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General Mundy Funeral Saturday

General Mundys' Funeral Greenhill Cemetery in Waynesville on Saturday

General Mundys’ Funeral Greenhill Cemetery in Waynesville on Saturday

The 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps was laid to rest in Haywood County Saturday. General Carl Mundy passed away at his home in Virginia after battling cancer. Mundy was raised in Lake Junaluska and was buried at Green Hill Cemetery in Waynesville. General Mundy was appointed to serve as the 30th Commandant from 1991-95. After he retired, he also served as the President of the Marine Corps University Foundation.

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Convicted Felon

Shannon Mack Owens

Shannon Mack Owens

Cooperative efforts between federal and local law enforcement agencies have led to the arrest of a Haywood County man charged with firearms violations.   Shannon Mack Owens, 36, of Sutton Town Road, Waynesville, is accused of possessing and selling a .22-caliber pistol while being a convicted felon.  Detectives with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office worked together with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on the investigation.  Owens was charged with Possession of a Firearm by Felon and with User in Possession.  Each of the two charges can carry up to a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.   Owens was arrested March 28 and transported to the Buncombe County Detention Center, where he has been placed on federal hold pending trial.

GSMA Receives 2.2 Million

Oconaluftee Visitor Center

Oconaluftee Visitor Center

Executive Director Terry Maddox with Great Smoky Mountains Association announced this past week that an anonymous donor has named the non-profit organization as the recipient of one of the largest cash donations given in support of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “I have unprecedented news to share with you,” Maddox wrote in an email to the GSMA board of directors. “I was approached recently by a long-time GSMA member who wished to make a designated gift to GSMA.  The total amount of the donation is $2,185,000.” According to a memorandum of understanding between GSMA and the donor, the funds are contingent on two stipulations.  First, the donation is to be applied to the existing Oconaluftee Visitor Center loan and a new loan secured by GSMA to assist in the construction of the Collections Preservation Center.  Secondly, Maddox said, the identity of the donor must not be disclosed to anyone other than GSMA’s executive director. “I agreed to these conditions without hesitation,” Maddox told board members.  The donation will be made in five annual installments between April 2014 and 2018. “GSMA can now dramatically accelerate the pay-down of our line of credit and begin building a previously-approved future projects fund,” he said. The motivation to make a charitable gift of any size is often rooted in the donor’s belief in and love of a cause or place with which he or she feels an emotional connection. That is certainly the case with this donor, Maddox said.“I am overwhelmed by gratitude to this selfless donor whose generosity reflects a deep and abiding love for the Great Smokies,” said William Hart, chairman of GSMA’s board of directors. “This donation will allow GSMA to redouble its efforts to carry out its mission and allow funds that would have formerly been directed to debt to be employed toward the broader aims of the organization. “In effect, this donor leaves a legacy that will positively benefit millions of future visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” he continued. Great Smoky Mountains Association and Friends of the Smokies jointly provided the $3.7 million required to construct the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, N.C., which opened to the public in April 2011.  The facility fulfilled the National Park Service wish to replace an old CCC structure that was intended only to be a ranger station and replace it with a state-of-the-art museum, visitor center and bookstore on the North Carolina side of the park. Just last month, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that GSMA would once again be stepping up with Friends of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center to financially support construction of the new Collections Preservation Center in Townsend, Tenn., where the National Park Service will care for more than 144,000 artifacts, 220,000 archival records and 275 linear feet of library materials documenting the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and four other NPS areas in East Tennessee. “This donation not only speaks to the genuine care people have for their Smoky Mountains, but also the trust and confidence we all have in our partners at GSMA to continue a 60-year tradition of supporting the park in meaningful ways well into the future,” said Pedro Ramos, acting superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. GSMA experienced one of its most financially trying years ever in 2013, when a major road washout closed U.S. 441/Newfound Gap Road for three months early in the year and a government shutdown prevented it from opening its national park stores for 15 days in October.  Even with a record membership recruitment year, these two factors caused the non-profit more than its share of angst. This contribution qualifies as a game changer, according to Lisa Duff, GSMA’s marketing and membership director. “We have always valued the contributions of our members and shared in their enthusiasm for this national park,” Duff said.  “While this single gift illustrates the extraordinary generosity of one of our members in rather a large fashion, all who contribute time and money to this national park should count themselves among its greatest supporters.” Since its inception in 1953, Great Smoky Mountains Association has given more than $31.5 million to support the ongoing educational, scientific and preservation efforts of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Support for the non-profit association is derived primarily from online and visitor center sales of educational products and membership dues. Those who wish to strengthen their Smokies experience are encouraged to join GSMA. For more information about GSMA, visit www.SmokiesInformation.org; or call toll-free 888.898.9102.

