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News General

At a joint meeting held three times a year for Macon County and the townships of Franklin and Highlands leaders met to discuss recent accomplishments and continuing projects within their respective jurisdictions. The meeting was held last Thursday, July 21, over dinner at Franklin’s Cajun Connection.

Mayor of Highlands David Wilkes began the meeting by introducing Bob Zoellner as the new interim town manager, taking over after Jim Fatland was dismissed for performance issues. Wilkes described Zoellner as being a “long-time Highlander from a long-time Highlands family” and having deep roots in Highlands. “We are real happy to have Bob with us, helping us out.”

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FAA representative, Hoke Wiese, presented the prestigious Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award to Neil Hoppe of Franklin Aviation.

A ceremony took placed on Tuesday, July 19, at the monthly meeting of the Aviation Historical Society at Macon County Airport.

Hoppe is honored for 50 years of service in the aircraft maintenance industry.

This FAA award is named in honor of Charles Taylor, the first aviation mechanic in powered flight.

Taylor served as the Wright Brothers' mechanic and is credited with designing and building the engine for their first successful flight.

The arduous relationship between sheriff’s offices and those committed to the state for mental health issues is only becoming more taxing, according to Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland.

“What we’re seeing this year is a significant increase across the board in all aspects of our portion of the mental health system, which basically relates to the transport, care and custody of involuntary commitments,” said Holland during his department’s budget request meeting last month to county commissioners. This year’s request was an increase from last year’s, though it was lower that the fiscal budget of 2009.

“The increase can be primarily attributed to the minimal control that we can do over the mental health system,” said Holland of MCSO personnel hours spent keeping watch on such cases.

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Robert Zoellner named interim replacement

Earlier this month, the Town of Highlands terminated its manager, Jim Fatland, without giving any details to the public. Last week, Highlands officials were finally able to release some information to the public regarding Fatland’s firing.

On July 20, Highlands Town Attorney Bill Coward released this statement to the local media:

“I drafted a release agreement in which the town was released from all liability and all possibility of a claim by Jim Fatland against the town, which Jim agreed to sign in return for a statement of the reasons for his dismissal being: ‘Mr. Fatland did not meet the reasonable expectations of the board as to his overall job performance as Town Manager.’” The statement, Coward added, would go onto Fatland’s personnel jacket, possibly affecting any similar employment opportunities in the future.

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