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News 2010: The Year in Review
Article Index
2010: The Year in Review
2010: The Year in Review - Part 2
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Newsmakers & Top Headlines of the Year

For some in Macon County, 2010 was full of drama. Dramatic elections, dramatic weather and even dramatic fires. One of the most dramatic, and dangerous, was the fire that consumed more than 75 acres on Lyle Knob in April. Amazingly, no homes were destroyed in the fire that started when sparks from a power line ignited a brush fire. Macon and Jackson fire departments and the N.C. Forest Service worked through the night to contain the blaze.January through June

A lot has happened in 2010. Nationally, The BP petroleum company had the biggest oil spill yet in the Gulf of Mexico, infuriating the nation as a whole. Healthcare reform was passed expanding coverage for Americans, and Republicans took the House from Democrats after sweeping elections across the nation, buoyed by support from the Tea Party movement.

Macon County had its share of activity this year as well. It saw the construction of a Veteran’s Memorial, the demolition of the Dillsboro Dam, the elections of new politicians and the humanitarian deeds of people coming together locally. The Macon County News has prepared a review of such events for its readers as it has for more than a quarter-century, and that tradition continues.

 click here for the 2010 Year in Review Part 1 photo gallery ]


‘Operation Think Twice’ keeps New Year’s safe:

The Macon County Sheriff’s Office executed “Operation Think Twice” as part of an initiative to lower the rate of drinking and driving the night of New Year’s Eve. “Think Twice” allowed inebriated party-goers to call the Sheriff’s Office and request a ride home, with no questions asked. From 9 p.m. on Dec. 31, to 6 a.m. on Jan. 1, free transportation was given by authorities to at least 65 passengers.

“We are always looking at ways to decrease the number of tragedies that happen during this period,” commented Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland in the Jan. 7 issue of MCN. The town of Franklin reported only one DUI arrest in the period, and the Highway Patrol also reported only one. No other Sheriff’s Office in the state had implemented such a program.

USFS withdraws decisions on recreational use on Upper Chattooga River:

Chattooga RiverU.S. Forest Service officials annnounced that they were withdrawing their earlier decision to allow limited boating and other recreational uses on the upper Chattooga River, in order to further analyze land management options.

The decisions would have loosened restrictions in the Sumter, Chatahoochee and Nantahala National Forests on all parts of the river above the Highway 28 bridge.

Once the USFS has made a clear decision on how they will manage the lands, an announcement will be made.

Franklin man to get ‘Cold for a Cause’:

In the midst of a recession and a winter which produced record snowfalls, local insurance salesman Patrick Jenkins was lifted into the air in the name of the “Cold for a Cause” donation drive. The event collected donations that would benefit CareNet, a community assistance organization that aids those in need by providing food, clothing and other essential items.

A rough count estimated some 2,100 coats were among the items donated, along with food and hygiene products. Clothing and blankets were in great need in 2010, however this year the “Cause” aimed for non-perishable food, as reported by MCN on Jan. 7.

Macon County’s first baby of 2010:

Isabella Marie Morgan, first daughter of Jonathan and Katie Morgan, was born on Jan. 1, at 7:13 p.m. at Angel Medical Center. Isabella weighed 5 lbs, 8 oz., and was 19 ½ inches long.

Franklin man recognized for work on Veteran’s Memorial:

Bob LittenMacon County resident and veteran Bob Litten was presented with a plaque by the Board of Commissioners for his dedication to the Veteran’s Memorial project, as reported by MCN on Jan. 14. Commissioners thanked Litten for all of his hard work in creating the monument. “We started out to build the best memorial in the State of North Carolina,” said Litten, thanking commissioners for the land that was provided for the project at the Macon County Recreation Park. “It was a big project,” he said.

Commissioners approve EDC appointments:

The Macon County Board of Commissioners approved appointments to the Economic Development Commission and the Franklin Town Board of Adjustments. EDC Advisory Board Chairman Ed Shatley was reappointed to his position until Jan. 2013.

Commissioners also unanimously approved Gary Drake to replace Hank Ross as the Town of Highlands representative on the EDC. Dave Jones was unanimously approved for reappointment on the Franklin Town Board of Adjustments until Jan. 2013.

