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Archive for Local News – Page 2

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.

Haywood Bridge Replacement

NCDOT LogoTheN.C. Department of Transportation will temporarily close part of Hemphill Road in Haywood County beginning next week for a bridge replacement project. During construction, crews will be replacing a bridge over a branch of Jonathan Creek with a culvert. The $331,162 project also includes grading, drainage, paving and installing signage around the new structure. The existing bridge was built in 1955 and is considered functionally obsolete, which means that although the bridge is safe, it was built to design standards no longer in use. The project contractor, NHM Constructors, LLC, will begin installing the detour during the first week of April. The detour will remain in place until mid-July. Motorists will take Hemphill Road to N.C. 276, and then take Grindstone Road back to Hemphill Road. For real-time travel information any time, call 511, visit www.ncdot.gov/travel or follow NCDOT on Twitter at www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter. Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website. To access it, type “m.ncdot.gov” into the browser of your smartphone. Then, bookmark it to save for future reference.

Ledbetter Road Incident

crime-sceneA student ended up in the emergency room early Friday Morning, March 28th after allegedly being hit by a vehicle on Ledbetter Road in Cullowhee. The incident happened around 12:30 a.m. Joshua Thomas, 21, of Cullowhee, had been drinking before he was struck by a vehicle, according to N.C. Highway Patrol. Thomas left Tuck’s Tap & Grille on foot and claims he was hit by a car on Ledbetter Road.  There was no evidence of a vehicle and a very vague description of a suspect vehicle from the victim. He had some damage to his left ankle. The N.C. SHP was notified by the hospital’s emergency room around 2:30 a.m. Anyone with information about the incident, is asked to contact the N.C. SHP at 828-627-2851 and ask for Bowers.

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.

No Cause Determined In Fire

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort Fire

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort Fire

Fire investigators with the SBI say they can not determine the cause of Wednesday’s fire at Wolf Ridge Ski Resort. They say too much of the building was destroyed, which made it extremely difficult to find the source of the massive blaze. The fire started around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. They say there is not much left to sift through and says the wind blew away much of the evidence. On top of the intensity of the fire, crews had to battle ice-covered roads and frigid conditions to try to put out the flames.

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.

Laura Lindsey Signs Scholarship

Laura Lindsey & Family

Laura Lindsey & Family

Smoky Mountain High School senior Laura Lindsey has signed a full scholarship to Berea College . She will wear number six and has already been practicing with the team. Berea College is a liberal arts work college in Berea, Kentucky, founded in 1855. Known for their very high standards and requirements for applicants. There are roughly 300 applicants for each student seat.

Closing Gap In NC Water Protection

Tennessee River

Tennessee River

For more than a decade, 20 million wetland acres and 2 million miles of streams – including many in North Carolina – were left unprotected, despite the federal Clean Water Act. Experts say the gap in coverage was the unintended result of two Supreme Court decisions. On Tuesday, the Obama administration proposed a new rule to clarify which types of water have Clean Water Act protection. “This protects us moving forward,” said Tim Gestwicki, chief executive of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, “and certainly as North Carolina grows, this is going to be really important to protect the overall quality of life in North Carolina.” According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the rate of wetlands loss accelerated by 140 percent from 2004 to 2009, the years immediately following the Supreme Court rulings. A public comment period is expected to begin in a few weeks on the proposed rule. Jan Goldman-Carter, senior manager of wetlands and water resources for the National Wildlife Federation, said the the 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court decisions have confused and limited the scope of the Clean Water Act, making it much more difficult to maintain and restore the state’s streams, headwaters and freshwater wetlands. “A lot of the really important trout streams, headwater systems and their adjacent wetlands under this rule are now clearly covered,” she said. “That will be a huge improvement in fish and wildlife habitat and clean water for North Carolina waters.” Gestwicki said the clarification this rule would provide extends beyond benefits to the land.  “For mountain trout anglers to Piedmont bass enthusiasts and duck hunters in eastern North Carolina, this is a real important, critical step towards protecting our sporting heritage and our outdoor future in North Carolina,” he said. More than 242,000 miles of rivers and streams in North Carolina, and related recreation activities produce more than $3 billion a year in economic activity for the state.
Information about the new rule is online at www2.epa.gov/uswaters.

Culvert Work At SCC Continues

mapWork on a Culvert continues on at Southwestern Community College’s campus in front of the National Guard Armory as part of R-5000, a new road segment that will link N.C. 107 with N.C. 116 through the SCC campus.Within the next couple of weeks the contractor will remove the dike to turn the water back into the culvert, back-fill the culvert and stabilize the inlet and outlet slopes, NCDOT says Once the sides have been back-filled, a new sewer line will be laid over the culvert and the temporary aerial crossing, above, will be removed. The area will then be back-filled and the driveway paved.

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.

