Newsmakers and Top Headlines of the Year - Part Three
Town refinances loan
As reported by The Macon County News (MCN) on Sept. 6, the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen voted to approve the refinancing of town loans in the amount of $4,350,000 by Sun- Trust Equipment Finance & Leasing Corp at its Sept. 3 meeting. According to Town Manager Sam Greenwood, refinancing the town's loan saved taxpayers $360,000 over the term of the leasing contract.
The refinancing agreement allowed the town to manage the loan over a 12-year term at an interest rate of 2.8 percent for the remainder of the loan — 12 years. The savings of $360,000 over the rest of the term were the board’s reasoning to refinance the loan.
Cabe announced as new Town Manager
Franklin Town Manager Sam Greenwood announced on Sept. 5 that Franklin Fire and Rescue Chief Warren Cabe would replace him as manager, effective mid-2013.
“I have been authorized by the Town Board of Aldermen to continue the transition plan for Warren Cabe to be trained for eventual appointment as town manager,” said Greenwood in a submitted announcement. “Mr. Cabe currently serves as fire chief for the Town of Franklin coming to the town after several years as emergency management director for Macon County.”
Since beginning work with the Town of Franklin in 2011, Cabe has been responsible for the reorganization of the Franklin Fire Department, providing the leadership, which along with the hard work of Franklin Fire Department firemen and many other town and county employees, allowed Franklin Fire Department to do well in its ISO rating.
During the transition process Cabe will finish the restructuring of the Franklin Fire Department, put a core management team in place and begin the process of selecting a Fire Chief candidate to replace him when he moves to the Town Manager position. Cabe is acting as the assistant town manager while learning the ins and outs of the position.
Rabun Gap Westpoint Cadet gets published in prestigious Concord Review
Rabun Gap graduate Alex Kovaka, Class of 2012, received notice from The Concord Review that his essay on Gottfried von Leibniz was published in its Fall 2012 issue. Will Fitzhugh, Concord Review founder, stated that Kovaka’s explanation of von Leibniz’s inclusion of both medieval and modern philosophical views will be circulated to their readers in 42 U.S. states and in 35 countries.
Kovaka attends The United States Military Academy at West Point. Dr. Marion Truslow, Kovaka’s teacher and mentor at Rabun Gap, stated, “Alex will one day match and surpass the storied career of General David Petraeus as a great military mind, both as a scholar and as a leader of men in battle.”
‘Home Grown Goodness’ at 59th Macon County Fair
The 59th annual Macon County Fair was held in September at the Wayne Proffitt Agricultural Center in Franklin with the theme of, “Home Grown Goodness” seen throughout all the exhibits at the fair. Tex Corbin, who has been with the fair for 44 years, said the theme was intended to promote Macon County's culture.
“Folks in Macon County who grow up here and participate in the fair each year are really getting behind the theme of ‘Home Grown Goodness,’” said Corbin. “From things being produced in the county like crafts and livestock or the people who were born and raised here, that's what we want this year to be about.”
According to Corbin, after last year's fair was over, it made the 44th fair he has been a part of. He has served on the Board of Directors since 1972.
MCSO gets an upgrade
The Macon County Sheriff’s Office received five new Dodge patrol cars with the help of county funding. Due to state and federal budget cuts, Sheriff Robert Holland has been actively searching for grants to help with the Sheriff's Office budget. After being turned down for several years, Holland informed commissioners that he finally received approval for a grant proposal that would allow the Sheriff's Department to create a Traffic Safety Officer position. The grant monies can provide for personnel, equipment and other expenses incurred during the grant's term.
“Basically, I am asking for the county commissioners’ approval to help in securing this grant from the Governor's Highway Safety Program for federal funding for this new position,” said Holland. “The grant is over a four-year period, as funds allow, and requires a funding match from the county.”
According to the proposal, funds in the first year will go toward buying equipment for the position as well as the salary. Macon County will receive 85 percent or $103,033 in federal dollars for the position and the county will be required to provide a 15 percent or $18,182 local match. The second year, the funding will be split 70 percent federal ($43,509) and 30 percent local ($18,646), the third year will be split evenly, 50/50, ($31,078) and the fourth and final year, Macon County will absorb 100 percent of the remaining cost which will be $62,155 for the salary of the position.
Commissioners voted to approve the grant match.
