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- published 3/27 (Larry) - unpublished ?

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During last week’s statewide “Booze it or Lose It: Operation Firecracker” campaign, state and local law enforcement officers throughout North Carolina cited 1,192 motorists for driving while impaired, said State Transportation Secretary Gene Conti, in a recent press release. During the statewide campaign, which ran from June 27 to July 4, a total of 42,997 traffic and criminal citations were issued statewide.

“The Governor’s Highway Safety Program, along with state and local law enforcement officers worked hard during this campaign to remove drunk drivers and other violators from our roads,” Conti said. “Safety is our top priority and this effort shows there are serious consequences to drinking and driving.”

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Lifelong Jackson County resident Steven D. Lillard, a Gulf War veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, is Western Carolina University’s new assistant chief of police.

A member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and a 1996 graduate of WCU with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Lillard comes to the position from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, where he was operations major. He was also formerly a detective and criminal investigator with the Sylva Police Department.

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Two years after the death of a 22-year-old Highlands woman, the Macon County Sheriff’s Office has been ordered to release witness statements collected in the course of its investigation to the woman’s father.

Elizabeth Coram died at the home of an acquaintance on July 9, 2009, due to a lethal dose of prescription drugs combined with alcohol. In September 2010, Coram’s father, Jennings B. Coram of Scaly Mountain, Ga., filed a civil suit complaint of wrongful death against two witnesses in the case: Larry Murray and Adam Hicks.

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The staff attorney from a national organization dedicated to preserving the Constitutional separation of church and state has sent a formal letter to Macon County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Dan Brigman, requesting that he “take immediate steps to ensure that religious ritual and proselytizing” are kept out of high school graduation ceremonies from now on.

The letter from the nonprofit organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, is in direct response to the sermon delivered last month by Rev. Daniel “Cowboy” Stewart during a commencement address given last month at Nantahala School. The graduation ceremony was held on June 4 in the gymnasium of the small, K-12 school in the mountainous northwest corner of Macon County.

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The district attorney will seek the death penalty for the man accused of a brutal murder last year in the Cartoogechaye community of Macon County.

In a special session of Superior Court last week, assistant district attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch made official her office’s intention to seek capital punishment for Randy Boyd Fouts, 44, who in May was indicted by grand jury for one count of murder in the death of Thomas Larry Ramsey.

Ramsey, who was 61 at the time of his death, was found at his Johnson Road home in the Cartoogechaye community on the morning of Aug. 12. According to his autopsy report, Ramsey died from strangulation by asphyxiation and blunt force trauma to the head. The victim had also reportedly been bound by the hands and feet with electrical chord.

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Co-conspirator sentenced to prison for conspiracy to defraud Wachovia

Scott Welch, 48, of Mooresville, N.C., was sentenced Thursday, June 30, to 70 months in federal prison, to be followed by a supervised release term of three years, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition, U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. ordered Welch to pay restitution in the amount $11,221,462 to Wachovia and $1,713,083 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Welch’s co-defendant, John P. Cousar, Jr., 48, a retired Charlotte firefighter, was also sentenced today to 33 months imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Cousar was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,901,593 to Wachovia and $1,124,448 to the IRS.

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A report in the June 30 issue of the Macon County News stated that the Town of Franklin had considered the installation of artificial ground covering, or “astroturf” on the Nikwasi Mound, which caused some confusion in the community. Franklin Town alderman and Nikwasi Mound committee member, Bob Scott, says that the town has no intention of using a synthetic covering on the historic site in downtown Franklin. “We would never agree to put anything on the mound that was manmade,” Scott stated emphatically.

At a recent meeting, the suggestion was made to the Mound committee to use astroturf as an alternative covering, but was immediately dismissed because the turf would not be historically accurate and would be a clear violation of the property deed.

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Last Friday, Duke Energy Corporation filed a request with the North Carolina Utilities Commission to impose a 17 percent increase on power rate fees for residents and a 14 percent increase for commercial and industrial establishments.

The proposed rate hikes have met with disapproval from public officials in WNC, as they could add up to $19 to the average monthly residential power bill. If approved, the rate hike would likely go into effect by February of next year and would come on top of rate increases already planned due to rising fuel costs.

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Duke Energy Carolinas has filed a request with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to increase electric rates by approximately $646 million.

Approximately three-fourths of the request is driven by capital investments the company made in the Carolinas’ electric system over the past two years.

“Since 2009, we’ve spent $4.8 billion to modernize the system and comply with environmental regulations,” said Brett Carter, president, Duke Energy North Carolina.

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A fire broke out Friday morning causing severe damage to a local man’s two-story residence. An alarm was received around 12:38, July 1, from the home of Steve Tallent at 215 John Tallent Road. Steve Tallent lives alone and, fortunately, was not home at the time of the fire.

Clarks Chapel, Mountain Valley, Cullasaja, Cowee, and West Macon Fire departments responded to the alarm. After the fire was extinguished, the firefighters were treated by Macon County EMS to prevent heat exhaustion. The outside temperature at the time was 89 degrees.

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published: 10/18/2013
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