Author Archive for 540-AM WRGC – Page 2

Frigid Mountain Weather

135200_10152097518299356_1847424393_oThe weather in the Western North Carolina Mountains the last few days has been everything but normal when it comes to the temperatures. The cold air is all thanks to a “Polar Vortex”. Bitter cold air from the Arctic caused temperatures to plunge below zero in many places. We’ve seen some of the lowest temperatures in over a decade with readings in the single digits. If that weren’t enough, the wind chill factors have been minus 20 to 30 below zero in the higher elevations. Schools, Businesses and Non-Profits have been forced to close due to cold air. Officials say they’ve responded to many calls over the last two days in regards heater related fires, frostbite and other respiratory conditions. Thousands of flights across the country were also canceled as a result of the crippling cold and a mixture of snow and ice. Nearly 14,000 flights were delayed or completely canceled. Luckily, spring like temperatures will return to the WNC mountains by this weekend.

Tonight’s Game

The Smoky Mountain vs Pisgah game for tonight is scheduled to continue as planned. We will be streaming live online around 6pm.

Cold Weather Tips

Cold WXOf course the best solution for battling the cold weather is to stay indoors as much as possible, but for those that need to be outside they should follow a few guidelines. Frostbite in these cold of temperatures can hit in as little as five minutes, so people should make to cover as much bare skin as possible, especially the ears, toes and fingers because those are more likely to get frostbite. You should also wear as many layers of loose-fitting clothing and water-resistant coat and boots. If you are traveling, make sure to have winter survival kits in your car as well as a full cell phone battery in case you get in an accident. Vehicles themselves need to be taken care of in the cold as well. Make sure to start your car at least fifteen minutes before driving, and make sure to check the tires because they can lose air in the freezing temperatures.

Flu Restrictions Implemented

Woman with tissue and hot drink Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital have implemented temporary flu restrictions for their visitors. These changes are a precaution against the spread of the flu. There has been a significant rise in the number of cases in our communities. Visitors to the two hospitals need to be 12 years old or older. There is also a limitation of two visitors per patient at any one time. Visits to patients in isolation will also be limited to only those persons necessary for the patients emotional well being and care. Visitors should wash hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer before entering and exiting patient rooms. If visitors are experiencing any symptoms of respiratory illness, they’ll be asked to wear a mask. We are working with patients and their families to ensure the final stages of a patient’s life are treated with respect and sensitivity. We will help families make arrangements for a child 11 and under to visit a family member in the hospital for the last time. However, if a child has flu-like symptoms, we may need to make alternate accommodations (i.e. mask) to protect the health and safety of our patients and their families.Thank you for your cooperation and assistance in preventing the spread of flu to our patients, staff, and visitors. Please contact the WestCare Infection Prevention Department if you have any questions or concerns at (828) 586-7297.Hospital Flu Restrictions

Maggie Valley Wreck

WreckNames have now been released in the two vehicle crash in Haywood County. The crash took place last evening at the intersection of US 19/Soco Road and US 276/Jonathan Creek Road in Maggie Valley. Police have now released the names of the occupants in the vehicles. Torry Pinter, who was driving in the right-hand lane did not have a chance to hit the brakes on his Chevy Truck while heading through the green light just past Dollar General, said Maggie Valley Police Department Sgt. Russ Gilliland. His truck T-boned the car, where the driver, a passenger named Darnelle Camp and the elderly passenger Frank Morgan, who was in the back seat. The impact likely totaled both vehicles and both Herman Morgan and Frank Morgan were transported to Med-West Haywood, where Frank Morgan later died. MAMA helicopter landed at Jonathan Valley Elementary School and air lifted Darnelle Camp to Mission Hospital. Gilliland said as of Thursday afternoon, she was in stable condition.  Police are reconstructing the accident to determine if charges will be filled.

Winter Weather Possibility

STSStormTotalSnow_webThe National Weather Service in Greenville Spartanburg is predicting snow for Thursday. An area of low pressure and a strong cold front will cross the region Thursday afternoon allowing snow to develop at higher elevations and work down toward the valley floors late. Light accumulations will be possible during the evening hours especially along the ridge tops. New snow accumulations of less that one inch are expected. In addition, very gusty winds will develop and a few downed trees will be possible.


