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State Unemployment Rates Released For October

According to newly released data tracking October’s unemployment rates across the state’s 100 counties, Western North Carolina has a mixed bag.

Jackson County has 4.4% unemployment rate down from 5.9% in 2013.

Graham County the state’s highest unemployment rate for the month — 11.2 percent. It was one of three counties in North Carolina with an unemployment rate above 10 percent, where one out of every 10 workers is jobless.

But in an area located a few counties over in WNC, the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area — made up of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties — showed a much different story for the month of October. The Asheville metro area recorded the lowest unemployment in the state, at 4.1 percent.

Overall, the statewide unemployment rate for the month was 5.5 percent, just below the national rate of 5.8 percent for the month.

North Carolina Economy Recovery? Analysts Question Governor’s Assessment

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said on Friday the state has had job growth to compensate for jobs lost during the Great Recession. Some economists say there is more to the story. Photo credit: North Carolina Governor's Office.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said on Friday the state has had job growth to compensate for jobs lost during the Great Recession. Some economists say there is more to the story. Photo credit: North Carolina Governor’s Office.

Not everyone is buying Governor Pat McCrory’s claim of success after October’s unemployment numbers indicated the state has recovered the jobs lost during the Great Recession.

While it is true that the number of people employed last month is slightly above pre-recession levels, John Quinterno with South By North Strategies in Chapel Hill says that’s not the whole story, “Just because we have the same number of payroll jobs that we did almost seven years ago is not the same thing as recovery and in no way, shape or form should be taken as a sign that we won the battle against unemployment in North Carolina.”

Quinterno said a healthy economy needs to add jobs to support population growth. Analysts estimate more than 280-thousand workers are not counted in the unemployment data because they have given up on finding a job. If they were included, the unemployment rate would be 12.5%, versus the 6.3%.

Quinterno says North Carolina has more than 400,000 jobs to add to accommodate the 11% rate of population growth the state has experienced since 2007, “Replacing the number of jobs lost during the recession is not enough. You have to replace those jobs and you need to be creating jobs each month to accommodate the growth and the size of the workforce.”

According to South by North Strategies, the state has more than 28% more unemployed residents than it did seven years ago.

Want to Make Six Figures? Brush Up on Your Tech Skills

How can you boost your bottom line in 2015? A report released this week indicates the answer for some could be a career change. Technology careers are paying big dividends compared with other job sectors. The report from human resources consulting firm Robert Half International projects almost a six-percent increase in starting salaries in the technology field.

The company’s senior executive director, Paul McDonald, says salary growth is also predicted in traditional fields such as accounting and marketing, where technology is involved, “Technology truly is running its course through all functional roles today. You need technology as a foundational, functional understanding, in order to be successful in any one of these specialty areas.”

According to the report, among the top positions to watch are mobile applications developer, data architect and chief security officer. All three have starting salaries that top $100,000 dollars a year.

McDonald points out that many careers in the technology sector don’t necessarily require four-year degrees, and can be secured with additional training that could be done at night or online, “If you find yourself unemployed, it’s really a good investment to go back and go to a trade school, go to a junior college to retrain yourself, to make yourself marketable in these very hot areas.”

McDonald adds that companies are making employee retention a high priority, since turnover is particularly challenging for high-tech positions. He says many businesses are offering flexible work hours to accommodate a work-life balance for skilled workers who are the right fit.

Teachers Waiting For Details Of Senate Compromise Pay Bill

Raleigh, N.C. – Senate Republicans offered a compromise proposal in open budget negotiations Tuesday that would provide North Carolina public school teachers an average 11 percent permanent pay raise – without requiring them to make a choice on whether to keep tenure. The $468 million increase would be the largest in state history and would boost North Carolina from 47th in overall teacher pay to the middle of current national rankings and from 9th to 3rd in the Southeast, propelling the state ahead of Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina. The plan, which reforms and replaces the archaic 37-step system with an entirely new base pay scale designed to attract and keep the best teachers in the classroom, would provide more than a $5,800 average salary increase per teacher in the first year of implementation. “The Senate’s number one priority in this budget is to provide teachers with a dramatic pay raise – one that will truly move the needle and make North Carolina competitive,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham.) “By cutting the strings attaching the raise to voluntarily giving up tenure early, we’ve proven just how serious we are about giving teachers the largest pay raise in state history,” said Senate Education/Higher Education Co-Chairman Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph.)

Again: More Jobs Coming To Jackson County

The Jackson County Commissioners moved to accept an offer from Consolidated Metco to locate a warehouse and possibly a small manufacturing operation in Sylva in what is known as the Tuckaseigee Mills building. This is a two phase project. First the Commissioners accepted a bid from NEO Corporation of Canton to remove floor tiles containing asbestos. According to County Manager Chuck Wooten, when potential users of the industrial site did a site visit the asbestos question always came up and actually was a deal breaker. Under the current plan NEO will complete the asbestos tiles within two weeks. The project is expected to start immediately. The SECOND PHASE is once the asbestos is removed Con Met will move in behind them with a $350.000 facility upgrade including lighting and bathrooms. There will be other additions including a loading dock and facility upgrades. The lease will be for three years at a base rate of 82 cents a square foot but the improvements make the rent value almost three dollars per square foot. Con Met is expected to have 24 employees at the site by July or early August. Con Met has been on a hiring blitz for the past few weeks and is expected to continue seeking reliable workers for these operations as well as for those in Swain and Haywood counties. The base pay is $12.00 per hour and increases to $15.00 per hour once the trial period is over. The benefits package is worth about one half the base rate once employees are granted full time status.

“Play On” Paying Off Statewide

Raleigh, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory announced Wednesday that the North Carolina tourism industry generated record visitor spending in 2013. The $20.2 billion in domestic visitor spending represents a 4.1 percent increase over 2012.

“The growth of our tourism industry gives us a lot to celebrate,”Governor McCrory said. “We attracted 52.5 million travelers from across the United States last year because of our great tourist destinations.The money they spent while visiting our mountains, beaches, cities and places in between directly supported nearly 200,000 jobs and more than 40,000 businesses. We can be proud that the quality of North Carolina’s travel experiences makes us the sixth most visited state in the nation.”

Governor McCrory, who proclaimed May 3-11, 2014, as Tourism Week in North Carolina, will discuss the new figures from the U.S. Travel Association at a news conference on Thursday, May 8 at the Outer Banks. Preliminary results from the study show that direct tourism employment grew 2.1 percent and that state tax receipts as a result of visitor spending rose 4 percent to top $1 billion. Visitors spent more than $55 million per day in North Carolina last year and contributed more than $4.4 million per day in state and local tax revenues as a result of that spending.

“Everyone in North Carolina can feel the benefits of the tourism industry’s success,” Secretary Decker said. “Tourism means jobs in all of the state’s 100 counties. In addition, each North Carolina household saves $435 annually in state and local taxes as a result of taxes generated by visitor expenditures.”

Tourism Week in North Carolina is part of National Travel & Tourism Week, which also runs May 3-11. The state’s nine Welcome Centers will host activities throughout the week.

Tourism Facts

Domestic travelers spent a record $20.2 billion in 2013, up from $19.4 billion in 2012. That’s an increase of 4.1 percent.
In 2013, total visitor volume was 52.5 million, up nearly 16 percent from 2012. North Carolina is the sixth most visited state for domestic travel.
North Carolina’s domestic market share increased from 4 percent to 4.3 percent.
For every $1 invested by the Division of Tourism in paid media advertising, North Carolina receives $191 in new visitor spending, $10.31 in new state taxes and $6.25 in new local taxes. This is nearly a 17-to-1 return on investment of tax dollars.
For every $1 invested by the Division of Tourism is paid media advertising, one trip is generated to the state.
More than 40,000 businesses in North Carolina directly provide products and services to travelers, with travelers directly contributing more than 25 percent to their total products and services.
Visitors to North Carolina generated more than $3 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2013.
State tax receipts as a result of visitor spending passed the $1 billion mark in 2013. The figure represents 4 percent in growth over 2012’s $970 million.
Local tax receipts from visitor spending grew 3.1 percent to $597.3 million.
Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased nearly 2.1 percent, to 197,700. The majority of the growth was in lodging, transportation, food service and retail employment.
Direct tourism payroll increased 3.8 percent to $4.6 billion.
Visitors spend more than $55 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds more than $4.4 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $2.8 million in state taxes and $1.6 million in local taxes).
Each North Carolina household saves $435 in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state.

– See more at: http://governor.nc.gov/newsroom/press-releases/20140507/governor-mccrory-celebrates-record-visitor-spending-and-impact#sthash.nBgrGXaE.dpuf

An Employment Boom Hits Local Area

Consolidated Metco Inc in Bryson City has notified WRGC Radio of the need to add employees in six production divisions including assembly, material handlers, quality inspectors, finishing press, molding press and painting operators. These are good paying jobs for the local area starting at $12.00 per hour. This news comes on the heels of Hom-Tex in Sylva who last week announced the immediate need for 40 employees with an additional 60 workers to be recruited in the coming weeks. Consolidated Metco is having job fairs the first two days of May. The first job fair will be welcome news to Robbinsville who learned last week that Stanley Furniture was closing their Robbinsville plant and sending 400 workers to the unemployment line where unemployment benefits will only last for a few weeks. The second Con Met job fair will be in Sylva on May second at the State Employment Office located above the Jackson County Library in Sylva. This is also in addition to a job fair held this week by Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee. For more information on the ConMet positions check their website at www.omnisource.net

Jackson County Fishing To Be Featured On Sports South

The premier episode of “Anglers and Appetites” filmed in Jackson County will air on Fox Sports South tomorrow, Saturday, April 19th at 10:30 a.m. (check your service provider for the channel number.)This program, sponsored by the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority, features local fishing experiences and culinary talents of area chefs amid the natural beauty of our lakes, rivers and streams and other regional attractions. The show will be rebroadcast on Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. and Thursday at 7:30 a.m. and then air again in late May and June. It will be available online at www.anglersandappetites.com 24 hours after the premiere and for free download on the front page of the iTunes sports and recreation section athttps://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/anglers-appetites/id851760791?mt=2
For more information, contact the South Jackson County Visitor Center at 828-743-5941 or info@CashiersAreaChamber.com.

Rabbit Creek Pottery Wins Dillsboro Business Competition

After four months of suspense and tough competition Anne Burrell who operates Rabbit Creek Pottery in Dillsboro was proclaimed the winner of the $5000.00 business development grant competition. The award was announced Thursday at Southwestern Community College. Ms Burrell told WRGC News that they grant would turn their business around. They will now be able to install their Kiln and expand inventory and operations. When asked about the uniqueness of their pottery style, she said that each of the potters in Dillsboro offers a different style which makes the town attractive because of the diversity. The contest has been a collaborative effort among SCC WCU, Dillsboro, and local sponsors. The contestants went through an extensive application process, attended numerous small business management and entrepreneurial classes, developed a a business operational document including a plan for business operations, management team, capitalization, management team, legal ramifications, start-up, and employees. The winner also had a limited time to get their business operational in Dillsboro. Rabbit Creek Pottery was already open for business but were eligible for the competition because they had been open for only a short time before the competition started. In addition to Rabbit Creek pottery the other top two contestants were John Fault and Megan Orr who proposed a Dillsboro event shuttle service, and Anthony Brown who proposed a water park similar to a venue near Benson, NC which pulls skiers through the water with zip lines. Mayor Mike Fitzgerald gave Rabbit Creek Pottery a welcome to Dillsboro, and Tommy Dennison with the WCU Small Business Center who helped with the contest was happy with the intensity of the process and felt that the judges made an excellent decision. Mayor Fitzgerald said the other top finishers in the competition would have their privilege license fee waived if they opened their business in Dillsboro this year.

HomTex to add 100 jobs in Sylva

SCC-JessicaWaldronThe HomTex company in Sylva announced on Monday that orders for their sheet sets and decorative pillows has expanded enough to require the expansion of operations at the Sylva plant on Old Scotts Creek Road. Plant Manager Billy Elliot told WRGC Radio News that Hom Tex is looking for 40 permanent employees.

Elliott explained that applicants will be tested for dexterity, and hand and eye coordination skills, and other means to measure their skills for piece rate work. Interviews will take place at the plant on the Old Scotts Creek Road which is the old Chasm factory. Plans are to add up to one hundred permanent employees.

In addition to the current pillow and sheet set operation where workers are needed immediately a new pillow operation is expected to come on line in the immediate future where factory orders measure in the hundreds of thousands at a time. It was also pointed out that these pillows will carry the Made in America label.

 

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.

Stocking The Trout Waters

NC Trout Waters

NC Trout Waters

Four Swain County waterways will be stocked with trout for the hatchery-supported season that opens 7 a.m. Saturday, April 5. Through July, a total of 5,440 brook trout will be stocked in Swain, 6,990 rainbow trout and 4,270 brown trout for a total of 16,700. Waterways stocked include: Alarka Creek, Nantahala River, and Deep Creek.The season will run through Feb. 28. Many of these waters are stocked monthly, although some heavily fished waters are stocked more frequently. Commission personnel will stock nearly 907,000 trout, with 96 percent of the stocked fish averaging 10 inches in length and the other fish exceeding 14 inches. Stocked trout are produced primarily in two mountain region fish hatcheries operated by the commission. For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit www.ncwildlife.org or call the Division of Inland Fisheries, 919-707-0220.

Play On Branding Campaign

SCC-JessicaWaldronThe Jackson County Tourism Development Authority (TDA) is excited to announce the launch of the “Play On” branding campaign.  Designed to attract target markets to the county’s unique attractions and amenities and to inspire the loyalty of existing residents and future visitors, the campaign includes advertising, marketing, public relations, social media, a redesigned logo, and a rebranded Website (www.mountainloversnc.com) to position Jackson County as a premiere tourist destination among outdoor enthusiasts.  New social media channels include Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Jackson County offers pristine hiking and biking trails, cascading waterfalls, a fly fishing trail, nationally acclaimed culinary talent, an antique trail, and more.  Located between the Great Smoky Mountains to the north and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the south, the idyllic mountain towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville and Sapphire make up Jackson County. “The new branding strategy was developed to encourage travelers to make Jackson County the destination of their next outdoor adventure or vacation instead of a ‘stop over’ on the way to a different destination,” said Robert Jumper, chairman of the Jackson County TDA.  “The ‘Play On’ campaign highlights the area’s stunning natural resources and other exciting entertainment options for families, outdoor enthusiasts, and mountain lovers.” The “Play On” campaign is part of a comprehensive initiative by the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority with the professional guidance of internet marketing firm, Innsights; advertising firm, The Brandon Agency, and public relations agency, Pineapple Public Relations.  The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority was developed in January 2013 by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in an effort to create a strategic marketing plan to enhance the tourism industry in JacksonCounty.

Duke Energy Findings

de_logoThe most profitable Fortune 500 companies – including several in North Carolina – are paying little or no federal income tax. According to a new report, Duke Energy has paid no federal corporate taxes since 2008, a period in which the company made $9 billion in profit. Allan Freyer, policy analyst for the North Carolina’s Budget and Tax Center, said the findings confirm the major disparity between corporate America and average citizens. “It’s clear that we have one set of rules for middle-class families when it comes to taxes and another set of rules for highly profitable corporations,” Freyer said. “The rules for corporations really do allow them to escape paying anywhere near close to their fair share in taxes.” Duke has paid $3 million in state income taxes since 2010, but received $300 million in tax rebates, according to the report released jointly by the groups Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. According to additional research by Democracy North Carolina, Duke Energy donated more than $400,000 last year to state and national political action committees. Duke currently is the subject of federal and state inquiries into the coal-ash spill at its retired Eden power plant. While corporations are taking advantage of tax loopholes, Freyer said, average citizens are confronting higher tax rates and, in some cases, the elimination of tax credits or services. “In attempting to reduce our federal budget deficit, middle-class families have been asked to pay more,” he said, “while large, profitable corporations have been paying significantly less.” Other North Carolina Fortune 500 companies use tax breaks to pay reduced rates, according to the report. The list includes International Paper, Merck Pharmaceuticals, IBM and Dupont. Starting this year, the state corporate tax rate is decreasing from 6.9 percent to 6 percent. By 2017, the rate is slated to be reduced to 3 percent. The report is online at ctj.org.

New Location for “The Mad Batter”

The Mad Batter

The Mad Batter

BCNC Investments in Bryson City is pleased to announce an agreement to lease the property known as Merewether’s located at 617 Main St. in Sylva. The owner, Bob Frady has executed a long term lease with Jeanette Evans of The Mad Batter Café and Bakery of Cullowhee. The Mad Batter Cafe’ and Bakery was destroyed in the fire last year that claimed several businesses. The name will be The Mad Batter Dining Theater. Ms. Evans is planning to open soon, though no date has been set. We will bring you more information as it becomes available.

Tourism & Economy Conference

WCU

WCU

The impact of the travel and tourism industry on the economy of the 26 westernmost counties of North Carolina will be the subject of a daylong conference Friday, April 11, presented by the Western Carolina University College of Business. The inaugural “Tourism Works for Western North Carolina” conference will be held at the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching beginning at 8:30 a.m. and concluding by 4 p.m. The conference is expected to attract elected and appointed government officials, representatives of tourism and economic development organizations and chambers of commerce, and owners and operators of private sector businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry.
The Cost for the conference is $59 for those who register through March 15, and $99 thereafter. The event is sponsored by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area and Duke Energy. For information or to register, visit the website tourism.wcu.edu or contact the Division of Educational Outreach at 828-227-7397.

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.

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.