Smoky Mountain News | April 10, 2024

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A look at Western North Carolina’s farmers markets Western North Carolina’s Source for Weekly News, Entertainment, Arts, and Outdoor Information April 10-16, 2024 Vol. 25 Iss. 46 Details emerge
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in Haywood officer-involved shooting
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On the Cover:

As 4/20 approaches, The Smoky Mountain News takes a deep dive into the world of cannabis, from a local festival offering a legal high to Cherokee’s new dispensary to the tricky path to marijuana legalization in the state.

Cory Vaillancourt

Garret K. Woodward

ACCOUNTING & O FFICE MANAGER: Jamie Cogdill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

D ISTRIBUTION: Scott Collier

C ONTRIBUTING: Jeff Minick (writing),


April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 2
News Canton budget hole, thanks to Pactiv, approaches $1 million ..............................4 One hospitalized after officer-involved shooting in Haywood County 5 Smokies’ first dispensary to open 6 Recreational cannabis remains unlikely in NC ..........................................................8 Stoner’s Ball brings legal high to Haywood County 10 Two unaffiliated Swain commission candidates make the cut ............................11 Cooper makes appointment to fill WNC judicial vacancy 12 Duotech to expand in Macon ........................................................................................13 Opinion Celebrating libraries means ending book bans 14 A&E The Mallett Brothers Band rolls into WNC ................................................................16 World music comes to Franklin 18 Outdoors Mill Town Market back for second year at Sorrells Street Park 22 Up Moses Creek: A Siphon Does Not Sip ..............................................................26 STAFF E DITOR /PUBLISHER: Scott McLeod . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ADVERTISING D IRECTOR: Greg Boothroyd ART D IRECTOR: Micah McClure D ESIGN & PRODUCTION: Jessica Murray Jack Snyder D IGITAL MARKETING S PECIALIST Tyler Auffhammer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ADVERTISING SALES: Amanda Bradley Maddie
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
C LASSIFIEDS: Scott Collier . . . . . N
Kyle Perrotti WRITING: Hannah McLeod
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Thomas Crowe (writing) CONTACT
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(writing), Adam Bigelow (writing),
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Canton budget hole, thanks to Pactiv, approaches $1 million

Ever since Pactiv Evergreen announced back on March 6, 2023, that it would shutter its paper mill in Canton, town officials have been bracing for the budgetary impact that the closure would cause. The announcement came during last year’s budgeting process, prompting some small cuts at that time, but this fiscal year, the effects of the closure are finally in full view and they’re even worse than imagined.

“This is probably the toughest year that we will face, based on revenue,” said Natalie Walker, Canton’s CFO.

Although Canton has projected some small revenue increases for the coming year, they don’t nearly compensate for what’s to come.

“I am going to tell you that 2024-25 tax year is going to be very, very difficult,” said Wanda Lurvey, Canton’s tax collector known for her historically high collection rates. “You’re going to have to make tough decisions because right now with preliminary figures, I’m showing we’re going to have a reduction in tax revenue of approximately $1 million.”

Canton’s current general fund budget is on the order of $8 million.

Lurvey went on to plead with the board to continue its budget planning without considering what revenue it might receive from Pactiv, because as the company’s business personal property is assessed, Lurvey expects Pactiv to dispute whatever total the county’s assessor provides.

There is plenty of precedent for Lurvey’s suspicion; in 2023, shortly after the mill’s closing was announced, Pactiv fought the $19.8 million property tax valuation of its 185-acre mill parcel. Company attorneys said the property was only worth $5.8 million.

The Haywood Board of Equalization and Review torpedoed that request in short order, but Pactiv has filed an appeal with the North Carolina Property Tax Commission and has also filed a retroactive appeal on business personal property taxes it paid that year, which if successful would necessitate both Canton and the county refunding more than 90% of the $1.3 million that Pactiv did pay.

For the coming tax year, Lurvey is concerned that Pactiv will receive their tax bill, sit on it until filing an appeal, leaving the bill — due by Jan. 1 — unpaid until a resolution occurs.

Municipal budgets must, by law, be adopted no later than June 30 of each year. The uncertainty surrounding Pactiv’s

WCU, Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority sign agreement for McKee Clinic funding

Throughout Western North Carolina, there is a critical need for pediatric psychologists to conduct testing and provide other resources needed for children to be successful in and out of the classroom.

Continuing a long tradition of partnership and community between Western Carolina University and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, WCU and the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority decided to work together to meet the needs of children living in the Qualla Boundar y and beyond.

On April 1, WCU Chancellor Kelli R. Brown and CIHA Governing Board chair Carmaleta Monteith signed an agreement for CIHA to establish a fund to provide programmatic support for WCU’s College of

payments makes budgeting a near impossibility.

There are also ancillary revenue losses anticipated due to downturns associated with companies that used to do business with the mill, but it’s not yet clear what impact those losses will have on the budget.

Then, there are the usual cost increases all municipalities face, year after year, that Canton will have to figure out how to ameliorate.

street improvements, but due to the exorbitant cost of such repairs, that amount of money got the town exactly 0.66 miles of new pavement.

If enacted, the town would raise $18,220 for every $5 charged for a registration tax, up to a $109,320 for the maximum-allowable $30 fee. Mayor Zeb Smathers said he’d like to be able to present detailed paving plans to the public if such a tax was implemented, but that may not be possible due to the

WastePro will increase its rates 5.2% based on the Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which comes out to nearly $13,000 per year and brings the total contract cost to $262,205.

Health insurance premiums will see a 6% increase, or about $64,000, on the $1.1 million annual policy. In addition to a likely 2% cost of living adjustment for employees and the $1,000 yearly Christmas bonus for full-time employees, Canton’s 100% health care coverage is an important tool for employee retention efforts.

Contributions to the state retirement fund, both for general employees and for law enforcement officers, will both go up by around a point, to 13.65% and 15.04% respectively.

Also on the table is a proposed vehicle registration tax that failed in 2018 and was briefly brought up again in 2022. Last year, the town expended $151,000 in Powell Bill funds for

Donated photo

Education and Allied Profession’s McKee Assessment and Psychological Services Clinic. By adding a fixed-term psychology faculty member to WCU’s psychology program, the university will be able to increase the capacity to serve CIHA patients as well as expand training opportunities for WCU clinical psy-

need for unexpected repairs.

Water and sewer rates will also rise slightly, both for customers inside and outside town limits, but that’s one pain point not directly attributable to the mill; Canton’s aging water infrastructure has suffered a number of setbacks of late, and the pre-planned increases will help with maintenance and upgrades.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding this year’s budget, the town does have a cushion upon which to fall back — a $4 million unrestricted direct allocation from the General Assembly made last year and meant exactly for this purpose.

It’s likely that the town would dip into this reserve to fund continuing operations, but without additional economic development over the next few years, once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Canton is expected to hold a public hearing for the budget on Thursday, May 23, however, that could change at any time.

chology master’s and doctoral students.

The goal of the fund is to expand assessment and therapeutic services to patients and clients of CIHA, while also scaling services of the clinic in support of expanded training and clinical experiences for WCU master’s and doctoral students in the clinical psychology program. This goal will be achieved through the hiring of a fixed-term faculty member who is a licensed, clinical psychologist with a pediatric focus.

Cherokee man charged in wife’s murder from 10 years ago

A Swain County man is facing a federal charge for allegedly killing his wife in 2013, announced Dena J. King U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Ernest D. Pheasant, Sr., 46, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), is charged with one count of first-degree murder in Indian Country. Pheasant made his initial court appearance on Monday, April 8, 2024, before U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Carleton Metcalf.

According to allegations in the indictment, on Dec. 29, 2013, Pheasant killed his spouse, Marie Walkingstick Pheasant, and did so willfully, deliberately, maliciously and with premeditation. The indictment alleges that the murder occurred on the Qualla Boundary within Indian Country. Pheasant remains in federal custody. His arraignment and detention hearings are scheduled for April 10 in Asheville.

The charges arose from an investigation by the FBI in North Carolina, the Missing and Murdered Unit of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the Cherokee Indian Police Department

EBCI Office of the Tribal Prosecutor.

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 4
and the From left to right, Mike Parker, Tribal Council chairman; WCU Chancellor Kelli R. Brown; Carmaleta Monteith, chair of the CIHA Governing Board; and Casey Cooper, CIHA CEO and WCU Board of Trustees Member. Board members (left to right) Tim Shepard, Ralph Hamlett, Zeb Smathers, Gail Mull and Kristina Proctor attend a budget workshop on April 8. Cory Vaillancourt photo

One person hospitalized after officer-involved shooting in Haywood County

The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating an officer-involved shooting with the Haywood County Sheriff’s office over the weekend. Officials said a man exchanged gunfire with deputies and was taken to the hospital after being injured.

Officers responded to a 911 call in the eastern Haywood County community of Bethel on Saturday at about 5 p.m., according to a press release from the sheriff’s office. On the 911 call, a woman is heard describing her estranged husband coming up the driveway.

“I’ve got a restraining order on my husband, and he’s coming up the driveway right now,” the caller said, describing a white ’83 or ’84 Chevrolet truck.

The name of the person shot has not been released. The sheriff’s office has not said publicly whether he fired upon deputies first.

The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office told BPR that the 911 caller had a no-contact protective order in place against the suspect. The caller told the 911 dispatcher, “My dad’s pulling his pistol out, and I’m getting mine.”

“I’m going to say do what you feel is necessary,” the operator responded. “We’re going to get some deputies out that way.”

The caller called the operator back when she said her estranged husband then knocked on the door and said that he was giving her 10 minutes to come out of the home.

The caller told 911 that he was known to carry weapons but that he is no longer supposed to because of the restraining order. She explained they separated in February. Asked if her husband uses drugs, the woman said she suspected methamphetamine.

“I’ve never personally seen him do it. But that’s one of the reasons I left,” the caller said. “I never wanted to do this. I don’t know why he can’t let go...”

“I just don’t know what he’s liable to do. I just don’t want to take a chance,” she said.

On the call, the woman said she was hiding while her father told her estranged husband to leave his property. At one point, she checked what was going on in the driveway.

“I’m looking out the window right now and it looks like he’s arguing with the cops, the deputies,” the caller said.

“Go ahead and get away from the windows and door for me so that he can’t see y’uns and all that, okay?” the operator responded.

A moment later, the woman told the operator: “He does have shotgun. Oh sh*t.” After deputies arrived, there is quiet on the call and then popping sounds like gunshots that start slowly and move to more rapid succession, followed by a woman screaming.

The law enforcement press release said the deputies attempted de-escalation techniques prior to the shooting.

“One of our deputies engaged in a lengthy discussion to do everything possible to resolve this without the use of force,”

Haywood County Sheriff Bill Wilke told BPR. “Unfortunately, it did not go the way that we had hoped.”

On Monday, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office released two 911 tapes to BPR. About 15 minutes after the arrival of law enforcement, shots are heard on the 911 tape.

On the call, a deputy speaks with the caller after the incident as she asks if the suspect is dead.

“He ain’t dead, but he’s got enough holes in him to be dead though,” he said.

“Well did he pull the gun on y’uns and start firing?” the caller asked.

“No, we went to do less than lethal, and he grabbed that damn shotgun and, well, took off, so he got shot. Even with me trying to…he didn’t have but one round in the daggum shotgun but still he had more in his pocket,” the deputy explained on the 911 call.

Wilke would not confirm if the deputies involved are still working in the field. He said there were a “significant number” of deputies on that scene and that body cameras were worn. Wilke said he watched the footage on Monday morning.

“I have full confidence that everything that we did was to ensure the safety of everyone there – including the individual that we were engaging with,” Wilke said.

The State Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the office is investigating the incident. Haywood County Sheriff’s Offices requested that the SBI to conduct the investigation according to protocol, the press release said.

“I’m very proud of the professionalism and the manner in which the deputies handled this. I am waiting until the SBI completes its investigation before releasing any further details,” Wilke said.

The suspect was transported by helicopter to an area hospital, and no other injuries were reported, according to the press release.

Wilke would not confirm where the person involved in the shooting is being treated.

“He is still in the hospital and, I believe, stable. That was the last report that we got,” Wilke said on Monday.

Mission Health has not responded to a request for comment.

“I would really like to share more with you…,” Wilke told BPR. “I don’t want to inadvertently release something that is not 100% accurate without having the evidence in front of me to speak to.”

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 5 20+ YEARS OF SERVICE S Bklit + m Book online at: 828.456.3585 Haywood Square | 288 N. Haywood St. | Waynesville nclmbe 103

Smokies’ first dispensary to open

Cherokee’s long-awaited marijuana venture to finally generate some green

The path to cannabis legalization on the Qualla Boundary has been riddled with roadblocks, some of which the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians painstakingly navigated around, some of which it has bulldozed.