Foul Play In Burned Vehicle

crime-sceneAs reported earlier, The Cherokee Police responded to a call around 1am on December 29th of a burned vehicle on Old Rock Crusher Road in the Big Cove Community. A body was found and was identified to be Marie Walkingstick Pheasant, 26 of Cherokee. Foul play is now suspected and the Cherokee Police, NC Bureau of Investigations and FBI are currently investigating the crime. A reward of $5,000 is being offered for any information leading to an arrest and conviction of persons responsible for the crime. Anyone with information may contact Detective Jason Cable at the Cherokee Indian Police Department at 828-778-5608.

Felony Drug Charges

Joshua Ray Warren

Joshua Ray Warren

A routine traffic stop late Sunday night led to a felony drug and weapons arrest by the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy initiated the stop after observing a revoked license plate on a vehicle occupied by three people.  As the subsequent investigation unfolded, deputies found a handgun during the vehicle search, and secured the weapon and more than $380 cash into evidence.  During a search of the suspects in the jail facility, deputies also found and seized 7.3 grams of methamphetamine. Joshua Ray Warren, 34, has been charged with felonious possession with intent to manufacture, sell and/or deliver a schedule II substance, maintaining a vehicle to keep and sell controlled substances, possession of a controlled substance on jail premises, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Warren was jailed in lieu of $100,000 secured bond.  Warren was out on bond awaiting trail on unrelated charges of felony robbery with a dangerous weapon, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.  His next court date is slated for Jan. 8.

Newfound Gap Work Starts

Newfound Gap Landslide

Newfound Gap Landslide

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will begin work on a road stabilization project to repair a slide area in North Carolina beginning Monday, January 5, through Wednesday, May 14, along Newfound Gap Road (NFG) approximately 1 mile south of NFG parking area, just south of the Deep Creek Trailhead. Park staff and Federal Highway Administration engineers recently documented the slide approximately 50 feet below the road corridor. Crews will reinforce the slope to stabilize the road embankment and to prevent slope failure or erosion along the road shoulder. The restoration work will include retaining wall construction, road reconstruction, stone masonry guard wall construction, guardrail placement, shoulder reconditioning, installation of culverts and inlets, and site restoration. Traffic lanes will be temporarily shifted onto the road shoulder throughout the duration of the project to maintain two-way traffic; however, single lane closures will be required intermittently primarily during the construction of the temporary lane. The parking area adjacent to this slide area will be closed, but the small pull off for the Deep Creek trailhead will remain open. Phillips and Jordan, Inc. was awarded the contract for the project through a competitive bid process. The primary geotechnical subcontractor is Goettle, Inc. Contractors are authorized to conduct operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information about road conditions, please visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsm and or call the Park’s Road and Weather Information Line at 865-436-1200.

Possum Drop Is A Go

possumThere’s been controversy surrounding the annual Brasstown Possum Drop for years now. The Animal Rights Group PETA has filed multiple lawsuits saying “the event stresses out the animal”. Last week a judge has ruled that a permit issued for the organizers to capture and hold a possum for the event will stand. This new years eve marks the 20th annual possum drop. The event starts at 6:00pm tonight.

Sweepstakes Scam In Haywood

Scam-Alert1The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office wishes to inform area residents of a scam that is still occurring in and around Haywood County. The scenario unfolds like this:  Victims are called and told they won money, a new car, or other prize through Publishers Clearinghouse or similar sweepstakes. The victims are instructed to send either cash or pre-paid debit cards from CVS or Walmart to a specific address, often an address in New York.  Victims are informed that, once payment is received, their winnings will be forwarded to them immediately. The caller identifies himself and tells you to follow up with a call to the IRS to validate the claim as far as taxes and “state to state” transfer of monies is concerned. The caller will ask for the card numbers of pre-paid debit cards once they’ve been purchased. The caller then takes the number, makes an identical card, and gains immediate access to the money with no hope of restitution to the victim! The promised prizes are NEVER delivered. Investigations show the calls and frauds are originating in countries outside the United States. PLEASE refrain from engaging the caller in any conversation!  This is a fraud and scam. If you are told by anyone you have won a prize, a vehicle, or any other item of value and are requested to send cash, money order, or prepaid debit cards, DO NOT! Remember:  You should NEVER have to pay for anything you have won! For more information contact the Haywood County Sheriffs Department at 828-452-6669.

Body Found In Burning Vehicle


A body was found in a burning vehicle just off Old Rock Crusher Road in the Big Cove Community Sunday Night. The Vehicle was registered to someone in the Big Cove Community. Authorities have not released any information on the victim or suspects in the case. Community members say the victim is a woman. The Cherokee Police, SBI and FBI are investigating.

Cashiers Fire

An early morning fire destroys a home near Cashiers. The fire also threatened other homes nearby. The fire started early Sunday morning around the Cashiers community in the Trillium Subdivision. Officials say the flames overcame the 4,000 square foot house before they could put it out. There were 8 people from the Raleigh/Durham area inside the home as they were renting it when the fire started. Smoke detectors alerted them, everyone got out to safety. Three departments battled the blaze to keep it from spreading to other nearby houses. Officials say around 80,000 gallons of water were trucked up the narrow roads to the homes during the blaze. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Canton House Fire

An early morning fire in Canton destroys a family’s home. It happened around 5:45AM Saturday morning off Double Sides Drive, in the Beaverdam community. A woman and three children inside made it out safely but the home and the family’s car are a total loss. The Victim and family has nothing left except for the clothes they ran out in. She says this has been the most devastating experience of her life. Carrie Autry, fire victim, “just the intensity of the heat and not knowing if I was gonna get the kids out, just watching all my memories and my whole life and everything I’ve worked for burned up in a matter of seconds.” The cause of the fire is under investigation but officials say it does not appear to be suspicious. Local churches, including North Canton Baptist, are collecting donations for the family.

Concerned about the Target security breach?

By now you may have heard the news that national retailer Target experienced a massive data breach that could affect approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts.

A data or security breach happens when records containing personal information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card or bank account numbers, are lost, stolen or accessed improperly.

Just because your information was part of a security breach doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll become a victim of fraud or identity theft, but it does put you at greater risk.

To protect yourself:

  • Check your credit and debit card accounts and report suspicious charges to your bank or credit card company immediately.  Also, request a new card with a different number and change any PINs or passwords for the affected account.
  • Check your credit reports.  Once criminals have your personal information, they may use it to open new accounts in your name. Everyone is allowed a free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus.  Breach victims can also request a fraud alert from one of credit bureaus, and should consider a security freeze for maximum protection.
  • Check out our detailed list of tips for what to do after a security breach.

This breach is a good reminder that we all need to watch our accounts for unauthorized charges and monitor our credit, especially during the busy holiday shopping season.  For more tips on protecting yourself from crimes and scams, visit www.ncdoj.gov.

This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Golden LEAF awards $500K to WCU

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University is the recipient of a $500,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation to help expand engineering education across Western North Carolina through a partnership with regional community colleges.

The funding will support WCU’s efforts to ensure a seamless transition for community college students who want to earn four-year degrees in engineering through the implementation of engineering pathway courses at community colleges and the recruitment of qualified students into the program.

Asheville-Buncombe Technical, Blue Ridge and Isothermal community colleges are initial partners in the effort, which will eventually include WNC community colleges from Rutherfordton in the east to Murphy in the west.

The grant, awarded out of the foundation’s Essential Skills in Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, will help produce qualified workers for manufacturers, including some of the region’s largest private-sector employers, said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president.

“The grants awarded under this initiative will provide citizens from tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural communities with access to skills training for high-wage jobs, connect the state’s industries with the skilled workers they need and upgrade the capacity of our training institutions,” Gerlach said. “North Carolina leads the Southeast in manufacturing jobs, with more than 18 percent of the rural workforce earning $8.5 billion in manufacturing wages.”

The funding will provide support for Western Carolina’s recently announced undergraduate program in engineering at its instructional site at Biltmore Park Town Square, and will supplement advanced manufacturing engineering education on the campus in Cullowhee, said James Zhang, dean of WCU’s Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology.

During the past legislative session, the N.C. General Assembly approved a budget that includes more than $1.4 million for expansion of WCU’s engineering program to Biltmore Park. The appropriation was designed to enhance education opportunities in the fast-growing corridor between Asheville and Hendersonville to help meet increasing industry and business demand for a highly qualified workforce.

University officials have credited N.C. Sen. Tom Apodaca, who represents constituents in Buncombe, Henderson and Polk counties, with ensuring that the state budget included funds to bring WCU’s engineering program expansion to the Biltmore Park instructional site. WCU expects to begin offering engineering classes there in the fall of 2014.

“This grant is key to strengthening the linkage between WCU and Western North Carolina community colleges and industries, as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at high schools in our region,” Zhang said.

“These funds also will greatly assist us in our work with our community college partners to develop short-term training courses to meet the immediate needs of industry in the region,” he said.

Funds from the foundation also will enable the acquisition of a new piece of equipment – a selective laser melting apparatus – that will enable students to gain hands-on experience working with 3-D printers that are capable of creating metal prototypes of objects, adding to WCU’s current inventory of 3-D printers that create prototypes in plastic and resins.

The equipment will be housed in the university’s Center for Rapid Product Realization. The “engagement arm” of the Kimmel School, the Rapid Center provides technical assistance to companies, organizations and entrepreneurs through faculty expertise and hands-on learning activities for students.

“By locating this new equipment in Cullowhee, located in the middle of the region that we serve, we will have the opportunity to provide education and training to engineers from all over Western North Carolina,” Zhang said.

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy through grants made possible by a portion of the state’s settlement agreement with cigarette manufacturers.

For more information about engineering at WCU, visit the website engineering.wcu.edu. (Bill Studenc, Senior Director of News Services, Office of Public Relations,Western Carolina University)

WCU College of Health and Human Sciences Hires Director of Clinical Affairs

CULLOWHEE—Elizabeth T. Wark, former assistant dean for faculty practice for the College of Allied Health Sciences at Georgia Regents University, has joined Western Carolina University’s College of Health and Human Sciences as the director of clinical affairs.

At WCU, Wark will support development and operation of clinical opportunities that serve the community and involve students and faculty from different programs within the college.

“Dr. Wark is an experienced educator and health care and higher education administrator whose teaching and managerial skills are highly regarded by students and colleagues,” said Douglas R. Keskula, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. “With Dr. Wark’s credentials, experiences and expertise, she can offer valuable input in the coordination of faculty involvement in the emerging clinical opportunities at WCU.”

Wark holds a doctorate in physical therapy from Simmons College in Boston, a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Ithaca College.

As assistant dean at Georgia Regents University, she was responsible for the creation and daily operations of a nonprofit corporation created to provide a mechanism for faculty to practice in clinical, consulting and continuing education roles. Her duties included negotiating and managing practice contracts for faculty within 13 health professions.

Prior to serving as assistant dean, she was coordinator of academic affairs at the college and was responsible for oversight of new program development, programmatic accreditation review, program feasibility and sustainability studies, coordination of interdisciplinary courses, and creation and dissemination of academic policies

In addition, she has worked as a faculty member teaching courses ranging from health care ethics and jurisprudence to health care management, and she has held clinical administrative and care roles such as serving as assistant director, center coordinator of clinical education and supervisor with the University of Virginia Medical Center Physical Therapy Department.

For more information, contact Wark at etwark@wcu.edu. (Teresa Killian Tate, Office of Communications and Public Relations, Western Carolina University)

Accident on Cowee Mountain

According to Jackson County Rescue Squad, there is a vehicle over the bank just above the runaway truck ramp coming down Cowee on the Jackson County side. Injuries have been reported. Use caution while traveling this stretch of highway 441.

Stay tuned to 540AM WRGC for further information as it becomes available.

Jessica May Carpenter Charged with Statutory Rape

 The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance in locating other potential victims and/or witnesses in the case involving the listed arrestee.  While investigating a case where alcohol was bought and given to a minor person, investigators determined further criminal conduct had occurred.  Subsequently, Carpenter was charged and arrested with the offense listed.  The investigation into this offense as well as other offenses is continuing.  Other witnesses and potential other victims may have not come forward.  Those persons are encouraged to contact Detective Andi Clayton at (828) 586-1392.  Potential victims may be minors who received alcohol from the suspect or are victims of sexual misconduct.

 STATUTORY RAPE or SEXUAL OFFENSE of a PERSON 13, 14, or 15 years old $100,000 secured Bond.

(Press Release from the office of Sheriff Jimmy Ashe)  

Jessica May Carpenter Arrest 12.16.13

Jessica May Carpenter

57 Aurora Lane

Sylva, North Carolina 28779

DOB, 04/05/1978

WCU Campus Master Plan Wins Approval of Board of Trustees

A new campus master plan endorsed Friday by the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees is designed to closely link physical facilities of the university, including future construction and renovation, to goals of its recently approved strategic plan. The master plan is meant to provide “a flexible framework for growth,” said Keith Storms of Hanbury, Evans, Wright and Vlattas, a firm specializing in campus design and planning.

The plan is based on enrollment projections that anticipate more than 11,000 students studying on the campus in Cullowhee by the year 2023, and the need for approximately 486,000 gross square feet of additional interior space to accommodate the needs of those students. Currently, about 7,800 students out of WCU’s total enrollment of 10,107 live and study in Cullowhee.

Approval of the plan, which was drafted with the guidance of a 16-member task force, comes after a 17-month process that included numerous public forums designed to collect input and feedback from university students, faculty and staff and from residents of surrounding communities. During that process, the task force and the master plan consultants presented numerous options for land use and future development. Feedback from the campus and community led to a preferred land use plan that focuses on reinforcement of the existing academic core of campus, reconnects that core to the historic hill area of WCU and seeks opportunities for strategic
development around the new Health and Human Sciences Building on the university’s West Campus.

In presenting the master plan to the board for its consideration, Chancellor David O. Belcher called it “a living document, one that is not set in stone but will be a guide to us as we go forward.”

Highlights of the plan include:

*Construction of a new science building of approximately 130,000 square feet that would replace the existing Natural Sciences Building and create a “science quad” by incorporating renovations to the existing Stillwell Building.

* Construction of a new building for the College of Business and additions to the existing Forsyth Building, which is home to most business programs.

* Consolidation of programs in the College of Fine and Performing Arts to new and existing space near the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

* Enhancing pedestrian connectivity across campus, especially between the academic center of campus and the historic area. The plan envisions a signature building located between the upper and lower areas of campus that would house existing programs in student engagement and related activities.

* Additional revitalization of the historic hill area of campus, including improvements in transportation flow and new residence hall and dining space for 300 additional students.

* Creation of a new main entrance to campus on N.C. Highway 107 that links the traditional campus with the newer West Campus, with a new visitor center and enhanced public parking for visitors attending fine arts, athletics and entertainment events at the Bardo Arts Center, Ramsey Regional Activity Center and athletics fields.

* Phased development of two buildings for private/public partnerships adjacent to the Health and Human Sciences Building on the West Campus while reserving steeply sloped land as an environmental preserve.

* Enhancing views of and recreational opportunities along Cullowhee Creek as it flows through campus by removing invasive vegetation, and using existing green space in the flood plain of the creek for recreation and athletics fields.

* Improvements to athletics facilities including a new field house, indoor practice facility and enhanced stands and a new press box on the west side of E.J. Whitmire Stadium.

* A possible mixed-use facility featuring dining and retail space on the ground floor and residential space on upper levels.
Additional information about WCU’s master planning process can be found at the website masterplanning.wcu.edu.