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Author Archive for 540-AM WRGC

Snow Day Dilemma

snowmanWITH JACKSON COUNTY STUDENTS MISSING ALMOST ALL OF LAST WEEK DUE TO SNOW, LOCAL SCHOOL OFFICIALS ARE BUSY PLANNING TO MAKE UP THE MISSED TIME. SO FAR THIS YEAR, STUDENTS IN THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN DISTRICT AND AT THE JACKSON COUNTY EARLY COLLEGE HAVE MISSED 11 DAYS DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER, BLUE RIDGE HAS MISSED 12 SNOW DAYS. SCHOOL LEADERS SAY THEY ARE NOW ARE COUNTING HOURS OF INSTRUCTION RATHER THAN DAYS TO MEET STATE REQUIREMENTS. BASED ON THE STATE STATUTORY REQUIREMENT OF 1,025 INSTRUCTIONAL HOURS, THE LAST STUDENT DAY WILL BE JUNE 9 FOR THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN DISTRICT; MAY 29 FOR BLUE RIDGE AND MAY 28 FOR JACKSON COUNTY EARLY COLLEGE IF MORE DAYS ARE MISSED  THE SCHOOL SYSTEM WILL BE FORCED TO CONTINUE THE PLAN OF POSSIBLE SATURDAY MAKE-UPS THE BOARD WILL ALSO BE DISCUSSING THE POSSIBILITIES OF USING SATURDAY, MAY 31, AND EVEN EXTENDING THE LENGTH OF THE SCHOOL DAY BY 10 MINUTES SHOULD IT BECOME ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

Secular Student Alliance

Pisgah High School

Pisgah High School

STUDENTS AT PISGAH HIGH SCHOOL IN CANTON HAVE BEEN TRYING SINCE OCTOBER 2013 TO FORM A CHAPTER OF THE SECULAR STUDENT ALLIANCE, WHICH SEEKS TO CREATE WELCOMING COMMUNITIES FOR NON-RELIGIOUS STUDENTS, BUT WERE TOLD BY OFFICIALS THAT THE CLUB WOULD NOT “FIT IN” AND COULD NOT FIND A FACULTY SPONSOR. THE SCHOOL HAS ABOUT 30 EXTRA CURRICULAR CLUBS, INCLUDING AT LEAST TWO RELIGIOUS CLUBS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIAN ATHLETES AND KEY CLUB. IN A FEBRUARY 11 LETTER TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF HAYWOOD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, THE ACLU SAID THAT PROHIBITING STUDENTS FROM FORMING THE CLUB VIOLATED THE FEDERAL EQUAL ACCESS ACT, WHICH PROHIBITS PUBLIC SCHOOLS FROM DISCRIMINATING AGAINST STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS ON THE BASIS OF RELIGIOUS OR POLITICAL BELIEFS. THE EAA ALSO REQUIRES SCHOOLS TO APPOINT A FACULTY SPONSOR IN THE ABSENCE OF VOLUNTEERS. THE STUDENTS WERE TOLD THEY WOULD BE ALLOWED TO FORM THE CLUB AFTER A RECENT MEETING WITH PISGAH HIGH’S PRINCIPAL.

Gun Locks

Gun Locks

Gun Locks

THE JACKSON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE HAS RECEIVED A LIMITED SUPPLY OF GUN SAFETY LOCKS TO ENCOURAGE FAMILIES TO SAFELY SECURE THEIR FIREARMS.  THESE LOCKS ARE AVAILABLE FOR FREE, UPON REQUEST AT THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE MAIN LOBBY.  THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE HAS ALREADY BEGUN DISTRIBUTING THESE GUN LOCKS WITH EACH GUN PURCHASE PERMIT. THE JACKSON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE ENCOURAGES GUN OWNERS TO TAKE TIME AND TALK WITH THEIR LOVED ONES AND CHILDREN ABOUT FIREARM SAFETY.  FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE AT (828) 586-4355

 

Swain County Man Arrested on Several Charges

According to the Swain County Sheriff’s Department, on Friday , February 14, 2014, Swain County Sheriff’s Deputies and Bryson City Police Officers arrested Dennis Allen McGaha of Swain County on several charges resulting from an incident that occurred in Bryson City on the same date. McGaha was charged with:

  • Felony Flee to Elude
  • assault with a Deadly weapon on a Government official
  • Resisting Public official
  • Possess Drug Paraphernalia
  • Possess Marijuana Greater then 1/2oz to 1 1/2oz
  • Injury to Personal Property
  • Breaking and or Entering
  • Larceny of a Motor Vehicle
  • Felony Larceny
  • Break or Enter a Motor Vehicle
  • First Degree Burglary

He is currently being held in the Swain County Detention Center on a $150,000.00 secured bond.

Child Sex Charges

Stephen Hurley

Stephen Hurley

On February 5th, Police responded to an attempted suicide at the Maggie Valley Motel. There they found 68 year old restaurant owner Stephen Hurley. They also found a note in the room with him. This led the Maggie Valley Police to investigate the alleged sexual assault of two children. A total of 44 sexual molestation related counts and felony warrants have now been served against Hurley. He was arrested and is now in the Haywood County Detention Center under 1 million dollars bond. The warrants charge Hurley with molesting two children under the age of 16 in 2006 and 2007. Other Charges include indecent liberties with a minor and crimes against nature. The alleged victims are now of age and are cooperating with authorities. Residents and those who personally knew Hurley were shocked, stunned and disgusted.

Magnitude 4.4 Felt In Jackson County

Epicenter in Edgefield, SC

Epicenter in Edgefield, SC

At 10:23 last evening we got reports of shaking near Webster. Soon after the USGS confirmed a 4.4 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter near Edgefield, South Carolina. There were reports of people all over the Southeast feeling it. Residents in Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC and into Tennessee. There were no reports of damage or injury.

 

Snow Totals

Here are some snowfall totals so far for our area from the National Weather Service in Greenville Spartanburg as of 10:40pm on 2/12/14

snowcoveredroad

Snow Covered Roads in Jackson Co.

Cashiers 7.5 inches as of 8:05pm 02/12
Highlands 8.5 inches as of 8:28pm 02/12
Franklin 8.0 inches as of 9:08pm 02/12
Waynesville 6.0 inches 8:17pm 02/12
Asheville 6.0 inches 8:44pm 02/12
Weaverville 4.0 8:04pm 02/12
Etowah 5.3 inches 8:20pm 02/12
Rabun County GA (Clayton) – 3.8 10:00am 02/12

Wanted: Sex Offender for failing to register

Craig Michael Hawkins

Craig Michael Hawkins

Attached please find an incident report and mug shot regarding a Craig Michael Hawkins, who has failed to register as a sex offender. Deputies from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office were verifying sex offender addresses and looked for Mr. Hawkins at his last known and registered address, only to find he was no longer living at that location. A felony warrant for failing to register has been issued. In addition, Mr. Hawkins has outstanding warrants for assault on a female and failure to pay back child support in the amount of $300.

As always, anyone having any information as to Mr. Hawkins’ whereabouts is asked to contact the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office at (828) 452-6666 or the Haywood County CrimeStoppers line at 1-877-92CRIME. (Deputy Heidi Warren, Public Information Officer, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office)

Winter Storm Warning In Effect

Accumulation Map

Accumulation Map

A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 6pm Thursday evening. Heavy snow accumulations across the region of 6 to 10 inches are possible along with a trace of ice. Heavy snowfall will make travel treacherous. The accumulations may also create power outages especially Wednesday through Thursday morning. Temperates will dip to the lower 30’s with winds Northeast 5 to 10 miles per hour. Gusts up to 25 miles per hour are expected. A Winter Storm Warning for heavy snow means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Travel only in emergency situations and take cell phones. Wear a warm coat, gloves and boots. Keep a blanket, flashlight, food and water in your vehicle if traveling. Stay tuned to 540am WRGC for the latest from local and state officials.

 

Avoid IRS imposters

With the April 15th tax filing deadline coming up, watch out for criminals and con artists posing as the Internal Revenue Service to try to win your trust and steal your money. We’ve warned you before about phony calls from the IRS. Some North Carolina consumers recently reported getting threatening calls from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The fake IRS agent told them a warrant had been issued for their arrest and, if they did not pay his taxes immediately, police would jail them within hours. The caller continued to harass one victim and intimidate him until he felt he had no choice but to pay more than $8,000 to the scammers.

