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Search Underway for Escaped Inmate

John Fullwood

John Fullwood

Corrections and law enforcement officers are seeking inmate John R. Fullwood, who left from a contract labor assignment this morning at the North Carolina Arboretum.

Fullwood, 51, was assigned to Buncombe Correctional Center, a minimum-security prison, and is serving 6 to 8 years for discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle. He was due for release in September 2016. He is from Haywood County and may attempt to travel there.

Anyone who has seen Fullwood or has knowledge of his location should contact local law enforcement or call Buncombe Correctional Center at (828)645-7630

 

TWSA Sewer Allocation Transfer

The Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority will be holding a public forum this evening at 6:30 pm in the Cashiers Community Library’s Community Room in policy that was in place from 2008 to 2011 which allowed persons who purchased sewer allocation from TWSA for a specific use on a specific property to request a transfer of that sewer allocation to another property. This policy was established when there was a limited amount of sewer capacity available in the central part of Jackson County beginning in 2008. The policy was written in a way so that when additional capacity became available at the Waste Water Treatment Plant, the Transfer Policy would end. Additional capacity was reached with the completion of the Waste Water Treatment Plant expansion in July of 2011. There has recently been an interest to revisit the possibility of a Transfer Policy being reissued in the Cashiers area. The public meeting is meant to provide the community with a forum to receive information about TWSA, their obligation to manage flows, the history of past Transfer Policy, and what drives the issue currently. TWSA Executive Director, Dan Harbaugh states: “We want the public to have an opportunity to provide input into the process, so we’re holding this public meeting as a forum for such. We’re also receiving written comments through next Monday, September 9th at noon, to be incorporated into information being discussed with the TWSA Board at their Workshop Meeting on Tuesday, September 10th.”

To contact the TWSA you can email them HERE.

WCU Enrollment Tops Ten Thousand

Total enrollment at Western Carolina University has topped 10,000 students for the first time in the institution’s history, a milestone reached in large part because of an increase of five percentage points in the freshman retention rate to nearly 79 percent.

Western Carolina’s total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 10,106, a 5 percent increase over last year’s tally of 9,608 students. The university’s freshman retention rate – the percentage of first-time, full-time freshman students who returned for their sophomore year – is 78.7 percent this year, compared to last fall’s retention rate of 73.7 percent. WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher announced the enrollment figures during a special event and reception held at the Central Plaza area on campus Tuesday. The enrollment record comes as the university is gearing up to mark the 125th anniversary of its founding, Belcher told the several hundred students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered for the announcement. A yearlong quasquicentennial celebration is being planned for the 2014 calendar year. “It’s amazing to think that when this institution was founded in a one-room schoolhouse in 1889, up there on the hill, it had a grand total of 18 students,” he said. “Today, Western Carolina has grown to become a major cultural, scientific, economic and educational force in this region and in our state.”

Enrollment figures are up across the board, with increases in the numbers of first-time freshmen, undergraduate transfers, graduate students, distance education students and students taking classes at the university’s instructional site at Biltmore Park, Belcher said. The improving enrollment and retention numbers are important, he said, because they signify that WCU is doing its part to help increase to 32 percent the number of North Carolinians who have four-year degrees, which is one of the goals of the University of North Carolina system. Keeping students enrolled and on track to graduation has become even more important because the UNC system is moving toward performance-based funding, with graduation and retention rates among the factors that will determine how much money WCU and other universities will receive from the state, he said.

 

NC Governor Appoints Three New Members to WCU Board of Trustees

A Rutherford County educational foundation executive, the first woman elected principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and a Highlands homebuilder are the three newest members of the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees.

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Charles Philip Byers to fill a recent board vacancy, and Joyce Conseen Dugan and John R. Lupoli to four-year terms on the WCU board.

Byers is filling a vacancy on the board created by the departure of Brenda Wellmon of Mecklenburg County, who stepped down as a trustee for personal reasons this summer.

In addition to Wellmon, McCrory’s appointments to the WCU board fill vacancies left by outgoing members Tommy Saunooke, member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council, and William Forsyth, retired executive director of the Cherokee County Economic Development Commission.

Byers, Dugan and Lupoli will join two other new members – Phil Drake, chief executive officer of Drake Enterprises, and Kenny Messer, an executive with Milliken Corp. – elected to the WCU board earlier this year by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The board will hold its first quarterly meeting of the new academic year at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in the board room of H.F. Robinson Administration Building. The board also will hold committee meetings and discussions beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at various locations on the fifth floor of the Robinson Building.

