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Machines are based on skill not chance, say owners.

North Carolina law makers and law enforcement officers have been battling the legality of sweepstakes machines in the state for several years now. Each time a new law is passed and implemented, businesses operating sweepstakes gambling machines tweak their operations just enough to be in compliance. That is the case in Macon County.

Over the last few weeks, sweepstakes parlors, which offer slot machine style gambling machines have once again resurrected along the Georgia Road. With flashy signs and the promise of free food to bring in visitors, the establishments feature gambling machines, that due to a loophole in the state's ban on gambling, are legally allowed to operate, for now at least.

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Measures include workforce training opportunities.

For the last three and a half years. Macon County's Economic Development Director Tommy Jenkins has been working to improve the county's economic environment. Jenkins, who was hired in November 2011 to replace Trevor Dalton after he resigned, is a Macon County native who has made improving his hometown not only a professional mission, but also a personal priority.

Jenkins works year round with the county's Economic Development Commission to brand Macon County to all types of businesses and industries from across the nation.

"The EDC works to bring jobs to the county in various ways," said Jenkins. "Our website works as a lead generator, and we receive leads from various sources such as the N.C. Dept of Commerce, Duke Energy, commercial realtors and consultants. In addition, we work directly with small businesses and entrepreneurs in locating and building their businesses. We have been involved with a couple of projects in downtown Franklin that will greatly contribute to the revitalization of the community. We are also actively engaged in pursuing a buyer or tenant for the 72,000 sq ft. SKF facility in the Macon County Industrial Park, having worked with several potential prospects the last few months."

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Members required to attend nine meetings a year

The Franklin Tourism Development Authority got some clarification on its operational practices Monday night during its monthly meeting. Although Town Attorney John Henning Jr. was unable to attend the meeting due to a scheduling conflict, he spoke with TDA member Summer Woodard to address several board concerns.

The TDA operates as an authority, meaning that while they operate under town leadership, they have their own rules and procedures adopted by the board. The TDA is funded through a room occupancy tax, meaning individuals who use lodging within the town of Franklin, pay a tax that is provided annually to the TDA. With new board members, the TDA sought to clarify rules and procedures from legal counsel to ensure they were in compliance with the session law which established the authority.

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Jackson County Sheriff's Department announced last week that Deputy James "Jimmy" Henry, was informed that his services were no longer needed with the law enforcement agency. Henry was suspended in October after an investigation into a party revealed he may have been involved in underage drinking and other activities.

Henry was placed on paid administrative leave on October 27 pending the outcome of the investigation. Henry's wife, Maria Henry, who worked as a dispatcher for Jackson County, was placed on paid administrative leave beginning Nov. 5, but returned to work for the county on Dec. 9, when she was given an administration assistant position within the Emergency Management Department instead of returning as a dispatcher.

Henry and his wife were both identified as being present at a Halloween party that occurred on Oct. 25 at Dillard Excavating in Jackson County. According to police reports, in addition to an investigation into underage drinking, an investigation was launched into an alleged rape that occurred that night.

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The search continues for a wanted Macon County man who led law enforcement officers on a chase through the Sanderstown community Monday afternoon.

Franklin Police Officer Kevin Breedlove attempted to pull over Michael Passafume, 45, Monday afternoon. Passafume was wanted for a probation violation for removing his ankle monitor. When Breedlove attempted to pull over Passafume, he fled, leading police to a chase into Sanderstown near the Wildflower subdivision. Passafume, who had an unidentified white female in the vehicle with him, eluded police after turning onto a logging road.

Road conditions prohibited law enforcement officers from driving up the road, forcing officers to continue on foot. While pursuing Passafume on foot, law enforcement officers found Passafume's Ford Expedition, which he had crashed while fleeing police. According to Franklin Police Chief David Adams, Passafume and the female suspect escaped into the wooded area surrounding the road. A search for the suspect was unsuccessful.

