Header

Archive for Jackson County

2014 State of the County Health Report

The Jackson County Department of Public Health recently completed the 2014 State of the County Health Report (SOTCH). The SOTCH report is an interim update to the Community Health Assessment (CHA) and is completed each year the CHA is not done. The last CHA was completed in 2011 and the next one will be done in 2015.

From the information presented in the 2011 Community Health Assessment, the assessment team and Healthy Carolinians of Jackson County selected the following health priorities: increase healthy eating (fruit and vegetable consumption), increase physical activity among adults (with a subcomponent of fall prevention with the senior population), and decrease substance abuse in adolescents (with a new focus on prescription drug abuse prevention). Action Teams of the Healthy Carolinians of Jackson County Partnership are currently working on each of these priority areas through their community action plans.

The SOTCH report compares the most recent health trends of Jackson County to Western North Carolina and North Carolina as a whole. Jackson County’s top three leading causes of death—cancer, diseases of the heart, and chronic lower respiratory diseases (CLRD)—are identical to the top three leading causes of death in North Carolina.

Interestingly, other recent trend data shows that the unintentional injury mortality rate (excluding motor vehicles) in Jackson County increased by 23.2% from the 2002-2006 to the 2008-2012 aggregate period. Further alcohol-related traffic accidents in Jackson County increased by 5.6% from 2011 to 2012. More crashes are alcohol-related in Jackson County than in Western North Carolina or North Carolina as a whole.

On a more positive note, Jackson County diabetes mortality rate is lower than both Western North Carolina’s and North Carolina’s as a whole. Jackson County saw an 8.2% decrease in diabetes mortality from the 2007-2011 aggregate period. Another health highlight is that Jackson County’s heart disease mortality rate decreased by 7.2% from the 2007-2011 to the 2008-2012 aggregate period. Males in Jackson County have had a higher heart disease mortality rate than females for the past decade.

Interviews with key leaders and health stakeholders indicated the following new or emerging issues affecting Jackson County’s health status: access to facilities and programs where youth can be physically active, lack of connection to locally grown foods, overweight children, cost of healthy food, violence, heroin use and the increased risk of Hepatitis and HIV from needle use, and alcohol-related traffic accidents. It is important to keep an eye on each of these issues as programs and projects are being planned in the community.

The full 2014 State of the County Health report can be viewed on the health department’s webpage http://health.jacksonnc.org, under the “Community Health Data” section. For any additional information please call Melissa McKnight at 587-8288. Hard copies are also available at the Health Department upon request.

Jackson County rockers Porch 40 to tour with Marshall Tucker Band in NC

t600-Porch 40Cullowhee-based “up and comers” Porch 40 announced that they will be taking part in The Marshall Tucker Band’s Winter Tour for three dates as they travel through North Carolina. Porch 40 will open for the renowned southern rockers at The Ritz (Raleigh Jan. 21), Cone Denim Entertainment Complex (Greensboro Jan. 23) and The Fillmore (Charlotte Jan. 24).

Touring with a group like The Marshall Tucker Band, who originated in Spartanburg, South Carolina with hits like “Can’t You See” and “Heard It in a Love Song,” is an experience that hits home to members of Porch 40.

“It’s a testament to how hard we’ve worked the past two years and very humbling at the same time,” said lead singer and rhythm guitarist Drew Duncan. “The guys have spent a lot of long nights writing original music, and we’ve practiced until our hands bled more times than I can count. I couldn’t ask for a better, more dedicated group of guys to chase my dreams with.”

While only playing together for a little over two years, Porch 40 has trail blazed their way into the area scene, growing into a regionally touring band. Formed while studying at Western Carolina University, the band has developed a bond and a sense of unity that comes once in a lifetime.

“Porch 40 is more like a family than a band,” said electric violinist Mitchell Metz. “Having our home base in a small town, we’ve established a sense of community and togetherness that has shaped the way we handle ourselves in every walk of life. Creating original music that makes people dance and feel good about themselves is what we’re all about.”

While having influences from genres across the board including funk, metal, jazz, folk, hip-hop and many more, southern rock holds a special place in the hearts of multiple members of the band.

While Duncan and drummer Spencer Bradley hail from Sylva and Cullowhee, bassist Carter McDevitt and saxophonist Scott Burr are originally from the Charlotte area.

“We couldn’t ask for a better band to rock with, and we appreciate The Marshall Tucker Band for having the faith in us to perform at a high level and make this the best experience for everyone involved,” Burr said. “Being away from home and going to school at Western Carolina University, I don’t get the chance to head back to Charlotte very often with our busy schedule. It seems like we’re always on the road, and that’s where I want to be.”

Porch 40’s debut album “Spread It Heavy” was released in September and is available on all major digital outlets, including but not limited to, iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Spotify and more.

The members of Porch 40 are all between the young ages of 21-24 years old. Two of them are still attending Western Carolina University and will graduate this May. The band plans to hit the road for a full tour this summer/fall. In the meantime, they will continue to play area Western North Carolina venues on a regular basis while steadily branching out on a regional and national level this winter and spring.

“We’d like to thank all of the fans, venues, owners, booking agents, promoters, writers, DJ’s and everyone else who continues to support our movement. It’s because of their belief that we’re able keep this train rolling,” Duncan said.

For more information on the group’s album “Spread It Heavy,” visit

https://porch40.bandcamp.com/album/spread-it-heavy.

Meeting Upcoming for Cullowhee Community Planning Advisory Committee

As a result of comments received at the community meetings held in October and subsequent meetings and conversations with Cullowhee property owners, the Cullowhee Community Planning Advisory Committee has recommended changes to the proposed Cullowhee development standards and map.

The proposed designations of some properties have changed and the following properties have been removed from the proposed planning area:
• The NCCAT property and adjacent properties located on the west side of NC 107;
• The property occupied by the WCU staff apartments located behind Catamount Travel Center off Little Savannah Road;
• The Rogers family property and the adjacent WCU-owned property located on Monteith Gap Road.

Significant changes to the development standards include:
• A threshold has been established for requiring single family residential development to provide sidewalks. The threshold is 12 homes or lots; smaller developments will not have to provide sidewalks. In addition, trails may be provided in lieu of sidewalks with the approval of the Planning Council.
• Single wide manufactured homes are permitted on individual lots in the single family residential areas. Previously they were permitted only in manufactured home parks.

Cullowhee community will be Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 6:00 PM in the Hospitality Room at the Ramsey Center on the WCU campus.

Firefighters Limit Damage From Forest Fire

The fire from a burning debris pile got out of control Friday afternoon causing a fire to burn over about ten acres of mountain land  in the Kitchens Branch area of Jackson County. Fighting the fire in a rugged area also know as Queen Caves was strenuous to the volunteer firefighters and North Carolina Forest Service personnel.  Both eyewitnesses and firefighters confirmed that fire lines were  created along the crest of the mountain which allowed the controlled backfire to safely cause the fire to safely burn itself out with.  Several houses in the area were not in immediate danger but could have been threatened had the wind changed. The weather conditions were favorable for the fire to burn but because the winds were basically calm it was easier to keep the fire under control.  Those planning to burn during this season are reminded of the importance of obtaining a burning permit and following the printed regulations. Permits can be obtained either on line or at several area businesses and at the NC  Forest Service headquarters in the Savannah/Greens Creek area on Highway 441 South.

Nifty Needles Make Warm Items in Jackson County

: Sarah Thompson, left, and Anne Jones continue knitting for the group project. Shown in the forefront are hats which will be given away.

: Sarah Thompson, left, and Anne Jones continue knitting for the group project. Shown in the forefront are hats which will be given away.

For eight years the Nifty Needles group has been knitting and crocheting warm, useful items for those in need. They knit year round in preparation for the cold weather. This group which meets at First United Methodist Church, Sylva has a mission to share God’s love and make winters warm and comfortable.

Nifty Needles distributes these items to those in Jackson County who are less fortunate. This season they will distribute over 300 such items. At one point, they gave to overseas missions, but now focus on the local community. Several years ago, over a two year period, they gave over 1,000 items to people in Bosnia.

When asked what type of items they knit, Anne Rhyne, the group leader, replied, “We make hats, scarves, gloves, stoles, and lap blankets and knee warmers for wheel chair bound patients in nursing homes. We love giving children matching hats, sweaters and turtle necks.” Many of the items are sold through the Christmas Store and others are distributed through referrals from school personnel and agencies. Items can also be picked up at the church office.

These dedicated knitters do take requests from people and try to accommodate the request. Once they got a request to send a warm shrug and a lap robe to an elderly person in Alaska.

As a special Christmas gift, the knitters have made dish cloths which they will wrap with ribbons to give to the Meals on Wheels recipients.

Vivian Wisdom, a longtime member, also leads a group of people called Crafty Needle Time at the Department of Aging.

The group would welcome new people who want to help accomplish their mission. They already have supplies such as yarn and needles. If someone wants to learn the craft, they will be more than happy to give lessons.

Anne Rhyne said, “We really enjoy being able to serve, and the Lord calls us to do this mission. We are just here for Him. We serve Him.”

JCDPH to Hold a Public Meeting on Increased Mercury Levels in Fish at Lake Glenville

The Jackson County Department of Public Health is holding a public meeting to discuss and answer questions about the increased mercury levels in Walleye Fish as well as Large Mouth Bass Fish at Lake Glenville. The meeting will be held at the Albert Carlton-Cashiers Library on Monday, December 15, 2014 from 6:00 pm. The physical address for the library is 249 Frank Allen Road, Cashiers, NC 28717

Dr. Kenneth Rudo, NC Division of Public Health’s Toxicologist will be present to share the findings and answer any questions.

Newly Elected Sheriff Sworn In Jackson County Monday

There is a new Sheriff in town. Chip Hall is officially on the job as Jackson County’s new sheriff after 26 years of service.He was elected Nov. 4 to replace Jimmy Ashe who retired after a dozen years.

Hall, former chief deputy for the Sheriff’s Office, won by an overwhelming number of votes over former Sylva Police Officer Curtis Lambert. Hall received 6,921 votes while Lambert got 3,838 votes.

Now that Sheriff Hall has been sworn in, he’s named a new chief deputy Kim Hooper and is looking to build positive relationships throughout the county.

Sheriff Hall says he’ll be meeting with commissioners soon to discuss finances and improving security at the courthouse.

Drug Raid Lands Sylva Man Behind Bars

547f760f90222.imageOn Tuesday, a drug raid at 42 Pathfinder Lane in Sylva has one man in custody and four total arrest warrants issued.

Steven Allen Ross was arrested and charged with Possession of Methamphetamines, Felony of Schedule I Controlled Substance, and Possession with Intent to Manufacture/Sell of IV Controlled Substances, Possession of Marijuana and paraphernalia and possession of stolen goods. A $30,000 secured bond has been set and Ross will have his initial court appearance on December 23rd.

The arrest was made by Sylva Police Department along with members of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office SETT (Sheriff’s Emergency Tactical Team) team and Waynesville Police Department K-9.

Sylva Police Det. Aimee Watson is in charge of the ongoing investigation.

Missing Teen Died from Hypothermia; Broken Hip

On Monday, November 24, 2014, Pathologist Dr. William L. Selby, conducted an autopsy of Alec Lansing, the teenager who walked away from Trails Carolina campsite on November 10, 2014. The cause of death indicated was Hypothermia. An additional significant factor in this autopsy that was noted by Dr. Selby was a broken hip. Investigators who were present on scene where the body of Lansing was found noted evidence of removed moss from a tree which leaned over the small stream in which Lansing was found on Saturday, November 22, 2014. Investigators believe Lansing had scaled the tree and fallen into the shallow stream, resulting in the broken hip rendering him immobile.

Body Discovered in Nantahala Forest; Believed to be Missing Teen

Mid-day on Saturday, November 22, 2014, a body, which is believed to be that of, Alec Lansing, was found in the Nantahala National Forest. Today the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office along with multiple volunteers coordinated by the Jackson County Emergency Management Office conducted further searching of the forest where Lansing was last seen. The body was found in a remote portion of the forest by searchers. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office investigators along with investigators with the United States Forest Service Law Enforcement are working together to continue to investigate the death. An autopsy has been requested by investigators to determine the cause of death. Lansing has been missing since Monday, November 10, 2014.

Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries

DillsboroLightsLuminariesPressReleasePhotoThe 31st annual Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries event is planned Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5-6 and Dec. 12-13.
There will be free refreshments and entertainment, horse-drawn carriage rides, unique holiday shopping and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
College night will be held on Friday, Dec. 5, kicking off with the WCU Holiday Dancers at 5:30 p.m. There will also be a free paint-your-own ornaments program at Claymates (while supplies last.)
All four nights of the event, there will be a live Nativity scene at Jarrett Memorial Baptist Church. There will be free parking and shuttle transportation from Monteith Park.
Come experience the spirit and splendor as the historic village of Dillsboro is aglow with more than 2,500 candles.
For more information, go to www.visitdillsboro.org or visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/DillsboroNC.

Two Jackson County Employees on Administrative Leave

Two Jackson County employees are on paid administrative leave after reports of a Halloween party surfaced. Dispatcher Maria, employed by emergency services, and her husband Deputy James Henry, were alleged to have been in attendance at the party at Dillard’s Excavating where according to a warrant, a 14-year-old student from Smoky Mountain High School told state agents she was raped at a nearby house after attending the party. Allegations of underage drinking were also in the warrant.

Keith Dillard is the proprietor of Dillard Excavating, and his wife, Michelle, is a former jail nurse. The county terminated her contract Oct. 30th.

The investigation has been turned over to state investigators with the department of alcohol law enforcement, so far no charges have been filed.

Jackson County Election Sees Democrats Sweeping

Tuesday midterm voter participation in North Carolina set a record. 2, 717, 920 voters cast ballots. In Jackson County, voters replaced two incumbent commissioners giving Democrats control of four seats.

Charles Elders maintained his seat as the sole Republican. Brian McMahan replaced Jack Debnam as Chairman while Boyce Deitz won seat formerly occupied by Doug Cody.

Democrats also won the Sheriff’s election placing Chip Hall in the position vacated by Jimmy Ashe who is retiring.

Sheriff’s Office Ask For Help In Anonymous Letter

Monday morning, October 27, 2014, Smoky Mountain High School Resource Officer, Sergeant Avery Brown was notified of a potential sexual assault which had occurred over the weekend at a private residence. Sergeant Brown immediately notified the investigators with the Sheriff’s Office who quickly began the investigation into the assault. Sergeant Brown also notified Sheriff’s Office administration about a party which had occurred that may have involved a contracted Sheriff’s Office employee and reported underage drinking of alcohol. Due to the conflict of interest involved with the report about the party, the Sheriff’s Office contacted the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement to conduct an unbiased independent investigation. The investigations into both incidents have been ongoing since the initial report on Monday. Numerous persons have been interviewed and many more are anticipated. Sheriff’s Office investigators have been in contact with the District Attorney’s Office in regards to this matter as well. The investigation is ongoing.

A letter was circulated from an anonymous and concerned parent regarding these cases. This letter indicates some information not otherwise provided to the Sheriff’s Office which indicates further criminal activity. The Sheriff’s Office would like to speak with this person and anybody else that has information regarding sexual assaults. Provided is the contact information for the Sheriff’s Office investigator who handles sexual assaults. Additionally, provided below is information on contacting the NCALE. We encourage anyone with information regarding underage drinking to contact them as it relates to this case or any other underage drinking cases.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Andi Clayton, 586-1392.
North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, Asheville District, 670-5055

Sexual Assault and Party Investigation at Area High School

Monday morning, October 27, Smoky Mountain High School Resource Officer, Sergeant Avery Brown was notified of a potential sexual assault which had occurred over the weekend at a private residence. Sergeant Brown immediately notified the investigators with the Sheriff’s Office who quickly began the investigation into the assault. Sergeant Brown also notified Sheriff’s Office administration about a party which had occurred that may have involved a contracted Sheriff’s Office employee and reported underage drinking of alcohol.

Due to the conflict of interest involved with the report about the party, the Sheriff’s Office contacted the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement to conduct an unbiased independent investigation. The investigations into both incidents have been ongoing since the initial report on Monday.

Numerous persons have been interviewed and many more are anticipated. Sheriff’s Office investigators have been in contact with the District Attorney’s Office in regards to this matter as well. The investigation is ongoing.

Prescribed Burns in Jackson County

The U.S. Forest Service plans to conduct a series of prescribed burns in the Nantahala Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest, this fall. Weather will dictate the dates of the prescribed burns. All four sites are located in southern Jackson County.

The Moses Creek area burn units are:
Coward Bald (684 acres)
Moses Creek (158 acres)
The Panthertown area burn unit is:
Big Green (497 acres)
The Bonas Defeat area burn unit is:
Awl Knob (240 acres)
The Forest Service will conduct these understory burns to reduce hazardous fuel and restore conditions in the forest. Prescribed burning also promotes forest health and wildlife habitat. Public safety is the highest priority during a prescribed burn. The dates for each burn will be announced as they are decided and weather permitting.

One Stop Early Voting in Jackson County

JACKSON COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS OFFICE
876 SKYLAND DR # 1
SYLVA, NC 28779
Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

CASHIERS RECREATION CENTER
355 FRANK ALLEN RD
CASHIERS, NC 28717
Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

CULLOWHEE RECREATION CENTER
88 CULLOWHEE MOUNTAIN RD
CULLOWHEE, NC 28723
Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

WOLFTOWN COMMUNITY GYM
28 LONG BRANCH
CHEROKEE, NC 28719
Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Local Man Charged in Shooting Death of His Father

Travis Heffner has been charged in the shooting death of his father Kenneth Heffner

Travis Heffner has been charged in the shooting death of his father Kenneth Heffner

On October 20, 2014, at approximately 6:38 p.m., the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call at 77 Paniolo Drive, Sylva, NC regarding a shooting. The caller stated to the 911 operator that he had shot his father. 911 dispatchers kept the caller on the phone, instructed him how to check for breath, and eventually how to conduct CPR. Deputies arrived on scene a short time later and assisted with CPR. West Care EMS arrived shortly thereafter and continued CPR with assistance from the Balsam-Willets Volunteer Fire Department’s first responders. Deputies secured the shooting scene, then obtained and served a search warrant. Deputies were assisted by agents with the NCSBI during the search. As a result of the investigation and after conferring with the District Attorney’s Office, the caller, identified as Travis Lindsey Heffner, was arrested and charged. The deceased is Kenneth Rodney Heffner, father of the suspect. The investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

Moral March to take place on Thursday

A Moral March to the polls is being held in Sylva on Thursday October 23rd–just in time for early voting. Activists and participants will gather at 10:00 am in front of the old Jackson County Courthouse on Main Street and make the 2 mile walk to the Board of Elections office on Skyland Drive.
The Reverend Charles Lee will be leading the procession to the Elections office.

Jackson County Sheriff Offers Halloween Safety Tips

Soon our streets will be scattered with little ghosts, goblins and witches trick-or-treating this Halloween. “Halloween should be filled with surprise and enjoyment, and following some common sense practices can keep events safer and more fun,” said Sheriff Jimmy Ashe.

The Sheriff reminds all Jackson County residents to follow these safety tips:
Motorists:
· Watch for children darting out from between parked cars.
· Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.

· Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.

· At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.

Parents:
· Make sure that an adult or an older responsible youth will be supervising the outing for children under age 12.
· Check the sex offender registry at sexoffender.ncdoj.gov/ when planning your child’s trick-or-treat route. You can view maps that pinpoint registered offenders’ addresses in your neighborhood, and sign up to get email alerts when an offender moves nearby.
· Plan and discuss the route trick-or-treaters intend to follow. Know the names of older children’s companions.
· Make sure older kids trick-or-treat in a group.

· Instruct your children to travel only in familiar areas and along an established route.

· Teach your children to stop only at houses or apartment buildings that are well-lit and never to enter a stranger’s home.

· Establish a return time.

· Tell your youngsters not to eat any treats until they return home.

· Review all appropriate trick-or-treat safety precautions, including pedestrian/traffic safety rules.

· All children need to know their home telephone number and how to call 9-1-1 in case of emergency.

· Pin a slip of paper with the child’s name, address and telephone number inside a pocket in case the youngster gets separated from the group.

Costume Design:
Only fire-retardant materials should be used for costumes.
Costumes should be loose so warm clothes can be worn underneath.
Costumes should not be so long that they are a tripping hazard.
Make sure that shoes fit well to prevent trips and falls.
If children are allowed out after dark, outfits should be made with light colored materials. Strips of retro-reflective tape should be used to make children visible.

Face Design:
Do not use masks as they can obstruct a child’s vision. Use facial make-up instead.
When buying special Halloween makeup, check for packages containing ingredients that are labeled “Made with U.S. Approved Color Additives,” “Laboratory Tested,” “Meets Federal Standards for Cosmetics,” or “Non-Toxic.” Follow manufacturer’s instruction for application.
If masks are worn, they should have nose and mouth openings and large eye holes.

Accessories:
Knives, swords and other accessories should be made from cardboard or flexible materials. Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.
Bags or sacks carried by youngsters should be light-colored or trimmed with retro-reflective tape if children are allowed out after dark.
Carrying flashlights with fresh batteries will help children see better and be seen more clearly.
While Trick-or-Treating:
Do not enter homes or apartments without adult supervision.
Walk; do not run, from house to house. Do not cross yards and lawns where unseen objects or the uneven terrain can present tripping hazards.
Walk on sidewalks, not in the street.
Walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic if there are no sidewalks.

Treats:
Give children an early meal before going out.
Insist that treats be brought home for inspection before anything is eaten.
Wash fruit and slice it into small pieces.
Throw away any candy that is unwrapped or partially wrapped, or has a strange odor, color or texture.

Homeowners/Decorations:
Keep candles and Jack O’ Lanterns away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame.
Remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches when expecting trick-or-treaters.
Keep candles and Jack O’ Lanterns away from curtains, decorations and other combustibles that could catch fire.
Do not leave your house unattended.
“Halloween is a fun time in Jackson County,” Sheriff Ashe concluded, “But let’s make it a safe time as well. The major dangers are not from witches or spirits but rather from falls and pedestrian/car crashes. “