Now, everything will come to a head on 4/20 when Qualla Enterprise’s new marijuana dispensary will host its grand opening and begin selling product to anyone with a valid medicinal marijuana card issued by the tribe.

However, while many on the Qualla Boundary are celebrating this monumental step forward, there are still lingering questions over how local, state and federal officials may try to hamper efforts to grow the cannabis enterprise, as well as how quickly Tribal Council will move to finalize the legalization of recreational adult marijuana use.

Although for a while the projected opening date was sometime in late 2023, there were a few delays, and 4/20 seemed like the natural choice.

“It’s the national cannabis holiday, right?” Lee Griffin, human resources director for Qualla Enterprises, said at a February Tribal Council work session. “Across the country, it’s the biggest revenue date annually” for cannabis.

Qualla Enterprises confirmed that date in a statement, adding that the grand opening will begin at 10 a.m.

“Our world-class dispensary is a seed-to-sale operation. Upon opening, this facility promises to revolutionize the landscape of medical cannabis on the Qualla Boundary,” the statement reads. “With a commitment to quality, compassion, and education, Great Smoky Cannabis Co. aims to provide patients with safe and regulated access to medicinal cannabis products. The new dispensary will open with highquality tested products — including flower, vape products, edibles, topicals, and more — carefully curated to meet the diverse needs of patients. Product selection will continue to grow and evolve each month.”

The dispensary is located at 91 Bingo Loop Road in Cherokee.

While there was hope that sales would also be open to anyone over 21 who just wanted to walk in and purchase pot, that will not be the case. There will be a Tribal Council work session just two days before the opening of the dispensary during which adult use will be discussed, but a joint statement from tribal leadership published in the Cherokee One Feather was issued late last month that sought to address questions about the status of recreational use come 4/20.

“With 70 percent of voters in favor, we acknowledge the significance of this vote,” the statement reads. “Since then, we have approached this responsibility seriously so that any legislation concerning cannabis is practical and thought-

ful. This is a process that cannot be rushed; there are numerous factors to consider so that we are able to make the best decisions as these are decisions that can have significant long-term impacts on our tribe. Work is continuing to progress with the executive and legislative branches, and we are committed to make sure that any administrative efforts and legislation concerning recreational cannabis use is implemented responsibly. We will continue to provide updates as we move forward.”

The path to pot

EBCI began its quest toward marijuana legalization in 2015, when Tribal Council unanimously approved a feasibility study that sought to determine whether medicinal or recreational cannabis use, as well as industrial hemp, would benefit the tribe. Although then-Principal Chief Patrick Lambert vetoed the resolution due to concerns about recreational use, that veto was overturned in a unanimous vote

from Tribal Council.

Next, in 2017, EBCI began growing before eventually expanding to marijuana.

In 2021, Tribal Council voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and to stop testing Housing Improvement Program residents and applicants for the drug. Later that year, the tribe approved the use of medicinal cannabis and started accepting applications for medicinal marijuana cards in July 2023. At that time, a tribal cannabis advisory commission was established to study cannabisrelated issues and make regulatory recommendations.

The cannabis control board accepts applications from North Carolina residents over the age of 21. The cost for issuance to residents is $100 and $50 for enrolled EBCI members. There are several approved conditions, including anxiety disorder, eating disorders and cancer. Applications can be submitted at

Just one month before the medicinal cards were issued, EBCI voters overwhelmingly approved the legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana. The question on the ballot was simple: “Do you support legalizing the possession and use of cannabis for persons who are at least twenty-one (21) years old and require the EBCI Tribal Council to develop legislation to regulate the market?” Seventy percent of people who voted were in favor of the referendum. A resolution that would legalize cannabis use for adults was introduced during a Tribal Council meeting on Jan. 4 of this year.

The tribe expects its cannabis industry to quickly evolve into a cash cow. Neither medicinal nor recreational cannabis is currently legal in North Carolina, Tennessee or South Carolina, and in Virginia and Georgia, only medicinal marijuana is legal. Qualla Enterprises anticipates employing somewhere around 500 people and making enough money by fiscal year 2026 to send the tribe $260 million in profits. It’s also expected to make money for the tribe through generating a tribal levy, akin to a sales tax.

Getting the green

But funding for Qualla Enterprises has been uncertain almost every step of the way, with a number of Tribal Council votes to provide stopgap financing to keep the operation afloat while waiting for the revenue to come from the opening of the dispensary. Between March 2022 and December 2023, the tribe invested $34 million in its cannabis enterprise, but officials claimed that number fell short of the $50 million the company asked for over two years ago.

Upon winning the election and taking office last fall, Principal Chief Michell Hicks introduced

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DA Ashley Welch. Rep. Chuck Edwards.
Sheriff Curtis Cochran. Chief Michell Hicks.

a resolution that would have allowed Qualla Enterprises to take a $19 million from the tribe to be repaid with interest — a loan that avoided potential violation of federal law for using casino revenue to fund a federally outlawed venture. A month later, he requested approval for $3 million in stopgap funding, a request council approved.

A Smoky Mountain News story from January notes that to get the rest of the $19 million, that resolution said Qualla Enterprises would have to provide a final independent auditor’s report, product transportation plan and product testing plan, and complete “good faith negotiations” on the management agreement with vendor Sovereign Solutions Carolina. The story further notes that the company appeared to have met those requirements, though no details were ever made public.

was tied directly to EBCI’s vote to allow recreational adult use of marijuana and the fact that its passage would make the Qualla Boundary the only place in North Carolina to allow recreational adult use.

“The laws of any government should not infringe on the overall laws of our nation, and federal funds should not be awarded to jurisdictions that willfully ignore federal law,” Edwards said in a release. “During a time when our communities are seeing unprecedented crime, drug addiction, and mental illness, the Stop Pot Act will help prevent even greater access to drugs and ease the strain placed on our local law enforcement and mental health professionals who are already stretched thin.”

This came on the heels of a column Edwards wrote for the Cherokee One Feather that used even stronger language.

“This matter raises multiple questions on how North Carolina communities will be kept safe. Under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. §801 et seq.)) marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance. The CSA prohibits the manufacture, distribution, dispensation, and possession of marijuana. Federal anti-money laundering (AML) laws criminalize the handling of proceeds derived from various unlawful activities, including marijuana sales in violation of the CSA,” the senators continued.

The letter features a markedly different tone from Tillis’ remarks on recreational marijuana during a visit to Canton in August of last year when Haywood County Sheriff Bill Wilke brought up the topic.

Can’t get there from here

Marijuana has been grown on a 22.5-acre farm in the Cooper’s Creek area. Qualla Enterprises has previously said it has grown at least 45 strains and claims to have tens of millions of dollars in product in its inventory. However, there’s a hiccup when it comes to transportation. To get from the farm to the dispensary, shipments must cross out of the Qualla Boundary through Swain County. Although Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran has been relatively quiet on the issue, he did provide WLOS television with a statement that alludes to the fact he may try to stop those shipments.

“I have had several conversations with the chief, tribal attorney general, and others about the transportation of the cannabis from the Coopers Creek location back onto tribal property,” he said in that statement. “I stated that until North Carolina changes the law, that it is still illegal to possess or transport marijuana on the highway.”

Cochran didn’t respond to multiple requests for interviews from SMN.

While District Attorney Ashley Welch, whose office would prosecute marijuana possession or trafficking cases, didn’t answer questions posed in an email from SMN, she did provide a statement.

“The mission, duty and privilege of the 43rd Prosecutorial District is to enforce state laws,” the statement reads. “We do not pick certain laws to enforce and ignore others. On April 20, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will open a marijuana, cannabis dispensary on tribal land. Tribes have inherent authority as sovereign nations, subject only to federal, not state, law. We respect tribal sovereignty, and we respect the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ right to enact tribal laws. In North Carolina, the cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana remains illegal, and we will continue to enforce state law off Qualla Boundary.”

“Here in our beloved mountains, we are already facing unprecedented crime, drug addiction and mental illness. I can’t stand by and condone even greater access to drugs to poison more folks in WNC, not to mention having even more impaired drivers on our roads,” Edwards wrote.

“To allow our citizens to travel only a few miles to buy and use this common gateway drug — which the CDC and the New England Journal of Medicine have said can result in

One solution that sticks out that has been brought up at Tribal Council as the likely winner is the use of some form of aerial transportation — likely drones — to move product, but not many details, even potential routes, were discussed.

A challenge to sovereignty

Other elected officials have been more direct with their language when voicing displeasure with the tribe’s cannabis venture. In September of last year, Rep. Chuck Edwards (RHenderson) introduced the Stop Pot Act in Congress, which would have withheld federal funding from states and tribes that permit the use of recreational marijuana. In that release, Edwards specifically noted that the background of the bill

short- and long-term danger of addiction, altered brain development, chronic psychosis disorders and others — would be irresponsible, and I intend to stop it,” he continued.

In a letter from North Carolina’s Republican senators, Thom Tillis and Ted Budd, several questions were raised surrounding the legality and logistics of the tribe’s cultivation, processing, transportation and sales of marijuana. The questions in that letter were posed to a number of elected and appointed leaders, including DA Welch and Sheriff Cochran, as well as several state and federal officials.

“As our nation is facing an unprecedented drug crisis that is harming our communities, it is vital to learn what measures your departments and agencies are taking to uphold current federal and state laws,” the senators wrote

“I think, you know, the bell has rung when you have red states and blue states [legalizing cannabis],” Tillis said at that time. “I for one think that we should look at it like tobacco. We should regulate the crops, the FDA should have a role to play in terms of potency, ingredients, delivery methods, we should have a federal excise tax on it and we should have serious consequences, like the tobacco industry, if you run out of line.”

In a story from Spectrum 1, Sheyahshe Littledave, spokeswoman for EBCI’s Office of the Principal Chief, directly addressed the letter in a statement that claimed it was “replete with misinformation and inflammatory language that promote fear and misunderstanding,” adding that EBCI has attempted to enter the medical marijuana field “with careful and thorough consideration of all the legal and policy implications of this industry.”

“The Eastern Band is establishing a model for safety and responsibility in an industry that is already legal in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and tribal lands across the United States,” Littledave said. “It’s a shame that Senator Tillis and Senator Budd did not respectfully communicate their concerns directly to Eastern Band Cherokee leaders, instead choosing a frontal attack on Cherokee sovereignty.”

The letter marked only one salvo in an ongoing feud Tillis has had with the tribe, as well as sovereign Indian nations across the country, including his opposition to the “Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial and Sacred Site Act,” which directs Department of the Interior to take 40 acres of land in Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota, and return it to the Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes to be maintained as a memorial and sacred site.

During its April 4 meeting, Tribal Council approved a resolution in support of that legislation that notes that EBCI leaders recently met with leaders of the Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, along with other leaders of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association and the Coalition of Large Tribes.

“Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) is blocking both the Wounded Knee Sacred Site Act and the EBCI’s Historical Lands Act, to force tribes to give up their opposition to the efforts of the Lumbee group in North Carolina to become a federally-recognized tribe,” the resolution reads.

“Senator Tillis is also blocking other federal legislation important to federally-recognized Indian Nations as punishment for insisting that groups of people who claim to be American Indians and tribes should be required to go through the existing regulatory process developed by the Department of Interior over many years, to achieve federal recognition, and that these groups should not be allowed to circumvent this process through federal legislation,” it continues.

The fault line for this ongoing feud is likely Tillis’ support of the Lumbees in their quest to gain full recognition as a tribe entitled to federal benefits.

“The Lumbees, a group whose members falsely claim to be Cherokee, should be accountable for continuing to push Senator Tillis to hold hostage the interests of federally-recognized tribes,” the resolution reads. “The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians calls on federally-recognized tribal nations across the United States to oppose Senator Tillis’ blockade of Indian legislation, that he has imposed by his own personal preference and for an improper purpose.”

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 7
A sign along U.S. 19 points the way to Cherokee’s cannabis dispensary. File photo

Recreational cannabis remains unlikely in NC

In recent years, more and more states have made the decision to legalize, regulate and tax recreational cannabis products — despite federal prohibition — but North Carolina isn’t one of them, and the General Assembly doesn’t appear to be favorably inclined to support such measures despite the filing of a House effort last year.

“I don’t know for sure why the bill hasn’t moved, but I have some theories.

Frankly, a bill without Republican cosponsors isn’t going to pass in the legislature at this time,” said Rep. Lindsey Prather (D-Buncombe), one of 14 sponsors of the bill. “But also, cannabis is not an issue that N.C. Republicans have shown interest in giving much attention.”

Cannabis laws have changed rapidly, with recreational use now fully permitted in 24 states and Washington, D.C. A ballot initiative in Florida in November will settle the issue there.

Six states have permitted various forms of medical cannabis use with a further seven permitting CBD use. Two states, Nebraska and North Carolina, offer no legal uses for cannabis products but have decriminalized possession — which doesn’t mean it’s legal, but rather that penalties for simple possession have been drastically reduced. Only four states, — Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota and South Carolina — continue to hold cannabis as totally illegal.

The states where recreational cannabis products are legal have seen revenues associated with its taxation grow to hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Financial advice website Motley Fool said in November 2023 that were North Carolina to adopt an average cannabis taxation structure, it would see revenues of more than $182 million a year within three years of establishment.

On April 17, 2023, a group of 14 Democratic House representatives in the General Assembly filed H626, which would not only legalize recreational cannabis but also foster social equity by directing the proceeds of an excise tax towards affordable housing and home ownership programs, industry-specific entrepreneurial training, scholarships, low-interest loans and grants to community organizations.

The next day, the bill went to the rules committee. It hasn’t moved since. It does, however, lay out a detailed regulatory plan for what recreational cannabis in North

Carolina might look like.

“H626 is more of a messaging bill than one that we expect to move during this session,” Prather said. “We use it to guide the conversation about what our state could look like with a more forward-thinking legislature.”

The bill’s legislative findings state that the prohibition of cannabis, “like alcohol before it, has been a wasteful and destructive failure” because half of all Americans admit to having used cannabis despite more than eight decades of prohibition. Regulating cannabis like alcohol, the bill continues, would replace an “uncontrolled, illicit market with a well-regulated system.”

Prohibition also “deprives the state of thousands of legal jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue,” while also diverting law enforcement resources from violent crimes and property crimes, according to the findings.

Findings also acknowledge the disparate impact prohibition has had on people of color, citing a 2020 report by the American Civil Liberties Union that found Black people 3.6 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession despite usage rates that are nearly identical to those of Whites.

Starting at the top, the bill would establish the Office of Social Equity under the purview of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and led by a governorappointed executive director with experience in civil rights advocacy, litigation or social justice.

One of the OSE’s first jobs would be to define “social equity applicant,” a special class of people who would qualify for preferential treatment in starting cannabisrelated businesses. The definition would likely include people with cannabis-related convictions as well as racial and ethnic minorities that have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition.

Among other duties, the OSE would also create procedures for the registration, inspection and license renewal of cultivation and testing facilities, as well as retail outlets. Fees would be capped at $5,000 but adjust for inflation each year.

A scoring system would be used to evaluate a business expanding to more than two cannabis facilities, based on the establishment’s contributions to equity, including but not limited to minority participation, employee-ownership, establishment in economically disadvantaged areas and environmental responsibility and sustainability.

As with recent legislation permitting social districts, local governments would need to specifically allow by ordinance the operation of cannabis-related businesses within their territorial limits before those businesses could begin operating.

Local governments could also expressly prohibit them, but could not prohibit the transportation of cannabis products through their jurisdiction.

Likewise, on-site consumption could be permitted or prohibited by ordinance, and local governments could also regulate the time, place and manner of sales and levy an optional 2% tax on the sale price of cannabis products.

The OSE would administer proceeds from a 30% excise tax which, first and foremost, would pay for regulation and enforcement in the marketplace.

Beyond those costs, the OSE then contributes to three separate funds created to boost industry participation by people from marginalized communities and mitigate some of the harmful effects of prohibition on those communities.

The Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund would receive 25% of the net tax revenue to promote job placement, training and reentry programs, scholarships for low-income students, violence prevention grants for community organizations and home ownership among members of underrepresented minority groups.

The Social Equity Fund would receive 10% of the net and use it to provide zerointerest loans or grants to social equity applicants and the cannabis establishments they own and operate.

The Cannabis Education and Technical Assistance Fund would receive 3% and fund free or low-cost training to people working in the cannabis industry.

North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services would end up with 11% for substance abuse treatment, for an awareness campaign focused on impaired driving and for scientific studies exploring the benefits of cannabis.

sion and use of cannabis for personal use by persons at least 21 years of age,” with a possession limit of two ounces, 15 grams of concentrated cannabis like waxes and oils, edibles totaling less than 2,000 milligrams of THC and up to six plants. If the plants produce more than two ounces of cannabis, the excess must remain on the premises.

Advertising would be restricted in similar fashion to tobacco. Products would need child-proof packaging with clear labeling and, in the case of edibles, nutrition facts.

Purchase and consumption of cannabis would be regulated much like alcohol. Age verification would take place at the point of purchase. Courts could order substance abuse treatment for persons under 21 found possessing or consuming cannabis products, while those who utilize false identification to purchase it could be subject to a fine of $125 and up to 15 hours community service.

Smoking in public would constitute an infraction, with a $50 fine and community service. Operating a motor vehicle or motorized device would also be an infraction, with a $250 fine, 25 hours community service and/or a six-month license suspension and increasing penalties for repeat offenders.

Importantly, the bill prohibits discrimination against consumers while upholding private property rights.

DPS is in line for 1% to conduct advanced training on impaired driving. Whatever’s left of the excise tax revenue after that would go straight into the state’s general fund.

Consumers and customers wouldn’t likely notice all the behind-the-scenes regulation and reinvestment, but would need to be aware of the rights and obligations that come with recreational cannabis.

Were it ever enacted, the bill would legalize paraphernalia as well as “posses -

Property owners, managers or landlords wouldn’t have to allow the cultivation, sale, transfer or use of cannabis products on their properties, whether commercial, industrial or residential in nature, although they couldn’t discriminate against tenants on the basis of a past cannabis conviction and cannot prohibit the possession or use of nonsmoked cannabis on residential properties.

Business owners would not be prevented from disciplining employees or contractors for consumption in the workplace, or for working while impaired, but employers could not penalize an employee solely for cultivating, selling, transferring or using recreational cannabis products outside of work unless it would constitute negligence or professional malpractice.

Courts and government agencies would be prohibited from discriminating against those who cultivate, sell, transfer or use cannabis products when considering matters of professional licensure, public assistance benefits, child

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 8
Rep. Chuck Edwards. File photo Rep. Lindsey Prather. File photo Rep. Caleb Rudow. File photo
Rep. Mark Pless. File photo

custody or visitation, medical care or conditions of pretrial release.

The bill also provides for the automatic expunction of convictions for offenses involving cannabis or hashish and prohibits law enforcement resources from being used when their sole basis regards a violation of federal law.

Western legislators remain opposed to any form of recreational cannabis legalization.

Rep. Mark Pless (R-Haywood) specifically cited the federal prohibition as a big reason why he’s opposed, however, even if cannabis was rescheduled federally, he’d still oppose recreational legalization in the state.

As one of the foremost regional crusaders against impaired driving, Rep. Mike Clampitt (R-Swain) opposes recreational cannabis on those grounds.

“We’ve got enough issues with people impaired on our highways, byways and waterways,” Clampitt said. “We don’t need to add to that.”

Rep. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) recently attacked the sovereignty of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians by threatening to withhold federal highway funding ahead of the tribe’s vote on a referendum to legalize the adult recreational use of cannabis. That referendum passed with about 70% of the vote.

Edwards’ General Election opponent, Buncombe County Democratic Rep. Caleb Rudow was one of the co-sponsors of H626. If he defeats Edwards, Rudow said he’d continue his fight on the federal level.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans support legalization and I was proud to co-sponsor a bill to legalize cannabis in the NC House,” Rudow said. “In Congress, I would push for de-scheduling cannabis at the federal level so states have the freedo m to make their own choices on the issue.”

Drivers urged to put the phone down

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is calling on motorists to focus solely on the road and do all they can to help prevent accidents during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which runs throughout April across the United States.

“Driving any vehicle requires serious concentration, whether you’re a novice or highly experienced on the road,” Causey said. “Sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s akin to driving the length of an entire football field — blindfolded.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving killed 3,308 people in 2022, while 289,310 were injured. Commissioner Causey joins the NHTSA, other insurance commissioners and safety advocates across the nation in raising the awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 9

Stoner’s Ball brings legal high to Haywood County

The Stoner’s Ball is coming to Haywood County, but it may not be quite what people think.

While the event indeed promises an elevated experience on April 19 and the stoner holiday 4/20, organizers promise that things will be kept 100% legal and extra measures are being taken to ensure everything goes off as safely as possible.

The founder of the feast is Jo Ellyn Woodward, known to most as the Blunt Queen. The Blunt Queen image has been carefully cultivated, and she can often be seen at either of her cannabis dispensaries in Spindale or Maggie Valley wearing a sort of crown made up of partially smoked blunts.

Woodward’s dispensaries are both called “Terps and Shine.” The Maggie Valley location opened in September of last year in the former Cartel Baggers location on Soco Road and sells a variety of products, including Delta 8, Delta 9, THCa and CBD. She said that the Stoner’s Ball will offer those same products. Each of those other than CBD produces a psychotropic effect akin to marijuana when smoked. However, each substance is legal.

While the Stoner’s Ball was initially envisioned as a relatively small gathering that would take place at the Maggie Valley Terps and Shine location, interest in the event grew steadily, and the venue was changed to the Stompin’ Grounds. Before long, Woodward moved it to the Smoky Mountain Event Center near Clyde.

By January, Woodward was off to the races. She and her assistant began to nail down the schedule, vendors and other details.

“There’s a lot of misconception. It somewhat snowballed into something because of the name, but we’ve vetted what’s going on, and there’s nothing that makes it so we can’t offer her the facility.”
— Josh Justice, SMEC board secretary

4/20, and those have already sold out. The event space capacity is 1,500, and more tickets will be available at the gate.

“When I circled back to the Facebook event page, I saw 8,000 people were interested in the event,” she said with a laugh. “I wondered how people even found out about this. I was very encouraged to hear about how many people are coming in from out of town and getting hotel rooms.”

“Stoner’s Ball started as a joke, I won’t even lie,” she said. “I was at a venue with a bunch of [Moonshiners cast members] … I just said, ‘we should do a stoner’s ball on 4/20.’”

“I assumed maybe 100 people would show up, so let’s get a band and have a little party,” she said.

But now the event will span two days. There were 1,000 presale tickets available for

The event initially sparked concerns over a few potential issues. Haywood County Sheriff Bill Wilke didn’t speak on the record, but he did send a statement to The Smoky Mountain News. That statement outlined his apprehensions in strong language but also noted that there wasn’t much that could be done.

“After review of the scheduled event known as ‘Stoner’s Ball,’ and having consulted with our legal counsel, there appears to be nothing illegal about what is planned at the Smokey Mountain Event Center (SMEC) on the evening of April 19,” the statement reads. “Regardless, Delta 8, the substance that supposedly will be distributed at this event, has a significant effect of impairment (getting high) when used, and is virtually indistinguishable from organic plant grown marijuana when consumed. As such, I have significant concerns about the security and safety of attendees, and their activities following the event, particularly travel. My primary concern is everyone’s safety. As a side note, it appears that several hundred are planning to F

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 10 100 Charles St. WAYNESVILLE FREE ESTIMATES
Jo Ellyn Woodward, right, a.k.a. The Blunt Queen, is the driving force behind the Stoner’s Ball. Donated photo

Two unaffiliated Swain commission candidates make the cut

Swain County now knows who will appear on the November General Election Ballot for county commissioner.

Four people mounted campaigns to obtain the

attend from across the state and beyond, and how the board and the staff of the SMEC plans to mitigate its own liability in permitting an event like this on county property, under such conditions, is a serious question.

“The families of Haywood County, including my own, have enjoyed the fair, bingo, flea markets, horse shows and agricultural events at the SMEC over the years. It breaks my heart to see what is occurring. I doubt that those who planned for and built what we’ve always called ‘The Fairgrounds’ envisioned how it is now being used. I always thought it to be an environment for children and families to grow up in and around agriculture and neighbors visiting neighbors at the various family events we’ve all come to enjoy.”

required number of signatures to make it to the General Election as unaffiliated candidates. Of those four, two made the cut, current Bryson City Mayor Pro Tem Ben King and Bobby Jenkins. Unaffiliated candidates hoping to appear on the ballot were required to get 390 valid signatures (equivalent to 5%) from registered Swain County voters.

King and Jenkins will join incumbent Kenneth Parton and youth pastor Tanner Lawson, winners of the Republican primary, on the ballot come November. The four will vie for two seats on the board. Voters will be able to cast votes for up to two candidates.

of discriminatory practices, it could potentially open SMEC up to a lawsuit. Board members added they honestly hadn’t heard a lot of complaints or concerns.

“Other than [the one public comment], aside from a lot of through-the-grapevine, we haven’t had a lot of direct comments,” said Board Chair Melissa Jackson.

At the SMEC board meeting held April 8, one man did voice concerns about how the Stoner’s Ball may affect the image of the county to outsiders, but that was it. Board members said that since the event had security and there won’t be illegal activity, it would be tantamount to discrimination to prevent it from happening. While the board didn’t specifically discuss the ramifications

Furthermore, they said Woodward has been great to work with.

“There’s a lot of misconception,” said board secretary Josh Justice. “It somewhat snowballed into something because of the name, but we’ve vetted what’s going on, and there’s nothing that makes it so we can’t offer her the facility.”

Woodward said she’s worked with the board and event coordinator Nancy Davis to make the event as safe and seamless as possible.

“It’s been easy to work with those folks,” she said. “I’ve had zero qualms.”

In her interview with SMN, Woodward directly addressed a couple of concerns.

First, how would she stop people from bringing illegal marijuana into the event?

“We will have people walking the parking lots to make sure no one is smoking out there,” she said. “And people will not be allowed to bring their own products in. We

will have products available … we will have pre-rolls (joints) in a particular paper.”

Anyone smoking anything other than those pre-rolls will get booted by the security Woodward has hired.

“We won’t have any bongs or hookahs or dab rings or any of that,” she said. “We don’t want the cops there.”

Another obvious potential issue is the possibility that inebriated people may want to drive after smoking at the event.

“If anybody is too impaired, we have sober volunteers that can give them a ride,” she said. “How they come back and get their cars is on them.”

“If there’s one bad thing then my store has a bad name,” she added.

Woodward was excited about the diverse array of attractions beyond the smokables that will be up for the offering. There will be cast and crew members from multiple TV shows, including “Moonshiners” and “Master Distillers.” However, Woodward was quick to point out that no alcohol will be sold, and alcohol consumption of any

kind is not allowed. There will also be live music from regional acts throughout each day, and vendors will be on-hand selling everything from jewelry to soaps to clothes — mostly wares that the hippie crowd may be interested in.

“Plus products will be available there to elevate the party profusely,” she said, adding that food trucks will provide the munchies.

There is one moment that Woodward was particularly excited for.

“We have a couple getting married right there at 3 p.m. on 4/20,” she said, adding that instead of the traditional unity candles, they’ll be offering folks pre-rolled joints to celebrate the nuptials.

In addition, Woodward said there will be a 50/50 raffle, with half the proceeds going to benefit the nonprofit Help a Vet Shine, which works to provide military veterans with resources and services.

There will also be competitions for best hippie outfit and best beard.

Gates will open at 2 p.m. April 19 and 20, live music will begin at 4 p.m. each day.

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 11 RE/MAX EXECUTIVE 71 North Main St. Waynesville Real Experience. Real Service. Real Results. 828.452.3727
The event was going to be held at Woodward’s store and then Maggie Valley’s Stompin’ Grounds before finally landing at the Smoky Mountain Event Center. File photo Haywood County Sheriff Bill Wilke. File photo

Cooper makes appointment to fill WNC judicial vacancy

Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed a new Superior Court judge in Western North Carolina.

The announcement was made late last week that current District Court judge Tessa Sellers will soon assume her new role on the Superior Court bench. She will tentatively be sworn in May 1.

The series of events that ultimately led to Sellers’ appointment was kicked off when Superior Court Judge William Coward retired earlier this year, creating the vacancy on the bench in a district with a significant backlog of cases.

On. Feb. 24, Sellers won a special vote held in Clay County over Assistant District Attorney and fellow Republican John Hindsman and will now appear on the November General Election ballot for the Superior Court seat for District 43A, made up of Macon, Swain, Clay, Graham and Cherokee counties.

The process for that vote was explained in a Jan. 13 NCGOP memo that the party provided to the Smoky Mountain News..

The voters were the nine members of the party’s executive committees in the five counties that comprise the district. Each county’s total was weighted according to its number of registered Republican voters. The numbers for the weighted vote were pulled when the memo was issued and were as follows: Macon had the most at 35.31%, then Cherokee with 33.71%, Clay with 13.52%, Swain with 8.77% and Graham with 8.69%.

Following that vote, Sellers said the prospect of leaving her District Court seat to move up to Superior Court is bittersweet.

“I really have enjoyed being a District Court judge, and there would be aspects of that court and the people in that court system that I would miss,” she told The Smoky Mountain News. “But I’m really thrilled with the opportunity to expand on my judicial career and to be able to serve in a role where I can do new things within the system.”

ballot for District Court, but it’s unclear whether anyone from that party is even interested. Sources from neither party would indicate on the record who they thought might be interested.

Woodhouse said the party can’t act until the seat is officially vacated around the May 1 swearing in date. Once that happens, the party has one week to put forward a name for the November ballot. She said the executive committees of the seven counties’ Republican Parties will meet and vote on May 4.

“Gov. Cooper and the Board of Elections will have a name in hand by lunchtime on the fourth of May,” Woodhouse said. “We’re hoping that then Gov. Cooper will make a quick appointment.”

Like with the Superior Court seat, while the winner of the November General

Sellers won with a weighted total of 66.7 percent of the vote, and right away NC-11 GOP Chair Michele Woodhouse called for Cooper to appoint Sellers to fill the vital vacancy. In an interview on April 8 following the appointment, Woodhouse expressed gratitude for his swift action.

“We are pleased that Gov. Cooper took the recommendation that we put forth with Tessa and had Judge Coward’s seat appointed quickly. We’re thankful for that. It proved that what the Republican parties in the five far west counties did was the right thing for the five far-west counties,” Woodhouse said.

Election will earn a full term on the bench to begin Jan. 1, Cooper will have the opportunity to appoint a district court judge who could serve until then. If Democrats show no interest in putting forward a candidate of their own, it seems likely Cooper — a Democrat — may appoint whomever the Republicans select.

Now that Sellers has gained Cooper’s appointment, that will soon create a vacancy in District Court. When that happens, it will initiate a similar process to place a Republican on the ballot for that seat. Democrats will also have a chance to follow procedures outlined in their plan of organization to determine who may appear on the

To fill the vacancy that opened up less than a year ago in District Court when Kristina Earwood retired suddenly due to an emerging health concern, members of the bar in the seven counties voted to provide Cooper with three recommendations for her successor. The top vote-getter, Justin Greene, was appointed by Cooper and sworn in last November Western North Carolina will also get another new District Court judge Jan. 1 when Virginia Hornsy, a Macon County Republican, will be sworn in after beating Andy Buckner in the Republican primary.

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 12 Affairs of the Heart ————————————————————————————— 120 N. Main St. • Waynesville 828.452.0526 •
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Tessa Sellers gained Gov. Roy Cooper’s appointment to Superior Court after winning a vote to appear on the ballot in November. File photo Gov. Roy Cooper Michele Woodhouse. File photo

Duotech to expand in Macon

Almost 100 high-paying jobs are expected in Macon County with the expansion of Duotech Services, LLC.

“This is a win-win situation for the company and the citizens of Macon County and our local economy,” said Economic Development Director Tommy Jenkins.

For several months, the county has been working with Duotech on a proposal for its expansion project in Macon County. The company is in the aerospace and defense industry, providing repair and sustainment services for radar and military equipment systems, as well as proprietary radar products. It was founded 42 years ago and has been in its current location at the industrial park for 26 years.


The incentive agreement is a five-year agreement in which the county will pay Duotech $100,000. That money is payable in four increments of $25,000 each time the company achieves one fourth of its job creation promise.

“Those incentive dollars, $100,000 at 95 jobs, come to about $1,053 per job,” said Jenkins. “There are appropriate claw backs in that agreement which our county attorney has worked to negotiate that would require performance commitments of fulltime employees and a direct investment in plant property and equipment.”

In order to make room for the expansion project, Duotech will have to demolish the building on the property purchased from the county and construct its own structure.

The company is currently operating with 35,000 square-feet and 60 employees and is looking to add approximately 50,000 square-feet and a projected 95 employees over five years. Those employees are expected to earn an average salary of $82,000.

“This is a unique opportunity for Macon County,” said Jenkins. “You don’t see many companies that are offering that kind of wage and that kind of direct incentive.”

“If you compare that with the state average [salary] which is $65,000, and the Macon County average [salary] which is $40,034 per year, you can see that that’s quite an increase over average wages, which is good for the county,” said Jenkins.

This is estimated to pump $7.8 million per year into the county economy through payroll and provide a capital investment of at least $5.8 million over five years. According to county staff, this is the largest investment project the county has ever seen.

“This is a competitive project with a couple of other locations that have also been in discussion,” said Jenkins. “We were competing against other areas.”

Part of the claw-backs include a provision that if the building is not demolished within eight months of closing, then the county has the right to buy it back for the same price it sold.

“What that ensures is that this isn’t a flip where they’re going to buy it and then turn around and sell it for $1.5 million or something,” said County Attorney Eric Ridenour.

The property that Duotech is buying from the county, worth almost $800,000, will reduce in value to about $200,000 when the building on the site is demolished.

“That shows that they’ve got the investment there where they’ve given up $600,000 worth of equity right there in order to construct what they plan to construct,” said Ridenour.

“I appreciate the detail on the clawbacks,” said Commissioner Josh Young.

“This is a win-win situation for the company and the citizens of Macon County and our local economy.”
— Tommy Jenkins, Macon County Economic Development Director

During a March 25 county commission meeting, the board unanimously approved an incentive package for the Duotech expansion, and a purchase agreement with the company to purchase the existing business development center.

The business development center is located on 2.72 acres; Duotech is purchasing the property for the tax-appraised value of

In addition to approving the sale of the property and the investment plan, the county commission approved a $100,000 budget amendment to pay for the cash incentives over the next five years.

“That $100,000 [of incentives] is peanuts compared to what this investment is and the jobs,” said Commissioner John Shearl.

The transaction is scheduled to close within 90 days of the executed agreement with the county.

“This is a tremendous deal,” said County Manager Derek Roland. “Thank you, [Tommy] and thank you Eric, because both of y’all worked very hard to get this.”

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News news 13

Celebrating libraries means ending book bans

I’m no extremist. I like discourse with people who hold opposing viewpoints. You can sway me with sound arguments. I feel enlightened when coming away with a better understanding of why people think the way they do.

But not on the issue of book banning, not on the right of free people to read freely, not on censorship and my opposition to efforts by politicians to punish school teachers and librarians when it comes to subject matter and books they want to “teach,” which really means “discuss.” On this issue I’ll argue every time for open access to books, to knowledge, to efforts to combat ignorance. No compromising on this issue, not ever.

As we mark a week dedicated to celebrating what libraries stand for (National Library Week is April 7-13), I couldn’t help but reflect on what’s been over the past couple of years regarding books, libraries and schools in Western North Carolina and beyond. Far from being celebrated, many people were casting these institutions as purveyors of pornography. Let’s just say it’s been a tough time to be a librarian. Who would have thought, right?

impact grow exponentially.

The first story we wrote about the issues of books in the Fontana Regional Library system upsetting some patrons was in July 2021 from Franklin. A display of book titles with themes on different types of sexuality other than traditional heterosexuality caught the attention of patrons, some of whom were upset.

I looked back at that story and was surprised at how reasonably both sides presented their arguments. Those opposed to the display said they loved libraries but that such reading materials could lead to awkward conversations between parents and their children. Another mom embraced the fact that such a display might lead to a conversation where she could explain things to her children and help them understand how people are different.

hundreds of supporters to the auditorium at Haywood Community College.

Stone said she understands that parents are concerned about how their children are raised. But like the mom in Macon County, she believes one must teach their children to understand the world in which they live.

“I’m 37. I have kids of my own. I do understand the instinct to try and keep your children safe and to shield them from things in the world that you don’t feel like they’re ready for. But that can be detrimental. And I think it’s that gray space between recognizing that we are supposed to be preparing our children for a world that they’re going to enter and have to live in and have to work in, have to love in, and also trying to keep them as innocent and safe and sheltered as we possibly can,” Stone told The Smoky Mountain News.

It really should come as no surprise that books, libraries and schools would get caught up in the broader culture wars that are dividing Americans. Most of us are familiar with the saying that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and countless examples exist. It’s one thing to say something powerful or controversial during a speech or while conversing; it’s another matter altogether to put those words into print, whether on a website, in a newspaper or perhaps into a book. The effect and

Trump’s espionage demands action

To the Editor:

In early March, Jack Teixeira, the former Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who posted classified intelligence reports online, switched his plea to guilty in exchange for a sentence of 16 years in prison, avoiding espionage charges and a possible 60-year term. Teixeira will be 38 when he's released as opposed to 82. Prosecutors found no evidence of espionage, he was just tr ying to impress his friends.

When I joined the Navy 64 years ago, my first assignment was a communications school in California. On day one the instructor announced; "Gentlemen, everything you will see in this school, everything you hear, everything you touch, is classified, don't talk about it outside this space." I thought, this ain't rocket science, I can do this. Jack Teixeira didn't get the same message apparently, and times do change.

The last 60 years have exposed a notable decrease in acceptable standards, a consequential loosening of moral and ethical principles and after three generations of depreciating parenting skills underscored by a lack of discipline and accountability, we find ourselves witnessing the collapse of American society leading to the irrefutable fact that simply telling the truth is as immaterial as violat-

That conversation about what schools — or libraries — should teach and what should be left to parents and what age certain topics should be broached is not new, and it won’t end anytime soon. And the fact is that just because a book with what one might consider radical beliefs is read in a class or available in a library, that’s not to say those teachers and librarians embrace that viewpoint. Let the reader decide.

In February 2022, Haywood County’s former superintendent of schools decided a 10th-grade English class could not study the book “Dear Martin” — which deals with racism, some sexuality, and other realities facing high-schoolers — after a parent lodged complaints. That led to the author Nic Stone making an appearance in Haywood County that drew


ing an oath of office.

It seems to me that bad behavior has become the accepted norm in our homes, in our schools, the workforce and throughout our society in general. Consequently, the actions of the Jack Teixeira's of our world surprise me not at all. He was sent out into the human community unprepared for obligations, responsibilities or to be held accountable.

Unlike the former president — who is best described as a sociopathic, narcissistic, incompetent, self-worshipping liar — who was sent out into the world fully cognizant and mindful that the crimes he was committing could lead to two impeachments and a 37-count indictment for stealing and storing some of the United States' most closely held secrets — including information about nuclear programs, defense vulnerabilities and attack plans — in his home at Mar-a-Lago, in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, his bedroom, an office, a storage room, and then obstructed federal officials seeking their return.

Jack Teixeira has not been a free man since the day he was caught for what, in comparison, was a far lesser offense than that committed by Trump, crimes which had global repercussions affecting our national defense and our allies, gravely serious acts for which

Here’s the truth: I would be surprised if there wasn’t something in every library in this nation that would offend someone. That’s often the point of books and essays and art, to make an opinion about our values. Libraries and schools that have books that deal with these subjects aren’t cramming those values down the throats of children. Instead, they are trying to educate them.

We exist in a culture of values, where we have certain beliefs about what is right and wrong. That is as it should be. In my view, education and exposure and discussion about what is going on in the world around us is paramount to a meaningful life. No blinders. With that in mind, I’ll celebrate what libraries stand for by advocating for no banned books, less ignorance and more understanding.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at

the former president may never be held accountable. Meanwhile he enjoys the luxury of his freedom to portray the prosecutor in the case (Jack Smith) as "deranged," a "thug," and of course, a "Trump hater."

That will appeal to the new Republican Party, the MAGA cult that Trump owns lock, stock and barrel. However, I lean toward more equitable disciplinary action befitting the enormity of Trump's crimes against the United States. As Saint Augustine would say, "Justice for the Unjust," the lower level of the Pompeii dungeon seems appropriate. I've been there and it's not a pleasant place.

How can Christians support Trump?

To the Editor:

To all Donald Trump supporters who identify as Christians: I’m writing to summarize Trump’s unholy actions during Holy Week and challenge you to defend them.

On Easter Sunday — a day many true Christians consider the most holy/sacred day of the year — Trump spent his time creating 77 unhinged, hate-filled posts on his Truth Social platform. Earlier in the week, he appeared in a video promoting the sale of the DJT Bible and on Good Friday, Trump pro-

moted political violence by posting an image of a “hogtied” President Biden laying on his side in the bed of a pickup truck.

While he claims the Bible is his “favorite book,” I don’t recall him ever referencing Scripture when he speaks. As a matter of fact, he’s traditionally evaded questions about biblical content; for example, when asked by a reporter which he preferred — the Old or New Testament — he said “both.” On another occasion when a journalist asked if he had a favorite chapter/verse, he said it was a deeply personal subject and he didn’t like to talk about it, then went on to say, “I like them all.”

By saying he’s “never needed to ask for forgiveness,” Donald Trump is disavowing a central core belief of evangelical Christians. So, why are his supporters giving him a pass on that fundamental belief? Do you truly believe him when he says he’s “never done anything wrong?’

Just as he’s doing with our legal system, Donald Trump has made a mockery of our Christian faith by using it for political gain. Don’t listen to what he says — watch what he does. None of his actions reflect Christian values and his desire to return to the White House is based solely on revenge and retribution. His claims that “God made Trump” and that he is “Christ-like” constitute idolatry and blasphemy. His purpose is simple: money and votes. Who is going to prove me wrong?

Opinion Smoky Mountain News 14
Scott McLeod
April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 15 150+ vendors Arts & Crafts Beverage Arts Food and more Live Music BRIDGE PARK STAGE kid’s activities & Glass C GREENINGUPTHEMOUNTAINS . COM 10:00 Maggie Valley Band 11:30 PMA 1:00 Whitewater Bluegrass 2:30 Shane Meade & The Sound

Gold light

Mallett Brothers Band rolls into WNC

It was about 15 years ago when Will Mallett cruised into Portland, Maine, and ended up crashing on the couch of his brother, Luke, and his roommate, Nick Leen — all in an honest, perhaps curious effort to see what the future held for the 20-something fresh out of college.

“[Nick and I] were in other bands together and had already spent a few years coming up in the Portland music scene,” Luke said. “We all knew each other, we had all played shows together or shared stages in the past, and it didn’t take long to get a lineup together that we knew would bring the first couple of songs to life.”

Like any musical act with raw talent and a captivating stage presence, there were — at least initially — no expectations in what has come to pass as The Mallett Brothers Band. Back then, the only rules were (and remain) to go out there in front of the microphone, play your damn heart out and just have fun purely for the hell of it — chase after the unknowns of tonight that could parlay into the fruits of tomorrow and thereafter.

“My brother [and I] had grown up in the music business and always looked at it as something attainable and real,” Luke said. “The momentum seemed to pick up very quickly, and our hopes of getting a couple bar gigs quickly turned into something more. The songs kept coming, and the fan base kept growing — within a few years we were able to turn this into a full-time endeavor.”

With Luke and Will on vocals/guitars and Leen playing bass, the group rounded itself out with multi-instrumentalist Andrew Martelle and drummer Brian Higgins.

“The music scene here in Maine was the most welcoming and supportive scene we could have hoped to get started in, and we have always attributed our ‘success’ to the Maine identity that we Mainers hold so dear,” Luke said. “Once we started

touring the country and venturing into uncharted territories, we were always surprised to find people from home who were coming out to support that identity and could relate to where we were coming from.”

With an ethos of “driven by the words and the feelings, not the money,” the MBB eventually bubbled up into the live music circuit of Portland and greater Maine, ultimately spilling into New England, eventually down the Eastern Seaboard, soon across the country and back again.

“We’ve always counted ourselves lucky to be able to do this at any level. Our heroes were never superstars. Our heroes were the troubadours, the writers behind the scenes — the musicians’ musicians who did it their own way,” Luke said. “Tenacity is key. We’re as stubborn as they come, and we have always known what we want to do and how we want to do it. Luckily, the music has seemed to resonate with enough people in enough places that we get to continue on year after year — [we’re] always surprised and grateful for that.”

Following the shutdown of the entire live music industry in 2020 due to the pandemic, the MBB took the time to drop down a couple of gears, to refocus and regroup itself with a renewed sense of self — one of purpose and passion that’s resided at the core of the ensemble since its inception.

“The songs come when they come, and I try to be available to capture them when they do. Some of what I think are my best songs came from the road, from the chaos of it, and some have come from down time at home,” Luke said. “There’s not always a rhyme or reason to where inspiration is going to find you, I guess. Burnout is real in this business, and I think sometimes you have to recognize that and know when to slow yourself down to avoid it.”

“We’ve always counted ourselves lucky to be able to do this at any level. Our heroes were never superstars.”
— Luke Mallett

Luke notes that he and his brothers are seventh-generation Maine natives from Piscataquis County. That deep appreciation, respect and observation of history, geography, cultural legend and lore is something constantly sparking inspiration for new, intricate melodies from every corner of America the MBB may inhabit purposely or merely by happenstance.

“Finding that people are people no matter where you go has always been inspiring to me. Likewise, finding that Mainers are Mainers no matter where they go has also been inspiring,” Luke said. “And I’m always in awe of places I haven’t seen before, whether that’s the Rocky Mountains or the plains or the swamps, and I think being in awe of nature is something we have to hold onto as a species. I’m lucky to have seen as many places as I have — we owe a lot of our creativity to the open road because of that.”

Onstage, the MBB are a powerhouse of sonic prowess and musicality. It’s a sound and scope that runs the gamut from Americana to indie-soul, progressive jam-grass to good ole backwoods rock-n-roll — as if The Avett Brothers were raised above the Mason-Dixon Line or Bruce Springsteen grew up along the Fore River instead of the Jersey Shore.

“We owe everything to the enthusiasm of our fans and the energy that they give back to us every day. That energy makes it easy to continue on going and, ultimately, I always try to think of what we do as something that belongs to them and not to me,” Luke said. “I write for myself, but the songs will ultimately belong to [the fans]. Instead of chasing trends or trying to retrain ourselves to chase after whatever medium is newest, we just keep doing what we know and what we love, both musically and personally.”

So, in this modern era of unrelenting digital distraction and incessant white noise, what is truly the role of the songwriter in the 21st century?

“The role of the songwriter today has started to look back towards what it used to be — the traveling minstrel, singing for your supper, calling forth characters from your travels and stories that you’ve heard along the way,” Luke said. “[It’s about] documenting the human experience in a way that no other medium can. Making people smile and dance, that’s vital I think — [and] a lot more people starting out on this path are doing it for the right reasons these days.”

Asheville April 17. Donated photo

Want to go?

Rising Americana/indie act The Mallett Brothers Band will perform at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, on the outdoor patio stage at The Grey Eagle in Asheville.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 per person. To purchase tickets, go to To learn more about The Mallett Brothers Band, go to

A&E Smoky Mountain News 16
Mallett Brothers Band will play

This must be the place

‘Cloud hang on the mountain, they make me lonesome inside’

With a cool breeze rolling through the Old City district of downtown Knoxville last Thursday evening, I clung tighter to my jacket, pulled the brim of my hat lower and meandered across the railroad tracks towards Boyd’s Jig & Reel. Noted as harboring one of the largest collections of whiskey on the planet, Boyd’s is arguably the heartbeat of the Old City. This bastion of wild-n-out characters, hearty conversation and strong drink, all of which are carefully nurtured by an old wood interior, an exterior of bricks laid down long ago.

If anything, Boyd’s sits, literally and figuratively, at a crossroads of people and things streaming by in real time. The city of Knoxville in constant motion of places to be, faces to see and the notion that time doesn’t slow down for anyone or anything in this universe.

Stepping into the establishment, a flood of memories cascaded down upon me from high above in the ether. For over a decade, I’ve wandered in there, usually with a slew of cronies, all riled up and ready for the adventures of an unknown night of jovial mischief, the quest for irresponsible enlightenment always within sight.

And yet, this particular night, I was flying solo. I was in Knoxville for an assignment interviewing a musician at the nearby Mill & Mine concert hall. My girlfriend couldn’t make the trip from Waynesville. She was still at work when I hopped in the old truck and motored over the Great Smoky Mountains into East Tennessee. Belly up to the bar counter and scan the room. Faces staring at the glowing box in the corner with whatever college basketball game was current in progress. Faces headlong in conversation, catching up with old friends. Faces eager to peruse the whiskey menu, the sign above the bar stating: “1,047 whiskies in stock.”

room once more. Faces sauntering in with instruments in-hand for the weekly Celtic jam sessions. Faces grinning while rehashing old times, the two dudes immediately to my right swapping tall tales of high school and their respective military careers.

I could see my reflection in the large mirror behind the whiskey bottles. More grey hairs than black ones these days. Green eyes staring back at me in acknowledgment of the long, winding road to the here and now. A slight nod to the face in the mirror. He nods back in solidarity of waking up each day and walking out the front door — in search of nothing and everything all at once.

If memory serves correct, it was somewhere around the spring of 2013 when I first came to Boyd’s. My best friend, who I met in Waynesville when I moved to Western North Carolina in 2012, was from Knoxville. And we’d head this way seemingly every weekend. He had his whole friend group

The Old City in Knoxville.

Garret K. Woodward photo



Haywood County rock/country act Outlaw Whiskey will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the Unplugged Pub in Bryson City.


The Ubuntu Choir of the Great Smoky Mountains will perform a program of uplifting music from around the world at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 14, at the First Presbyterian Chapel in Franklin.


Classic Wineseller (Waynesville) will host “Sinatra & Friends” w/Ron Lee (swing/jazz) 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13.


The North Carolina Symphony will host a special concert at 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 18, at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center at the Cherokee Central School.


Folkmoot USA will present The Well Drinkers at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville.

Order a domestic beer and the steak special. One eight-ounce sirloin with potatoes and green beans. Sip the beer and scan the

Dusty memories and ghosts of the past remain at the corner of South Central Street and East Jackson Avenue.

Skip ahead to last Thursday evening. I’m 39 now, once again pondering the great mysteries of existence. This consistent thought bordering on an existential crisis of self. Not so much in panic mode, but more so immersive feelings and sentiments about why things are the way they are, why people do what they do, how to best spend your time on this earth and what it means to pursue a life spent in the creative realm of the written word.

Just another curious, vibrating soul sitting alone at the bar counter. Another bag of bones, of blood, tissue and consciousness aiming to push further on down the line of one’s intent. The outer, protective shell of salt and pepper hair, green eyes and tan lines from a recent, yet all too brief, trip to the Florida coast.

from college still in town. Endless opportunities in pursuit of another chaotic Saturday night.

I was in my late 20s then. Nobody was married yet. Long before any of them had children, careers or owned homes. Rental apartments and pre-game drinks or beer pong before hitting the Old City or Market Square. We were so young then, but you never really realize that until you’re older and look back in awe of those fleeting moments of friendship and interaction all swirling together.

And Boyd’s was always the anchor point of any night of chance and happenstance, either before we wandered around the rest of Knoxville or after. It didn’t matter. Either you’re “here” or you’ll “be there soon.”

The mind wanders and I think of the iconic monologue by the character Sam the Lion in one of my favorite books, James McMurtry’s “The Last Picture Show”: “ You wouldn’t believe how this country’s changed. First time I seen it, there wasn’t a mesquite tree on it; or a prickly pear, neither. I used to own this land, you know. First time I watered a horse at this tank was more than forty years ago. I reckon the reason why I always drag you out here is probably I’m just as sentimental as the next feller when it comes to old times. ”

This bastion of wild-n-out characters, hearty conversation and strong drink, all of which carefully nurtured by an old wood interior, an exterior of bricks laid down long ago. A slight nod to the face in the mirror. He nods back in solidarity of waking up each day and walking out the front door — in search of nothing and everything all at once.

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

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On the beat

• Blue Ridge Beer Hub (Waynesville) will host a semi-regular acoustic jam with the Main Street NoTones from 7-9 p.m. every first and third Thursday of the month. Free and open to the public. For more information, go to

• Boojum Brewing (Waynesville) will host music bingo 7 p.m. Mondays, karaoke 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, trivia 7 p.m. Thursdays, “Open Mic Night” 10 p.m. Thursdays, Superhero DJ Party 8:30 p.m. April 12, Red Dress Amy (rock/blues) April 13, Smooth Goose (rock/jam) April 19 and The Shed Bugs (rock/jam) April 20. All shows begin at 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted. 828.246.0350 or


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

• Classic Wineseller (Waynesville) will host “Sinatra & Friends” with Ron Lee (swing/jazz) 7 p.m. April 13. 828.452.6000 or

• Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center (Franklin) will host an Open Mic Night 6-8 p.m. April 12 and semi-regular live music on the weekends. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to

• Currahee Brewing (Franklin) will host “Music Bingo” 7 p.m. Thursdays and semi-regular live music on the weekends. All shows begin at 7 p.m. Free and open to the public. 828.634.0078 or

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

• Frog Level Brewing (Waynesville) will host its weekly “Tuesday Jazz Series” with We Three Swing at 5:30 p.m., Different Light April 12, The Log Noggins (rock) April 13, Shane Meade (indie/soul) April 19, Rich Manz Trio (Americana) April 20 and Andrew Rickman (country/rock) 3 p.m. April 21. All shows begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.454.5664 or

• Happ’s Place (Glenville) will host Doug Ramsey (singer-songwriters) April 12 and Rock Holler (classic rock) April 13. All shows begin at 6 p.m. Free and open to the public. or 828.742.5700.

• Highlander Mountain House (Highlands) will host “Blues & Brews” on Thursday evenings, “Sunday Bluegrass Residency” from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and the “Salon Series” with Lillie Mae (Americana/indie) 8:30 p.m. April 18. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to

• Innovation Brewing (Sylva) will host “Monday Night Trivia” every week, “Open Mic w/Phil”

Bryson City community jam

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

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

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

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

For more information, call 828.488.3030.

World music in Franklin

The Ubuntu Choir of the Great Smoky Mountains will perform a program of uplifting music from around the world at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 14, at the First Presbyterian Chapel in Franklin. Founded in 2009, the Ubuntu Choir joyfully sings a cappella music from diverse traditions and cultures. Sunday’s program will feature songs from many foreign countries, plus ample opportunities for audience members to sing along. Ubuntu is a worldwide movement open to all people who share a passion for harmony singing. The local Ubuntu group is a

Bluegrass, Americana at Folkmoot

In conjunction with Haywood County’s “Carolina Heritage Weekend,” Folkmoot USA will present The Well Drinkers at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville.

Prepare to be energized by this progressive, original bluegrass band based out of Western North Carolina. Having shared the stage with the likes of Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, Ketch Secor, Balsam Range and many more, the ensemble is a consistent force in the Western North Carolina bluegrass scene.

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

member of the Worldwide Ubuntu Choir Network, and is composed of members from Macon and Jackson Counties. Director Tom Tyre received Ubuntu training in British Columbia and is a member of the Natural Voice Network in the United Kingdom.

Admission is by donation, $5 is suggested. The chapel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is on the corner of Church Street and Harrison Avenue. Wheelchair access is from the First Presbyterian Church parking lot.

This event is produced by the Arts Council of Macon County. For more information, call 828.524.ARTS or email

Cherokee welcomes NC Symphony

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

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

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 18
The NC Symphony will play Cherokee April 18. File photo The Well Drinkers will play Waynesville April 18. File photo

Cracker, Kevn Kinney to rock Murphy

Legendary rockers Cracker and Kevn Kinney (of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’) will perform on Saturday, April 13, at the Murphy Music & Brews festival in downtown Murphy.

A benefit for the nonprofit organization Shepherd’s Men, other acts include Americana/country duo War Hippies and popular singer-songwriter Chuck Mead. Aside from live music, there will also be craft beer, wine and food trucks onsite.

All proceeds of this event will be

donated to Shepherd’s Men to assist with its mission to advocate and raise resources for the “Share Military Initiative” at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

In addition to the money collected through ticket sales, all vendors will donate a percentage of their revenue from the event to Shepherd’s Men.

Tickets start at $35 per person. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to

Wednesdays, Sarah Gwendolyn (singer-songwriter) April 13 and Adi The Monk (singer-songwriter) April 20. All shows and events begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public.

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

• Lazy Hiker Brewing (Franklin) will host Karaoke on the second/fourth Friday of the month, The V8s (classic rock) April 13, Madison Owenby (singer-songwriter) April 19 and Roscoe’s Road Show (Americana/rock) April 20. All shows begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.349.2337 or

• Lazy Hiker Brewing (Sylva) will host “Music Bingo” 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Shane Meade (indie/ soul) April 12 and Scott Stambaugh (singersongwriter) April 19. All shows begin at 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.349.2337 or

‘Trailblazing Women of Country’

The production “Trailblazing Women of Country: A Tribute to Patsy, Loretta, and Dolly” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Bardo Fine & Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton revolutionized country music and blazed a trail for future generations of female artists. With their charttopping hits and record-breaking sales, each artist wove threads of contemporary womanhood throughout the tapestry of country music, resulting in unprecedented commercial success and earning each a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“Trailblazing Women of Country” will entertain and inspire audiences during this pivotal moment in our nation’s history. The ensemble will feature soloists Miko Marks (CMT’s 2022 “Next Woman of Country”) and Nashville, Tennessee, based singer KristinaTrain. The duo will be supported by a fivemember all-female band.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens and WCU faculty/staff, $5 for WCU students, $15 for children and non-WCU students. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to

• Lineside at Frog Level Brewing (Waynesville) will host the “Night of the Wolf” music festival 6-11 p.m. April 20. For more information, go to

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

• Mountain Layers Brewing (Bryson City) will host an “Open Mic w/Frank Lee” Wednesdays, Alma Russ (Americana/indie) April 12, Zip Robertson (singer-songwriter) April 13, Frank Lee (old-time/folk) 5 p.m. April 14, Mountain Gypsy (Americana) April 19 and Alma Russ (Americana/indie) 5 p.m. April 21. All shows begin at 6 p.m unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.538.0115 or

• Orchard Coffee (Waynesville) will host Daniel Rodriguez (singer-songwriter) 8 p.m. April 26.

Tickets are $25 per person. To purchase tickets, go to 828.246.9264 or

• Peacock Performing Arts Center (Hayesville) will host Darin & Brooke Aldridge (bluegrass/Americana) April 13 and “Songwriter’s Showcase #46” April 20. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to or call 828.389.ARTS.

• Pinnacle Relief CBD Wellness Lounge (Sylva) will host Shane Meade (indie/soul) 3 p.m. April 13 and “Art On Grass: A 4-20 Celebration” 1-7 p.m. April 20. Free and open to the public. or 828.508.3018.

• Scotsman (Waynesville) will host Shane Meade (indie/soul) April 11, Very Jerry Band (Grateful Dead tribute) April 12, Bridget Gossett (singer-songwriter) April 19 and Jacktown Ramblers (Americana) April 19. All shows begin at 8 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Free and open to the public. 828.246.6292 or

• Slanted Window Tasting Station (Franklin) will host J.B. & Roscoe April 12, Trailer Hippies April 14, Blue Jazz 6 p.m. April 20. All shows begin at 5 p.m. unless otherwise

noted. 828.276.9463 or

• Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts (Franklin) will host The Drifters (soul/oldies) 7:30 p.m. April 12. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to or 866.273.4615.

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

• Unplugged Pub (Bryson City) will host Caribbean Cowboys (pop/oldies) April 11, Tricia Ann Band (country/rock) April 12, Outlaw Whiskey (classic rock/country gold) April 13, Mile High Band April 19 and Mountain Whiskey April 20. All shows are $5 at the door and begin at 8 p.m. 828.538.2488.

• Find more at

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 19
On the beat
A tribute to Loretta, Dolly and Patsy will be April 18 at WCU. Image courtesy of IMG Artists Cracker will play Murphy April 13. File photo

On the stage

HART to present


A special stage production of “Constellations” will be held at 7:30 p.m. April 12-13 and 2 p.m. April 14 at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville.

Join Roland, a beekeeper, and Marianne, a quantum physicist, as their relationship unfolds in a kaleidoscope of scenes, revealing diverse outcomes shaped by tiny choices and chance events.

This captivating romantic drama delves into the mesmerizing world of multiverse theory, exploring the boundless possibilities of love. Brace yourself for an emotionally charged experience that goes beyond the ordinary as “Constellations” invites you to ponder the intricate threads of destiny and love.

Suitable for all audiences. To reserve your seats, call the box office at 828.456.6322 or go to


‘Constellations’ will run on select April dates at HART.

Donated photo

On the table

• Main Street Diner opened April 9 in downtown Waynesville. Located at 18 North Main St., the restaurant will run seven days a week. Breakfast hours are 6:3011 a.m. Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday. Lunch/dinner is every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information and to view a menu, go to 828.316.0100.


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

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

• Haywood Arts Regional Theatre will host an array of spring intensive workshops and classes at its campus in Waynesville. Classes include “Musical Theatre Dance” and “Adult Acting,” as well as costume, sound, lighting and makeup workshops. For more information and/or to sign up, go to

On the wall

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


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

• “Artisan Alley” will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 13, on Phillips Street in Franklin. Homemade gifts, crafts and antiques.

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

• “Youth Art Month” will be held through March at the Franklin Uptown Gallery. Artwork from local Macon County students K-12 will be on display. For more information, call 828.349.4607 or go to

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

• CRE828 (Waynesville) will offer a selection of art classes and workshops at its studio located at 1283 Asheville Road.

Workshops will include art journaling, watercoloring, mixed media, acrylic painting and more. For a full list of classes, go to For more information on CRE828, email or call 828.283.0523.

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

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

• Haywood County Arts Council (Waynesville) will offer a widerange 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 signup, 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.

• “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

Abstract art, surrealism showcase

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

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

He graduated from Buffalo State College with a degree in graphic design. After living and working in Florida for 30 years, Verano’s love of the mountains eventually brought him to settle in Franklin. Verano’s character-driven art represents his love of abstract art and surrealism with a desire to create something unique and original. His work has evolved over time because of his willingness to experiment with different techniques, ideas and styles.

