilk don’t want you to think about in their relentless promotion of “school choice” and “educational freedom” — their feel-good euphemisms for the transfer of your taxpayer dollars to private, church-related and “charter” schools. Hood, who pops up everywhere these days, is a paid mouthpiece for the libertarian-conservative and free-market agenda of Art Pope (remember him?) — and it shows.

The overarching issue is whether schools not fully subject to state standards and citizen-elected local oversight deserve public funding. To this, many of us say, emphatically, “no!” The “choice” funds flow via two channels. One is the vouchers or “Opportunity Scholarships” paid to private schools to offset usually a small portion of a student’s tuition — in effect, benefiting mostly wealthier families who would send their kids to a private school anyway! The other is the direct public funding of socalled charter schools, which are governed by an in-house board but cannot charge tuition.

Church-sponsored private schools add another layer to the discussion: does a healthy separation of church and state allow for public funds to flow to religious institutions — of any flavor? It’s a thought question. I say “no.” Educators in churchrelated schools should not be conducting religious exercises and dispensing religious dogma (even partially) on the public dime.

Consider that both teacher salaries and per-pupil K-12 spending in N.C. already rank near the bottom nationwide. These are facts. And, yes, Mr. Hood, this is shameful. Meanwhile, the veto-proof, Republican-dominated legislature funnels ever more funding away from traditional public schools. Haywood County, for example, stands to lose up to $711,000 due solely

and suffering caused by both options. The most appropriate answer to such an inquiry is, “Neither, both were/are reprehensible times in America.”

I agree that voters must be aware of any candidates’ opinions, beliefs and behaviors as they make their voting choices. Both Ms. Pickett and Mr. Claxton admit Robinson did utter those words. I find no way not to credit him with that belief system and would not like to see that in our next governor.

We need to stop wasteful spending

To the Editor:

“The Convention of States” movement, in a race against time, strongly urges the

to the latest round of voucher expansion.

The intentional strangling of our traditional public schools is nowhere more evident than in the Leandro case (look it up), still languishing before the N.C. Supreme Court after 30 years. Due to N.C.’s statecounty mix for school funding, many poorer, rural (and heavily minority) counties have traditionally been left hurting, prompting several of them in 1994 to sue the state, simply to secure for their children a constitutionally mandated “sound, basic education.” Despite state coffers at times flush with billions in unreserved surplus funds (e.g. 2021-2022), the as-yet unresolved case highlights our legislature’s resistance to now court-mandated support for N.C.’s neediest students. I won’t call that racism, Mr. Hood, but people can figure it out for themselves.

Common sense (and the N.C. Constitution) dictate that our publicly funded school districts be uniform and accountable to the taxpayer, and ultimately to parents and students. But the public funding of “choice” schools, by whatever mechanism, simply does not include this element of accountability and oversight: teachers do not have to be state-certified, or even have a high school diploma. Charters, defined as non-profit entities, are allowed to contract (using public funds) with forprofit companies, including for the schools’ management, all without public oversight. “Choice” schools are never financially accountable to citizen-elected school boards. They are not required to follow the N.C. Standard Course of Study, not required to provide free and reduced-price meals, nor to provide student transportation or follow safety standards. There are no restrictions on class size. There are a host of other areas (including discrimination in admissions) where “choice” schools are cut way too much slack to warrant any level of public funding (consult Public Schools First N.C.).

N.C. Senate to pass a bill calling for the convening of a Convention of States as authorized under Article V of the Constitution. This resolution aims to rein in our out-ofcontrol government. One proposed Amendment under this resolution seeks to curb the government’s wasteful and often unconstitutional spending, which is increasing our $34 trillion national debt at a staggering rate of $833 million every hour. Moreover, the U.S. is burdened with over $2 billion in daily interest expenses on that debt.

This exorbitant daily expenditure is not just a number. It’s resulting in increased government borrowing, the printing of money and increased taxes, directly affecting every American citizen’s standard of living. Moreover, billions of our tax dollars are being sent to foreign countries that are committed adversaries, further exacerbat-

And charter schools, by real metrics, simply don’t perform as promised. First, they enroll a much smaller percentage of economically disadvantaged students than traditional public schools — they’re not serving “at-risk” children at the levels intended (giving the charters a statistical bump in comparative performance ratings). Even so, since 2016-17 the percentage of charter schools in N.C. meeting or exceeding expected annual academic growth has still been lower than traditional public schools. The charters just don’t measure up.

For perspective, remember how N.C.’s so-called “education” lottery was supposed to solve the state’s school funding woes? Well, it too proved a scam, as most everyone now realizes. While the gaming industry cleans up, only about 25% of revenues actually go to education, and much of that only offsets tamped-down budgetary outlays for schools. Promised as a flood of easy cash to benefit our kids, the lottery is just smoke-and-mirrors.

It’s tempting to think that everything can be fixed or improved through ever more privatization and corporatization — Hood’s holy grail of “competition” — but it can’t (think healthcare and, locally, Mission/HCA). Perhaps, despite Reagan’s cynical dictum of decades past, the government is not always the problem.

Look, the vast majority of us came up through the public school system and, I daresay, fared reasonably well, as did our parents and grandparents. Sure, our public schools can always be better, but only through adequate funding, high standards and healthy citizen involvement (but not the teacher-as-enemy kind). Sadly, too many good people, including parents, have simply abandoned our public schools. “School choice” may not be a conspiracy, Mr. Hood, but it is sailing us, through a thick smokescreen, into uncharted waters. (Tom Powers lives in Haywood County.)

ing the situation. These countries are using this money to fund terrorist activities against us.

Case in point, since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, although the State Department stated that no U.S. funds were going to the Taliban militant group, a new federal report indicates that millions of taxpayer money is indeed ending up in the Taliban-controlled central bank of Afghanistan.

We are calling upon our state senators to pass HJR 235 this session to end these wasteful and inappropriate expenditures. We call upon N.C.’s citizens to recognize their power and responsibility. Contact your senator today and urge him/her to do all they can to make this happen. Your voice can make a difference.”

Cossette Waynesville

Fourth ofJuly in the


Nothing says summer more than the Fourth of July with friends and family. And in Western North Carolina, we celebrate Independence Day with gusto. Between majestic fireworks, sizzling hot dogs and hamburgers, cotton candy, games, live music and craft demonstrations, there’s a little bit of everything for any and all. So, grab your lawn chair, cooler, sunglasses, sunscreen, adventurous spirit and enjoy this special day and weekend — it’s all here and yours, for the taking.

Bryson City

 “Freedom Fest” will take place from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, July 4, in downtown. The 31st annual Bryson City Rotary Club “Firecracker 5k” will kick off at 8 a.m. Everett Street will be closed for arts/crafts vendors, food trucks, restaurants and more. Live music provided by Shane Meade & The Sound (indie/soul) from 8-10 p.m. The free “Kids Fun Zone” (bounce houses, slide, etc.) will be located at the corner of Main Street and Veterans Boulevard (wristband available all day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Fireworks will be launched at 10 p.m. Free and open to the public.

For more information, go to

be onsite. The Canton Splash Pad will also be open for the kids. Live DJ music. Free watermelons, provided by Crawford Ray Funeral Home. Fireworks at dusk, provided by Champion Credit Union. Free and open to the public.

For more information, go to


 “Fireworks Extravaganza on The Green” will be held from 6-10 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, at The Village Green at the crossroads. The evening features a festival, food trucks and vendors, conga line, live music by the Cashiers Community Chorus and Caribbean Cowboys (beach/oldies), dancing and more. The highlight will be a firework display at dusk. Rain or shine. Free and open to the public. Donations will be collected for a community fireworks fund to preserve the legacy of this cherished community celebration.

For more information, go to


 The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians annual “4th of July Powwow” will be held July 5-7 at the Acquoni Expo Center. The event features a three-day explosion of authentic Indian music, dancing, food and festivities.

For more information, go to

 “4th of July Fireworks” will be held at 10 p.m. Saturday, July 6, at 1501 Acquoni Road. Join the community for an unforgettable evening of patriotic festivities as vibrant bursts of color dance overhead, illuminating the surrounding mountains. Free and open to the public.

For more information, go to

Fontana Village

 The “July 4th +1” Independence Day celebration will be held on Friday, July 5, in Sorrells Street Park in downtown. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. Food trucks and vendors will

and “Patriotic Pet” contest. For more information, go to

 “Fireworks Over Franklin” will be held at 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 5, in downtown. Events begin at 5 p.m. Live music at the Gazebo on the Square from 5-9 p.m. with Mission Accomplished and Intermission. Food vendors will be onsite. Main Street will be closed to traffic beginning at 8 p.m. This will allow for great viewing from the east end of Main Street. Tune your radios to 104.9 FM WFSC for the fireworks display soundtrack featuring patriotic and Americana Music. For more information, go to


 The “4th of July Parade & Freedom Festival” will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, July 4, in downtown. Parade begins at 10 a.m.

For more information, go to


 The “Fourth of July at Fontana Village” will be held July 4-7. Fireworks on Thursday and Saturday evening. Live music, food, games, parades, contests and more. Free and open to the public.

For more information, go to


 Independence Day Parade & Celebration will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, July 4, in downtown. The Parade will travel down Main Street and disband at First Citizens Bank. Following the parade, the Town of Franklin will be serving free cold watermelon as long as it lasts. As well, there will be free inflatables for kids, a water feature from Franklin Fire & Rescue and lots of great food and snacks. There will also be a “Little Mr. & Miss Firecracker” contest

 Independence Day Celebration will be held from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, July 4, in downtown. There will be an array of community events throughout the day at the Town Ball Field. A “Duck Derby” will also take place at 2 p.m. at the Bridge at Mill Creek. Live music by The Business from 6-8:30 p.m. at Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park. Fireworks at 9 p.m. in downtown. Free and open to the public.

For more information, go to

Lake Glenville

 The 27th annual Friends of Lake Glenville “Fireworks Over The Lake” will be held at 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 5, as seen from any vantage point on the water. As well, there will be the 3rd annual “4th of July Gala Boat Parade” starting at 8 p.m.

For more information, go to

Jackson County Tourism Development Authority photos

This must be the place

‘17 has turned 35, I’m surprised that we’re still livin’

Hello from the coast of Maine. About an hour northeast up along the shoreline from Portland. The small, quaint community of New Harbor. More specifically, Pemaquid Beach Village. A place initially settled by British and French settlers in the 1600s, the local indigenous tribes who lived here for thousands of years before that.

Hearty boats and lobster traps. Aged wooden docks creaking to the coming and going of the waters of the mighty Atlantic Ocean. Salty air soothes the soul. The sounds of the waxing and waning tides crashing atop the white sand beaches makes the heart sing. Sandy toes and flip-flops. Beach towels and coolers filled with snacks, fruit, water bottles and cans of cold suds.

the Atlantic. A home away from home, in many respects.

Our family’s “best friend family,” the Corbetts, own a summer home in Pemaquid, which is where Sarah and I are currently staying on this jaunt. You can see the ocean from

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Maine.

At 39 years old, I’ve been coming to this exact spot almost every summer since I was born. My parents started camping in Pemaquid at the nearby Sherwood Campground in 1972, newly married with the future unknown. I arrived on the scene in 1985; I was six months old when they first brought me here.

There were cabins and houses we rented throughout the decades. My folks, myself and my little sister would motor up to New Harbor every single summer from our farmhouse in Upstate New York. After high school, I would sporadically come up each July to meet my family and our friends here. Less so in recent years, with this go-round being my first chance to wander up since 2020.

For June 2024, I’m finding myself back in the northeast with my girlfriend, Sarah, to take care of a few personal family matters. Making sure my folks are doing OK and helping out where I can with what little window of time I have in being in the North Country. A short side trip to New Harbor marks Sarah’s first time in Maine. Within the first hour of crossing over the state line into “Vacationland” from New Hampshire, we were sitting in a chowder house in the Portland harbor, chowing down on a $32 lobster roll washed down with a Shipyard Export Ale.

Finish the last of the lobster roll doused with drawn butter in gusto. Time to head up Interstate 295 North to U.S. 1 North to M.E. 129 South to M.E. 130 South to Huddle Road. The sights and the sounds have remained the same all these years later, thankfully. S-curve roads and large maple trees. Old Fort William Henry casting a watchful eye over Pemaquid Harbor. Hot sandy beaches. A stiff breeze off

roads and side roads of this peninsula, I found myself constantly pointing out points of interest to Sarah. The old buildings that once housed a beloved pizza parlor or a long-gone café or a wharf bar where we’d go for sunset beverages, which was recently destroyed by a freak winter storm. That same wharf bar was where the Corbetts’ son, my old childhood baseball card trading chum, had his wedding reception there some years ago. I’ll never forget that day, nor that specific sunset.

But, some things are still clear and present. Shorelines where we would collect sea glass and shells as a little kid. The tiny Harbor Ice Cream on the corner of Bristol Road and Southside Road where we would go immediately thereafter. The Fairwind Marine gas station across the street and C.E. Reilly & Son grocery store across from that.

“Where do you even see a gas station not owned by a corporation and a grocery store not owned by a chain anymore?” I commented to Sarah. We sat momentarily at the stop sign awaiting to turn down Snowball Hill Road and head back to the house to get ready for the beach, onward to dinner at the River House the next peninsula over in Damariscotta.

I don’t glorify the past, nor would I want to. But, I do enjoy the occasional stroll down Memory Lane, especially when you can physically meander down it, thoughts ricocheting wildly about faces now six-feet-under or 600 miles away.

the front porch and smell the mesmerizing scent of it when the wind is blowing just right. At night, if you listen closely, you can hear the waves crashing down at the local public beach right down the road.

The Corbetts are from just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. We first met them almost 30 years ago, when they rented the cabin next door to ours. Both sets of parents got along just fine, still do. As did I with their son, both of us elementary school kids in those days. We became fast friends over trading baseball cards in the lawn between the cabins during the day, watching Boston Red Sox games on the NESN TV channel following dinner. Go Sox.

And yet, here we are. The months, years and decades have simply flown by without any regard for letting me catch up and catch my breath as to the people, places and things that have made up this whirlwind collage of memories I try desperately to preserve, in honest haste within the realm of the written word. I try the best I can, but the sands of time and moments mostly fall through the fingertips of chance and opportunity unfolding in real time.

Wandering around the Corbetts’ summer home, it looks the exact same as when I was a kid. Front porch with rocking chairs. Hammock on the side lawn. Blue interior walls. Tide chart held steadily by a magnet on the refrigerator. Dusty seashells and old photographs on the shelves and on the fireplace mantle. Lobster buoys and traps for decoration. Maritime-themed mementos and so forth. Framed maps of local townships and oceanic depths. Hardwood floors and a ceiling fan thwarting away the heat and humidity of life on the coast in the early days of summer. Cruising around the main roads, back

And ain’t it funny how those John Mellencamp tunes seem to only get better, get more real and relevant with age, the melodies echoing out of open windows in the truck along Snowball Hill Road: “Holdin’ on to sixteen as long as you can, change come around real soon, make us women and men, oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.”

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




The “Concerts on the Creek” music series will present Americana/bluegrass act Darren Nicholson at 7 p.m. Friday, June 28, at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva.


As part of the annual “An Appalachian Evening” concert series, bluegrass icon Dale Ann Bradley will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Stecoah Valley Center in Robbinsville.


“Art After Dark” will continue its 2024 season from 6-9 p.m. Friday, July 5, in downtown Waynesville.


The Mountain Artisans “Summertime“ Arts & Crafts Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 28-29 in the Ramsey Center at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.


The “Stecoah Arts & Crafts Drive-About Tour” will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 28-29 at featured studios in Bryson City, Stecoah and Robbinsville.

Garret K. Woodward photo

Lake Junaluska

 The “Independence Day Celebration” will be held July 2-5 at the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center. The annual celebration features a weekend of familyfriendly fun — from concerts to fireworks

to floating wish lanterns. The holiday weekend will be full of activities, as well as time to soak up summer enjoying the lakeside swimming pool, a round of golf or mini golf, a cruise on the Cherokee IV pontoon boat or a canoe, kayak or paddleboard rental.

For more information, go to

On the beat

Stecoah welcomes bluegrass legend

As part of the annual “An Appalachian Evening” concert series, bluegrass icon Dale Ann Bradley will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Stecoah Valley Center in Robbinsville.

Having performed at the famed Grand Ole Opry and been inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, Bradley has no shortage of recognition for her work in the bluegrass community.

Her career includes two Grammy nominations and six “Female Vocalist of the Year” awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). In January 2020, she was also voted SPGBMA’s “Female Vocalist of the Year.”

Maggie Valley

 The “Backyard Fourth” will be held on Thursday, July 4, at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. Gates open at 6 p.m. Bring your blanket, chairs, picnic basket, bubbles, hula hoops, balls and yard games. Fireworks at dusk. Free and open to the public.

For more information, go to


 The Murphy Independence Day Fireworks will be held at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, July 4, at Konehete-Veterans Park. Free and open to the public.

For more information, go to


 The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce will host the “July 4 Fireworks & Festivities” from 4-10 p.m. Thursday, July 4, in downtown. Live music and other familyfriendly activities. A performance by Gotcha Groove (classic rock/oldies) will be held from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Bridge Park Pavilion. Fireworks show will begin at 9:45 p.m. The fireworks will be visible from all over down-

town Sylva. Free and open to the public. For more information, go to


 The “Stars & Stripes Celebration” will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, July 4, in downtown. Restaurants, breweries, shopping, galleries and cafes. Children’s patriotic parade at 11 a.m. Live music with the Haywood Community Band at the Historic Haywood County Courthouse at 2 p.m. Free and open to the public. For more information, go to

Americana at Marianna

The Summer Music Series will continue with an evening of old-time and traditional music by Susan Pepper & Sarah Songbird Burkey at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City.

Together, the duo presents traditional mountain ballads and folk songs and sprinkle in traditional-inspired original compositions. This pair delight in sharing a song and storytelling tradition with deep roots and meaning in this region.

Pepper is an authentic tradition-bearer, a cultural broker bridging the gap between generations of musicians past and present. According to Pepper, she sings, “as a way to remember and honor past generations and to draw on the strength of their songs and stories as we travel forward.”

Over the years, Bradley has collaborated with Vince Gill, Pam Tillis, Dan Tyminski and Sonny Osborne. Not resting on her laurels and now signed as a solo artist, Bradley focuses on playing with her new band, touring around the country and sharing her latest album.

Tickets are $25 per person, $10 for students. All concerts are in the fully restored Lynn L. Shields Auditorium. Snacks and beverages are available for purchase in the Schoolhouse Cafe beginning at 6 p.m.

For more information and/or purchase tickets, go to or call 828.479.3364.

Her philosophy is that music (melody, rhythm, lyrics) is something that should captivate, inspire and fill people up. With a Masters Degree in Appalachian Studies, Pepper has worked in many capacities with the Junior Appalachian Musicians program and continues to lead workshops in traditional music, ballad singing and storytelling.

She is also a co-producer and featured performer in the Appalachian music film “The Mountain Minor.”

Burkey’s family has called Appalachia home for over 300 years. She considers herself to be of this land rather than from it. To Sarah Elizabeth, singing comes as naturally as breathing, earning her the name

“Songbird” two decades ago, when she began singing the old ballads in public. Burkey believes that “The ballads bond us to those we learned them from. Through that bond, the stories of their lives live on as we tell their stories and sing.” She has worked on 17 albums and sung on numerous film soundtracks

This program is free and open to area residents and visitors. Other performances scheduled for the series include Grannies Mason Jar July 11, Kelli Dodd with “Kelli Sings Dolly” July 25 and Celtic Roads Aug. 8. For more information, call the library at 828.488.3030 or visit

Sarah Songbird Burkey will play Bryson City June 27. Donated photo
Dale Ann Bradley will play Robbinsville June 29. Donated photo
Cashier’s fireworks display is know as one of the region’s best.
JCTDA photo

Reflections on lessons learned at Bonnaroo

Wednesday morning, June 12, I left my sister’s house in Sapphire for my very first music festival.

I’d been to plenty of other concerts, raves and shows but had never dedicated more than a few hours to live music at any one time. Bonnaroo is a four-day camping festival, meaning for five days and five nights (I arrived a day early), I camped in the woods, in the Tennessee sun, isolated from the rest of society in a bubble where no one cared about anything except how to stay cool and hydrated while getting to the next set.

I want to share the life lessons I learned during this time.

It can be about the destination, but you should still enjoy the journey.

When I bought my ticket back in January, I was still working with my close friend Shawna who went with me. Back then, we worked at desks 20 feet apart from each other and hung out after every shift. Since that internship ended, we’ve hardly seen each other more than once a month. So, the four-hour drive to Manchester was filled with chatter, laughter and stories as we updated each other about what the other had missed since the last time we talked.

and ask for help.

First arriving at the Walmart right outside our campground was exhilarating. Immediately, I could tell 90% of patrons were also there to grab last-minute supplies before entering Bonnaroo. After an hour, the energy changed from exciting to exhausting as we scrambled to try to find substitutions for things that were sold out. We loaded the car, and I asked Shawna to check the mirror I packed and make sure it wasn’t broken, I was surprised when she said it was intact. We put it back and immediately heard it shatter. That led to going back inside, buying a new mirror, finding out we can’t bring that mirror, returning it, replacing it, buying ice, seeing the ice was empty, waiting for the ice to be filled, all while still anticipating leaving to get to the main event. Despite how stressful these moments are, I’m thankful to the employees who helped us find substitutions, the woman who helped us check out and told us our mirror would be confiscated; and the man who told us another place we could find ice inside the store.

Always take the time to get to know people around you.

this was our first festival ever and most things they saw did not belong to us. This led to advice that really helped us and offers of help if needed. Diagonal from our tent were two men a tiny bit older than Shawna and I named Erik and Kiefer. As two young women on our own, there was a little apprehension, but we still talked to them and realized we were there for similar sets. The next day, they offered us coffee and we offered them eggs and we decided we’d spend the day together. This resulted in us spending all four days together and becoming a group instead of two duos. Erik and Kiefer helped elevate our Bonnaroo experience by preventing us from getting lost, making food for us on the grill and just being kind friends. By the end of the festival, we all decided we would go together next year (all four of us have already bought our tickets).

Be where you are.

This might sound obvious, but it’s the most important. When Shawna and I first ventured out of our campsite I was filled with worry. I panicked, wondering what if we get lost, what if our stuff gets stolen, what if something happened to our friends who would arrive tomorrow, what if something happened to my family while I was gone, the list was endless. When we got back (we did not get lost) I told Shawna about my worries, and she told me the concerns were valid but that things would be okay.

I wish I could say things became better right then, but they didn’t. It was the next day while we were watching our first set in the sun that I realized I was not going to get these moments back. I had four days to dance to music with my close friend, these two men becoming my friends and these strangers surrounding me, and that was it.

Heeding my editor’s advice (thank you Kyle) Shawna and I drove through Chattanooga which was gorgeous. During a period of the drive, we silently took in the scenery and appreciated Earth.

