WNC News Roundup

Here’s a look at what’s making headlines around Western North Carolina:

• Swayze remembered: Residents of Lake Lure plan to hold a memorial service at 7 p.m. on Saturday to remember actor Patrick Swayze, who died Monday of pancreatic cancer, the Associated Press reports. Swayze starred in the movie Dirty Dancing, which was filmed in the area.

• Libel lawsuit continues: Three years after she was accused of mismanaging the finances of the Haywood County Council on Aging, Denise Mathis is still fighting in court to restore her reputation, reports the Smoky Mountain News. Mathis lost her job and was charged with embezzlement in 2006. The charges were later dropped. Mathis still has lawsuits pending against the local district attorney, the detective who prepared the case against her, the council’s Board of Directors, the chair of the board and a former employee.

• Former chamber chief charged: The former director of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce has been charged with breaking into a woman’s home and raping her, according to the Clay County Progress. William Howard “Scott” Massey, was arrested at a local golf course where he works as a professional golf instructor.

• Family misses Feud: Family members who live in Watauga County and appeared on the game show “Family Feud” recently gathered to watch the show, but a scheduling blip caused television station WMYT to move the 6 p.m. to 3 p.m., according to the Watauga Democrat. That move caught family members off-guard, and they missed the show, which will run again on Dec. 10.

• Runner dies bizarre death: A runner participating in the Blue Ridge Relay race in Ashe County apparently stopped mid-race and disappeared, the Watauga Democrat reports. Race officials and teammates of the man later found him dead in an unoccupied house. He apparently suffered from self-inflicted stab wounds, according to police.

• Monte Vista to close: The Monte Vista Hotel, a Black Mountain landmark, will close at the end of September, according to a letter to the editor in the Black Mountain News. The closure is “due to persistent operating losses and the current economic situation,” according to the letter.

• Will the tourists return?: Tourism officials in Haywood County are hoping that visitors will flock to the mountains during the upcoming fall leaf season after suffering a downturn last year and a slow summer, reports The Mountaineer newspaper.

• Five years after the floods: This year marks the fifth anniversary of devastating floods in Western North Carolina. The remnants of hurricanes Francis and Ivan dumped massive amounts of rain, forcing rivers out of their banks and triggering mudslides. Several people died, and many more lost their homes to the storms. The Mountaineer recounts the flooding in the town of Clyde. The Asheville Citizen-Times looks at lessons from the flooding and reports that planners are looking ahead.

• Wellco closes: The Mountaineer notes the closure of boot manufacturer Wellco, a company that opened in the 1940s in the Hazelwood community and supplied boots to countless members of the U.S. military.

• Madison moves on new jail: Madison County commissioners were pleasantly shocked when the low bid for a new county jail, originally estimated to cost as much as $14 million, came in at just over $8 million, reports the News Record & Sentinel. The 64-bed facility will replace the county’s 105-year-old county jail, one of the oldest in the state.

• Concrete plant approved: On a split vote, Madison County commissioners approved a rezoning request that will allow Bart Jones of Carolina Ready Mix of Swannanoa to build a concrete plant in Marshall, the News Record & Sentinel reports. Dozens of residents had urged commissioners not to rezone the property, citing concerns about the plant’s impact on local air quality.

• Boone backs homeless man: More than 15,000 people have joined a Facebook page showing support for Joshua Watauga, a well-known homeless street poet and vendor who collapsed recently and is recovering in a Winston-Salem hospital, according to the Mountain Times.

• Tax assessor quits: Graham County recently appointed a new chief tax assessor after Chief Assessor Blair Hyder quit abruptly last week, according to the Graham Star. The county is in the midst of a countywide property value reassessment, which must be complete by Jan. 1.

• Swine flu suspected at UNCA: Four students and two staff members at UNC Asheville have sought treatment for what health officials believe are cases of the swine flu, according to the Blue Banner student newspaper.

• SART in financial dire straits: The Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre must raise $80,000 by the end of the year to stay alive, reports Mars Hill College’s student newspaper, the Hilltop. The repertory company has seen a big decline in ticket sales and failed to receive a grant it sought, according to the newspaper.


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