Verano has always felt that discovery is the most important element in his work and the need to challenge himself is what maintains his interest in the thing that has been his passion since he was a child.

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

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 20
Ralph Verano specializes in abstract art. Donated photo

Staring up at the branches on ‘Berry Lane’

Amonth ago, on a day that was officially in winter but which felt like spring, I was walking in the woods near my house. I’d like to say that my mind was in the woods, but it wasn’t. It was running on some other path, on some matter which I’ve forgotten, because it wasn’t important. But nature intervened. Out of the blue I heard a toad sing, the first of the year for me.

speed …. Around and around they go, circling the spruce … slashing through the blueberry bushes … ripping across the foliage of oaks, hickories, and hemlocks.” One of the bluebirds cuts through the spruce in a shortcut maneuver and slams the other in the side. They continue the fight on the ground. “I can see the assault of wings, pecking, billsnapping…” Finally, one flies away, defeated.

at me from a nest made of fine twigs.” He knew immediately, remembering the pictures in the guide books he studied, that he was seeing a Brown Thrasher for the first time.

The singing of a toad is my favorite thing about spring, the most beautiful thing I can imagine, a sound that makes me unexplainably happy, and on this walk I was completely surprised. In years past I remember being on the porch, at home, in the evening. Hearing it in the woods during the day, while I was distracted, added a new level of the unexpected.

Robert Tougias would understand. He writes this about hearing a wood thrush sing: “Listening to a thrush sing is a spiritual experience for me; it seems the most natural and truest form of inspiration. The song of the thrush speaks to me of the beauty and magnificence in nature. It moves my emotions …. To hear the thrush at close range, as I have on a few occasions, is a peak experience.”

Tougias is a Connecticut naturalist who writes a newspaper column and gives talks about, primarily, birds. From the response to his writing and talks, he gathered that people enjoyed most the stories of the birds he heard and saw in his neighborhood, and he wrote a book on that subject, “Birder on Berry Lane” (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2020, 190 pp). He includes a map. Front yard and back yard and vegetable garden, the trees surrounding the yard, his wood lot, a bordering creek and a meadow beyond the creek. Habitat, in other words. And plenty of feeders. “Must remember to stop by the feed store,” he reminds himself.

The stories come when Tougias listens and moves in that world, aware and curious about what the birds are doing. He is awakened one morning in June by “the sweet warble of a bluebird.” But why is the bluebird warbling in June, singing a spring song? And why is the song getting faster and louder?

Tougias gets up to investigate. The singer is a male bluebird who has spotted a rival. Then the rival attacks. “A chase ensues, and the two birds fly around the yard at a dizzying

We go with the author on cold nighttime

walks to hear and call owls. There are searches for nests, and hikes just to see what shows up. All the things that naturalists do. Thank goodness for the naturalists. I will never see all that they see, but they help me trust it is there and, somehow, I breathe easier with that trust.

Like every naturalist I’ve known about, Tougias’ interest began when he was young. He describes his first venture into “the brambles,” where “giant bumblebees and twentyfoot snakes” were rumored to live. “I can vividly remember nervously watching every step.” He was 10. He didn’t see either of those scary giant creatures, but he heard a strange bird calling from a dense thicket and slowly crawled in to investigate. “As I parted the shrubbery to clear my advance, I looked up and saw a fierce yellow eye peering down

‘The Midnight Post and the Postbox Clock’

And like every nature lover, Togias feels sadness when habitat is lost. One of his favorite birding sites, a dense shrubby area full of birds, including the now increasingly uncommon Brown Thrasher, was being cleared for the construction of a new town maintenance facility as he wrote his book. The site bordered a highway. “My guess,” he says, “is that hundreds if not thousands of cars will pass along this highway each day, yet not a single traveler will know of the funny, flashy, foxy-brown bird with the intense yellow eyes, long tail, and dangerously curved beak that once called this roadside home.”

One thing I love about Tougias is the way he includes a few people in his stories, giving us just glimpses. He lives with his teenage daughter Heather. When a hurricane causes the power to go out, “I fumble around with a flashlight, and Heather and I live on crackers and no heat for two whole days. We play a game of Life and pet our cat Stripe by the light of a candle.”

He runs into his neighbor Lily while checking the mailbox. They catch up, then Lily asks, “Why were you staring up at the branches over your driveway a few days ago?” Blue jays, he answers, then points out the leafless branch the jays sit on to assess danger before going to the feeder. The talk moves to owls. He admits that he hoots to call them. Maybe she thinks he’s crazy, he says. No. The neighbors have all become more interested in birds because of his “passion,” she tells him.

The same goes for me. I check in with this book from time to time, and I hear and see more birds. I talk about them, too, and the interest spreads. The other day I was walking in my driveway with a three-year-old friend of mine. “The birds are singing for us,” she told me. Yes they are.

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

Author Sarah Dean will host a special reading and signing from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville. Dean will introduce you to her enchanting debut book, “The Midnight Post and the Postbox Clock,” where Frederick the Fox has taken over his uncle’s bookstore, The Lost Chapter. What happens to Frederick when a mythical, magical mailbox sends him a letter? Also, while you’re in the store, check out Dean’s greeting cards that she designs. The reading is free and open to the public. For more information, call 828.456.6000 or click on

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News arts & entertainment 21
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Farmers market season

Mill Town Market back for second year at Sorrells Street Park

The season for farmers markets, with all their fresh produce, local vendors and community engagement, is right around the corner, and in Canton, the Mill Town Market is embarking on its second year at Sorrells Street Park.

“Sustainability of the project is the thing we care about the most,” said Vice President of the Mill Town Market Board of Trustees and founding Market Manager Aimee Sylvester.

With so many local producers of agriculture and crafts, Canton has long had farmers markets in the area. In its current form, the Mill Town Market was started in 2021 on a historically significant site.

“It was started by Pat Smathers and his family to continue the tradition of three generations of supermarkets run by their family in Canton at its former site, which is right across from The Southern Porch,” said Sylvester. “The town square where the law offices are dates back to the 1960s. That was the original grocery store in Canton. It was the town’s civic and social center.”

But in an effort toward sustainability, the market made some changes last year, incorporating as a nonprofit and starting its 2023 season down at Sorrells Street Park. Locating the market in the park has allowed more space for additional vendors and other activities to accompany the market like live music, demonstrations and yoga classes.

“We moved, with the support of the Town of Canton, down to Sorrells Street Park last summer, so that was our first summer in the park and it’s been great,” said Sylvester. “Our cross traffic is so much better down there. Everyone has doubled

their income as far as vendors, doubled and tripled, some of them. It’s more visible where it’s at now because we have Main and Park streets that run through there.”

With nonprofit status, the Mill Town Market is largely supported by sponsors in the community itself. Alongside the Town of Canton which provides park space for the weekly market, the Cruso Endowment is a major funder of the market.

Another push for sustainability comes in the makeup of the board, which not only includes community members with grant writing and nonprofit experience like Sylvester, but is also made up of small business owners, farmers and other vendors, musicians, teachers and patrons of the market.

“The small business platform that we provide is at the heart of it for the growers and producers,” said Sylvester.

But ultimately, community connection is at the center of the push to maintain a farmers market for the Town of Canton.

“My heart is with the community aspect of it and protecting community spaces,” said Sylvester. “Especially after three years of isolation and going into a political year, wanting to protect non-partisan spaces. Everybody needs produce and community and fellowship, and this is something that I hope can continue for years and years and years, so we have that.”

Mill Town Market currently has 31 vendors signed up to participate for the 2024 season, and with some of those joining on a rotating basis, patrons can expect an average of 20 per week.

“The vast majority have been there before, but we do have a couple of new faces,” Sylvester said.

There are 20 craft vendors, 10 produce vendors and one baker.

“We’re very mindful about how we cultivate those vendors so they’re not in competition with each other,” Sylvester said. “We have a pork vendor, a beef vendor, an egg producer, and my favorite vendor of all, our cheese vendor who does goat cheese and goat soaps.”

There are several fresh-cut flower vendors signed up for the season, and patrons can expect to see one of 10 different food trucks that are on board to participate throughout the season.

The market is always accepting applications for F

Outdoors Smoky Mountain News 22

Local Farmers Markets

• The Mill Town Market takes place 4-7 p.m. Thursdays, May 16 through Oct. 31, at Sorrells Street Park in Canton.

• Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market takes place 9 a.m. to noon, Saturdays, April 6 through Dec. 21, in the HART Theater parking lot, 250 Pigeon Road, in Waynesville.

• Macon County Farmers Market takes place 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, May through November, at the Iotla Street Gazebo on the square in downtown Franklin.

• The Cowee School Farmers Market takes place 3:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesdays, May 15 through October, at the Cowee School Arts and

Heritage Center, located at 51 Cowee School Drive in Franklin.

• The Jackson County Farmers Market is held 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays, April through October, at 110 Railroad Ave. in downtown Sylva.

• The Smoky Mountain Farmers and Artisans Market takes place 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday and Saturday, May 1 through Oct. 31, at 117 Island St. in Bryson City.

• The Highlands Farmers Market is held 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. most Saturdays April through October in Kelsey-Hutchinson Park on Pine Street in Highlands.

• The Green Market takes place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays, May 1 through Oct. 31, at the Village Green in Cashiers.

vendors who want to participate and the board is always ready to hear from anyone who wants to be involved or assist the market via donation or volunteer support. Organizers have also lined up a full music schedule with live performances planned each week through the entire market season.

“We have a fully booked live music schedule in place with local live musicians and we encourage shoppers to bring chairs for that,” said Sylvester.

Each month the Mill Town Market will have a different theme, the first of which is veterans appreciation month.

“We have several veteranowned businesses that participate in the market already, one of which is Ruthie’s Popcorn,” said Sylvester. “We have several veteran-led nonprofits that will be attending that first month… we’ll be providing veteran and active-duty resources, as well as honoring hometown heroes.”

June is wellness month, and the market will host donationbased yoga with Evanstar Yoga, massage, mental health resources and demonstrations by Heavily Meditated Wellness, another Canton business.

July will be heritage month, August is creativity and care month, which will include a plant exchange, and one of the

highlights of the season will be the tomato fest, complete with a tomato pie competition and road race.

“We want to celebrate the tomato, the hero of the summer,” Sylvester said. September is bookworm month for the start of the school year and October will close out the season with “all things outdoors.”

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 23
A historic photo of the original Smathers Supermarket in downtown Canton. Donated photo

Parking fees generate $10 million

In the first year since Great Smoky Mountains National Park launched the Park it Forward program, the fee has generated over $10 million in revenue, which includes parking tag sales and camping fees. The park is using this money to improve visitor safety, increase park ranger presence, and repair, enhance and maintain public park facilities. The park's second year of the parking tag program began this month.

Park users directly contribute to protecting the park when they purchase a $5 daily, $15 weekly, or $40 annual parking tag. The park also increased frontcountry and backcountry camping fees starting in March 2023. One hundred percent of the funds generated by park fees stays in the Smokies.

The park is using the revenue to improve visitor safety by beefing up its Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) team. These seven rangers work to reduce search and rescue missions through visitor preparation, education and information. It is also increasing park ranger presence, improving roads and facilities and rehabilitating attractions such as Mingus Mill.

The $40 annual parking tags are available for purchase online through Smokies Life. The $5 daily and $15 weekly parking tags are available for purchase at or by credit card at more than 30 kiosks located in parking lots across the park. All parking tag types are also available for purchase at Smokies Life store locations. Annual tags are valid for one year from the date of purchase.

Lakeview Drive road project to conclude

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with funding from the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund, will finish the approximate $15.7 million repair and rehabilitation of Lakeview Drive that started last year. Work will begin April 8 and is expected to end in early July.

Project at a glance:

• Final paving of the 6.5-mile road.

• Paving and sidewalk construction in the Noland Creek trailhead parking area, including Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standard (ABAAS) accessible parking.

• Deck repair on the Noland Creek Bridge.

• Rehabilitation of road shoulders.

Throughout the project, visitors should expect temporary single-lane closures. Noland Creek Bridge will be closed April 15 to April 18 while crews repair the bridge deck. Parking will be available at Noland Creek trailhead during the closure. Noland Creek cemetery will also be accessible.

Intersectional Peonies, also known as Itoh peonies, possess attributes that make them highly desirable landscape plants. Donated photo

Festival of the Peonies in Bloom begins

Wildcat Ridge Farm is welcoming visitors throughout May to enjoy the peonies in bloom.

Open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this is a free event.

Intersectional Peonies, also known as Itoh peonies, possess attributes that make

them highly desirable landscape plants. Flowers are upright on top of the bush and never require any kind of support, the plants come back larger each spring.

From this new hybrid group, a vibrant palette of colors emerged requiring welldrained fertile soil and full sun to produce

Jackson County announces bike rodeo

Join Jackson County Parks and Recreation for the department’s bike rodeo.

boatloads of gorgeous single, semi-double and full double blooms with spectacular pastel color combinations.

