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July 25, 2021

Top Stories



  1. Free Meals For Kids

    Beginning Thursday, March 19, meal pick up at school distribution sites WILL END. Instead, meals will be delivered by school buses to regular bus stops.

    - School buses will run their usual routes on a 4-hour delay. Buses should be at each of their regular stops within 15 minutes of the expected arrival time. To determine the expected arrival time, simply add 4 hours to the time the bus usually arrives on a regular school day.
    UPDATED INFO: Buses will stop at both morning and afternoon regular bus stops.

    - Students who regularly ride a bus in the morning AND/OR afternoon DO NOT need to complete the online form to request meal delivery.

    - Students who DO NOT regularly ride a bus MUST fill out the online form at to request meal delivery. The online form only needs to be completed ONE TIME. It does NOT need to be completed for each day. Students who regularly ride a bus in the morning AND/OR afternoon DO NOT need to complete the online form to request meal delivery.

    - VERY IMPORTANT: For those completing the online form, the form MUST be completed no later than 5:00 PM on the day BEFORE you want meal delivery to begin. The prior notice is necessary so sufficient supplies can be stocked at the distribution sites for the following day. The online form only needs to be completed ONE TIME and is available at

    - When the bus arrives at each stop, the driver will pause momentarily and blow the horn. Individuals who would like to pick up meals for children age 1-18 should safely approach the bus while it is stopped. Staff members on each bus will provide the meals.

    - We request your understanding as we begin the delivery process. A tremendous amount of logistical planning is happening behind the scenes. Please be patient with us as we roll out this program for the very first time.

    If you have questions, please call Ashley Taylor at (828) 575-1403.

  2. Library Closed

    All Fontana Regional Library locations in Macon, Jackson, and Swain Counties will be closed to the public beginning Tuesday, March 17th through March 31st , although phone calls will be answered. Overdue fines for materials due during this time will be waived. Additionally, eBooks and eAudiobooks remain available, and streaming video via Kanopy and NCLive is also available at Wi-Fi also extends around the perimeter of library buildings and can generally be picked up from sections of the parking lots. The library website and Facebook page feature information links to COVID-19 resources and detailed instructions on how to access electronic resources. To further serve the public during the time that we are closed, we plan to offer curbside pickup of materials that have been placed on hold. For more information and details, please call your local branch. The library's leadership team will continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly. Follow the Library on Facebook and check the website ( for the latest updates.
  3. Swain County Schools Cafeterias

    Swain County Schools cafeterias (excluding the high school) will be open for breakfast and lunch from 7:30am-2pm Mon-Fri for the next 2 weeks while schools are closed. Any child 18 years old or younger is eligible to receive free meals at any of these sites (students do not have to be enrolled in Swain County Schools). Parents or other community members may pick up meals and deliver them to children in the community. We are working on other delivery methods at this time, so stay tuned for further updates.
  4. Jackson County TDA

    Sunday, March 15 the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority (TDA) made the decision to temporarily suspend visitor center in-person interactions in Jackson County. This means that our visitor centers in Dillsboro and Sylva will be closed to the public for the next ten (10) days, at which time we will reassess the situation. The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce supports, concurs and understands this difficult decision.   The full TDA statement can be read here: We want to assure you that our Jackson County Chamber of Commerce team members are continuing to work for YOU either remotely from our homes or at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce offices as the need arises. If you need anything or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us as you normally would via our phone at 828-586-2155, or by email. All of our staff members will be checking e-mails, processing membership payments, updating our websites and social media pages, and continuing to work as normally as possible for our chamber members. We will be keeping our kiosks filled with community information to assist visitors to the area while we wait for a safe time to reopen our visitor centers to the general public. Have you Liked our Chamber Facebook page? This is just one of the ways we are going to continue to share info about your business and update you on important things happening in our county. Please Like our page today so we can continue to communicate effectively with you: 
  5. Senior Dining Sites

