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WCU Student Killed in Car Accident In Greensboro

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

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.

WCU Receives Estimates On The Structure Fire Damages

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

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.

WCU Hires Rusty Marts As Director Of Employee Relations

CULLOWHEE – Albert “Rusty” Marts, director of employee relations and
affirmative action officer at the University of North Carolina Asheville,
has been named director of employee relations, training and development at
Western Carolina University.

Marts will begin his new role effective Feb. 1. Kathy Wong, WCU director of
human resources, announced the appointment Tuesday, Jan. 21.

“Rusty brings a wealth of experience to Western Carolina. His background
includes work in the areas of vocational counseling, employee relations and
employee assistance programs, as well as experience with professional
development and training programs. His combination of experience and
education will greatly enhance our employee services goals,” Wong said.

“His focus on services aimed directly at supporting our staff and faculty
will be invaluable, and it aligns well with our commitment to ‘invest in our
people’ as outlined in the university’s strategic plan,” she said.
A new position at WCU, the director of employee relations, training and
development was identified by Chancellor David O. Belcher in his Opening
Assembly address to start the fall semester as among the top priorities for
the 2013-14 academic year toward the goal of improving the work-life
environment for faculty and staff.

“This individual will assist managers on campus by providing training and
information to promote a better understanding of the university’s goals and
policies, and the policies, laws and regulations applicable to the
workplace,” Belcher said in August. “Broadly and generally, this person will
work toward the prevention and resolution of conflict and other issues
between employees and managers. This position represents a real need on our
campus.”

Marts has been director of employee relations and affirmative action officer
at UNCA since January 2008. He previously worked as an employee assistance
regional consultant and account manager for the Employee Assistance Network;
owner/operator of two private counseling services providers; a counselor and
area supervisor for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for the state
of New Mexico; and programs manager and unit director for Mental Health
Resources Inc.

“I am very much looking forward to joining the Western Carolina University
community,” said Marts, a resident of Cullowhee who passes WCU every day on
his way to his current position in Asheville. “I will now have a much better
opportunity to become involved in the culture of campus life. WCU is a
dynamic, growing institution, and I look forward to being a part of this
vibrant institution.”

Marts said he is eager to serve as WCU’s first director of employee
relations, training and development, which he said is an important position
for the institution.

“The employee relations component provides a safe, confidential environment
for management and non-management employees to discuss issues ranging from
the work site to the more personal,” he said. “The training and development
component demonstrates the university’s commitment to the professional
development and advancement of the work force. Truly, investing in training
and development is an investment in the excellence of the work force.”

Marts holds a doctorate in Christian counseling from Bethany Theological
Seminary, a master’s degree in psychology and personnel services from
Eastern New Mexico University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and
Christian service from Manhattan Christian College.

Western Carolina University Celebrates their 125th Birthday With A Bold Vision

Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher and Melissa Wargo unveiled their long term and short term Comprehensive Master Plan Tuesday in a special presentation to the Jackson County Commissioners. Wargo explained how the process to develop a plan to serve as a blueprint for future campus access and building construction was developed. Nor only is the campus poised for growth, the area around the campus is on the verge of significant development as well with several residential and commercial on the drawing boards. Wargo and Belcher stressed the critical need for a significant upgrade to the mid campus area adjacent to the Natural Sciences Building, McKee, and Killian. The plan calls for the construction of a facility which would replace the Niggli Theater property and attach to the Natural Sciences Building which is now forty years old and in need of an upgrade. The road through that property would be closed in order to create a better pedestrian friendly center of campus. While Western Carolina University swelled to over ten thousand students this year Chancellor Belcher pointed out that the University’s future growth would be contingent upon the availability of additional classroom space especially in the sciences. The WCU  Millennium Campus is a large acreage tract of real estate about two thirds of that property is not suitable for development. The plans show how several smaller structures to accommodate the new Health Sciences building could fill out that campus. Also the need to connect the two campuses with pedestrian and shuttle service are in the plans. Two other significant projects were shown one if the eventual change of the main entrance to adjoin the Little Savannah Road intersection which would also connect in with a new road to connect the current road around Belk Building and the Bardo Center with the oldest part of the campus near the chancellors dwelling. The property now known as the camp building would be converted into a 1200 car parking deck. The University has a busy day planned for Thursday with the kickoff of the observance of the 125th anniversary celebration. Activities will take place at the University Center. Also the first 500 fans at the WCU and Davidson basketball game on Thursday will receive a WCU white T shirt to celebrate the anniversary celebration.

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.

School Closings and Delays for 11/27

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

Cherokee Reservation School: CLOSED

Cherokee Tribal Care: CLOSED/OPTIONAL TEACHER WORK DAY

Haywood Christian Academy: CLOSED

Haywood Co. Meals on Wheels: CLOSED

Haywood Public Transit: TWO HOUR DELAY – NO BUSES ON ICY ROADS

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

Mitchell County Schools: CLOSED

Pams Child Development Center: CLOSED

Swain County Schools: CLOSED/OPTIONAL WORK DAY

Swain Public Transit: TWO HOUR DELAY – NO BUSES ON ICY ROADS

Tri-County Christian School: CLOSED

Waynesville First Baptist CDC: OPEN AT 10AM

Cullowhee Business Buildings On Fire Thursday Morning

Several businesses located along Central Drive on WCU’s campus were engulfed in flames Thursday morning. According to early reports the fire started at Subway and quickly spread to other businesses located in that same structure. According to Bill Studenc, WCU’s Director of News Services,  the fire was contained to the one structure at 11:00 a.m. with every effort being made to keep the fire from spreading to other buildings.  Fire departments from Jackson County are working to control and extinguish the blaze with mutual aid being provided by fire departments from neighboring counties.  There are no reports of injuries from the fire or from those who are battling the blaze. Once the fire has been extinguished the investigation as to the cause of the fire will commence. For a video of the blaze go the wrgc facebook page.

David Profit Recieves Prestigious Award

Long time Jackson County School System employee David Profit has been named the first recipient of the Steven Jones Distinguished School Administrator Award. The award was established by the Jackson County School system this year to continue to honor the years of popular Jackson County School’s employee Steven Jones who died unexpectedly last year. According to Jackson County School’s Superintendent Dr Michael Murray, David Profit is most deserving to be the recipient of this first time award. In addition to Profit’s many assigned responsibilities as the Technology Coordinator of the school system, David also volunteers much of his time as the voice of the Mustangs at High School football and basketball games, and renders so much assistance and leadership to the system and his co-workers. Dr Murry added that due to the close relationship that existed between David Profit and Steven Jones that it was humbling for Mr Profit to accept the award named after his dear and deceased friend.

Jackson County Hires Richard Price As The New Director Of Economic Development

Joseph Richard Price (Rich) has accepted the position of  Jackson County Director of Economic Development effective  November 1, 2013. Mr. Price has been a resident of the Whittier community in Jackson County since 1991 and is a 1988 graduate of Western Carolina University. He possesses a diverse professional background involving banking, management, owning and operating an small business, and most recently a member of the senior administrative staff with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel serving as the Director of Casino Marketing. Rich brings a proven track record in relationship marketing, financial  analysis, strategic planning, and sales.  The appointment of Rich Price follows an extensive recruitment and interview process that involved business leaders, education leaders, leaders in the travel and tourism industry, elected officials and other county employees.

The Director of Economic Development reports to the county manager and will utilize a Business and Industry Advisory Committee composed of leaders from local community to develop strategies for implementing the Jackson County  comprehensive economic development strategy that was created and approved by the Board of Commissio0mers in 2012. As Director, Mr. Price will work with existing business and industry to address the challenges and obstacles they are experiencing and to respond to inquiries about Jackson County as a possible site for new business opportunity, One of the first task for the new director will be preparing an inventory of existing businesses and industry,  identifying available buildings and properties for new business development, and documenting the location of existing utility infrastructure that is an essential component of economic development

The office location for the Director Of Economic Development will be room A231 in the justice and Administration Building

Jackson County Commissioners Deal With Financial and Unemployment Issues.

The Jackson County Commissioners addressed numerous significant issues at their Monday October 7th meeting at the Jackson County Justice Center. Concerns with the impact of the Federal government soon surfaced at the meeting with both positive and negative reports being heard.  It was included in County Manager Chuck Wooten’s report that the County receives $160,000 in federal funding for several services provided through the Department of Social Services. One of the largest of these services is the $129,000 for child care which allows parents to work or go to school. These programs are still operating in Jackson County because of reserve funds at the federal level, however if the federal government shut down continues it would become a county decision whether the county would continue with those services in expectation of getting a federal reimbursement later. No one has any assurances this will take place so several counties in the state have already put the providers on a ten day notice the services will be provided. County manager Wooten informed the Commissioners this is a topic that would need county consideration. Even though a ten day notice is not required by statute, counties are giving the notice so parents and providers can prepare. Wooten also stressed the domino affect of parents missing work, losing paydays, and employers handicapped due to their workers absence.

On a positive note the Commissioners heard the Jackson County unemployment rate at the end of August 2013 had dropped to 7.2% this is a further reduction from July when the rate of unemployment was 8% and 8.3 percent in July 2012. It was also reported the Jackson County Board of Education had been able to stretch their funds to avoid the loss of any teachers aids and assistants this year. School Superintendent Dr. Michael Murray was quoted as saying that next year might be a different story but at least this year they have been able to keep the employees in place.

The Dillsboro Mural Unveiled

 

muralFARMERpanelsml Nine months of meticulous workmanship by Doryelle Ammons-Cain was unveiled for public review on Saturday  in Dillsboro. The Dillsboro Mural is an image of how the town of Dillsboro and surrounding countryside looked in the 1880′s. The mural is accented with the image of Jarret Nimrod Smith who was a surviving infant of the  the removal of 1838 also known as the Trail of Tears. As a young man Smith was a member of the Thomas Legion in the Civil War and was later elected Principal Chief. Smith was largely responsible for the expansion and preservation of tribal lands and the pursuit of citizenship for tribal members. The mural also shows an image of the founding family of Dillsboro. Doryelle Ammons-Cain explained the significance of the mural as, “Without roots we can’t grow and this mural shows Dillsboro as a town with roots”  Dillsboro Mayor Mike Fitzgerald stated his belief the mural will create an interest for people coming to Dillsboro to come more than once and, ” fall in love with the town and want to stay”. Standing in for Cherokee Principal Chief Michelle Hicks was historian Freeman Owle who gave a historical review of the relationship between the Cherokee people and the white settlers who came to build towns and expand farming in the mountains. Owle figured the mural will be a catalyst for starting conversations about those historical relationships. Doryelle Ammons-Cain estimated the mural will have a life of about a century and will remain in the current location until a permanent location is found in Dillsboro.

Sports Update

It was a huge night for the Smoky Mountain High School Soccer team on Monday at Brevard High School. The Mustangs coming off two impressive wins last week again previously unbeaten Franklin and East Henderson the Mustangs reeled off two solid victories to take sold possession of the  conference lead at 4-0. Coach Brown stressed to his team that on all teams have the potential to have a big night and play tough and Brevard lived up to the Coach’s prediction taking an early lead Monday night, then a couple of minutes later Gabby Fuentes tied the score at one. At the 69 minute mark it was Hunter Karup who gave the Mustangs the lead, then a couple of minutes later Jordan Couch added another goal for the final point spread of three to one.  Zack Bryson had four saves and The Brevard Goal Keeper had eight saves off 20 Mustang shots.  The Blue Devils were able to only get eight shots at the goal indicating the Mustangs defense kept the Blue Devils away from the goal.  The Mustangs are now 9-2-1 and 5-0 in conference play. Next up… Pisgah.

SCC Health Fair on Jackson Campus

Southwestern Community College will be hosting a health fair this Thursday from 9 am till 2 pm. The health far will be held in the Balsam Lobby and Myers Auditorium on the Jackson Campus. Many SCC Student Programs, community organizations and business related to health issues will be present on location and will be providing information to the community. Many Groups in attendance will be offering low-cost or free services to the public, including: Cholesterol Checkups, Chair Massages, HIV and Hepatitis C testing. There will be valuable health information and demonstrations for the public. For more information contact SCC at 339-4000.

Funds Allocated for Jackson County School District

Superintendent Dr. Murray is allocating the new funds from the Jackson County Commissioners and planning the final stages of the current building projects in the Jackson County School District. Smoky Mountain High School’s current construction project of the new fine arts building and gymnasium are reaching their final stages. The new allocation of funds from the County Comission will greatly help the School Board progress their construction projects and even adding on more Resource Officers as needed and help in keeping Teacher’s Asssistants in the classrooms.

NC Governor Appoints Three New Members to WCU Board of Trustees

A Rutherford County educational foundation executive, the first woman elected principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and a Highlands homebuilder are the three newest members of the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees.

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Charles Philip Byers to fill a recent board vacancy, and Joyce Conseen Dugan and John R. Lupoli to four-year terms on the WCU board.

Byers is filling a vacancy on the board created by the departure of Brenda Wellmon of Mecklenburg County, who stepped down as a trustee for personal reasons this summer.

In addition to Wellmon, McCrory’s appointments to the WCU board fill vacancies left by outgoing members Tommy Saunooke, member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council, and William Forsyth, retired executive director of the Cherokee County Economic Development Commission.

Byers, Dugan and Lupoli will join two other new members – Phil Drake, chief executive officer of Drake Enterprises, and Kenny Messer, an executive with Milliken Corp. – elected to the WCU board earlier this year by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The board will hold its first quarterly meeting of the new academic year at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in the board room of H.F. Robinson Administration Building. The board also will hold committee meetings and discussions beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at various locations on the fifth floor of the Robinson Building.

 

Dove Season Opens Early in 2013

Normally dove season in North Carolina opens the first Saturday in September but this year the first Saturday comes almost a week into the month so the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission voted to open the season the First Monday in September or Labor Day. Some areas in eastern North Carolina where more corn and soybeans are grown the opening of the season is a relief to farmers, the dove is less plentiful in the mountains. The Hunting Heritage Apprentice permit program was also initiated this year by the Wildlife Resources Commission. Under the provisions of this program a licensed hunter who is at least 18 years of age can accompany and mentor another hunter who has not completed a hunter safety course but who has purchased a license and agrees to be mentored by the experienced hunter  in lieu of the required hunter safety course.