 

Per Capita Notice for New EBCI Enrollees

To be considered for the December 2013 per capita distribution, a complete enrollment application or a new applicant must be submitted to the Enrollment Office by 4:30 pm., Monday, September 16. Enrollment applications received after this date will not be considered for the December distribution. An application will only be considered complete with a county certified birth certificate and Certified DNA results sent directly from the lab to the Enrollment Office. To schedule a DNA test in Cherokee, contact Michelle at the EBCI Enrollment office at 554-6463. To schedule a DNA test out of town, contact Amber Harrison (918)-685-0478. DNA testing must be scheduled on or before August 30th to obtain the results before the September 16th deadline. Because of the extended amount of time in receiving a social security number for a newborn, an application will be considered for enrollment without the social security number. However, an Enrollment Card will not be issued until the Enrollment Office receives the social security number for the new enrollee. Applications may be obtained from the Enrollment Office located in the Ginger Lynn Welch Complex or you may call the Enrollment Office at 554-6467, 554-6465 or 554-6466.

Hundreds Gather at The “Taking the Dream Home” Rally in Sylva

RALLY Hundreds of people from all across Western North Carolina congregated at Sylva’s Bridge Park this Wednesday. They were there for many causes, from supporting public education to restoration of voting rights. The “Taking the Dream Home Rally” in Sylva was just one of 13 gatherings of people across the state of North Carolina in celebration of the anniversary of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech given by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The rally also was an extension of the Moral Monday protests held earlier this year in Raleigh. The rally placed large emphasis on a recently passed voting law which requires residents to show identification before being able to vote.

Many protesters say that this law is regressive and a bid to keep certain people from being able to vote. Organizers of the rally helped register people to vote as well as handed out information about how the people may be affected by the new voting law. Civil Rights era songs were sung by people on and off the stage. Organizers reported expressed plans to focus the energy of these protests into the next voting period.

Harrah’s Cherokee Named Best Overall Gaming Resort, NS Region

476cc673c084f8a197123d7eae7a48b8 Readers of Casino Player Magazine recently voted Harrah’s Cherokee as Best Overall Casino Resort in the Native South region for 2013. The annual “Best of Gaming” issue of the magazine features the results of a reader survey ranking casinos in various parts of the country. Harrah’s Cherokee topped the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa and Silver Star Casino at Pearl River Resort in this category.

In addition, Harrah’s Cherokee also won for Best Casino, Best Video Slots, Best Video Poker, Best Players Club and Casino Where You Feel Luckiest. Amenities at the property were also awarded top spots for Best Rooms (Hotel) and Best Golf Course (Sequoyah National Golf Club). Rounding out the list of accolades for Harrah’s Cherokee was Casino With Best Facebook Page.

About Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort:

An enterprise of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is celebrating 15 years of operation since opening its doors in November, 1997. The Casino has 150,000 square feet of gaming space, and offers traditional table games such as black jack, roulette and craps. The property also features over 1,100 hotel rooms, the Le Fu Men gaming area, 10 restaurants, the ESSENCE Lounge, the luxurious 18,000 square feet Mandara Spa and seven retail shops. In addition to the 56-acre property, guests have privileged access to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation-owned Sequoyah National Golf Club, named one of Golf Magazine’s best new golf courses.

 

 

 

Computer Network Issues Causing Problems at Some NC DMV Offices

Computer network issues are causing sporadic problems in some North Carolina DMV license offices and license plate agency offices across the state, as well as for some on-line services.

Offices affected by the problem may be unable to process driver license/ID applications and vehicle registrations or title applications. Technicians are working on resolving the problem.

Until service is restored, customers planning to go to their local DMV office this afternoon are urged to call ahead to make sure the service they need will be available. You can access the office numbers by going to the DMV website (http://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/contact) , going to the Find a DMV Office section, and then selecting Driver License & School Bus Offices and the county where the office is located, then clicking the Submit button. The address and phone number of each office in that county will come up.