Blanton recognized as WNC Coach of the Year:

The Franklin High School girls tennis head coach was named All-Western North Carolina coach of the Year by The Asheville Citizen Times. The honor came after a spectacular season for his team, which won the All-Appalachian Athletic Conference championship with a 19-0 record, marking the Panthers’ first undefeated regular season.

FHS volleyball players receive All-WNC honors:

Lindsay SimpsonFranklin High School sophomore Lindsay Simpson was selected to be a member of the All-Western North Carolina volleyball team, a team which consists of the top six players in the western part of the state. FHS senior Ashley Wice was selected to be a member of the All- WNC second team.

Highlands sets committee appointments:

In his first month in office, Highlands Mayor David Wilkes chaired the first Town Board meeting of 2010, thanking the town staff for their help in his orientation, as well as confirming board member committee appointments for the year.

Amy Patterson— Sustainability; John Dotson — Finance, Land Use; Larry Rogers — Public Works, Recreation; Dennis DeWolf — Public Works, Recreation, Scholarship Fund Raising; Gary Drake —Finance, Land Use, Macon County Economic Development Commission and Tony Potts of the Macon County Bank to the Macon County Program for Progress Board.

The Board also approved applications for membership on the Sustainability Committee. It approved Alan Marsh, retired insurance executive, former Commissioner, former member of the Planning Board and current member of the County Planning Board; Karen Hawk, member of the staff at the Hudson Library; and Charlie Wolf, South Carolina architect who has a second home in Highlands.

Dillsboro dam demolition:

Dillsboro Dam DemolitionFollowing a judgment issued by Superior Court Judge Zoro Guice, Dillsboro residents said goodbye to a long-standing hallmark of their community—the Dillsboro Dam.

Because of the dam’s deep roots in the Dillsboro community, a long legal struggle ensued between Jackson County and Duke Energy over the fate of the dam. Duke asserted that the dam’s removal would not only free up space for more power stations elsewhere, but also echoed the conservational claim that the health of the river would also improve. Others supported removal of the dam for the increased recreational uses it would bring.

The hydroelectric project on the river dated back to 1927 when it was first built. For 83 years the facility survived floods and a series of operators, but in accordance with federal conservation guidelines, Duke Energy decided to relinquish their license and decommission the project. As reported by MCN on Jan. 21, removal of the dam began in early February and was finished March 31.

Martin Luther King Jr. remembered:

Martin Luther King Jr. DayOn Jan. 17, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was honored and his legacy celebrated in Franklin. Former Washington State Assistant Attorney General El Shon Richmond delivered a MLK day address to the congregation of First United Methodist Church, speaking of King’s total commitment to social change.

The following day, a diverse crowd gathered at Big Bear park, with Franklin Police closing traffic to make way for a parade in King’s honor, which extended down Main Street and ended at Town Square. After a number of speeches by special guests and community leaders, the commemoration ended with a show of solidarity, as those in attendance joined hands, forming a chain that encircled Town Square.

Town of Franklin review personnel policy at annual retreat:

On Jan. 23, aldermen for the Town of Franklin held a retreat and worked on a town employee personnel policy, as reported by MCN on Jan. 28. A draft of the policy was presented to board members by Assistant Town Manager Mike Decker at the retreat, after about a year of deliberation, and gives the Franklin Town Manager the authority to oversee the personnel policy.

Among the many facets discussed of the policy was the possibility that town employees would have to receive direct deposit of payroll checks, as well as nine month probationary period for new employees and a dress code for town employees.


Wastewater reached Little Tennessee:

As a result of a winter storm in late January, the Town of Franklin reported two wastewater spills on Jan 29 and 30. Approximately 450,000 gallons of untreated wastewater overflowed Franklin’s wastewater treatment plant on Sierra Drive, as reported by MCN on Feb. 4. The heavy snowfall led to the wastewater breach, which caused power outages that ultimately affected the water filtering system and pump station.

Commissioners ask county attorney to resign:

Lesley MoxleyMacon County Commissioners voted unanimously at their Feb. 8 meeting to eliminate the full-time County Attorney position, as well as accepting the resignation of Lesley Moxley, who had served as Macon County Attorney for roughly four years, as reported by MCN on Feb. 11. County Manager Jack Horton said that Moxley was under an openended contract and denied any other factors that resulted in the county asking for her resignation.