If you get a call that claims to come from the IRS, look for warning signs that it’s scam:

  • The IRS will not threaten arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay back taxes immediately.
  • IRS agents will never demand immediate payment by credit card, pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
  • Typically, the IRS communicates with consumers about tax issues via mail, not by phone, email or text message.
  • Ask for the caller’s call back number and employee badge number, and then call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 to check them out.
  • Don’t rely on Caller ID to identify who is calling you, since scammers can manipulate it to make it appear they are calling from the real IRS.
  • Never share personal information, such as your Social Security Number or bank account number, with anyone you don’t know who contacts you, even if they claim to be with the IRS.  Identity thieves can use this information to open up accounts in your name and even claim your tax refund.

If you spot a tax related scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing an online complaint at ncdoj.gov.

Phone Scam Alert

Don’t Recognize the Number? Don’t Return the Call.

Phone-based crooks are always on the lookout for a new way to take your money. In their latest scam, they use computers to place calls to thousands of phones, including to numbers in North Carolina. After your phone rings one time, the computer ends the call but your phone captures the number of that incoming “missed” call.

Even though the number is unfamiliar, some people call back to see who called them. However, calling the number may connect you to an adult entertainment line overseas and trigger charges of $19.95 plus $9 for each minute of the call. These calls usually come from area codes in the Caribbean including 473, 809, 284, 649, or 876.

Remember, if the call you missed was legitimate and important, the caller would have left you a voicemail message or will call you back.

To protect yourself from the one-ring scam:

  • Don’t automatically return calls from numbers or area codes you don’t recognize.
  • If you don’t know the number but think the call may be legitimate, check it out by typing the number into an online search engine.  You can also search the area code to see if it’s an overseas call.
  • To avoid accidentally calling the number and falling victim to a scam, delete it from your phone.
  • Check your cell phone bill carefully, and if you get billed for one of these calls report it to your cell phone carrier.
  • If you believe that you‘ve been scammed or if you have trouble getting the charges removed from your bill, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint at www.ncdoj.gov.

Haywood County Missing Persons Located

The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office reports two people who were reported missing in separate incidents have been located.

Family members who had reported 38-year-old Robert Douglas Parks missing said today that he has spoken with them and is fine.  His name has been removed from missing persons.

Also, because of news alerts in the local media, a person recognized James Christopher Franklin at a fast-food restaurant in the Oteen area of Buncombe County last night and notified police.  Asheville police officers positively identified Mr. Franklin, and he was in good condition.

Sheriff Ashe Announces Retirement

Sheriff Jimmy Ashe

Sheriff Jimmy Ashe

Below is the retirement announcement released by Sheriff Jimmy Ashe’s office.

 

After much prayerful thought and reflection, I am today announcing my decision to retire as your Sheriff in December of 2014.  Serving three terms as Sheriff, and many years more as a member of the Department, has been the most rewarding experience in my life.  Serving with and leading the men and women of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has been a privilege and an honor and the citizens of the County can be proud of the law enforcement professionals who answer the call of duty everyday.

During a career that has spanned nearly thirty-five years, I have witnessed great changes in the County.  While we have grown in population, we have also maintained the remnants of days gone by, with neighbor knowing neighbor and citizens supporting the greater good.

I am proud of what we have accomplished at the Sheriff’s Office.  We have worked diligently to enhance our crime fighting skills with new equipment, robust training, and meaningful relationships with our colleagues at other agencies; local, State and Federal.  I would like to think that we have created the foundation for sustainable relationships with our law enforcement partners.

As I reflect on my many years with the Sheriff’s Office, as a Deputy, Supervisor, Commanding Officer, Chief Deputy and elected Sheriff, I cannot help but recall the many changes we have seen in both the Sheriff’s Office and the communities we serve.  Once a sleepy hamlet imbedded in the mountains of Western North Carolina, we have emerged as a hub of social activity, cultural diversity, educational greatness, and the destination of many, be they tourists or those who have decided to become our neighbors.

Many have served the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office during my tenure, and I would like to thank them for their commitment to our community and the strengthening of our values.  Together we have worked to assimilate our department into the mainstream lives of our citizens; being there when needed and providing for a sense of safety and well-being.

