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Sylva License Plate Agency Closed Until Thursday

dmv_vehicle_plates_replace_headerAs part of its customer service emphasis and reform, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is holding statewide customer service training next week. The Division will provide two days of training to license plate agency staff located in the Murphy, Robbinsville and Sylva license plate agencies, requiring their closure on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 13 and 14. Nearby agencies will remain open to provide vehicle registration services.

The following nearby LPAs will be open during the training: Bryson City – 101 Mitchell St., (828) 488-8247 Franklin – 118 Depot St., (828) 369-8165 Canton – 478 Champion Dr., (828) 646-3406 Pisgah Forest – 69 New Hendersonville Hwy., Suite 8, (828) 883-3251 Northeast Asheville – 85 Tunnel Road, Suite 16-B, (828) 252-8526 South Asheville – 780 Hendersonville Road, Suite 8, (828) 277-7767 Hendersonville – 145 Four Seasons Mall, (828) 692-0648

LPAs offer vehicle registration services and title transactions, as well as vehicle license plate renewals, replacement tags and duplicate registrations. Currently, about 120 license plate agencies operate across North Carolina.


175th Trail of Tears Anniversary Exhibit

Trail-of-Tears-LogoOur area has a rich history. During the month of May, Fontana Regional Library is hosting “Fewer Footprints and More tears” exhibits at all six library branches commemorating the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears. Each of the six branches offers unique pieces of history so  Sylva Branch Librarian Tracy Fitzmaurice recommends visitors visit each branch to get the full experience.

The exhibit is provided by Dr. Michael Abram and his wife Susan Abram in conjuction with the North Carolina Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association.  The comprehensive exhibit will highlight different aspects of the Trail of Tears.

In addition, Thursday May 15th at 6pm, The Trail of Tears program will feature Dr. Michael Abram, who has generously donated his private collection for the exhibit. He will give a presentation on the history and culture of Cherokee relating to the Trail of Tears at the Sylva Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Proposal to Increase County Employee Pay

SCC-JessicaWaldronCounty Manager Chuck Wooten recommended approval of a pay raise for Jackson County in the upcoming budget. Wooten’s budget proposal will include a 1.5 percent cost of living increase and 20 additional hours of bonus leave. The leave and pay combined would give Jackson County employees an increase of 2.5 percent relative to the time they spend on duty.

The raises would cost the county $250,000 in salaries and benefits.

In the current 2013-14 budget, all employees received a 2 percent raise, and in 2012-13, all employees making less than $40,000 per year were given a one-time increase of $650.

“Play On” Paying Off Statewide

Raleigh, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory announced Wednesday that the North Carolina tourism industry generated record visitor spending in 2013. The $20.2 billion in domestic visitor spending represents a 4.1 percent increase over 2012.

“The growth of our tourism industry gives us a lot to celebrate,”Governor McCrory said. “We attracted 52.5 million travelers from across the United States last year because of our great tourist destinations.The money they spent while visiting our mountains, beaches, cities and places in between directly supported nearly 200,000 jobs and more than 40,000 businesses. We can be proud that the quality of North Carolina’s travel experiences makes us the sixth most visited state in the nation.”

Governor McCrory, who proclaimed May 3-11, 2014, as Tourism Week in North Carolina, will discuss the new figures from the U.S. Travel Association at a news conference on Thursday, May 8 at the Outer Banks. Preliminary results from the study show that direct tourism employment grew 2.1 percent and that state tax receipts as a result of visitor spending rose 4 percent to top $1 billion. Visitors spent more than $55 million per day in North Carolina last year and contributed more than $4.4 million per day in state and local tax revenues as a result of that spending.

“Everyone in North Carolina can feel the benefits of the tourism industry’s success,” Secretary Decker said. “Tourism means jobs in all of the state’s 100 counties. In addition, each North Carolina household saves $435 annually in state and local taxes as a result of taxes generated by visitor expenditures.”