Commissioners explained that the decision was made based on the economic conditions of the county, with the goal of saving money for Macon’s legal department later on. Commissioners voted to replace Moxley with Chester M. Jones, a Franklin-based attorney, as a part time interim attorney. Jones at the time was projected to work approximately 40 hours per month by county officials.

Franklin Assistant Police Chief retires:

Town and law enforcement officials gathered at Town Hall on Feb. 5 to honor 28-year Franklin Police Department veteran Jerry De- Hart, who retired after serving 14 years as Assistant Police Chief.

DeHart was the first officer in the department’s K-9 unit and was used as a K-9 resource by both state and federal law enforcement agencies in his career. He received a plaque of appreciation from the Town of Franklin as well as kind words from fellow law enforcement officials.

Bonfoey appoints new Assistant District Attorney:

District Attorney Michael Bonfoey announced the appointment of Jeff D. Jones to serve as an Assistant District Attorney with his office in the 30th Prosecutorial District, which includes the counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain.

Jones received his oath of office Friday, Feb. 5, at the Haywood County courthouse. Superior Court Judge Brad Letts administered the oath of office. Jones worked for three years as a prosecutor in the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office and for the last five years he has been in private practice. Jones is a North Carolina native and lives with his wife and three children at Lake Junaluska.

School system adds $3 million more in renovations:

School RenovationsThe Macon County Board of Education approved a number of proposals for renovation projects for both Nantahala and Franklin High School at its Feb. 22 meeting. The proposed budget exceeded $3 million, as reported by MCN on Feb 25. Electrical and HVAC upgrades, repainting, roof replacement and more than $122,000 in architectural fees were among the items on the approved renovation budget.


Greenwood to serve two more years as Town Manager:

The Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen extended Town Manager Sam Greenwood’s employment contract for an additional two years at its March 1 meeting.

Greenwood is employed by the town for 1,000 hours per year and is paid $68,270 annually with $10,000 contributed annually to his retirement plan and $500 provided monthly for travel. The Town Board voted in favor of Greenwood’s extension with Alderman Bob Scott casting the only dissenting vote, as reported by MCN on March 4.

Free community clinic opens in Franklin:

A free community care clinic opened in Franklin. The clinic was established after state funding and community organizations banded together and drove the initiative to completion. Funding pays for operational expenditures, wages and supplies, as reported by MCN on March 11. The clinic is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Macon County Public Health Center. Limited walk-in appointments are accepted on Mondays. According to clinic worker Jean Jordan, the clinic is always in need of clinical volunteers of any kind, as well as translators. The clinic is available for people with no insurance, and does not accept Medicare or Medicaid. For more information, call (828)349-2085.

Macon County ranks 44th in NC for overall health:

According to the County Health Rankings Report conducted last February, Macon County ranks 44th out of 100 in overall health. The rankings within the report show state residents where their county needs to make health improvements, as well as compare their county with others to better understand what aspects of their community need to be strengthened.

The entire health ranking report can be viewed at www.countyhealthrankings.org/north-carolina/macon.

Rickman Store celebrates 85th anniversary:

The Friends of the Rickman Store [FORS] along with 75 visitors celebrated the store’s 85th anniversary on March 6. According to event coordinator and FORS member Elena Carlson, the event aimed to “bring back the tradition of bartering.”

Visitors bartered for various items, as Rickman Store founder Tom Rickman did at its founding in 1925. Things like toys, kitchen wares, baked goods and home decor were traded among the visitors. Local music was performed by the Nikwasi Dulcimer Players, Dave Waldrop and Deep Woods Frolic. Regional playwright and story teller Gary Carden talked about his early memories of Cowee and the Rickman Store during the ’30s and ’40s.

Court employees recognized for years of service:

Two employees of the Macon County Clerk of Superior Court’s office received service awards from the State of North Carolina. Assistant Clerk Dinah Mashburn and Deputy Clerk Terri Tallent received awards for 30 and 20 years of service, respectively.

“Both Dinah and Terri do a great job. They have had countless hours of training over the years, and there isn’t much that we do in this office that they haven’t seen,” said Macon County Clerk of Court Vic Perry in recognition of their service.

