Header

Archive for Haywood County

Expect traffic delays on I-40

Safety improvements are coming to a stretch of Interstate 40 in Haywood County prone to rockslides.

Beginning Monday, March 16, traffic along mile marker 7 on Interstate 40 in the Pigeon River Gorge will be stopped for up to 30 minutes at a time between 30 minutes after sunrise and 10 a.m. The closure will help crews safely remove timber from the rock slope. The work is part of a $6.4 million project that will remove potential rockfall hazards and help prevent future slides from happening.

During the road closure, the contractor will be performing rolling road blocks in both directions with assistance from law enforcement between the North Carolina/Tennessee state line and Exit 15. Due to the limited time frame in which the contractor has to work, the removal of the timber will take several days to complete.

Motorists are encouraged to adjust their travel plans to avoid this area during the time frames mentioned above if possible. An alternative route would be to take I-240 in Asheville to I-26 West toward Johnson City and then I-81 South back to I-40. However, this route adds a considerable amount of travel time for anyone traveling from the Asheville area to Knoxville, Tenn.

Mile marker 7 has seen several rockfall events in recent years. The area was closed briefly in early June 2014 while crews scaled the rock wall and removed potential rockfall hazards. In 2009, a major rockslide closed I-40 westbound at mile marker 3. During cleanup and repair from that rockslide, another rockfall event occuured at mile marker 7 that would have closed I-40 westbound had it not already been closed.

Due to its location in a sharp downhill turn, mile marker 7 on I-40 is seen as the most beneficial location for a slope stabilization project. The new engineered slope will have state-of-the-art design and construction and bring it up to the safety standards of new interstate slopes, similar to those on I-26 in northern Madison County.

For real-time travel information at any time, call 511, visit the Traveler Services section of the NCDOT website or follow NCDOT on Twitter. You can also access NCDOT Mobile, a version of the NCDOT website especially for mobile devices. Visit m.ncdot.gov from your mobile browser.

Child Injury Under Investigation in Haywood County

Haywood County emergency responders were called to 11 Wildwood Way in the Jonathan Creek area of the county at approximately 6:15 p.m. Thursday evening in reference to a traumatic injury, possibly from a gunshot.

According to a law enforcement report at the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, deputies arrived on scene to find EMS workers treating a three-year-old girl for an injury to her right index finger. The child was transported to Mission Hospital for further treatment.

The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.

Legal Help Available to Clear Records

Attorneys will be on hand next week in Canton to help those with a criminal record find out if they’re eligible for a court order that clears their record.
Attorneys from Legal Aid of North Carolina will be in Canton on Monday, March 9 and Tuesday, March 10 to help people find out if they’re eligible for expunction.
Expunction is a court order that clears past offenses from a criminal record that may get in the way of potential jobs, renting an apartment or getting a loan.
Past mistakes prevent individuals from being able to rent a suitable place or get a job or loan. Under certain circumstances, the criminal record can be cleared.

Those eligible for an expunction include:
• A first-time, nonviolent offense committed more than 15 years ago;
• A first-time offense committed under the age of 18
• A first-time drug offense committed under the age of 22
• A charge that was dismissed or you were found “not guilty” of
Colwell encouraged individuals to call Legal Aid so their records can be researched to determine eligibility. For more information or to schedule a free meeting with a Legal Aid attorney, call (828) 586-8931 and press number 2 and then number 6. The line is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Two Arrested in Waynesville Meth Bust

An investigation into drug activity at a house in Waynesville led to charges against two people living at 222 Lewis Drive.
Brian S. Shuler, 32, and Shana Nicole Dills, 30, were charged with possession of immediate precursor chemicals for the manufacture of methamphetamine.

According to a press release, the Unified Narcotics Investigative Team executed a search warrant at their home on Lewis Drive on Feb. 11 where investigators found several chemicals used in the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine.
The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office stated these chemicals individually are not illegal to possess, but as a totality of circumstances and combined make them illegal to possess.

The drug task force team had been investigating the house after reports of alleged drug activity.

The Unified Narcotics Investigation Team, or U.N.I.T., is a multi-agency task force consisting of investigators from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, Waynesville Police Department, Canton Police Department and Maggie Valley Police Department.

Shuler remains in Haywood County Detention Center on $20,000 secure bond. Dills posted her $20,000 bond and has been released.

Both Shuler and Dills are expected to appear in Haywood County District Court on Feb. 25.

Tuscola Mourns Loss of a Classmate

celesteperezTuscola High School students are mourning the loss of a classmate who was killed in a fatal crash Sunday night in Candler. Troopers say it happened around 7PM Sunday evening on Dogwood Road near the I-40 overpass.

They say the driver lost control on a curve and hit a tree. Celeste Perez, 17, formerly of Waynesville was riding in the front passenger seat and died in the wreck.

According to North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Kelly Rhodes, Perez was a passenger in a car driven by 16-year-old Lori Messer, of Clyde.
Perez was taken to Mission Health, along with Messer and male passenger Eddie Mathis, 16, of Canton, where she was later pronounced dead. All three were not wearing their seat belts, Rhodes said.

They are continuing to investigate. No charges have been filed.

Haywood County Commissioners seek public input on Emergency Management ordinance

The Haywood County Board of Commissioners is reviewing its Emergency Management Ordinance to consider public input, and to ensure that it conforms to contemporary local, state and federal laws.

In advance of a future public hearing, citizens are encouraged to make written comments on the ordinance, either by mail, email to the Haywood County Manager’s Office, 215 N. Main St., Waynesville, NC 28786; or email Comment@haywoodnc.net. Written comments may also be delivered in person to the County Manager’s Office, which is located on the third floor of the Haywood County Courthouse, directly behind the Historic Courtroom.

In calling for a review of the Emergency Management Ordinance, Chairman Mark Swanger stated during the Jan. 20 board meeting that he believed all provisions of the ordinance are carried out under existing local, state and federal law, but that some sections may benefit from simpler language or sentence structure.

“In order to have more meaningful public input, I would recommend comments not be limited to the public hearing, but that written comments be accepted as part of the process,” Swanger said.

The deadline to submit written comments is 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 27. Copies of the Emergency Management ordinance are available online under Ordinances in the Main Menu of the Haywood County website, www.haywoodnc.net, or from the County Manager’s Office.

For questions or more information, call the Haywood County Manager’s Office at 452-6620.

Waynesville Police: Man pulls knife, pepper sprays security at store

An Old Fort man is facing several charges after police allege he stole merchandise from K-Mart in Waynesville then pulled a knife on security, pepper sprayed one of them and was later found with drugs.

Jackson C. Whisnant, 37, of 122 Parker Padgett Road, Old Fort, was charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery and possession of methamphetamine after an incident at the store on Dec. 20.

According to Waynesville police reports, Whisnant stole several items from the K-Mart on Russ Avenue and after being confronted by the store’s security, Whisnant pulled a knife.

According to statements made by the security team, Whisnant pulled a knife from his pocket after he was seen putting several items into his pockets and being asked to come back inside.

Two security personnel grabbed the suspect in an attempt to unarm him. Whisnant allegedly yelled “I will kill you, I will kill you” to the two men trying to take the knife.

After a short scuffle, in which Whisnant allegedly assaulted one of the men, Whisnant also sprayed pepper spray into one of the security guard’s eyes.

Police arrived to find Whisnant fleeing from his truck in the parking lot. Police said Whisnant was shirtless, due to the scuffle and wearing two pairs of pants, one of which was stolen from the store.

After being taken into custody, police found pepper spray in Whisnant’s pocket. Whisnant said the guys assaulted him causing him to retaliate with the pepper spray.

Police then found several plastic baggies containing a “clear/white in color crystal substance” stashed in the hood of Whisnant’s truck, where police believe he was trying to hide it upon their arrival.

The substance tested positive for methamphetamine, the police report said.

Whisnant was taken to Haywood County Detention Center where he remains on $50,000 secure bond.

EPA to discuss Benfield cleanup plan Tuesday

On Tuesday, Jan. 13, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public meeting about plans to clean up residual soil contamination at the Benfield Industries, Inc. Superfund Site in Waynesville, N.C. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Haywood Vocational Opportunities Building located at 172 Riverbend Street in Waynesville.

Residual soil contamination associated with the Benfield Site has continued to adversely impact groundwater since the original site cleanup activities were completed in 2001. The contaminants that have continued to be detected in the groundwater are associated with creosote, and their concentrations are above EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Levels for drinking water. EPA has determined that these pose an unacceptable risk to the community due to the potential future use of the groundwater under the site as a potable source. No adverse impact on the ecosystem was identified.

EPA is proposing a two-step plan to clean up this residual contamination. First, hydrogen peroxide will be introduced into the groundwater to oxidize the contaminants into less harmful chemicals. Next, EPA will use microorganisms characteristic of the area to metabolize contaminants found in the soil, converting them into harmless end products. EPA estimates it will take three months to complete construction at a cost of $968,000. It is anticipated that the cleanup goal will be achieved within one to two years following construction.

EPA is soliciting public comments on the plan for 30 days beginning Jan. 13. A copy of the proposed cleanup plan and associated documents will be available as of Jan. 13 in the Administrative Record, housed at Town of Waynesville City Hall at 16 South Main Street.

Written comments should be submitted by Feb.12, 2015, to bornholm.jon@epa.gov or:

Jon Bornholm, EPA Remedial Project Manager

US EPA Region 4, Superfund Division

61 Forsyth Street SW

Atlanta, Ga. 30303

Community members interested in obtaining additional information about the Site are encouraged to contact Kerisa Coleman, EPA Community Involvement Coordinator, toll-free at 1-877-718-3752 or directly at 404-562-8831 or coleman.kerisa@epa.gov.

The Benfield site occupies approximately 3.5 acres of a six-acre parcel along Riverbend Street, and was used for industrial purposes from 1904 until a fire destroyed they facility in 1982. Benfield Industries, Inc. began mixing and packaging bulk chemicals for resale at the property in 1976. Ten above-ground storage tanks of varying capacity (1,000 to 10,000 gallons) were located on the property, including two 10,000-gallon capacity creosote storage tanks and an 8,000-gallon methanol storage tank. Spills were reported to have occurred in the vicinity of these tanks. Other chemicals reported to have been stored on-site include: lacquer, paint thinner, de-natured alcohol, acetone, xylenes, toluene, and unused oil.

The Benfield site was proposed for the National Priorities List (NPL) in June 1988 and was finalized in October 1989. Site cleanup activities began in 1997 with the on-site treatment of approximately 23,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. Following the soil cleanup effort, a groundwater extraction system was installed. All construction activities at the site were completed in 2001. Between 2001-2007, the extraction system pumped out over 22 million gallons of groundwater which was treated through the town’s sewer system.

More information about the Benfield Industries Superfund Site: http://www.epa.gov/region4/superfund/sites/npl/northcarolina/benflnc.html

Arrests Made in Car Chase in Haywood County

A car chase that ended in a single-car wreck on the Old Asheville Highway Friday afternoon led to several felony charges for the vehicle’s occupants.

Detectives with the multi-agency Unified Narcotics Investigative Team, or UNIT, were observing a location near Jones Cove Road after receiving information that a suspect they were seeking was in the area.

As the subject got into a vehicle to leave, detectives attempted to affect a traffic stop. Instead of stopping, investigators say the 1999 primer black Honda Civic instead increased speed and drove at high rates of speed on Carolina Boulevard in Clyde, through Main Street in Canton, and continuing down the Old Asheville Highway until crashing down an embankment. The car was listed as stolen from Buncombe County.

One occupant in the vehicle was transported to Mission Hospital for treatment after the wreck. Officers on-scene discovered and took into evidence a loaded pistol located between the driver’s and front passenger’s seats.

Officers arrested Roger Martin “Marty” Capps Jr., 31, of Canton, charged him with felonious possession of a stolen vehicle. He was also charged with felonious possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor resist/obstruct/delay stemming from incidents earlier this week. He was also served with outstanding warrants for two felony probation violations, a parole violation, and a criminal summons for assault on a female.

Capps was jailed on no bond for the parole violations and $240,000 on the remaining charges. His court date for the latest charges is set for January 28, while the probation violations are scheduled to be heard in Superior Court February 2

Also arrested in Friday’s incident was Gregory Dee Devane, age 25, of Mars Hill, charged with felonious possession of a stolen vehicle and felony fleeing to elude arrest. He was jailed at Haywood County detention in lieu of $10,000 bond.

Warrants were also drawn on Shannon Michelle White, 25, also of Mars Hill, for felonious possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The case remains under investigation.

Waynesville Woman Sentenced to Prison on 29 felony counts

71456_10201081841596141_1793747546_nThe wife of a prominent Waynesville business owner was sentenced on Friday to at least 10 months in prison for breaking and entering.

Jennifer Elliot was convicted in November on 29 felony counts for stealing jewelry from the homes of her friends. She stole more than $90,000 worth of items from her victim’s homes to pay for her $200-400 a day pain pill addiction.

Elliot will also have to pay $78,000 in restitution for the stolen jewelry and will be on probation for five years.

Waynesville Road Improvements

Haywood County officials announced this week a more than $17.7 million plan to improve a section of Russ Avenue in Waynesville.

Paul Benson, director of planning for the town of Waynesville, said in a press release that a 1.1 mile section of Russ Avenue will be improved under adoption of the 2010 Russ Avenue Corridor Plan.

The improvements will include intersection improvements, construction of new access roads, addition of bicycle lanes and landscaped medians in a section beginning at the U.S. 23/74 Bypass going to U.S. 23/ Main Street.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2022 and is part of the State Transportation Improvement Program that was released on Dec. 4. The Board of Transportation is expected to approve the final budget for the program in June 2015.

Russ Avenue has seen an increasing number of accidents in recent years.

Illegal Video Gaming Operation Busted Up in Haywood County

Thirty-five gaming machines were seized and two people were arrested Thursday in Haywood County as the result of a cooperative investigative effort between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Officers served search warrants simultaneously on three separate sites shortly after 1 p.m. last Thursday. They discovered and seized video gaming machines involving video poker and video keno games.
Among the evidence seized were seven machines from a building located at 889 Asheville Highway, 12 machines from a building at 1190 Asheville Highway, and 16 machines from a building at 1696 Asheville Highway. In addition to the machines, officers also seized more than $8,000 from two of the locations.
Officers arrested Scott Lee Crosby, 43, of Hendersonville, and Elizabeth Rebecca Moses, 59, of Canton in connection with the video gaming. Each was charged with five felony counts of placing five or more video gaming machines into operation in violation of North Carolina General Statute 14-306.1A (A).
The investigation began in February as a result of several citizen complaints and other reports that illegal video gaming was occurring at the Asheville Highway locations. The investigation was a cooperative effort between the county’s multi-agency Unified Narcotics Investigative Team, Alcohol Law Enforcement, N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security.
The case remains under investigation.

Help with Failing Septic Systems

Since 2006, Haywood Waterways and the Haywood County Environmental Health Department have worked together to fix 38 failing systems. The repairs have prevented as much as 14,000 gallons per day of untreated human wastewater from flushing into local waterways. As a result, bacteria levels have significantly reduced in several streams.

The partnership recently received two more grants to continue the program. They received a $50,000 NC Division of Water Resources 319 Program grant for repairs in the Richland and Raccoon Creek watersheds, and a $30,000 grant from the Pigeon River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina for all other areas in the county.

The partners are currently seeking homeowners in Haywood County who need assistance. Clues of a failing system include slow plumbing, foul odors, excessive grass growth, soggy soil, and standing ground water near the system.

When a septic system fails, everything dumped in sinks and toilets can leak into groundwater and waterways, including laundry detergents, cleaning chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. The largest concern is human fecal waste. Bacteria and viruses from the human digestive tract can cause ear infections, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, viral and bacterial gastroenteritis, dysentery, and other serious health problems.
Homeowners needing assistance should contact the Environmental Health Department at 452-6682. Grant funds are used to pay 75 percent of the total repair cost. Projects are prioritized by severity of failure and proximity to a waterway.

Haywood County Student Jailed After Bringing Handgun to School

A 16-year-old Haywood County student is in jail after being charged with bringing a handgun to school.

According to the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, deputies arrested Dakota Levi Rose at Central Haywood High School and charged him with felony possession of a gun on educational property after he was found to have a .22-caliber revolver on him while on school campus. The weapon was not loaded and no ammunition was found on Rose.

The incident occurred around 2 p.m. after another student reported to a teacher that Rose had a gun. Rose was arrested without incident.

Rose has a pending charge for an arrest October 7 for misdemeanor assault and battery involving another student.

Rose was jailed in lieu of $5,000 secured bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for November 5.

Waynesville Shuts Down for Feature Film

Waynesville is just another mountain town headed to the big screen. The following streets and public parking areas will be closed from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Monday, Aug. 11, for production of a feature film currently titled “Unnamed Armor Car Project:” which has been reported to star Owen Wilson, Kristen Wigg and zach galifinakis

 

• Maxima & Corsair Lanes

 

• Welch and Wall Streets (between East Street and Howell Street)

 

• All public parking lots and on-street parking on Wall Street

 

In addition, parking for crew, extras and equipment will be located in the following private parking parking areas:

 

• Garrett Funeral Home (Main Street)

 

• Badcock Furniture (Main Street)

 

• American Legion Post (Legion Drive)

 

Traffic and parking will be controlled by barricade and the assistance of the Waynesville Police Department. Residents and business owners in these areas will be allowed limited access to their own properties during filming, but the extended one-square block area bounded by Welch, Howell, Wall and East streets will be closed to the general public.

Filming is expected to be completed by late afternoon Monday.

 

 

Haywood Regional Hospital Now Owned By Duke Lifepoint

It was announced Friday Morning that MedWest Haywood and Duke Lifepoint Healthcare have finalized Duke LifPoint’s acquisition of the 169 bed medical center and its affiliated assets. Duke Lifepoint will invest a minimum of $36 million in capital improvements at Haywood facilities over the next eight years and provide resources that will help it enhance and expand its services. Medwest Haywood will n ow be known as Haywood Regional Medical Center.
“As part of Duke LifePoint, Haywood Regional will be better able to meet the changing needs of our community,” said Frank Powers, Chairman of the Haywood Regional Board of Trustees. “We are delighted to finalize this acquisition and begin our collaboration with Duke Lifepoint to improve the health and well being of people throughout this region, create new opportunities for our staff and physicians, and strengthen our medical center for the future ahead.”

Created in 1927, Haywood was the first county hospital in North Carolina. It offers a comprehensive array of services including orthopedics, spine services, cardiology, general surgery, women’s care, emergency medicine, and behavioral health. In addition to its medical center its campus is home to a health and fitness center, the Haywood Outpatient Care Center, and the Homestead, an inpatient hospice facility. Haywood Regional also operates two urgent care centers located in Hazelwood and Canton.
Duke LifePoint is honored to welcome Haywood Regional to our system,” said Lifepoint Chairman and Chief Executive officer William Carpenter III. The physicians and staff at Haywood Regional have shown inspiring dedication and commitment to their patients and community. We look forward to working with them to build on a great tradition of care that exists here and transform health care delivery in Clyde and beyond.”
As part of Duke Lifepoint, Haywood Regional will support its local community by becoming a local taxpayer. A local board of trustees will be established to ensure a strong community voice in Haywood’s long-term strategic direction. “Haywood regional has played a central role in the health care infrastructure of Haywood County for nearly 90 years,” said William J. Fulkerson, Jr., MD, executive vice president of Duke University Health System.” “The Duke LifePoint team is pleased to partner with the medical staff and employees to further strengthen Haywood Regional’s ability to advance Health care throughout the region.”

Duke LifePoint’s acquisition of Haywood Regional was approved by the Haywood County board of Commissioners and the local Hospital Authority Board.

Waynesville Teen Dies

Randy Tyler Jenson, 18, of Waynesville

Randy Tyler Jenson, 18, of Waynesville

A Waynesville teen died after falling out of the bed of a moving pickup truck around 330 am on  Wednesday morning in the Fines Creek area of Clyde.

Emergency workers and law enforcement responded to the call on Shelton Laurel where Randy Tyler Jensen, 18, had been riding in the back of a pickup truck when he fell out.

Jensen was pronounced dead at the scene. No others were injured. The incident remains under investigation.

Have You Seen This Man?

Freddie LopezThe Haywood County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance from the public in locating a Haywood County man charged with sexually assaulting a woman yesterday.

A warrant has been issued for 20-year-old Kaiser Israel Lopez, who goes by the name “Freddie,” for felonious second degree sexual offense. Lopez is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing about 140 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information as to Mr. Lopez’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office at (828) 452-6666 or the CrimeStoppers line at 1-877-92-CRIME (877-922-7463).

Haywood County Sheriff’s Office Seeks Help

Jeremy Ryan ClarkThe Haywood County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance from the public in locating a local man accused of using community ties in attempts to defraud citizens.

Warrants have been drawn on Jeremy Ryan Clark, 28, of Canton, charging him with two counts of feloniously attempting to obtain property by false pretense. He is accused of approaching residents at their home, claiming to be the son of a locally well-known citizen or friend, then asking for money or claiming money is owed him.

Clark was arrested last November and charged with defrauding $200 from a 93-year-old man by claiming his child was sick and needed medication.  He was arrested in January and February this year and charged with similar crimes.  His court date on those pending matters is slated for July 30.

Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher cautions citizens about similar fraud schemes, and warns against giving money to strangers or even casual acquaintances.

Clark is described as a white male, approximately 6’5” and weighing about 160 pounds with short, curly brown hair and brown eyes.  He was last known to have sideburns and a goatee.

Anyone who has had a similar encounter or has information as to Jeremy Clark’s whereabouts is asked to immediately contact the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office at (828) 452-6666, or the CrimeStoppers line at 1-877-92-CRIME (877-922-7463).

Emergency Department ReOpens at MedWest Haywood

The Emergency Department at MedWest Haywood reopened for patient care today, less than two weeks after an electrical fire resulted in relocation of all patients in the main hospital. The reopening is  slightly ahead of a projected early July date, and comes after successfully completing review and approval by technical and governmental agencies, including the North Carolina Department of Health Service Regulation.

 

Carolinas MED-1 will remain onsite in a supporting role for a short period of time while the Emergency Department transition is completed.

 

MedWest Haywood nears completion of the short-term recovery phase, which also includes opening other departments such as the business offices. It is expected that all inpatient services will be reopened by mid- late July.

 

The MedWest Haywood team is working with an electrical engineering firm who is leading the charge and is supported by several local firms, Carolinas HealthCare System and other partners on a very methodical process to get MedWest Haywood up and running as quickly as possible.

 

Working with its insurance carrier MedWest Haywood has been able to ensure all employees a continuation of benefits and payroll during this recovery time.

 

All other MedWest Haywood facilities including The Outpatient Care Center, The Health & Fitness Center, all related physician practices, the Home Health and Hospice and Urgent Care Centers, have remained fully operational throughout this incident.