Rolling with Stone

By Jessi Stone Guide editor | Jan 01, 2014

New Year’s Day is a time to reflect on the past year and since The Mountaineer is doing a Top 10 story countdown for 2013, I thought it would be fun to share the top stories for The Guide.

The top Guide stories were not voted on — they were hand picked by me based on our local talent here in Haywood County. I’m always amazed at the caliber of people I meet here on a regular basis so many of the top stories are centered around those people.

These are writers, musicians and performers who I feel are shining a positive light on our corner of the world. Ron Rash was one of the first people I interviewed after starting The Mountaineer in February. At the advice of colleagues, I ran out to buy “Serena.”

What a riveting story and a great writer. I was able to read it in a few days before my interview and really learned a lot of history of where I am now living. With two of his novels about Western North Carolina being made into movies, I thought Ron Rash deserved a top spot for his accomplishments as well as being one of my favorite personal interviews.

I feel the same way about the other writers on my top list — Jane Alexander and Eric S. Brown. Jane is an incredible lady who I look up to for several reasons, including her gumption, writing ability, journalistic career and the life she and her husband built together. You will admire her too after reading her book “The View From Tom’s Stand.”

Eric has been writing professionally for 12 years and will be celebrating the release of his first movie in 2014. And if the first “Bigfoot Wars” is successful, Eric has seven more books in the series for Hollywood to choose from. The thing I like about Eric is his attitude and enthusiasm.

He works hard to accomplish everything he’s ever dreamed of — writing horror and science fiction novels, writing for a comic book series and getting his books turned into movies. And in his spare time, he writes a column for the Guide. I don’t know how he does it all but I look forward to seeing what he has coming down the pipe for next year.

I couldn’t leave out Balsam Range. These local boys have been busy for sure this year and I couldn’t be happier that their hard work paid off when they walked away with IMBA’s Album of the Year award. I want to thank them for their amazing music and for always giving back to the community, whether it’s through performing a free benefit show or helping to showcase other great artists through the Colonial Winter Series in Canton.

Lastly, but just as important on my list is the Haywood Arts Regional Theater here in Waynesville. I love theater and I feel so lucky to be in a community that appreciates it as much as I do. HART reached its fundraising goal this year and will begin construction of an additional theater in March. This will allow HART to put on more shows throughout the year, which helps our year-round tourism draw. Thank you to Executive Director Steven Lloyd and the rest of the staff for their dedication to promoting the theater. I look forward to the 2014 season, which includes “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “Macbeth.”

There are so many people who have either contributed to The Guide this year or have shared their stories with The Guide. But I must thank my main contributors Mary Ann Enloe for covering bluegrass and theater, Paul Viau for his entertaining Did You Know column, Margaret Roberts for introducing us to local artists, beer columnist Greg Copen and Eric S. Brown.

This week is our “Next Generation” monthly edition we started a couple of months ago. I’ve got local mom, teacher and writer Susanna Barbee on board to help with this section. Be sure to check out her column as well as her blog Zealousmom.com.

Happy New Year!

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