WNC volunteers pack 100,224 meals for Haitian disaster relief:

Haitian Disaster ReliefApproximately 670 people from all over Western North Carolina volunteered their time at the National Guard Armory in Franklin to help reach the day’s goal of packing at least 100,000 meals to be sent to Haiti. The effort was in response to the island nation’s recent earthquake, which devastated thousands, as reported by MCN on March 18.

Haitian Disaster ReliefThe March 13 event was hosted by the Franklin Daybreak Rotary Club, and was part of a larger effort of the region’s Rotary clubs to package and deliver one million meals to Haiti. Volunteers spent the morning packing 14 ounce bags of a simple but nutritious mix of rice, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables and powdered vitamins and minerals. When cooked in boiling water, each package would provide a meal for up to six people.

The Franklin Daybreak Rotary supports organizations offering support to Haiti or any other country in need. Recently $1,000 was budgeted for Shelter Box, an international relief organization that supplies living materials for impoverished countries. Additionally, the Interact Club will hold another Empty Bowls project in February. The effort will be to raise food for Haiti.

Franklin receives AT Community designation:

Franklin Proclaimed AT CommunityThe Town of Franklin was proclaimed as an Appalachian Trail Community on March 23. The designation made Franklin the first Southern Region AT community. The designation was due in large part to the town’s close proximity to the AT, which draws a growing number of trail hikers into the town each year.

With 47 miles of AT within its borders, Macon County can expect the designation as a catalyst for enhancing economic development, as marked by published articles about Franklin’s designation by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the increase in opportunities for local teachers to use the trail as a learning lab for students.

Operation Medicine Drop yields more than 51,000 dosages:

Operation Medicine DropOn March 20, law enforcement officials collected 51,300 pills, tablets and bottles of liquid medicine throughout Macon County. Dubbed “Operation Medicine Drop,” the effort was part of a statewide campaign to dispose of expired or unwanted prescription medications, and was coordinated locally by the Macon County Sheriff’s Office and the Franklin Police Departments of Franklin and Highlands. The ultimate objective was to cut down on prescription drug abuse.

As reported on March 25 by MCN, officers manned drop-off points that day at three locations throughout the county. The medications collected ranged from antibiotics to sedatives to baby aspirin to even liquid morphine. All drop offs were made anonymously.

According to a press release for the event, prescription drugs are the second most abused drug among young people ages 12 to 17. Twothirds of teenagers who abuse the drugs get them from their home or a friend’s home. Additionally, fatal drug overdoses are the second leading cause of death due to unintentional injury in the U.S. This figure is exceeded only by motor vehicle accidents.

Macon’s homeless count reveals need for affordable housing:

A January count of homeless Macon County residents revealed that a total of 74 people were precariously housed or on the verge of losing a home — 38 of which were children. The count also revealed that three individuals were reported as completely homeless on Jan. 27, when it was performed.

The count was determined by contact through CareNet’s Warmth in Winter event, where county transit provided free transportation to CareNet for those without shelter. Calls made to law enforcement, area clinics and emergency rooms, the school system and other agencies reporting encounters with homeless citizens all helped determine the count.

Local Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Rick Westerman said the problem was both homelessness and a lack of affordable housing, asserting a need for such housing was clearly evident in Macon County.


Special Olympics has strong turnout in Macon:

Ninety athletes competed in 15 different games for the Special Olympics at Macon Middle School. The running long jump, softball throw, 50-meter dash and 10-meter assisted walk were among the events children and adults with intellectual disabilities participated in. Several hundred people showed up to cheer on the Olympians, as reported by MCN on April 1.

Franklin man’s home condemned by landslide:

Mike Boggan, of Blossomtown Drive, had his home condemned on March 18, after Macon County inspectors determined his home was uninhabitable, as a result of a slow moving landslide.

Boggan feels nearby Craftsman’s Village developer Joseph Moretti is partly to blame, as he began excavating the toe of the mountain earlier that season. Boggan’s home is just above the development. In the meantime, Boggan pays both taxes and a mortgage on the home, which he is not permitted to live in. Boggan maintains that he has retained a lawyer, and may take Moretti to court seeking compensation.

