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Rumors of corporate prospects remain unconfirmed

After a process that has taken years, Macon County has finally achieved the designation of Certified Entrepreneurial Community (CEC) through an AdvantageWest program. Achieving the certification has been a main goal of the county’s Economic Development Commission and of EDC director Trevor Dalton since he was appointed to the position almost a year and a half ago.

AdvantageWest Economic Development Group, a non-profit organization commissioned by the North Carolina General Assembly to promote economic development in the 23-county region of Western North Carolina, established the CEC program to encourage and support entrepreneurship in communities while also improving the business climate for existing companies.

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New look will include plantings, benches and pavers

At a special meeting Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 4:00 P.M., the Highlands Town Board heard a proposal to revamp the sidewalk area at the intersection of Main and S. 4th Streets. The streetscape project would extend up the hill on S. 4th Street to the W. Church Street Alley. Currently the sidewalk is concrete and does not match the sidewalk area up S. 4th Street past the alley or across the street.

Moreover, the concrete is damaged and is deteriorating, with crumbled sections in the areas that experience the most foot traffic. Interim Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Mark Maxwell says the area presents a safety hazard.

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Town alderman Jerry Evans passed away on Thursday at the age of 55, due to complications relating to a respiratory illness. His passing was unexpected, according to  town officials.

Over a year ago, Evans was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring or thickening of the lungs that causes difficulty breathing. "He had a very substantial problem with his lungs," said Franklin Mayor Joe Collins. "It had been going on for a while.

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Synthetic marijuana sold under the guise of “herbal incense” is not the only “legal” product harming its users, say state and federal officials.

Now, synthetic stimulants added to certain products marketed as “bath salts” are reportedly being used as recreational drugs because they mimic the effects of cocaine, ecstasy and other illegal drugs.

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This week, low humidity and high winds combined to create ideal conditions for wildfires and out of control brush fires.

Three brush fires were reported in Macon County this week, including the one above, a possible brush fire which got out of control on Sylva Rd./US 441 endangering at least one structure.

Officials with the N.C. Division of Forest Resources have advised that residents not conduct outdoor burning as long as the dangerous conditions persist.

An apparently inebriated Macon County man was subdued by Sheriff’s deputies last Monday, while in a fit of rage.

At approximately 10 p.m., Officer Stephanie Robbins received a call from Mark Anthony Medlock, 51, who was threatening to end his life. As Robbins made her way to the location of the call, she was advised by dispatch that the caller was armed with a rifle, according to her report.

 

 

 

 

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Richard Collings resigned as president of Southwestern Community College on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and the resignation was effective as of Wednesday, Feb. 9. The board of trustees is moving forward to begin the search for a new president, according to Conrad Burrell, chairman of the SCC board of trustees.

The reason for Collings’ resignation is not known at this time, but sources close to the college have alleged that serious medical problems may have forced the decision on Collings, who had suffered health issues after starting the new position six months ago.

 

 

 

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With the full support of his board, County Commissioner Ronnie Beale has announced that he will be running for the second vice-president seat in the North Carolina Association for County Commissioners. A successful bid will give Beale an executive seat on the NCACC board of directors, put him in line for the presidency, and give Macon County as well as the Western North Carolina region a greater voice in the organization.

The NCACC is a statewide local government association and one of the most effective lobbying groups in the state, advocating for local issues before state legislature as well as the executive and judicial branches of government. Boards of commissioners in every county are eligible for membership in the association.

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Retiree benefits also under scrutiny

In the future, Macon County may offer its employees an option when they sign up for the county’s insurance program. During the a mid-year work session on Jan. 29, the board of commissioners discussed the possibility of adding a Health Savings Account (HSA) plan to the county's program that would be optional for employees. At the same meeting the board also discussed possible modifications to the current employee policy regarding retiree benefits that could affect post-retirement insurance benefits for future county employees.

An HSA is pre-taxed medical savings account that is available to individuals enrolled in high deductible health plans (HDHP). In most such plans, unused funds roll over and accumulate year to year. HSAs are owned by the individual and may be used to pay for qualified medical expenses and medications at any time with federal tax liability.

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Last week at a joint meeting with the Macon County Planning Board, commissioners reviewed currently active planning projects and set the board’s priorities for the coming year. At the top of the list is the completion of the county’s comprehensive plan, a general document that will give elected officials guidelines in planning for future growth and development in the county.

At the Feb. 9 meeting, members of the planning board presented current projects as well as projects which the board and county administrators believe should be addressed in the future. The meeting concluded with discussion by the commissioners about which projects should be prioritized and recommended timelines.

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