The Board of Commissioners recognized two citizens of Macon County for their outstanding work in recieving state awards in their respective fields.
After Commission Chairman Brian McClellan called the meeting to order saying, “We are always glad to see a full house and the interest that citizens of our county take in the conducting of the business in our county,” he took time to recognize Jane Kimsey of the Department of Social Services. Kimsey received the Director of the Year award in North Carolina. According to McClellan, directors in all 100 counties in the state are considered before a winner is selected. “This award, which is a highly prestigious award, is very well deserved,” said McClellan.
Commissioner Ronnie Beale, liaison to the Sheriff’s Office, presented Detective Judy Lau with the L.T. Williams Juvenile Officer of the Year in North Carolina award. “It is my privilege on behalf of the the citizens of Macon County, to present you with this very small token of our appreciation,” said Beale.
According to Sheriff Robert Holland, the award is presented to the outstanding officer of the year throughout the entire state of North Carolina.
A public hearing was held for the Comprehensive Transportation Plan. North Carolina Department of Transportation representative Ryan Sherby addressed the board on the plan’s process. According to Sherby, the plan has already been presented to the Town of Franklin and the Town of Highlands and it was “received well” both times.
The planning board and NCDOT have been working on the Comprehensive Transportation Plan for two years, which according to Sherby is “a little longer than anticipated.” Sherby reported that the new plan should suffice in meeting the county’s transportation need for 5-10 years.
Commissioner Ronnie Beale addressed the board to show its appreciation for the “countless untold hours” of work that it took develop the plan. Beale urged the passage of the plan and noted, “This is only a playbook; this is just a guideline. Its nothing etched in stone.”
Charlie T. Cowie took advantage of the opportunity to offer public comment on the plan. Cowie urged the plan be changed to include a speed reduction at the intersection on US441S. According to Cowie, the deep slope causes for dangerous stopping conditions for trucks entering Franklin from the highway.
Petition submitted for Dialysis Center in Macon County
The Board readdressed the petition for a certificate of need for a dialysis center in Macon County. The petition was formally submitted on Tuesday and was directed to the Medical Facilities Planning Section and the North Carolina State Health Coordinating Council with the intent of adjusting the need determination given in the Proposed North Carolina State Medical Facilities plan for 2012.
If the petition is approved, a Certificate of Need will be issued for Macon County, allowing a dialysis center to be started and operated in Franklin.
As stated in the petition, Macon County, by and through its Board of Commissioners, has received numerous first hand accounts of tremendous hardships encountered by citizens of Macon County who require periodic dialysis services in order to maintain life and who are required to travel from various points within Macon County to Sylva to receive the life sustaining dialysis services.
Beale noted that Macon County needed special consideration from the State Health Coordinating Council for several different reasons. According to Beale, Macon County’s population doubles in the summer months with 9,000 second homes throughout the county. Beale also reiterated the problem with driving over Cowee Mountain for some individuals.
“Driving 30 miles across Cowee Mountain is a lot different than driving 30 miles from the Raleigh exit to Durham.”
If the petition is approved, the county will begin receiving bids from dialysis service providers.
Board unanimously adopts resolution opposing Duke Power rate increase
The County Commissioners approved a resolution opposing the anticipated 17 percent increase requested by Duke Power.
According to the resolution, Duke is seeking to cover approximately $646 million in money spent on retiring and replacing aging power plants and equipment to comply with environmental regulations. The Board isn’t solely protesting the rate of the increase, but is also opposing the timing of the proposed increase because according the resolution it “is particularly burdensome and would place an undue hardship on the citizens of Macon County.”
According to Beale, to not doing anything about the rate increase is similar to silently agreeing to it.”If the county commissioners don’t stand up and say something, then who is going to?,” remarked Beale, “We stand for the people of Macon County.”
Commissioner Kevin Corbin noted that the increase can be especially detrimental because of the lack of choices Macon County has when it comes to electrical providers. “I have no choice at my house, but to buy from Duke Power.”
The resolution reads “Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Board of Commissioners for the County of Macon as follows: That the Board of Commissioners is deeply opposed to the proposed rate increase as filed by Duke Energy Carolinas and will strongly encourage the N.C. Utilities Commission to reject this increase.”
Board votes to adopt resolution opposing proposed merger of SCC
Commissioners have developed and approved a resolution opposing the merger of rural community colleges across the state. The proposal was established after a report from the North Carolina General Assembly's Program Evaluation Division identified SCC as a possible college for consolidation.
The report suggests a mandated merger of community colleges within a 30-mile radius with larger systems located nearby to save money in administration costs.
The resolution lists the Board’s concern involving the merger which include the potential loss of programs being offered at the Macon campus, the county’s financial investment in the Macon Campus, specifically the current multimillion- dollar construction of a new roadway by the state Department of Transportation to service the campus surrounding areas.
The resolution also outlines the concern of what would happen to the Macon County Early College High school which is located on the SCC’s Macon Campus.
Additionally, the resolution brings to attention the special condition of the mountain region compared to other areas of the state. According to the resolution, “SCC’s threecounty service area, including Swain County, totals 1,534 square miles – an area 30 percent larger than the state of Rhode Island – and a serves a population of approximately 78,000 people.”
McClellan noted that if students in the Macon County are forced to commute to Asheville for classes, the 90-mile round trip would almost cost more in gas than the actual tuition.