    Senior Dining Sites in Sylva and Cashiers will be closed until further notice as a precaution relating to the corona virus.
  6. All K-12 Public & Private Schools

    In accordance with Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 117 all K-12 schools have been closed for at least 2 weeks. Check with each school for specific details of whether Virtual Learning is available as plans widely vary.
  7. Harris Regional and Swain Community Hospitals

    Swain Community and Harris Regional hospitals are committed to providing the highest quality care and ensuring the safety of our patients, employees, providers, volunteers and visitors at all times. While COVID-19 is new, effectively responding to other infectious diseases is not. We have tested processes and plans in place to respond to situations involving infectious disease year-round. Here is what we are doing to stay ready and effectively respond to COVID-19:

    • We continue to work closely with the Swain County Health Department and Jackson County Department of Public Health and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that we are prepared with appropriate plans to detect, protect and respond should anyone in our community contract or be exposed to COVID-19.
    • We have a robust emergency operations plan in place and are reviewing and proactively completing a number of preparation checklists out of an abundance of caution.
    • We have hand hygiene products easily accessible throughout our facility.
    • We are screening patients in our emergency department, inpatient units and outpatient clinics based on CDC guidance.
    • Staff treating a potential COVID-19 case are provided with all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to help prevent exposure.
    • Patients with respiratory or COVID-19-related symptoms are immediately provided masks to wear to help prevent exposure to others.
    • In the event that we identify a potential COVID-19 case, we will follow all CDC guidelines for placing that individual in isolation for their care and for the protection of other patients, employees and visitors.
    • We have implemented visitor restrictions at our facility as follows:

    o   Swain Community Hospital: Visitation has been suspended to the hospital inpatient unit until further notice.

    o   Harris Regional Hospital: HRH is asking the community to voluntarily restrict visitation with family members or friends currently in the hospitalHarris Regional Hospital is evaluating temporary visitation restrictions and will provide additional guidance on Monday.

    These measures are in place to protect our facility and our community. Please know that our providers and clinical teams are well-trained and prepared to manage outbreaks of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, seasonal flu and other respiratory illnesses.

    What you can do

    It’s easy to feel helpless when faced with a barrage of news reports and social media updates regarding COVID-19. The good news is that there are some key steps you can take to help protect you and your loved ones and help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19:

    • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
    • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
    • Staying home when you are sick
    • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash
    • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, including your phone, computer, remote controls and doorknobs
    • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
    • Using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available (Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty)
    • Practicing social distancing behaviors, including working from home, avoiding public gatherings and unnecessary travel, and maintaining a distance of approximately six feet from others when possible.

    What to do if you are experiencing symptoms

    First and foremost - if you are having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Room. If possible, notify the dispatch agent that your emergency involves symptoms possibly related to COVID-19.

    For non-emergency needs, if you need medical attention due to respiratory illness symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and plan to visit our hospital, your primary care provider or an urgent clinic, please call ahead before you go and let them know that you are experiencing symptoms that may possibly be related to COVID-19. This will allow providers to properly prepare for your visit and take the necessary precautions to keep others from being infected or exposed.

    Please be reassured that our number one priority is the health and well-being of our community – and that includes you. We are prepared to manage an outbreak of respiratory illness, and we encourage you to follow the guidance above and stay tuned to updates from the CDC to help protect you and your loved ones. Keeping our community healthy is a community effort, and we are committed to doing everything we can to keep our community healthy today and for generations to come.

    For more information and to stay abreast of the latest updates on COVID-19, you can visit Swain Community Hospital and Harris Regional Hospital’s COVID-19 preparedness page at and

  8. The Community Table

    We are still open and intend to remain so unless we are ordered to shut down. However, we are making some procedural changes in order to try and help maintain the health of our community in these rough times.

    As of Monday, March 16th, 2020 all meals will be TO GO ONLY, to reduce the number of people gathering in the dining hall and the number of surfaces being touched by multiple people. We are setting up a TENT OUTSIDE for people to order meals and we will bring them out to people.