Prostitution Arrests In Clyde

James Lee Ramsey

James Lee Ramsey

A man and woman accused of promoting prostitution from an apartment in Clyde were arrested Monday. James Ramsey, 29, of Clyde and Vicky Cecero, 25, of Waynesville, are both accused of advertising prostitution through social media and attracting people to the apartment for sex acts. The apartment was fronted by a storefront called Wild Things Plantation, where they were selling animals such as ducks, chickens and goats, said new Clyde Police Chief Terry Troutman. The two weren’t residing at the apartment, which wasn’t in livable condition, he said. “That was just their secondary business location,” Troutman said. Law enforcement have been conducting surveillance at the apartment at 7937 Carolina Blvd. in Clyde since early March, according to a press release from the Clyde Police Department. Through investigation, police found the location has been advertised through social media as a business in what investigators believe has been conducting acts of prostitution. Surveillance and subsequent investigation revealed the business was attracting individuals from several counties and even from out of state, including several people who were registered sex offenders. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at the apartment Monday. The arrests were the effort of multiple law enforcement agencies called the Unified Narcotics Investigative Team, a multi-jurisdictional task force in Haywood County. Both suspects face felony charges for promoting prostitution. Ramsey is also charged with maintaining a place for prostitution, felony conspiracy and is a fugitive out of Georgia. Ramsey remains in custody under $60,000 bond and Cecero was released on a written promise to appear in court. The investigation is still ongoing and other charges and arrests are possible, Troutman said. “This operation is just another example of all the law enforcement agencies in the county working together to address criminal concerns that plague our communities,” Troutman said in the press release.

NC Retains it’s AAA Rating

NorthCarolinaSealIt was announced this week that North Carolina retained its “AAA” rating by all three agencies, the highest credit rating available to state governments. Keys to the rating according to Fitch Ratings include a low debt burden, strong debt management practices, an improving economy, and one of the strongest pension funds in the nation. “It’s great news that North Carolina has retained its ‘AAA’ credit rating,” said Governor McCrory. “Our attention to efficient spending practices, cash flow and low debt continue to prove that the state is financially stable. Our prudent and effective financial practices continue to provide a strong signal to companies thinking of relocating to North Carolina or those thinking of expanding.” North Carolina is one of 10 states in the country to have the highest rating by all three agencies, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. “One of my top priorities is protecting the state’s ‘AAA’ bond rating,” said State Treasurer Janet Cowell. “That rating keeps financing costs low and it signals to businesses looking to locate here that we are a state that’s solid. I appreciate the strong partnership we have with the governor’s administration and General Assembly in continuing conservative debt management and in funding our pension obligations, which are key to this top rating.”

 

Brown Mountain Reopened

NC-Forest-LogoThe U.S. Forest Service has reopened the Brown Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area. The popular area was closed last week due to a wildfire located between the east side of the Brown Mountain OHV Area and Wilson Creek on the Pisgah National Forest, Grandfather Ranger District. The wildfire burned approximately 500 acres. No injuries were reported, and no structures were threated. A lightning strike started the fire last Thursday. The N.C. Forest Service and Collettsville Volunteer Fire Department assisted in reporting and locating the fire.

Blue Ridge School Break-In

crime-sceneIn the early morning hours of April 7, 2014, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office was requested by the Cashiers Fire Department to come to Blue Ridge School.  The Fire Department was already on scene for a fire alarm activation.  Suspects had forced entry into the school and thousands of dollars of damage to the interior of the building was done.  Damages included spray painting and flooding.  The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the incident and is asking for anyone with any information to contact Detective Rick Buchanan.  The Sheriff’s Office is offering a $500 reward for anyone with any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an offender in this case.  Please contact Detective Rick Buchanan at (828) 269-5698, email him at rlbuchanan@jacksonnc.org or contact Crime Stoppers,at (828) 631-1125 or crimestoppers@jacksonnc.org