Teachers hired, classes split to address overcrowding
The Macon County Board of Education voted to increase the number of teachers in the district to compensate for overcrowding in several elementary school classrooms. During its September meeting, the school board approved three new teaching positions and one teacher's assistant position for Iotla Valley and East Franklin Elementary schools.
The decision to hire additional staff came after June's regularly scheduled meeting of the Macon County Board of Education, when Dan Moore, director of personnel for the school system, informed board members that Macon County was facing a serious overcrowding problem in several schools in the district.
According to Moore's report, four out of the six schools with kindergarten through third grade classrooms are not only exceeding the district's policy for maximum capacity, but where enrollment currently stands, are projected to exceed the state's maximum capacity numbers. At Cartoogechaye Elementary, the first and third grade class enrollment exceeds the state's allowed capacity; kindergarten through third grade classes at East Franklin and Iotla Valley; and kindergarten through second grade at South Macon. Highlands and Nantahala are the only schools in the district not faced with the issue.
The school board not only voted to approve additional teachers, but school officials also approved a split classroom at East Franklin to help fix the problem.
FHS Booster Club holds third annual ‘Salute to Veterans’
Members of the community came together in September for the “Salute to Veterans” event to recognize veterans from every United States war from World War II to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Local veterans and their guests were allowed a free entrance into the football game and were honored by a series of standing ovations from the stands and music by Rhonda and Luke Bateman and Franklin's own Blue Ridge. “I think the ceremony went very well and the community support is great and every year we are asked to please continue doing it,” said event organizer Rhonda Blanton. “I know the veterans are very appreciative of it. It always amazes our visiting teams and fans that we hold this event.”
Blanton, who started organizing the event three years ago for the Franklin High School Booster Club, said the ceremony is a small way to honor those in the community who dedicated their lives to the country. “It is important for everyone to remember the service the current military and past veterans do and have done for our country and its citizens,” she said. “It allows us all to remember the freedoms that we have.”
The ceremony honored a specific group of veterans to pay special tribute for their service. “This year our special honorees were the Korean War veterans and WWII veterans,” said Blanton.
County contracts Cowee School transformation
Macon County commissioners have begun moving forward with plans to transform the old Cowee School into a cultural heritage center for the community.
On Sept. 18, the Macon County Board of Commissioners approved $69,448 to be allocated over a nine and a half month period to contract with Stacy Guffey to coordinate the project and to provide additional supplies and furnishings to help get the project started.
Because of his continued dedication and involvement with the Cowee School, Guffey was hired as the coordinator for the project. The contract will pay Guffey $27,000, or $3,000 per month. Guffey's contract includes the business plan developed by Guffey for the old Cowee School property that designated the school as the Macon County Heritage Center.
The center's business plan outlines the purpose for creating the Macon County Heritage Center at the historic Cowee School, which opened in 1941, which is to develop a community center and visitor destination that can benefit the county by serving as an educational, cultural, recreational and economic development resource.
FHS loses a loved student
On Monday afternoon, Oct. 1, FHS student Damien Isaac Heater, 15, was found unresponsive in the Fine Arts Building at Franklin High School. Heater had reportedly taken his own life.
Emergency Medical Services were called out and transported the student first to Angel Medical Center and then to Asheville where he was pronounced dead later that night.
“The Franklin High School family suffered a tremendous loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Guidance counselors, youth pastors, counselors from Macon Psychological Services and school nurses are available to any student or staff member who might need them,” said Dr. Chris Baldwin.
Local authorities net huge amount in Drug Sweep
In an effort to make Macon County streets safer, Macon County's Sheriff's Office worked with the Franklin Police Department, the State Bureau of Investigation and Highlands Police Department to take part in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Sept. 30.
More than 159 pounds of prescription drugs, or approximately 65,000 dosage units, were collected in the sweep.
Lead by the Drug Enforcement Administration, law enforcement agencies in Western North Carolina posted locations that gave the public the opportunity to prevent prescription drug abuse and theft by safely disposing of the medications. The second event of its kind held last year, members of the community were able to rid their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs by taking them to Walmart or Kmart.
First round of Athletic Hall of Fame inductees honored at Friday’s game
Before the homecoming game against East Henderson, the track at the Panther Pit was lined with Franklin High School legends. In 2011, the FHS Athletic Booster Club took nominations from the public and then narrowed down the search to six inductees, who were said to embody the pride and dedication it takes to be a Panther. Those individuals were honored as the first round of inductees to Franklin's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Interim superintendent presents challenge to the school board
The Macon County Board of Education got a stern wake up call in September from Interim Superintendent Dr. Jim Duncan. He addressed the board regarding Macon County's 2011 test scores.
