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Take a Deep Breath:Health of NC Children Impacted by Ozone

Luna Willhelm,5, has asthma. Her parents believe it was caused by poor air quality in the environment and the family believes someone should be held responsible

Luna Willhelm,5, has asthma. Her parents believe it was caused by poor air quality in the environment and the family believes someone should be held responsible

This school year, thousands of North Carolina children will go to school with an inhaler to treat asthma. According to the CDC, nationwide almost seven-million children have asthma, which is just over nine-percent of their population. In some cases, environment is believed to play a role in the medical condition. It’s why groups including the Medical Advocates for Healthy Air have spoken out in support of the EPA’s efforts to strengthen carbon pollution limits this year.

Rebecca Cheatham moved her family to Charlotte from New York for better quality of life and air, but she feels it was too late for her daughter, who now has to carry an inhaler. “I think that the environment was totally responsible for her developing asthma in the first place. We have no family history, we don’t smoke. There’s no known triggers. Except for when we lived in New York, she was exposed to heavy-duty amounts of particulate matter.”

In July the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the EPA for failing to ensure that North Carolinians are protected from lead and ozone air pollution. According to the American Lung Association, in North Carolina, more than 860-thousand people have illnesses such as asthma and pulmonary disease that may be the result of ozone pollution.

Cheatham says as a precautionary measure, they monitor air quality levels when deciding when to let their daughter play outside or participate in things such as gym class, but believe it shouldn’t have to be this way. “There’s no reason for us to have polluted air. There is no reason. There are many other ways in which we can do the things we need to do as a society that don’t pollute the air. ”

According to medical experts, children are at greater risk because of immature lungs and immune systems and breathe more rapidly than adults. The EPA will finalize carbon emission rules next June

Early Morning Fire in Cullowhee; One Dead

In the early morning hours of Thursday August 14 the Jackson County 911/Dispatch Center received a 911 call reporting a structure fire at 8357 Highway 107 in Cullowhee. An unidentified body has been located in the home.

Investigators will be working to determine the cause of the fire.  The name of the fire victim will be released when confirmation of identity is made and notification of next of kin is completed.  The cause of death will be determined after an autopsy.

Responding emergency personnel were from the Cullowhee Fire Department, Sylva Fire Department, Canada Fire Department, and Cashiers Fire Department.  Med West EMS provided medical support and the Jackson County Emergency Management Office also assisted.  The investigation will be joint between the Fire Marshal, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations.

 

Endowment Attracts Medical Students in Underserved Areas

The effort to attract medical students to pursue careers in underserved rural areas of Western North Carolina is getting a boost with a $3 million endowment to help pay for scholarships.

The donation from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust will support a collaboration established last year by the UNC School of Medicine and the Mountain Area Health Education Center.

While 45 percent of North Carolina residents live in rural counties, just 18 percent of primary care doctors have primary practices in rural communities, according to the NC Medical Journal. That disparity is expected to grow worse as the population ages.

This summer, five students in the program are being mentored by physicians in Linville, Burnsville, Cherokee, Bryson City and Robbinsville. The scholarships support the second, third and fourth years of medical school and reduce student debt by $30,000 each.

Professional Development Offered to Area Math Teachers

A team of Western Carolina University faculty members and Western North Carolina mathematics teachers are establishing the Smoky Mountain Math Teachers’ Circle, a professional development community to help teachers bring new excitement and interest in mathematics to their students.

The American Institute of Mathematics announced the formation of the new circle, which is part of AIM’s network of Math Teachers’ Circles. The circles regularly bring together mathematicians and mathematics teachers to work collaboratively on problems specially selected to intrigue participants and enhance their problem-solving skills and mathematical content knowledge. The gatherings aim to help teachers find more ways to incorporate problem solving, a key part of student learning and engagement in mathematics, into their classrooms through enriching their own experience of mathematics.

The new Smoky Mountain Math Teachers’ Circle will be open to teachers from Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. Several pilot sessions will be hosted at WCU during the 2014-15 academic year in advance of a summer immersion retreat next year.

Organizers may explore developing additional circles for elementary and high school teachers in the future and expanding to more counties.

The AIM Math Teachers’ Circle Network began in 2006 when 25 middle school mathematics teachers and five professional mathematicians from the San Francisco Bay Area came together for an intense week of work. The success led to the establishment of circles across the country. The program is sponsored by the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Society of America, the Educational Advancement Foundation, Math for America, the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency.