Jackson County ABC Board

liquor-1221-1280x960After months of discussions and negotiations a plan has finally emerged which would consolidate the control of hard liquor sales in Jackson County under a single county wide Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. County Manager Chuck Wooten presented his plan to the Jackson County Commissioners on Monday and asked for a meeting on Monday April 14th with Town of Sylva officials to formalize the agreement. Once the agreement is signed a Jackson County ABC Board would be appointed. Initially the appointments would have term limits in order to get the board into a three year staggered system of rotation. Board members would be paid $150 per meeting plus travel. The ABC Board Chair would receive $250. plus travel for each meeting.  Wooten stressed that operations of the Sylva ABC store then the Cashiers ABC store expected to open in May would be under the control of the Jackson County ABC Board by May. One of the concerns expressed by the Town of Sylva is the loss of revenue generated by the Sylva ABC store. According to the merger agreement the Town Of Sylva would continue to get a share of the net profits and a guaranteed return. Once the new merged board is in place then steps would be taken to adopt the current standard operating procedures. Wooten also described how employees of the present Sylva ABC Board would be transitioned into the new Jackson County ABC Board. The Sylva ABC Board would be compensated for the inventory and fixtures at the ABC Store. It was recommended by the current members of the Sylva ABC Board that at least six weeks of working capital be available for ongoing use. Elected officials of the Town of Sylva and the County of Jackson will meet Monday April 14th to complete the merger agreement which will end the Sylva ABC Board  and create a new Jackson County ABC Board.

Benifit For Washington State

WAWestern Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center is sponsoring a Friday, April 11, concert to benefit landslide victims in Snohomish County in Washington state – an area with strong ties to Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. The concert, titled “The Circle is Unbroken: A Benefit for Oso, Washington, from Western North Carolina,” will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at Sylva’s Bridge Park. The bluegrass show will feature local bands Mountain Faith and the Boys of Tuckasegee. A few days after the landslide disaster struck on March 22, taking lives and destroying homes, two WCU historians who have researched the migration of WNC residents to the Pacific Northwest, Scott Philyaw, director of the Mountain Heritage Center, and Rob Ferguson, visiting assistant professor, were discussing ways to assist the victims.  Ferguson contacted officials in Darrington, Wash., and learned that financial assistance is what those who have lost their homes need most. Recognizing the strong connections between WNC and Washington state, they decided to reach out to the local community, Philyaw said. For much of the 20th century, migrants from the southwest mountains of WNC moved to western Washington state in such large numbers that they outnumbered every other immigrant population in a half dozen communities, said Ferguson. At first, the migrants from North Carolina represented many types of occupations, but from 1920 to 1940 the Pacific Northwest slowly replaced the Appalachians as the center of the nation’s lumber production, and that development led many people in that line of work to move west permanently, he said. Philyaw said many WNC residents still have family and friends who live in the area of Washington state where the landslide occurred, in surrounding communities such as Darrington and Sedro Wooley, and in many other towns in Skagit and Snohomish counties. Assisting Ferguson and Philyaw in organizing the benefit and local fundraising activities are Lane Perry from WCU’s Office of Service Learning, who is coordinating efforts on the WCU campus, and the Rev. Tonya Vickery of Cullowhee Baptist Church, who is coordinating outreach with local churches. Perry can be reached at 828-227-2643 and Vickery can be contacted at 828-293-3020. Individuals who would like to assist in the effort can contact Philyaw at 828-227-3191 or Ferguson at 828-227-3502. Updated information about the concert is available on the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/OsoMudslideBenefit.

Jackson County Justice Center

SCC-JessicaWaldronIn the monthly meeting of the Jackson County Commissioners on Monday County Manager Chuck Wooten gave a progress report on the proposed renovation of the Jackson County Justice Center. It was reported several months ago that Superior Court Judge Brad Letts had spoken with Mr Wooten and the Commissioners about the current the growing need for courtroom space at the Jackson County Justice Center. The Commissioners decided to follow-up on recommendations to seek the advice of the Heery International company who had designed the renovations to the Haywood County County Courthouse. Many in the legal profession hold up that facility as a model which is adequate to meet both current and long term judicial processing needs. Consultants from Heery International have conducted both site visits and interviews from current occupants of the building in order to assess both the wish list needs and the absolute needs. Wooten reported to the Commissioners in February that specific needs included more building security, additional court and mediation rooms, separate secure entrances so the victims of crimes and the person facing charges for those crimes do not have to enter the courtroom by the same entrance, also building facilities from heating and air conditioning to additional Americans With Disabilities Act compliance standards. According to County Manager Chuck Wooten the commissioners will hear the report from Heery International Associated at their next meeting. One action already completed is the movement of the District Attorney into the space formerly occupied by the Jackson County Board of Elections after that agency moved to the Skyland Services Center. The planning and design process could cost the county upwards of three quarters of a million dollars. Some have speculated that the future needs of the building would require an addition of thirty five thousand square feet of space. The construction costs of the building twenty years ago was eighteen million dollars. Estimates are the additional 35,000 square feet in floor space could cost the county about a 100 thousand dollars a year to maintain and secure.  During each meeting there tends to be time set aside for the commissioners to appoint individuals to serve on county boards. There are twelve such boards each with up to a dozen members who are appointed to their position for up to three year terms and often reappointed and serve the maximum number of years. In some of the  board positions the members are paid for their services such as those on the ABC Board who are paid 150 dollars plus travel to attend the meetings. The Chair of the Board will receive 250 dollars and travel for each meeting. In March County Manager Wooten reported to the Commissioners on what he perceived as a need to audit the performance of these Boards and establish evaluative criteria including attendance reports and a review of the minutes of the meetings as well as publishing the assignments for each of the boards.