Brush fire ravages Lyle Knob:

Brush Fire on Lyle KnobA fire sparked by a power line escalated into a forest fire on April 6. More than 100 personnel from eight fire department crews from Macon and Jackson counties worked until 3 a.m. to get the blaze under control. The fire had ultimately spanned 75 acres of land. A number of sheds and other out-buildings were taken by the blaze, however all residences were saved, as reported by MCN on April 8.

Warren Cabe, of Macon County Emergency Services Management, reported a firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene, though no significant injuries resulted from it, nor were there any injuries in the community.

Frogtown development plans announced:

Frogtown Development PlansAldermen forwarded a special use application for Carolina Mountain Drive development to the town planning board for recommendation. The development, owned by Phil and Sharon Drake, is to include combination retail/ restaurant buildings, a warehouse/fitness center and office buildings.

New FPD headquarters established:

New FPD HeadquartersAs of last April, the Franklin Police Department said hello to their new headquarters, after bouncing back and forth between stations in town for years.

“This is the first purpose- built building in the history of the Franklin Police Department,” remarked FPD Chief Terry Bradley.

The building includes features previously unavailable to the agency, such as two new interrogation rooms, evidence processing and storage rooms, armor and locker rooms, a kitchen and even a working garage. Bradley explained that while officers were utilizing the new building, the ethics and methods of operation remain the same. The new headquarters was officially opened on May 7.

Casino’s third tower a ‘masterpiece in the mountains’:

Friday, April 9, saw a celebratory “toppingoff” of the final beam at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel in Cherokee, N.C. The event effectively marked the establishment of the Casino’s third tower, which will house a 535- room hotel with luxury accomodations, 3,000 seat event center, spa, gaming facilities and stores. The construction of the project provided 1,100 construction jobs, as reported by MCN on April 15.

Smoky Mountain Center requests access to Evergreen Foundation’s $20 million:

Macon County Commissioners supported a request made by the Smoky Mountain Center (SMC) to receive access to funds held by the Evergreen Foundation, a non-profit organization founded to help facilitate mental health services. More than $20 million, was allocated to Evergreen over the years by local, state and federal government.

The resolution was also aimed at bringing governance of the foundation back under the control of SMC, the agency charged with allocating mental health funds in the region.

According to SMC community relations coordinator Shelley Foreman, the organization wants all seven counties of western North Carolina to be represented on the foundation’s board.

Macon Firemen of the Year named:

Eleven firemen, one from each department throughout Macon County, were honored on April 17 at the Boiler Room. The event celebrated the firemen’s accomplishments and dedication to community service and fire response, as reported by MCN on April 22.

“Some people think we don’t get thanked enough, and we don’t do it for the thank yous, but it’s times like this where it’s appreciated,” said Macon County Fireman’s Association president Dustin Pendergrass.

Firemen Mark Gramlich, Jay Prince, Bill Hopper, William Lewis, Blaine Keener, Jerry Tallent, Eric Webb, Dusty Price, Jacob Gribble, Bobby Lewis and Dan Tiller were recognized.

Planning board begins conversation with residents about steep slope ordinance:

At its April 15 meeting, the Macon County Planning Board was advised by the County Commission to begin holding open discussions with the public concerning their input regarding a steep slope ordinance. The Commissioners’ message was issued after the planning board presented them with recommendations for such an ordinance, which would regulate the development on certain slopes of land throughout the county.

Cullasaja says goodbye to school:

Cullasaja ElementaryMembers of the Cullasaja Community gathered at Cullasaja Elementary on April 23 for a homecoming celebration. Events lasted all afternoon and into the evening as people reminisced about the past and celebrated the history of the school, which spanned generations. The closing of the school was reported by MCN on April 29.

Former teachers and students were invited back for the celebration of the school’s last year, as it was scheduled to close. Its students are to be redistricted to East Franklin Elementary school the following year. Free hotdogs and hamburgers were given out to visitors. Written testimonies of former students and teachers were on display. Members of the crowd wore T-shirts that read, “We will miss you Cullasaja!”


Lawsuit filed against Sheriff's Office:

John William Bishop filed a lawsuit against the Macon County Sheriff's Office, alleging a violation of civil rights on March 19, following his 2008 arrest for breaking and entering which he ultimately pled guilty to after multiple charges were dropped. Bishop and his mother asserted in their case that several items seized by authorities were taken erroneously as reported by MCN on May 6.

