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Friday afternoon, School Resource Officer Jay Wright spotted a suspicious vehicle driving on the campus of Franklin High School. Noticing that the vehicle, a black Ford Explorer with tinted windows, didn’t have a tag, the SRO stopped the vehicle to further investigate the situation. The SRO found the vehicle’s driver, Eric Ehlenfield, 27, to not have a driver’s license and to be wanted on a non-extraditable charge in Georgia. Ehlenfield listed being homeless, but of the Otto area, despite the charges revealed in Georgia. Ehlenfield had a female passenger identified as 28-year-old Heather Lucas. Lucas was not detained.

Ehlenfield, who was wanted on a probation violation was found to have a 12 gauge shotgun and several knives, including a machete inside the vehicle. He was arrested for one felony count of possession of a firearm on school grounds and was booked into the Macon County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond.

 

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A national referendum on whether Scotland should again be an independent country will take place on Thursday, Sept. 18. This vote is the second in recent years when it failed in 1979 by getting only 30 percent support.

After gaining permission from the British Government in the spring of 2014, political parties such as the Scottish National Party which has grown in the House of Commons, advocacy groups and individuals have been pressing for passage.The Friends of the Scottish Museum in Franklin, and museum directors voted sympathetically on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at their meeting.

Using red candies for remaining in the United Kingdom and blue candies representing the Scottish flag, the secret ballot revealed that 68.5 percent of those present voted for Independence and 31.5 percent voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. It remains to be seen how closely this parallels the real vote.

Submitted by Eleanor Swift, Friends of the Scottish Tartans Museum.

After several residents in the county issued complaints of noisy neighbors, the Macon County Board of Commissioners tasked the planning board with looking into the possibility of what a noise ordinance might contain. Commissioner Jim Tate, who serves as the commissioners liaison to the planning board, directed Planning Board Chair Chris Hanners to work with its members to explore rules and regulations surrounding a noise ordinance, as well as work with county attorney Chester Jones to analyze effective noise ordinances that are already in place elsewhere.

Tate made it clear that the planning board isn’t to draft an actual ordinance, but instead investigate a direction that the county could go to develop one in the future.

The decision to move forward with a noise ordinance comes after residents came before commissioners in August expressing concerns with late night parties and loud neighbors. In September, a different couple spoke to commissioners about similar concerns. Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland explained that his department is limited on the actions they can take regarding noise complaints.

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The Macon County Sheriff’s Department is one School Resource Officer away from completing the goal to have an officer at every school site in the district. Tuesday night, commissioners gave the sheriff the go ahead to accept a grant to place an SRO at Nantahala School, which means all but one school in the district has a full-time officer. This will allow the use of money previously allocated for Nantahala’s officer to go towards Iotla Valley Elementary’s SRO.

Sheriff Holland was made aware of the grant while working with his colleagues from across the state on the Governor’s Safe Schools task force. “As soon as I found out about the grant, I literally walked out of my meeting and called [Superintendent] Dr. Baldwin and we started to get to work on it,” said Holland.

The grant provides the district with 75 percent of the funds ($39,722) needed for the position, leaving the county needing to match the remaining 25 percent ($18,185). Sheriff Holland assured commissioners that he had been working with County Manager Derek Roland to find funds available within the existing budget so the county would not need to appropriate any additional funds for the position.

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Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children one to 13 years of age. Many times, death or injury can be prevented by the proper use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts. To help better educate parents and caregivers on how to properly restrain a child in a car, Sept. 14-20 has been designated as National Child Passenger Safety Week and Tuesday night, the Macon County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a proclamation recognizing the week in Macon County.

“It is proclaimed by the Macon County Board of Commissioners that Sept. 14-20, 2014 is hereby designated as Child Passenger Safety Week and all citizens are encouraged to become better educated on the requirements and laws surrounding proper child seat safety,” reads the proclamation.

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The Franklin Police Department in conjunction with the Macon County Sheriff's Department, Cherokee Police Department, the NC DMV and the State Highway Patrol has held a series of traffic check points over the last couple of weekends. On Sept. 5, a check point was set up on the Highlands Road. According to figures provided by Sergeant Tony Ashe of the FPD, 27 citations were issued in about two hours.

The agencies along with the Franklin Fire Department who provided assistance, moved the operation to 441 South (Georgia Road) and set up another checkpoint where eight citations were issued. Ashe says that the infractions ranged from alcohol offense to seatbelts and tag violations.

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Last week, the Franklin Town Board met with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to discuss the Nikwasi Indian Mound located in the center of town. Based on the belief that the mound was part of Cherokee heritage, the EBCI has expressed a desire to possibly own the mound once again. The belief was that a resolution could be reached between the town and the Cherokee, possibly pursuant to some sort of partnership concerning the mound. That feeling of goodwill changed the day after the meeting when a resolution on behalf of Chief Michell Hicks and the Tribal Council went public demanding for the return of the mound.

“We met with the tribal council on Wednesday and had no idea that this was coming,” said Franklin Mayor Bob Scott.

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Macon County residents will take to the polls this November to cast their ballot to fill multiple offices up for reelection. Candidates for commission seats, school board, and other local, state and national seats will be appearing on the ballot this year. With early voting starting Oct. 23, The Macon County News is running weekly profiles of each open seat.

The Macon County Board of Education has two open seats that will be decided in November. District II, currently held by incumbent Tommy Cabe, and District IV, which was left open when Gary Shields decided not to seek re-election.

Cabe will face off against Bill Taylor for the District II seat and Fred Goldsmith and Carroll Poindexter will both be seeking votes for the District IV seat.

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Traveling exhibit educates parents on what to look for.

Last Thursday, the P.E.A.C.E Foundation brought its "Bedroom Project" to Franklin. The presentation took place at Tartan Hall of the First Presbyterian Church. The organization's mission is to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drugs and empower them with the knowledge to recognize and stop abuse before it starts.

P.E.A.C.E, or Prescription Education Abuse Counseling Empowerment, was founded by Shannon Rouse Ruiz whose own personal tragedy helped fuel the call for action. On June 21, 2011, her 16-year-old daughter Kaitlyn suffered a fatal overdose.

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On Tuesday night, as they did last year, local non-profit organizations gathered in front of the Franklin Board of Aldermen to request a piece of the $40,000 that has been set aside for the community funding pool.

Often, the requesting organizations are in dire need of the funds. They reason with officials by describing their need and how the money will alleviate said need. Once all of the information is gathered and mulled over then the aldermen will decide who gets funds and how much. The rules that have been established for an organization to receive funding are that an organization must be a nonprofit, funding will not be on a reoccurring basis, the organization must meet the public purpose doctrine, and all of the awarded funding must be spent in the fiscal year. Also, an applicant may not receive more than $5,000.

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