Expect New Traffic Patterns at SCC

Students who’ve not been by Southwestern Community College’s Jackson Campus this summer are in for a surprise when they return Monday, Aug. 18, for the first day of classes.

The NCDOT project, R-5000 has arrived at Southwestern’s doorstep resulting in some changes students should be aware of when navigating campus. Construction of new concrete box culverts carrying Mill Creek and storm drainage underneath the Balsam parking lot “A1″ has created a giant excavated pit.

All traffic for the Burrell Building will have to use the entrance nearest the bus garage from NC-116. This entrance should also be used for all wanting to park in the remaining 180-plus spaces of the Balsam lot “A1.” All other campus traffic will need to bypass the original entrance (now blocked off) and instead use the temporary entrance in front of the National Guard Armory from NC-116.

Temporary ADA parking for the Balsam Center has been added on the side nearest the Armory. NCDOT has requested the one-way drive running in front of the Balsam Center be closed and only used for emergency use.

 

Waynesville Shuts Down for Feature Film

Waynesville is just another mountain town headed to the big screen. The following streets and public parking areas will be closed from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Monday, Aug. 11, for production of a feature film currently titled “Unnamed Armor Car Project:” which has been reported to star Owen Wilson, Kristen Wigg and zach galifinakis

 

• Maxima & Corsair Lanes

 

• Welch and Wall Streets (between East Street and Howell Street)

 

• All public parking lots and on-street parking on Wall Street

 

In addition, parking for crew, extras and equipment will be located in the following private parking parking areas:

 

• Garrett Funeral Home (Main Street)

 

• Badcock Furniture (Main Street)

 

• American Legion Post (Legion Drive)

 

Traffic and parking will be controlled by barricade and the assistance of the Waynesville Police Department. Residents and business owners in these areas will be allowed limited access to their own properties during filming, but the extended one-square block area bounded by Welch, Howell, Wall and East streets will be closed to the general public.

Filming is expected to be completed by late afternoon Monday.

 

 

“Stamp” of Poverty Falls Hard on NC’s Rural Communities

food-stamp Oftentimes, the issue of hunger is associated with people in inner cities, where the cost of living tends to be high, but a new study shows some of the greatest need can be found where America’s food supply is grown and raised.

Jon Bailey with the Center for Rural Affairs authored the report, which examines the use of food stamps, now called ‘SNAP’ benefits, from 2008 to 2012. “And what we found is that, during that time period, more households in rural areas received SNAP benefits than did households in more urban – both metropolitan and small-city – areas.”

In that five-year period, the report says more than 14 percent of rural households received SNAP benefits, compared to slightly under 11 percent of urban households. USDA says almost one-point-seven million North Carolinians receive SNAP benefits.

Another key finding, says Bailey, is that rural areas and small cities have higher percentages of households with seniors and children receiving food support than in larger urban areas.  “SNAP is providing a way for those people and those households to meet their food needs, which is important, because those two population groups are probably most at risk of hunger and food insecurity.”

In rural areas, one in nine households has a SNAP recipient who is either under age 18, or an adult 60 years of age or older. In North Carolina, the average SNAP benefit per household is just over 250-dollars a month.

Health Department Rolls Out New WIC Registration

It’s all systems go for a new statewide computerized registration system for income-eligible women seeking to receive federal food assistance benefits under the Women, Infants and Children program.

Although in-person interviews will remain a requirement for prospective WIC participants at the county’s health department, the North Carolina Crossroads WIC System promises to streamline the registration process and make receiving benefits much easier.

Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, Crossroads replaces an antiquated system created in 1984 that relied heavily on paperwork.

According to the USDA, North Carolina is also the lead state in a consortium of four states using the Crossroads system. North Carolina was selected the lead state because it has the most participants using WIC.

Jackson County Getting New Outdoor Recreation Area

Jackson County will add to it’s growing number of outdoor recreation sites along the Tuckasegee River. The Barkers Creek put in was approved by County Commissioners this week. The lease is on a 3-acre piece of property owned by Duke Energy which the county will get for the bargain price of  $10 a year.

The property sits along U.S. 74 known as the Tuckasegee Gorge. It already has a boat put-in and small parking lot, but Jackson County plans to expand the area for more recreational users. A parking lot expansion, picnic shelter and the addition of 6 picnic tables will be added. Also, there is discussion about a basketball court which County Manager Chuck Wooten compares to East LaPorte Park. The county would be responsible for making these other improvements.

