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Archive for Jackson County – Page 3

Summer Concert Series Announced

SCC-JessicaWaldronJackson County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Julie Spiro announced the schedule for this summers Concerts by The Creek at the Sylva Bridge Park Pavilion.  The Concerts by the Creek run each Friday evening from May 23 through August 29th and feature a variety of musical genre’s and are sponsored in part of the Town of Sylva, the Chamber Of Commerce, The Tuckaseigee Water And Sewer Authority, and the Parks and Recreation Department. Kicking off the summer schedule is the popular Lisa Price Band. The Act for memorial day has not yet been announced but Eddie Rose and Highway 40 will appear on June 6th. They are followed by local favorites The Buchannan Boys. On June 20th The Johnny Webb Band will travel over from Franklin to perform. Mountain Faith will wind up the month on Junes performance schedule on the 26th. the highlight of the Fourth Of July will be a show by the ever popular Dashboard Blues. If you like beach music and the rhythm and blues sound then Emporium will be the show to see on July 11th. Soldiers Heart is a new group for this year. This group comes highly recommended for more of a blues sound. The second Bluegrass show will be Whitewater Express on August first. hey are followed in August by Asheville’s 96.5 House Band, Sundown, Porch 40, Mangas Colorado, and Remnants will wrap up the schedule on August 29th. This Saturday night Darren Nicholson and Summer McMahan will present a special program to help the Chamber raise funds for the Summer Concert Series. The admission is ten dollars. The artists will also have copies of their current CD’s for sell.

First “Airport Assault” Bike Race

cyclingThe very first “Airport Assault” bike race will take place March 22nd & 23rd in Cullowhee. The events will be split between Saturday and Sunday and will all take place in the Cullowhee area. “The airport assault” will feature a time trail and road race which are short races less than a mile. The road race will start at 1 p.m. and will broken out by tiers and distances. The race will begin at WCU’s Health and Human Services facility on Little Savannah Road. Depending on the tier, the race will be anywhere from 18 to 63 miles in length. The course will go up Little Savannah, turn right onto Old Settlement, and proceed on N.C. 107 back to the Health & Human Services building. That course is nine miles long, and racers will do multiple laps with participants and the number of laps will be determined by their tier. Registration for each of the three events is $15, with on-site registration to be available on race day at $18 per event. An awards ceremony will be held after Sunday’s final event. The race will be held rain or shine, and cyclists may complete their registration online at www.usacycling.org


Severe Weather Awareness Week

swawSevere Weather Awareness Week begins in North Carolina. The National Weather Service and FEMA are highlighting the importance of planning and practicing how and where to take shelter before severe weather strikes. They say it’s important to be prepared to act quickly, and take it upon yourself to be ready at work, school or home. A statewide tornado drill will take place Wednesday morning across North Carolina, activated on the “emergency alert system” and local radio broadcasts.

Hearing On Scattered Site Housing

SCC-JessicaWaldronJackson County is holding a public hearing to discuss a Community Development Block Grant scattered site housing application submitted to the NC Department of Commerce. The scattered site housing project proposes housing repairs and renovations for five eligible homeowners and emergency home repairs using the $225,000 in grant funds. The Public Hearing will be held before the Jackson County Board of Commissioners on Monday, March 17 at 5:50 PM in Room 201 of the Jackson County Administration Building Any interested citizens are encouraged to attend this Public Hearing.

NCDOT “Internal Mistake”

NCDOT LogoThe Department of Transportation says the Southern Loop/N.C. 107 Connector project isn’t underway, and that letters sent Feb. 24 to property owners informing them otherwise were the result of an internal mistake. The DOT says it does not know how the mistake occurred, but their working to find out. Work on the 107 connector has been suspended for over a year, and NCDOT says it has no plans to change that. Residence say that the timing of the letter couldn’t have been worse since the commissioners plan to Kill the bill at the March 17th public hearing.

A New Direction For Main Street?

Downtown Sylva

Downtown Sylva

Sylva’s Main Street could take a new direction. Town leaders are considering changing its current one-way traffic to two-way traffic. The mayor says returning to the way it used to be, would be good for downtown merchants. Maurice Moody town mayor Says “It would slow traffic down, which is one of the things we would like to do because we do have some complaints about speeding on Main Street,”. Moody says two-way traffic would give the restored old courthouse more visibility giving Sylva more publicity. Any changes would have to be approved by the town board.

School Board Guidelines


Jackson County Schools have released a proposal that outlines how the system selects teachers to receive state-mandated contracts and raises. Teachers with master’s degrees, national certifications and two years high evaluations with the most points. After that, teachers requesting four-year contracts and the promise of a raise have to rely upon their scores to beat their colleagues. Jackson County School System’s contract-selection plan remains a draft proposal, but administrators say they only expect to make small changes before its officially approved by the school board. The Republican-controlled General Assembly last year ordered school districts to select 25 percent of teachers and offer them the contracts and $500-a-year raises. Teachers statewide have protested that the plan is unfair and divisive; legislators have said the system is designed to reward top performing educators.

2014 Election Year

election2014The 2014 election year promises to be interesting as former county Chairman Brian McMahan will go up against current Chairman Jack Debnam for the seat he lost by 68 votes four years ago. McMahan, a Democrat officially filed for election this Tuesday. Debnam won’t file, because his path to election is different from the one most candidates take. Unaffiliated with any political party, Debnam must gather the signatures of 1,048 registered voters by June 27. He sshouldn’thave difficulty securing the necessary support to add his name to the ballot; he won the 2010 election with a total of 5,084 votes. McMahan, chairman of the local Democratic Party, is unlikely to have primary competition.

Prescribed Burns

NC-Forest-LogoThe U.S. Forest Service plans to conduct a series of prescribed burns over the next 3 – 6 weeks on a total of about 3,500 acres of the Nantahala Ranger District in the Nantahala National Forest.

The prescribed burn will take place in the following areas:

  • Slip Off area, 190 acres, Swain County
  • Rattlesnake Knob area, 248 acres, Macon County
  • Alarka Laurel area, 697 acres, Swain County
  • Dirty John area, 830 acres, Macon County
  • Steeltrap Knob area, 872 acres, Macon County
  • Pine Mtn. area, 704 acres, Macon County

The dates for each burn will be announced as they are decided and weather permitting. The prescribed burns will reduce the amount of fuel on the forest floor, preventing catastrophic wildfire and reducing risks to nearby communities. Prescribed burning also helps improve forest health and wildlife habitat. Public safety is the highest priority during a prescribed burn.

Click here to learn more about restoring fire to the mountains.

Southern Loop Survey

NCDOT LogoNorth Carolina DOT is starting to survey for the Southern Loop, a controversial proposed highway that, if built, would bypass Sylva. Letters dated Feb. 24 were sent to some Jackson County property owners notifying them to expect engineers, surveyors and geologists “collecting data” to help determine a bypass location and design. The letters come as commissioners prepare to vote down the project Monday, March 17, following a public hearing. Commissioners want the project killed. “It may be too late,” county Manager Chuck Wooten said.

WCU Masters Degree Program

Western_Carolina_University_sealWestern Carolina University’s master’s degree program in business administration is hosting a series of information sessions for prospective students in Asheville, Cherokee, Cullowhee and Franklin. Kelly McIntyre, graduate programs manager for WCU’s College of Business, will lead the sessions and discuss the advantages of WCU’s “hands-on” MBA, which focuses on the unique challenges facing Western North Carolina and its economy. The program accepts both part-time and full-time students, and the degree can be completed in 34 months on a part-time track or 16 months on a full-time track. For dates and times of the program visit mba.wcu.edu

Proposed Changes For Sylva Police

Sylva Police Department

Sylva Police Department

Sylva Police Cheif Davis Woodard along with town leaders are looking into the possibility of their police officers having the ability to take home their patrol vehicles. The ability to do so would possibly help attract and retain officers to the department. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office provides individual cars to their deputies and so does the town of Franklin. Officers would pay $15 per month to help cover the cost of gas for the take home cars. Take Home cars are calculated to add between $5,000 and $7,000 per year annually to an employees paycheck. Some local governments provide certain employees a monthly vehicle allowence for gas and other expenses. Officers would however be required to live within Jackson County to participate in the take home car program. Woodard says “It’s one of the first questions people ask when we interview them for a job.” Currently the town of Sylva has 11 cars and 15 officers. The proposed idea is part of the 2014-2015 budget work session.

More Deer For Cherokee

white-tailed-deer-great-smoky-mountainsA new tribal program is to thank for more deer roaming the Cherokee Reservation. Wildlife officals are moving deer from the Morrow Mountain State Park to the Reservation. The deer have spent a month in a protected habitat but were released into the wild on Monday. Chief Michell Hicks says “It definitely makes you feel proud to know that we are helping to improve the environment that we live in. Our goal is to monitor and hopefully watch them blossom.” Each deer has a tag and collar for radio tracking. The deer will be monitored closely. Cheif Hicks hopes that more deer will be released on the reservation in the near future.


Ruling from Department of Justice

Department-of-Justice1A ruling from the U.S Department of Justice says the Town of Sylva did not discriminate when it turned down a church’s request to relocate on Main Street. If you recall last summer, the Fathers House of Prayer asked town leaders for a zoning change so it could move to a building on Main Street. The town rejected that request saying churches can only locate in free standing buildings or on upper floors in the commercial district. But federal law prohibits towns from using zoning to block churches from relocating. While the Department of Justice says the town did not discriminate, they did however ask for other changes to be made.  Paige Roberson says “The changes that are going to be made won’t affect the use of the building in question, it will still be used for retail or a restaurant. The Justice Department wants the Town to allow churches in zoning districts designated as mixed plan use and to also allow funeral homes in stand-alone buildings in Sylva’s business district. The changes are on the next town board meeting slated for March 6th.

Breaking And Entering Arrest

Jack Milton Kern III

Jack Milton Kern III

On February 20, 2014 deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a possible residential breaking entering in progress on Owen Mountain in the Glenville Community of Jackson County.  Shortly after arriving on Owen Mountain, deputies located a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle near the reported break in location.  A traffic stop was conducted and multiple items of stolen property were located in the pickup truck.  The two occupants were placed under arrest.  A subsequent search warrant was applied for and received for the home of the suspects.  Numerous items of stolen property were located in the home linking the suspects to multiple breaking and enterings and larcenies in the Glenville and Cashiers Communities.  The investigation into these property crimes is continuing and further charges are expected.  The arrested persons are husband and wife. Jack Milton Kern III of 174 Lakeside Circle in Glenville is charged with two counts of breaking and entering, felony larceny, possession of stolen goods along with other charges. Leann Kinsey Kern is also charged with the same in the case.




Leann Kinsey Kern

Leann Kinsey Kern

Smoky Mountain To Open Playoffs

m130612The Smoky Mountain High School men’s and women’s basketball teams will be opening the state playoffs in the 2-A division today. The Mustang men are 24-0 and are seeded number one in the west. They will play at home tonight at 6:00pm against Brevard. Smoky Mountain defeated the Blue Devils three times this season. The Mustangs beat Brevard 103-55 in last Thursday’s match up. If they win tonight’s game, this would mean another home game on Wednesday against either West Caldwell or Mountain Heritage. The Lady Mustangs are the 31st seed. They will travel to Bandys for a 6:30pm game.

WCU Fire Update

FireThe Board of Trustees of the WCU Endowment Fund, which owns the commercial strip affected by the fire, reviewed the cost estimates, tax assessments, and anticipated insurance proceeds at their February 5th meeting. Independent cost estimates to repair or replace the damaged buildings ranged between $629,000 and $1.5 million. The tax assessment of the buildings was approximately $250,000, which would likely be the maximum the University could receive from the Department of Insurance. The Board also explored the possibility of using assets from the endowment fund for repair or replacement and learned that those funds are primarily used for academic purposes, such as scholarships and student support.  They determined that use of these funds to repair the buildings for use by private businesses would negatively affect the amount of dollars available for academic purposes.  In addition, the Board reviewed the recommendations from the recently approved Campus Master Plan, which called for replacing the commercial strip with a mixed-use development that incorporates student housing with retail space. After thoughtfully weighing the information above, the Board has decided against replacing or repairing the buildings housing and the three dining establishments said David Belcher. Board members also weighed cost estimates, tax assessments, and anticipated insurance proceeds against  other factors such as the historic significance of the property to the campus community, the contributions to WCU culture made by private businesses operating in the center of campus, and ongoing support by members of the campus community for owners and employees of the affected businesses. The formal resolution approved by the Endowment Fund Board further authorizes WCU officers to demolish the buildings damaged by the fire and notify all endowment fund tenants that lease terms expiring in May 2014 will not be renewed, except on a month-to-month basis. After a competitive process determined by the University, the Board will select a private developer to build a mixed-use facility on the site with a goal of occupancy in August 2016.  Owners of the existing establishments along the commercial strip will have the right of first refusal for commercial space in the new facility. Belcher Said “Please know that we have personally notified all owners of the business enterprises on Centennial Drive of this decision”.  Demolition of the damaged property is tentatively scheduled to begin March 10. Belcher continued; “In closing, let me thank Teresa Williams, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund, and the other members of the Board for their leadership and work on this issue. Theirs was not an easy task, but I know that she and her fellow Board members made the decision they carefully determined would be in the best interests of the University.”

NC DOT Attacking Pot Holes

Pot Holes

Pot Holes

The recent cold, wet weather we have experienced across the state, means that more potholes will be popping up over the coming months. NCDOT’s top priority is safety. That’s why the N.C. Department of Transportation has its patching crews out in full force attacking potholes. “Potholes are common during the winter months when moisture that seeps into cracks in the pavement gets in between the layers of asphalt, freezes, expands and then thaws,” explained NCDOT’s Chief Engineer Mike Holder. “When the ice expands, it causes the cracks to widen and the asphalt layer to rise. Traffic then loosens the pavement, which eventually creates a pothole.”Because potholes can quickly form without warning, we urge motorists to pay special attention to the roadway and be on the lookout for potholes. Motorists can also help the department by reporting potholes. If you see a pothole on a state-maintained road, report it to NCDOT at 1-877-368-4968, or online at www.ncdot.gov/contact. Click on “County Contacts” on the left of your screen and then choose the county. The email form will be sent to the local NCDOT office. To help our crews locate the pothole, be sure to provide as much information as possible about its location, including the city or county, road name, nearest intersection, which lane the pothole is in, and the size and depth of the pothole. If a pothole is in a work zone, the contractor will be notified and is responsible for fixing it. You should contact your local municipality to report a pothole on a road that is not maintained by NCDOT. “We do ask that motorists be patient with road crews,” Holder added. “They will fill the potholes as quickly as they can, but will first address the ones that are the greatest safety concerns.” The location, size and depth of the pothole determine its priority. Potholes within travel lanes of major routes will be first priority. Potholes on shoulders will be less of a priority, as will shallow ones. Since most asphalt plants are not operating during winter months and “hot mix” asphalt is not available, crews will use “cold patch,” as well as spray patchers, to fix the holes as an interim treatment. “Cold patch” is a premix that NCDOT stockpiles for winter pothole response. Crews will perform permanent patches with hot mix when it is available.

AAA offers the following tips when encountering a pothole:

  • Avoid swerving. Swerving can cause loss of vehicle control;
  • Slow down. Carefully avoid impact with potholes. If a pothole can’t be avoided slow down. Hitting a pothole at a high speed increases the chance of damage to the vehicle, and losing control;
  • Roll through. Rolling through the pothole is better than braking rapidly;
  • Properly inflate tires. Over-inflated and under-inflated tires increase risk of tire and wheel damage; and

Avoid puddles that may conceal a deep pothole

Steep Slope Hearing

Hearing Draws Crowd

Hearing Draws Crowd

The Mountain and Hillside Development Ordinance public hearing drew a capacity crowd at the Jackson County Justice And Administration Center on Wednesday. The standards were reviewed by Gerald Green who is the director of the Jackson County Planning Department. The amount of development for a single family home (excluding driveways) would be based on the degree of the slope. The steeper the slope, greater amount of average would be required before construction could be permitted.

107 Connector Controversy

NC 107

NC 107

Commissioners are attempting to put to rest what remains of the Old Southern Loop, a proposed road that would bypass the town of Sylva. This will make the third time they’ve attempted to kill the proposed project. County Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing for Monday, March 17th to gather public comment on the project. The strategy would be following the public hearing commissioners would vote to remove the 107 Connector from the county’s offical transportation plan. Commissioners have omitted the bypass from their road priorites list assembled for the DOT at that departments requests. Following the NO vote, commisioners would ask the Rural Planning Organization to approve this amended county transportation plan. Chairman Jack Debnam expresses confidence that the Rural Planning Committee would endorse Jackson County leaders wishes in this matter. Commissioners plan to replace the 107 Connector with proposed road improvements to Ledbetter Road in Cullowhee and to Wilmot Bridge near Whittier. Which in the last two weeks Ledbetter road has seen it’s share of accidents. Citizens have already spoken publiclly about wanting guard rails placed on Ledbetter Road. Supporters of the proposed connector road have said it would ease traffic congestion on current N.C. 107; opponents cite studies that show this isn’t a likely outcome.