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In December 2012, Macon County Commissioners on behalf of the people of the county — the Cowee and Rose Creek communities particularly — entered into an agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation that would allow ownership of McCoy Bridge to be transferred to the county in the year 2020 and in the meantime, the DOT would inspect it and make sure the bridge was brought up to code.

This agreement came about when the DOT informed county officials that the bridge was set to be torn down and that a new one would be erected in its place. An outcry erupted from the community and after multiple public meetings, the DOT agreed to leave the bridge in place as a bike and pedestrian path...

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N.C. law requires voters to vote in their proper precinct on Election Day

Submitted by Debbie George Board of Elections director

Voters planning to cast a ballot during the Tuesday, Nov. 4 election must do so at their assigned polling location. On the actual day of an election, North Carolina law requires voters to vote in their proper precinct based on the address where they have resided for at least 30 days before the date of the election. If you moved within your county and did not update your address by the voter registration deadline (Oct. 10, 2014), you may update your address and vote using one of the following methods: One-stop Absentee Voting (Early Voting) or Election Day voting.

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The N.C. Department of Transportation is accepting proposals from communities for the 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant Initiative. In its 10th year, the program provides funding for municipalities across the state to develop comprehensive bicycle and/or pedestrian plans. Smaller communities with populations of less than 5,000 are encouraged to apply, and also have the option to develop combined bicycle and pedestrian plans.

The deadline for applications is Friday, Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. All applications must be submitted electronically. Award recipients will be notified in June 2015.

“Comprehensive Bicycle and Pedestrian Plans have a positive impact on the economy, health and safety; and are the first steps in laying the groundwork for future projects that promote options for bicycling and walking locally,” said Lauren Blackburn, Director of the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation.

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North Carolina’s school voucher debate has reached a conclusion, at least for this year. After the state established the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a state fund that provides scholarships or school vouchers for students to attend private schools in the state, the program has been challenged, halted, appealed and now implemented.

On Sept. 26, just over $1 million was released by the state and distributed to 109 private schools in the state. The scholarships were given to 568 students who were accepted into the state administered program that was developed to help lower income students attend private schools if they so desired. To qualify, a child must be currently enrolled in a North Carolina public school and reside in a household that qualifies for federal Free and Reduced Lunch (about $44,000 for a family of 4).

The constitutionality of the law was challenged immediately after it passed, with groups arguing that tax dollars shouldn’t be allocated to private or religious based schools. Religious schools account for about 70 percent of the state’s private schools. Of the schools in the state who received funding through the program, the Greensboro Islamic Academy received the most money, $90,300 for 43 enrolled students. Word of God Christian Academy located in Raleigh received $54,600 for 26 students. The schools who received funding were identified as being primarily Christian, Baptist, Catholic or Islamic.

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