Chief Holland

Highlands Police Chief Andrea ‘Sissy’ Holland puts a sunny face on a grueling job.

So Much To Talk About

The sisters saw it first – the love between Wendy Strong and Sam Lupas was meant to be. The obstacles vanished with a kiss.

The Sumptuousness of Primary

Season’s Bounty

The Plateau’s two green markets are a celebration of the landscape’s bounty and a tribute to the men and women who make it all possible.

Weekend Concerts

Lace up your dancing shoes – Highlands’ free weekend concerts return next month – Friday nights at Town Square and Saturday evenings at

The Bear & the Bands

The talent’s already lining up for the third incarnation of the Bear Shadow Music Festival, set for April 28-30. For ticketing and more information


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Magazine Issue


Relax and Restore

Whether it’s the sweet sense of accomplishment or plain old relief, it usually feels good to complete a task, a to-do item or an appointment.    But what happens when you take on too many responsibilities, when you find yourself on the hamster wheel going around and around but really going nowhere?  Those positive feelings can easily shift to feelings …

You Know the Adage – Use it or Lose it? It’s TRUE

The human body is designed with precision and durability.  When the body is being used as it’s designed, it usually responds with great results.    Why wait until it’s too late?!  I have witnessed and experienced so many recoveries and healing episodes that I’m convinced the more I use my body fully, no matter what my age, the better it responds …

Getting Under Your Skin

Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac are some of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis. These plants contain an oil called urushiol, which can trigger an allergic reaction when it comes into contact with the skin.   Contact can occur either by directly touching the plant or by touching objects that have been exposed to the plant’s oil, which …

Preserve Your Rhythms

Sleep is sleep, right? I drink a glass of wine before bed to guarantee a good snooze. It might make me snore, but, hey, the louder the snore the deeper the sleep. Four hours of shut-eye and I’m good to go. Share these assumptions with the experts at Mission Health and they’d politely respond, “Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong.”  Recent …

Layers of Sugartown

When I moved to Franklin in 2005, I learned my way around by the waterways. The Little Tennessee led me to the Cullasaja, which led me up the mountain, which led me to work in Highlands.  I didn’t know it then, but I was traveling layered trails of history.  Native Americans followed deer paths and streams. European pioneers adopted Cherokee …

Grandfather’s Clock

The very first article I wrote for The Laurel was printed in March of 2005 and it was about the grandfather clock that Col. John A. Zachary brought with him from Surry County, North Carolina, around 1833 when he moved to what was to become Cashiers Valley.  Following is a reprint of that story with a few updates: This is …

The Fine Craft of Gardening

No craft is as deeply rooted in the history of the Plateau as gardening.    As the world became more industrialized through the 19th century, our isolated mountain oasis was still a harsh and unforgiving place to live. So much is owed to the pioneers that settled Cashiers, in particular, Elvira Zachary.  Elvira grew up working alongside her father in …

Wild and Wonderful

It’s one thing to see pictures of the local wildlife in books or on Facebook. It’s a wholly  different experience to see them in person.  Of course, the best place to see wildlife is in their natural habitat, though a personal encounter with a bear is far from entertaining. On July 12 and 13, the 16th  Annual Mountain Wildlife Days …

Golf Trip of a Lifetime in Ireland

Ireland is arguably the most beautiful venue for links golf in the world, and there’s some extra buzz this year with the Open Championship being hosted by Royal Portrush later this summer.   Royal County Down and Royal Portrush have already opened their tee sheets for 2020 (a few months earlier than normal), and others are likely to follow with earlier …

Is Getting a Fly Guide Cheating?

Should you get a guide?  A lot of folks want to practice fly fishing by trial and error. The assumption is that if you can’t tie your own fly, spot your own fish, and land it in your own net, then you aren’t really fishing, and that getting a guide is somehow “cheating.”  Granted, a lot of the allure of …

The Decline of Native Birds

The Carolina Parakeet has been extinct for over 100 years. This native Carolinian, a subtropical green parrot, was once so numerous that their flocks ranged from New York and Wisconsin south to Kentucky and Tennessee and west from the Atlantic to Colorado.  In its time, it was the northernmost parrot in the Western Hemisphere.   Its precipitous decline began in …

Kudos for Kerria

According to the 70’s rock band Three Dog Night, “one is the loneliest number,” and Kerria japonica could very easily have that song as its anthem.  It’s the sole species of the genus Kerria, with its roots in the huge family tree of Roseaceae.  So why is it the sole species? Is she the black ewe of the rose family?  …