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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.

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.

State Troopers Contract Lawsuit

NC Highway Patrol

NC Highway Patrol

Some attorneys say North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers are facing severe financial hardships because the state has broken a promise to give them pay raises. A breach of contract lawsuit was filed Monday in Cherokee County, with nearly 40 state troopers as plaintiffs. Attorney David Wijewickrama says troopers were promised graduated or step pay raises when they completed training at the academy. But he says that hasn’t happened in years. He says that has created financial hardship for some troopers who are having trouble making ends meet. A beginning trooper makes about 35,000 a year.

Key Appointed To Crime Commission

800px-Eastern_Band_CherokeeCalling it an “important milestone,” Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Michell Hicks applauded Gov. Pat McCrory’s appointment of tribal member Iva Key to the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission. She is the first member of the tribe to serve on the commission that advises the governor’s office on crime and public safety policy ”Ms. Key has made great strides on behalf of our tribe as manager of the EBCI Domestic Violence program and we are gratified to know she will take her exceptional talent and experience to Raleigh,” Hicks said. Chief Hicks went on to say that appointment also “signals a commitment by our state to address the issue of violence against women which has long been a pressing problem for Native people in America.” He cited data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting violence against women in Native American tribes is the highest among any group in the nation. Ms. Key’s appointment follows sweeping expansion of the national Violence Against Women Act in 2013 that gave Indian courts greater jurisdiction in domestic violence cases.”It is gratifying that Ms. Key can now expand her commitment to saving lives and improving the ways we treat victims of abuse on a statewide level,” Hicks said.

Thick Smoke In Sylva

NC-Forest-LogoWRGC received numerous phone calls on Tuesday from citizens expressing concerns over the thickening smoke settling over Sylva and surrounding area. According to North Carolina Forest Service Spokesman Ron Hollifield, there were several sources of smoke including a controlled burn in the Big Laurel area of Swain County. Additionally, there were loose fires on the Qualla Boundary along with Controlled and Uncontrolled fires in Upstate South Carolina which fed additional smoke into our area. The Forest Service reminds everyone to exercise caution due to the rapidly drying conditions even after the rain.

Sylva Officer Terminated

sylva-police-3_15312A former Sylva police officer wants to see on paper why he was fired last week. Curtis Lambert lost his job as a patrol officer last Monday. The next day, he wrote the town manager requesting to see all documents involved in his termination. Town leaders say North Carolina is an “at-will” state and anyone can be fired without providing information. They say only general information can be released under state law without Lambert’s written consent. Lambert said he intends to go through his due process rights. Lambert is running for Jackson County Sheriff and speculates this might have been a reason for his termination. Sylva town leaders flatly deny politics had anything to do with his termination.

Steep Slope Update

Hearing Draws Crowd

Steep Slope Hearing

A vote next month by commissioners could determine whether Jackson County continues to control how and where people build on steep slopes within the county. The 6 of the 11-member planning board will be reappointed or newly appointed in April. Democratic Commissioner Vicki Greene succeeded in postponing a board vote until then. She received support during Monday’s commissioners meeting from fellow Democrat Mark Jones and Chairman Jack Debnam, who isn’t affiliated with a political party. The planning board’s membership surfaced as an issue following a Feb. 20 public hearing on proposed steep-slope revisions. Around 200 people attended the room to oppose changing the steep-slope ordinance. No one who spoke supported the planning board’s proposed revisions.

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.

School Board Guidelines

jcps

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.

Haywood County Inmate Escape

Jeffery Wayne Medley

Jeffery Wayne Medley

An inmate from Haywood County Detention is in custody after having jumped and run from a transport van early Wednesday evening. Jeffery Wayne Medley, 18, had been at the Justice Center for a court appearance and was being transported back to detention shortly after 5 p.m. when he escaped from the van. After a quick foot chase, he was apprehended by law enforcement a few blocks away. Mr. Medley had been in court on an Order for Arrest for a misdemeanor probation violation. Mr. Medley is facing additional charges of misdemeanor escape and property damage in excess of $200 for damage to the van.

Investigation Into Forest Fire

Cherokee Reservation Fire

Cherokee Reservation Fire

Investigators are looking into who started a forest fire in Cherokee Tuesday morning that burned 120 acres on Mt. Noble. The fire also burned some land in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Bureau of Indian Affairs said Wednesday most of the fire is out, but not all of it. It is under control, but a few hot spots remain. Crews are on hand to make sure wind doesn’t re-start it. Bureau of Indian Affairs Supervisor Darlene Whitetree says they know it is an arson fire since it was started in four places. No arrests have been made and Whitetree says there are no leads.

Cherokee Reorganizing DSS

800px-Eastern_Band_CherokeeThe death of a girl three years ago is providing much of the motivation behind Cherokee reorganizing its social services. In 2011, Aubrey Littlejohn died.  An investigation found she was neglected, and abused, and died with a body temperature of 84 degrees. Family members say Swain County DSS didn’t do enough to protect her. Swain County social worker Candice Lassiter pleaded guilty to attempting to cover up the agency’s role after Littlejohn’s death. Tribal leaders are now restructuring its medical division into a Health and Human Services Department. In turn, it will take over child protective services from surrounding counties. The reorganization will take a year to year and a half to complete. All social services for adults and children will be centralized in one location. A director is expected to be named this week, and the director will decide how many people might be hired.

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.

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.

New Location for “The Mad Batter”

The Mad Batter

The Mad Batter

BCNC Investments in Bryson City is pleased to announce an agreement to lease the property known as Merewether’s located at 617 Main St. in Sylva. The owner, Bob Frady has executed a long term lease with Jeanette Evans of The Mad Batter Café and Bakery of Cullowhee. The Mad Batter Cafe’ and Bakery was destroyed in the fire last year that claimed several businesses. The name will be The Mad Batter Dining Theater. Ms. Evans is planning to open soon, though no date has been set. We will bring you more information as it becomes available.

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

Swain County Shooting

crime-sceneInvestigators are looking into a shooting that left a Swain County woman dead. It happened early Wednesday morning at the home of Alex Crisp and his girlfriend Summer Johnson, just outside Bryson City. Crisp’s father, Mike, lives in the house next door. He says his son Alex, Summer, and their 8-month-old baby girl lived in the mobile home on Gibby Road. Neighbors are shocked at the news. Summer graduated from Swain County High School just three years ago. The medical examiner is conducting an autopsy on Summer Johnson. The results will determine if charges will be filed. We’ll bring you the latest as details of this story become avalible.