Archive for Local News – Page 2

Asheville Native Wins American Idol

02-top9-portraits-caleb-1170x658Big News for Asheville and Western North Carolina! Native Caleb Johnson won the 13th season of American Idol on Wednesday night. He was named the latest champion of the Fox singing competition over runner-up Jena Irene. Caleb will be awarded a record contract. He’ll release an album on August 12.

Winners 2nd Mountain Youth Talent Contest

heritagealive3In the second traditional Appalachian talent contest this year for mountain youth, the Heritage Alive! Mountain Youth Talent Contest was held at the Bluegrass Festival last Saturday, May 17, 2014, at the Stecoah Valley Center in Stecoah, NC. Youth were drawn from Cullowhee, Bryson City, Leicester, Robbinsville, Topton, and Almond.  The children ranged in age from six to fifteen. The songs they choose to perform brought back memories of yesteryear, from “Blackberry Blossom” to “Cumberland Gap,” to “Jesus is Risen.”  Cash prizes were furnished by Stecoah Valley Center, United Community Bank, Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, and Jackson County 4-H.

Best of Show first place winners chosen from the group of talented youth were the Graham County Line Band, featuring Joshua Jones (12), Jonathan Jones (15), and Daylan Carver (14). They will get the chance to perform on stage at the Mountain Heritage Day held at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC on September 27, 2014.  At this larger venue, with it’s broader audience, it will be terrific to watch the young people from the Talent Contests serve as ambassadors of traditional Appalachian music and heritage.

Best of Show second place winner was Dakota Gatti (13); third place Best of Show was Joshua Jones (12).  A first time ever award, called the Judge’s Choice, went to the family group Mountain Medicine Makers:  Bryan Surat (13), Rylee Surat (10), Sylas Surat (6), from Leicester, NC.

Judges were three in number, including: Judy Rhodes, a musician who holds a Masters Degree in Appalachian Studies;  Ken Walton, a musician and guitar instructor; Bennedene Walton, a musician who holds a degree in early childhood development.

Sponsored by the Jackson County 4-H in association with Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, the talent show was performed at the Stecoah Valley Center in Stecoah, NC, home of the “Appalachian Evening” summer series of eleven great concerts beginning June 28 and continuing through September 6 when Balsam Range returns to the Grand Old Stage. The Bluegrass Festival was sponsored by the North Carolina Arts Council.

Congratulations to this year’s winners:



1st:  Joshua Jones, Robbinsville, NC (12)

2nd: Summer Davis, Bryson City, NC (10)

3rd: Aspen Budden, Cullowhee, NC (9)



1st:   Drey Keener, Robbinsville, NC (11)



1st:  Colby Lovin, Robbinsville, NC (12)



1st:   Joshua Jones, Robbinsville, NC (12)

2nd: Emma Budden, Cullowhee, NC (11)

3rd: Booth Bassett, Robbinsville, NC (12)



1st:   Caleb Turpin, Robbinsville, NC (9)

2nd:  Rylee Surat, Leicester, NC (10)

3rd:  Emma Budden, Cullowhee, NC (11)



1st:    Graham County Line Band, Robbinsville, NC (15,12,14)

2nd:   Mountain Medicine, Leicester, NC  (13,10,6)



1st:   Taylor Douthit, Cullowhee, NC (13)

2nd:  Dakota Gatti, Topton, NC (13)



1st:    Dakota Gatti, Topton, NC (13)



1st: Daylan Carver, Robbinsville, NC (14)



1st: Bryan Surat, Leicester, NC (13)

2nd: Jonathan Jones, Robbinsville, NC (15)

Best of Show

1st:    Graham County Line Band (Group)

2nd:   Dakota Gatti (Song and Dance)

3rd:   Joshua Jones (Fiddle, Mandolin)


Judges’ Choice:  Mountain Medicine Makers  (Group)

Greenway Bridge Gets Approval

The Tuckaseigee River Green-way got a significant boost Monday night when the Commissioners gave approval for the acquisition of a $304,000 pedestrian bridge to cross the Tuckaseigee River to the Green-way from the parking lot at the Rolling Green. The paving of the Green-way path is expected to be completed by the end of May, but it will take several months to complete the installation of the bridge. The Commissioners have heard numerous comments over the past months about the costs factors and the design of the bridge but when it came time to vote the commissioners decided to go to the more decorative design. According to County Manager Chuck Wooten, “since this bridge is going to be a landmark and staple for a long long time we prefer it to be attractive. We only have one time to buy a bridge and over time the small difference in the price makes it a good decision.” Once completed the Green-way will offer foot traffic and recreational access from the Rolling Green area to the University.

Again: More Jobs Coming To Jackson County

The Jackson County Commissioners moved to accept an offer from Consolidated Metco to locate a warehouse and possibly a small manufacturing operation in Sylva in what is known as the Tuckaseigee Mills building. This is a two phase project. First the Commissioners accepted a bid from NEO Corporation of Canton to remove floor tiles containing asbestos. According to County Manager Chuck Wooten, when potential users of the industrial site did a site visit the asbestos question always came up and actually was a deal breaker. Under the current plan NEO will complete the asbestos tiles within two weeks. The project is expected to start immediately. The SECOND PHASE is once the asbestos is removed Con Met will move in behind them with a $350.000 facility upgrade including lighting and bathrooms. There will be other additions including a loading dock and facility upgrades. The lease will be for three years at a base rate of 82 cents a square foot but the improvements make the rent value almost three dollars per square foot. Con Met is expected to have 24 employees at the site by July or early August. Con Met has been on a hiring blitz for the past few weeks and is expected to continue seeking reliable workers for these operations as well as for those in Swain and Haywood counties. The base pay is $12.00 per hour and increases to $15.00 per hour once the trial period is over. The benefits package is worth about one half the base rate once employees are granted full time status.

210th Military Police Unit Set To Return Home On Friday

The NC National Guard has announced the return of the 210th Military Police Company (Forward Detachment) unit with Armories in Franklin, Sylva, and Murphy NC will be greeted with “Welcome Home” ceremony on Friday May 16th at 1:00 p.m at the lake Junaluska Terrance Hotel and Conference Center. The ceremony is open to the public and veteran’s groups are encouraged to attend. This Unit comprised of 30 soldiers was deployed in May 2013 in a ceremony at Southwestern Community College. Their mission was law and order operations and were equipped to provide those services at their assigned base. The 210th National Guard unit is commanded by Captain James Rossi and the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge is First Sargent Timothy Schwab. Their rear Detachment commanders are Captain Jason Porter and First Sargent Willard Lackey. Their primary assigned duty station while deployed was the Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

The accomplishments of the 210th MP unit from the North Carolina National Guard were: Conducted Law and Order operations on the largest strategic base in the Afghanistan theater of operations. Worked directly for the Garrison Commander (O-6), NATO Installation Commander (O-7), and the Division Commanding General (O-8) to protect over 32,000 resident Service Members and Civilians from criminal threats. Deterred criminal activity, which interferes with combat readiness, provided community assistance, developed crime prevention programs, and promoted a safe environment. Directly supported the Base Defense Operations Center by locating and cordoning over 90 Indirect Fire attack Points of Impact. Also operated the only Field Detention Site in Regional Command-East, allowing for the successful detention of several named targets. The unit received numerous awards and commendations including the BSM x3, MSM x3, ARCOM x21, AAM x7. There no Purple Hearts issued during the mission which indicated all the soldiers served their tour of duty with no combat related injuries and no loss of life of any member of the unit. Many felt this was a dangerous mission with the deployment in May 2013, but the fact that the unit returned with no injuries nor loss of life speaks highly of their units leadership, training, and superior service. One of the interesting stories from the deployment is the Unit was co-located at Bagram Airfield with sister NC-ARNG unit, the 211th MP CO. for a portion of deployment. Two brothers SGT Marc Cook(210th) and SSG Brandon Cook (211th) served together.
Special thanks to area businesses and institutions supporting the individuals during deployment included Hayesville American Legion Post #532, and the Western North Carolina Veterans Council.

Kid’s Fishing Days Events

Dsc02816The USDA Forest Service today announced that it will sponsor two fishing days for local children at Carolina Hemlocks Campground on May 17 and Max Patch Pond on June 7on the Appalachian Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest.

The events are for children ages 12 years and younger. All children must be accompanied by an adult. The event allows families and friends to share fun, quality time together while learning about one of our nation’s favorite pastimes – fishing. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission co-sponsors these events. No experience is needed for families to participate.

The South Toe River at Carolina Hemlocks will be closed to fishing Friday, May 16, 2014, and will reopen to the public at 3 p.m. on Saturday following the May 17 event.  Max Patch Pond will be closed to fishing on Friday, June 6, 2014 and will reopen at 3 p.m. on Saturday following the June 7 event.

The two fishing events on the Appalachian Ranger District are conducted as part of National Fishing and Boating Week, June 1-8, during which local events will occur in the communities across the country that bring attention to America’s wealth of world-class water based recreation opportunities .

For a listing of events taking place this spring, go to www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc and click on “Kids Fishing Days Events.”

Cinco de Beardo

Dixie Beard and Mustache Society will donate all proceeds from this year's event to Mary Harper of Sylva.

Dixie Beard and Mustache Society will donate all proceeds from this year’s event to Mary Harper of Sylva.

No shave November has come and gone but the beard craze is still here which leaves WRGC asking, what’s behind this hairy phenomenon?

There is no denying Beards are a growing trend. Many associate the popularity of beards with television shows such as Duck Dynasty but for the Dixie Beard and Mustache Society of Haywood County, it’s a way of life.

The Society was created in 2011 by facial hair enthusiasts in Haywood County to uphold long-standing southern traditions of beards and mustaches, promote camaraderie and also give back to the community.  The organization hosts various fundraising events throughout the year.

Dixie Beard and Mustache Society in conjunction with Tipping Point Tavern in downtown Waynesville will be celebrating it’s 2nd  annual Cinco de Beardo with beard and mustache competition at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 5. Live music will be provided by Chris Minick and Caleb Burress. All proceeds from the event as well as portions of the PBR sales will be given to Mary Harper of Sylva, who was injured in a motorcycle accident.

For more information, on Cinco de Beardo call 246-9230.

NC Primary is Tuesday

election2014North Carolina’s May primary is Tuesday May 6th  and while campaign signs are cluttering the entrances to libraries and other polling places statewide, some groups are concerned about voter turnout.

Because of changes to North Carolina’s voting laws last year, early voting will end earlier this year – on Saturday statewide. Next Tuesday, precincts will be open from 6-30 until 7-30 p-m. Photo I-D’s are not required in this election, but it is important to make sure you vote at your assigned precinct. New this year, no provisional ballots will be offered to voters who mistakenly go to the wrong poll.

Although this is a primary, meant to decide party nominees, some candidates are running unopposed by the other party, and next Tuesday’s election will be the final say in who holds that office.

North Carolina’s new voting law also eliminated straight party voting, so people must select each candidate for each office, even if they intend to vote a straight party ticket.

Waynesville Roller Derby

Balsam Area Derby Association is the first co-ed roller derby team in Western North Carolina.

Balsam Area Derby Association is the first co-ed roller derby team in Western North Carolina.

Roller derby is rolling into your backyard! Balsam Area Derby Association and Balsam Mountain Roller Girls are hosting two Bad Scrimmages on Sunday May 4th at 4pm at Smoky Mountain Skateway off the by-pass in Waynesville.

Balsam Mountain Area Derby Association teamed up with Columbia Quad Squad for a bootcamp which will take place before the scrimmage on Sunday. The scrimmage will give skaters from all over Western North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee to learn new skills before showcasing in the public scrimmage.

Columbia Quad Squad is ranked #45 in the world for Women’s Flat Track Derby Asssociation (WFTDA) and hails from Columbia, South Carolina.

There will be a women’s scrimmage and a coed scrimmage. A family friendly event, the public is welcome to come watch both bouts! $5 admission and seating is limited so everyone is encouraged to bring a chair.

Balsam Mountain Roller Girls is Waynesville’s only women’s flat track roller derby team. Balsam Area Derby Association is the only co-ed team in Western North Carolina. For more information visit www.balsammountainrollergirls.com or www.facebook.com/balsammountainrollergirls

Folkmoot Funding Slashed

Folkmoot USA International Dance Festival celebrates diversity by bringing in performers from all over the world to WNC.

Folkmoot USA International Dance Festival celebrates diversity by bringing in performers from all over the world to WNC.

Haywood County Tourism Development Authority cut grant funding again to Folkmoot USA International Dance Festival. This year $8500 in grants were given to the festival which is significantly less than previous years. Folkmoot has struggled in recent years not managing to bring in ticket sales and revenue to cover the cost of the event.

The tourism and development authority were split on the issue. Some argue that the festival needs to stand alone and manage profitability on it’s own while others say the festival brings tourism dollars to the area with lodging and dining.

An economic study sanctioned by Folkmoot last year showed the festival had a 9.2 million dollar impact on the region.

Maggie Valley Seeking Miss Maggie for Season

Miss Maggie has become a cultural icon in the Great Smoky Mountains. Her likeness is owned by the Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Miss Maggie has become a cultural icon in the Great Smoky Mountains. Her likeness is owned by the Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The Maggie Valley Chamber is looking for someone to portray Miss Maggie. Miss Maggie is somewhat of a cultural icon in Maggie Valley, donning a costume which looks much like a traffic light: red, green and yellow. She wears an old timey bonnet and a long dress with apron. Miss Maggie has become a recognizable symbol of the town.

The Miss Maggie program was instituted to show visitors true mountain hospitality. The main responsibility of Miss Maggie is to walk the sidewalks in Maggie Valley greeting visitors with a welcoming smile and wave and to make special appearances at festivals and events. The main message delivered by Miss Maggie : You’re welcome here.

Individual seeking the position agrees to walk one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon/evening with times to coincide with the greatest number of visitors present in the valley. Miss Maggie appearances traditionally begin in May and run through the end of October.

This position is a paid contract labor position which Teresa Smith describes as perfect for a retired person or someone who enjoys the outdoors.

Interested ladies should call Teresa at the Maggie Valley Chamber at 926-1686.

Fire Burns 6 Acres of Forest Land

NC Wildlife Services brought in a helicopter to extinguish the fire.

NC Wildlife Services brought in a helicopter to extinguish the fire.

A fire broke out Sunday afternoon in the Parris Branch community off Happy Holler Road in Sylva. Eddie Parris, a local landowner, lost approximately 4 acres of land in the fire. Eddie Parris told WRGC that this fire marks the third to destroy his forest land over the past few years. Parris said the fire was believed to have started around 1:00 pm and burned until 10:00 pm. He said if not for the fire department, his home would’ve been destroyed in the fire as well as his forestland. NC Wildlife Services brought a helicopter in to help keep the fire under control.

According to Benji Reece with the North Carolina Wildlife Service around 6 acres of land burned. The fire is still under investigation by the Sylva Fire Department and the Wildlife Service. Though no conclusion has been found, Reece speculated it was likely caused by a burn pile of debris which got out of hand. He warns this is the season for many fires to start with people burning brush and debris.

Appalachian Care to Offer Free Medical Services

israel-express-medical-12Swain County Health Department and the Department of Defense are sponsoring a medical mission, Appalachian Care, June 9-13 in Bryson City. Available services will be primary medical care, dentistry, optometry, behavioral health and classes on nutrition, smoking cessation, stress reduction and healthy and fit lifestyles.

Sarah Peterson with Swain County Health Department explained the medical mission “helps get troops ready for deployment” while offering medical services to those in need in Western North Carolina.

All services are free to the public. Registration will begin on June 2 at the First Baptist Church in Bryson City. Services will be on a first come first serve basis. Volunteers are also needed for the event. For more information, contact the Swain County Health Department at 828-488-3198.

An Employment Boom Hits Local Area

Consolidated Metco Inc in Bryson City has notified WRGC Radio of the need to add employees in six production divisions including assembly, material handlers, quality inspectors, finishing press, molding press and painting operators. These are good paying jobs for the local area starting at $12.00 per hour. This news comes on the heels of Hom-Tex in Sylva who last week announced the immediate need for 40 employees with an additional 60 workers to be recruited in the coming weeks. Consolidated Metco is having job fairs the first two days of May. The first job fair will be welcome news to Robbinsville who learned last week that Stanley Furniture was closing their Robbinsville plant and sending 400 workers to the unemployment line where unemployment benefits will only last for a few weeks. The second Con Met job fair will be in Sylva on May second at the State Employment Office located above the Jackson County Library in Sylva. This is also in addition to a job fair held this week by Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee. For more information on the ConMet positions check their website at www.omnisource.net

Seeking Community Leadership Nominations

Western_Carolina_University_sealThe Coulter Regional Leadership Program and the Cherokee Right Path Adult Leadership Program are both seeking nominations.