    We will also be changing the pantry over from Client Choice (Self Shop) to pre-boxed pickup, which will occur OUTSIDE as well.

    We are still working out how best to give out fresh produce and community pickup items such as bread and deliveries from Walmart.

    All these changes are temporary measures that will be in place for the duration of this community health crisis. We will all be adjusting to these new systems for a few days, so please be patient as we do what we can to remain open and get food to everyone in need.

  9. Jackson County Public Schools

    The NC State Board of Education will meet Wednesday to provide expectations and clarification on remote learning. Jackson County Public Schools, NC will follow the guidance and timelines that are established for school districts.

    At this time, JCPS teachers will be reaching out to students and families to ensure they have what they need to meet basic needs as well as to discuss and collaborate on ideas for learning at home.

    Remote learning at home is intended to be supplemental and does not impact grades. K-8 students are encouraged to work on math activities daily, read for at least 30 minutes, and explore research activities. High school students are encouraged to complete any missing work and continue to read daily.

    JCPS teachers and administrators are working on plans for continued instruction if an extended school closure occurs and remote learning becomes the expectation.

    Beginning Thursday, March 19, Jackson County Public Schools, NC school buses will run their regular morning routes on a four-hour delay. The buses will pause at each of their usual morning stops and blow the horn. Individuals who would like to pick up meals for children age 1-18 should go to the bus while it is stopped. Staff members on each bus will provide the meals.

    Buses should be at each morning stop within 15 minutes of the expected arrival time. To determine the arrival time, simply add four hours to the time the bus usually arrives on a regular school day.

    Students who do not ride a school bus in the morning or at all must complete an online form to request meal delivery. The online form is available at No sign-up is necessary for students who regularly ride a school bus in the morning.

    If you have questions, please call Ashley Taylor at (828) 575-1403.

  10. Jackson County Emergency Management

    Due to the threat of COVID-19 Jackson County Schools will remain closed along with the closures of all county recreation departments. Harrah's Cherokee Casino on the Cherokee Reservation is also closing for two weeks. We would like to remind everyone to follow CDC recommendations, use social distancing, and practice correct hand hygiene.
  11. Southwestern Community College

    Dear Campus Community:

    Southwestern Community College is closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. There are no confirmed cases in our service area of Western North Carolina at this time. However, Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency in North Carolina.

    Our priority is the health and well-being of our campus community. That’s why we are joining other institutions of higher education in North Carolina and across the nation in transitioning spring semester seat-based classes to online and alternate formats until further notice. While SCC remains open, we will practice social distancing to minimize the potential exposure of our faculty, staff, and students during the coronavirus pandemic.

    We are sharing basic details below:
    Current Online Classes, Off-Campus Clinicals and Work-Based Learning Assignments
     will continue as scheduled on Monday, March 16.·

    Spring Break is extended through March 22 for Seat-Based Classes.  

    Remote Instruction will begin March 23 for all Seat-Based Classes. These courses will be transitioned to online or alternative formats. Students should monitor their SCC email accounts during the week of March 16 regarding how their specific classes will proceed.

    Make-up Dates for most Labs will be scheduled later in the semester.  Your instructor will inform you of the make-up dates and times once they are scheduled.
    Public Safety Training Center classes will continue. Students and instructors in these programs will be informed directly about any changes in the status of their classes.

    All College Campuses and Locations will remain open and operational during regular business hours. Students may use computer labs in Founders Hall and Holt Library and access wifi at SCC campuses. As campuses remain open, students and employees should practice social distancing and other preventative measures recommended by CDC and NCDHHS.

    Faculty Members will receive a more detailed email within 24 hours to help guide you through the process of transitioning to online/alternative delivery.
    All Student Life and Career Services events have been canceled through April 3. Decisions regarding commencement, awards and pinning ceremonies, and other events will be made after April 3. As decisions are made, they will be announced through our official college notification system and on this webpage.

    Events with 10 or more people are canceled immediately until further notice.

    Cafe ‘64 will be closed until further notice.