This has not been an easy decision.  I have been humbled by the breadth of your support and the measure of your resolve to help me make Jackson County all that it can be.  But there does come a time when the reins of leadership must be passed to others and I have determined that this is the time.

To my friends, supporters, and all citizens of Jackson County, please accept my most sincere thank you for your trust, confidence, and faith.  I shall always cherish my service with the County I love and its magnificent people. (Press Release from the office of Sheriff Jimmy Ashe)

 

Winter Storm

Tilley Creek

Tilley Creek

Jackson County and surrounding counties received significant snow accumulations over the course of the last two days. While the snow has stopped, the danger still exists, especially those on secondary roads. Pictured, Tilley Creek near Speedwell, one of the countless back roads in Jackson County that are still snow covered.  The North Carolina Highway Patrol says they responded to minor accidents this morning and throughout the day. Many Schools, Churches and Businesses are still closed due to this wintry weather mix. for a complete list of those CLICK HERE

Jackson County Property Evaluation Process On Schedule With No Rate Increase Projected.

The Jackson County Commissioners heard reports from a number of county agencies Tuesday during the annual Planning Retreat which was held at the NC-CAT facility at Western Carolina University. Bobby McMahan and Kevin Ford with the Jackson County Tax Department reported that the property re-evaluation field review of the real estate in Jackson County is about fifty percent complete with all the current data now entered. Also the data for all property sales in Jackson County in 2013 are now entered into the system. With the property reevaluation process underway and the report by Jackson County Finance Officer Darlene Foxx that the county fund balance at the end of the fiscal year was at 35% with just under a million dollars more than the prior year, and Jackson County having the lowest tax rate in the state it was projected by the commissioners that no tax rate increase is anticipated for this year. The Commissioners also felt it was not necessary to move forward with a Fire Tax until an additional review can take place.

Winter Storm Watch In Effect For Much Of Western North Carolina

9!/20/2014)  A winter storm watch has been announced for most of Western North Carolina.  The watch is in effect through late Tuesday night.  Heavy snowfall and cold temperatures could cause roadways to be quite slippery or even impassable. Also, strong wind gusts could cause downed trees and power lines.   A winter storm watch means there is a potential for significant snow, sleet, or ice accumulations that may impact travel.  For up-to-date weather information and a complete list of closings and delays you can check out wrgc.com.

White-Tailed Deer To Increase On Cherokee Reservation

(1/20/2014) The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in conjunction with the Morrow Mountain State park has struck a deal to increase the White Tailed Deer population in Cherokee.  The Cherokee Reservation will receive twenty-five to fifty white tailed deer every year for the next three years. The Project hopes to increase Cherokee’s dwindling deer population and help ease Morrow Mountain’s abundance of deer.

Jackson County School System May Be Stuck With Huge Water Bill

(1/20/2014)  The Jackson County School System recently received a shocking bill in the mail.  According to the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority the school system owes over sixteen thousand dollars for four months of water usage.  The stunning bill is attributed to new construction of the performing arts center and the gymnasium at Smoky Mountain High School.  TWSA determined that Jackson County Schools used over seventeen thousand gallons of water per day during the four month time span.  The School System must pay the complete amount unless TWSA changes their policy.  TWSA’s next board meeting will be held February 20th, in which Board Members will be discussing this matter in more detail with TWSA Director Dan Harbaugh.

Parkway Budget Cuts

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway says it could face new challenges if US Congress doesn’t increase appropriations. New reports were released today that backs those very claims. Budget cuts last fall caused the Parkway and other campgrounds and picnic areas to close. If the cuts this year are as severe they say the same thing could  happen. Many volunteers that help to maintain the Parkway say their already behind on maintenance crucial for day to day operations. The reports state that the government has cut $784,000 from the Parkway budget last year out of an operating cost of 14-million. Other parks across the nation are feeling the same financial strain as well.

Saunook Fire

FireMultiple Haywood County Fire Departments responded to a camper going up in flames. It all happened around 7:40pm on Tuesday evening in the Saunook area of Haywood County. The Saunook Fire Department chief said there were no injuries and no one was occupying the camper at the time. He also stated electrical cords coming from the RV could have been to blame. The official cause of the fire is yet to be determined.