According to Dr. Duncan, based on the school district's End of Grades test scores, and ACT benchmark test, which is taken in the 11th grade to determine a student's preparedness for college level courses, Macon County is far below where they should be as a district.
“If you look at our test results based on surrounding counties, we are not even close to where we should be testing,” said Dr. Duncan. “There is no reason why we should be testing below average, or even average compared to other districts in the Western region of the state. As a district we have to shift our priorities and make sure that we are offering the best education for our students to prepare them for the next level of their education.”
Dr. Duncan presented a challenge to the board moving forward in the school year.
“Macon County is deserving of having its schools prepare students for college and Macon County is deserving of having its schools prepare students for high performance careers. Far too many of our students are attending community college and four-year universities without adequate preparation for success at these schools. Fifty-three percent of all jobs in North Carolina will require some post-secondary training beyond high school. By 2018, new jobs in North Carolina requiring post-secondary education and training will grow by 322,000 while jobs for high school graduates and dropouts will grow by 157,000. We can’t afford to ignore the fact that students need to be prepared for the new jobs market.”
Grant given to combat violence against women
U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins announced a federal grant totaling $900,000 to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the Western District of North Carolina. The grant program is designed to enhance law enforcement practices and prevention of violence against women.
In announcing the grant, U.S. Attorney Tompkins stated, “We are excited about this grant because it specifically targets violence against women within the reservation. Building and sustaining a safe and secure environment in our tribal region is a priority for my office and this grant will help put an end to the unacceptable rate of violence against women in Indian Country.”
The awards are made through the department’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS), a single application for tribal-specific grant programs.
The department developed CTAS through its Office of Community Oriented Policing, Office of Justice Programs and Office on Violence against Women, and administered the first round of consolidated grants in September 2010. It awarded 286 grants totaling $245 million in 2011 and 2012. Information about the consolidated solicitation is available at www.justice.gov/tribal/.
The announcement is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.
The end of an era ... People’s Dept. Store closing for good
After 55 years of operating on Main Street, People’s made plans to close its doors at the end of January.
When J.C. Jacobs opened People’s, the world depended upon its local merchants to provide for their basic needs. With energy and enthusiasm Jacobs opened his store and sought to meet the needs of the people while feeding and clothing, raising and educating his family.
“When I first opened, people were lined from the front door all the way to the bank to get a broom for a quarter,” said Jacobs. “And now, this is a $6 broom.”
Outdoor 76, an outfitter’s store, is moving in to a portion of the space vacated by People’s, with a projected opening in March 2013.
N.C. State Superintendent visits Macon County
State Superintendent Dr. June St. Clair Atkinson, the first woman elected State Superintendent of the Public Schools of North Carolina, travelled to Western North Carolina from Raleigh.
Serving as State Superintendent since 2005, Dr. Atkinson understands the importance of improving teaching and learning, creating school environments that encourage student success, keeping education modern and relevant, and graduating every student career and college ready. That is why she wanted to visit the Macon County Schools Central Office to recognize Nantahala School for being one of only 28 schools in the state to achieve a 100 percent graduation rate.
“Although the state's graduation has improved from 68 percent to over 80 percent in the last five years, only 28 schools from across the state achieved 100 percent last year,” said Dr. Atkinson. “I wanted to visit Macon County to recognize the district and Nantahala Principal James Bryan for this accomplishment.”
In addition to visiting Macon County's central office, Dr. Atkinson was also the guest speaker at the Western Region meeting of North Carolina Retired School Personnel.
“As a state, the Western Region typically has the highest graduation rates of any region in North Carolina,” said Dr. Atkinson. “In fact, Graham County, this year, has the highest graduation rate of any school district in the entire state, nearly 94 percent.”
New pool to be ready by spring
After 40 years of going virtually untouched, the Macon County recreation pool complex will officially get an upgrade this spring. During their regularly scheduled meeting in October, commissioners unanimously voted to award two bids totaling $546,000 to give a complete upgrade to Macon County's pool and pool-house.