Wildcat Ridge Farm is located at 3553 Panther Creek Road in Clyde.

For information, visit or call 828.246.7542.

The event will offer helmet and bike inspections, riding classes, a repair class and group rides for rides of all skill levels. All participants will be entered into a free drawing for an age-appropriate bike. Winners must be present to receive the prize.

Event will be held from 2-5 p.m. on April 28 at the Jackson County Recreation Center.

Green Build Alliance announces annual Earth Day 5K

The nonprofit Green Built Alliance will host the second-annual Earth Day 5K, presented by Pine Gate Renewables on April 20.

The Earth Day 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run start and finish in the same location at The Outpost venue located right by Carrier Park in Asheville.

Participants will have the opportunity to experience a sauna and cold plunge session thanks to Drip Sauna and then grab a bite to eat at the Grey Eagle Taqueria food truck along with a cold beer provided generously by the French Broad River Brewery. There will also be live music.

The annual Earth Day 5K fundraiser is the cornerstone of Buncombe County’s journey toward 100% renewable energy by 2042, aligning with Green Built Alliance’s mission of promoting sustainable living,

The Earth Day 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run start and finish in the same location at The Outpost venue located right by Carrier Park in Asheville.

Donated photo

green building, and climate justice through community engagement, education, and

To learn more about the Earth Day 5K, register, or to sign up to volunteer, go to

Smoky Mountain Beekeepers to talk pollinator gardens

The Smoky Mountain Beekeepers are welcoming N.C. Extension Agent Minda Daughtry to talk about how to support bees and other pollinators in personal gardens.

Daughtry will discuss the various pollens collected by pollinators and the food values associate with them.

This will be a good presentation for folks who may not be beekeepers but are interested in a pollinator garden.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. April 11 at the Swain County Training and Education Center.

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 24

Stations throughout Cades Cove will feature presenters from both the park and the deaf community discussing the work that goes into protecting our shared heritage. Donated

American Sign Language Day programs offered at Cades Cove

Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s “Signs of Spring” event celebrating National American Sign Language Day will be back for the second year in Cades Cove on Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This year’s theme will be “A Peek Behind the Scenes.” Stations throughout Cades Cove will feature presenters from both the park and the deaf community discussing the work that goes into protecting our shared heritage. Stations will include demonstrations and activities by the park’s historic preservation crew, Preventative Search and Rescue team, curator, educators, and by park partner Discover Life in America

Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the park’s accessibility initia-

tives, including adaptive bicycles and wheelchairs that are now available in the park. Maryville High School students will host a cultural connections table featuring the work of regional deaf artists, and deaf community members will share information about deaf culture and history.

Certified ASL interpreters and students from the University of Tennessee, Maryville College, Knoxville Center of the Deaf, and Partnership for Families, Children and Adults will be on hand at all stations to help with the activities. Visitors can stop by the stations anytime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

For more information about National American Sign Language Day events at Cades Cove, please contact Jeanine Ferrence at

Haywood County hosts the Senior Games

The senior games are coming to Haywood County beginning April 17, and adults 50 and older are invited to participate in a whole series of events, from swimming to pickleball to poker. Stop by the Haywood County Recreation Office for a full list of events and more information.

Waynesville rec hiring camp counselors

Waynesville Parks & Recreation is currently hiring for summer camp counselors for Base Camp 2024.

The organization is looking for counselors who would be willing and able to work all eight weeks of camp, with one break week given July 1-7. The department needs counselors excited to work with kids and being outdoors all summer long. Experience with children is preferred, but not required; however, a genuine interest in working with children is required. Counselors will enjoy their time creating a fun, safe, and inviting atmosphere for all

children of all ages

For more information call 828.456.2030 or email

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 25
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A Siphon Does Not Sip

eady?” I shout over my shoulder up towards the pond. I am straddling the end of a long, white plastic pipe filled with water, its end taped shut with a wrap of 5-mil plastic. The plastic bulges out like a hernia from the pressure of the water in the pipe. Behind me, the pipe angles up to the pond, where it crosses the embankment, then turns back down and disappears into the water on the other side.

“Ready!” I hear Becky shout back from the far side of the pond. I can’t see her, but I know she’s got a tight grip on a rope that disappears into the water too, where it’s tied to a plastic seal on the submerged end of the pipe.

Before we took our places, we’d filled the entire pipe with water, turning it into a kind of water cannon, primed.

“Go!” I yell.

Becky yanks the seal off her submerged end of the pipe, and, at the same instant, I slit open the bulging plastic on my end with a knife— then leap back as the pent-up water shoots out as if from a fire hydrant and rushes down into the woods.

that atmospheric pressure combined with gravity forces the water up the pond end of the siphon pipe, over the embankment, and back down and out the pipe’s longer, lower end.

So, buying the lengths of pipe and fittings needed, then assembling them and priming the siphon for the very first time — wondering what would happen when we opened up the ends — we saw it drain the pond in one effortless hour. In that hour, I realized how right Dick had been, and I became an ancient Greek. Call me Burtocles.

This is our sixth year siphoning the pond. There’s no renting a gas pump; we simply assemble the pipe. There’s no pulling on a starter rope until my arm is rubbery. And the siphon is quiet.

Here’s the best thing of all. With a trash pump, we had to rake the waterlogged leaves away from its intake to keep the pump from clogging. But with the siphon? Like a thirsty gullet, it sucks in everything we feed it, while out its lower end shoots a brown sludge of rotten leaves. Good thing we don’t stock the pond with fish or they’d go out too. We use it for swimming instead.

Drawing down a pond is a practice as ancient as using a siphon. It puts cleansing sunlight on the bottom, and it lets us remove the rotting leaves that fertilize algae growth. We leave enough water for the salamanders to survive.

It is the start of our annual pond drawdown to clean out the accumulation of fallen leaves and debris. The pipe gushes water so hard that the pond — the size of a swimming pool — immediately begins to drop.

Also, because wood frogs (“Rana sylvatica”) mate in the pond in mid-winter, we scoop into tubs the gelatinous egg masses they leave behind. When the pond refills, the water tops the tubs, and the hatched tadpoles swim out.

Draining the pond was not always this easy. Years back, I used to rent a heavy-duty “trash pump” to do the job. The machine was costly. I had to haul it from Sylva. It was so heavy I needed a stout worker to help me set it in place. Cranked up, it was lawn-mower loud. And the gaseous thing took four hours to empty the pond — that is, when it didn’t lose its prime repeatedly or break down.

If only I’d listened early on to a Moses Creek neighbor named Dick. When I asked him how to drain the pond, he said, “Use a siphon.”

Finally, after cursing at trash pumps for years, I remembered Dick’s advice and looked into siphons. I learned that “siphon” is an ancient Greek word meaning “tube” and that the Greeks used them 3,000 years ago to pipe water. A modern engineering article explained

The pond is fed by a spring that flows with just a “pinkie” of water. But in 24 hours, a pinkie-flow adds up to 600 gallons. Also, buried pipes conduct rain from the metal roofs of our house and shelter to the pond. One inch of rain on the roofs puts in 2,000 gallons. The fastest the pond ever refilled was in 2 days, during an extra rainy March. This March it took 2 weeks.

Thank you, Neighbor Dick, for watering my ancient Greek roots!

(Burt and Becky live in Jackson County. “Up Moses Creek” comes out in SMN the second issue of each month.)

Puzzles can be found on page 30

These are only the answers.

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News outdoors 26
Up Moses Creek
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• The Jackson County Farmers Market meets every Saturday November through March 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and April through October 9 a.m. to noon at Bridge Park in Sylva, 110 Railroad St. Special events listed on Facebook and Instagram.

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

• Wiggle Worms Storytime takes place 10:30-11 a.m. every Tuesday, at the Waynesville branch of the Haywood County Public Library. Ideal for children 26 years old. For more information contact Lisa at or call 828.356.2511.

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

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

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


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

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

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

• Paint and Sip at Waynesville Art School will be held every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 79:30 p.m. To learn more and register call 828.246.9869 or visit Registration is required, $45.

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

• Smoky Mountain Event Center presents Bingo Night with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. and games starting at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday and fourth Monday of the month. For more information visit

April 10-16, 2024 Smoky Mountain News 27
WNC events and happenings TAKE A LOOK AT OUR NEW ONLINE CALENDAR! Offers Slow, Gentle Interpretive Wildflower Walks for Groups & Individuals, Ecological and Horticultural Consultations,
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MarketPlace information:

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


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p: 828.452.4251 · f:828.452.3585


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April 10-16, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 28
all-----DEPUTY DIRECTORtor to assist the Executive---Market PLACE
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April 10-16, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 30
GRANTHAM UNIVERSITY - Online Degree Pro-Entertainment FOR HIGH SPEED SATELLITE INTERNETDIRECTV SATELLITE DISH TVPUTTING ON A GOOD FACE ACROSS 1 Very little bit 5 Large Indian city 10 Discover by chance 15 Elegant 19 Liposuction target 20 Take out -- (borrow cash) 21 Journalist -- Rogers St. Johns 22 Actor Cronyn 23 Initial impression 25 Printer cartridge contents 27 Still in the future 28 Harsh review 30 Admit defeat 31 Wonder 32 Like bedroom communities 35 Partners of 84-Down 36 Metal sleeve in an engine's piston 40 Slide down a slope 41 Cuts of pork 42 Disney who drew 43 Toot one's own horn 46 Gaius' garb 50 Rand of objectivism 51 "Viva -- Vegas" 52 Base coat on a wall, maybe 54 Is a little too fond of 57 Rest on top of 59 Writer Nin 60 Prefix with conscious 61 Dock 62 Honey liquor 64 Cpl., e.g. 65 Big grant-giving group 72 Totally 73 Granny 74 Dog food brand 75 Places with lots of IVs 76 Mental picture 78 Dictators 81 Row of PC-screen buttons 85 Cabaret where the cancan originated 87 Kilmer of "Tombstone" 88 Kitchen utensil brand 89 "Little" actress Rae 90 Decorative tattoo dye 91 Very little 93 Garden pest 95 Mem. of the family 97 Annotation in the text of Christian scripture 100 Server overseer, informally 103 Convention speeches 105 "... flaw -- feature?" 106 Mixed with cognac, e.g. 108 Flip (out) 109 Clip out 113 Something cast at sunset 116 What you have passed when you figure out this puzzle's theme? 118 Hydroxyl compound 119 Cooling, as champagne 120 French gal pals 121 To be, to Livy 122 Really resist 123 Former quarterback Rodney 124 French governing body 125 Letters after pis DOWN 1 Not definite 2 "Rolie Polie --" (kids' book) 3 Sour 4 Refrain from drinking 5 Patted lightly 6 Fanning of "Teen Spirit" 7 Baseball's Gehrig 8 Wields influence 9 Occupy 10 TV's Linden 11 Lupino or Tarbell 12 Actress Thompson of "Creed" 13 Brand of fake 69-Down 14 -- a one (zero) 15 Go through the motions 16 1/16 pound 17 Aroma 18 "-- Johnny!" 24 Small cities 26 Ankara native 29 Convent sister 32 Span. women 33 Steel support for concrete 34 Grill 36 Dressed (in) 37 "Around-the-world" toy 38 Dryer fluff 39 Actor McGregor 40 Fuel additive brand 44 Strong ill will 45 Dutch artist Jan 47 Certain Arab 48 State Farm alternative 49 Fiery crime 51 Spa sponge 52 Actress Valerie of "Lenny" 53 Storm-finding systems 55 Cartoon cry 56 Act starter 57 Qatar export 58 Letter #22 61 Take selfish advantage of 63 "It's --!" ("You're on!") 65 "Darkman" director Sam 66 Actor Edward James -67 Santa -68 -- nous 69 Liposuction target 70 Mantra words 71 "For shame!" 77 In a harshly bright way 79 Pass quickly on foot 80 "To repeat ..." 81 Unveiling cry 82 -- -chic 83 Pivot point 84 Fishing sticks 86 Devils' org. 87 Dirt Devils, e.g., in brief 91 Nissan car models 92 Reason for extra innings 93 Get -- on reality 94 Ceiling coat 96 Terminates 98 Arrow shooter 99 Short-horned grasshopper 100 Differently -- (otherskilled) 101 Pilotless craft 102 Lead-in to "the cloth" or "the hour" 103 Cartoonist Bil 104 Comic and actor Murphy 107 Breakfast chain, in brief 109 "I -- bad moon rising" 110 Meeting period, slangily 111 -- buco (veal dish) 112 Map nos. 114 Tenth mo. 115 Very little 117 Cousins, e.g.







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April 10-16, 2024 WNC MarketPlace 31
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