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News General

Bill well-intentioned but misled, say critics

CEO of Franklin’s Angel Medical Center, Tim Hubbs, says that a bill recently introduced by N.C. Senator Jim Davis (R-Franklin), if passed, would block a planned affiliation agreement between the regional hospital and Asheville-based Mission Health Systems.

“There’s no question, that if it passed without change, it would postpone any ability by Angel and Mission to move forward with the affiliation or do more together than we're doing today,” Hubbs said on Monday. Angel and Mission have been exploring a merger agreement for almost two years.

The bill would modify the Certificate of Public Advantage agreement, or COPA, which was granted to Mission in the mid 1990s when the hospital took over its main competitor in the area, St. Joseph’s Hospital. The agreement was intended to protect consumers against rising costs and reduced access to healthcare that could come of the loss of competition resulting from the merger.

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On Tuesday, May 3, the Cowee School Heritage Group will meet to introduce and discuss the results of an August workshop which collected public input on possible future uses of Cowee School.

Built in 1943 by Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WDA), the Art Deco-inspired, native-stone school building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the last three WDA project schools from the Depression era still in operation. The school building has been a center for the north Macon County community for generations, but after the completion of the new K-4 Iotla Valley School, Cowee School is scheduled to be decommissioned.

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During a special called meeting Wednesday, April 20, Highlands’ Board of Commissioners considered ways to reduce the Town’s costs. Chief among the discussion was the benefit package for each of the Town’s employees. The Town covers 100 percent of the package per employee. Currently the average yearly salary among the Town of Highlands employees is $37,336. The average yearly cost of the benefit package for each employee is $17,349.40, bringing the average total cost per employee to $54,685.40.

Commissioners discussed the fact that a $30,619 salaried employee in Franklin and Macon County pays $4,739 and $3,106 out-of-pocket respectively for his or her benefit package. Moreover, new employees in Highlands receive dental and life insurance coverage from the first day of employment and health insurance after 30 days.

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Final approval of the plan will follow a public hearing scheduled for May 17

After nearly two years of intensive labor by the Macon County Planning Board and a number of other all-volunteer advisory sub-committees, a comprehensive plan for development and growth in the county for the next 20 years has been delivered to the board of commissioners.

At a meeting of the commissioners on Tuesday, county planner Derek Roland presented the plan, a 164-page document which includes an exhaustive analysis of the county’s history, population and economic trends and gives recommendations for future growth in five major areas. Roland read the names of the more than 50 committee volunteers, including the 11 members of the planning board, who collectively invested more than 1,000 hours over the past year to produce the plan.

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published: 10/18/2013
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