Tourism Week in North Carolina is part of National Travel & Tourism Week, which also runs May 3-11. The state’s nine Welcome Centers will host activities throughout the week.

Tourism Facts

Domestic travelers spent a record $20.2 billion in 2013, up from $19.4 billion in 2012. That’s an increase of 4.1 percent.
In 2013, total visitor volume was 52.5 million, up nearly 16 percent from 2012. North Carolina is the sixth most visited state for domestic travel.
North Carolina’s domestic market share increased from 4 percent to 4.3 percent.
For every $1 invested by the Division of Tourism in paid media advertising, North Carolina receives $191 in new visitor spending, $10.31 in new state taxes and $6.25 in new local taxes. This is nearly a 17-to-1 return on investment of tax dollars.
For every $1 invested by the Division of Tourism is paid media advertising, one trip is generated to the state.
More than 40,000 businesses in North Carolina directly provide products and services to travelers, with travelers directly contributing more than 25 percent to their total products and services.
Visitors to North Carolina generated more than $3 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2013.
State tax receipts as a result of visitor spending passed the $1 billion mark in 2013. The figure represents 4 percent in growth over 2012’s $970 million.
Local tax receipts from visitor spending grew 3.1 percent to $597.3 million.
Direct tourism employment in North Carolina increased nearly 2.1 percent, to 197,700. The majority of the growth was in lodging, transportation, food service and retail employment.
Direct tourism payroll increased 3.8 percent to $4.6 billion.
Visitors spend more than $55 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds more than $4.4 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $2.8 million in state taxes and $1.6 million in local taxes).
Each North Carolina household saves $435 in state and local taxes as a direct result of visitor spending in the state.

- See more at: http://governor.nc.gov/newsroom/press-releases/20140507/governor-mccrory-celebrates-record-visitor-spending-and-impact#sthash.nBgrGXaE.dpuf

Run Off Expected in GOP Sheriff’s Race

election2014Run off elections are expected in the GOP Sheriff’s race in Jackson County. Since none of the 3 Republican candidates for Sheriff received the required 40% plus one vote to be the clear winner, a run off of the top 2 contenders could happen.

Candidate Curtis Lambert received 35.9% of the vote while Jimmy Hodgins had 32.3%. Mary Alice Rock received 31.8% of the vote.

There are several paper ballots yet to be counted. A canvas of the ballots is taking place and the certification is due Tuesday at 5:00 pm. Once the ballots are certified, the candidate in the second slot has 24 hours to request a run off which is expected.

WRGC Radio Representative Roy Burnette spoke with Jimmy Hodgins early Wednesday. Hodgins stated emphatically that if he is indeed the #2 candidate after the vote is certified, he will be requesting for a run off race. If a Federal run off is to take place that will be on July 15, otherwise the Sheriff’s run off is slated for June 24th.

Election Results!

US SENATE – REP (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Thom Tillis REP 540 43.37 %
Greg Brannon REP 440 35.34 %
Mark Harris REP 124 9.96 %
Heather Grant REP 74 5.94 %
Ted Alexander REP 29 2.33 %
Jim Snyder REP 21 1.69 %
Alex Lee Bradshaw REP 12 0.96 %
Edward Kryn REP 5 0.40 %
US SENATE – DEM (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Kay Hagan DEM 2,391 71.89 %
Will Stewart DEM 627 18.85 %
Ernest T. Reeves DEM 308 9.26 %
US SENATE – LIB (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Sean Haugh LIB 7 77.78 %
Tim D’Annunzio LIB 2 22.22 %
US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DISTRICT 11 – DEM (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Tom Hill DEM 1,972 65.95 %
Keith Ruehl DEM 1,018 34.05 %
NC STATE SENATE DISTRICT 50 – DEM (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Jane Hipps DEM 2,164 64.04 %
Ron Robinson DEM 1,215 35.96 %
NC HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DISTRICT 119 – REP (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Mike Clampitt REP 711 59.05 %
Dodie Allen REP 281 23.34 %
Aaron Littlefield REP 212 17.61 %
SHERIFF – REP (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Curtis Lambert REP 417 35.92 %
Jimmy Hodgins REP 374 32.21 %
Mary Alice Rock REP 370 31.87 %
SHERIFF – DEM (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Chip L. Hall DEM 1,559 42.43 %
Steve Lillard DEM 1,261 34.32 %
Doug Farmer DEM 397 10.81 %
Robin Gunnels DEM 357 9.72 %
Glen Biller DEM 88 2.40 %
Michael M. Gosnell DEM 12 0.33 %
SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE (HUDSON) (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Robin Hudson 1,851 44.55 %
Eric Levinson 1,283 30.88 %
Jeanette Doran 1,021 24.57 %
BOARD OF EDUCATION DISTRICT 2 (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Ken Henke 3,757 98.45 %
Write-In (Miscellaneous) 59 1.55 %
BOARD OF EDUCATION DISTRICT 4 (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Ali Laird-Large 1,897 42.56 %
Wanda McCall Nicholson 1,314 29.48 %
Judy Watson Henry 1,238 27.78 %
Write-In (Miscellaneous) 8 0.18 %

