Haywood County

Cory Vaillancourt

Many small towns sponsor holiday parades, complete with everything one might expect to see – sidewalks crammed with people, garland-draped lampposts and high school marching bands keeping the beat on the street.  But at the town of Cantons two most recent parades – including last night’s Christmas parade – some were also greeted with the sight of the Confederate flag.

Cory Vaillancourt Smoky Mountain News

8 out of 10 Americans live 'paycheck to paycheck' according to the employment website Career Builder.  That's just one of the factors contributing to homelessness that Smoky Mountain News reporter Cory Vaillancourt studied before he decided to voluntarily go 'homeless' for three days late last month.  He sat down with BPR's Matt Bush to discuss his experiences and the resources for the homeless he encountered in Haywood County.  Vaillancourt's travels took him from his home i

Smoky Mountain News

The so-called 'Haywood 5' are a group of Republicans in that county that were brought up on official party disloyalty charges.  The faced a trial of sorts this month before state GOP officials in Cary, which ruled four of the five are banned from the Republican party for differing amounts of time.  The charges against the five included social media posts that indicated support for candidates who were not Republicans.  The battle goes back further than that, to when the five started the Haywood Republican Alliance and challenged the party establishment in the county.  Smoky Mountain News re

Smoky Mountain News

Parades are a holiday season staple.  The town of Canton's Christmas parade is scheduled for December 7th.  It will be the first parade in the Haywood County town since the Labor Day parade, where several marchers showed up carrying Confederate flags.  Town officials have been trying to decide how to prevent similar displays in the future.  Canton Alderman Dr.

wunc.org, Michel Tronchetti

A common frustration for residents throughout the mountains of Western North Carolina is the lack of high speed internet access.   They now have a place where they can vent. BPRs Davin Eldridge has more…

Author's Note: a link to the survey is provided at the bottom of the article.

Waynesville has more galleries per capita than Asheville. BPR Arts & Culture Producer Matt Peiken captured a view from Waynesville's Main Street, meeting artists and gallery owners along the city's monthly visual arts showcase "Art After Dark."

Derek Blanks

Singer Gladys Knight will headline a benefit show Sunday night at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in Asheville.  Other performers include Little Big Town - and a host of 'surprise guests' that Knight is promising will be there.  All proceeds from the show will toward a proposed community center outside of Canton in Haywood County.  Knight's husband Billy McDowell is behind the plan to turn the former Reynolds School in an area known as Gibsontown into a community center by 2019.  McDow

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

Population and job growth continue to be strong in the Asheville region, but wages are lagging far behind.  That's according to a report released by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County.  The report studied a six county area (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Madison, Transylvania) and found the average wage per job is $44,800.  The national average is $62,100.

Davin Eldridge

In the age of the internet the future of the American department store has grown increasingly uncertain.

Earlier this year, Toys "R" Us—a company with nearly 900 stores across the country— filed for bankruptcy. Kmart and Sears underwent another round of store closings—from nearly 1,600 last year, to just over 1,200 this year.

Whenever these so-called “big box” stores close, it can often stifle development in the communities they once served, and hurt the bottom line of nearby small businesses. BPR’s Davin Eldridge takes a look at the little-known phenomenon of “ghost box stores”, and how these stores impact Western North Carolina in their own small way.

An AMBER Alert was issued Wednesday morning after authorities say a 3-month-old child was abducted in Clyde.  Cali Cochran was taken by her non-custodial parents according to the Haywood County sheriff's office.  She's described as white with brown hair, 20 inches in length and weighing 10 pounds.  Her alleged abductors are 39-year-old Rex Cochran Jr and 31-year-old Heather Marie Cochran.  Authorities believe the pair are traveling to either Valdosta, Georgia or Ocala, Florida in either a gray 1999 GMC Suburban with a North Dakota license plate 489-AWH.

The 34th annual Folkmoot Festival gets underway Thursday in Waynesville and runs until July 30th.  What started more than three decades ago as a showcase for folk dancing has transformed into a 'meeting of people' designed 'to build global relationships, foster cultural understanding and develop community prosperity.'  Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt joined BPR's Matt Bush to discuss the festival's history and evolving mission, as well as what to expect at this year's gathering.

Infighting in political parties is nothing new.  But Haywood County Republicans have taken it to a new level with a so-called 'disloyalty' resolution targeting certain members of the party.  Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt joined BPR's Matt Bush in studio to discuss the latest.

Davin Eldridge

The need for safety between buyers and sellers on websites like Craigslist is essential.  But it’s not always guaranteed. One Western North Carolina town is on a quest to provide that safety.

Smoky Mountain News

Joey's Pancake House in Maggie Valley, which first opened in 1966, will serve it's last breakfast this coming Tuesday June 13th.  Owner Brenda O'Keefe lists many reasons for why she's closing, including her health and increasing difficulty in keeping enough employees to ensure the restaurant runs to her high standards.  Joey's is an institution in Maggie Valley, regularly seeing lines of up to 50 people waiting for a table on the weekends.

Buncombe County's larger population gives it advantages in economic development its smaller neighbors in Western North Carolina don't have.  So what's there to do for those counties?  Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt has been looking at what Haywood County has been doing.

Haywood County's tax collector position is unique - it's the only tax collector office in North Carolina that is still elected.  Similar positions in the state's other 99 counties are appointed.  Whether that will remain the same is at the heart of a battle between the current holder of that office - Republican Mike Matthews - and Democrats who hold the majority of Haywood County commissioner seats.

Matt Bush WCQS

This story originally aired as part of the WCQS 2016 Election Special, which can be heard in its entirety here.

It's safe to say this has been an election year and an election cycle like no other before it.  And that is particularly true in North Carolina, which has become one of if the not the bell weather state in this election…so move over Ohio. 

ncparks.gov

    

For a few short weeks, every year, the mountains of Western North Carolina are renowned for their bright autumn leaves. The generations have brought to the region countless so-called “leaf-lookers” enthralled by their fiery shades of yellow and red come mid-October. Even this year, when area biologists are expecting fall leaves to be duller, and less-vibrant, all local economists can see on the horizon is the color of money for the mountains.

New In-Roads For WNC Public Transit

Sep 22, 2016
ashevillenc.gov

 

For millions of people across the United States, the beginning of their day starts at a bus stop.

 

Early Voting Underway for June 7 Primary

May 27, 2016

Early voting is now underway for the June 7 primary. Voters will winnow the field of state Supreme Court justice nominees, from 4 to 2, and decide some congressional primary races as well. For a check on how early voting is playing out so far in Haywood County, WCQS’s Davin Eldridge spoke with Haywood County Board of Elections Director Robert Inman.

You can find locations and hours of early voting sites at your county's Board of Elections website.

Haywood County Schools

The Haywood County School board has voted to close Central Elementary School in Waynesville on a 6-to-2 vote.  Board Chairman Chuck Francis, who as Chair did not vote, called it a "heartbreaking decision," and a day he hoped would never come.  He cited funding cuts and declining enrollment, partly due to the opening of a charter school nearby, as reasons for the action.  He spoke with WCQS's Jeremy Loeb. 

Central Elementary Principal Jean Ann Yates e-mailed a statement to WCQS: 

In Their Words: Rep. Joe Sam Queen

Apr 14, 2015
blueridgeheritage.com

We’ve been hearing from area lawmakers over the past week.  Many were home last week for their version of spring break and that gave us a chance to speak with many of them.  Today we hear from Joe Sam Queen.  He’s a Democrat representing Haywood, Jackson, and Swain counties in the state House. 

Area Democrats are not backing down on their call for the state to expand Medicaid, something the Republican-led General Assembly has refused to do.   Queen says North Carolinians are already footing the bill.