When things don’t go to plan, slow down

You really never know who will become your friend and who’s going to help you more than you knew you needed. When Shawna and I set up our campsite with gear we were graciously lent by previous Bonnaroo attendees, a lot of people complimented our setup and assumed we were experienced. We told our neighbors directly

Music festivals are not for everyone. If you are considering going to one, I highly recommend you do; my time at Bonnaroo was life changing. I came back feeling so grateful for the people in my life and for my life in general (and for air conditioning). But to anyone reading this, whether you spend your time with your family and friends, or you watch live music in the woods, or you’re just reading the newspaper with your favorite blanket draped over your lap, enjoy every moment of your life, tell your close friends and family you love them and be grateful for everything you have because you never get to relive anything. You only have right now.

• Classic Wineseller (Waynesville) will host the Mount Eden Vineyards Wine Dinner 6:30 p.m. June 25 (call for reservations) and a wine tasting with Freedom Beverage 3-4:30 p.m. June 29 ($10 per person, no reservations required). 828.452.6000 or

• “Flights & Bites” will be held starting at 4 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays at Bosu’s Wine Shop in downtown Waynesville. 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


• “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

The iconic Bonnaroo arch marks the entrance and exit to the festival’s main area. Marrah Ste. Marie photo

Ready for ‘The Great American Bash’?

• Blue Ridge Beer Hub (Waynesville) will host Doug & Lisa June 29 and Len Graham (singer-songwriter) July 6. All shows begin at 5 p.m. Free and open to the public. 828.246.9320 /

• Currahee Brewing (Franklin) will host Nathan Nelson Band June 29. All shows begin at 7 p.m. Free and open to the public. 828.634.0078 /

Presented by Adamas Entertainment and The Scotsman Public House, “The Great American Bash” will feature Americana/rock sensation The Brothers Gillespie and rock/soul outfit The Get Right Band on Saturday, July 6, in the parking lot of The Scotsman, located at 37 Church St. in downtown Waynesville.

Doors open at 4 p.m. Music kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with The Get Right Band, with The Brothers Gillespie hitting the stage at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. As well, there will be a special after-party starting at 9:30 p.m.

VIP tickets are also available for $35, which includes one drink and one meal. The VIP meal will be a specific offering from The Scotsman for the event itself. The VIP entry includes an exclusive bar and bathroom.

A 50/50 drawing will take place during the performances, with proceeds going to REACH of Haywood County (

This is an all ages outside event. Rain or shine. Ticket sales are final. Parking is free

‘Concerts on the Creek’

The Town of Sylva, Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department and Jackson County Chamber of Commerce are proud to present the 15th season of the annual “Concerts on the Creek” music series. Americana/bluegrass act Darren Nicholson will hit the stage at 7 p.m. Friday, June 28, at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva. A Grammy-nominee and winner of 13 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards, Nicholson has taken his own brand of mountain music around the world.

A regular for years on the Grand Ole Opry, and a founding member of acclaimed bluegrass group Balsam Range, Nicholson now spends his time recording, writing new songs and performing as a solo act.

“Concerts on the Creek” are held every Friday night from Memorial Day through

and located on the streets surrounding The Scotsman.

Full bar service available (N/A and alcoholic drinks for purchase). Food by The Scotsman available (food for purchase). Must be over 21 and have a valid ID to purchase alcohol. If you are caught with outside alcohol or drugs of any kind, you will be asked to leave with no refund.

To note, children ages 12 and under are admitted free. Strollers and camping chairs are allowed. However, camping chairs must be placed in the rear section of the viewing area. No outside food or drink. Bags and purses are subject to search. No weapons. No animals (except for service animals).

Tickets will be available for purchase at the door throughout the event. Reentry is also permitted, but patrons must be wearing their admission bracelet at all times during the event to do so.

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

Labor Day. Everyone is encouraged to bring a chair or blanket. These events are free, but donations are encouraged. Dogs must be on a leash. No smoking, vaping, coolers or tents are allowed. There will be food trucks on site for this event.

For more information, call the chamber at 828.586.2155, visit or go to the “Concerts on the Creek” Facebook page.

• Farm At Old Edwards (Highlands) will host the “Orchard Sessions” w/Brandon Crocker (singer-songwriter) July 11. All shows begin at 6 p.m. 866.526.8008 /

• First United Methodist Church (Franklin) will host Mountain Voices 7 p.m. June 27. Free and open to the public. Donations appreciated. 828.524.3644.

• Folkmoot Friendship Center (Waynesville) will host the “Summer Soiree” July 11. 828.452.2997 /

• Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort (Cherokee) will host The Australian Pink Floyd Show (classic rock/psychedelic) 7:30 p.m. June 29.

• Highlands Performing Arts Center will host “Neil Berg’s 50 Years Of Rock” 7:30 p.m. June 29 and The Texas Tenors (Americana/country) July 5. 828.526.9047 /

• Innovation Brewing (Sylva) will host “Monday Night Trivia” every week, “Open Mic w/Phil” Wednesdays, Mike Hollon (singer-songwriter) June 29, Bird In Hand (Americana/indie) July 4 and Shane Davis (singer-songwriter) July 6. All shows and events begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.586.9678/

• Lazy Hiker Brewing (Franklin) will host Blue Jazz (blues/jazz) June 29, Bryan & Al (soft rock/indie) July 5 and Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues (rock/blues) July 6 ($10 cover). All shows begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.349.2337 /

• Lazy Hiker Brewing (Sylva) will host “Music Bingo” 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Alma Russ (Americana/folk) June 28 and Roscoe’s Road Show (classic rock) July 5. All shows begin at 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.349.2337 /

• Mountain Layers Brewing (Bryson City) will host Bird In Hand (Americana/indie) June 28, Mountain Gypsy (Americana) June 29 and Terry Haughton (singer-songwriter) 5 p.m. June 30. All shows begin at 6 p.m unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.538.0115 / mountainlayers-

• Nantahala Outdoor Center (Nantahala Gorge) will host Melissa McKinney (singer-songwriter) 3 p.m. June 27, Asheville Junction (Americana) 3:30 p.m. June 27 (Hemlocks grand opening), Pioneer Chicken Stand (Americana/rock) June 28, Shane Meade (singer-songwriter) 2 p.m. June 29, Asheville Junction (Americana) June 29, Blue (folk/blues) 2 p.m. June 30, Juan Holladay (blues/indie) 2 p.m. July 4, Andrew Thelston Band (rock/jam) 5 p.m. July 4, The Brown Mountain Lightning Bugs (Americana/indie) July 5, The Log Noggins (Americana/rock) July 6, Jamie Hite (soft rock/folk) 2 p.m. July 7 and Woolybooger (blue/folk) July 7. All shows behind at 5 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.785.5082 /

• Pickin’ In The Park (Canton) will host Brothers Rathbone (band) & Balsam Mountain (dancers) June 28 and Rick Morris (band) & Southern Appalachian (dancers) July 5. Shows are 6-9 p.m. at the Canton Rec Park located at 77 Penland Street. Free and open to the public.

• Pickin’ On The Square (Franklin) will host The Remnants (rock/pop) July 13. All shows begin at 6 p.m. at the Gazebo in downtown. Free and open to the public.

• Rathskeller Coffee Haus & Pub (Franklin) will host Karaoke 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Trivia Night 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Open Mic w/Dirty Dave 6:30 p.m. June 28 and Ansley McAllister (singer-songwriter) 7 p.m. June 29. Free and open to the public. 828.369.6796 /

• Santé Wine Bar (Sylva) will host Keturah & Bradford June 30 and Andy Ferrell (singersongwriter) July 7. All shows begin at 5 p.m. Free and open to the public. 828.631.3075 /

• Slanted Window Tasting Station (Franklin) will host Gregg Erwin (singer-songwriter) 5 p.m. July 7. 828.276.9463 /

• Valley Cigar & Wine Co. (Waynesville) will host Bridget Gossett (singer-songwriter) 2 p.m. June 30. Free and open to the public. 828.944.0686 /

• Yonder Community Market (Franklin) will host Jim Austin Classic Country Band (Americana/country) 6:30 p.m. every first and third Thursday of the month (free), Erik Koskinen (singer-songwriter) 4 p.m. June 30 ($20 suggested donation) and Jackson Grimm & The Bull Moose Party (Americana/folk) 3 p.m. July 6 (free). Admission by encouraged donation unless otherwise noted as a ticketed event. Family friendly, dog friendly. 828.200.2169 /

• Find more at

The Brothers Gillespie will play Waynesville July 6. File photo
Darren Nicholson. Donated photo

On the stage

HART presents

‘The Gods of Comedy’

On the street

A special stage production of “The Gods of Comedy” will be held at 7:30 p.m. June 27-29 and 2 p.m. June 30 at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville.

Written by the comedic genius Ken Ludwig, behind such plays as “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo,” “The Gods of Comedy” is a modern-day farce that transports the ancient Greek gods to the 21st century with uproarious results. Ludwig’s sharp wit and clever writing guarantee a night full of laughter.

The story follows Daph, a young and nervous classics professor, who accidentally summons Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry and Thalia, the muse of comedy, to help them out of an academic jam.

What ensues is a rollercoaster ride of mistaken identities, magical mishaps and divine intervention that will have you laughing from start to finish. Anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by life’s unexpected twists will find humor and comfort in Daph’s predicament.

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.

• Comedian Henry Cho will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin. Tickets start at $20 per person. 866.273.4615 /

• The Comedy Zone at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino will host Southern Momma through June 26. Doors open at 6 p.m. Dinner and drinks will be served from 6-7:45 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.

• Highlands Performing Arts Center will host semi-regular stage productions on the weekends. For more information, a full schedule of events and/or to purchase tickets, go to

‘Thunder in the Smokies’

The annual “Thunder in the Smokies” spring rally will be held June 28-30 at the Maggie Valley Fairgrounds.

The oldest and largest motorcycle rally in the Great Smoky Mountains, the weekend celebration will feature live music, dozens of vendors, motorcycle shows/games, prizes and much more.

For more information, a full schedule of events and/or to purchase tickets, go to

• Sweet Corn Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 6-7 at Darnell Farms in Bryson City. Food trucks, live music, vendors, bounce houses, kids activities, corn eating contests and more. For more information, go to


• First United Methodist Church will host its Bazaar Auction from 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, June 28, at 66 Harrison Ave. in Franklin. Live/silent auction, music, light refreshments and fellowship. 828.524.3644.

• Grumpy Bear Campground & RV Park (Bryson City) will host a “Native American Show” 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Free and open to the public. Donations encouraged. 828.788.2095 or

Stecoah Drive-About Tour

The annual “Stecoah Arts & Crafts Drive-About Tour” will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 28-29 at featured studios in Bryson City, Stecoah and Robbinsville.

With their studios open to the public, the self-guided driving tour highlights artisans who have built a livelihood with their creative talents. Media include pottery, beeswax lanterns and pillar candles, original paintings/drawings, fiber, quilts, photography, artisan cheeses and more.

The tour includes: Wehrloom Honey, Hunting Boy Wood Carving, Marie’s Lavender Farm, The Shed Gallery, Junk N’ Style, The Ceramics Art Club, Local Handmade Pottery and Gallery Zella.

For more information and a full list of stops, go to

‘The Gods of Comedy’ will be at HART through June. ,Donated photo
‘Thunder in the Smokies’ returns to Maggie Valley June 28-30. File photo
Hunting Boy Wood Carving is part of the Drive-About

Waynesville art walk, live music

A cherished gathering of locals and visitors alike, “Art After Dark” will continue its 2024 season from 6-9 p.m. Friday, July 5, in downtown Waynesville.

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

Maggie Valley Arts & Crafts Show

The 33rd annual Maggie Valley Arts & Crafts Show will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 6-7 at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds.

Maggie Valley’s largest gathering of artisans and crafters come together to sell their handmade treasures. Artisans from all over the Southeast will be in attendance.

Chainsaw art demonstrations and lots of festival food. Seasonal items, yard art, paintings, photography, pottery, wooden bowls,

• Cowee Valley Pottery Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center in Franklin. For more information, go to

furniture, jewelry, goat milk soaps and more will be featured at the event.

“There really is something for everyone, from the most affordable handicrafts, to the more expensive museum quality items,” said Teresa Smith, promoter of the event.

Food trucks and beverage vendors will also be onsite. The event is free and open to the public. Donations appreciated. Parking is free. For more information, call 828.926.1686 or go to

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.

Mountain Artisans showcase

The 35th annual Mountain Artisans “Summertime“ Arts & Crafts Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 28-29 in the Ramsey Center at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

Dozens of local artisans will be onsite. There will also be live demonstrations by certain artists, including corn husk doll crafter Laura Walkingstick of Cherokee. Admission is $5 for adults with children under 12 free. Concessions available and free convenient parking. For more information, go to

‘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, please go to

• WNC Paint will host upcoming painting sessions for the public on Thursday, June 27, at BearWaters Brewing in Canton and Friday, June 28, at Valley Cigar & Wine in Maggie Valley. Both events begin at 6 p.m. To reserve your spot, go to

• “June Makers Market” will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 29, 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

• Nantahala Outdoor Center (Nantahala Gorge) will host a “Summer Artisan Market” from noon to 5 p.m. the second Saturday of the month (May-September). Free and open to the public.

• “Art & Artisan Walk” will be held from 5-8 p.m. every third Thursday of the month (MayDecember) in Bryson City. 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.

• “Art After Dark” will be held from 6-9 p.m. each first Friday of the month (May-December) in downtown Waynesville. 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

• 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,


• 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

Richard Baker is a featured artisan at ‘Art After Dark.’ File photo
‘Spirits of Siwavaats’ is a work by Cara Romero. Donated photo
Laura Walkingstick is a cherished WNC artist. File photo

On the shelf

Time to stop the bashing, says Nina Power

When I heard British writer and philosopher Nina Power interviewed recently, I ordered her book. I was interested in her ideas, but also in her. I liked her curiosity and intellect, her attitude of respect and her low-key sense of humor. Power wrote her book, “What Do Men Want?” (Allen Lane, 2022, 192 pages), because she was tired of male bashing. “In my experience, and statistically,” she says, “the vast majority of men are kind, thoughtful, selfaware, interested, compassionate, loving and protective, as friends or as partners… Most men are, like most women, a mixture of good and bad…” The fact that Power started her adult life as an advocate for Leftist positions only enhances her credibility to speak on this issue. She is not just repeating traditional views.

“Some want to dismantle this nebulous thing called ‘patriarchy’ altogether. I increasingly think that we need to think less in terms of structures (and patriarchy would be one such structure) and much more in terms of mutual respect. About how we get along day-to-day rather than in terms of vast, oppressive systems, whose image only makes us all more powerless.”

And, yes, there are men, too, who blame women or feminism for current problems. Power knows, as we all do, how easy it is to blame, and she impressed me by talking about forgiveness early on. “Without forgiveness, and the acceptance that we all make mistakes sometimes, we are all doomed to suspicious isolation.” Her goal is encouraging the move beyond isolation towards the risky but adventuresome and possibly joyous experience of learning from others, especially others who are “not quite like you.”

Interaction between the sexes can be “an awkward and confusing mess, where the rules are often extremely obscure.” Power sheds light on some of the assumptions underlying confusion. Current culture, meaning advertisement and social media, encourages us to think that one person can fulfill most of our needs and that near-constant technological connection is a good thing. Power advises women to take responsibility for themselves. She talks about the rise of the masculinity industry, exemplified by Jordan Peterson, who says the same thing to men. And Power, like Peterson, says that it would profit us all “to revisit old values and virtues - honor, loyalty, courage.”

The masculinity business, men who tell men “how to be a man,” is popular these days, and a subject of complaint by some feminists. To complain about the whole genre, writes Power, is to take “a cynical, oppositional attitude” about the difference between the sexes. “If pro-masculinist books have an appeal to young men in particular today, it is in large part because they present an image of an escape from various kinds of depressed, morose types of masculinity in a consumerist, hedonistic society.”

I enjoyed the chapter on patriarchy.

Patriarchy, she adds, was not always great for men either. Rather than condemn systems, it might be more productive to celebrate what we value. In the interview I watched, Power says that the patriarchs in the Bible were men who took responsibility. For sure, she notes, there were times when individual men were abusive, and individual women were repressed or hurt, and it is an absolute good that women have more agency now but patriarchy was not all bad or all good. Seeing only the negative is depressive. What is the point of this book? In part, to stimulate conversation, especially, in my case, with the younger generation. “I’ve been reading this book …” That’s my starting sentence. When I described Power’s fatigue with male bashing, a young male friend’s response was immediate. “We’re not all bad.” I agreed. Wholeheartedly. A Millennial female friend and I ended up talking about

“Pick-up artists,” described in the chapter on “The Games Men Play,” and my friend sent me a link for a podcast she liked on the subject. A seatmate on a recent train ride asked me about the book, which I was reading at the time. We talked for an hour. People, at least some, want to talk about these things. I also have a newfound awareness and appreciation for the ways in which men help other men. The author says that it would be helpful if men took more responsibility for helping others of their sex understand when their behavior is out of line, but I have seen men do this very thing. A friend told another friend that he was coming on too strong to the women in their social group. Another told his buddy that an angry outburst at an athletic event was inappropriate. Has feminism helped to bring about some of this action? I believe so.

I have also seen many examples of men being friends during tough times, or just helping each other out. Two men I know go together to a nursing home to visit the widow of an old friend. These visits are much easier with the two of them! They laugh about this.

Some men and women will always choose to remain separated from the opposite sex, as Power notes, and that is fine. But there is plenty of room for hope and excitement here about the possibilities of interaction. I’ll give one example from the book: the pick-up artists I mentioned above. Two, each with a prominent on-line presence, are highlighted, along with their message and tactics. But both came to see women differently. One gradually felt the presence of God in his life, and eventually banned from his site any vulgar language or mention of pre-marital sex. The other found true love, and wrote a book about commitment.

In short, being willing to take responsibility for our actions, being willing to forgive, being willing to try a light-hearted and playful attitude towards life, helps us to “avoid a childlike image of the world in which there are simply good guys and bad.”

(Anne Bevilacqua is a book lover who lives in Haywood County.

Writer Ann Bevilacqua

Word from the Smokies

DNA study yields new estimate of Smoky Mountain elk population

Indians, National Park Service and UT to spend three winters bushwhacking through impenetrable rhododendron and mountain laurel thickets along near-vertical slopes in an unrelenting quest for elk scat. Over three years, researchers surveyed more than 1,200 randomly selected transects, located not only on public lands such as GSMNP, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest and William H. Silver Game Lands, but also on tribal lands and numerous private properties.

The collected elk scat went off to a lab for DNA analysis, which revealed important information about each sample, including which individual elk produced it and whether that elk was male or female. Braunstein used this data to estimate not only how many elk live in the Smokies but also where they live, adult survival rates and population growth rates. “That’s really, really important information for the wildlife professionals who manage the elk herd,” said Justin McVey, district biologist for NCWRC.

disperse after the rut, incurring more risk than females; car collisions are a significant source of mortality for North Carolina elk. Some male elk may simply venture so far away that they leave the study area, evading detection.

Weaknesses in the data could also play a role. Three winters’ worth of sampling yielded two intervals during which statistics like survival rates could be detected. For both males and females, this rate varied significantly between the two periods, but the swing was much more dramatic for the males, with the estimated survival rate for the second period only about half that of the first period. Braunstein said the level of variability makes her hesitant to discuss those numbers yet.

“The more data you collect over time, the more it’ll help those numbers stabilize and shrink those confidence intervals,” she said. “But that’s just going to take repeated sampling.”

A cow elk moves through a wooded area. According to a recent DNA study, 240 elk were estimated to be living in Western North Carolina as of 2022. Of those, 178 were female.

Over the decades since 52 elk were reintroduced to Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Cataloochee Valley in 2001 and 2002, wildlife biologists have longed for a statistically accurate count of the population in Western North Carolina.

While one might assume that, relatively speaking, counting elk would be easier than, say, tallying rough greensnakes or rock voles, achieving an accurate, scientific population census for elk is more complicated than it seems. Elk are big (standing up to five feet tall

and weighing 850 pounds or more) and like to graze open meadows, in plain view, but when they drift into the woods, they essentially vanish. Counting them has proven challenging.

To crack the conundrum, the biologists on the case elected to count elk poop, rather than the elk themselves. Adapting methods used to estimate elk populations in Oregon and elsewhere, University of Tennessee PhD candidate Jessica Braunstein designed a research project that required upwards of 50 people from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Eastern Band of Cherokee

Braunstein’s study concluded that, as of 2022, approximately 240 elk lived in Western North Carolina — more than quadruple the original 52. That increase comes despite an initial population dip as the newly released ungulates learned how to adapt to the challenges of their new home, such as predation from black bears.

In North Carolina, the big question is when — and if — the first elk hunting permit might be issued.

Nearly three-quarters of the estimated elk population is female, Braunstein found, and these female elk had a much higher yearto-year survival rate than their male counterparts. Such lopsided statistics are “pretty normal,” but Braunstein was “honestly surprised to see how much higher” the survival rate was for female elk.

Several factors likely contribute to that disparity. Poachers are more likely to target bulls for illegal hunting, and male elk tend to

That’s just what NCWRC plans to do. Using the techniques learned from Braunstein’s study, the agency will continue collecting data for the next three to five years, said Brad Howard, chief of the NCWRC Wildlife Management Division. While the population estimate is the “biggest end result” of Braunstein’s research, perhaps just as important is the direction it gives the agency on how to continue monitoring the herd.

“Having that ability now certainly provides greater confidence in understanding what does the standing the elk herd look like, where is it, those kinds of important pieces of management information,” he said.

Managing elk is a complex task. The herds are spread across three jurisdictions — the park service, EBCI, F

Wildlife biologists closely monitor the movements of individual members of the Smokies elk herd, like the bull elk pictured here, with the help of radio collars and ear tags. DNA studies offer yet another means of tracking and understanding the growth of local elk populations. Lori Douthat photo
Paul Stubbs photo

and North Carolina — and because they favor fields over woods, their presence on private land can often cause problems, especially when the private land in question is an agricultural field. Many landowners have reported issues with elk interfering with agricultural operations or behaving aggressively. The NCWRC has a variety of programs in place to help mitigate these impacts, and McVey believes attitudes toward elk “have gotten better” over the last few years.

In North Carolina, the big question is when — and if — the first elk hunting permit might be issued. In preparation for a future hunt, the NCWRC adopted a rule in 2016 that removed elk from the state’s list of species of special concern and allowed for a permit-only October hunt. No permits have been issued so far, but Braunstein’s study showed that a “very limited” bull harvest would be sustainable for the current population.

However, the agency may still decide to wait a while.

“When we say ‘minimal,’ at this point in time we’re talking one or two,” Howard said. “The logistical challenges of elk hunting in that general area have not and will not go away.”

Braunstein estimated that, of the 240 elk, 154 live on lands under state jurisdiction. However, many of these elk are on private land whose owners may or may not want to open their property to permitholders. Additionally, the elk are not uniformly distributed across the landscape. They stay together in distinct herds, and some herds are not large enough to survive losing any bulls to hunting.

permits, and potentially periodic rather than annual.

Trying to forecast what the future might hold for Smoky Mountain elk is like “looking through a foggy crystal ball,” said Howard. But wildlife managers at all three agencies are grateful for the new population data they have to guide them.

“These techniques were unheard of 30 years ago, and so it’s phenomenal what can be done now,” Howard said. “It’s a very exciting time.”

Though the elk population is expected to continue growing, it remains to be seen how long that growth might continue. Because Western North Carolina is so heavily forested, Howard doubts the population will ever grow beyond “the several hundred range,” barring significant landscape changes in the years ahead. That means that any hunting season approved for the foreseeable future will be extremely limited — just a handful of

Steve Kemp is the former interpretive products and services director for Great Smoky Mountains Association, which rebranded this year as Smokies Life. Holly Kays is the lead writer for this 29,000-member nonprofit dedicated to supporting the scientific, historical, and interpretive activities of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by providing educational products and services such as this column. Learn more at

An “Elk Crossing” sign alerts drivers to watch out for elk while driving past the fields at Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Doris Boteler photo
A recent DNA study aimed at counting the elk population in Western North Carolina showed that, by far, elk density is greatest in and around fields. Smokies Life photo

Iconic photo of George Masa ID’d

The true location of one of the most iconic photographs of George Masa has been accurately identified. The photograph, depicting Masa on a rock outcrop with his camera and a companion, was previously believed to have been taken at Graybeard Mountain. Recent findings confirm that the actual location is Blackstack Cliffs in the Cherokee National Forest.

Charlie Boss, an Asheville-based photographer originally from Greeneville, Tennessee, approached David Huff, founder of the George Masa Foundation, with an exciting possibility. Intrigued by this idea, Huff grabbed his own camera and set out to investigate. “When I stepped out onto the cliffs, I knew immediately that this was the spot,” said Huff.

Huff recreated the shot by guessing where the person who took the photo, most likely Hugo Strongmiller, had

George Masa Foundation announces Youth Conservation Photography Prize

The George Masa Foundation has announced the launch of the inaugural George Masa Youth Conservation Photography Prize. This unique competition aims to inspire middle and high school students to connect with and protect our natural world through the art of photography. Open to young enthusiasts ages 11-18, the contest encourages participants to explore and capture the stunning beauty and pressing challenges of our environment across five categories:

Hunting, fishing fees to change July 1

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) is announcing an increase to fees for hunting, fishing, trapping and activity licenses, permits, stamps and certifications, which will go into effect on July 1, 2024.  The fee adjustments are based

on the total increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) since the last fee increase (January 1, 2020) and will help the agency with operating costs exacerbated by inflation and increased demand for its services.

The NCWRC is funded by the sale of licenses, vessel titles and registrations, federal grants, general fund appropriations and other

stood, successfully capturing the same perspective as the original photograph.

George Masa arrived in Asheville in 1915 as Masahara Iizuka, a Japanese immigrant whose work was instrumental in mapping the Appalachian Trail and advocating for the preservation of the Great Smoky Mountains. His dedication to capturing the natural beauty of the region and his conservation efforts have left an indelible mark on American landscape photography and environmental advocacy.

Wildlife, Landscape, Water, Climate Change and Sustainable Practices.

Participants can submit their entries through the official contest website. The competition will be judged by a panel of experts in photography and conservation, ensuring that the winners are recognized not only for their artistic talent but also for their ability to communicate important environmental messages.

Winners in each category will receive cash prizes and have their work featured on the George Masa Foundation’s website and social media channels.

For more information on how to participate, visit

receipts. Funds generated from license sales make up, on average, approximately 25% of annual agency revenue. These funds and others are used to support agency programs focused not only on species management and habitat enhancement, but on enforcement, education and public access.

To purchase a license, visit or a Wildlife Service Agent.

VCS is your premier K to the pursuit of Victo Oiiit

Our mission is to prepare young men and wo Academic Exce men to walk with Christ ellence, Small Class Siz in the 21st century. e, 4-day School Week.

The photograph, depicting Masa on a rock outcrop with his camera and a companion, was previously believed to have been taken at Graybeard Mountain. Recent findings confirm that the actual location is Blackstack Cliffs in the Cherokee National Forest. Donated photos

Firecracker 5K returns to Bryson City.

Thursday, July 4, marks the 34th running of the Firecracker 5K in Bryson City. Created in 1989 to celebrate the town’s centennial, this annual tradition has grown from 30 to 300 runners.

The flat course starts in town, heads toward Great Smoky Mountains National Park, through the Deep Creek community and finishes at Riverfront Park. The Rotary Club of Bryson City first sponsored the race in 2016, using the proceeds to fund their service projects in the community and around the world. This year, the money raised will go towards scholarships for Swain County students. In the past 10 years the Rotary Club has awarded over $750,000 to rising college freshmen.

Runners from across the U.S. have run this race every year. Every registered runner receives race t-shirts while supplies last and the top male and female finishers receive an award, while the top three finishers in each age group are awarded medals. Interested runners and walkers can participate in this Bryson City Fourth of July tradition by registering online at

State to ramp up impaired boating enforcement efforts

In efforts to ensure a safer July 4 holiday experience on the water, wildlife law enforcement officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) will participate in OperationDry Water, a national campaign being observed July 4-6, developed through the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).

The focus of the campaign is to heighten enforcement and awareness about the dangers of boating while impaired.  Wildlife officers will be increasing water patrols, providing boaters with information on the dangers of impaired boating and enforcing state laws.

It is unlawful to operate a recreational vessel with an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, or while being appreciably impaired by alcohol, drugs or other impairing substances. During last year’s campaign, NCWRC wildlife law enforcement officers deployed 159 officers and removed 40 people from the water who were boating while impaired.

Officials are also stressing the importance of other boating safety practices while on the water. So far this year, 37 boating incidents have occurred in North Carolina; seven were fatal. Wildlife law enforcement officers urge boaters to boat responsibly. Last year in North Carolina, boating incidents resulted in 19 fatalities. Of those, 17 were not wearing a life jacket.

For more information about Operation Dry Water and visit NCWRC’s boating safety campaigns webpage.

Mountain View Garden Club plant sale

Come out to Waynesville for the Mountain View Garden Club plant sale from 9 a.m. to noon July 6 at the Haywood County Farmers’s Market by the HART theater. In addition to annual and perennial plants, there will be herbs, flowering plants and a variety of beautiful yard art. All plants are locally grown and potted by the Garden Club members, as well as the yard art.

The Garden Club will use the proceeds to

Large animal vets encouraged to apply for state grants

Large animal veterinarians in North Carolina are eligible to apply for up to $25,000 in funds to help support their large animal practice. This $125,000 fund was created by the N.C. General Assembly in 2023 and will be administered by the N.C. Ag Finance Authority.

17 through Aug. 16. Applications are available online at

The Large Animal Health Enhancement Advisory Committee will make the determination on grant dispersal based on eligible applications. This committee includes the N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture; the State Veterinarian of North Carolina; the Executive Director of the North Carolina Agricultural Finance Authority; one designee from the Food Animal Scholars Program, North Carolina

The funding opportunity is available to veterinarians who practice in one of the 70 North Carolina counties with a population of 100,000 or fewer people that spend 30% or more of their patient care involved in large animal veterinary care.

The application period runs from June

State University, College of Veterinary Medicine; two practicing large animal veterinarians; two representatives of the livestock industry; one designee by the Commissioner of Agriculture of North Carolina; and one designee by the State Veterinarian of North Carolina.

Since its first running 34 years ago, the Firecracker 5K has grown from 30 to 300 runners. Donated photo
File photo

Notes from a Plant Nerd


Please don’t get me wrong, I love the orchids of springtime. Love them. They tend to be as big and showy and beautiful as springtime itself. Ladyslipper orchids, both yellow and pink (Cypripedium acaule and C. parviflorum) and showy orchis (Galearis spectabilis) are certainly beautiful and fun to see blooming in the woods in the spring.

Yet, there is something about orchids of summertime that hold my heart. The orchid days of summer are upon us, and it’s looking Orchidaceous out there!

One of my favorite things about myself is that I’m a big ol’ guy that likes little tiny flowers, and when it comes to orchids, the smaller the better. Orchids of summer tend to be small, harder to spot and delicately beautiful when viewed up close. Often a magnifier like a hand lens, a.k.a. jeweler’s loop, or a close zoom on a phone camera is helpful to appreciate their beauty and structure.

There are many orchids that grow in the woods of Southern Appalachia, and that is no surprise as the orchid family (Orchidaceae) is the largest plant family in the world, as well as the most widely dispersed with upwards of 28,000 species worldwide. Orchids are spectacular.

They are also special among all other plants in that they don’t provide their progeny with any energy to begin growing. They just send their seeds off with a root and a leaf, and maybe their best wishes.

All other plants provide energy for the first root and leaf to grow in the form of endosperm, stored energy put into the seed to help the new plants get started. Orchids are different. Their seeds are small and dust-like and contain only the first leaf, called the cotyledon, and the first root, called the radicle (for more info, see ”Going to Seed” from SMN’s Nov. 15, 2023, edition).

Purple fringed orchids (Platanthera grandiflora and P. psycodes) are some of my favorite summer orchids that bloom as tall spikes with numerous orchid flowers in a spike ranging from a light lavender to dark purple in color. The upper petals are fused into a hood, and the three lower petals are ringed with numerous fringes like splayed wingtips of a bird in flight. They are blooming right now along the unmowed roadsides at higher elevations in southern Appalachia.

The orchids of summer fill me with joy in their subtleties and diminutive beauty, similar to the frosty, glass-like petals of the rattlesnake plantain orchid (Goodyera pubescens) whose leaves lie on the forest floor year-round, even in winter. Their early summer blooms are gorgeous up close, if you know to look.

Among the tiniest of orchids are the green adder’s mouth orchid (Malaxis unifolia), which at most grows to 10 inches tall and can have 60 or more miniscule orchid flowers on its stalk at a time. I have a photo of one in bloom where there is a giant looking leaf behind the bloom, until you realize that it’s a strawberry leaf.

In wet areas, you may come across small orchids like the green woodland orchid (Platanthera clavellate) with a single leaf and a small cluster of greenish-yellow flowers. This plant is also called the club-spurred orchid due to the small nectar spur, or protrusion off the back of the flower where nectar is produced. This species can be found growing across the eastern half of the continent, ranging from north Florida to Canada. In all, there are over 70 species of orchids that grow in North Carolina, most of which can be found in the mountain counties. So keep your eyes peeled for these tiny beauties, and you may just find delight, awe, wonder and joy in the tiny flowers of a summer orchid.

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

Purple fringed orchid. Adam Bigelow photo

WNC events and happenings


• “Time of War” at Oconaluftee Indian Village takes place at noon and 3 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. A short battle reenactment performed by actors from “Unto These Hill” and reenactors from Oconaluftee Indian Village come together to depict what happens when a British militia invades a Cherokee town. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 828.497.2111.

• Summer Sounds, with music by Melissa McKinney and Asheville Junction, will celebrate the grand opening of the Hemlocks beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

• Mountain Voices will perform their annual summer concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at First United Methodist Church in Franklin.


OUR NEW ONLINE EVENTS PAGE! 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.

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

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

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

• Sylva Writers Group meets Wednesday mornings at City Lights Books. If interested contact

•The Waynesville Public Art Commission will unveil the mural recently installed at the Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center at 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 28. Drinks and cake to follow.

tion at

• Concerts on the Creek will continue with Darren Nicholson Band at 7 p.m. Friday, June 28, at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva.

• Thunder in the Smokies Summer Motorcycle Rally will take place June 28-30 at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. For more information visit or call 828.246.2102.

• Cowee Pottery School 10th anniversary celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at Cowee School in Franklin. For more information visit


• “Dogwood Crafters Class: Make Mini Books” will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 27, at 31 Front St. in Dillsboro.

• “Grief Toolkit” workshop will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 27 at 33 Adams Street in Canton. Cost is $45 to attend, but financial assistance can be provided.

• The 7th annual “Wet Your Whiskers” wine tasting fundraiser will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at Wells Event Center in Waynesville. The fundraiser supports Feline Urgent Rescue. For more information visit

• Learn the basics of birdwatching with a presentation from Dr. Barbara Ballentine, a professor of Biology with Western Carolina University, at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 2, at the Haywood County Library in Waynesville. For more information contact Collin at or call 828.452.5169.

• “Not Your Average Ladies Night” will take place at 5p.m. Wednesday, July 3, at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. This year the event will feature biking activities, refreshments and a raffle. For more information visit


• Tuscola Marching Band Car Wash Fundraiser will take place at 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays June 27 and July 11, 18 and 25, at Tractor Supply near Lake Junaluska and O’Reilly Auto Parts in Hazlewood.

• The Whee Read Summer Literacy Camp helping elementary aged children reach important literacy levels is looking for volunteers. Volunteers are needed from 12:30-1 p.m. each Thursday and Friday between now and July 12 to read with a K-2 camper. Register at Hosted by Center for Community Engagement & Service Learning. Find more informa-

• The Waynesville Public Art Commission will hold its annual fundraising event, “Chefs on Fire,” at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at the Folkmoot Center in Waynesville. Admission is $50 and $100 for VIP admission. For more information or to buy tickets visit


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Non insulated gauge

MarketPlace information:

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


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

• Free — Lost or found pet ads.

• $6 — Residential yard sale ads.*

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

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

• Boost Online — Have your ad featured at top of category online $4

• Boost in Print

• Add Photo $6

• Bold ad $2

• Yellow, Green, Pink or Blue Highlight $4

• Border $4

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


Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Request for Proposal.

The GSMR is inviting bids for the removal of used crossties. Scope of Work to be performed: Loading and transporting 600 tons of used crossties to White Creek Road, Waynesville, -

Ela Road, Bryson City,

City, NC. Partial bids are accepted and may be sealed bidding process. WBE/MBE participation is highly encouraged.

at GSMR’s sole discretion to the supplier or

offers the best value.

GSMR reserves the right to reject any and all bids. Bid submission deadline and formal bid opening:

2024. Submit all proposals to Great Smoky Mtns. Railroad. Attn: Kim

Submit any questions to

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Request for Proposal. The GSMR is inviting bids for

items are required to be manufactured from USA

invoicing. All materials must include delivery to GSMR Rail Yard:

Partial bids for materials are accepted and may be sealed bidding process. domestic steel and WBE/MBE participation is highly encouraged.

at GSMR’s sole discretion to the supplier or

offers the best value. GSMR reserves the right to reject any and all bids. Bid submission deadline and formal bid opening 2PM, Tuesday, proposals to Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Attn: Kim Albritton, PO Street, Bryson City NC

questions kimalbritton@


Case No.24E305

Laura K Dilallo, having -

lary Administrator of the Estate of Nicholas A Dilallo County, North Carolina, this is to notify all persons having claims against the Estate to present them

to the undersigned on or before Sep 19 2024, or

in bar of their recovery. All persons indebted to said Estate, please make immediate payment.

Ancillary Administrator

370 N. Main St., STE 310 Waynesville, NC 28786


Case No.2024 E 000324

Michael Grosso, havingutor of the Estate of Philip Carmen Grosso

North Carolina, this is to notify all persons having claims against the Estate to present them to the undersigned on or before Sep 05 2024, or

in bar of their recovery. All persons indebted to said Estate, please make immediate payment.

Executor 32 Amber Drive Horse Shoe, NC 28742



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