Archive for Local Government – Page 2

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.

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.

South Carolina Men Behind Bars

crime-sceneTwo South Carolina men remain behind bars after a car chase around 7:30 p.m. Thursday February 13th that involved three law enforcement agencies. The incident began when Sylva Police received a report of a suspicious vehicle coming toward Sylva from the Cullowhee area. Authorities located the car on N.C. 107 near Cook-Out restaurant and checked the tag, which came back as belonging to a stolen vehicle. The chase started when the vehicle turned onto Skyland Drive and ended when it ran off the road near North Fork. According to N.C. Highway Patrol Dustin Mathis Jones, 23, of Summerville, S.C., was driving. Kenneth Charles Elmore III, 32, also of Summerville was the passenger of the vehicle. After the crash, both men fled on foot. Elmore was caught within minutes and Jones shortly thereafter.
Elmore remained in jail under $125,000 bond and faces charges of possess stolen motor vehicle; possess/distribute methamphetamine’s and three counts of resisting arrest; and trespassing on railroad right of way. Jones also remained jailed Tuesday under a $150,000 bond. He is charged in the case.

Chief Meets With CDC In Atlanta

Chief Hicks at CDC

Chief Hicks at CDC

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Michell Hicks spoke with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in Atlanta this week.  The 2014 TAC Meeting and Tribal Consultation Session provides an opportunity for Tribal leaders to speak openly about the public health issues affecting their communities. A listening session with the CDC Director and another roundtable discussions with CDC leadership is also being held. Most importantly, this forum provided an opportunity to for Tribes to submit testimony regarding the public health issues.  Chief Michell Hicks is the Nashville Area regional representative speaking for more than 26 federally recognized Tribes. Within the CDC Consultation Policy, it is stated that CDC will conduct government-to-government consultation with elected tribal officials or their authorized representatives before taking actions and/or making decisions that affect them. The CDC remain committed to respecting Tribal sovereignty while working together to leverage capacity, expertise, and resources to achieve the greatest impact on the health issues affecting American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Gun Locks

Gun Locks

Gun Locks



Child Sex Charges

Stephen Hurley

Stephen Hurley

On February 5th, Police responded to an attempted suicide at the Maggie Valley Motel. There they found 68 year old restaurant owner Stephen Hurley. They also found a note in the room with him. This led the Maggie Valley Police to investigate the alleged sexual assault of two children. A total of 44 sexual molestation related counts and felony warrants have now been served against Hurley. He was arrested and is now in the Haywood County Detention Center under 1 million dollars bond. The warrants charge Hurley with molesting two children under the age of 16 in 2006 and 2007. Other Charges include indecent liberties with a minor and crimes against nature. The alleged victims are now of age and are cooperating with authorities. Residents and those who personally knew Hurley were shocked, stunned and disgusted.

Agriculture Commissioner Troxler Announces Damage Assistance To Farmers

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has activated its toll-free hotline to help farmers affected by the winter storm to connect with resources that can assist with recovery. Farmers who have an agricultural emergency can call 1-866-506-6222. The hotline will be staffed 24 hours a day through Friday, Feb. 14. Operating hours will be re-evaluated at that time. “This storm is bringing a potentially nasty mix of snow and ice,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Possible impacts to farms include power outages, damage to agricultural buildings and animal health emergencies. We are prepared to work with our state and local partners to help our agricultural community in the storm’s aftermath.”

Wanted: Sex Offender for failing to register

Craig Michael Hawkins

Craig Michael Hawkins

Attached please find an incident report and mug shot regarding a Craig Michael Hawkins, who has failed to register as a sex offender. Deputies from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office were verifying sex offender addresses and looked for Mr. Hawkins at his last known and registered address, only to find he was no longer living at that location. A felony warrant for failing to register has been issued. In addition, Mr. Hawkins has outstanding warrants for assault on a female and failure to pay back child support in the amount of $300.

As always, anyone having any information as to Mr. Hawkins’ whereabouts is asked to contact the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office at (828) 452-6666 or the Haywood County CrimeStoppers line at 1-877-92CRIME. (Deputy Heidi Warren, Public Information Officer, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office)

Jackson County Emergency Services Declares Code Red Conditions Tuesday

EOC1The Jackson County Emergency Preparedness Director Todd Dillard has announced that Jackson County is now in Code Red Emergency conditions and that an Emergency Operations Center was opened at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Dillard urged all citizens to immediately prepare for emergency conditions by gathering food and water, a manual can opener, flashlight and battery powered radio with extra batteries. He also recommended that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors be checked and that supplies for pets be assembled as well. During this Code Red Emergency all calls are to be directed to the Emergency Operations Center at 586-7500. DO NOT CALL 911 UNLESS IT IS AN ACTUAL EMERGENCY.

WRGC will be broadcasting any emergency announcements and is equipped to stay on the air should the electrical power fail. Forecasters are predicting the main force of the storm to arrive early Wednesday morning with a 24 hour snow event possible dumping up to a foot of snow in some of the higher elevations.

North Carolina Department Of Transportation personnel have been staged at strategic locations throughout the county with trucks loaded with salt and other equipment needed to battle the snowfall.

In addition to the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center a new app for smart phones is available at Ready NC.com. It provides up-to-date information for all state departments and services which are affected by severe weather conditions.

