Here’s a look at some of what’s making headlines around Western North Carolina:
• South Carolina serial killer: Police in upstate South Carolina say a serial killer is responsible for five deaths over the past several days, reports the Hendersonville Times-News. Evidence links the killings, and Cherokee County, S.C., Sheriff Bill Blanton says, “Yes, we have a serial killer.”
• PETA on the prowl: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently targeted the practice of keeping caged bears in Cherokee at the Cherokee Bear Zoo. The Smoky Mountain News reports that the PETA salvo caught Cherokee officials off-guard, and it enlisted a Native American from the Sioux tribe: celebrity Bob Barker, the former host of The Price is Right. Barker has called for a meeting with Michell Hicks, chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.
• 50th anniversary of the Skyview Open: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Skyview Open Tournament, reports The Urban News. The Skyview Golfers Association was founded in 1959 in Asheville with a mission to encourage and promote the game of golf among African-Americans.
From the newspaper: “The first Skyview Golfer’s Tournament was an all African American event, with 50 participants, intended to prepare African American golfers for the Professional Golf Associations (PGA) tour. Charles Colette served as tournament director from 1960 through 1972, and after his death Billy Gardenheight, Sr. succeeded him. Gardenheight has served in that capacity for the past 37 years.”
• Dillsboro Dam fight: The fight over the Dillsboro Dam continues, reports The Sylva Herald. Duke Energy, which owns the dam, plans to dismantle it, but Jackson County commissioners are fighting that plan in court. This Herald video shows how Duke is proceeding with plans to required dredging upstream from the dam.
• Highspeed Internet access expands in Cherokee, Graham counties: About 3,500 new households in Cherokee and Graham counties should have access to high-speed Internet service before the end of the year, according to the Cherokee Scout. The e-NC Authority, through state funding, awarded incentive grants to Verizon Internet Services, grants which will be matched by Verizon, the newspaper reports. A total of 3,500 households will get DSL capability when the work is done, and depending on the location, Verizon will offer 1 MB, 1.5 MB or 3 MB Internet service.
• Man drowns in Macon County: A 52-year-old Florida man drowned during the rescue of his son, also on the verge of drowning, at Bust Your Butt Falls in Macon County, reports the Macon County News. Rescuers believe Michael Grady was in the 58-degree waters for two hours.
• Performance center opens: The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, a state-of-the-art, 40,000-square-foot performance center with a 1,500-seat theater, opened recently in Macon County. It’s owned by Phil and Sharon Drake. Phil Drake is the owner of tax preparation-software company Drake Enterprises.
• In search of green homes: The Mountain News reports that the Environmental and Conservation Organization is organizing its second annual green-home tour in August and is looking for homes that showcase green technologies. The tour will be held in conjunction with the Southern Energy and Environment Expo on Aug. 22.
• Uncertain future for Monte Vista Hotel: The Monte Vista Hotel, a cultural landmark in Black Mountain, is on the verge of bankruptcy, according to the Black Mountain News. The hotel’s majority owner, Rob Gustafson, recently triggered controversy when he asked the local zoning board for permission to turn the hotel into a “therapeutic boarding school.”
• Legal battle brewing in Haywood County: A complicated legal battle is underway between Haywood County and the general contractor who recently completed an $8.5-million renovation to the county courthouse, reports The Mountaineer. The contractor, KMD Construction, LLC, fired the first shot recently when it filed a complaint in Superior Court asking for at least $2 million in damages, according to the newspaper.
• Horses are big business: The Franklin Press reports on the findings of a report commissioned by the N.C. General Assembly to study the economic impact of the horse industry in the state. The report, released in May, shows that the industry contributes nearly $2 billion each year to the state’s economy, and that nearly 20,000 jobs are tied to it. One recommendation of the report: Conduct a feasibility and site-selection study for a mega-horse park, something that at least nine other states have, or are considering.
• Graham commissioners wants to annex part of Swain: From the Graham Star: “A Graham County commissioner wants the county to ask the state Legislature to annex part of Swain County into Graham County because the county already provides much of the services — including rescue — in the area.”