The Coulter Regional Leadership Program is accepting nominations for participation in the 2014-15 program. This 12-month leadership program is for adults ages 25-55 years of age who have some involvement in community activities and have the potential to become dynamic leaders.

Nominees must reside in the counties of Haywood, Macon, Jackson, Swain, Clay, Cherokee, Graham, or the Qualla Boundary. Persons wishing to nominate can go to wnclead.wcu.edu and download the nomination form.

Deadline for submission: Letters of nomination will be accepted until 5 p.m. on June 15

Litter Sweep Clean Up Drive

LitterFreeNClogo-150hVolunteers, maintenance crews, inmates and community service workers donning orange safety vests will take to the roads Saturday, April 26 to Saturday, May 10, to participate in Litter Sweep, the N.C. Department of Transportation’s biannual cleanup drive.


NCDOT encourages all North Carolinians to get involved in this spring’s Litter Sweep and help clean up more than 79,000 miles of state-maintained roadsides. The department provides all litter removal gear, including safety vests, gloves and bags. Anyone wanting to volunteer should contact their county NCDOT maintenance office in advance to obtain supplies.


NCDOT will deploy crews for litter pick-up in each county and NCDOT employees will be available to collect trash bags left on the roadsides by volunteer groups participating in the cleanup. Participants are reminded to warm up before picking up litter and to drink plenty of water during the cleanup event.


12th Annual Dining Out for Life

415679The 12th Annual Dining Out for Life event will take place on Thursday April 24 to benefit the Western North Carolina Aids Project. Over 100 restaurants in Western North Carolina will be donating 20% of gross sales to the foundation. Last year $165,000 was raised which goes to assist with Aids Awareness, testing, education and to provide case managed care for those in need. More than 1 million people are living with AIDS in the United States with 40,000 diagnosed annually. 1 in 6 living with HIV are unaware of their infection.

City Lights Café, Guadalupe Café, Soul Infusion Tea House and Innovation Brewing are some of Jackson County’s restaurants participating in the event. To participate in Dining Out for Life, visit these local restaurants on Thursday.  For a complete list of participating WNC restaurants visit www.diningoutforlife.com.

General Mundy Funeral Saturday

General Mundys' Funeral Greenhill Cemetery in Waynesville on Saturday

General Mundys’ Funeral Greenhill Cemetery in Waynesville on Saturday

The 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps was laid to rest in Haywood County Saturday. General Carl Mundy passed away at his home in Virginia after battling cancer. Mundy was raised in Lake Junaluska and was buried at Green Hill Cemetery in Waynesville. General Mundy was appointed to serve as the 30th Commandant from 1991-95. After he retired, he also served as the President of the Marine Corps University Foundation.



Jackson County Fishing To Be Featured On Sports South

The premier episode of “Anglers and Appetites” filmed in Jackson County will air on Fox Sports South tomorrow, Saturday, April 19th at 10:30 a.m. (check your service provider for the channel number.)This program, sponsored by the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority, features local fishing experiences and culinary talents of area chefs amid the natural beauty of our lakes, rivers and streams and other regional attractions. The show will be rebroadcast on Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. and Thursday at 7:30 a.m. and then air again in late May and June. It will be available online at www.anglersandappetites.com 24 hours after the premiere and for free download on the front page of the iTunes sports and recreation section athttps://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/anglers-appetites/id851760791?mt=2
For more information, contact the South Jackson County Visitor Center at 828-743-5941 or info@CashiersAreaChamber.com.

HomTex to add 100 jobs in Sylva

SCC-JessicaWaldronThe HomTex company in Sylva announced on Monday that orders for their sheet sets and decorative pillows has expanded enough to require the expansion of operations at the Sylva plant on Old Scotts Creek Road. Plant Manager Billy Elliot told WRGC Radio News that Hom Tex is looking for 40 permanent employees.

Elliott explained that applicants will be tested for dexterity, and hand and eye coordination skills, and other means to measure their skills for piece rate work. Interviews will take place at the plant on the Old Scotts Creek Road which is the old Chasm factory. Plans are to add up to one hundred permanent employees.

In addition to the current pillow and sheet set operation where workers are needed immediately a new pillow operation is expected to come on line in the immediate future where factory orders measure in the hundreds of thousands at a time. It was also pointed out that these pillows will carry the Made in America label.