Commissioners voted to award Augusta Aquatics the $338,500 contract for the pool portion of the project. Seth Adams, director of Macon County Recreation Department, said that the company originally submitted the lowest bid at $360,142, but he was able to negotiate the price down to save the county nearly $22,000. “Augusta Aquatics came highly recommended by Aquatics H2O, the firm that drafted the plans for the pool,” said Adams. “They are a larger company and said that this project will be the smallest project they do all year, which made me feel better about it.”
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Macon County residents spoke to thank commissioners for their commitment to build the pool to benefit the families in the area. Dwain Picou, coach for the Macon County's youth swim team told commissioners that he used to be embarrassed to hold meets here. “I just wanted to thank you for considering the upgrade to the pool, which is greatly needed,” said Picou. “When we hold meets I would be embarrassed to have the visiting teams pass through our locker rooms ... because it was just falling apart.”
According to Picou, more than 100 kids participate on the recreation park's swim team, and when they can not use the Macon County facility, they have to ride buses to Rabun County to use the pool there.
Bridge dedication ceremony held to honor local hero
Henry, who was the sole survivor from his platoon in a battle on July 12, 1967, was captured by the North Vietnamese Army. Henry was held captive for almost six years before being released and coming back to Macon County.
Henry has been recognized for his outstanding service and valor to the United States of America by being awarded two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts with Oak Leaf Clusters and numerous other medals.
After returning home, Henry has continued to promote veterans and other humanitarian efforts. He became an original member of the Burningtown Fire Department and helped secure land for the construction of the current department. He also served as a charter member of the Macon County Vietnam Veterans Chapter 994 and has served two terms as president and chairman of the board of directors. Henry graduated from Haywood Community College with a degree in horticulture.
In honor of Henry's triumphant return home, his service to his country, and his continued efforts in the community and involvement in veterans affairs, the Macon County Board of Commissioners got approval from the state to name the bridge on the 441 by-pass in Henry's honor.
16th Annual PumpkinFest attended by record crowds
Downtown Franklin was packed from street corner to street corner in October for the 16th annual PumpkinFest. Like every year, Franklin residents and visitors from as far south as Jacksonville, Florida lined Frogtown for the famous Pumpkin Roll. Each person with their own unique strategy, two-by- two, more than 600 people signed up to roll a pumpkin down the hill — more than ever before. Angie Stewart from Massachusetts won first place and the $100 cash prize in this year's event, rolling her pumpkin an impressive 869 feet.
The annual festival had other yearly favorites likes the pie eating contest, which proved to be the messiest event of the day. Children and adults put their hands behind their back and gobbled up pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream. Finishing with whipped cream in their noses, and pumpkin pie up to their ears, Mayor Joe Collins evaluated the pies and crowned the winners. Seven year old Aidan beat out kids twice his size to win the $25 cash prize for the children's age division. For the adults, Russell Bowman nearly finished his entire pie winning first place... and his reward? A pie to the face from Mayor Collins.
Long awaited Super Walmart open for business
Shoppers and thrill seekers turned out in droves to the newly relocated Walmart store, which opened Friday, Oct. 26, at 273 Common Drive, Franklin. The relocation brings approximately 85 new jobs to the area and opportunities for savings for customers. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
During the opening ceremonies, remarks were made by Mayor Joe Collins, Fox, and District Manager Greg Sharp. Franklin High School B-Naturals sang the National Anthem.
In keeping with Walmart’s central commitment to “operating globally and giving back locally,” Fox presented area schools with sizable grants. Franklin High School received $1,000; Macon Middle received $500; Mountain View Intermediate received $500; and Iotla Valley received $500. Representatives from each school were on hand to accept the grants.
Gov. Perdue issues $20 million for Pre-K funding
In November, Gov. Bev Perdue issued Executive Order No. 128 authorizing the expansion of the N.C. Pre-K program to serve up to 6,300 additional children by Jan. 1, 2013. An estimated 1,000 of those children can begin being served immediately in Pre-K classrooms across the state.
On Aug. 21, the North Carolina Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a lower court ruling mandating that the state not deny any eligible “at-risk” four-year-olds admission to the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten program.
“Through good economic times and bad, North Carolina’s enduring commitment has been to educate our children. Now more than ever, as we sit poised for an economic recovery, any delay in preparing our kids to be tomorrow’s workforce is simply unacceptable,” Gov. Perdue said. “After the General Assembly cut early education programs by 20 percent, thousands of our youngest students were cut out of the Pre-K classroom. Today we can welcome many of them in.”
