WRITER AND COMMENTATOR FRANK DEFORD will be the 2015 J. R. McDowell Speaker, sponsored by the Transylvania County Library Foundation in partnership with Brevard College. “Sports: The Hype and the Hypocrisy” will be presented on Thursday, Sept. 24, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Brevard College Porter Center for Performing Arts. General admission tickets for the event are $10, which are on sale at the Library. By using personal anecdotes gathered from a lifetime of writing and reporting about sports and sports personalities, Deford will offer his own unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on the sports industry. Deford is the author of 18 books of both fiction and non-fiction. His latest, a New York Times best-seller, is his memoir, “Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter.” Call 828-884-3151 for more information.


THE NEXT COMMUNITY MUSIC JAM at the Marianna Black Library will be today (Thursday) from 6 until 7:30 p.m. in the library auditorium or, if the weather permits, on the front lawn. Anyone with an “unplugged” instrument and singers are invited to join. Call 828-488-3030 for more information.

ART LEAGUE FOR THE SMOKIES will host career landscape painter Jack Stern for a demonstration of oil painting techniques today (Thursday) at 6:15 p.m. at Swain County Center for the Arts. He will discuss the medium of oil painting and how to develop the painting from concept to finished artwork as he completes a painting. Call 828-488-7843 for more information.

THE 14TH ANNUAL GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS RAILROAD RAILFEST is set for Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6. Produced by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, the event will be held under the entertainment tent within sight of the train depot in Bryson City. From 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 5, the Jackson County 4-H Club and CSA will showcase the musical and vocal talents of local children at the “Heritage Alive! Mountain Youth Talent Contest.” The “best of show” winner will have the opportunity to perform at the 2015 Mountain Heritage Day at Western Carolina University. Then, from 1 to 2:15 p.m., gospel band the Cockman Family from Sherrills Ford will perform, and from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., the J. Creek Cloggers dance team from Haywood County will make the stage rock. Finally, from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m., Dusk Weaver, director of Jackson County’s Junior Appalachian Musicians, will take the stage. Mountain band The Boys From Tuckasegee will open up the Sept. 6 activities with a performance beginning at noon. Western North Carolina native Dakota Waddell will follow with a performance from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the old-time clawhammer banjo style. Betty Brown will sing Appalachian stories from 2:45 to 3:15 p.m., and bluegrass band Highway 74 will conclude the event with a performance from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Call 631-4587 for more information.


SOUTHWESTERN COMMUNITY COLLEGE will offer a professional office management course designed to help participants find employment in an office environment or enhance skills at their current jobs. Beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 15, and lasting through Tuesday, Jan. 12, the class will meet from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at SCC’s Macon campus. Topics covered will include office management, computer business application and several Microsoft Office software programs. The program costs $185 plus textbooks. Scholarship opportunities are available for those who qualify. Call Scott Sutton at 828-339-4296 or email for more information.


ALFONSO ALONSO, director for field programs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, will present “Monarch Butterflies: How we can maintain their remarkable migration” today (Thursday) from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Nature Center at the Highlands Biological Station. The program is this year’s final installment of the Zahner Conservation Lecture Series, held each week and designed to help educate and inspire the public through talks by well-known regional scientists, conservationists, artists and writers. Monarch butterflies in Eastern North America undergo an amazing annual life cycle, said Alonso. With four generations in a year, they utilize milkweed plants during the spring, summer and early autumn, and then migrate and overwinter in Central Mexico for five months. For many years, efforts have been put forth to protect the forest that monarchs need in Mexico to survive; however, in 2014, the lowest number of migratory monarchs was recorded. Alonso will discuss the reasons for this decline and the actions that are needed to maintain their migration patterns. Visit or call 828-526-2221 for more information.


THE MAGGIE VALLEY ARTS AND CRAFTS SHOW will return to Maggie Valley Festival Grounds on Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. There is no cost, and parking is also free. Visitors can expect to find seasonal items, yard art, paintings, photography, pottery, wooden bowls, furniture, jewelry, bath products and more. In addition to the craft vendor booths, chainsaw artist Jeremy Buckner will perform, and food vendors will be on-hand as well. Visit or call 828-926-1686 for more information.


COFFEE WITH THE POET will continue Wednesday, Sept. 9, with a reading from Don Long at the Moss Memorial Library at 10:30 a.m. The community is also invited to participate in Open Mic; bring a poem or short prose piece to read. After two years of college, Long enlisted in the Army as a private. He was later commissioned and earned his wings as a helicopter and airplane pilot. This earned him the chance to fly helicopters in Vietnam for two one-year tours. In 1980, he retired as lieutenant colonel. Publishing poetry has never been one of his goals; he writes poems for personal reasons. Call 828-389-4441 or email for more information.

THE ANNUAL FALL BANQUET for Western Carolina University’s accountancy program will be held Friday, Sept. 18, at 6 p.m. at The Waynesville Inn. Billy Moore, who was recently named chief financial officer of Grant Thornton, will be the featured speaker. With 40 years of experience in public accounting, Moore works with Grant Thornton partners to ensure the company delivers services that are important to executive management and the board. WCU master of accountancy students and members of the WCU chapter of Beta Alpha Psi can attend the banquet free of charge. For all others, the cost is $35. Contact Liz Jones at 828-227-3567 or by Friday, Sept. 11, for reservations or for more information.