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Planning board defines exemptions

Over the last few months, Macon County's Planning Board has been working to develop a nuisance ordinance intended to regulate malicious noise in the county. If adopted by commissioners during their March meeting, the ordinance would regulate loud, unnecessary, and disturbing noise that occurs outside of the city limits of Franklin or Highlands.

After numerous complaints to commissioners regarding excessive noise, county leaders directed the planning board to look at an ordinance with "teeth" that would give law enforcement officers the means to resolve complaints. As its stands, with no ordinance, the sheriff's department can respond to noise complaints, but legally, have no recourse.

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Daniel Williamson has been appointed the new curator at the Scottish Tartans Museum.The Scottish Tartans Museum Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Daniel Williamson as curator, effective Jan. 24. Williamson’s knowledge of Scottish history and tartan as well as his enthusiasm and innovative ideas makes him a wonderful asset to the Museum and the Scottish community at large.

Williamson’s interest in his Scottish heritage began in his teenage years and blossomed during his time in college. He holds a Bachelor’s of Music degree in performance from Florida Southern College, class of 2003. He first worked with the Scottish Tartans Museum back in 1998 between college, a time that greatly impacted his life in regards to Scottish history, genealogy, and historic clothing. When he returned to college full time in 2001, Williamson considered majoring in history versus a music degree. However, he has few regrets over his course of study and realizes that the demands on being a musician makes him capable of handling almost any challenge.

While living in Florida, Williamson formed a Scottish history group known as the Jacobites who were involved as group members with the New World Celts: Lakeland Chapter. He returned to Franklin, to care give for his late grandfather in 2011. His grandfather’s parents were from Glasgow, Scotland, UK and immigrated to the United States in 1903. Upon his return to Franklin, he started volunteering at the Scottish Tartans Museum, and was eventually hired as a part time employee in the spring of 2013. This past summer, Williamson started a living history group at the Scottish Tartans Museum called “Breacan Clann” (pr. Brek-an Klan, means: tartan clan). A group which has been gaining in popularity at the museum and here in Franklin.

Driving into towns across Western North Carolina, banners are hung across the street to welcome visitors to town, advertise upcoming events, or just pass on important information.

Dillsboro nearly always has a banner across the main road into town, and Sylva often utilizes a banner to promote festivals, and Bryson City does the same. The banners are eye catching and a great way to advertise to the countless number of motorists passing through each day. Although the town of Franklin currently prohibits banners to hang across main street, there was a time when they were allowed. Lifting that ban is something local resident Larry Hollifield hoped the town of Franklin would reconsider, but to his surprise, he was shot down.

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Franklin's newest restaurant opened its doors on Wednesday, offering diners a new, unique upscale dining experience. Serving Southern food with a twist, The Bowery has created a buzz since news broke it would be breathing new life into a vacant main street building.

Despite a huge amount of interest and upwards of $650,000 spent to completely renovate the building and get the doors open to serve dinner, The Bowery's tenure on main street may be short lived.

Monday night, town of Franklin attorney John Henning Jr. presented aldermen with a lease agreement for a strip of property adjacent  to The Bowery owned by the town.

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The Macon County Sheriff's office's newest recruit is starting his career early. At just nine weeks old, MCSO's newest deputy is already training for duty.

Chase is the newest member of the MCSO's K-9 unit. The nine-week-old Belgian Malinois was born Sunday, Nov. 30. MCSO Sergeant Clay Bryson, who heads the county's K-9 unit, donated the pup to the sheriff's department.

"I donated Chase to the Macon County Sheriff's Office and he was picked out of my current litter for his play drive and his lack of fear," said Bryson. "What I mean by that is everything we do in law enforcement we make it a game to the dogs, and the better the play drive they have the longer and harder they will work for their reward or praise. And the lack of fear just means that he doesn’t panic or spook easily to different situations such as riding in a kennel, being on slick floors, hearing loud noises, or being in close proximity to other animals."

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