Wooten says the county will be able to build the park amenities with money set aside in a special county recreation fund provided by Duke Energy though some additional local funds may be required.

Wooten adds that Duke Energy will also be responsible for the property taxes on the site.

Fires in Western NC

It seems inevitable that every summer wildires are making headlines. Wildfires are sometimes called “wildland fires.” Wildfires can originate from a dropped match, cigarette embers, campfires, exhaust sparks from a train, or arson. Many wildland fires are ignited by lightning, according to the US Forest Service NC sees about 2 or so lightening fires a year in the region.

Benji Reece with the US Forest Service says so far there have been 24 fires in our region destroying over 100 acres of property.

Wind, temperature, and humidity all influence wildfires. Strong winds push flames toward new fuel sources. Wind can pick up and transfer burning embers and sparks, starting “spot fires.”

During the day, sunlight heats the ground and warm air rises, allowing hot air currents to travel up sloped landscapes. At night, the ground cools and air currents travel down the slopes.

Large fires can create their own winds and weather, increasing their flow of oxygen.

A really large fire can generate hurricane-force winds, up to 120 mph. The high temperatures preheat fuels in the fire’s path, preparing them to burn more readily.

Fires can be expensive. Reece estimates the suppression cost on the 24 fires in our region are about $11,000 or $463 per acre. This cost is actually down from previous years.

Several firefighters from WNC including Reece will be mobilized to assist with wildfires in the Pacific Northwest this week.

Asheville Named Most Beautiful Place To Live by Good Morning America

No need for mascara or lipstick, Asheville, North Carolina’s acres of mountain terrain won the ultimate beauty contest in 2011. ABC’s Good Morning America, announced its list of “Ten Most Beautiful Places to Live” and this little city nicknamed Land in the Sky near the Blue Ridge Parkway topped the charts at #1. But beauty is not only what’s Asheville’s know for. In 2013, Conde Nast Traveler named Asheville on the list of Friendliest Cities in the World. More recently, Purina ONE selected Asheville in May 2014 as a “perfect dog-friendly city” after touring the country to find the best place to kick off its 28-Day Challenge. In June 2014, Livability.com placed Asheville at #4 on its “Top 10 Foodie Cities 2014″ round-up. Asheville, North Carolina beat Aspen, Colorado with flying colors for the top beauty title.

Macon County Sheriff’s Ask People to Be on Alert

Police are asking residents to lock their doors and windows after a report of a prowler who fired a gun at a resident Saturday night.

The incident happened at about 11 p.m. Saturday at a home at 697 West Palmer St. near the downtown, Franklin police chief David Adams said.

The resident reported to police “that an unknown white male had fired several bullets from a handgun at him while he was outside looking around for what he thought was a prowler,” Adams said.

At the request of Franklin police, the Macon County 911 center at 1:30 a.m. Sunday sent out a Code Red message to all residents within a two-mile radius of the West Palmer Street incident. The automated phone message urged residents to lock their doors and windows.

Franklin officers and deputies with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office searched Saturday night and Sunday for the suspect but have not been able to locate him, Adams said.

The suspect was described as having a medium build, in his 20s, wearing a white tee-shirt and blue jeans and carrying a white bag, Adams said. He was last seen running along Forrest Hills Drive with a handgun.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that the prowler may be a prisoner who escaped from the Macon County Detention Center, Adams said.

The inmate, Charles Andrew Cochran, 21, of Franklin, is still on the loose after his escape last Wednesday night.

Anyone with information about the suspect should call the Franklin Police Department at 524-2864 or Macon County Crime Stoppers at 349-2600.

WCU Named Top Adventure School

Results from an online poll have been tallied, and Western Carolina University has been announced as the No. 1 college for outdoor adventure in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic by a leading outdoors magazine.

Western Carolina captured the title of “top adventure college” over the second-place school, Garrett College in Maryland, following several rounds of voting in which WCU also came out on top against Emory University, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Virginia Tech and Appalachian State. Representatives of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine said that more than 115,000 visitors to its website cast votes during the competition held earlier this summer, and results are listed in the publication’s new August issue.

In her story about the poll results, magazine staff member Jess Daddio wrote that “WCU’s stunning campus is home to some serious adventure. Both the Parks and Recreation Management (PRM) department and the Base Camp Cullowheeouting program offer students a chance to get the quintessential experiential education experience.”

