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Author Archive for Roy Burnette – Page 2

Evergreen Foundation Allocates $392,917 in Grant Funding

At their March meeting, the Evergreen Foundation board of directors voted to provide $392,917 in funding to support nine agencies that provide programs and services for individuals with Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Disabilities. The grants were awarded through a competitive grant process to agencies located throughout Western North Carolina. Fourth quarter grant recipients are:

-Full Spectrum Farms, Sylva, serving the 7 western counties: $16,370 to provide accessible restrooms, pathways and safety modifications which will provide full access to their facilities by all participants.
-30th Judicial District Domestic Violence-Sexual Assault Alliance, Waynesville, serving the 7 western counties: $7,778 to support phase 2, marketing and fund raising, for their animal assisted therapy project.
-The Arc of Haywood County, Waynesville, serving Haywood County: $52,000 to help purchase security cameras for their group homes and a wheelchair accessible van for their residential programs.
-Barium Springs Services for Children, Barium Springs, serving the 7 western counties: $65,000 to provide a challenge gift which will match dollar for dollar up to $65,000. This will provide funding needed to complete renovations for the Hawthorne Heights youth shelter in Bryson City.
-Pathways for the Future, Sylva, serving the 7 western counties: $4,157 to purchase materials and equipment for use in a new day enrichment program.
-Haywood Vocational Opportunities, Waynesville, serving Haywood County: $27,800 to purchase a 15 passenger van for use in their day program.
-Webster Enterprises, Webster, serving Jackson, Swain and Macon Counties: $8,955 to update their accounting software.
-Meridian Behavioral Health Services, Inc., Sylva, serving the 7 western counties: $204,357 for additional training to expand their Peer Support Services workforce; supplement their current funding for under-funded psychiatric services; and to purchase 2 vans and 3 all-wheel drive vehicles to transport individuals in their programs.
-Mountain Projects, Sylva, serving the 7 western counties: $6,500 to support two teen initiatives, Sticker Shock Underage Drinking Awareness and the Teen Institute Summer Conference.

Evergreen Foundation grants for fiscal year 2013-2014 have totaled $760,675. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and will be accepted until 5 p.m. on May 31 for the June grant cycle.

The mission of the Evergreen Foundation is to improve access to and public awareness of quality prevention, treatment, and support services by the provider community to individuals and families with intellectual/developmental disabilities, behavioral health, and/or substance abuse needs in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. To learn more about the Evergreen Foundation visit www.evergreenfoundationnc.org.

Sylva Bridge Park Makes Finals In Competition

You might be aware that a public place in your community (Sylva’s Bridge
Park) was entered into a statewide contest, the “Great Places in North
Carolina – People’s Choice: Great Public Place” contest, hosted by the NC
Chapter of the American Planning Association.
Not only that, but that Public Place was selected from a larger pool as one
of seven finalists to move forward to the online voting component!

Now, The Sylva Bridge Park is facing off against 6 other Public Places. The
Place with the most votes by 5pm on May 9th is the winner and will hold the
title of “2014 People’s Choice: Great Public Place!”

Visit www.greatplacesnc.org to view more information about the contest and
VOTE for your community. Just look for People’s Choice – Great Public Place
on the website.

Winning communities receive a framed certificate (usually presented at a
function like a concert, Council meeting, movies on the green, etc), are
recognized state-wide in various events and are able to use the award to
promote their Town. Finalists were chosen based on the online entry – the
judges were looking for Great Public Places that are not just a main Street,
but also a Great Place that acts as a gathering place for the community and
an example to the rest of the state.

Anyone can vote!

WCU Student Killed in Car Accident In Greensboro

A 22-year-old Western Carolina University student was killed in an automobile accident Thursday night in Greensboro. According My Fox 8 TV News In Greensboro the student was killed when her car was hit head on by a driver driving west on the eastbound lanes of I-40 near the Wendover Avenue exit around ten fifteen last night. The student has been identified as 22-year-old Reagan Hartley who was scheduled to graduate next month from Western Carolina University with her degree in elementary education. Hartley was from the town of Willow Springs NC and a 2010 graduate from West Johnston High School. She was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.
The driver of the S U V has been identified as 46-year-old Ronnie Fichera. Police said Fichera entered Greensboro on I-40, exited the interstate at the High Point Road exit leading officers around Four Seasons Mall and reentered the interstate again driving west in the eastbound lanes. He struck the convertible about a mile down the highway. Greensboro police were not involved in the pursuit but are investigating the crash. Units were called to assist when Randleman Police initiated the pursuit. “It’s a tragedy, there’s no way around that,” Lt. C.M. Shultheis said. “I don’t know what goes through a drivers mind when they are trying to elude police. I don’t know what the level of impairment was, the driver may not have realized he was going the wrong way.”
540 A-M WRGC Radio shares the grief with the entire University family with the death of this aspiring teacher who is described by her student teaching supervisor “as having all the qualities for being a really great elementary school teacher.”

Mountain Hillside Development Ordinance Hearing On Thursday

The history of the Mountain Hillside Development Ordinance goes back about seven years when the first hillside development regulations were adopted. Opponents suggest the regulations were so restrictive that the construction and building business along with the collapse of the nationwide housing bubble hit Jackson County especially hard. Proponents of the regulations say the slowing of the development has protected existing homes and views, helped with sedimentation control and water quality, and requires better planning for the protection of the beauty of western North Carolina. Opinions range from those who feel there should be no ordinances controlling what a person can do on their property while others feel that every change or construction needs to be done within the broader view of the whole neighborhood. Director Gerald Green urges citizens bring their opinions to the hearing. There will be a time to speak or persons can present their opinions in written format. The ordinance hearing will be in the Commissioners Board Room on the second floor of the Jackson County Justice Center starting at 6:00 p.m.

Jackson County Commissioners To Meet Monday

Even though it will celebrated as President’s Day the Jackson County Commissioners will have a busy day on Monday. For the afternoon work session the commissioners will take a road trip to see the improvements to the new Jackson County Transit Authority location on Haywood Road just outside Dillsboro. The Transit Authority relocated to the facility several months ago but the building and the associated grounds and parking area needed improvements. The Commissioners will also check on the renovation taking place at the Skyland Office Complex which includes the upgrades to the Board of Elections, The facility will also have a community room which will be available for local meetings as well as for training for poll workers and other election personnel.

Jackson County Tourism Development Authority To Meet Tuesday

The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority Board Of Directors will meet on Tuesday at the North Carolina Center For the Advancement Of Teaching In Cullowhee. The meeting will be called to order by Robert jumper who is now the Chairman of that Board. The meeting will be proceeded by an opportunity for public comment beginning at 12:50. Numerous state agencies and local entities who track tourism rates are reporting that the number of tourists coming into southwestern North Carolina is on the upswing. Such growth has a positive and broad based impact. The board will hear several reports including the financial report, as well as Governance, Finance, and Marketing. Also the Cashiers and Jackson County Chambers of Commerce will present their reports as well. After the meeting there will be an additional opportunity for public comment. The North Carolina Center For the Advancement Of Teaching is located at 276 NCCAT Drive in Cullowhee.

Great Smokies Mountains National Park Closed Thursday

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that Sugarlands Visitor Center, Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and Park Headquarters will remain closed all day, February 14, due to inclement weather.

Currently all roads are closed in the park except for the following: Newfound Gap Road from Gatlinburg to Sugarlands Visitor Center, the Spur between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, and Newfound Gap Road from Cherokee to Smokemont Campground.

For more information about current road conditions, please visit the Park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsm, call the Park’s Road and Weather Information Line at 865-436-1200, or follow road updates on Twitter at http://twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps.

Winter Storm Blasts Western North Carolina

Mother Nature was in a teasing mode for much of Wednesday with light and variable snow showers but as evening approached and the temperatures dropped a couple of degrees the snow has increased in intensity and is no longer melting on contact. Roads that were mostly clear all day have become treacherous, schools have already announced their closure for Thursday. County Emergency Services Director Todd Dillard said that plans are being made to have a shelter open should conditions worsen and the power go off. Dan Shaffer, Director of Maintenance for the town of Sylva reported that at 5:00 o’clock there were no power outages and no fallen trees were reported and all streets are open. He also reported that crews would be working all night to respond to emergencies. WestCare EMS Services have responded to numerous calls. Citizens are reminded that when shoveling snow to not overdo it, especially if one is not accustomed to such physical labor. This is one of the leading causes of heart attacks in the winter. Fire Departments have had a busy day mostly with traffic control around wrecks. Wrecks on Catamount Gap has kept several departments busy. A wreck in the Whittier area caused damage to a utility pole which required a replacement. An chemical spill in Webster led to the call out of the local Has Mat team. Highway crews have been staged since Tuesday afternoon to work the highways with chemicals and truck mounted scrape blades to try to keep snow from accumulating on the major highways. The storm has also forced the rescheduling of the WCU versus Chattanooga men’s league basketball game from Thursday till Friday.

Agriculture Commissioner Troxler Announces Damage Assistance To Farmers

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has activated its toll-free hotline to help farmers affected by the winter storm to connect with resources that can assist with recovery. Farmers who have an agricultural emergency can call 1-866-506-6222. The hotline will be staffed 24 hours a day through Friday, Feb. 14. Operating hours will be re-evaluated at that time. “This storm is bringing a potentially nasty mix of snow and ice,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Possible impacts to farms include power outages, damage to agricultural buildings and animal health emergencies. We are prepared to work with our state and local partners to help our agricultural community in the storm’s aftermath.”

Brace For Winter Storm To Intensify

Forecasters have called for lighter amounts of snow during the day time hours on Wednesday, and in Sylva the snow actually stopped for about an hour late Wednesday morning. However the weather bureau seems to be pretty much on target as the storm continues to strengthen with additional moisture being pulled off the Gulf of Mexico. The conditions in Sylva have further deteriorated as midday approaches and the probability of snow that was lingering around 60 Percent will be increase to 100 percent by mid-afternoon. The intensity of the snowfall is expected to increase and as much as two inches an hour could be recorded by around nightfall and continue overnight.
Jackson County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Todd Dillard has declared the county to be under a Code Red Emergency and reminds everyone this is a serious storm and conditions are expected to deteriorate rapidly this afternoon. Residents are encouraged to prepare to settle in for the long haul. Fill the bathtub and the the automatic washer with water, bottle water, if the freezer has extra room put bottles of water in those spaces so the frozen water can help keep the temperature low should the electricity go off. DO NOT use a generator inside your home or a closed space occupied by humans or pets. DO NOT use a charcoal grill to cook inside your home or on your covered porch or deck. Check the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. Find your portable radio and dial it to 540 on the A-M band and test it before conditions deteriorate. WRGC Radio will be on the air all night and make emergency announcements as needed, if the power goes off WRGC Radio is now equipped to operate off emergency power.

Jackson County Emergency Services Declares Code Red Conditions Tuesday

EOC1The Jackson County Emergency Preparedness Director Todd Dillard has announced that Jackson County is now in Code Red Emergency conditions and that an Emergency Operations Center was opened at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Dillard urged all citizens to immediately prepare for emergency conditions by gathering food and water, a manual can opener, flashlight and battery powered radio with extra batteries. He also recommended that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors be checked and that supplies for pets be assembled as well. During this Code Red Emergency all calls are to be directed to the Emergency Operations Center at 586-7500. DO NOT CALL 911 UNLESS IT IS AN ACTUAL EMERGENCY.

WRGC will be broadcasting any emergency announcements and is equipped to stay on the air should the electrical power fail. Forecasters are predicting the main force of the storm to arrive early Wednesday morning with a 24 hour snow event possible dumping up to a foot of snow in some of the higher elevations.

North Carolina Department Of Transportation personnel have been staged at strategic locations throughout the county with trucks loaded with salt and other equipment needed to battle the snowfall.

In addition to the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center a new app for smart phones is available at Ready NC.com. It provides up-to-date information for all state departments and services which are affected by severe weather conditions.

Board Of Elections Has A Busy Monday

The Jackson County Board Of Elections got the 2014 election season off to a quick start on Monday with eight candidates filing for the upcoming campaign season. Incumbent Jackson County Clerk of Court Ann Melton completed the paperwork to seek another term in that position. She was joined at the new Jackson County Board Of Election offices in the renovated Skyland Office Center by incumbent Republican Commissioners Doug Cody and Charles Elders. Also filing on Monday were current School Board members Ken Hinkey, Allie Laird Large, and Margaret McCray. The race for a new Jackson County Sheriff is unexpected to be hotly contested this year since incumbent sheriff Jimmy Ashe has announced his retirement. Steve Lillard who is currently on the Western Carolina University Police Department, and Jackson County Chief Deputy Chip Hall both filed on Monday. Several other individuals have placed campaign signs in the at various occasions but did not file on Monday. Also on Monday no one filed for the Jackson County Register Of Deeds Office currently held by Joe Hamilton. Candidates have 25 days to file for the May 6th Primary. Board of Elections Director Lisa Lovedahl encouraged candidates to go to the State board Of Elections website and download the documents which can be completed in advance making the filing process quicker. Also Lovedahl reminded voters in the Dillsboro area that their votes would be cash in the jack son County Justice Center starting in 2014 because the Dillsboro precinct voting station at the Dillsboro Town Hall was to small to continue to accommodate the increased number of people voting in that location.

Winter Storm Warning

The National Weather Service has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for Southwestern North Carolina, North East Georgia and Upstate South Carolina. The first of the storm is expected to arrive late Tuesday afternoon then turn to snow by nightfall. Eight inches of snow or more are now predicted for Sylva and the surrounding higher elevations will likely see more than eight inches of snow overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. The National Weather Officials are expecting widespread power outages to occur due to broken utility poles, downed power lines, and falling timber crashing down on utility services. Stay tuned to 540 a-m WRGC Radio for the latest in the development of this storm. On line at wrgc.com you can check on the latest closings and delays should you not be able to hear the over the air broadcast. WRGC Radio has been saturating the airwaves for the past few weeks with information urging families and individuals to prepare for all emergencies. Individuals are warned to make preparations now. First of all know how to contact all family members even in case the cell phone service goes out (which is likely). Make certain there are extra batteries for your radio and flashlights, fill your bathtub with water, and have alternative sources for heating your dwelling. WRGC has installed an emergency generator and special transmitter to provide critical emergency information to Jackson and surrounding counties and can operate for up to 20 hours should the utility service be interrupted. The station can be heard at 540 on the a-m radio bandwidth which is normally the first option on most radios. Should a state of emergency be declared the station will operate at 5000 watts as long as needed. Should there be a power failure the station will operate on emergency power at 1000 watts. Local citizens are encouraged to call WRGC Radio at 586-9742 or 586-2221 with closing and delay information and to report road conditions and closings.

WCU Enrollment Continues At A Record Pace

Information released this week by Western Carolina University shows the Spring 2014 student population to be over 9600 students which is a new record for the Spring Semester. This follows the record breaking Fall 2013 Enrollment which exceeded 10,000. Why the drop in the Spring enrollment compared to the Fall? University administrators report that a Spring drop in enrollment is expected because some students enter the fall semester and choose not to return for the Spring semester for various reasons. WCU also received in influx of students transferring from other institutions. The additional number of students transferring in was sufficient to keep the overall enrollment number at record levels.

Ginsing Poachers Get Jail Time

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Howell sentenced Charles R. Nash, of Whittier, N.C. to serve 10 days in jail for the illegal possession or harvesting of American ginseng from the Nantahala National Forest, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina and Kristin Bail, Forest Supervisor of the U.S. Forest Service National Forests in North Carolina. According to the January 30, 2014 sentencing hearing and other documents, on October 12, 2013, Nash admitted to illegally possessing 24 American ginseng roots he had dug from the Mosses Creek and Wayehutta Off-Road Vehicle areas in Jackson County. He pleaded guilty to the poaching charge. Staff of the Forest Service replanted the recovered viable roots. American ginseng is on the list of the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species. The U.S. Attorney’s Office reminds the public that gathering ginseng on the Nantahala National Forest without a permit is illegal. U.S. Forest Service lands have been severely impacted by ginseng poachers in western North Carolina. American ginseng was formerly abundant throughout the eastern mountains, but due to repeated poaching, populations have been reduced to a point that they can barely reproduce. The roots poached in this park are usually young, between the ages of 5 and 10 years, and have not yet reached their full reproductive capacity. In time, the plant’s populations could recover if poaching ceased. The Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is the regulatory agency that evaluates the biological and management status of wild American ginseng throughout its native range. The Division issues an annual or biennial report detailing if any harvest conditions need to be modified to ensure the sustainable harvest of wild native ginseng. Permits to collect ginseng root in National Forests are issued through the U.S. Forest Service in early September. Permits are not available in National Park lands such as the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where even the possession of American Ginseng is prohibited.
The investigation of the case was handled by the U.S. Forest Service. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville handled the prosecution.
To report illegal harvesting activities of American ginseng, please call 828-257-4200.

WCU Receives Estimates On The Structure Fire Damages

Western Carolina University Chancellor Doctor David Belcher on Wednesday published an update on the status of the buildings damaged by the fire which damaged several on campus buildings occupied by private businesses during December 2013. Belcher’s report included estimated costs to replace or repair the three structures. The estimates were provided by the independent Clark Nexsen Architectural and Engineering firm. The cost of replacing the seventy year old buildings with new structures meeting current building codes was one-point-five million dollars. There was also an estimated cost of over six-hundred-thousand dollars to demolish and remove the structures and debris. The property is owned by the Board of trustees of the Endowment Fund of WCU who are now evaluating the information to determine the next steps. According to jackson County tax records the property is listed for taxes at $254,430.00

Commissioners Take Action On Board Of Elections Issues

The Jackson County Commissioners voted on Monday to allocate two-hundred-thousand dollars for the upgrading of the Skyland Services Center which was formerly occupied by the Jackson County Transit. With the crunch for space at the Jackson County Justice Center it was decided to relocated the Board Of Elections to the Skyland Services Center and make several upgrades to make the facility more user friendly for the Board Of Elections and other future community events. In addition to securing the storage area for the voting machines, construction of private office space for Board Of Elections staff, and other materials pertaining to elections, the improvements will also include a large classroom and community room space for training poll workers and other elections related personnel as well as having a space to accommodate community meetings. The Commissioners also set aside over $16,000 in the budget for salary and benefits for an additional employee for the Board Of Elections. With the passage by the North Carolina legislature of HB 589 numerous changes to the voter registration process are mandated by state law. The Board of Elections had requested additional staffing several years ago, and with the new requirements of the law the need for the additional staff person became more critical. It is expected a new staff member will be on board in immediate future.

WNC Slowly Returns To Normal

This weeks bitterly cold temperatures and Tuesday’s snowfall have snarled schools, sports, and business activities in western North Carolina. While other services will enjoy profits to make up for several seasons of slow economy. Some examples include wrecker services, roll back operators, and auto body shops will continue to have enjoy the payday in car repairs caused huge number of wrecks and automobile breakdowns. Grocery stores have racked up on sales of milk, bread, and snacks, the ski resorts will see booming business this weekend with a huge snow base and warmer temperatures and open roads will push operations to the capacity. The utility companies will see profits rise as a result of the increased demand for electricity. The other fuel providers from firewood and gas to petroleum have seen supplies dwindle and profits grow. The storm and cold weather has a huge negative as well. The Community Table which depends heavily upon the Blue Plate Special for an infusion of mid winter cash came up empty this week when the event sponsored by Harrah’s was canceled due to the snow. Local high schools have scrambled to make up basketball schedules. Schools have used up their built in snow days and will be forced to schedule schools to operate on Saturday should the snow and cold bring conditions which force additional school cancellations.

NC Senate Candidate Ron Robinson Speaks In Sylva

Jackson County businessman Ron Robinson brought his campaign home on Saturday morning with a campaign stop in Sylva. His talk was proceeded by four local supporters who addressed four key issues which will be key components of the campaign. Eric Hendrix spoke from a small local business person’s perspective. His contention is that legislation needs to better address the needs of the thousands of small businesses in the state. His contention is the corporate interests have fared better with tax breaks and incentives at the expense of local entrepreneurs. The Canary Coalition President, Sylva resident Avram Freeman addressed the needs of the environment and pointed out that much of the recent legislation coming out of Raleigh had resulted in more pollution and expressed concerns over the fracking legislation which passed the last state legislative session. Western Carolina University Doctor Craig Pointed out that North Carolina had previously operated a model Medicaid program which was rejected by the last legislation with what he felt was not a fair review of the service. “While some feel they are sticking it to Obama on health care they are really sticking it to the citizens of North Carolina.” He stated that many of the problems with the current insurance options is that the North Carolina Insurance Commissioner was legislatively barred from negotiating with other insurance companies who wanted to start offering their insurance services in North Carolina. Before Candidate Robinson spoke Johnny Dill who is a high school teacher in Macon County pointed out that while the claims are that charter schools are performing better that public schools that in fact the research does not support that claim. He expressed concerns that cuts to the public education program and the greater allocations to private schools is not good because both systems are not subjected to the same review process and fears that private schools will engage in a process of “cherry picking” students in order to embellish their test scores.

When candidate Ron Robinson addressed the group he contention was that the trend of legislation coming out of Raleigh was not going to change and addressed concerns that many of those who had been elected as state representatives had allowed themselves to become a patsy to those who had put the millions of dollars into the candidate’s campaign. He sited several cases of his speaking to the representative who pledged to do one things when in their district but a few days later voted against their promise because they would not break with their party voting block. He urged those present to become involved with voter registration and take the responsibility of getting voters to the polls.

Hearing on Hillside Development Ordinance Scheduled

The Jackson County Planning Board has completed its review of the Mountain and Hillside Development Ordinance (steep slope ordinance). At the Board’s meeting January 9, the proposed revisions to the ordinance were approved and a public hearing was scheduled to receive public comments on the proposed revisions. A copy of the ordinance with proposed revisions and a summary of the revisions are available from Gerald Greene who’s office is in the Jackson County Administration Center. The public hearing is scheduled for Thursday February 13, at 6:00 PM in the Commissioners’ Board Room on the second floor of the Jackson County Administration Building. Please plan to attend the hearing to provide your comments regarding the proposed revisions. You also may provide your comments in writing, via email or mail, prior to the hearing.