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News General

Want to know what's happening in Franklin this summer? Visitors and residents will soon be able to look to the sky to find out what is coming up. Monday night, with unanimous support from the Franklin Board of Aldermen, the issue regarding hanging banners gained momentum, moving it one step closer to official approval.

Franklin business owner Larry Hollifield brought the issue before the board earlier this year hoping to convince town leadership to reconsider a policy that specifically prohibited banners from being hung across Main Street. Hollifield was tasked by aldermen with forming a committee to establish a revised policy concerning banners and presented the new terms to board members during their April meeting.

Hollifield worked with other business owners to define appropriate banners as special event advertising displayed by non-profits or a group of businesses to promote events that benefit the downtown area. The banners would be hung in one specific location, that would need approval from the Department of Transportation. Hollifield noted that the suggested location be the second cross walk when topping so-called town hill at a height of 20 feet to avoid interference with semi-trucks.

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North Carolina’s statewide unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) was 5.7 percent in February. This was a 0.2 of a percentage-point decrease from January’s revised rate, and a 1.2 percentage-point decline over the year. Over the month, the unemployment rate decreased in 89 counties, while increasing in five and remaining unchanged in six.

Thirty-nine counties had unemployment rates at or below the state’s 5.7 percent rate.

Graham and Hyde counties recorded February’s highest unemployment rate at 14.2 percent, followed by Dare at 13.7 percent, and Tyrrell at 11.9 percent. Orange County had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.2 percent, followed by Buncombe at 4.3 percent, Wake at 4.4 percent and Chatham at 4.5 percent.

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Depleted reserve fund prompting policy changes.

With an insurance reserve fund dwindling with the likelihood that it would not survive another year, County Manager Derek Roland found himself scrambling to ensure county employees continued to be insured.

With just a little over a year on the job, Roland was faced with the dilemma of how Macon County was going to pay for its employees' insurance in the 2015-16 fiscal year. Based on the amount of money commissioners have been putting into employee insurance since 2008, and the amount of funds utilized annually from the county's insurance reserve fund, if things continue the way they are, Macon County will see a more than $1 million deficit in regards to insurance next year.

After months of meeting with the county's insurance agent, establishing a 10-person committee, and soliciting 10 different proposals from insurance providers, Roland presented commissioners with a complete overhaul of the county's insurance policy on Tuesday night. In total, the county's new insurance plan is going to come with an annual price tag of $3.8 million for the county's on average 408 employees, a $529,000 increase over what the county is currently paying.

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Policy institutes ‘due process’ prior to termination.

The North Carolina General Assembly has introduced legislation that will effectively end tenure for state teachers and move toward a pay-for-performance salary scale.

The process, which is expected to be fully implemented statewide by 2018, ultimately phases out longevity pay for teachers, resulting in some educators being denied the opportunity for due-process in the event that their employment is terminated.

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