Franklin adopts voluntary annexation policy:

On May 3, the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen approved a long considered policy for voluntary annexation. The policy states that the town is to regulate zoning in the town proper and in those areas of the Extra Territorial Jurisdiction, and that the decision to annex shall be at the discretion of the Town Board.

“It certainly would give some objectivity to an issue which heretofore has been mostly all subjective,” said Franklin Mayor Joe Collins of the policy.

Intermediate School unveiled:

Intermediate School UnveiledThe opening of Macon County’s newly completed Intermediate School was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 29.

The school, located on Clarks Chapel Road, serves fifth and sixth graders. It was revealed at the ceremony that the school was state-ofthe- art and eco-friendly, with 100 geothermal wells that heat and cool the facility, motion activated lighting, a broadcasting studio and computer labs. The opening of the school marked the reduction of student enrollment in other county schools, further ensuring efficiency of educators, with Macon Middle School losing 30 percent of its students for instance.

“We are going to offer the children an experience that is like no other,” said School Principal Mark Sutton of the newly built school, as reported by MCN on May 6.

SCC graduates record number of students:

Southwestern Community College graduated a record-breaking 264 students and honored former school President Cecil Groves at its Jackson Campus on May 7. The graduation was also the school’s first to include early college students from its system. Twenty-nine early college students graduated for that semester. Groves was given a plaque of recognition for his 13 years of service to the school, as reported by MCN on May 13.

Fallen officers honored at memorial service:

Law enforcement personnel and supporters gathered in downtown Franklin to honor those North Carolina officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2009. The event was hosted by the Macon-Jackson Fraternal Order of Police on May 14. The ceremony was reported by MCN on May 20.

Michaela Blanton, wife of slain Highway Patrol officer Shawn Blanton, was the guest speaker at the event, and said that she was grateful for the safety and service law enforcement provides yearround.

After her address, FOP member Al Caiata gave roll call of the fallen officers of 2009, whose names were followed by an honorary bell toll. A wreath ceremony conducted by police officers was commemorated by a 21-gun salute from members of the American Legion Post 108 and the Honor Guard Unit of VFW Post 7339.

Fallen NC law enforcement officers Rickie Allen Pearson, Jr., Brandon Scott Coker, Dulan Earl Murray Jr., Kyle Patrick Barber, Mickey Gray Hutchens, Charles Douglas, Calvin E. Taylor, Anthony Cogdill and David Shawn Blanton Jr. were all honored at the event.

EDC presents grant guidelines to town:

On May 17, the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen heard a presentation on guidelines for an economic development grant currently offered by the Macon County Economic Development Commission, presented by EDC Chairman Ed Shatley.

The grant seeks to promote diversified economic development, encourage growth in the property tax base, improve recruitment of business and industry, enhance job creation and continue the county’s ability to function as a center of commerce.

Pull for a Cure’ event garners strong support:

Pull for a CureFranklin Plaza was packed on May 15 as people gathered to attend the Relay for Life’s fourth annual fire truck pull and junior fire truck pull fundraiser, which raised approximately $4,000. Nine teams competed with one another by pulling fire trucks 20 feet across the parking lot in the fastest time. County and town fire departments, Caterpillar, and other area industries participated in the event, as reported by MCN on May 27.

New FHS principal announced:

On May 24, the Macon County Board of Education unanimously voted to approve the appointment of Nantahala School principal Chris Baldwin as the new Franklin High School principal, following the retirement of former FHS principal Gary Shields. Nantahala teacher Robbie Newton replaced Baldwin as the school’s principal.

The board received 16 applications for the position, four of which were seriously considered, before it came to its decision. Baldwin brought with him nine years of experience as principal of Nantahala, and was voted Macon County Schools Principal of the Year in 2008 and 2009. Before becoming principal at Nantahala, Baldwin was a nationally certified teacher of science for grades 7-12 for 11 years.

“I’m excited and honored about being named the next principal at Franklin High School,” said Baldwin, as reported by MCN on May 27.


Gary Shields honored by students and teachers:

Gary Shields RetiresAfter 21 years of serving as FHS principal, Gary Shields was given a warm reception by generations of students, colleagues and state officials on May 28.