Gov. Perdue identified $20 million in projected unspent funds from the Department of Health and Human Services to pay for the enrollment slots. None of the money comes from early education programs. The funding will be distributed to counties prior to the end of 2012 to fund expanded enrollment through the remainder of the 2012-2013 academic year.
Republicans sweep elections in Western North Carolina
Voters came out in droves for the 2012 election, wanting a chance to make a difference from local to presidential politics. Despite chilly weather, people of Western North Carolina headed to the polls in November and saw lots of changes in current leadership.
While preliminary results put President Barack Obama winning re-election nationally with both the popular vote and the electoral college votes, he narrowly lost North Carolina with 48.29 percent to Governor Mitt Romney's 50.45 percent of the vote.
With so much at stake, out of the 6,649,188 registered voters in North Carolina, 68.37 percent or 4,546,330 voters took to the polls for the 2012 election. In Macon County, 67.63 percent or 17,039 of the 25,196 registered voters cast their ballots.
The Macon County Board of Commissioners saw a change, as Republican challenger Paul Higdon beat out Democratic incumbent Bobby Kuppers with a 57.08 to 42.92 percent or 2,000 vote victory.
Higdon, who resides in Burningtown, had worked for the Macon County Health Department before opening his own business. He hopes to bring a conservative voice to the board with common-sense ideas and by taking a stance against regulations.
Incumbent commissioners Kevin Corbin and Jimmy Tate both retained their seats as they ran uncontested races.
The Macon County Board of Education saw the first change in leadership for District III in 28 years. Incumbent Tommy Baldwin lost to challenger Melissa Bateman Evans by 763 votes. Baldwin has served the Nantahala community for nearly three decades, a service that Evans has previously recognized as honorable.
Painting the town purple for pancreatic cancer
Draped in purple, with ribbons on their shirts, family and friends gathered on Town Square on a November evening to recognize Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day. As the fourth leading cause in cancer related death, pancreatic cancer stands as one of the deadliest cancers. With little progress made in research in the last 30 years, 76 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within the first year of their diagnosis and 95 percent of patients die within the first five years.
Even with the alarming statistics around pancreatic cancer, it is ranked 11th when it comes to research funding. Pancreatic cancer kills twice as many Americans as AIDS, and receives 39 times less funding for research.
Last year, nearly 44,000 Americans were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and more than 37,000 will die from the disease. There are no early detection methods and few effective treatment options exist. Generally, by the time pancreatic cancer is diagnosed, it has usually spread to other organs. In the other major cancers, widespread use of screenings such as mammograms, chest Xrays, PSA tests, and colonoscopies, enable doctors to make early diagnosis.
Family dispute leads to homicide
A Burningtown family was in mourning at the loss of Cy Levi Fouts, 30, after a family dispute lead to his death in November According to police reports, the Macon County Sheriff's office responded to a 911 call from Cecelia Carpenter who advised police that Cy Levi Fouts had been arguing with his father, Ricky Fouts, 52, throughout the day and police intervention was needed.
According to police reports, Carpenter called and advised that Ricky and Levi were intoxicated and had been fighting with each other all day and that Levi had called her to inform her of the confrontation. According to the 911 transcripts, Carpenter said that Ricky had threatened Levi earlier that day with a gun and had even fired the gun at Levi in the week prior. Levi died in the operating room in Asheville later that day.
Ricky Fouts was arrested for second degree murder and was placed under a secured bond of $125,000. According to reports, a .22 long rifle caliber handgun was recovered as the weapon used in the homicide.
Both the victim and the suspect were reported to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to police reports.
FHS principal named as Macon County's next superintendent
During a special called meeting of the Macon County Board of Education in November, the board announced that Franklin High School Principal Dr. Chris Baldwin has be named the next superintendent for the school district.
Baldwin said he was humbled by the opportunity and excited to have the chance to serve.
“It’s a great responsibility,” said Baldwin. “I pledge to do my very best for our students and our schools, because there is no better school system, or better place to live than Macon County. I thank the school board for their confidence in me.”
Board of Education vice-chair Jim Breedlove made the motion to approve Baldwin's contract and said, “When we started the search, one of the pledges I made to people is that we’d find someone that understood us, had our best interest at heart, and would take us to a better place,” said Breedlove. “I have no doubt that the person we selected can do exactly that.”