Base Camp Cullowhee has long offered dozens of outdoor recreation trips for students and equipment rental, but in recent years the staff has increased its experiential education services to integrate outdoor activities with students’ classroom curriculum, said Josh Whitmore, WCU’s associate director of outdoor programs. “For example, a professor might approach us about including a climbing wall session, a group development team-building activity or a guided hike to a geologic feature in a class,” Whitmore said.

When it comes to total student participation in Base Camp’s programming, numbers have skyrocketed in the last decade, Whitmore said. “When I first started here nearly 10 years ago, we would run about 300 to 400 touches (student participations) for a year, and we have about 7,000 to 8,000 now,” he said. The growth has followed along with improvements in the university’s recreational facilities, such as the indoor climbing wall at the Campus Recreation Center, which sometimes averages up to 800 student visits per month, he said. Also, WCU’s on-campus trail system – with seven miles of pathway for mountain biking, hiking and running – opened last year.

A decade ago, the Base Camp staff included Whitmore and about half a dozen student workers, but now it takes three full-time staffers and 20 to 25 students to keep the outdoor program going, he said.

Accordingly, the university’s reputation among the general public and prospective students as an epicenter of outdoor adventure has grown over the years, Whitmore said. “Certainly, the mountain lifestyle is a big draw for folks. This (“top adventure college” title) is a big part of building that reputation and will help with that for sure.”

In its rundown of the top eight vote-getting schools, the magazine also included profiles of two accomplished alumni from each institution. WCU’s featured students, both graduates of the Parks and Recreation Management Program, are Glenville native Bobby Bryson and Laurinburg native William Butler. Bryson is now a captain for the Charlotte Fire Department, and as a member of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team, takes part in search and rescue operations that utilize Blackhawk helicopters for swift-water, flood, urban and wilderness rescue. Butler is an educational technician for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and in that position he introduces visitors to outdoor adventure and educates them about using the wilderness responsibly.

In addition to parks and recreation management, other academic programs offered by WCU for students interested in careers in the outdoors are forest resourceshospitality and tourism and natural resource conservation and management.

Blue Ridge Outdoors’ coverage of the “top adventure college” competition is available online at http://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/biking/alumni-souths-best-adventure-colleges/.

Haywood Regional Hospital Now Owned By Duke Lifepoint

It was announced Friday Morning that MedWest Haywood and Duke Lifepoint Healthcare have finalized Duke LifPoint’s acquisition of the 169 bed medical center and its affiliated assets. Duke Lifepoint will invest a minimum of $36 million in capital improvements at Haywood facilities over the next eight years and provide resources that will help it enhance and expand its services. Medwest Haywood will n ow be known as Haywood Regional Medical Center.
“As part of Duke LifePoint, Haywood Regional will be better able to meet the changing needs of our community,” said Frank Powers, Chairman of the Haywood Regional Board of Trustees. “We are delighted to finalize this acquisition and begin our collaboration with Duke Lifepoint to improve the health and well being of people throughout this region, create new opportunities for our staff and physicians, and strengthen our medical center for the future ahead.”

Created in 1927, Haywood was the first county hospital in North Carolina. It offers a comprehensive array of services including orthopedics, spine services, cardiology, general surgery, women’s care, emergency medicine, and behavioral health. In addition to its medical center its campus is home to a health and fitness center, the Haywood Outpatient Care Center, and the Homestead, an inpatient hospice facility. Haywood Regional also operates two urgent care centers located in Hazelwood and Canton.
Duke LifePoint is honored to welcome Haywood Regional to our system,” said Lifepoint Chairman and Chief Executive officer William Carpenter III. The physicians and staff at Haywood Regional have shown inspiring dedication and commitment to their patients and community. We look forward to working with them to build on a great tradition of care that exists here and transform health care delivery in Clyde and beyond.”
As part of Duke Lifepoint, Haywood Regional will support its local community by becoming a local taxpayer. A local board of trustees will be established to ensure a strong community voice in Haywood’s long-term strategic direction. “Haywood regional has played a central role in the health care infrastructure of Haywood County for nearly 90 years,” said William J. Fulkerson, Jr., MD, executive vice president of Duke University Health System.” “The Duke LifePoint team is pleased to partner with the medical staff and employees to further strengthen Haywood Regional’s ability to advance Health care throughout the region.”

Duke LifePoint’s acquisition of Haywood Regional was approved by the Haywood County board of Commissioners and the local Hospital Authority Board.

Duke LifePoint Announces The Purchase Of Westcare Health Health System

Sylva, NC (August 1, 2014) – The WestCare Health System Board of Trustees and Duke LifePoint Healthcare today announced that the acquisition of WestCare by Duke LifePoint has been finalized.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, which was reviewed by the Attorney General of North Carolina, Duke LifePoint purchased Harris Regional Hospital, an 86-bed hospital in Sylva; Swain County Hospital, a 48-bed hospital in Bryson City; and WestCare Medical Park, an outpatient medical facility in Franklin. Duke LifePoint will invest a minimum of $43 million in capital improvements over the next eight years and provide new resources to help the system grow, recruit new physicians, enhance services and improve health care delivery throughout the region.

“As we have explored this acquisition over the last several months, Duke LifePoint has shown that it shares WestCare’s commitment to our hospitals, our patients and our communities,” said Bunny Johns, Chair of the WestCare Board of Trustees. “We are excited to begin our future as part of Duke LifePoint and to explore the great opportunities we have to enhance health care services to make our communities healthier.”

Becoming part of Duke LifePoint offers many benefits to WestCare’s hospitals, medical staff, employees and communities. Proceeds from the acquisition will retire WestCare’s financial obligations and fund a locally governed charitable foundation to support community needs. WestCare also becomes a local taxpayer, providing a source of new tax revenue to support the local economy.

“Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital have been a critical part of the health care infrastructure in western North Carolina for many years,” said LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William F. Carpenter III. “We are proud to partner with these hospitals to strengthen quality care across this region and look forward to working with their teams to better position the hospitals to grow and prosper in the changing health care environment.”

WestCare’s hospitals now have access to Duke University Health System’s top-ranked patient safety, quality and education programs and LifePoint’s financial and operational resources and expertise.
“We are pleased to welcome WestCare to Duke LifePoint,” said William J. Fulkerson Jr., M.D., executive vice president of Duke University Health System. “Generations of people in this region have relied on WestCare’s hospitals and, together with WestCare’s board, executives, medical staff and employees, we will work together to further enhance health care in this region.”

WestCare will be governed by a regional board of trustees comprised of members of WestCare’s communities, local physicians and representatives from Duke LifePoint.

“WestCare’s relationship with Duke LifePoint marks a new beginning for our hospitals in Sylva and Bryson City and our outpatient center in Franklin,” said Steve Heatherly, CEO of WestCare Health System. “I look forward to working with Duke LifePoint to strengthen health care in our community by providing exceptional experiences for patients and families and growth opportunities for our staff,”

About WestCare Health System
WestCare Health System was formed through a partnership of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital in 1997 and serves Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties with primary and subspecialty care, outpatient facilities and urgent care.

About Duke LifePoint Healthcare
Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System, Inc. and LifePoint Hospitals® (NASDAQ: LPNT), was established to build a dynamic network of hospitals and healthcare providers. The joint venture, which brings together LifePoint’s experience in community-based hospital management and Duke’s world-renowned leadership in clinical service, is strengthening and improving healthcare delivery by providing community hospitals the clinical, quality and operational resources they need to grow and prosper. For additional information, visit www.dukelifepointhealthcare.com.

John Luke Carter To Enter American Idol Competition

Webster’s John Luke Carter is expected to compete in the qualification rounds of this season’s American Idol Competition. Carter is planning to enter the competition in New York and if he makes it past the qualifications then he will have the opportunity to appear before the celebrity judges and a chance at a national tv appearance in September in Brooklyn. Carter graduated from Smoky Mountain High School in 2009 and is a member of the Praise and Worship Team at Webster Baptist Church where his father is the pastor. North Carolina has been quite successful in American Idol competition with the last winner being an Asheville resident.

WCU to Host Political Debates

Candidates vying for elected office in three races to be decided by Western North Carolina voters in November have agreed to take part in a series of debates sponsored by Western Carolina University’s Public Policy Institute and Department of Political Science and Public Affairs.

The WCU Political Debate Series will begin Thursday, Sept. 4, with opponents for the U.S. House of Representatives District 11 – incumbent Mark Meadows (R-Jackson) and challenger Tom Hill (D-Henderson). The debate will be held in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center on the WCU campus.

Next up Tuesday, Sept. 23, will be the candidates in the N.C. House of Representatives District 19 race pitting incumbent Joe Sam Queen (D-Haywood) against Mike Clampitt (R-Swain). The debate will be held in Room 204 of the Health and Human Sciences Building on WCU’s West Campus.

Wrapping up the series Thursday, Oct. 2, will be the contenders for the N.C. Senate District 50 seat, with incumbent Jim Davis (R-Macon) and opponent Jane Hipps (D-Haywood). That debate also will be held in Room 204 of the Health and Human Sciences Building.

All debates will begin at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live online by WLOS-TV on www.wlos.com. All three debates are open to the public free of charge.

Topics discussed during each of the debates will be selected from questions submitted in advance to the PPI. Questions should be submitted by Friday, Aug. 15, to receive priority consideration. Questions must be submitted by registered voters in the district, should be emailed to ppi@wcu.edu, and must include the name of the sender and the county of residence.

Todd Collins, associate professor of political science and public affairs, and director of the Public Policy Institute, said that hosting the debates is in keeping with WCU’s mission as a regional comprehensive institution.

“As a regionally engaged university, we are excited to offer citizens in our area the opportunity to learn more about the candidates through our debate series,” Collins said. “We encourage all voters to learn about the issues and the candidates, to participate in the debates by submitting questions, to watch the debates in person or online, and to make an informed choice when they go to the polls in November.”

Mountain State Fair Tickets

The N.C. Mountain State Fair will return to the Western N.C. Agricultural Center for another run of family fun Sept. 5-14, and advance tickets are now available.

“There’s no time like fair time, and with savings of $2 on admission tickets and 50 percent on ride tickets, there is no time like right now to buy advance tickets,” said fair manager Matt Buchanan.

Advance tickets are available through Sept. 4 at the WNC Agricultural Center, WNC Farmers Market and area Ingles stores. Advance tickets are not available online this year; however, additional Ingles ticket locations have been added in the mountains and upstate South Carolina.

Advance tickets are $6 for adults 13-64, and $2 for children 6-12 and seniors ages 65 and older. Groups with 30 or more people can purchase advance tickets for $5 per person. Ride tickets are available in advance for $7.50 for a sheet of 12 tickets. Family Fun Packs are also available for $35. The cost includes five admission tickets, tickets for four rides and food coupons for a selection of fair vendors.

“With more than 100 acts performing throughout the fair, we’re one of the best entertainment values in the area,” Buchanan said. “Buying in advance or as a group makes it even more affordable.”

This year’s entertainment lineup will feature a mix of new attractions and traditional favorites. Stilt Puppets, a roaming band of acrobatic stilt walkers, will make its fair debut. Other new acts include illusionists Josh Knotts and Lea, dog stunt show K9s in Flight, and naturalist Carlton Burke. Sea Lion Splash, which debuted in 2013, will return for another year of playful antics.

In addition, there will be live music on the Heritage Stage, racing pigs at the Hogway Speedway, newborn calves in the Mooternity Ward, and other fan favorites during the fair’s 10-day run. More information is available at www.mountainfair.org or by calling 828-687-1414.

Ribbon Cutting at Graveyard Fields

Middle Falls at Graveyard Fields

Middle Falls at Graveyard Fields

Graveyard Fields is one of the most popular spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway and on Aug. 4, you can join the National Park Service, U.S Forest Service and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to celebrate its official reopening after extensive trail improvements, construction of new restrooms and expanded parking area.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. at Graveyard Fields at Milepost 419 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The vision for this project started over five years ago with a partnership between the National Park Service, Forest Service and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Although the conversation and planning started with these three partners, the final result was only possible because of the dedication and contribution of many of the Foundation’s Community of Stewards members.

The Foundation secured a Scenic Byways grant of $261,000 and committed to raising over $65,000 in matching funds.  To date, The Foundation’s Community of Stewards has contributed over $25,000 to the project, leaving almost $40,000 still to raise. The project is supported by individual donors both large and small, local community groups such as the Fund for Haywood County and the Asheville BMW Riders and significant in-kind contributions from Bonesteel Films and the Steep Canyon Rangers who joined together to create a music video to raise awareness around the needs at Graveyard Fields.

 

 

Swain County Joins Anti-Fracking Movement

safe_imageSwain County has gotten on board with the anti-fracking movement by passing a no fracking resolution. In addition to Swain County, other mountain communities such as Jackson County have also passed anti-fracking resolutions. In July, first Webster and then Sylva town boards passed resolutions. In August, Forest Hills officials will consider a similar resolution.

Proponents contend that fracking is safe and will provide a source of both energy and jobs. Critics — which include a unanimous Swain commission — argue that the practice raises environmental concerns about issues such as groundwater contamination.

The resolutions are entirely symbolic. The newly passed state law stipulates that local governments have no authority to ban fracking.