Earlier this year, as reported by MCN on June 3, Shields announced he would be retiring as principal, and the celebratory assembly was promptly held in honor of his career. Organizers were able to keep the event a secret, and a surprised Shields could only thank those in attendance for their gratitude.

“Thank you, Gary. Thank you for a job well done,” said former Senator John Snow at the event. Snow’s comment echoed dozens of other short speeches by faculty, staff and students.

Fallen soldiers honored on Memorial Day:

On June 1, a ceremony sponsored jointly by various veterans’ organizations in Macon County honored soldiers who paid the ultimate price defending their country. The ceremony included grateful remarks from the chapter commanders and local veterans’ organizations who addressed a nearly full auditorium.

“This is a day to remember and give thanks to those who have given their lives in the sacrifice of our country,” said Bob Slicer, Commander of American Legion Post 108. The FHS band contributed a number of musical interludes throughout the ceremony.

Cuttin’ hair for Hospice House:

On June 5, 18 hairdressers offered haircuts at $10 each along with facials and massages in order to raise money for the Hospice House Foundation. The event, held at Serendipity Salon in the Macon Plaza, raised more than $10,000. [The Hospice House Foundation of WNC was founded in 2005 in response to a critical need for an inpatient hospice residence.]

Commissioners approve 1.5 cent tax increase for school projects:

In a four-to-one vote the Macon County Board of Commissioners approved a budget for fiscal year 2010-11. The budget included a tax increase of 1.5 cents per $100 valuation earmarked to pay debt service on the new K-4 school and renovations to Nantahala School on June 14. The increase was necessary to fund debt service collection, according to County Manager Jack Horton, as reported by MCN on June 17.

The approved budget was 1.8 percent less than the original budget proposed by Horton. The approved budget totaled $42,021,521, which represents a $750,625 cut from the manager’s proposal, and more than $2.1 million down from the past fiscal year’s budget. On the revenue side, the commissioners’ budget work sessions uncovered that the county would lose $15,157 in revenue due to adjustments in the Department of Social Services.

EDC creates website to promote travel and tourism:

In an effort to promote travel and tourism for the Franklin and Nantahala areas, the Tourism Development Committee partnered with Premiere Marketing this spring to create AffordableFranklin.com.

“We specifically targeted the Greenville /Spartanburg /Anderson/northeast Georgia regions within a one to three hour drive to Franklin,” Premier Marketing Project Manager Glen Goodwin said of the endeavor, as reported by MCN on June 17. The site was advertised in conjunction with promotional television ads on local stations. The site’s creation was made possible through a $7,750 grant from the Franklin and Nantahala TDC.

Art program sacrificed at MMS:

As reported by MCN on June 24, Macon Middle School announced that 2011 would see the end of art classes.

MMS Principal Scott Maslin said that the decision to cut the program was based on a number of issues, including balancing other academic priorities in a time of tightening budgets, and was made after extensive discussions with School Superintendent Dan Brigman. The only other Western North Carolina county to cut art classes is Graham County.

“I hope someday we can get it back,” said Maslin of the program. In the meantime, the school is looking at other avenues that can help supplement the loss of the art program.

Firearm death of Franklin man ruled accidental:

On the night of June 9, Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the home of Nathan Clayton Blanchard, after his wife called 9-1-1 and reported a gunshot he had incurred. Blanchard was found dead on the arrival of officers and medical personnel. It was determined by autopsy reports that Blanchard had accidentally shot himself in the head, which corresponds with his wife’s testimony that she had heard a gunshot when she was out of the room.

14th annual Taste of Scotland:

Taste of ScotlandHundreds of visitors turned out for the 14th annual Taste of Scotland event, which celebrates Franklin’s Scottish Heritage.

Tartan colors, the sounds of bagpipes and drums as well as Scottish foods were aplenty at the festival, with performers from around the region and as far as Scotland itself braving the summer heat to be part of the festivities.

The opening ceremony began with a few members of the 71st North Carolina Highland Regiment firing a single shot salute from their guns. The regiment is part of a reenactment group that represents the 1776 time period. Franklin’s own piper, Jean Hayes played a traditional Scottish song on bagpipes and Hal Chapman welcomed everyone to the festival.

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