Tick & Mosquito Concerns

Natural-mosquito3With summer fast approaching and people spending more time outdoors, it is important for everyone to take precautions against tick and mosquito bites. Tick and mosquito borne infections cause illnesses and deaths in North Carolina each year, with more than 800 cases reported in 2013. To encourage awareness of this issue, Governor McCrory recently proclaimed April 2014 as “Tick and Mosquito Awareness Month” in North Carolina. Tick borne diseases in North Carolina include Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. These diseases are diagnosed from all regions of the state and can be acquired at any time of year. However, the vast majority of infections occur in the months of June through September. The North Carolina Division of Public Health encourages using repellents, using air conditioning and keeping windows closed, and emptying free standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets and pool covers.

Internship Applications Available

NorthCarolinaSealThe Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office within the Department of Administration announced that they are accepting additional applications for the 2014 State Government Internship Program for select projects. The program has 6 remaining paid internship projects in Raleigh and Pine Knoll Shores. Internships would start May 27 and end on August 1, 2014. Application deadline is postmarked by April 21. The 2014 State Government Internship Project Booklet describing all rules and available opportunities is now online. The State Government Internship Program offers students real-world experience in a wide range of state government workplaces. Internships provide opportunities for students to work in their chosen field and to consider careers in public service. More than 3,600 students have participated since the program was established in 1970. Paid summer internships are available in locations across the state. They provide North Carolina students with compensated professional work experience that integrates education, career development and public service. Opportunities exist in numerous recognized fields of study, from accounting to zoology, and interns will also participate in seminars, tours or other activities designed to broaden their perspective of public service and state government. Interns will earn a stipend of $8.25 per hour and work 40 hours per week for 10 weeks in the summer. For more information, please visit the Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office online or by phone at 919-807-4400. Information is also available in campus career services or cooperative education offices.

NC-CDL Registeration Deadline

NCDOT LogoNorth Carolina has about 35,000 commercial driver license holders who have still not certified their driving to the N. C. Division of Motor Vehicles by next week’s deadline. During the past two years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has required all CDL holders to certify to NCDMV whether they drive interstate or intrastate and for what purpose. If required, they must also provide their current DOT medical card to NCDMV. The final deadline for contacting NCDMV with this information is April 10, 2014.  About 312,000 North Carolina drivers hold commercial licenses. To date, more than 277,000 drivers have reported their medical status to NCDMV. Commercial drivers must provide medical information that they are certified to operate a commercial motor vehicle or their North Carolina commercial driving privilege will be downgraded, allowing them to drive a Class C regular motor vehicle only. Commercial drivers with questions about complying with the requirement are urged to call (919) 861-3599.ext

Jarrett House Sold

The Jarrett House

The Jarrett House

The Jarrett House in Dillsboro has taken on a new primary owner and major changes are coming to the structure that was built in 1884. Jim and Jean Hartbarger announced yesterday to Constantine Roumel who also owns the Nantahala Village and Resort in Bryson City will become the new primacy partner. The Hartbargers purchased the Jarrett House property in 1975. They will continue as the administrators, oversee renovations, prepare for the opening in late April or early May, and coordinate marketing and brand imaging. Renovations are now under way to the lobby and the two dinning rooms. The parlor is being converted into an English Tea Room. Other renovations include a new face lift to the inn which will start this fall. The menu will also be changing with popular items remaining but new items offered will include pastas, salads, pastries, espresso and a full-service bar. The new owner Roumel is a native of Crete and resides in Europe yet spends much of his time in the US with offices in Atlanta and Orlando. The Jarrett House was penned to the National Register of Historic Places on March 1st, 1984 and is one of the oldest operating inns in Western North Carolina.

