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Birthdays are special celebrations and for children, are often a time to be showered with gifts by loved ones. But for one little boy, his birthday is an extra special celebration of life. So instead of waiting to unwrap a mountain of presents, five-year-old Ashton Zari's birthday wish is for his friends and family to help him raise money for the Ronald McDonald House.

"My family decided that we were going to raise money and supplies for a charity this year instead of accepting birthday gifts," said Amanda Zari, Ashton's mother. "We have spent so much time being so blessed by so many people it was important to us that we were teaching our kids to give back. Also, whenever you have a child with a heart to serve others you do everything you can to foster that."


Newly-acquired facility turned down for sewer tap-in.

For the last year, Lowell Monteith, pastor of Father's House in Franklin has been working to help the county's homeless population. As an outreach ministry of his church, Monteith developed a rehabilitation program that provides shelter and additional resources for the county's homeless population or others in need in the community.

Throughout the summer, Monteith has been working with county officials after learning that the building he had been using as a shelter and a church was in violation of several county building, fire and environmental codes. When the location on Jim Mann Road became too costly to upgrade in order to meet county code, Monteith began searching for an alternative location for his ministry.


Franklin's 19th annual PumpkinFest was one of the biggest festivals to date with thousands of people pouring into downtown Franklin. Seventy-five vendors lined the streets with local crafts and foods.

This year's festival had nearly double the number of vendors, up from the 40 who participated last year, and even had a waiting list for the first time in the festival's history.

More than 600 pumpkins rolled down Frogtown and at 870 feet, the winning pumpkin was rolled by Morgan Berry of Florida.


Twenty-five businesses in Macon County have benefited from Venture Local Franklin's Cash Mob grassroots initiative to stimulate the local economy, and last Friday one of the largest mobs to date raided the Rathskeller Coffee Haus & Pub.

Patrons met at the clock tower Friday afternoon and moved as a herd toward the Rathskeller, with $20 bills in hand pledging to give the locally owned business a quick economic boost. In addition to patronizing the shop, mobsters slipped a cash donation into a boot to benefit the Nantahala Hiking Club and saved a few bucks to tip the band.


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