Here’s a look at what’s making the news in Western North Carolina:
Shooting range in the crosshairs: A plan by the N.C. Justice Academy to build a new $2 million rifle range, pistol range and SWAT-training facility at its Edneyville location has neighbors upset about noise and safety, the Hendersonville Times-News reports. Any noise from the range “is the sound of freedom,” the academy director, Peggy Schaefer, told the newspaper.
Vaccinating raccoons: An annual effort underway to vaccinate raccoons along the North Carolina/Tennessee border in Madison County is just about over, according to the News Record & Sentinel. Low-flying planes drop bait that looks like ketchup packets but contains liquid rabies vaccine. State public-health officials are trying to stop the spread of rabies down the East Coast.
Fiesta Latina returns: The annual Fiesta Latina, an event celebrating Hispanic culture, will be held from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11, at the WNC Agricultural Center. Organizers expect 7,000 to 8,000 people to attend, the Pisgah Mountain News reports.
Independent voters register in droves: Independent voters are registering in droves across Watauga County, a trend that’s an indication of what’s happening across the state. In Watauga, it’s largely driven Appalachian State University students registering, reports the Watauga Democrat. “In September, 3,484 people registered in Watauga County and nearly half, or 1,588, were unaffiliated — compared to 891 Democrats, 992 Republicans and 13 Libertarians,” the newspaper reports. “The party breakdown is 13,680 Democrats, 15,230 Republicans, 13,228 unaffiliated and 33 Libertarians.”
Preserving preserves: Appalachian Harvest, a small business in Cashiers in Jackson County, is growing, according to The Highlander. Kimberly and Kevin Baldwin ship peppers, spices, jellies and jams all over the country, the newspaper reports.
Dry Falls work still not finished: The Highlander also reports that work to renovate a parking area and restrooms at Dry Falls, a popular waterfall site, will take eight more months to complete.
One hot wedding: Aquasha Laughter and Ricky Garcia plan to get married Saturday in Polk County at the Sunny View fire station, where the two work, reports the Tryon Daily Bulletin. “It was the culmination of the love that has grown between them over the last five years,” according to the newspaper. Here are a few details: “Laughter will emerge from the door in the back of the firehouse in her fire gear. She’ll make her way down the aisle, designated by fire hoses. Awaiting her in front of a fire truck will be Garcia, also in his firefighter gear, with the minister.
As the ceremony proceeds, the couple’s wedding vows will include the firefighter’s prayer. The bridesmaids will wear red Sunny View Fire Department T-shirts and blue jean skirts. The two best men will wear full firefighter gear. The other groomsmen will wear blue Sunny View Fire Department T-shirts with blue cargo pants.” Fire truck sirens will sound the end of the ceremony.
Another textile plant closes: A Polk County textile plan has closed, the Tryon Daily Bulletin reports. Grover Industries, the county’s oldest textile plant and once one of the largest manufacturers in the county, employed about 30 people.
Best headline of the week: “Weed makes ‘best cake’ in Macon County Fair.”
Tribal council backs chief’s veto:The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians’ Tribal Council recently voted to uphold the veto of a proposed alcohol referendum, reports the Sylva Herald. Principal Chief Michel Hicks had vetoed the proposed referendum for on-premise alcohol sales at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino after council members approved in on Aug. 7.
Sylva planning director quits: Sylva’s planning director quit recently after town commissioners voted down a 68-unit townhouse development that would have added affordable housing within the town limits,” the Smoky Mountain News reports.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor