Benefit for Caleb Watson :: Saturday, January 31 at South Macon Elementary School :: Click here for more details

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With the beginning of a new year, the State Highway Patrol will be placing an emphasis on DWI enforcement and the reduction of alcohol related collisions. The patrol will also be proactive in providing more educational programs to motorist about the importance of not driving while impaired, providing a special focus on teenage drivers.

In 2014, the Highway Patrol investigated 5,460 alcohol related collisions contributing to 3,697 reported injuries. Also as a result, 181 people were killed, reflecting a 20 percent decrease from the 228 people killed in 2013.

Throughout the state, troopers made 20,012 DWI arrests, averting an increase in the number of alcohol related collisions. Along with alcohol related violations, the patrol made 2,390 drug charges, some of which led to impaired motorist due to illegal drugs.


After rejecting a request from insurance companies for statewide average homeowners insurance rate increase of 26 percent, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin approved increases in specific areas of the state in late December.

Although Goodwin called for a zero-percent statewide overall average change in homeowners insurance rates, effective June 1, 2015, the Department of Insurance reports that a 14.2 percent increase was approved for Macon, Jackson, Graham, Clay, and Cherokee counties. According to the Department of Insurance, insurance companies originally sought a 25.9 percent increase in those counties.

Haywood, Madison, Swain and Transylvania counties will see an even larger increase. While insurance companies requested a 28.3 percent increase, Goodwin granted the territory a 16.7 percent increase.


As part of an annual assessment of economic conditions in all 100 counties in North Carolina, the state Department of Commerce reviews reports of economic indicators to rank each county in one of three tiers.

“No matter where you live in North Carolina, our goal is to spark economic development and enhance job opportunities all across the state,” said former Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker. “The tier rankings help us in various economic development programs to attract businesses to the state.”


Savvy drivers in North Carolina and Tennessee can kick off the New Year and join the 32,000 other vehicles with Friends of the Smokies license plates. Sales of specialty license plates in North Carolina and Tennessee support priority projects in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Projects supported by the specialty plate fees include Student Conservation Association (SCA) internship positions as well as Parks as Classrooms and Appalachian Trail Ridgerunner programs in both states.

License plate sales in North Carolina and Tennessee during 2014 brought in over $750,000. Since the program launched in 1999, plates in both states have generated more than $11.7 million in support of America’s most-visited national park.


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