BOARD OF EDUCATION DISTRICT 5 (VOTE FOR 1)
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
NAME ON BALLOT PARTY BALLOT COUNT PERCENT
Margaret M. McRae 3,761 99.23 %
Write-In (Miscellaneous)

An Employment Boom Hits Local Area

Consolidated Metco Inc in Bryson City has notified WRGC Radio of the need to add employees in six production divisions including assembly, material handlers, quality inspectors, finishing press, molding press and painting operators. These are good paying jobs for the local area starting at $12.00 per hour. This news comes on the heels of Hom-Tex in Sylva who last week announced the immediate need for 40 employees with an additional 60 workers to be recruited in the coming weeks. Consolidated Metco is having job fairs the first two days of May. The first job fair will be welcome news to Robbinsville who learned last week that Stanley Furniture was closing their Robbinsville plant and sending 400 workers to the unemployment line where unemployment benefits will only last for a few weeks. The second Con Met job fair will be in Sylva on May second at the State Employment Office located above the Jackson County Library in Sylva. This is also in addition to a job fair held this week by Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee. For more information on the ConMet positions check their website at www.omnisource.net

Early Voting Starts April 24th

This is a reminder the opportunities for early voting are getting underway. In order to accommodate voters and avoid the voting rush on May 6th voters can vote now. Below are locations to vote in the counties served bt WRGC Radio.

Haywood County
Senior Resource Center
81 Elmwood Way, Waynesville
Canton Library
11 Pennsylvania Ave., Canton
Town of Clyde Municipal Building
8437 Carolina Blvd., Clyde
Hours for all three locations:
April 24 – 25: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 26: 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
April 28 – May 2: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 3: 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Jackson County
Jackson County Board of Elections Office
876 Skyland Drive, #1, Sylva
Hours:
April 24: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Aprils 25: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 26: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
April 28 – May 1: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
May 2: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 3: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Remote Sites:
Cashiers Recreation Center
355 Frank Allen Drive, Cashiers
Hours:
April 24: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Aprils 25: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 26: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
April 28 – May 1: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
May 2: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 3: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Cullowhee Recreation Center
88 Cullowhee Mountain Road, Cullowhee
Hours:
April 24: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Aprils 25: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 26: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
April 28 – May 1: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
May 2: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 3: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Swain County
Swain County Board of Elections Office
1422 S. Hwy. 19, Bryson City
Cherokee One-Stop Site
37 Cherokee Boys Club Loop, Cherokee
Hours for all locations:
April 24 – 26: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 28 – 30: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 1 – 2: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
May 3: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Jackson County Fishing To Be Featured On Sports South

The premier episode of “Anglers and Appetites” filmed in Jackson County will air on Fox Sports South tomorrow, Saturday, April 19th at 10:30 a.m. (check your service provider for the channel number.)This program, sponsored by the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority, features local fishing experiences and culinary talents of area chefs amid the natural beauty of our lakes, rivers and streams and other regional attractions. The show will be rebroadcast on Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. and Thursday at 7:30 a.m. and then air again in late May and June. It will be available online at www.anglersandappetites.com 24 hours after the premiere and for free download on the front page of the iTunes sports and recreation section athttps://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/anglers-appetites/id851760791?mt=2
For more information, contact the South Jackson County Visitor Center at 828-743-5941 or info@CashiersAreaChamber.com.

Rabbit Creek Pottery Wins Dillsboro Business Competition

After four months of suspense and tough competition Anne Burrell who operates Rabbit Creek Pottery in Dillsboro was proclaimed the winner of the $5000.00 business development grant competition. The award was announced Thursday at Southwestern Community College. Ms Burrell told WRGC News that they grant would turn their business around. They will now be able to install their Kiln and expand inventory and operations. When asked about the uniqueness of their pottery style, she said that each of the potters in Dillsboro offers a different style which makes the town attractive because of the diversity. The contest has been a collaborative effort among SCC WCU, Dillsboro, and local sponsors. The contestants went through an extensive application process, attended numerous small business management and entrepreneurial classes, developed a a business operational document including a plan for business operations, management team, capitalization, management team, legal ramifications, start-up, and employees. The winner also had a limited time to get their business operational in Dillsboro. Rabbit Creek Pottery was already open for business but were eligible for the competition because they had been open for only a short time before the competition started. In addition to Rabbit Creek pottery the other top two contestants were John Fault and Megan Orr who proposed a Dillsboro event shuttle service, and Anthony Brown who proposed a water park similar to a venue near Benson, NC which pulls skiers through the water with zip lines. Mayor Mike Fitzgerald gave Rabbit Creek Pottery a welcome to Dillsboro, and Tommy Dennison with the WCU Small Business Center who helped with the contest was happy with the intensity of the process and felt that the judges made an excellent decision. Mayor Fitzgerald said the other top finishers in the competition would have their privilege license fee waived if they opened their business in Dillsboro this year.

HomTex to add 100 jobs in Sylva

SCC-JessicaWaldronThe HomTex company in Sylva announced on Monday that orders for their sheet sets and decorative pillows has expanded enough to require the expansion of operations at the Sylva plant on Old Scotts Creek Road. Plant Manager Billy Elliot told WRGC Radio News that Hom Tex is looking for 40 permanent employees.

Elliott explained that applicants will be tested for dexterity, and hand and eye coordination skills, and other means to measure their skills for piece rate work. Interviews will take place at the plant on the Old Scotts Creek Road which is the old Chasm factory. Plans are to add up to one hundred permanent employees.

In addition to the current pillow and sheet set operation where workers are needed immediately a new pillow operation is expected to come on line in the immediate future where factory orders measure in the hundreds of thousands at a time. It was also pointed out that these pillows will carry the Made in America label.

 

Normandy Invasion Veterans Planning To Visit Memorial

The members of American Legion Post 104 in Sylva were given an update at Monday’s meeting by Sylva Rotarian Lynn Lazar on the plans to take local Normandy Invasion veterans to Bedford, Virginia in June for the 60th anniversary of that event. The Rotary Clubs in western North Carolina were instrumental several years ago in raising the funds to send World War Two veterans to Washington to visit the World War Two Memorial in the National Mall.
Lazar will be working with Rotarians, veteran’s organizations, and civic clubs to locate Normandy Invasion veterans and send them, their spouse, and a caregiver to this special celebration. Five or six eligible veterans from Jackson County are expected to join about 40 other veterans from western North Carolina who have expressed an interest in participating in “Operation Overlord 2014” A couple of the local veterans told their story on the video being used to market the occasion. The number of veterans at the observance this year is expected to be in the thousands.
A weekend celebration of daily events at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., will span June 6-8, and include laying of wreaths by various D-Day units, a USO show, historians, veterans’ oral history stations and a parade. The weekend will culminate with a field chapel service on Sunday June 8th.
For the purposes of the “Operation Overlord 2014” project, a Normandy Invasion Campaign veteran is any American veteran able to describe his or her participation in “Operation Overlord” from June 6, 1944, to Aug. 31, 1944 — or has documented evidence of receiving an official Normandy Battle Campaign credit.

Evergreen Foundation Allocates $392,917 in Grant Funding

At their March meeting, the Evergreen Foundation board of directors voted to provide $392,917 in funding to support nine agencies that provide programs and services for individuals with Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Disabilities. The grants were awarded through a competitive grant process to agencies located throughout Western North Carolina. Fourth quarter grant recipients are:

-Full Spectrum Farms, Sylva, serving the 7 western counties: $16,370 to provide accessible restrooms, pathways and safety modifications which will provide full access to their facilities by all participants.
-30th Judicial District Domestic Violence-Sexual Assault Alliance, Waynesville, serving the 7 western counties: $7,778 to support phase 2, marketing and fund raising, for their animal assisted therapy project.
-The Arc of Haywood County, Waynesville, serving Haywood County: $52,000 to help purchase security cameras for their group homes and a wheelchair accessible van for their residential programs.
-Barium Springs Services for Children, Barium Springs, serving the 7 western counties: $65,000 to provide a challenge gift which will match dollar for dollar up to $65,000. This will provide funding needed to complete renovations for the Hawthorne Heights youth shelter in Bryson City.
-Pathways for the Future, Sylva, serving the 7 western counties: $4,157 to purchase materials and equipment for use in a new day enrichment program.
-Haywood Vocational Opportunities, Waynesville, serving Haywood County: $27,800 to purchase a 15 passenger van for use in their day program.
-Webster Enterprises, Webster, serving Jackson, Swain and Macon Counties: $8,955 to update their accounting software.
-Meridian Behavioral Health Services, Inc., Sylva, serving the 7 western counties: $204,357 for additional training to expand their Peer Support Services workforce; supplement their current funding for under-funded psychiatric services; and to purchase 2 vans and 3 all-wheel drive vehicles to transport individuals in their programs.
-Mountain Projects, Sylva, serving the 7 western counties: $6,500 to support two teen initiatives, Sticker Shock Underage Drinking Awareness and the Teen Institute Summer Conference.

Evergreen Foundation grants for fiscal year 2013-2014 have totaled $760,675. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and will be accepted until 5 p.m. on May 31 for the June grant cycle.

The mission of the Evergreen Foundation is to improve access to and public awareness of quality prevention, treatment, and support services by the provider community to individuals and families with intellectual/developmental disabilities, behavioral health, and/or substance abuse needs in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. To learn more about the Evergreen Foundation visit www.evergreenfoundationnc.org.

Sylva Bridge Park Makes Finals In Competition

You might be aware that a public place in your community (Sylva’s Bridge
Park) was entered into a statewide contest, the “Great Places in North
Carolina – People’s Choice: Great Public Place” contest, hosted by the NC
Chapter of the American Planning Association.
Not only that, but that Public Place was selected from a larger pool as one
of seven finalists to move forward to the online voting component!

Now, The Sylva Bridge Park is facing off against 6 other Public Places. The
Place with the most votes by 5pm on May 9th is the winner and will hold the
title of “2014 People’s Choice: Great Public Place!”

Visit www.greatplacesnc.org to view more information about the contest and
VOTE for your community. Just look for People’s Choice – Great Public Place
on the website.

Winning communities receive a framed certificate (usually presented at a
function like a concert, Council meeting, movies on the green, etc), are
recognized state-wide in various events and are able to use the award to
promote their Town. Finalists were chosen based on the online entry – the
judges were looking for Great Public Places that are not just a main Street,
but also a Great Place that acts as a gathering place for the community and
an example to the rest of the state.

Anyone can vote!

Blue Ridge School Break-In

crime-sceneIn the early morning hours of April 7, 2014, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office was requested by the Cashiers Fire Department to come to Blue Ridge School.  The Fire Department was already on scene for a fire alarm activation.  Suspects had forced entry into the school and thousands of dollars of damage to the interior of the building was done.  Damages included spray painting and flooding.  The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the incident and is asking for anyone with any information to contact Detective Rick Buchanan.  The Sheriff’s Office is offering a $500 reward for anyone with any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an offender in this case.  Please contact Detective Rick Buchanan at (828) 269-5698, email him at rlbuchanan@jacksonnc.org or contact Crime Stoppers,at (828) 631-1125 or crimestoppers@jacksonnc.org

Jackson County ABC Board

liquor-1221-1280x960After months of discussions and negotiations a plan has finally emerged which would consolidate the control of hard liquor sales in Jackson County under a single county wide Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. County Manager Chuck Wooten presented his plan to the Jackson County Commissioners on Monday and asked for a meeting on Monday April 14th with Town of Sylva officials to formalize the agreement. Once the agreement is signed a Jackson County ABC Board would be appointed. Initially the appointments would have term limits in order to get the board into a three year staggered system of rotation. Board members would be paid $150 per meeting plus travel. The ABC Board Chair would receive $250. plus travel for each meeting.  Wooten stressed that operations of the Sylva ABC store then the Cashiers ABC store expected to open in May would be under the control of the Jackson County ABC Board by May. One of the concerns expressed by the Town of Sylva is the loss of revenue generated by the Sylva ABC store. According to the merger agreement the Town Of Sylva would continue to get a share of the net profits and a guaranteed return. Once the new merged board is in place then steps would be taken to adopt the current standard operating procedures. Wooten also described how employees of the present Sylva ABC Board would be transitioned into the new Jackson County ABC Board. The Sylva ABC Board would be compensated for the inventory and fixtures at the ABC Store. It was recommended by the current members of the Sylva ABC Board that at least six weeks of working capital be available for ongoing use. Elected officials of the Town of Sylva and the County of Jackson will meet Monday April 14th to complete the merger agreement which will end the Sylva ABC Board  and create a new Jackson County ABC Board.

Benifit For Washington State

WAWestern Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center is sponsoring a Friday, April 11, concert to benefit landslide victims in Snohomish County in Washington state – an area with strong ties to Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. The concert, titled “The Circle is Unbroken: A Benefit for Oso, Washington, from Western North Carolina,” will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at Sylva’s Bridge Park. The bluegrass show will feature local bands Mountain Faith and the Boys of Tuckasegee. A few days after the landslide disaster struck on March 22, taking lives and destroying homes, two WCU historians who have researched the migration of WNC residents to the Pacific Northwest, Scott Philyaw, director of the Mountain Heritage Center, and Rob Ferguson, visiting assistant professor, were discussing ways to assist the victims.  Ferguson contacted officials in Darrington, Wash., and learned that financial assistance is what those who have lost their homes need most. Recognizing the strong connections between WNC and Washington state, they decided to reach out to the local community, Philyaw said. For much of the 20th century, migrants from the southwest mountains of WNC moved to western Washington state in such large numbers that they outnumbered every other immigrant population in a half dozen communities, said Ferguson. At first, the migrants from North Carolina represented many types of occupations, but from 1920 to 1940 the Pacific Northwest slowly replaced the Appalachians as the center of the nation’s lumber production, and that development led many people in that line of work to move west permanently, he said. Philyaw said many WNC residents still have family and friends who live in the area of Washington state where the landslide occurred, in surrounding communities such as Darrington and Sedro Wooley, and in many other towns in Skagit and Snohomish counties. Assisting Ferguson and Philyaw in organizing the benefit and local fundraising activities are Lane Perry from WCU’s Office of Service Learning, who is coordinating efforts on the WCU campus, and the Rev. Tonya Vickery of Cullowhee Baptist Church, who is coordinating outreach with local churches. Perry can be reached at 828-227-2643 and Vickery can be contacted at 828-293-3020. Individuals who would like to assist in the effort can contact Philyaw at 828-227-3191 or Ferguson at 828-227-3502. Updated information about the concert is available on the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/OsoMudslideBenefit.

Jackson County Justice Center

SCC-JessicaWaldronIn the monthly meeting of the Jackson County Commissioners on Monday County Manager Chuck Wooten gave a progress report on the proposed renovation of the Jackson County Justice Center. It was reported several months ago that Superior Court Judge Brad Letts had spoken with Mr Wooten and the Commissioners about the current the growing need for courtroom space at the Jackson County Justice Center. The Commissioners decided to follow-up on recommendations to seek the advice of the Heery International company who had designed the renovations to the Haywood County County Courthouse. Many in the legal profession hold up that facility as a model which is adequate to meet both current and long term judicial processing needs. Consultants from Heery International have conducted both site visits and interviews from current occupants of the building in order to assess both the wish list needs and the absolute needs. Wooten reported to the Commissioners in February that specific needs included more building security, additional court and mediation rooms, separate secure entrances so the victims of crimes and the person facing charges for those crimes do not have to enter the courtroom by the same entrance, also building facilities from heating and air conditioning to additional Americans With Disabilities Act compliance standards. According to County Manager Chuck Wooten the commissioners will hear the report from Heery International Associated at their next meeting. One action already completed is the movement of the District Attorney into the space formerly occupied by the Jackson County Board of Elections after that agency moved to the Skyland Services Center. The planning and design process could cost the county upwards of three quarters of a million dollars. Some have speculated that the future needs of the building would require an addition of thirty five thousand square feet of space. The construction costs of the building twenty years ago was eighteen million dollars. Estimates are the additional 35,000 square feet in floor space could cost the county about a 100 thousand dollars a year to maintain and secure.  During each meeting there tends to be time set aside for the commissioners to appoint individuals to serve on county boards. There are twelve such boards each with up to a dozen members who are appointed to their position for up to three year terms and often reappointed and serve the maximum number of years. In some of the  board positions the members are paid for their services such as those on the ABC Board who are paid 150 dollars plus travel to attend the meetings. The Chair of the Board will receive 250 dollars and travel for each meeting. In March County Manager Wooten reported to the Commissioners on what he perceived as a need to audit the performance of these Boards and establish evaluative criteria including attendance reports and a review of the minutes of the meetings as well as publishing the assignments for each of the boards.

Resolution Passed

jcpsJackson County’s education leaders passed a resolution March 25 opposing state lawmakers’ mandate to give raises to some teachers, but not others. The 25 percent of teachers who accept four-year contracts and $500-a-year salary increases agree, in return, to forfeit tenure. Like dozens of others, Jackson County has gone on record asking the General Assembly to rescind its law. Jackson County last month announced plans to use a selection system that granted points for evaluations, higher degrees and such; that’s not going to happen. Murray plans to present a lottery scheme to school board members in April. Jackson County’s school board followed up the anti-contract vote by approving a second resolution. It urges the General Assembly to give all teachers more pay, not just beginning ones as proposed, and to reinstate salary step increases and financial bonuses for teachers getting master’s degrees.

Jackson Wins First Place

The beautiful wildflower beds dotting North Carolina’s highways took center stage this week at the Annual Wildflower Awards ceremony in Raleigh. The awards were given to the Department of Transportation staff who cultivated the best-looking flowers of 2013, as voted on by a panel of judges. They also recognize the efforts of all NCDOT crews who help carry out the Wildflower Program and work to enhance the overall appearance and environmental quality of the state’s highways. Jackson County took first place in the Best Regional Wildflower Planing catagory for N.C 107 at Cullowhee. The NCDOT Wildflower Program began in 1985 and is coordinated by the department’s Roadside Environmental Unit, which installs and maintains 1,500 acres of wildflowers along North Carolina’s highways. The program is primarily funded through the sale of personalized license plates.