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Archive for Jackson County

Mysterious Pig Virus in NC Concerns Environmentalists

Pigs continue to die in large numbers in North Carolina – and while pork producers work to stop the virus that’s killing them, environmentalists are working to make sure the bodies are being disposed of properly.

Larry Baldwin with the Water Keeper Alliance says the virus known as PED (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea) has killed an estimated two to three-million pigs in the state since it first showed up in June of last year. He says there’s a lack of transparency from the pork industry and lack of state regulations regarding the disposal of the dead pigs.

“What we have seen to some degree in North Carolina is improper burial, we’ve had a couple of facilities that we have documented from the air where the burial pits were left open for days, the animals were laying in the groundwater , you could see vultures and other birds of prey that were feeding on these animals.”

Baldwin says the Water Keeper Alliance, in conjunction with eight of the state’s River Keeper organizations, sent a letter to the state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler requesting that he inform the public about the scope of the problem, as well as regulate and oversee the swine industry’s handling of the dead animals. Baldwin claims the response from the commissioner’s office was dismissive and vague. There are about 25-hundred pig farms in North Carolina.

Baldwin says improper burial of the pigs is a big concern for the eastern part of the state – as the groundwater is very close to the surface, which means you don’t have to dig down too far to get your drinking water from a well.  “So you’re throwing the hogs in the ditch, they’re decomposing and now that’s actually going into the groundwater. So you’ve got the nutrients from the dead hogs that are now going into the groundwater. ”

The PED virus kills primarily piglets, and has spread to more than 45-hundred farms in 30 states. The good news, says Baldwin, is that there is no evidence it can be spread to humans.

Low Voter Turn Out In Jackson County

More than 105,000 North Carolinians cast ballots Tuesday to decide 19 runoff contests across 37 counties.   For the first time since 2006, no statewide race required a second primary.

Turnout was higher than any second primary over the past decade. One-stop early voting accounted for 23% of overall turnout.  Polling places remained open throughout the day Tuesday, despite severe weather

The race to watch in Jackson County was the race for GOP Sheriff Candidate. Curtis Lambert received 129 votes and Jimmy Hodgins 106 votes. Lambert will be facing off against Democratic Chip Hall in November. Jackson County saw a low voter turn out for the run off race.  There was a total of 239 votes cast or 1.57% of the 15,243 registered voters.

Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team Training in Jackson County

On Tuesday, July 15, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Emergency Service Units from Jackson, Macon, Swain and Transylvania Counties along with members of the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team, NCHART, will practice helicopter-based rescues in the area of the Lake Thorpe Dam and Spillway in Jackson County.

NCHART is a highly specialized team consisting of N.C. National Guard and N.C. State Highway Patrol air assets matched with N.C. Emergency Management and local Emergency Services personnel that form a mission-ready package for helicopter-based rescues.

Examples of NCHART missions include swift water rescue, lost persons, severe injuries and wilderness high angle rescues.  NCHART trains on a monthly schedule.  Partnership through NCHART has resulted in a number of successful mountain rescues, including this past December a stranded rock climber at Margarette Falls near the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

NCHART came to “Paradise Falls” area in the Canada Community of Tuckasegee in Jackson County in March, 2008 when a rock climber fell approximately 50 feet while climbing.  Due to the remoteness of the area in which the subject was located, along with the dangerous terrain, low temperatures, time of day/night and the length of time it would take to extract the patient were the determining factors to bring NCHART to Jackson County.

 

Keith Dean Installed As AMVETS Commander For North Carolina

Keith Dean of Sylva was installed at the Commander of the AMVETS Department of North Carolina on June 8th in Greensboro. Dean has been a member of the AMVETS for fourteen years and has held positions as the local Post 441 Chaplain and Post Commander for eleven years. At the State level Dean served as the Chaplain, then progressed through the leadership ranks from Third Vice Commander to the position of the First Vice Commander which he held last year. Dean will officially take office on July first and will oversee the operations of the 32 hundred member organization in North Carolina. To be a member of the AMVETS a person must have served in the military and received either an honorable discharge or a general discharge under honorable conditions. The AMVETS National Service Officers are trained to assist local veterans with preparing their documentation for enrollment into the Department of Veterans Affairs and to file a claim. AMVETS also has an hold an essay contest for high school students and a recognition program for JROTC students. They also volunteer at VA Hospitals and long term care facilities. For information about AMVETS call Keith Dean at 586-6170 or by cell 506-9957.

Weekend Drowning of WCU Student

On July 5, 2014 The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a possible drowning in the Tuckasegee River, near the East La Port Recreation Park in the Cullowhee Community of Jackson County.  When deputies arrived on scene, Cullowhee Fire Department, Med West EMS, and the Jackson County Rescue Squad were already on scene providing aid to the victim.  The victim was transported to Med West Hospital where he was pronounced deceased a short time later.  The victim was swimming in the area with friends when the event occurred.   The victim has been identified as 18 year old Timothy Michael Adams of Wake Forest. Adams had been enrolled at Western Carolina University for 5 days prior to the drowning. The circumstances surrounding the drowning are still under investigation.

Sylva Welcomes ECU Dental Clinic at Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

photo (15)With the opening of each dental community service learning center, East Carolina University is “changing the trajectory of oral health care in North Carolina.”

 

That was the message delivered by School of Dental Medicine Dean Dr. Greg Chadwick as ECU administrators and Jackson County officials celebrated the opening of the university’s newest center, located 50 miles west of Asheville in Sylva.

 

“This dream is important, I think, for everyone in this region,” ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard told attendees at the ribbon cutting. “You really made it possible to get this beautiful site. Thanks for being a part of a mission we take very seriously.”

 

Eight to 10 centers are planned for underserved areas of North Carolina. Four centers are now in operation and “all are becoming very busy places,” Chadwick reported.

 

The facilities combine clinical education and patient care. Led by ECU dental faculty members, fourth-year students are receiving clinical training at the centers while general dentistry residents also hone their skills at the facilities. The fully functional general dentistry centers feature treatment rooms, X-ray equipment, educational space and more.

 

“Our school is a statewide resource with a statewide footprint,” Chadwick said. “These centers are an integral part of our dental school.”

 

Local officials said there is a great need for dental care in Jackson County.

 

“Oral health is very important and for many folks it goes unmet, undone,” said Paula Carden, director of the Jackson County Health Department. “This great facility is going to lower the burden on our emergency rooms.”

 

Carden said Jackson County has one dentist for every 2,748 people, while the national average is one dentist per 1,493 people. And some of the dentists practicing in the area are getting “long in the tooth,” she quipped.

 

“The School of Dentistry, from East Carolina, is going to give western North Carolina its smile back,” Carden said.

 

Jackson County Commissioner Charles Elders welcomed the first four students on rotation in the Sylva center and said he hopes the experience will yield more dentists for underserved areas.

 

“Our hope is that when you graduate…you will choose a rural community, just like you’re in today,” he said. “You will find our citizens to be courteous, welcoming, supportive, and just good neighbors.”

 

“Jackson County has a great relationship with Chancellor David Belcher and Western Carolina,” Elders added. “We’re pleased to welcome another purple and gold institution.”

 

ECU dental community service learning centers are already serving patients in Ahoskie, Elizabeth City, Lillington and Sylva. Other centers are under construction in Spruce Pine, Davidson County and Robeson County, and an eighth center will be located in Brunswick County.

 

The Sylva center is located at 316 County Services Park. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 828-586-1200. Any member of the community – including Medicaid patients – can receive dental care at the centers.

 

Webster Man Charged in Domestic Incident

53ac376c094c4.preview-300A Webster man has been charged with multiple felonies after a domestic situation on Wednesday. Jackson County Authorities were called to home in the Webster community after a woman called saying her estranged husband had entered her residence and pointed a handgun at the parties inside. During the domestic altercation, the female victim and other parties had a physical confrontation with the suspect, David Lee Hinnant, 30. Hinnnt fled the scene before law enforcement arrived but an accurate vehicle description was obtained by 911 dispatchers. A short time after, the suspect was apprehended without incident.

Hinnant is charged with 5 counts of assault by pointing a gun, 5 counts of assault with a deadly weapon, 7 counts of assault with deadly weapon with intent to kill, 2 counts of breaking and/or entering, 7 counts of first degree kidnapping, and 1 county of carrying a concealed weapon.

Waterfall Safety in Jackson County

With temperatures rising and visitors flocking to the mountains, many will venture out to local waterfalls to beat the heat. It’s tempting to cool off near a waterfall. However, waterfalls can be extremely dangerous.

Just this past weekend on Saturday, a 20 year old WCU student suffered minor injuries after a tumble from Paradise Falls located below Wolf Creek Dam in Canada community. Jackson County has seen it’s share of fatalities as a result of slips around waterfalls.

The US Forest Service urges visitors to practice waterfall safety and remember the best way to enjoy a waterfall is from a safe distance. Never climb on waterfalls. Don’t jump off waterfalls and don’t swim in pools or wade in streams above waterfalls.

 

Jackson County Transit Receives Grant

Jackson County Transit received grant funding which will enable transportation services to be provided at a reduced rate for residents who are disabled or who are 60 years of age or above for Door to Door Services beginning July 1, 2014.

As long as funding is available for qualifying individuals, fares will only be $1 each way for scheduled trips within the county and $1 added for each additional stop. The reduced fare can add up to big savings for many elderly and disabled residents in Jackson County. For example, Kim Shuler, Mobile Coordinator for Jackson County Transit, explained a ride from Cullowhee to Sylva usually costs around $3 one way. Riders from Little Canada could pay $4 for one way rides into Sylva. The grant which is offered annually will pass along savings to residents. Shuler told WRGC, the Jackson County Transit will certainly reapply for the federal grant again in 2015.

Medical trips to Swain, Haywood, and Macon will be only $5 round trip, and $10 round trip to Asheville.  Trips to destinations outside of Jackson County must be scheduled five days in advance. Rides within Jackson County and extra stops must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance.  It will not be possible to make stops that have not been scheduled.

For more information or to register for this program come by the office at 1148 Haywood Road in Sylva (past the Dillsboro Huddle House) or call the Jackson County Transit office at 828-586-0233.

Trooper Blanton Memorial Scholarship Winners

Recipients of the Trooper Blanton Memorial Scholarship

Recipients of the Trooper Blanton Memorial Scholarship

On Saturday June 14 the Trooper Shawn Blanton Memorial Scholarship Fund held their 7th annual fund raiser at Sequoyah National Golf Club in Jackson County.  At the conclusion of the fundraiser, the 2014 Scholarship winners were announced.  The winners were selected among numerous applications received from multiple counties across Western North Carolina.  To qualify for the scholarship, each applicant must be participating in their high school softball program, be a senior, be accepted to a university or a college, and present a letter requesting consideration for the scholarship.  Each winner received a $1000 to go towards the expenses related with furthering their education.  Trooper Blanton was shot and killed on I-40 in Haywood County while conducting a traffic stop on June 17, 2008.  After his death, his father, David Blanton organized a Scholarship Fund for young ladies who played high school softball that wanted to further their education.  Trooper Blanton was the head JV softball coach at Smoky Mountain High School and an avid recreational softball player.  Since beginning the scholarship, there has been $32,000 given to help these ladies pursue their education. Winners from our area include Ashley Doolin from Smoky Mountain High School, Kendra Kirland from Swain County High School and Tristan Woodall from Tuscola High School and Erin West from Andrews High School.

Armed Robbery in Jackson County

David Earnest Frizzell

David Earnest Frizzell

On Sunday, June 8, 2014, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office investigated an armed robbery on Buff Creek Road in Jackson County involving an 86 year old victim.  The crime was perpetrated by using a firearm at the victim’s residence as he returned home.   The suspect, David Earnest Frizzell,was known and identified by the victim and investigators believe this was an isolated incident involving the armed robbery.  Deputies located and arrested the suspect a short time after the incident occurred and is currently being held in the Jackson County Detention Center.  The suspect had previous outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest for other property crimes.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Seeking Suspects

Elliott Neal Mattox DOB 09/05/1992 195 Black Hill Road Bryson City, NC   28713

Elliott Neal Mattox
DOB 09/05/1992
195 Black Hill Road
Bryson City, NC 28713

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information regarding a June 2, 2014 break in at the Cashiers Valley Pharmacy in Cashiers, NC.  During the theft two masked individuals entered the store and were captured on video surveillance.  Taken from the store were multiple pharmaceutical drugs and firearms.  A large portion of the drugs were recovered during another investigation but the firearms have not been located.  A named person of interest in this case is listed below.  The Sheriff’s Office is offering a reward up to $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects in this case.  Please contact Detective Andi Clayton at (828) 586-1392 oramclayton@jacksonnc.org

 

 

Jackson County Sees Changes at WIC Program

131011123051-wic-north-carolina-620xaThe North Carolina Women Infants and Children Program (WIC) is changing to a new computer system to better serve WIC participants across the state. The new computer system, known as Crossroads, will improve the WIC process and make the WIC experience more efficient for families.

The Jackson County WIC program is in the first group across the state to implement Crossroads. Not everyone in the state will start using the new system at the same time. This means family and friends in other parts of North Carolina might not get the new WIC checks at the same time as clients in Jackson County.

Clients will see changes in the appearance of their WIC checks which will be explained at their first appointment following the implementation of Crossroads. Food packages will better meet family needs and clients should eventually have quicker times for food instrument pick-up. Clients will also have easier scheduling, more education options, fewer questions at check-in and quicker in-state transfers.

The first time a client comes into WIC after Crossroads, WIC staff may ask you some new questions. The things WIC will need to know are as follows: 1) First name, last name and birthday of the parent/guardian, caretaker and/or proxy 2) Physical address 3) Contact information, like phone numbers 4) Voter registration status 5) Language spoken and read. If a parent/guardian should send a proxy to the appointment, please give them this information.

Jackson County Woman Sentenced on Child Porn Charges

510ae4a99c3a2.imageA Jackson County woman was sentenced on Tuesday, June 3,
2014, to serve 210 months in a federal prison for producing, receiving, possessing and
distributing child pornography, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western
District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger
also ordered Kimberly Rachael Moore, 31, of Tuckasegee, N.C. to serve under court supervision
the rest of her life upon release from prison and to register as a sex offender.

Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas and
Sheriff Jimmy Ashe of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office join U.S. Attorney Tompkins in
making today’s announcement.

In December 2012, a federal criminal indictment charged Moore with one count of
production of child pornography, one count of possession of child pornography, one count of
receipt of child pornography and four counts of distribution of child pornography. Moore
pleaded guilty to the charges in May 2013. According to court filings and proceedings, during
the investigation detectives discovered an extensive collection of child pornography, as well as a
computer hard drive, an email account, and online photo sharing accounts.

Moore is in federal custody and will be transferred into custody of the Federal Bureau of
Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. Federal sentences are served without the
possibility of parole.

The investigation into Moore was handled by HSI and the Jackson County Sheriff’s
Office.

Webster Announces Proposed Budget

250px-Webster_Baptist_ChurchThe town of Webster released the proposed budget for 2014-2015. Mayor Nick Breedlove sent a memo explaining the budget is actually down from last year coming in at $77,600 when it was previously $79.250. The largest portion of monies would be allocated for Fire protection at $16,800 and law enforcement at $10,000. Other monies would be used for landscaping and sidewalk maintenance, street lights and the Webster cemetery in addition to Administrative costs. The tax remains unchanged at 5 cents for $100 valuation. A public hearing will be agreed upon at the first June meeting.

Second Graders Remember Student Teacher

Reagan Hartley, student teacher at Cherokee Elementary School, was killed in a fatal car crash in April.

Reagan Hartley, student teacher at Cherokee Elementary School, was killed in a fatal car crash in April.

 

Second grade students at Cherokee Elementary School gathered today to honor their former student teacher, Reagan Hartley. Miss Hartley was killed in April in a fatal automobile accident resulting from a high speed police chase near Greensboro. Ronnie Fichera was fleeing from police and heading the wrong way on the highway when he struck Miss Hartley.

 

A special page was added to the yearbook, which was also dedicated to Miss Hartley. Students presented books of their art work and writing to the family. They also created a memory wall decorated with butterflies in the hallway near the second grade classrooms.

 

Miss Hartley’s family and Western Carolina University faculty were present for the event.

 

Following the presentation, students released red, white and blue ballooons and planted a tree in memorial of their teacher.

Sylva Woman Wins Trip to Macy’s Parade

pride-of-the-mountains-for-webVivian Cleaveland of Sylva had forgotten about the raffle ticket she bought to support Western Carolina University’s Friends of the Arts when Robert Kehrberg, dean of WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts, called with some news and asked if she was sitting down.

Cleaveland had won a trip for two to New York City to see WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band in the upcoming Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The package includes airfare, a three-night stay in a four-star hotel, limousine services, Grand Stand VIP parade seating, Thanksgiving dinner with the band and a $500 gift card for meals, shows and other expenses.

“I should have sat down,” said Cleaveland, remembering the phone call. “I was absolutely thrilled to death. I’ve never won anything in my life. I was elated and shocked. It’s just awesome.”

A retired federal employee, Cleaveland works part time for dentist Dr. David McGuire and bought the raffle ticket from Jeanne McGuire, a Friends of the Arts silent auction committee member who works in the same building. Jeanne McGuire is the wife of Dr. Patrick McGuire, a dentist and brother of Dr. David McGuire.

A long-time supporter of WCU and Jackson County Schools, Cleaveland has watched the Macy’s parade on television and has enjoyed seeing the WCU marching band perform at football games.

“We have a close connection with the band and love to watch them perform,” said Cleaveland who plans to take the trip with her daughter. “The music is great and the formation of the marching band is just spectacular.”

The raffle and a silent auction were part of a spring fundraiser that generated about $70,000 for College of Fine and Performing Arts scholarships and programming.

Lynda Sossamon, chair of the Friends of the Arts advancement council and the raffle committee, said event organizers wanted to include a trip to New York City in the raffle and were excited when David Starnes, director of the Pride of the Mountains, offered two VIP seats in the stands along the parade route as well as Thanksgiving Day dinner with the band to include in the package.

Fracking Debate Hits Home in Jackson County

000_480270741.siAn official from North Carolina’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources confirms experts will take rock samples from areas around Northern Jackson and Graham Counties and the town of Topton, to test for carbon amounts. Jackson, Haywood, Macon, Swain, Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties are the only counties in North Carolina where natural gas may be found.

Carbon can indicate if there could potentially be natural gas to extract from the ground. A bill that would lift the moratorium on fracking has made it through the Senate. Testing would begin on the rock in late August and through the fall, with results coming back in late 2014 or early 2015.

With the passage of the new bill, fracking permits could be issued as soon as July 2015.

Conmet To Add 25 Jobs in Jackson County

SCC-JessicaWaldronMore Good economic news is coming to Jackson County as Conmet will expand and add 25 jobs in the next year. County Commissioner’s approved the plan on Monday.

The plastics company will lease the 60,000 sq ft warehouse space at the former Tuckaseigee Mill for $48,000 annually while investing $350,000 for rennovations for lighting, loading docks and more bathrooms.

As part of the deal, Jackson County must pay $69,400 to remove asbestos. A 5-0 vote on Monday approved hiring NEO Corporation out of Canton to handle the asbestos removal. It expected that as soon as the asbestos is removed from one portion of the building that Con Met contractors will move in with their renovations. It is expected the facility will be in use within 90 days.Con Met has a three year lease with an 18 month escape clause.

County Manager Chuck Wooten described the partnership as a ‘win win’ for Jackson county. According to Wooten other entities had expressed an interest in the building but all has been apprehensive about entering a least because of the potential for health hazards from the asbestos tiles in the building.

Greenway Bridge Gets Approval

The Tuckaseigee River Green-way got a significant boost Monday night when the Commissioners gave approval for the acquisition of a $304,000 pedestrian bridge to cross the Tuckaseigee River to the Green-way from the parking lot at the Rolling Green. The paving of the Green-way path is expected to be completed by the end of May, but it will take several months to complete the installation of the bridge. The Commissioners have heard numerous comments over the past months about the costs factors and the design of the bridge but when it came time to vote the commissioners decided to go to the more decorative design. According to County Manager Chuck Wooten, “since this bridge is going to be a landmark and staple for a long long time we prefer it to be attractive. We only have one time to buy a bridge and over time the small difference in the price makes it a good decision.” Once completed the Green-way will offer foot traffic and recreational access from the Rolling Green area to the University.