 

Chief Michell Hicks Appointed to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

left to right Ms. Marsha Hicks, Judge Alan Thornburg and Principal Chief Michell Hicks of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians being sworn in the North Carolina Wildlife Commission

left to right Ms. Marsha Hicks, Judge Alan Thornburg and Principal Chief Michell Hicks of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians being sworn in the North Carolina Wildlife Commission

Michell Hicks, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, has recently been appointed commissioner on the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission it was announced today by N.C. Governor Pat McCrory. Created in 1947, the commission oversees conservation of and sustains the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use, and public input. With an annual budget of $65 million and 590 full-time employees, the commission also enforces N.C. fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws. Chief Hicks had the following to say; “This is a great honor for me and also for the Eastern Band,” Hicks commented. “Our tribe has long been committed to environmental preservation and sustainability and this appointment represents a natural extension of the work we have been doing for many years on the Qualla Boundary and in Western North Carolina.” Chief Hicks concluded with “We look forward to the opportunity to continue this tradition and also to give back to the state of North Carolina.”

 

WNC Scam Alert

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division is reporting a new scam that has been reported in Western North Carolina. Business owners have reported receiving official looking letters from a group called Corporate Records Services. Asking individuals to send money to a Raleigh address. The letter is misleading and includes seals and North Carolina laws from the Secretary of State. Many local businesses have fallen prey to these types of scams before. Several years ago a California company was shutdown for sending out similar letters and eventually had to return over ninty-thousand dollars it had collected from small business throughout North Carolina. If you suspect you have received one of these letters, do not respond. Call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at http://www.ncdoj.gov/.

 

Cullowhee Man Arrested for Threatening Police Online

Derrick Michael Lenart

Derrick Michael Lenart

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office along with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations arrested a suspect on Friday who was posting malicious threats on the popular website Craigstlist. Thirty-Nine year old Derrick Michael Lenart of Cullowhee was arrested for posting a threat under the rant section of Craigslist. Stating that a shooting of member of law enforcement would be carried out before Friday at ten p.m. North Carolina’s Information Sharing and Analysis Center and other law enforcement in North Carolina took the threat seriously. Lenart was apprehended at his home in Cullowhee and is now being charged with three counts of communicating threats. 540 AM will bring you more information as this case develops.

Update: Tragedy for Girl Struck by Car in Cherokee

 

Haze Lynn Ayen

Haze Lynn Ayen

In an unfortunate update to a news story we reported earlier, the 10 year old who was struck by a vehicle on August, 22nd, Haze Lynn Ayen, died from her injuries. The accident happened along Adams Creek Road in Cherokee around 3:30 pm. She was taken to Mission Hospital where she was listed in critical condition and put on life support. After being advised by doctors on her prognosis and inevitable fate, her family has decided to donate her organs. They already know that lives have been save by her sacrifice and they hope that many more will be. Family and friends are posting condolences on a Facebook page that has been made in Hazes memory, and say she was beautiful and full of love, and gone too quickly. One quote reads; “She is so beautiful. She is in God’s hands now, and with other loved ones. My prayers are with the family…” Another says “Such a beautiful little girl. God gained an angel today, I pray for healing for the family. I did not know Haze but my heart is broken for those that love her. I pray God will comfort you as only he can.” Investigators are still putting together exactly what happened when a vehicle struck the girl. The Cherokee Indian Police and the North Carolina Highway Patrol are working together to reconstruct the accident, and there is currently no word on whether the driver of the vehicle will face any charges.

Girl Struck by Car in Cherokee

A 10-year-old girl was struck by a vehicle on Adams Creek Road in the Birdtown community of the Qualla Boundary, yesterday at approximately 3:27 pm. She was transported to a nearby medical facility where she remains in critical condition. The accident took place during the first day of school for Cherokee. WRGC would like to remind everyone to be cautious on the roads now that school season has started. Pedestrian Traffic is much higher during the school season, especially in the morning and afternoon. The Cherokee Indian Police Department and the North Carolina Highway Patrol continue to investigate the incident.

Sylva Woman, Robyn Crawford Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Today in Jackson County Superior Court Robyn Dillard Crawford, age 51, from Sylva pleaded guilty to six felonies for the embezzlement of $150,000 from the WNC Eye Care between March of 2005 and March of 2010. Crawford was the office manager at WNC Eye Care, working there for nearly eleven years. Crawford reportedly used credit cards issued by the company for things like; personal hotel stays, out-of-state travel, and even groceries. Robyn Crawford’s sentence of more than 3 years has been suspended due to the plea agreement and on the condition she pay $50,000 in restitution to Dr. Richard Beauchemin, the former owner of WNC Eye Care, and also pay a fine and court costs totaling $2650. Crawford’s attorney, Frank Lay, asked the court to forgo the court costs and probation supervision fee’s but was denied. If restitution is not made, a probation violation report will be issued, and her sentence could possibly be activated regardless of the plea deal.

Webster Enterprises has Record Year

Several months ago WRGC reported that Webster Enterprises, a manufacturing and work training center located in Jackson county, has been anticipating growth in its business and work force due to increases in production demand and the addition of a new industry to their facilities. Earlier in the year, Webster Enterprises announced the hiring of two new management personnel along with one executive staff promotion. At the time, Webster stated that the new management level positions were due to the Board of Directors anticipation of the expansion and growth of their operation over the next two to three years. Along with the new job positions, a new sewing division was also implemented. Now, after the conclusion of its fiscal year on June 30, Webster Enterprises has announced that it had a record year in both production and revenues. “Our $384,000 increase in revenues placed our total income slightly under $1,615,000. We were fortunate to have increased orders from nearly all of our customers and our production staff met orders on time,” said Gene Robinson, Webster’s Executive Director . Currently, Webster Enterprises’ customer base is centered on suppliers to the medical field and involves the manufacturing of various sizes of drapes, tray covers and other disposable items used in operating rooms. “Through our customers, our products are used worldwide,” Robinson noted. Production totals for the medical devices reached a record number of more than one million units. Not included are pieces produced in the newly formed sewing division.

Also as part of the growth and development of the company the Rehabilitation Division has been renamed Education and Training, according to director Kathleen Redman. “This name change more accurately reflects the mission and responsibility of our program within Webster Enterprises.” The number of individuals with disabilities being served is about fifty percent of the total employee base of nearly eighty people. Webster Enterprises was founded in 1976 to provide training and job skills for people with disabilities, and that continues to be its main focus today. It is a common misconception that they only employ the handicapped workers. Part of their job training program for disabled workers includes having them work side-by-side with fully-abled workers on the same production lines, so employees of all walks have found a home at Webster. In the months and years ahead Webster Enterprises continued growth projections seems to be good news for both disabled and able-bodied job seekers in Jackson, Swain, and Macon counties.

 

Scam/Fraud Alert – MedWest Lifeline Calls

image001 There have been reports of people receiving recorded calls from MedWest Lifeline stating that the service has been paid for and is free and all is needed is to set up a time to come install equipment. This is not MedWest Lifeline or any MedWest affiliates. The calls have been reported to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. If you receive one of these calls do not call them back. You may report the call by calling Jackson County Crimestoppers at 828-631-1125 or email crimestoppers@jacksonnc.org MedWest-Harris Home Care Services provides Lifeline as one of its services but it has to be signed up for and there is a nominal fee involved.

 

Doryel Ammons Cain Presents, “Creating a Mural”

muralFARMERpanelsml On Tuesday, September 3, at 6:15 pm Doreyl Ammons Cain will do a presentation and demonstration on the process involved in creating a mural at Swain County Center for the Arts in Bryson City. The Event is free to the public and everyone is invited to attend. Artist, writer, and speaker, Doreyl Ammons Cain of Sylva will be performing a demonstration of the 4-step process of creating a mural at the Swain County Center for the Arts, located in Bryson City, NC. Doreyl Cain is creating a history defining mural for Jackson County. During the demonstration Doreyl Cain will describe the materials she uses, along with resources and process. The 4-step process will include; rough sketching, transfer of sketches to the grid method, the painting of the mural, and finally the protection and placement of the mural. Along with holding a Bachelor of Fine arts degree and a Master of Arts Degree in Biological and Medical Illustration, she has also received “The Best in the West Illustration” award three years in a row. Doryel Ammons Cain along with her sister, Amy Ammons Garza also produce a radio show, “Stories of Mountain Folk” which can be heard on the air through WRGC 540 AM and also on-line at http://www.storiesofmountainfolk.com/. Doryel Ammons Cain and her husband, Jerry Cain, have designed a new line of art cards, limited edition Giclèe art prints and are creating a nature preserve called “Nature’s Home,” based on the principles of Permaculture and sustainability. Her Art Blog is www.yurtstudio.com/myblog. For more information about Art League of the Smokies or to view the exhibits at Swain County Center for the Arts, call Jenny Johnson at 828-488-7843. Go to www.swain.k12.nc.us/cfta to view the current calendar of events.

