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Jackson County authorities have arrested a man suspected of raping a Cashiers woman last month.

On the evening of August 30, Jackson County Sheriff's Officers arrested 30-year-old Efrain Ubera Morales, of Amethyst Drive in Cashiers. According to JCSO Major Shannon Queen, the suspect was arrested without incident while trying to pay a traffic ticket. “He tried to pay the ticket and an officer recognized him while he was in the magistrate's office,” said Queen.

The arrest followed an investigation that began on August 14, when officers received a report of a sexual assault that had occurred in the Cashiers area. According to reports, the victim was a 34-year-old Caucasian woman from Cashiers. The primary suspect in the case was described as about 5'6 to 6'0 tall Hispanic male, brown eyes, and black spiked hair.


Residents speak out against proposed Verizon wireless tower location

It was tense in the conference room of Town Hall last Wednesday, during a public hearing about the Verizon Wireless proposal to build a supplemental tower on Gaston Street in Franklin. Residents within a 1,500-foot radius of the site were invited to the Aug. 24 hearing to learn more about the plan and to voice any concerns that they may have.


Highlands Board of Commissioners are elected every four years. The mayor and board serve four-year “staggered terms.” The mayor and two commissioners were up for election in 2009, leaving three remaining commissioner seats up for election on Nov. 8.

The three seats up for re-election are currently held by Dennis DeWolf, John Dotson, and Larry Rogers. Both Dotson and Rogers filed to run again, while De- Wolf decided to give up his seat.

Three challengers will be joining the incumbents for the Nov. 8 election. Brian Stiehler, Michael Rogers, and Eric Pierson have all filed to run for the vacant board of commissioner seats. Michael Rogers was not available for comment at presstime.


Effective Aug. 24, 2011, phone numbers have changed for some state offices located in the Macon County Courthouse. Due to an updated statewide telephone system and a new statewide calling plan, many counties across the state are receiving updated phone numbers.

The new telephone numbers are after the jump!


Authorities with the Macon County Sheriff's Office, State Bureau of Investigation, N.C. Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service and the Franklin Police Department spent the majority of Tuesday eradicating various outdoor marijuana grow operations throughout the county.

All in all, officers netted more than 130 marijuana plants.

According to Sheriff Robert Holland, the incident is still under investigation and there are little details at this time.


Late Wednesday night, Governor Bev Perdue declared a state of emergency for all counties east of Interstate 95 in North Carolina to allow time to prepare and evacuate for Hurricane Irene.

Western North Carolina is not expected to be detrimentally affected by Irene. Although western counties may experience high winds and intermittent rain showers, the negative impact of Irene will predominately be localized to areas adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.

Thursday morning the National Weather Service issued a Hurricane Watch for the NC coastline from Surf City (Pender and Onslow counties) all the way to the Virginia Boarder.


State and local investigators uncovered a large scale methamphetamine distribution ring earlier this month, following a 10 month investigation that spanned two states and various Western North Carolina counties.

According to a criminal complaint and affidavit released last week by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, nine individuals from WNC were rounded up in the investigation which began last fall. The investigation was spearheaded by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and was assisted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.


Macon County Commissioner Ronnie Beale was elected Second Vice President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) on Saturday, Aug. 20, during the Association’s 104th Annual Conference, which was held in Cabarrus County.

Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons performed the inauguration ceremony for Commissioner Beale and the other elected county commissioners who will serve as NCACC officers in 2011-2012.

According to Beale, it is crucial to continue the tradition of the NCACC and of counties working together on a state level, and he is excited to be a part of the process.



Introducing ‘Vegas style’ gambling at Cherokee Casino a safe bet

When the N.C. Senate reconvenes on Sept. 12 they will likely be voting on whether or not to ratify an amended gaming compact between the state and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians that would allow for live table games at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel resort. The North Carolina General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution (938) in July that declared which legislation and bills would be considered in September.

According to the Resolution, the Senate will address “Bills to ratify and make statutory conforming changes pursuant to a Tribal Compact negotiated by the Governor.”



On Tuesday, August 15, dispatch received an emergency call at 9:47 about a head on collision on south Skeenah Road. The caller told dispatch that a female driver hit a NCDOT motorgrader truck and the woman was pinned in her car.

According to Sgt. Derek Trelley, Evelyn Elaine Leigh Phillips, 22, of Franklin, was traveling southwest on south Skeenah Road in a 1985 Mercury when she crossed the centerline in a curve and struck the motorgrader, driven by Douglas Brian Stamey, 41, also of Franklin. Stamey received no injuries from the accident. Phillips was airlifted to Mission Hospital where she later died from her injuries.

She was the daughter of Larry F. Phillips and Evelyn Williamson, and is survived by a son, Jonathan Garrett Kresal of the home; two sisters, 



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