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County commissioners debate restoring prayer before meetings following Supreme Court ruling to allow it

Macon County Commissioner Chairman Kevin Corbin, along with the consensus of the board, instructed county attorney Chester Jones to look into drafting a resolution that would bring back the practice of praying before county meetings.

“As chairman, I would recommend we ask the county attorney to give us some guidance on that and perhaps we could reinstate having the prayers at our meeting—with consensus of the board.”

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On May 12, Macon Middle School math teacher and junior varsity baseball coach Jeffrey Todd Rousselle was arrested and charged with indecent liberties with a child and indecent liberties with a student, both of which are felonies.

The charges resulted after an investigation was carried out by Macon County Sheriff's Office Detectives Dani Burrows and Amy Stewart.

The investigators received a report that Rousselle had been communicating electronically with minor females who were students and/or prior students of Macon Middle School (MMS).

“This was good police work on their part,” said Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland. “They received vital information, followed up on it and it led to the charges.”

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Proposal eliminates all but necessities for 2014-15.

Macon County's proposed fiscal year budget for 2014-15 looks significantly different than the current year’s budget. County Manager Derek Roland presented the first budget of his tenure to commissioners Tuesday night and informed the board that the budget is 3.4 percent less than the fiscal year 2013-14’s original budget of $47,145,470. Roland’s proposed budget sits at $45,521,122, which is not only less than the beginning budget for this year, but also 2.9 percent less than the projected expenditures in 2014 ($46,857,615).

“The proposed budget, while addressing many needs, was developed with the purposeful attempt of stabilizing the county’s fund balance position and preparing for the forthcoming revaluation which will become effective on January 1, 2015,” said Roland in his opening remarks to the board.

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State officials are investigating the death of an inmate that was being held at the Macon County Detention Center earlier this month. The death, which occurred on Saturday, May 3, is the first incident of its kind in Macon County since Sheriff Robbie Holland has taken office.

According to an incident report, jailer Holly Bradley was making rounds Friday evening at the detention center when she was asked by 34-year-old inmate Stephen Paul Johnson of Franklin for his medicine. She informed the inmate that meds were given at 2200 hours (10 p.m.).

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The Franklin Board of Aldermen held its monthly meeting last Monday night where members of the public raised some key concerns to the officials.

The meeting began with a public session where one Franklin resident, Rena Sutton asked the board some questions about the microbrewery that is in the works to set up shop at the old town hall property that is owned by Franklin and about other possible businesses that could come to the area in the future as a result of the rezoning of a C-1 to a C-2. The area in question is just down the street from the home owned by her and her husband.

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The Franklin Tourism Development Authority held its monthly meeting on Monday afternoon to discuss project funding that surfaced at last month's meeting and to hear a new request for July's Franklin River Fest.

To begin, Doug Morton on behalf of the Taste of Scotland and Celtic Festival was present to field questions from members of the board.

Board member Cheryl Pullium pointed to the fact that Blairsville, Ga., will be hosting a similar festival to Taste of Scotland on the weekend of the local one, as a reason to be concerned.

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Runoff expected in Jackson sheriff race

Results for the 2014 primary elections began rolling into the Macon County Board of Education office around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday night. As all 15 precincts delivered votes to the courthouse, the unofficial final totals were tallied just before 10 p.m.

In all three races in Macon County, the incumbents more than secured their seats. Countywide, of the 24,980 registered voters, 5,005 exercised their right to vote. With 3,353 Republicans and 1,630 Democrats, 10 Libertarian and 12 nonpartisan, the voter turnout was at 20.04 percent in Macon County.

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With plans to present a proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, Macon County Manager Derek Roland has been working to finalize each respective county department’s budget. County commissioners gave the new manager one directive entering the planning process: To hold taxes and establish a budget that reflects no tax increase.

“Currently I am in the final stages of preparing the recommended budget which I will present to the commission on Tuesday, May 13,” said Roland. “All departmental requests, as well as those from outside agencies have been submitted.”

Roland made sure to emphasize the importance of keeping a flat tax rate to each department head and with days left before he has to present to commissioners, Roland believes he has developed a budget that not only holds taxes, but reflects a value that is around $1 million less than the current year’s budget. “My recommended budget will be $1.6 million less than last year’s original budget as well as less than actual expenditures in 2013,” said Roland.

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Property considered surplus, to be marketed and sold.

At Monday's Franklin Board of Aldermen meeting, after having a closed session to consult with Town Attorney John Henning Jr., the board voted to settle a lawsuit waged by John W. Mitchell, Jr. Revocable Trust on April 2, 2012, and adopt a resolution to acquire the property in question.

Paperwork was filed on April 2, 2012, on behalf of John W. Mitchell Jr. Revocable Trust and lists Jones P. Byrd of Van Winkle Law Firm in Asheville as the legal representation for the plaintiff.

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Elected officials, community members, and little leaguers gathered at the site of Macon County’s soon-to-be new recreational park at Parker Meadows Saturday morning for the official ground breaking. Despite a little rain, members of the community turned out to show support of the project.

“When I woke up to rain Saturday morning I thought to myself, 'Great, it will be me, a couple of commissioners, and the press,'” Macon County Recreation Director Seth Adams said.

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published: 10/18/2013
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