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After a lengthy debate between Governor Beverly Perdue and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a new 30-year gaming compact has been developed and was signed by the Governor and Principal Chief Michell Hicks on Monday in Raleigh. The new agreement will bring vegasstyle gambling to the Cherokee Reservation, which is anticipated to inject additional funding directly into classrooms, and create 400 new jobs in western North Carolina by expanding the Cherokee’s gaming enterprises.

“My top priorities are strengthening our schools and creating jobs, and this agreement does both,” Gov. Perdue said. “This will mean additional dollars going directly to school districts, and it will provide an economic boost for western North Carolina. I urge the General Assembly to act so that we can quickly start receiving the benefits of this expansion.”

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McClellan resigns following second DWI in two years.

Brian McClellan, Chairman of Macon County’s Board of Commissioners, submitted his letter of resignation last week after being arrested for a DWI in Jackson County on Nov. 18. McClellan’s resignation will become effective on Thursday, Dec. 1.

“I am resigning my position as the District 1 representative on the Macon County Board of Commissioners. This will give the county time to complete any immediate business before I vacate the seat,” wrote McClellan in his resignation letter. “I must refocus my priorities on my family and personal issues. Serving Macon County has been a high honor, and I am grateful for the opportunity. At this time I need to concentrate all of my energies on taking care of those things and people most dear to me.”

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“After quite a number of candidate interviews, he was our final choice,” says Highlands Mayor David Wilkes. On Monday, the Town of Highlands announced it had offered the Town Manager’s position to Robert A. (Bob) Frye.

“With a few details yet to be worked out, we have offered him the job, and he has accepted,” said Wilkes.

Frye spoke by phone with Macon County News shortly after the announcement, saying, “I am looking forward to becoming Highlands’ Town Manager.”

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When the Highlands Town Board convenes on Tuesday, Dec. 6, two of the three commissioners being sworn in will be brand new. Although they are newly elected commissioners, Brian Stiehler and Eric Pierson will bring a wealth of community experience to their positions.

Highlanders voted on three of the five seats on the Highlands Town Board during the Nov. 8 election. Since all Highlands Town Board members serve at large, voters had the opportunity to cast their ballots for three candidates. The top three vote getters were thus elected.

 

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Fred Alexander of Duke Energy presented Amy Ammons Garza with the 2012 Duke Citizenship & Service Award on Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce's Holiday Reception.

The award is given annually by Duke Energy to honor a citizen for their volunteer leadership and is a tribute to individuals who make a difference in their communities by using their time, talents and compassion to positively impact the lives of others.

Garza was nominated for her outstanding community service by Catch the Spirit of the Appalachia Board member, Norma Clayton.

Since the resignation of former Economic Development Director Trevor Dalton last September, Macon County has actively pursued a viable replacement. The county’s Economic Development Commission subsequently hired Tommy Jenkins, a Macon County native, on Nov. 1 to help in their efforts to attract and retain businesses throughout the county.

This position is particularly important considering the high rate of unemployment throughout Western North Carolina, with Macon County’s unemployment rate still hovering at 10 percent.

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An assault on a recycling center employee last weekend has authorities searching for a faceless culprit or culprits.

The incident occurred at approximately 6:43 p.m. on Saturday evening, when Otto Recycling Center employee Pam Keyser was preparing to shut down the facility for the day.

“I went out to turn on the [trash] compactor, like we always do toward the end of the day,” she recalled. “I turned it on and as I knelt to pick up some loose trash in front of the compactor, I felt something grab what I think were my overall suspenders from behind ... I was being pulled from behind.”

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According to Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland, the sheriff’s office is currently investigating Board of Education member Tommy Baldwin for recent allegations that Nantahala community members claim may include inappropriate conduct with a minor or similar allegations. “We can confirm that we are aware of the allegations and have initiated an investigation, and the investigation is ongoing,” said Sheriff Holland.

During the Board of Education meeting Monday night, Board Chairman Tommy Cabe issued a statement verifying that the board is currently aware of the investigation and informed the public that any questions and comments should be directed to the Sheriff’s office. Baldwin was not present at the meeting.

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Macon County’s Planning Board voted in unison to approve the final plat of the Clubhouse/Cabin Phase of the Wildflower Subdivision during its regular scheduled meeting on Thursday, Nov. 17. Although several members of the planning board believe there are problems with some components of the subdivision ordinance, they all agreed that the developer of the Wildflower subdivision had met every requirement laid out in the county’s existing ordinance.

The planning board approved the preliminary plat of the clubhouse/cabin phase of the Wildflower Subdivision in early September.

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The “Go Big” effort spearheaded by Congressman Heath Shuler and Republican Representative from Idaho, Mike Simpson, continued to gain momentum, evolving from a bipartisan effort to a bicameral effort with the support of nearly 150 members of Congress, before being ignored by their colleagues.

The bicameral group of lawmakers joined Wednesday in a press conference to urge the 12 member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s supercommittee to “go big” and strike a deal to reduce the nation’s debt by as much as $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

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