Macon County native Baldwin, 44, began serving students in the school district in his home community of Nantahala as a principal and teacher at Nantahala School. After long-time principal Gary Shields retired, Baldwin became the principal of Franklin High School, where he has served for the last two years.
According to the contract approved by the board, Baldwin will officially begin his role of superintendent on July 1, 2013 and will be paid $105,000 annually through the span of June 30, 2017.
DaVita dialysis facility could open as early as this fall
The highly anticipated and valiantly fought for dialysis center is in the home stretch of the planning phase. During November's regularly scheduled Macon County Board of Commissioners' meeting, Commissioner Ronnie Beale updated the board and informed them that the ground breaking for the new facility could be held as early as the first week in February.
“This has been a long process, but I think in the end, it will be the best thing we could possible do for the people of the community,” said Beale.
After community members first began to urge the state to bring a Davita Dialysis center to Macon County about a year and half ago, the state Department of Health and Human Services approved the certificate of need and allowed Davita to begin looking for a location for the new facility.
‘A Country Christmas’ parade kicks off holiday season
After all the turkey had been gobbled down, and the pumpkin pies had been finished off, the holiday season got into full swing on Sunday, Nov. 25, for Franklin's annual Christmas parade. This year's theme, “A Country Christmas,” reminded all generations of the things that they love most about the holiday season.
With more than 54 entries in the float decorating contest, competition was stiff this year. Hickory Knoll Methodist Church won “Best of Theme” with grandma in her rocking chair in front of the fireplace, listening to Christmas tunes on grandpa's dulcimer. Grand Champion was awarded to All Service Heating & Air for their impressive recreation of grandma's house at Christmas time. Outdoor 76 was awarded “Most Original” for donating their mountain bikes to help pull Santa's sleigh.
Leading the parade in 2012 was Grand Marshal Terry Bradley, who retired as Franklin's long-time police chief earlier this year. For the first year, the parade took a new route off of Main Street. According to Linda Harbuck, director of Franklin's Chamber of Commerce, the parade route change was necessary because the parade was no longer allowed to organize and set up at its usual location on the Highlands Road.
Macon County commissioners bid farewell to Bobby Kuppers
Commissioner Bobby Kuppers sat on the Board of Commissioners for his last meeting on Nov. 20, and in between continuing to work with the best interest of Maconians in mind, the board took time to recognize Kuppers for his four years of service to the county.
Fellow commissioners and other county employees who spoke of their time working with Kuppers, commended him for the level of integrity and intelligence he brought to the Board of County Commissioners and his diligence to always, regardless if it was what was favorable, stand up for the people he was in office to represent.
Kuppers took office in December 2008 and immediately began working to encourage cooperation and understanding to the county board. One of the biggest impacts Kuppers had on the board that is sure to continue after he is gone is his philosophy of “don't ever stop having the conversation.”
Kuppers always led the board in discussions about topics that were not always easy, and regardless of political parties or agendas, Kuppers encouraged the entire board to talk about it and make decisions based on the needs of the community at large.
Pickin’ on the Square may be moving
During December's regularly scheduled meeting of the Franklin Board of Aldermen, Town Manager Sam Greenwood asked the board to consider moving Pickin' on the Square to the Town Hall parking lot for the 2013 season. Historically held on Town Square at the Gazebo, Pickin' has been temporarily moved to Town Hall from time to time for small renovation projects to the square, and according to Greenwood, individuals involved with the event seems to like the alternate venue.
Greenwood explained to the board that for some time there has been consideration of improving the facility on the square which currently houses Pickin'. “There has been discussion of renovating or making improvements to the Gazebo and in order to do that, we have to have an alternative site,” said Greenwood. As of yet, plans haven't been developed for what renovations the square will see, but in order to move forward with the concept of renovating the Gazebo, the Town Hall parking lot must be renovated to be able to accommodate the event.
In the current fiscal year budget, Greenwood noted that $12,000 is allocated for improvements to the Town Hall Parking lot in the event the board wanted to temporarily move Pickin' on the Square. Those funds are to be used to upgrade the lighting system and to construct more outdoor power outlets. As funds allow, Donnie Clay, event coordinator for Pickin', will be given money to construct a temporary stage for the 2013 event season.
