Author Archive for 540-AM WRGC – Page 3

Alleged Assult on WCU Campus Reported

Western Carolina University police are investigating a report of a simple assault that allegedly occurred between the Courtyard Dining Hall and Scott Hall at approximately 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec.  8. At 12:19 p.m. that day, a female student reported to police that she was approached from behind by a black male. The female student told authorities that the male grabbed her shoulder and, when she turned around, the suspect ran off. Police say that the suspect was last seen entering a silver or light-colored SUV.

University police informed the campus of the investigation on Sunday afternoon, and took the opportunity to remind members of the campus community of several safety tips, including to have the WCU emergency phone number plugged into their cell phones; to report suspicious behavior to police as soon as possible; to walk in groups, especially at night, and in well-lit areas; and to remain alert to their surroundings.

Early Sunday evening, university police informed the campus that the suspect had been located, and that there did not appear to be an ongoing threat to the community. No charges have been filed at this time. The incident remains under investigation.


Haywood County Inmate Dies in Custody

The Haywood County Detention Facility has experienced an in-custody death.  An inmate was found non-responsive in the jail at approximately 9:40 Monday night.  The man was reportedly housed in a cell by himself.  Upon finding him unresponsive, corrections officers quickly sought emergency medical assistance. EMTs responded and transported the man to MedWest Haywood, where he was later pronounced dead.

Pursuant to jail policy, the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office has turned the matter over to the State Bureau of Investigation. No additional information has been released at this time.

WestCare Health System Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Duke Lifepoint Healthcare

Today the WestCare Health System Board of Trustees announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding to be acquired by Duke LifePoint Healthcare. The memorandum is a non-binding agreement that outlines the terms upon which WestCare and Duke LifePoint may move forward to finalize the proposed acquisition.  It also establishes a due diligence and negotiation process, which is projected to take 60-90 days, after which, the parties intend to enter into a definitive agreement. The agreement would then be subject to review by the Attorney General of North Carolina before being finalized.

At the announcement, Steve Heatherly, WestCare Health System President and CEO said, “We evaluated partnerships with several organizations and ultimately chose Duke LifePoint because it aligned with our strategic priorities, including positioning WestCare to reach its full potential in serving its communities.” Also, potential buyer, LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William Carpenter said, “We are excited at the prospect of partnering with the dedicated board, management team, clinical staff and employees at WestCare to strengthen their hospitals for the future. We seek to be a collaborative partner with Harris Regional and Swain County and look forward to exploring this proposed partnership further in the weeks to come.”

The WestCare Board of Trustees had said that becoming a part of Duke LifePoint offers many benefits to WestCare’s communities. The organization would become a local taxpayer, providing an important source of new tax revenue to support the local economy. Additionally, proceeds from the acquisition would retire WestCare’s financial obligations and fund a locally-governed charitable foundation to support crucial community needs. Also, as part of Duke LifePoint, WestCare would have access to wide range of clinical, safety, quality and operations experts. It would also have the ability to collaborate and share ideas and practices with staff at nearly 60 peer community hospitals in 20 states through the LifePoint system.

After the 60-90 day due diligence period, should the two organizations enter into a definitive acquisition agreement, that would not be the final step in the process. The agreement would then be subject to review and approval by the Attorney General of North Carolina before being finalized.

WCU Officials Await Answers on Nov. 21 Fire

The future of three dining establishments damaged by a November fire on the Western Carolina University campus remains unknown as state insurance and construction officials continue analyzing the structural integrity of the building and conducting a financial assessment of the damages.

Representatives of the State Construction Office and N.C. Department of Insurance were on the scene the day after the fire to begin their work. University officials say they do not know how long that work may take, but caution that it could require as long as a year to complete.

No injuries were reported during the fire, which broke out in the morning hours of Thursday, Nov. 21, in the commercial strip of Centennial Drive in the center of the WCU campus. The blaze damaged the Subway sandwich shop, Rolling Stone Burrito and Mad Batter Bakery and café.

The businesses are located on the ground floor of the two-story structure. The second story of the building, which had contained apartments until several years ago, was unoccupied. The section of the building that houses Bob’s Mini Mart was not damaged.

The property affected by the fire is owned by the WCU Endowment Fund and leased to the business owners. The structure was formerly the site of the Townhouse restaurant, a longtime campus landmark and a popular gathering place for students, faculty and staff from the late 1940s to the mid-1980s.

“We certainly would like to know as quickly as possible what will happen with this building located in the heart of campus,” Chancellor David O. Belcher said. “But we also realize that there are state policies and procedures that must be followed, and we understand that the process inevitably will take some time. We will keep the campus and community informed as additional information becomes available.”

The university has established a website for updated information about the fire and its aftermath at http://fire.wcu.edu.

WestCare Health System Opens New Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Space At WCU

Carolina West Sports Medicine, the official medical provider for Western Carolina University athletics, has relocated its physical therapy and sports medicine clinic at the university from the Ramsey Center to the new state-of-the-art Health and Human Sciences Building. Carolina West Sports Medicine, part of the rehabilitation services department of WestCare Health System, has partnered with Western Carolina University since 2001, providing comprehensive outpatient physical therapy specializing in orthopedics, athletic training and sports medicine services to students, faculty and the community.

The new space provides more room for patients, additional private treatment areas and greater accessibility. It is located on the first floor of the Health and Human Sciences Building in room 113.

The new building will also feature an aquatic therapy pool donated by WestCare. Carolina West Sports Medicine will use the therapy pool to expand services for patients who need therapy in a reduced weight-bearing environment.

“This is helpful for patients who have had spine surgery, or who have ongoing problems with walking or chronic pain. The pool has an underwater treadmill and will enable athletes to attempt running and other dynamic movements while injured or after surgery,” said Thomas Burns, a doctorate-level physical therapist board certified in orthopedics who works with Carolina West Sports Medicine. The pool is expected to open after the first of the year.

WestCare and Western Carolina University have collaborated on the new space and pool since the inception of the Health and Human Sciences Building. “Through our partnership with Western Carolina University we have not only expanded our space but also added a critical new modality in aquatics therapy, all housed in a spectacularly high-tech building. WestCare is pleased to participate in serving our community with such advancements,” said Steve Heatherly, President and CEO of WestCare Health System.

The clinic will be staffed with four physical therapists working for Carolina West Sports Medicine. “Being located in the Health and Human Sciences Building will provide our team with the opportunity to continue working in close proximity to WCU athletics and to collaborate with physical therapists on faculty at the university,” said Carlyle Schomberg, director of rehabilitation services for WestCare Health System.

An open house for the new space and aquatic therapy pool will be planned for early 2014. For information call (828) 293-5174.

School Closings and Delays for 11/27

A-B Tech Community College (Day): OPEN AT 8AM

Cherokee Reservation School: CLOSED


Haywood Christian Academy: CLOSED

Haywood Co. Meals on Wheels: CLOSED


Haywood Vocational Opportunities, Inc.: BUSES 2 HR DELAY – NO BUSES ON ICY ROADS

Mitchell County Schools: CLOSED

Pams Child Development Center: CLOSED



Tri-County Christian School: CLOSED

Waynesville First Baptist CDC: OPEN AT 10AM

Mustang Girls Lose Season Opener

(11/21/13)  The Mustang girls staged a huge comeback in the third quarter against Madison to cut the Patriots lead to four points but could not hold it in the fourth quarter and lost the season opener at home 62 to 48.

Duke Energy Approves Grants


Duke Energy has approved the funding of seven riparian (streamside) habitat enhancement projects in the watersheds and tailwaters of its Nantahala area hydroelectric projects.

Grant funds total $109,057 and matching and in-kind funds for the projects total $406,873.62.

Duke Energy established the Riparian Habitat Enhancement Fund as a commitment in the Tuckasegee Cooperative Stakeholder Team and Nantahala Cooperative Stakeholder Team Settlement Agreements, which were made during relicensing the company’s Nantahala area hydroelectric projects.

The Riparian Habitat Enhancement Fund was established to protect or enhance fish and wildlife habitat directly or educate school children or landowners about the importance of healthy riparian areas for fish and wildlife habitat. “Riparian” refers to areas along a stream, which are important for stream stability, fish and wildlife habitat, and water quality.

An advisory board, comprised of state and federal resource agencies and county soil and water conservation experts, ranked project proposals based on criteria such as long-term impact, direct benefits to riparian resources, broad support for the project (demonstrated by co-funding), creativity, and the ability to show measurable results. Based on those recommendations, Duke Energy funded seven of the proposed projects.

Brief project descriptions are as follows:

  • Killian Farm – Cartoogechaye Creek Restoration: Stream bank and aquatic habitat restoration in Cartoogechaye Creek, a tributary of the Little Tennessee River near Franklin, N.C. Requestor: Land Trust for the Little Tennessee
  • Kelly Farm – Savannah Creek Restoration: Stream bank and aquatic habitat restoration in Savannah Creek, a tributary of the Tuckasegee River near Dillsboro, N.C. Requestor: Land Trust for the Little Tennessee
  • Riparian Education & Enhancement in the Hiwassee River Watershed: Replanting riparian buffers and educating local school children and landowners on the value of these buffers using a small tributary of the Hiwassee River near Hayesville, N.C. Requestor: Hiwassee Watershed Coalition
  • Little Tennessee River Greenway Riparian Restoration & Education: Remove invasive exotic vegetation and plant native trees and shrubs at the confluence of Cartoogechaye Creek and the Little Tennessee River near Franklin, N.C. Requestor: Friends of the Greenway
  • Tributary to Hiwassee River Rehabilitation: Reconstruct 1,000 feet of stream bank and enhance riparian buffers on a small tributary of the Hiwassee River near Murphy, N.C. Requestor: United States Forest Service
  • Instructional Stream Table: Purchase a stream table to be used in teaching Swain County school children about the value of riparian buffers and stream habitat. Requestor: Swain County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Restoration Tasks in Jackson County: Stream bank reconstruction on a tributary of the Tuckasegee River, Savannah Creek, near Webster, N.C. Requestor: Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River


Another request for proposals will be issued by the Riparian Habitat Enhancement Fund Advisory Board in early 2014. The application will be posted at http://www.duke-energy.com/lakes/nantahala/hydroelectric-relicensing.asp

Gov.McCrory Visits Sylva

Gov. McCrory Visits Sylva 2  9.12.13

Gov. McCrory Visits Sylva

Sylva Town Manager Paige Roberson greets Gov. McCrory this morning while visiting Jackson Paper. Gov. McCrory will move to the Jarrett House in Dillsboro to have lunch and host a roundtable discussion with invited guests.


Sheriff Jimmy Ashe offers some safety tips for those youngsters who will be walking back and forth to the bus stop or school this year.

“Parents can teach their children the following safety tips which will inform the youngsters of the danger signs to watch for and avoid when walking between school, bus stops, and home,” Sheriff Ashe said.

“Drivers should be cautious of children walking back and forth to school,” added the Sheriff.  “We can all learn from the safety tips below and abide by them to make Jackson County safer for all.”

  • While walking, remember to always travel with a friend.  Two heads are better than one, especially if there’s an emergency.
  • A stranger is anyone you or your parents don’t know well.
  • You or your friend must never take candy, money, medicine or anything else from a stranger.
  • If a stranger in a car asks you questions, don’t get close to the car (you could get pulled in) – and never get in the car.
  • Strangers can be very tricky – they can ask you to walk with them to “show” them something; they can offer to pay for your video game, or ask you to help them find a lost dog or cat.  Don’t be fooled!
  • Don’t tell anyone your name or address when you’re walking and don’t think that because someone knows your name that they know you – they may just be looking at your name printed on your lunch box, school bag or T-shirt.
  • If you think you’re in any danger, yell, and run to the nearest store or “safe house” or back to school.
  • Always tell your parents or teacher if a stranger has approached you.

“By taking the time to carefully prepare your child on how to handle these situations, you can insure your child’s safety whether they are on their way to school or home, playing on a playground or riding their bikes,” Sheriff Ashe concludes.

To reach the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, call 586-4355 or 586-8901.  Our CrimeStoppers Hotline is 631-1125.  Visit us on the web at sheriff.jacksonnc.org.


Flooding In Jackson County


50 Ton Crane in the Tuckaseigee River

With rivers at their banks all across Western North Carolina, Jackson County was no exception. At left, a picture of a 50 ton crane that was doing bridge work in the Wayehutta community was washed into the river over the holiday weekend as a result of a landslide. The Slide temporarily shut down the road. Leaving residence without access for a short period of time. The 50 ton red crane toppled into the the Tuckaseigee River. Duke Energy was forced to open flood gates at Thorpe Lake, dumping large amounts of water into the river.  Flood waters were also blamed for the death of a Kyaker in Haywood County. The Haywood County Sheriff’s office says the body of 36-year-old Richard Bradfield, of Lexington, KY was found near a riverbank in the Shining Rock Wilderness area around 7:20 p.m. Friday.

WCU to host thousands of visitors this weekend

05/09/13-This weekend thousands of visitors will flock to catamount country for commencement. Western Carolina University has announced the schedule and tips to help visitors and locals with the influx of traffic this weekend. Ernie Hudson, Chief of Police for WCU recommends avoiding the main entrance to WCU’s campus if at all possible. Arriving early if attending the commencement ceromonies and using the Old Cullowhee Road to bypass the majority of the traffic.

On Friday the 2013 Spring Graduate Commencement will be held at the Ramsey Center at 7pm and doors will open at 5pm. Saturday their will be two ceromonies at the Ramsey Center to accomodate the largest graduating class in WCU history. Commencement for Arts and Sciences will begin at 10am and at 3:30pm commencement will be held for the College of Business, etc.

For more driving and parking information check out http://wcu.edu/24593.asp.

210th Military Police Battalion Rolls Out

05/08/13-The teary-eyed goodbyes early Wednesday morning were of mixed emotions. The families and friends of the 210th Military Police Battalion were up early to send off the group from the Franklin National Gaurd Amory. Hugs, kisses and handshakes for a safe return as parents, husbands, and wives said farewell to their service members. The 210th Military Police Battalion will be stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas for several weeks for training before being deployed to Afghanistan . The 210th will be in Afghanistan  for one year to help with Operation Enduring Freedom.

Tasha Black described how proud she is of her husband who is being deployed, “Very proud…this is why he joined not for the glory but to serve.” Tasha and the rest of the families who were their for the sendoff are praying for a safe return of the brave men and women they Rolled out early wednesday morning from the Franklin National Guard Armory for a one year deployment. From the 540 WRGC team we would like to thank all service men and women and their families for their sacrifices for freedom.

New Master Plan for Jackson County Recreation and Parks Department

The Jackson County Recreation and Parks Department has achieved many goals on the master plan created several years ago. While that plan has been updated a few times, its time to wrap that one up and start a new one.

“About 8 years ago we were one of the first counties west of Asheville to do that… We’re in the process of finishing up that plan,” Director Jeff Carpenter.

As the old plan finishes up, the Department wanted community feedback and direction for the new master plan. To get this feedback, they conducted an online survey of local residents.

“We got close to 800 responses to our survey. Indoor pool was the #1 answer in the community. Walking areas was another big answer, and picnic areas and playgrounds were very high too.”

People are wanting areas to play, workout, and see their tax dollars at work.

“Everybody can use parks,” Director Jeff Carpenter.

2013 Mountain Heritage Nominations Open

Western Carolina University is accepting nominations for the Mountain Heritage Award, an honor bestowed annually on one individual and one organization that has played a prominent role in the preservation or interpretation of Southern Appalachian history and culture. Nominations for the award will be accepted through Monday, June 24.

“Beginning with the award’s inception in 1976 and continuing through 2006, WCU gave out one Mountain Heritage Award each year,” said Scott Philyaw, director of the university’s Mountain Heritage Center and chairman of the awards committee. “Because the contributions of individuals are often different from that of groups and organizations, making direct comparisons difficult, the university’s awards committee decided to begin giving out two awards in 2007 – one to an individual and one to an organization.”

Letters of nomination should not exceed five pages and should include the full name of the individual or organization being nominated, with a website address if applicable; the mailing address of nominee; nominee’s birth or founding date; a list of the nominee’s accomplishments; a list of the awards and other recognitions received by nominee; information about the nominee’s influence in the relevant field of expertise such as crafts, music or organizational cause; and information about the nominee’s role as a teacher, advocate, leader or preserver of mountain culture.

Nomination letters may be hand delivered to the Mountain Heritage Center, located on the ground floor of WCU’s H. F. Robinson Administration Building or mailed to Scott Philyaw, 151 H. F. Robinson Administration Building, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723, or emailed to philyaw@wcu.edu.

Pride of the Mountains Marching Band’s Newest Honor

David Starnes, director of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, displays a commemorative drum head while students celebrate an invitation to participate in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

David Starnes, director of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, displays a commemorative drum head while students celebrate an invitation to participate in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The famous group from Western Carolina University has been honored time and again with invitationals, awards and accolades. The latest in the long list? An invitation to 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“We are honored as well as excited to represent Western Carolina University, the School of Music and the entire Catamount Nation on national television in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” said Starnes. “It is undoubtedly one of the greatest events a band student of any age can experience and we feel privileged to offer our members this opportunity. Our band program has received numerous national honors that carry great prestige. However, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has not been a part of our resume – until now.”

The Pride of the Mountains Marching Band is one of only ten marching bands selected from across the country to perform.

“When you are the best band in the land, you might as well share it with the rest of the world,” Chancellor David O. Belcher said.

NC Tag and Tax

The new bills reflect vehicle property tax information and vehicle inspection and registration information. The new program will require one payment for both bills. Both tag renewals and tax payments must be paid in full to renew registration. Those with a July tag will be among the first to receive the notices by mail. By this time next year, the program should include all NC vehicle owners. Upon receiving your payment, the Department of Motor Vehicles will renew your registration and forward your tax revenues to your local county office. This new program doesn’t affect your mortgage or home property tax. Your vehicle tax is due at the same time your registration is due. The increase in your bill is your property tax, because the registration fee has not changed. For more information, visit the NC DMV website.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Junior Ranger’s Day

Jr. Ranger being sworn in.

Jr. Ranger being sworn in.

As part of National Parks Week (April 20-28), the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is participating in National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 27.

For young children, there will be lots to do and learn with guided Ranger tours, demonstrations and workshops, and real wild firefighters to talk to. For children who complete special programming that day, there is a award ceremony where they will be presented with a Junior Ranger badge.

For middle and high school students, there is also the career day opportunity for them to learn what the park does, how it functions, and what employment opportunities exist within the park from computer work to trees and flower care.

For more information on Career Day, contact Emily at 865-736-1713.

For more information on Junior Ranger activities, contact Lloyd at 865-436-1292.

Boston Marathon Hits Home

Dr. Allen Painter

Dr. Allan Panter

Dr. Allan Panter of Gainesville GA who practices at Medwest Harris in Jackson County went to Boston to watch his wife run the Boston Marathon. He ended up as a first responder when a bomb exploded near him at the finish line. Both Panter and his wife Theresa have been in demand from national media outlets, wanting to hear their stories of Monday’s bomb blast. In a phone press conference held this morning, Dr. Panter said, “I was just standing there without a scratch,” Panter said one victim he helped was a man who lost both legs beneath the knees. “He was pretty much as you would describe in shock,” he said. “He was mumbling words but not coherently.” His wife, Theresa Panter, was frantically trying to make sure her husband of 30 years was safe. She was directed along with other runners to a safe area but it took more than an hour before she reached her husband.

A Decrease In Tourism For The Smokies

Great SmokiesThe Great Smoky Mountains National Park has released tourism statistics. Total visitation for March of 2013 was down 23.8% as compared with March 2012. During March 2013 a total of 465,594 visitors came into the Park as compared with 611,326 in 2012, a decrease of 145,732 visitors. Visitation for January through March 2013 was 983,664 visitors which, is 250,334 less than in 2012, and 47.4% below the five year average. It has been the lowest visitation for January through March in over 5 years. The sharp decrease is likely due to the closure of a section Newfound Gap (Hwy 441) between Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC due to a January 16 landslide. The landslide cut off direct road access between the northern and southern sections of the park. The road work was completed on Monday, April 15 and is now open to all traffic.

Visitation for Entrances:
Gatlinburg:                 158,953
Townsend:                 90,299
Oconaluftee:              46,717
Outlying Areas:          169,625