Here’s a look at what’s making news across Western North Carolina:
Mountains are coyote country: The Smoky Mountain News reports that the Fines Creek community of Haywood County has one of the biggest populations of coyotes in WNC. Local farmers know the signs. “A telltale sign of coyotes is how little is left of a carcass: just a few tatters of hide.”
Tourism director resigns: The Smoky Mountain News also reports that Scotty Ellis, Haywood County’s tourism director, resigned last week after being charged Oct. 5 with marijuana possession, the second time in less than a year she’s faced that charge.
Fletcher PD coming together: The Fletcher Police Department, with new promotions and hires, is almost completely staffed as the department tries to put recent controversies behind it, the Hendersonville Times-News reports. The town is developing a formal process to choose a permanent chief. Former Chief Langdon Raymond resigned in July following a tenure marked with controversial police-officer firings, lawsuits and countersuits. The town hired two former Henderson County sheriffs and a consultant to reform the troubled department.
After the fall: World-famous Montreat evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham returned home recently after a brief hospital stay to treat bruises the 89-year-old suffered after tripping over his pet golden retriever, Sam.
A cheese is born: Milk from Jersey cows descended from the Vanderbilts’ dairy herd is being made into artisinal cheeses in Vermont, according to the Rutland Herald. The pedigreed Vanderbilt Jerseys are one of the oldest herds in the country and produce wonderful milk, according to the cheese-maker and general manager of Spring Brook Farm.
Voters line up: Fifty voters lined up at the Henderson County Board of Elections on Thursday for the start of early voting across the region, the Times-News reports.
United Community Bank records loss: United Community Bank, a Blairsville, Ga.-based bank-holding company, is reporting a $40 million third-quarter loss, reports the Cherokee Scout. The company’s president and chief executive officer, Jimmy Tallent, said the loss was mainly due to bad housing loans. But Tallent said the market in WNC “is still doing very well.”
Noted author stops in Highlands: Philippa Gregory, the author of a dozen books published in the U.S., including the Tudor series, stopped by the Highlands Falls Country Club on Saturday for a book signing, according to the Macon County News. Her book The Other Boleyn Girl was released as a major motion picture earlier this year and starred Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson.
Protecting animals in McDowell: McDowell County officials plan to review the county’s animal-control ordinance to make sure rules are in place to better protect animals from mistreatment, according to the McDowell News.
Water is hot election issue in Polk: The candidates running for the Polk County Board of Commissioners all agree that creating a county water system is the county’s most pressing issue, but they disagree on how to accomplish the goal, reports the Tryon Daily Bulletin.
Water-treatment plant improvements: “The first phase of a multi-million dollar project to upgrade Hendersonville’s water treatment plant should be completed in about a year, but a second part of the project to increase the plant’s capacity is likely several years down the road,” reports the Pisgah Mountain News. The first phase of the project to upgrade the treatment plant built in 1963 is expected to cost about $19 million.
The cupboard is bare: The director of the Macon County Care Network, a local food pantry, says that needs are so great that the agency can’t keep up, reports the Franklin Free Press. Over two days in a recent week, the agency provided 2,221 pounds of food to 71 households with nearly 200 people, the newspaper reported. “By Wednesday afternoon, the cupboards were nearly bare. The pantry had 17 filled food boxes ready for distribution on Friday. Each box contains 25-30 pounds of food, enough for two people for three to five days.”
Puppy baby boom: The Mitchell County Animal Shelter recently had 20 puppies delivered to it for adoption, reports the Mitchell News-Journal. The shelter director said the baby boom highlights a problem — too many people aren’t getting their pets spayed or neutered.
Kephart descendant gives readings: Libby Kephart Hargrove, the great-granddaughter of Horace Kephart, gave a public reading from his most well-known work recently at the Calhoun Country Inn in Swain County recently. Kephart was a travel writer and librarian who settled in the Great Smoky Mountains of WNC and wrote Our Southern Highlanders. He’s considered an early environmentalist, and campaigned for the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Immigration raid protest: A group of demonstrators recently marched from the site of an August federal immigration raid in Woodfin to the steps of the Buncombe County Courthouse to protest the action, La Voz Independiente reports.
Bigfoot on eBay: Asheville ghost-hunter Joshua P. Warren is facilitating the sale of the fake Bigfoot carcass that caused an uproar earlier this summer when two Georgia men claimed they had discovered the body of the creature. It turned out to be a hoax, but bidding is above $200,000 for the corpse. Go here to see the eBay auction page.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor