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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.

12th Annual Green Thumb Day

Nelumno_nucifera_open_flower_-_botanic_garden_adelaide2Whittier community will hold its 12th annual Green Thumb Day Festival on Saturday, April 12, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. along Main and Church streets. The event will include local artists and crafters, live plants and yard sales. Free tree seedlings and information on plants and planting will be available from County Extension Director Rob Hawk. A historical exhibit on early Whittier will be on display at Stuff-n-Such, located across from the post office. Live bluegrass music will be provided by Keep on Pickin’; mountain songs by fretless banjo maker Joshua Grant; and gospel favorites and old-time favorites by the Mountain Strings Dulcimer Club of Bryson City.

 

Blue Ridge Bike Plan

cyclingA state Department of Transportation blueprint called the Blue Ridge Bike Plan this month cleared a hurdle required for projects to move from conceptualization to reality. The Rural Planning Organization, made up of local leaders who help the state prioritize road projects, approved the plan; through the addition of lanes, shoulders and bicycle traffic signs, mountain roads could be improved for cycling. In Jackson County, the hope is to make six improvements:

• Open seven miles of U.S. 74, from exits 81 to 74 (Dillsboro to Gateway), to bicyclists (it’s restricted right now) and modify rumble strips where needed. Cost: $4.69 million.

• Add shoulders for biking and signs to five miles of North and South River roads, from U.S. 441 to N.C. 107. Cost: $1.5 million.

• Add shoulders and signs, plus modify the rumble strips, along a 10-mile section of U.S. 23/74 from Balsam to Sylva. Cost: $4.7 million.

• Add a bicycle lane to two miles of N.C. 107, extending what’s there now toward Sylva. Cost: $560,000.

• Work on the shoulders and add signs on the 14.5 miles of N.C. 107 from Cullowhee to Cashiers. Cost: $4.4 million.

• Do the same on a 12-mile stretch between Sylva and Balsam along Skyland Drive and Dark Ridge Road. Cost: $3.7 million.

New state law prohibits DOT from using state dollars as a match for federal funding on most bicycle and pedestrian projects, said Reuben Moore, state division planning engineer. Local matches of 20 percent are now required from counties, cities or universities.

 

Jackson County is Healthier

stethescope_blueJackson is the 22nd healthiest of North Carolina’s 100 counties, according to findings released last week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The County Health Rankings list the overall health of counties nationwide, using a formula to measure people’s health and how long they live. Jackson County moved up four places this year; it was No. 26 the past two years. Researchers examined physical environment, social and economic factors, clinical care and health behaviors. They looked at high school graduation rates, access to healthy foods, smoking, obesity and teen births. North Carolina’s healthiest counties are Wake, Watauga, Orange, Union and Camden, according to researchers. Counties with the poorest health were Columbus, Halifax, Scotland, Roberson and Vance. In Western North Carolina, Watauga, No. 2; Transylvania, No. 12; Henderson, No. 15; Buncombe, No. 18 and Macon, No. 19; ranked above Jackson County. The data, which includes a large error margin, shows 22 percent of Jackson County adults smoke; 33 percent are obese; 25 percent are physically inactive; and 15 percent drink too much. There were fewer alcohol-related deaths in the county, 21 percent, than the state, which had 33 percent. The teen birth rate was lower here, at 27 per 1,000, than the state rate of 44 per 1,000. Jackson County ranked 61st in the state for access to clinical care, with 26 percent of residents who are uninsured. There is a ratio of one primary care doctor per 1,033 residents; one dentist per 2,748 residents and one mental health provider per 254 residents.

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Drexel Plant Community Meeting

Old Drexel Plant

Old Drexel Plant

A Public Meeting will be held on April 29th at the Smoky Mountain Elementary School from 6:00 – 8:00 PM in the school cafeteria.  The site is presently being called the “Smoky Mountain Agricultural Development Station.” The purpose of these community outreach meeting is to get the public’s input on the development of the Drexel site, so to meet real community needs for placed based agricultural economic development.  The meeting will listen to individual needs to make the effort site specific in respect to agriculture. Please come to this open community meeting to help Jackson County identify specific agriculture development at the old Drexel Site for the surrounding counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian. For more information, please contact Robert J. Hawk, County Extension Director at the Jackson County Cooperative Extension Center at 586-4009 or email “robert_hawk@ncsu.edu.” Refreshments will be served.

Stocking The Trout Waters

NC Trout Waters

NC Trout Waters

Four Swain County waterways will be stocked with trout for the hatchery-supported season that opens 7 a.m. Saturday, April 5. Through July, a total of 5,440 brook trout will be stocked in Swain, 6,990 rainbow trout and 4,270 brown trout for a total of 16,700. Waterways stocked include: Alarka Creek, Nantahala River, and Deep Creek.The season will run through Feb. 28. Many of these waters are stocked monthly, although some heavily fished waters are stocked more frequently. Commission personnel will stock nearly 907,000 trout, with 96 percent of the stocked fish averaging 10 inches in length and the other fish exceeding 14 inches. Stocked trout are produced primarily in two mountain region fish hatcheries operated by the commission. For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit www.ncwildlife.org or call the Division of Inland Fisheries, 919-707-0220.

Morris Broadband Contract

zeropoint_logoIf you flip on your Cable TV this Monday and your favorite channel isn’t working, there could be a good reason why. Morris Broadband, Jackson Counties primary Cable TV provider is currently in the middle of a Viacom contract renewal process. Viacom owns MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Spike TV, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr,CMT, along with others. The contract ends March 31st. the channels can (and probably will) go dark on April 1st for an unspecified time due to contract negotiations. It seems this is the strategy of Viacom as Direct TV had the same issue last year with them as the channels went dark for 9 days.To get the latest info Morris Broadband visit www.morrisbroadband.com under customer updates. or go to www.tvonmyside.com for the latest information.

A Look At The New Facility

SMHS Performing Arts Center

SMHS Performing Arts Center

Randy Murphy who is the General Contractor for the new Gymnasium and Performing Arts Center at Smoky Mountain High School met with the media and County Manager Chuck Wooten to give an update on the final stages of the construction. Murphy expects construction activities to be completed this week. Murphy also complimented the local contractors for their exceptional work. County Manager Chuck Wooten expressed happiness with the outcome of the project. The new facility has been able to combine two facilities under the same roof which is more efficient. Wooten also complimented the contractors who have paid close attention to detail which has produced a beautiful facility. There is also potential for additional on site construction based upon the site master plan.  A ribbon cutting and grand opening is expected in mid April. The eleven point four million dollar building will seat 1500 for basketball and 754 for events in the Fine and Performing Arts Center.

 

 

 The New Facilities At A Glance

 

Gym

Gym

Multi-Use Room

Multi-Use Room

Lighting System In Theater

Lighting System In The Theater

Performing Arts Center

Performing Arts Center Seating

Lockers

Locker Room

Wrestling

Wrestling Area

photo2

Orchestra Pit

NCHP Information Sessions Planned

Troop GThe North Carolina State Highway Patrol Troop G  Invites you to their open house at Reynolds Fire Department for informational sessions regarding employment with the Highway Patrol.  These sessions will be held at Reynolds Fire Department on April 26th and May 3rd from 9 am until 12 noon.  Troopers will discuss everything from basic qualifications of an applicant to retirement from the organization.  If being a North Carolina State Trooper has ever crossed your mind, or if it is something you have always wanted to do, come by and see us at one of these two sessions.  If you would like to speak to a recruiter, call Trooper Metcalf at (828) 234-5603.

Precinct Change For Sylva

voteVoters in Sylva’s South Ward precinct will now go to the new Skyland Service Center to cast their ballots in the primary elections and not the Community Service Center as they have previously. The Jackson County Board of Elections sent postcards to each of the precinct’s 2,719 registered voters notifying them of the change. The election board moved to Skyland Service Center (previously Southern Lumber) early this year. That means a One-Stop Absentee Voting station also will be set-up there; state law requires early voting take place where a county election board’s offices are located. For the Tuesday, May 6, primary, one-stop stations will be open in the Cullowhee and Cashiers communities, too. A fourth station, in Cherokee, will probably will be added for the Nov. 4 general election. The deadline to register to vote in North Carolina is 25 days before Election Day.

GSMA Releases Report

gsma_logo-14527_185x185Closing the books on one of the organization’s most vexing years in its 61-year history, Great Smoky Mountains Association officials released details this week of its contributions to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for 2013. “Aid-to-park for 2013 was $1,524,784, which represents another strong year of support, especially considering the circumstances,” said Executive Director Terry Maddox. He said they experienced a massive rain event that washed out a portion of the main park road in mid-January and kept that important transportation artery closed until April 15. Then, during their organization’s busiest month for sales by far, the federal government shutdown Oct. 1-16 that shuttered all our in-park retail operations.” While most visitors may not realize how often they interact with the many GSMA-supported projects ongoing in the park, Maddox said, visitors time in the park would be less fulfilling if the endeavors of GSMA were not pursued. Since its inception in 1953, Great Smoky Mountains Association has given nearly $32 million to support the ongoing educational, scientific and preservation efforts of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Candidates Forum Held Thursday

Thursday's Candidates Forum

Thursday’s Candidates Forum

The six democrat candidates for sheriff of Jackson county appeared before a packed room of voters on Thursday evening in the community room at the Jackson County Public Library Complex in Sylva. They were joined by the Ron Robinson and Jane Hipps who are competing for the opportunity to take on incumbent State Senator Jim Davis. Also present were Democrat candidates for commissioner, clerk of court, register of deeds, district attorney, and NC House District 119. The forum was coordinated and moderated by the Democratic women of Jackson County.

Debnam Gets GOP Support

Jack Debnam

Jack Debnam

The Jackson County Republican Party will back incumbent county Commission Chairman Jack Debnam, an unaffiliated candidate, in this Novembers general election against former chairman and Democrat Brian McMahan. Debnam unseated McMahan in 2010 by 68 votes; he had the GOP’s support in the last election. The endorsement does not include financial help, according to local Republican Party Chairman Ralph Slaughter; nor did it during the election four-years ago. Debnam said he appreciated the GOP’s endorsement. Voter registration records show Debnam has voted in both Republican and Democrat primaries in past elections. Four years ago, Debnam gathered the signatures necessary for unaffiliated candidates to get their names on the ballot. He must do the same again, needing 1,008 signatures by June 27.