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Taxpayers needing help filing their tax returns can make appointments to meet with trained AARP volunteers at The Jackson County Public Library in Sylva on Tuesdays, beginning February 14th and continuing until April 3rd. Appointments will be available on the half-hour from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. each Tuesday. To make a free appointment, please call the Jackson County Public Library at 586-2016. This is not a walk-in service— you must have an appointment. This service is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Jackson County Public Library.

Think spring and consider fruit-bearing plants in your landscape. The Macon County 4-H Council is taking orders for raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry plants, grape vine, and peach, pear, cherry, and apple trees. These plants are bare root, except for blueberries, and come directly from the nursery. Place your orders by February 20 with Cooperative Extension at 193 Thomas Heights Road. Order blanks are online at macon.ces.ncsu.edu. Just drop off your order at the Agricultural Services Center. Plants will be available for pick-up March 7 and 8 at the Agricultural Services Center.


The staff attorney for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a national organization dedicated to preserving the Constitutional separation of church and state, has sent a second formal letter to Macon County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Dan Brigman, requesting that he “refrain from including religious references in email correspondence from your official public school account or on future blog postings.”

The letter from the nonprofit organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), is the second response Dr. Brigman has received this school year, the first letter being a direct response to the sermon delivered last June by Rev. Daniel “Cowboy” Stewart during a commencement address given at Nantahala School.


State Senator Jim Davis (R-50) recently filed his bid for re-election, knowing he is facing an uphill battle against Democratic challenger John Snow (D-Murphy) this fall. In the new legislative districts drawn up by GOP state legislators, Davis lost the Republican stronghold of Transylvania County and received all of Haywood County, a county that happens to include a lot of Democratic voters. The change will undoubtedly affect his desire to serve a second term. Nevertheless, Davis formally launched his campaign at the Macon County Board of Elections last Wednesday, Feb. 15th.

When asked what his campaign would focus on, Davis responded with one word, “spending.” With so many existing problems with the state’s finances, Davis wants to continue serving in order to help North Carolina “pay our bills” and to secure the state’s fiscal solvency for the long-term.


District Attorney Jeff Hunt, a candidate for the 11th District Republican nomination, made his run for Congress official by filing paperwork with the North Carolina Board of Elections. In a statement at the announcement, Hunt outlined his reasons for running and what his platform will be as the campaign moves toward the May 8th primary.

“I’m running for Congress because we must send representatives to Washington who are serious about reducing the debt and stopping deficit spending. We must regain control of our nation’s finances or we simply won’t have the same country we have known” said Hunt.


After going to the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen last week, the owners and employees of several towing companies united in force at February’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Macon County Board of Commissioners to lodge the same formal complaint with county officials that they did a week prior at with the town, regarding the wrecker service rotation used to respond to traffic accidents throughout Franklin.

“Tonight we would like to bring to your attention the ongoing situation regarding how towing companies are dispatched when there is an accident throughout the county,” said Lloyd Cox, Owner of Ambassador Auto in Franklin. Cox was one of two men who addressed commissioners on behalf of the majority of towing companies operating in Franklin.


Jackson County Commissioners are working on the final stages to begin construction of phase one (a 1.5 mile tract) of a Greenway for county residents. The Greenway is planned to be a piece of land that stretches along the Tuckaseegee River in Cullowhee and will be available for pedestrians and bicyclists. If funding allows, construction of phase one of the Tuckasegee River Greenway could be completed as early as late fall.

According to Jackson County Planning Director Gerald Green, the initial Greenway master plans were prepared by Equinox Environmental working in conjunction with the County Recreation and Parks Department and the Greenway Committee. After soliciting bids for the project, the detailed construction plans were prepared by the local company, Stillwell Engineering.


Macon County’s REACH office stepping up to fill void after closing

Up until last week, REACH of Jackson County served victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the county for 33 years, and offered 10 distinct services to clients; including emergency shelter for victims, HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved transitional housing for up to three years, counseling and legal advocacy, and assistance with work readiness and life skills. Citing financial difficulties, the organization was forced to close its doors. Jackson County victims are now being directed to the Macon County REACH Office.


Steep slope maps removed from subdivision ordinance

In a 4-1 vote, the Macon County Board of Commissioners approved term limits for the planning board Tuesday night, Feb. 15. The board’s approved amendment to the planning board ordinance is somewhat different than what was proposed last month by Republican Commissioner Ron Haven. Board members voted on the measure after a lengthy public hearing session which saw 33 Maconians voice their opinions on the recommended changes to the county’s planning board ordinance.


A Macon County couple was discovered dead by their family when they returned home last Thursday evening in a case that investigators are referring to as an alleged murder-suicide.

Emergency dispatchers received a phone call last Thursday evening, Feb. 2, from the address of 909 Little Hogback Mountain Lane in Highlands. The caller, who identified himself as the couples son-in-law, told dispatchers that he had discovered his inlaws, Kenneth and Fran Simmons, along with the family dog, dead in their home from apparent gunshot wounds. The caller believed his mother-in-law had shot Mr. Kenneth Simmons and the dog, and later killed herself.


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