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Archive for Jackson County – Page 2

Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital prepared for Ebola

Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital are working closely with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure our hospitals are prepared with the appropriate plans to detect, protect and respond should anyone in our community contract or be exposed to the Ebola virus. While we have not treated any patients with Ebola at our hospitals, and there have been no confirmed cases in North Carolina, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital have taken the following measures to prepare:

· Triage and admission assessments have been revised to include questions regarding travel to high risk areas, as well as recent contact with people from those areas.
· Notices have been placed at entrances asking anyone who has a fever and has traveled outside the country, or who has had exposure to an international traveler to notify staff.
· Dedicated isolation rooms have been designated for patients who may have been exposed to Ebola and protective gear has been provided for our employees.

Staff members at Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital are taking additional preparedness steps by participating in a drill exercise focused on the hospitals’ response in the event Ebola becomes present in our community. Staff members are also joining regional training sessions on specific precautionary safety measures related to treatment.

“Ongoing readiness is part of our culture of safety at Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital regardless of the issue or potential threat. We are monitoring the Ebola outbreak on a daily basis and are aligned with national, state and local resources in our preparedness planning,” said Steve Heatherly, president and CEO of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital.

“Our staff is trained and prepared to manage outbreaks of viruses and infectious diseases, including Ebola. We want to assure the community that we are taking the appropriate precautionary measures to keep our employees, visitors, and community safe and prevent the spread of this virus,” said Anetra Jones, chief nurse executive for the hospitals.

For more information visit www.cdc.gov or www.ncdhhs.gov or call the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Ebola hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital have served Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties with primary and subspecialty care, outpatient facilities and urgent care together since 1997. The hospitals became part of Duke LifePoint Healthcare in 2014.

Cashiers Shooting; Suspect in Custody

A altercation has one man in the hospital and another in jail. WRGC reported a man was shot in the Ingles parking lots in Cashiers on Wednesday. The victim has been identified as 71 year old Edward Lewis Moss.

Roger Clay Bryson, 61, was taken into custody after he got into an argument with Moss in the parking lot of the grocer around 11 a.m.
Investigators say the two men were in a verbal argument in the parking lot of Ingles, which is believed to be an ongoing dispute.
After the victim left, another verbal altercation occurred in the parking lot which lead Bryson, of Cashiers, to display a handgun. The victim had made his way back to his own vehicle then attempted to drive into Bryson while Bryson pointed the gun at the victim. Bryson dodged the victim’s vehicle as it collided with parked cars in the parking lot. Bryson then went to the driver’s window of the truck and fired a single shot, striking the victim.

Bryson is charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Kill Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury and Discharging a Weapon in Occupied Property Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury. He is being held on a bond of $250,000.

Moss was taken by air ambulance to a trauma center where he remains in stable condition after surgery.

More suspects are not expected according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

Any witness who has not already spoken with deputies is urged to contact Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Detective Charles Crisp at 828 586-1382 or contact Crime Stoppers at 828 631-1125.

Jackson County Announces Recipients for Grassroots Grants

The Jackson County Arts Council announces its grant recipients for the
2014-15 Grassroots Grants. The arts council is a Designated County
Partner of the North Carolina Arts Council, from which the Grassroots grants
are funded. The JCAC received $12, 254 from the North Carolina Arts Council
and $9,201.00 from Jackson County. They also receive funding from
membership donations and fundraising efforts. Contributions to the Jackson
County Arts Council can be sent to 310 Keener St. Sylva, NC 28779.

Grassroots Grants are awarded to local non-profit agencies in Jackson County
who produce programs of arts, culture or historic merit and who demonstrate
financial and administrative stability. The purpose of Grassroots Grants is
to recognize and support exemplary forms of artistic expression, both
contemporary and traditional, in the visual arts, the performing arts,
literature, media arts and the folk arts.

This year’s Grassroots Grant recipients are:

Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild
WNC Pottery Festival
Catch the Spirit of Appalachia
Western Carolina Community Chorus
Western Carolina Civic Orchestra
Farmers Market Family Art Days
WCU Youth Art Spring Display
Dillsboro Merchants Association – ColorFest Town of Sylva 125 Founders Day
Celebration Junior Appalachian Musicians Smoky Mountain High School Jackson
County Library for Copper Workshop Jackson County Schools Cullowhee Mountain
Arts Jackson County Visual Arts Association

Congratulations to these organizations!

Grenades at Lake Glenville

Glenville residents in Jackson County received a surprise when three grenades were found near the spillway and dam this week.

The grenades have been safely detonated with no damage or injuries. Water levels at the lake were lowered over the past few weeks which led to the discovery of the grenades.

Major Shannon H. Queen with the sheriff’s office is urging visitors to this area to be cautious and if they see any suspicious items to contact 911 immediately and stay away from the items found.

NC Wildlife, Jackson County Emergency Management and the NCSBI  are assisting in the investigation.

Dillsboro Artist Frank Brannon Named Regan Residency Grant Recipient

Brannon 1Frank Brannon, a book artist from Dillsboro, has been selected for the first Mary B. Regan Residency Grant for a project to revitalize the Cherokee language through his artistry as a letterpress printer.

Brannon’s one-year project is based on his work with a program he supports at Southwestern Community College in Swain County, near Cherokee, where students are learning the art of printmaking by printing materials using the Cherokee syllabary. The 85-character syllabary was developed in 1821 by Sequoyah – a silversmith, blacksmith and artist – making it possible to read and write the spoken language of the Cherokee.

Working with translations from the Cherokee Studies Program at Western Carolina University, Brannon uses manual printing techniques to preserve the language and its original Cherokee syllables. In a series of public workshops, members of the surrounding communities will produce prints that will culminate in an edition of handmade books. The workshops will be held at the Southwestern Community College printing studio as well as Brannon’s own studio in Dillsboro.

“Like many languages around the world, the Cherokee spoken language is struggling to continue as there are fewer and fewer speakers,” Brannon said. “As a book artist I thought about how we might print in Cherokee in this way to support Cherokee language revitalization.”  His M.F.A. thesis was Cherokee Phoenix: Advent of a Newspaper, which focused on the historical 19th-century newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, which was printed in both English and Cherokee.

The Mary B. Regan Residency is a one-year community artist grant named in honor of former N. C. Arts Council Executive Director Mary B. Regan’s 39 years of service to the arts and artists of North Carolina. The $15,000 grant, supported by donations, will allow Brannon to focus on revitalizing the Cherokee language in partnership with students and the wider community in Swain and Jackson counties.

“When I think of myself as a community artist, I think about the ability of a person to use art to support or transform a community, and combined with visual arts, I expect my artwork to be a catalyst for change using a visual approach,” he said.

Brannon focuses his work on three areas: hand papermaking, hand bookbinding and letterpress printing. Working with book artist Steve Miller, Brannon produced the paper for a limited edition print of Voyage by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. He was commissioned to make 200 copies of Absalom, Absalom! celebrating William Faulkner’s birthday. The commission, for Square Books, featured letterpress printing on handmade cotton rag paper.

He has also explored expanding the concept of the book form to include installations featuring imagery and text on handmade paper filling a gallery space and is experimenting with outdoor installations where the paper will interact with the environment.

Brannon has an M.F.A. from the Book Arts Program at the University of Alabama. His work is in almost 50 library collections and he has been in four solo exhibitions and an exhibition that traveled to six venues in the Southeast.

He is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, Southeastern College Art Conference and a past board member of Hand Papermaking, Inc.

For more information about Frank Brannon visit www.speakeasypress.com. The blog,www.speakeasypress.com/news, will feature postings about the project.

For more information on the arts in North Carolina visit www.ncarts.org.

 

 

WNC fall color may be spotty, but last longer, says WCU’s foliage prognosticator

Fall 2013 Color shot by Heather L Hyatt

Fall 2013 Color shot by Heather L Hyatt

The combination of a wet spring and forecasts for above-average temperatures this fall could produce a long-lasting leaf display in the mountains of Western North Carolina, but with spotty color development.

That’s the word from Western Carolina University’s autumnal season soothsayer Kathy Mathews in her annual prediction of how foliage around the region will perform as the sunlight of summer wanes and days become crispy.

Mathews, an associate professor of biology at WCU, specializes in plant systematics and bases her color forecast in part on weather conditions. She believes that the formation of higher levels of pigments in the leaves correlates with dry weather throughout the year, especially in the spring and September.

Predicting the quality of the fall leaf color is a combination of a science and an art, Mathews says. “Forecasters combine knowledge of environmental effects on pigment formation, climate history and forecast, and a healthy dose of observation and experience of past autumns in the region to make their best prediction,” she said.

Rainfall measurements for the Asheville area indicate that April was a very wet month, with about two inches above normal precipitation, and rainfall amounts slightly above normal fell in May and June, Mathews said.

“The rainy spring months this year portend somewhat muted pigments on the leaves in the fall,” said the fearless foliage forecaster. “On the bright side, our abundant tulip poplars, which are typically among the first trees to change color in the fall, perform well in wetter conditions, developing a golden hue that persists longer before browning. Overall, however, trees that produce red leaves, including sourwood, red maple and dogwood, perform best in dry conditions. Therefore, we may see fewer brilliant reds during the peak of fall color change.”

Still, the development of dry conditions in late August and September could improve the overall outlook and produce the best bursts of color, she said.

On the other side of the weather coin, the seasonal forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for slightly above-average temperatures this fall in the Southeast, and if that prediction pans out, the color season could be longer than normal, extending well into November, Mathews said.

Fall foliage fans always want to know when the “peak color” will happen, but the timing of the color change is highly dependent on the decreasing amount of sunlight that comes with the passing days, plus the elevation of a particular location, she said. “The peak of fall color often arrives during the first and second week of October in the highest elevations, above 4,000 feet, and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations, 2,500 to 3,500 feet,” Mathews said. “However, the timing of the first frost is important, as well. Because freezing temperatures quickly degrade the green chlorophyll, leaves peak in color intensity four to five days after a frost.”

Several periods of unusually chilly mid-summer weather in WNC, which included some of the highest peaks of the Smokies dipping into the 30’s, already may have had an effect on some trees in the mountains, Mathews said. “We’ve been seeing very early color change already in individual trees, mainly red maples, around the western part of the state,” she said.

Regardless of all the factors that affect leaf color, visitors to Western North Carolina always will find a pleasing leaf display somewhere in the mountains from September into November, with a smorgasbord of color made possible by the region’s more than 100 tree species, Mathews said.

Sylva to Celebrate 125 years

The Town of Sylva is planning to honor its rich past on Saturday, Oct. 11 with a free 125th anniversary celebration downtown for all ages. The event will pay homage to the start of the cozy northern Jackson County town back in 1889. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. and will run through 3 p.m. At 9 a.m., the farmers market will open and run throughout the day adjacent to the Bridge Park. At 10 a.m., there will be a horse parade, starting at Mark Watson Park and proceeding through Main Street to Mill Street and ending back at Mark Watson Park.

NC DOT To Replace Bridges in Jackson and Haywood Counties

As part of a continuing effort to upgrade and improve infrastructure across the state, the N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to replace two Haywood County bridges and four Jackson County bridges.

 

The $5.5 million contract for the bridge replacements was awarded to Simpson Construction Company, Inc. of Cleveland, Tenn.

 

Construction can begin as soon as Aug. 25, with all six bridges completed by November 2017.

 

The bridges scheduled for replacement include:

 

Haywood County:

-Bridge on Hemphill Road over Hemphill Creek, built in 1954 and considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient

-Bridge on Johnson Branch Road over Johnson Branch, built in 1963 and considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient

 

Jackson County:

-Bridge on Moses Creek Road over Moses Creek, built in 1963 and considered functionally obsolete and  structurally deficient

-Bridge on Woodfin Road over Woodfin Creek, built in 1957 and considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient

-Bridge on Johns Creek Road over Rich Mountain Branch, built in 1961 and considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient

-Bridge on Dills Cemetery Road over Fisher Creek, built in 1963 and considered functionally obsolete

 

Bridges considered functionally obsolete and/or structurally deficient remain safe for the traveling public, but they were built to outdated design standards and need to be replaced to meet current and future traffic demands.

For more details about improving North Carolina’s bridges, visit NCDOT’s bridge information website.

This is one of the 11 road and bridge contracts worth $43.4 million recently awarded by NCDOT for projects across North Carolina. The contracts were awarded to the lowest bidders, as required by state law. The low bids received on the projects were 2.8 percent, or about $1.2 million, over NCDOT estimates.

Sylva Streets To Reopen Wednesday

Sylva Town Manager Paige Roberson announced on Tuesday afternoon that Sylva Streets would be open again on Wednesday following an inspection by a structural engineer who certified the walls from the fire gutted Hooper Building on Main Street were structurally sound. One lane of Mill Street and one lane of Main Street will be opened with the inside lane still being coned off for the immediate future. It was also found the walls of the adjoining buildings were also safe. Tenants were permitted into their buildings on Tuesday to remove property and inventory and commence the salvage process from items which suffered water damage. The work of the structural engineer will give credence to the desire to save the historical image of downtown Sylva and commence the renovation to the Hooper property. As mentioned several times during the “live” coverage of the fire by WRGC Radio News Reporter Roy Burnette, the fire departments were constantly watering down the walls of the building in order to keep the walls cooled as much as possible. Obviously their efforts were successful in saving the building and keeping the fire from spreading to timbers which might have been secured to the rock and block structures. The fire departments deserve even another accolade for their work.

Agricultural Development and Farm Land Preservation Grants Awarded for 2014

The North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund recently awarded nearly $2.3 million to help communities across the state protect farmland and promote agricultural enterprises. These grant recipients were applicants from the trust fund’s Cycle VII request for proposals. Funding resources included statewide general appropriations, Tennessee Valley Authority settlement funds and, for the first time, military funds.

The trust fund collaborated with the military to support agriculture and agribusiness in areas of the state where military bases and training are located. TVA settlement funds were distributed to a 17-county region in Western North Carolina.

Franklin:

The Black Family Land Trust was awarded $143,475 toward the purchase of a 20-year conservation easement on 436 acres of a livestock and horticulture farm owned by Martha Mobley of Louisburg.

Haywood:

The Haywood County Soil and Water Conservation District was granted $362,500 toward the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement on 100 acres of a livestock and crop farm owned by Andrew and Jamie Francis of Canton.

The Haywood County Soil and Water Conservation District received $87,500 toward the purchase of a 30-year conservation easement on 100 acres of a livestock and forestry farm owned by Austin and Kathy Swanger of Clyde.

The Southwestern N.C. Resource Conservation and Development Council was awarded $188,500 toward the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement on 80 acres of a livestock and forestry farm owned by Charles and Janice Henson of Canton.

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy was granted $135,780 toward the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement on 175 acres of a livestock, crop and forestry farm owned by Robbie Kirkpatrick

Swain:

The Swain County Soil and Water Conservation District was granted $10,200 to stimulate profitable and sustainable farms through a series of educational workshops, market studies and marketing efforts.k of Candler.

Jackson County was granted $10,000 to assess whether a viable business model can be developed for a profitable red-meat slaughter and processing facility in Western North Carolina. This project will impact the TVA region.

The Southwestern N.C. Resource Conservation and Development Council received $25,000 to develop a Smoky Mountain Agriculture Economic Strategy focusing on the needs and opportunities for farmers in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties.

The Swain County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $16,000 for the creation of a mobile soils exhibit that will serve as an interactive education display in order for the public to better make connections between the conditions of soils and water on quality of life. This project will impact the TVA region.

The University of North Carolina at Asheville Foundation was granted $7,000 to demonstrate the innovate use of perennial food crops on marginal land to increase small farm profitability. The program will serve Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties.

WNC Communities received $25,000 to establish a system to deliver brewers grain as an alternative and cost-saving feed source to family farmers with smaller livestock herds. This project will impact the TVA region.

WNC Communities was awarded $32,500 to fund enhancements and safety upgrades to the WNC Regional Livestock Center in Haywood County. The trust fund was a partner in the construction of the center. This project will impact the TVA region.

 

Smoky Mountain Military Stand Down Reaches Out to Local Veterans

homelessveteranIf you know a Veteran who is struggling with homeless or perhaps just making ends meet, look no further. The Smoky Mountain Veteran Stand Down will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at the Macon County Community Facility Building, located at 1288 Georgia Road, Franklin.

This event is made possible by  efforts of over 50 donors, sponsors and agencies to provide one day of care and services to veterans who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless and low-income veterans who are unable to afford basic care.

Services for veterans will include haircuts, military surplus gear, dental work, optometry, veterans benefit administration, local education services, legal services, housing support, medical and mental health services, veterans service officers and supportive services for veteran families. A hot breakfast and lunch will be served to veterans and their families.

Free transportation is available at the following locations:

— For Haywood County: 7 a.m. at the Open Door Soup Kitchen, located at 32 Commerce St., Waynesville. Call 452-3846.

— For Jackson County: 7:30 a.m. at the Jackson County Justice Center, located at 401 Grindstaff Road, Sylva. Call 586-4055.

— For Swain County: 7:45 a.m. at the State of Franklin, located at 125 Brendle St., Bryson City. Call 488-3047.

For more information, call Mark Schuler at 456-6061 or Mike Casey at 837-7407.

Cullowhee Fire Victim Identified

jennifer lee ludwigIn the early mornings hours of August 14, the Jackson County 911/Dispatch Center received a 911 call reporting a structure fire at 8357 Highway 107 in Cullowhee, North Carolina.  A positive identification has been made on the body that was located in the home.  Jennifer Lee Ludwig, also known by friends and family as JLee Mayer, age 32 was killed in the fire. The cause of death is expected to be released by the medical examiner next week.  Another resident Michael Thad Schrader was also in the home but sustained only minor injuries which were treated by WestCare.

Responding emergency personnel were from the Cullowhee Fire Department, Sylva Fire Department, Canada Fire Department, and Cashiers Fire Department.  Med West EMS provided medical support and the Jackson County Emergency Management Office also assisted.  The investigation will be joint between the Fire Marshal, Jackson County Sheriff’s and and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations.

 

Early Morning Fire in Cullowhee; One Dead

In the early morning hours of Thursday August 14 the Jackson County 911/Dispatch Center received a 911 call reporting a structure fire at 8357 Highway 107 in Cullowhee. An unidentified body has been located in the home.

Investigators will be working to determine the cause of the fire.  The name of the fire victim will be released when confirmation of identity is made and notification of next of kin is completed.  The cause of death will be determined after an autopsy.

Responding emergency personnel were from the Cullowhee Fire Department, Sylva Fire Department, Canada Fire Department, and Cashiers Fire Department.  Med West EMS provided medical support and the Jackson County Emergency Management Office also assisted.  The investigation will be joint between the Fire Marshal, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations.

 

Jackson County Getting New Outdoor Recreation Area

Jackson County will add to it’s growing number of outdoor recreation sites along the Tuckasegee River. The Barkers Creek put in was approved by County Commissioners this week. The lease is on a 3-acre piece of property owned by Duke Energy which the county will get for the bargain price of  $10 a year.

The property sits along U.S. 74 known as the Tuckasegee Gorge. It already has a boat put-in and small parking lot, but Jackson County plans to expand the area for more recreational users. A parking lot expansion, picnic shelter and the addition of 6 picnic tables will be added. Also, there is discussion about a basketball court which County Manager Chuck Wooten compares to East LaPorte Park. The county would be responsible for making these other improvements.

Wooten says the county will be able to build the park amenities with money set aside in a special county recreation fund provided by Duke Energy though some additional local funds may be required.

Wooten adds that Duke Energy will also be responsible for the property taxes on the site.

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.

Duke LifePoint Announces The Purchase Of Westcare Health Health System

Sylva, NC (August 1, 2014) – The WestCare Health System Board of Trustees and Duke LifePoint Healthcare today announced that the acquisition of WestCare by Duke LifePoint has been finalized.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, which was reviewed by the Attorney General of North Carolina, Duke LifePoint purchased Harris Regional Hospital, an 86-bed hospital in Sylva; Swain County Hospital, a 48-bed hospital in Bryson City; and WestCare Medical Park, an outpatient medical facility in Franklin. Duke LifePoint will invest a minimum of $43 million in capital improvements over the next eight years and provide new resources to help the system grow, recruit new physicians, enhance services and improve health care delivery throughout the region.

“As we have explored this acquisition over the last several months, Duke LifePoint has shown that it shares WestCare’s commitment to our hospitals, our patients and our communities,” said Bunny Johns, Chair of the WestCare Board of Trustees. “We are excited to begin our future as part of Duke LifePoint and to explore the great opportunities we have to enhance health care services to make our communities healthier.”

Becoming part of Duke LifePoint offers many benefits to WestCare’s hospitals, medical staff, employees and communities. Proceeds from the acquisition will retire WestCare’s financial obligations and fund a locally governed charitable foundation to support community needs. WestCare also becomes a local taxpayer, providing a source of new tax revenue to support the local economy.

“Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital have been a critical part of the health care infrastructure in western North Carolina for many years,” said LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William F. Carpenter III. “We are proud to partner with these hospitals to strengthen quality care across this region and look forward to working with their teams to better position the hospitals to grow and prosper in the changing health care environment.”

WestCare’s hospitals now have access to Duke University Health System’s top-ranked patient safety, quality and education programs and LifePoint’s financial and operational resources and expertise.
“We are pleased to welcome WestCare to Duke LifePoint,” said William J. Fulkerson Jr., M.D., executive vice president of Duke University Health System. “Generations of people in this region have relied on WestCare’s hospitals and, together with WestCare’s board, executives, medical staff and employees, we will work together to further enhance health care in this region.”

WestCare will be governed by a regional board of trustees comprised of members of WestCare’s communities, local physicians and representatives from Duke LifePoint.

“WestCare’s relationship with Duke LifePoint marks a new beginning for our hospitals in Sylva and Bryson City and our outpatient center in Franklin,” said Steve Heatherly, CEO of WestCare Health System. “I look forward to working with Duke LifePoint to strengthen health care in our community by providing exceptional experiences for patients and families and growth opportunities for our staff,”

About WestCare Health System
WestCare Health System was formed through a partnership of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital in 1997 and serves Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties with primary and subspecialty care, outpatient facilities and urgent care.

About Duke LifePoint Healthcare
Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System, Inc. and LifePoint Hospitals® (NASDAQ: LPNT), was established to build a dynamic network of hospitals and healthcare providers. The joint venture, which brings together LifePoint’s experience in community-based hospital management and Duke’s world-renowned leadership in clinical service, is strengthening and improving healthcare delivery by providing community hospitals the clinical, quality and operational resources they need to grow and prosper. For additional information, visit www.dukelifepointhealthcare.com.

John Luke Carter To Enter American Idol Competition

Webster’s John Luke Carter is expected to compete in the qualification rounds of this season’s American Idol Competition. Carter is planning to enter the competition in New York and if he makes it past the qualifications then he will have the opportunity to appear before the celebrity judges and a chance at a national tv appearance in September in Brooklyn. Carter graduated from Smoky Mountain High School in 2009 and is a member of the Praise and Worship Team at Webster Baptist Church where his father is the pastor. North Carolina has been quite successful in American Idol competition with the last winner being an Asheville resident.

Public Hearing on Fracking at WCU

The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission recently agreed to hold a public hearing on proposed fracking regulations in Western North Carolina, in addition to three previously scheduled hearings in the Piedmont.

The meeting is tentatively scheduled from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 12, at the Bardo Fine & Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

The N.C. Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources, on behalf of the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission, is seeking public comments from July 15 through Sept. 15 on a set of proposed rules to regulate oil and gas exploration and development.

Additional public hearings are scheduled for Aug. 20 in Raleigh, Aug. 22 in Sanford and Aug. 25 in Reidsville.

An organization called Clean Water for North Carolina was among those that lobbied for a hearing to be held in the western part of the state.

ConMet Returning to Jackson County

Jackson County officials have announced an expansion agreement with Consolidated Metco (ConMet) that will utilize 60,000 sq. ft. of the former Tuckasegee Mills facility located on Skyland Drive in Sylva. The company’s investment will approach $500,000 in facility upgrades, equipment, and lease payments to the county over a three year period, with the potential of creating 25 new jobs during the first 12 months of operation. ConMet will primarily utilize the Jackson facility for warehouse operations and some product assembly as well.

The announcement marks the return of ConMet to Jackson County, as the company formerly operated Cashiers Plastics as a custom injection mold facility. With the growth of the plastic injection molding market in the mid-90’s, ConMet relocated to a 292,000 sq. ft. facility in Bryson City in 1996, and then followed with the addition of a 380,990 sq. ft. plant in Canton in 2006. Those combined facilities employ over 1,100 associates. ConMet back to Jackson County after many years

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.