Sneek Peek At WCU Facility

WCU Facility ConstructionWestern Carolina University will host a “sneak peek” Wednesday, April 16, of the soon-to-be-opened laboratories and classrooms that will enable the expansion of WCU’s undergraduate engineering program to the Asheville-Hendersonville area.  Nearly 11,000 square feet of space on the ground floor of a building located in Biltmore Park Town Square is undergoing renovations to accommodate the expanded engineering program, with classes scheduled to get underway in August. Expansion of WCU’s engineering degree was made possible through more than $1.4 million in the state budget. The N.C. General Assembly approved roughly $700,000 dollars for start-up costs and laboratory equipment for the 2013-14 fiscal year, with nearly $720,000 in recurring funds to cover faculty positions and ongoing operations. Western Carolina began offering the bachelor of science degree in engineering in the fall 2012 at its campus in Cullowhee as a new stand-alone program. The university had partnered with UNC Charlotte to jointly offer a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from 2004 until 2012. The open house will from 4 until 6 p.m on the 16th and will enable guests to observe renovation work at the facility, followed by a reception and optional tour of WCU’s existing instructional site at Biltmore Park.

Tuscola Prom Problems

Tuscola High School

Tuscola High School

Organizers at Tuscola High School moved the prom from the Deerpark Restaurant at Biltmore, to the much smaller Laurel Ridge Country Club in Waynesville. Prom organizer Maggie Melville says the prom was moved because it had gotten too expensive to have in Asheville. She says in February, they limited ticket sales to Juniors and Seniors, and told students about the change. But by mid-March, only three tickets had been bought. Then sales opened up to the whole school and they quickly sold out. Prom organizers say they may consider finding a different venue next year.

Trout Season Opened Saturday

NC Trout WatersA Successful Trout season opened in North Carolina on Saturday. Thousands of anglers flocked to The Mountains to fish. Western North Carolina has over 3 thousand miles of trout waters. “The first warm weather that comes around…people are itching to get out and get at it,” says Josh Garris, a fly fishing guide in Asheville. People from all over the world book fishing trips in and around The Mountains. A license is required to fish in North Carolina. It costs $20 but is good for the entire year.

Haywood County Bank Robbery

Matthew Mark Lloyd

Matthew Mark Lloyd

A local bank was robbed today and the quick thinking of the tellers helped deputies catch the suspect. The robbery happened at the BB&T Bank on Soco Road in Maggie Valley. The suspect, 36-year-old Matthew Lloyd of Lenoir, was arrested just seven minutes later on Highway 276. Deputies say the tellers took down his license plate number and direction of travel which helped deputies locate him. Lloyd is being held on $30,000 bond.

Resolution Passed

jcpsJackson County’s education leaders passed a resolution March 25 opposing state lawmakers’ mandate to give raises to some teachers, but not others. The 25 percent of teachers who accept four-year contracts and $500-a-year salary increases agree, in return, to forfeit tenure. Like dozens of others, Jackson County has gone on record asking the General Assembly to rescind its law. Jackson County last month announced plans to use a selection system that granted points for evaluations, higher degrees and such; that’s not going to happen. Murray plans to present a lottery scheme to school board members in April. Jackson County’s school board followed up the anti-contract vote by approving a second resolution. It urges the General Assembly to give all teachers more pay, not just beginning ones as proposed, and to reinstate salary step increases and financial bonuses for teachers getting master’s degrees.

Jackson Wins First Place

The beautiful wildflower beds dotting North Carolina’s highways took center stage this week at the Annual Wildflower Awards ceremony in Raleigh. The awards were given to the Department of Transportation staff who cultivated the best-looking flowers of 2013, as voted on by a panel of judges. They also recognize the efforts of all NCDOT crews who help carry out the Wildflower Program and work to enhance the overall appearance and environmental quality of the state’s highways. Jackson County took first place in the Best Regional Wildflower Planing catagory for N.C 107 at Cullowhee. The NCDOT Wildflower Program began in 1985 and is coordinated by the department’s Roadside Environmental Unit, which installs and maintains 1,500 acres of wildflowers along North Carolina’s highways. The program is primarily funded through the sale of personalized license plates.