Newly-elected candidates sworn in
Across North Carolina in November, newly elected officials were sworn into office. In Macon County, the Board of Education swore in two returning board members and welcomed one new face. After running uncontested races, Stephanie McCall and Jim Breedlove were sworn back into office. Newcomer Melissa Evans was sworn into office for the first time to represent the Nantahala District.
After the members were sworn in by Macon County Clerk of Court Vic Perry, the board held a special called meeting to elect a new chair and vice-chair. On the motion made by board member Gary Shields and seconded by McCall, Jim Breedlove was unanimously voted in as the new Chairman of the Board of Education.
FHS retires Lindsay Simpson’s jerseys
During the basketball home opener in the Panther Den in November, the Franklin High School Athletic Department honored FHS graduate Lindsay Simpson for her award-winning contribution to the volleyball and basketball programs during her high school career. To honor Simpson's accomplishments both on and off the court, the athletic department retired Simpson's number 15 jersey in both basketball and volleyball. Wednesday night marked the first time in FHS history that a student has had jerseys retired in two sports.
“There are too many people to thank for this tremendous honor,” said Simpson. “More than anything I want to thank the fans for supporting me and cheering me on while I was at Franklin.”
While representing the Panthers, Simpson received All Conference honors in basketball and volleyball and in 2012, she was named the North Carolina High School Association's Athlete of the Year in both basketball and volleyball. During her sophomore, junior and senior years at FHS, Simpson was named the WNC Player of the Year in both sports.
Agreement made with DOT to save McCoy Bridge
Macon County commissioners have been working for the last couple of years to preserve McCoy Bridge located on Rose Creek Road. When the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) informed Macon County that the iron truss bridge would be torn down and a new one built in its place, members of the community stepped up to plead with commissioners to save the bridge. As one of the last remaining true iron truss bridges in the state, McCoy Bridge is more than a steel structure, it is a piece of history.
McCoy Bridge (bridge 172 on SR 1456), crosses the Little Tennessee River, connecting Hwy. 28 with the northern end of Rose Creek Road in the Oak Grove Community in northern Macon County. The single-lane bridge, built in 1960, is considered by many to be an important landmark and a piece of Macon County history.
The plan to preserve the McCoy Bridge includes keeping it open for bike and foot traffic. As per the agreement with the Board of Commissioners, the NCDOT will assume the cost to maintain the bridge and pay for the mandatory twoyear inspection for eight years, after which the board will ask the community to help.
Sweepstakes machines ordered shut down by Jan. 3
Sweepstakes parlors were once again the subject of North Carolina litigation as the state Supreme Court filed in December to declare the establishments illegal and to uphold a ban that was placed on the games in December 2010. The establishments had to be closed by Jan. 3, 2013.
While the law has been in limbo for two years, sweepstakes owners have been able to operate the machines since that ban was overturned by the state Court of Appeals, which ruled the ban unconstitutional and a violation of free speech.
December's Supreme Court decision was made with the intention of eliminating the supposed ill-effects of gambling and related activities and was not a discussion of the right to free expression. The decision reverses a March ruling by the state Court of Appeals, which said the move to outlaw the games in 2010 was written too broadly and was unconstitutional.
As they did in 2010, the sweepstakes industry announced they will again appeal the ruling and try to find ways to keep the parlors in operation. "We maintain that video sweepstakes games are no different than traditional sweepstakes games offered by restaurant chains, soft-drink companies and publishing houses," Chase Brooks, president of Internet Based Sweepstakes Operators trade group, said in a statement.
In the past, operators have adjusted their software to comply with laws put into place by previous court rulings. According to Brooks, the industry will once again do this. “We will look at morphing into whatever we need to be under the rule of law to continue our business,” he said.
Moody arrested for obtaining property by false pretense
After years of court rulings and investigations, former Moody Funeral Home employee Reginald Moody Jr., 49, was arrested on Dec. 18.
Detective Daniel Peoples has been leading the investigation and on Dec. 17, five arrest warrants were issued after evidence revealed that Moody had taken money from several victims under the false pretense that he would provide a service, when in fact he did not.
According to warrants on file at the Jackson County Clerk of Court’s Office, Moody collected almost $5,000 for services he never provided such as for headstones, monuments and engravings.
The Moody family had operated the Sylva funeral home since 1922, when it was opened by P.E. Moody, great-grandfather of Reginald Moody Jr.