Booze It & Lose It

NC Highway Patrol

NC Highway Patrol

The North Carolina Highway Patrol along with other local and state agencies have released numbers for their 2014 St. Patricks Day “Booze It & Lose It” Campaign. Jackson County had a total of 18 checkpoints and patrols with a total of 130 traffic stops with some nature of violation. Haywood County had 162 and Macon County with 108 citations.

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.

Stolen Puppy Recovered

Fish & More Pet Store

Fish & More Pet Store

Police have recovered a puppy that was stolen from a Sylva pet store safe and sound. They also picked up two juveniles in the case. The owner says they are still considering whether they will file charges in the case. Surveillance video at Fish and More Pet Store shows one of the juveniles putting the all black pomeranian/chihuahua puppy in her purse and then walking out of the store. One of the co-owners says the theft happened at the close of business Monday. The puppy would have cost $250. Sylva Police are investigating.

Local Salary Supplements For JCPS

jcpsJackson County school leaders are pushing for teachers and other employees to get local salary supplements this upcoming year. And to help with recruitment, new talent would be offered $1,000 signing bonuses. In North Carolina, commissioners approve education budgets and raise revenues for school systems, making local educators fiscally dependent on the county. Jackson County commissioners, for the most part, have given local school leaders what they’ve asked for, with the exception of School Resource Officers. Across the state local officials are caught in the same feud over school funding. State law allows school boards to demand mediation to resolve financing arguments, and if talking fails, school systems can sue. School system Finance Officer Gwen Edwards has calculated that about 19 percent of the projected $35 million school budget in 2014-2015 would be funded through local tax dollars. School leaders plan to pay for the salary supplements and a  3-percent state salary increase by pulling $860,000 from the school system fund balance, leaving $1.6 million.

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.

WCU’s Online Programs Receives High Marks

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University’s online master’s degree programs in human resources and project management have received high national rankings in affordability and “Best Buy” designations from the distance education information clearinghouse GetEducated.com. WCU’s human resources program was ranked No. 3 in affordability following a national survey of 37 regionally accredited higher education institutions that offer online master’s degrees in that academic field, said Melissa Eubank, director of information services for GetEducated.com. The survey showed that the average cost of an online master’s degree in human resources nationwide is about $23,500. The cost of WCU’s program is $9,339 for North Carolina residents. Earlier this year, GetEducated.com gave WCU’s online bachelor’s degree program in entrepreneurship a No. 2 national ranking in affordability. Other WCU online master’s programs that have received high rankings from the clearinghouse in recent years are nurse educator, nurse administration and health sciences.

DMV Plate Agency Second Call

dmv_vehicle_plates_replace_headerThe North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is making a second call for applications for a Canton area license plate agency since a February posting did not yield qualified applicants. The current agency operates under a contract that will expire in July. The policy of the Division is to open applications to operate a license plate agency whenever a contract expires or ends. The current agency, located at 478 Champion Dr., will continue to operate during the application process and its contractor may reapply to operate the business. Routinely, it takes about four months to complete the application process. Plate agency applications are located on the Connect NCDOT website. Interested applicants are invited to download an application online. Visit www.connect.ncdot.gov

NC Broadcast Pioneer Dies

James B. Childress

James B. Childress

Long time North Carolina broadcasting pioneer James B. Childress died unexpectedly Friday at Mission Hospital. Childress was instrumental in starting numerous radio stations during the 1950′s including the Sylva and Murphy radio stations in 1957. Childress had a practice of naming his radio stations after his family such as WMSJ which stood for is wife Mickey, daughter Susanne and himself. The station was also referred to as Wonderful Macon, Swain and Jackson. After the death of Childress’ oldest son the call letters were changed to WRGC. Childress was an active member of the Sylva Rotary Club and supported Southwestern Community College’s New Century Scholars program, along with the Western North Carolina University Foundation. Childress would have been ninety on his next birthday in June. The WRGC Family extends our condolences to the family. He will be missed.

DENR Duke Energy Lawsuit

de_logoInternal emails between staff at North Carolina’s environmental agency show state regulators were coordinating with Duke Energy before intervening in efforts by citizens groups trying to sue the company over pollution leeching from its coal ash dumps. In February, DENR Secretary John Skvarla refuted reports the department intervened. The emails show a Duke lobbyist contacted the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, where staff exchanged messages discussing “how Duke wants to be sued.” The emails were provided Thursday to The Associated Press by the Southern Environmental Law Center, which had filed notice in January 2013 of its intent to sue Duke under the Clean Water Act. The agency used its authority to intervene in the lawsuit, quickly negotiating a proposed settlement where the billion company would pay a ,100 fine but be under no requirement to stop its pollution. This information comes on the same day Democrats at the North Carolina legislature say Duke Energy should be forced to move all of its coal ash to lined landfills away from water and make shareholders – not customers – pay for the cleanup. House and Senate Democrats unveiled Thursday the framework of a bill they intend to introduce when the General Assembly reconvenes in May. They want Republicans in charge of the legislature to join them given last month’s coal ash pond rupture along the Dan River. Durham Democratic Representative Paul Luebke says the spill is Duke’s responsibility.