    Only essential travel to clinicals or for instructional purposes will be allowed for SCC employees.

    We recommend that you follow recently revised CDC guidelines if you have recently traveled to Level 2 or Level 3 countries.

  12. Western Carolina University

    To the Western Carolina University community:

    I write to you today to share additional information and provide context following Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order from Saturday, March 14, as cases of coronavirus illness continue to increase in the state of North Carolina.

    As announced last week, Western Carolina University and the other University of North Carolina System institutions remain open.  The extension of our traditional spring break by an additional week remains in effect, and we will transition to online and alternative course delivery effective Monday, March 23, and continuing until further notice for all courses where that is viable.

    We are continuing to encourage students to refrain from returning to campus until further notice. Similarly, we urge those students who opted to remain on campus to consider returning to their permanent homes if possible. We do so in an attempt to help limit and mitigate potential exposure to or spread of the coronavirus.

    That said, the campus is not closed, and we are continuing to provide residential living, dining, health care, counseling and a broad array of our services to students. In order to minimize the risk of spreading infectious illnesses, all visits to Health Services or Counseling and Psychological Services at the Bird Building will be by scheduled appointment only.  By asking students, faculty, and staff to call first, the providers in the Bird Building can ask screening questions before an appointment is confirmed.

    Staff in Residential Living and WCU Dining Services are reviewing and updating normal cleaning routines. WCU’s Cat Tran service is continuing to run, and the shuttles are wiped down regularly with appropriate cleaning supplies, consistent with what is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Under the new executive order, the university is restricted from holding any university event or gathering that will assemble 100 or more people in a space, such as a single room, meeting hall, conference room, auditorium, stadium, arena, theater, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space.

    In light of increased travel restrictions, Interim UNC System President Bill Roper has directed that all UNC System institutions recall all students who are studying abroad and suspend any study-abroad programs scheduled to begin between now and July 1.

    With Governor Cooper’s order that the public schools will be closed for two weeks beginning Monday, March 16, we are working to develop additional guidelines for those faculty and staff members who have children in the public school system, and we expect to provide those guidelines tomorrow.

    Western Carolina University will continue to work closely with our UNC System colleagues to monitor developments related to COVID-19, with guidance from local and state health departments and the CDC. Please remember the tried-and-true practices that we all know will help protect our health and the health of our community, such as frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your face, staying home when sick, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

    I recognize that these are challenging times. It is our civic duty to do everything that we can to help limit and mitigate the transmission of and exposure to the coronavirus illness. Thank you for your role in helping safeguard the health of our campus community and for your patience as we deal with this global health crisis.


    Kelli R. Brown


  13. Jackson County Sheriff's Office

    Due to the increased cases of COVID-19 in the United States, as a precautionary response the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is temporarily suspending applicant fingerprinting services from now until March 31, 2020. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.
  14. Pathways Thrift Store

    Due to health concerns for our employees and customers with the Coronavirus, Pathways will be closed for 2 weeks or until further notice. Keep checking our page for any changes and be prepared for a BIG sale when we re-open!!!
  15. Jackson County GOP

    Due to the Coronavirus crisis, resulting in the National Emergency declared by President Trump, the State of Emergency declared by NC Governor Cooper, and advice from the NC State GOP and 11th District  Chairs, we have canceled the County Convention previously announced for  March 21, 2020, at the Jackson County Department for Aging. Since the only official purpose of the Convention was to elect delegates (and alternate delegates) to the 11th District and State GOP Conventions 
    (Officers are elected every 2 years, and officer elections will be held  in March, 2021), new "Convention Rules" for the election of these  delegates will be used in accordance with a Directive issued by State GOP Chairman Michael Whatley on March 12, 2020. Following the recommendations of that Directive, the new rules governing the selection of 
    delegates will be as follows:

        1. We are hereby notifying our GOP voters there will be NO
        "physical" Swain County GOP Convention this year.

        2. Delegates will be selected by "virtual" methods. If you
        wish to be considered as a delegate to the 11th District and/or
        State GOP convention, you MUST submit your name as a potential
        delegate or alternate by one of the following methods:

        Send an email to Jackson County GOP at; or call 828-293-6022

        3. Regardless of method used, please include your FULL contact
        information, including mailing address, email address (if any), and
        phone number(s). [Note: you must have been registered as a
        Republican in Jackson County by Jan. 31, 2020, to be eligible as a
        delegate or alternate.)

