Here’s a look at what’s making headlines around Western North Carolina:
• There were plenty of stories about local reaction to the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The Watauga Democrat offers this, while the Mountain Times had this. The Hendersonville Times-News profiled local residents who went to Washington, D.C., to witness the ceremony.
• A McDowell County native recounts the frightening emergency landing of U.S. Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River for the McDowell News.
• The Smoky Mountain News reports that the bad economy means better business for local military recruiters. “Basically it’s a guaranteed job, and even after you’re out they take care of you,” Brandon Lenhart of Sylva told the newspaper.
• And despite the generally gloomy economic forecast, the Smoky Mountain Times reports that tourism in WNC, while still suffering, isn’t as bad off as in other parts of the country. “Some tourism experts speculated that an old truism regarding mountain tourism held up: People in nearby metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh look for vacation destinations within driving distance (or a short flight) rather than toward more exotic destinations. This makes Western North Carolina a prime destination for families searching for a budget-friendly vacation.”
• On Feb. 2, Haywood County Democrats plan to pick a replacement for retiring Sheriff Tom Alexander, the county’s top cop for more than 22 years. Alexander’s name came up last year’s corruption trial of Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford, but no charges have been filed against Alexander.
• Another real-estate development has declared bankruptcy. Ginn Corporation filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy agreement after failing to make payments on a $675 million loan for the Laurelmor development in Watauga and Wilkes counties, as well as three other resorts, according to The Appalachian newspaper. The Laurelmor development was billed as the “biggest private development ever in Western North Carolina,” the newspaper reports.
• Tim Christol has been named Fletcher’s new police chief, according to the Pisgah Mountain News. The move comes after months of turmoil that included allegations of assault and wrongful termination within the Fletcher Police Department. Christol has a 30-year law-enforcement career and was most recently chief deputy at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, the newspaper reports.
• There’s a lot of activity with the local Asheville Board of Alcoholic Control. There’s a new liquor store planned along Leicester Highway, and the board recently decided that a new liquor store in Weaverville would be located at the Northridge Commons shopping center, according to the Weaverville Tribune. The new shopping center will also house a Lowe’s and a Wal-Mart.
And down in Fletcher, there’s concern about a new ABC store planned for Hendersonville Road, according to the Pisgah Mountain News. Fletcher officials fear the new store could deplete revenue from the liquor store on Airport Road.
• The Daily Planet lives, according to a story on its Web site. The newspaper has never been “daily.” It launched five years ago in Asheville as a weekly, and the newspaper went monthly last July, according to the story, and the December issue covered both December and January. The newspaper says it will return to monthly publication in February.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor