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Including those at Mountain State Fair, state and county fairs

State Veterinarian Doug Meckes and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has announced that all North Carolina poultry shows and public sales will be suspended from Aug. 15 to Jan. 15 due to the threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza. This includes the N.C. State Fair and Mountain State Fair poultry shows, bird shows at county fairs, live bird auctions and poultry swap meets.

The current strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza has been found in 21 states, mostly in the Midwest, and has not been detected in any state along the East Coast. This strain has not been found to affect human health and does not affect food safety. The virus is thought to be carried by migratory fowl, so veterinary officials are bracing for possible introduction of the virus during the fall migration.

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North Carolina lawmakers have mitigated their voter identification requirements by making a last minute change to legislation that would have required all voters to provide a valid ID when voting in 2016.

Last week, the North Carolina Senate voted 44-2, followed by a House vote of 104-3, to establish a process for voters to use a “reasonable impediment declaration” outlining why they may not be able to provide a photo ID at the polls. The change allows voters to claim one of eight reasons, including a lack of transportation, disability or illness, lost or stolen photo ID, or a lack of a birth certificate or other documents to obtain a photo ID, and still be able to vote on election day.

The legislation change, which is similar to the law implemented in South Carolina in 2013, comes just three weeks before the state’s legal challenge of the law requiring photo ID was set to head to federal court. With the last minute adjustment, it is unclear where the federal court case stands.

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The North Carolina State Highway Patrol along with the Division of Law Enforcement Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) are once again combining efforts to save lives on the roadways and waterways this summer through an aggressive enforcement and public outreach campaign entitled “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink & Drive”.

The program will consist of numerous driving while impaired checkpoints near boating recreational venues. The goal of this project is to prevent injuries and loss of life due to drinking and driving during the upcoming summer months.

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Macon County is taking the lead on a $50,000 award that will enable communities in Western North Carolina to revitalize the local economy. The America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition is a $10 million initiative to stimulate economic revitalization in small towns and cities across the country. Macon, as well as Graham, Swain, and Clay counties who all applied together, was selected as one of 50 communities across the country.

“There was a competitive application process for the initiative,” said Ryan Sherby with Region A. “We focused the narrative on knowledge based technology economic development for the region. There are four counties in the region (Macon, Graham, Swain, Clay) as one of the parameters was population based, under 100,000.”

The 50 quarterfinalists will receive $50,000 to develop comprehensive strategies to revive the local economies and improve quality of life for residents. Over the next six months, the four counties will work together to shape and refine their revitalization plans for the chance to win up to an additional $3 million to bring their ideas to life.

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