        Further, due to reporting deadlines, all nominations must be
        received by March 31, 2020, to be considered.

        4.  The Executive Committee will meet virtually as soon as possible
        after March 31st to consider and vote upon delegates and alternates
        from the names submitted, as our delegate lists must be submitted to
        the District and State GOP by April 10th. ?Those selected will be
        notified via the contact information provided, and/or by follow-up
        email to the GOP membership.

    We regret that it is not advisable to meet in person, but the current 
    health situation appears to be serious, at least in certain areas, and 
    we have received reports that many of our members (a number of which are 
    in the "higher risk" category) had indicated a reluctance to attend in 
    light of the Coronavirus fears.

    Hopefully, we will be able to hold our normal meetings once again in the 
    near future, but we will keep you updated as best we can.

    Ralph Slaughter, Chair
  16. Bardo Arts Center

    We would like to begin by saying that we know these are difficult times and we greatly appreciate your patience, understanding, and flexibility. Please note that the situation is fluid and we will continuously provide updates as they become available. In addition, we will do our best to keep the enjoyment of the arts present in your life through our e-communicationswebsite, and social media

    Face-to-Face Event Cancellations 

    As a part of the effort to minimize the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Bardo Arts Center and the entire Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts will be cancelling all face-to-face events for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. This includes all ticketed and non-ticketed performances in the Bardo Arts Center Performance Hall and in the Coulter Recital Hall. Information regarding ticket refunds is listed below.

    In addition, all WCU Fine Art Museum in-person receptions are cancelled. Whenever possible, we are working to transition these events into virtual experiences and will be in touch via email and social media as soon as those opportunities are determined*.

    WCU Fine Art Museum 

    The WCU Fine Art Museum is closed until further notice. This includes day-to-day operations, exhibition programming, and receptions. 

    *Streaming Opportunities

    Save the date for April 23 from 12-1:30PM for the Curious Terrain: WNC From the Air virtual talk. All other online opportunities will be announced as soon as possible. This applies to Museum programming, along with any other events that can be transitioned to a virtual experience. We will be in touch via email and social media as soon as those opportunities are determined.

    Ticket Refunds

    During this unprecedented situation, arts organizations are suffering greatly due to the loss of ticket revenue. We will be contacting all ticket holders individually by phone and/or email to discuss your various options, which we have detailed below. 

    1. Contribute: If you have the ability to contribute the cost of your ticket purchase to the presenting department, that revenue will be extremely beneficial. Both the School of Music and School of Stage and Screen are having to cancel events that provide key funding to their schools. Please note that this contribution is not a tax-deductible donation. 

    2. Vouchers: Ticket purchases will be turned into ticket vouchers for use at their associated events in 2021. For details, please read below.^ 

    3. Refund: Tickets can be fully refunded upon request. 

    Cancelled Ticketed Events and Voucher Exchange Options

    Bring It On!
    The Musical 

    Receive a voucher to redeem your tickets for the 2021 School of Stage and Screen Musical Production (TBA)

    Catamount Singers and Electric Soul

    Receive a voucher to redeem your tickets for the 2021 School of Music Catamount Singers and Electric Soul concert 

    Controlled Chaos Film Festival

    Receive a voucher to redeem your tickets for the 2021 School of Stage and Screen Controlled Chaos Film Festival 


    The physical BAC Box Office will be closed until further notice. All ticket holders will be contacted individually by our Interim Box Office Manager, Jill Jacobs. If you have an urgent query for the box office that needs to be addressed, please email or call 828.227.ARTS and leave a voice message for the box office. Please note that voice messages are being sent digitally to staff.

    If you have any other queries related to Bardo Arts Center or Belcher College events, please email or contact the Bardo Arts Center main line at 828.227.ARTS to leave a message. We will respond as soon as possible and again, greatly appreciate your flexibility, understanding, and patience.

  17. Tuckasegee Baptist Association Events Update

    1. The Association Spring Choir Singing events planned for Sunday March 22nd have been cancelled
    2. The New Savannah Baptist Church Chili Fundraiser scheduled for march 27th has been cancelled
    3. The Okre Hill Baptist Church Poor Man's Supper scheduled for March 21st at Balsam, Willets, and Okre Hill Fire Department has been cancelled
    4.The North Carolina Baptist Missions Conference scheduled for March 27-28 at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston Salem been cancelled
    5 NOT A CANCELLATION, volunteers are needed to help replace two roofs at Truett Baptist Camp in Hayesville on May 18th.

    For information call 586-6011

  18. NC 2-1-1 by United Way

    Governor Roy Cooper announced NC 2-1-1 by United Way of North Carolina as a resource for people to call for assistance related to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

    North Carolinians can text COVIDNC to 898211 to receive general information and updates about COVID-19. Sign up now to get regular alerts on the rapidly evolving situation and North Carolina’s response.

    NC 2-1-1 can refer callers to the organizations in their local community best equipped to address their specific health and human services needs including food, shelter, energy assistance, housing, parenting resources, health care, employment, substance abuse treatment, as well as specific resources for older adults and for persons with disabilities, and much more. Simply dial 2-1-1 or TTY 888-892-1162 for assistance.

  19. SECU Branches Transitioning to Drive-Thru

    Effective Thursday, March 19th, State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) branches statewide will temporarily transition to drive-thru only for the majority of its services to reduce the possibilities of transmission of the coronavirus to members, their families and SECU employees. Members who need to access safe deposit boxes, drop off tax return information, or inquire about a loan should call the branch to schedule an appointment. While SECU is closing branch lobby access for branches with a drive-thru to help protect the community, SECU remains open for business to make loans, take deposits and provide other financial services to its members during this time of uncertainty.

    From applying for a loan to depositing a check, members can conduct most SECU business via other service channels that do not require a visit to the branch. We ask members to please utilize these channels, which include online Member Access through the SECU website,; the SECU Mobile App, available for download from the Apple App and Google Play stores; 24-7 Member Services Support via phone at 1-888-732-8562; ASK-SECU Voice Response services at 1-800-275-7328; and over 1,100 CashPoints® ATMs located across North Carolina through which you can obtain cash, deposit checks, transfer money between accounts and receive other services.

    “Our highest priority continues to be the health and well-being of our members, their families, our staff and the citizens of our state,” said SECU President/CEO Mike Lord. “By temporarily limiting branch access, we reduce the risk for virus exposure and remain available to meet the financial needs of our members.”

    Mr. Lord continued, “Through decades of conservative investing and capital planning, SECU is well positioned to meet your financial needs during this event. Your Credit Union is here to help you and your family through this difficult time.”

    About SECU and the SECU Foundation
    A not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by its members, SECU has been providing employees of the state of North Carolina and their families with consumer financial services for over 82 years. The Credit Union also offers a diversified line of financial advisory services including retirement and education planning, tax preparation, insurance, trust and estate planning services, and investments through its partners and affiliated entities. SECU serves over 2.4 million members through 267 branch offices, more than 1,100 ATMs, 24/7 Member Services via phone, a website, and a Mobile App. Members can also follow and subscribe to SECU on Facebook and YouTube.

    Contact: Leigh Brady, EVP – Organizational Development Office: 919-807-8347 |

  20. Live Forgiven Church Food Drive

    It is with sincere regret that we must cancel the grocery giveaway event that is scheduled for this Sunday, March 22.

    It is our hope that in April our community life is cleared to open again to such gatherings.