Board Of Elections Has A Busy Monday

The Jackson County Board Of Elections got the 2014 election season off to a quick start on Monday with eight candidates filing for the upcoming campaign season. Incumbent Jackson County Clerk of Court Ann Melton completed the paperwork to seek another term in that position. She was joined at the new Jackson County Board Of Election offices in the renovated Skyland Office Center by incumbent Republican Commissioners Doug Cody and Charles Elders. Also filing on Monday were current School Board members Ken Hinkey, Allie Laird Large, and Margaret McCray. The race for a new Jackson County Sheriff is unexpected to be hotly contested this year since incumbent sheriff Jimmy Ashe has announced his retirement. Steve Lillard who is currently on the Western Carolina University Police Department, and Jackson County Chief Deputy Chip Hall both filed on Monday. Several other individuals have placed campaign signs in the at various occasions but did not file on Monday. Also on Monday no one filed for the Jackson County Register Of Deeds Office currently held by Joe Hamilton. Candidates have 25 days to file for the May 6th Primary. Board of Elections Director Lisa Lovedahl encouraged candidates to go to the State board Of Elections website and download the documents which can be completed in advance making the filing process quicker. Also Lovedahl reminded voters in the Dillsboro area that their votes would be cash in the jack son County Justice Center starting in 2014 because the Dillsboro precinct voting station at the Dillsboro Town Hall was to small to continue to accommodate the increased number of people voting in that location.

Winter Storm Warning

The National Weather Service has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for Southwestern North Carolina, North East Georgia and Upstate South Carolina. The first of the storm is expected to arrive late Tuesday afternoon then turn to snow by nightfall. Eight inches of snow or more are now predicted for Sylva and the surrounding higher elevations will likely see more than eight inches of snow overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. The National Weather Officials are expecting widespread power outages to occur due to broken utility poles, downed power lines, and falling timber crashing down on utility services. Stay tuned to 540 a-m WRGC Radio for the latest in the development of this storm. On line at wrgc.com you can check on the latest closings and delays should you not be able to hear the over the air broadcast. WRGC Radio has been saturating the airwaves for the past few weeks with information urging families and individuals to prepare for all emergencies. Individuals are warned to make preparations now. First of all know how to contact all family members even in case the cell phone service goes out (which is likely). Make certain there are extra batteries for your radio and flashlights, fill your bathtub with water, and have alternative sources for heating your dwelling. WRGC has installed an emergency generator and special transmitter to provide critical emergency information to Jackson and surrounding counties and can operate for up to 20 hours should the utility service be interrupted. The station can be heard at 540 on the a-m radio bandwidth which is normally the first option on most radios. Should a state of emergency be declared the station will operate at 5000 watts as long as needed. Should there be a power failure the station will operate on emergency power at 1000 watts. Local citizens are encouraged to call WRGC Radio at 586-9742 or 586-2221 with closing and delay information and to report road conditions and closings.

WCU Receives Estimates On The Structure Fire Damages

Western Carolina University Chancellor Doctor David Belcher on Wednesday published an update on the status of the buildings damaged by the fire which damaged several on campus buildings occupied by private businesses during December 2013. Belcher’s report included estimated costs to replace or repair the three structures. The estimates were provided by the independent Clark Nexsen Architectural and Engineering firm. The cost of replacing the seventy year old buildings with new structures meeting current building codes was one-point-five million dollars. There was also an estimated cost of over six-hundred-thousand dollars to demolish and remove the structures and debris. The property is owned by the Board of trustees of the Endowment Fund of WCU who are now evaluating the information to determine the next steps. According to jackson County tax records the property is listed for taxes at $254,430.00

Hearing on Hillside Development Ordinance Scheduled

The Jackson County Planning Board has completed its review of the Mountain and Hillside Development Ordinance (steep slope ordinance). At the Board’s meeting January 9, the proposed revisions to the ordinance were approved and a public hearing was scheduled to receive public comments on the proposed revisions. A copy of the ordinance with proposed revisions and a summary of the revisions are available from Gerald Greene who’s office is in the Jackson County Administration Center. The public hearing is scheduled for Thursday February 13, at 6:00 PM in the Commissioners’ Board Room on the second floor of the Jackson County Administration Building. Please plan to attend the hearing to provide your comments regarding the proposed revisions. You also may provide your comments in writing, via email or mail, prior to the hearing.

“Play On” Moving Forward

The new chairperson of the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority, Robert Jumper reported to the Jackson County Commissioners on Tuesday that a trio of marketing firms including Pineapple Public Relations and Marketing firm has been retained to help the TBA move forward with the next phase of the tourism marketing plan for Jackson County. Jumper explained how some local citizens did not favorably view the “Play On” marketing theme adopted by the County.  Jumper stated that the terminology had tested well in the market research centered on the desired tourist population. One of the firms selected is Pineapple Marketing and Public Relations firm has plenty of tourism centered marketing experience in western North Carolina and north Georgia. While increasing the number of tourists coming to Jackson County is important Jumper further emphasized the importance of having the infrastructure in place to accommodate those coming to spend their vacations in the area. The infrastructure must not only include places to stay, but access to the rivers and lakes, and the means to enjoy all the resources including trails, hiking and the natural resources. Jumper was in agreement with comments made by Business and Industry Director Richard Price that all the messages coming out of Jackson County in recruiting tourism traffic need to be coordinated and consistent.