Record Rainfall May Dampen Fall Color Show

mfec4S8 In the yearly tradition that is the Western Carolina University foliage forecast, given by Kathy Mathews, this years forecast has been delivered. Abundant rainfall during one of the wettest summers in Western North Carolina history may portend a dampening of the intensity of the fall color show this year unless autumn brings vastly drier conditions, predicts Kathy Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fall foliage forecaster. Mathews went on to explain; “With record rainfall during July, the trees in the mountains look healthy and green at the moment, and that’s a good thing for the trees. But leaf-lookers need to keep their fingers crossed for some drier weather in the next couple of months in order for us to see the development of vibrant fall leaf color.” Leaf looking tourists may be in for some disappointment this year, which will possibly affect the local businesses in our area. “There always will be plenty of color in the yellow and orange hues,” Mathews said. “However, if the days remain cloudy throughout September, there won’t be as much of a pop of bright reds on the leaves.” The red pigments called “anthocyanins”, are manufactured by leaves mainly in the fall in response to cooling temperatures and excess sugar production caused by lots of sun, Mathews said. “Dryness also causes production of more red pigment,” she said. “Studies have shown that trees stressed out by dry soils and nutrient deficiency produce more red pigment in the fall. Ample sunshine and dry weather is the combination necessary for brilliant fall foliage.” Another factor in the annual fall color show is temperature. “Cool nights in September, with temperatures dropping into the low 40s, release the yellow, orange and red colors because chlorophyll degrades faster at lower temperatures,” Mathews said. “Temperature may work in our favor this year, as we have seen relatively cool summer months. If this trend continues, colors may be more vivid despite the rainfall.” And there is an upside to all the rainfall, even if it means less-vibrant fall colors, the leaves should hang around longer, “With healthy, well-watered trees, we should not see much early leaf drop,” Mathews said. The color change should begin at the higher mountain elevations in late September and continue through mid-November in the lower levels of WNC. Regardless of when the peak is and how intense the hues are, visitors always can find good fall color somewhere in the WNC mountains, with more than 100 tree species in the Southern Appalachians. That means not only many different colors of leaves in the fall, but also a lengthy fall color season, Mathews said.

New Park Deputy Superintendent Announced

New Park Deputy Superintendent Patty Wissinger

New Park Deputy Superintendent Patty Wissinger

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson announced that Patricia M. Wissinger has been selected as the next Deputy Superintendent. She replaces Kevin Fitzgerald, who retired earlier this year. Wissinger is currently the superintendent of Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Atlanta, one of the busiest recreation areas in the United States. She is scheduled to report to her new assignment in mid-September.

“Patty brings a broad base of park operational knowledge and experience to the Smokies having served as a Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Division Chief, and in the Regional Office,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “Patty has been recognized for her leadership with partners as well as employees and I look forward to having her on our team.”

Wissinger has extensive experience in building partnerships, major museum design and construction, land acquisition planning, viewshed management, road and bridge construction projects, exhibit design, educational outreach, general management planning and managing large national park visitor services. She was recognized with numerous awards including Southeast Region Superintendent’s Award for Science and Resource Management Excellence and, under her leadership, Chattahoochee River NRA was recognized for Excellence in Interpretation and Education.

“ Words cannot express how excited I am to join the staff, partners, volunteers and the communities of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the crown jewels in our nation,” Wissinger said. “I feel like the most blessed person in the National Park Service right now. This park is unsurpassed by its natural beauty, diversity of resources, and cultural heritage. In my opinion, it is absolutely the most beautiful place on earth. I am so proud to join the committed cadre of citizens who together will protect this incredibly special place as we also connect it to a new generation of Americans to preserve and enjoy.”

 

Fatal Car Wreck in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 

James Edward Bigmeat Jr.

James Edward Bigmeat Jr.

A fatal car accident claimed the life of a Cherokee man on Friday, August 9th in the Great Smoky Mountains Park close to Park Headquarters near Gatlinburg. According to officials with the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, 44-year-old James Bigmeat Jr. of Cherokee, North Carolina was traveling north on U.S. 441, also known as Newfound Gap Road, when he ran off the roadway and collided into a tree. Also with him in the vehicle was his wife Angela Murphy, who is also from Cherokee. Angela Murphy, age 34, sustained injuries and was transported by Gatlinburg Emergency Medical Services to the University of Tennessee Medical Center according to a news release from the national park, where she was listed as being in stable condition as of Sunday morning. The cause of the collision is under investigation, but Park Rangers believe excessive speed was a contributing factor.