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Former Swain County SRO Pleads Guilty to Sex with Underage Student

B9317454802Z.1_20150522142419_000_GUSASAICH.1-0A 32-year-old former resource officer in Swain County schools has pleaded guilty to having sex with a 15-year-old student.

David Peterson, 32, of Bryson City, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of sexual activity with a student in Swain County Superior Court.

Judge Alan Thornburg sentenced Peterson to a minimum of 24 months and a maximum of 48 months

Peterson was fired from his job with the Swain County Sheriff’s Office when he was arrested in March 2014. He was previously a teacher at Swain County High School.

Prosecutors say Peterson met the girl when he was a teacher at the school, and the relationship continued after he left that job. David Peterson of Bryson City has been sentenced to between 24 months and 48 months in prison for three felony counts of sexual activity with a student.

Peterson was fired from his job with the Swain County Sheriff’s Office when he was arrested in March 2014. He was previously a teacher at Swain County High School.

Prosecutors say Peterson met the girl when he was a teacher at the school, and the relationship continued after he left that job.

Cherokee Preservation Foundation Awards Grants

The Cherokee Preservation Foundation (CPF) recently awarded 23 new grants totaling over $2.4 million, continuing its mission to improve the quality of life for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and the surrounding region.

Some of the grants include:

Cherokee Children’s Home: To acquire edible plants, soil amendments, and gardening tools for the edible landscape at the Cherokee Children’s Home. Funds will be used to construct a tool shed and augment other aspects of the landscape such as non-edible plants, fencing, walkways, and planting grass.

Cherokee Indian Hospital Foundation: To improve the interpersonal competencies of the hospital staff with cultural training and improve relations with the core customer– the EBCI community. Another component will be to beautify and naturalize the exterior of the new hospital facility by incorporating native grasses wherever possible.

Cherokee High School: To incorporate a master basket maker into the Cherokee High School art classes. The artist will augment the skills of the high school art teacher, and students will learn to create a double weave river cane and white oak baskets, starting from the raw materials and ending with a finished basket.

Land Trust for the Little Tennessee: To continue the restoration of river cane and other resources (butternut, yellowroot, mulberry, hazelnuts) on the historic Welch Farm and fund management of artisan resources on the Tennessee Bottomland Preserve. On the Welch Farm property, nearly 15 acres are being managed to enhance the existing plant resources and to plant trees and river cane.

Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River: To hold a fish weir workshop and facilitate a trip to the McClung Museum and Anthropology Department at the University of Tennessee for youth. The program will also add two snorkeling adventures on and off the Qualla Boundary to learn about fish ecology in area streams.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP): To develop a culturally-based STEM curriculum to provide Cherokee Middle School and High School students real-world experiential learning opportunities. Students will be directly involved in data collection methods on a variety of long-term research projects to monitor the threats to Park resources.

Hope Center–Cherokee: To support the BabyFACE program on the Qualla Boundary, serving high-needs families with children from birth to five. Services include home-visits, routine health and developmental screenings, parent group meetings, and resource referrals as needed.

Other Cherokee Preservation Foundation Grant Recipients include:
American Indian Science & Engineering Society: To implement a plan to pilot a community-based initiative with the EBCI community to expand increased STEM education opportunities for Cherokee Central School students.
Tri-County Community College: To offset the costs of hiring a Cherokee dance group and storyteller to present, share, and explore the rich and vibrant culture of the Cherokee people.
Cherokee Children’s Home: To complete an additional environmentally friendly building that includes energy efficient elements, and includes a purchase price payback time schedule that is based on cost savings for each item.
EBCI Tribal Historic Preservation Office (EBCI THPO): To conduct archaeological field work along the Nolichucky River in east Tennessee and create fifth and eighth grade educational trunks available to area schools. THPO will work with East Tennessee State University to develop archeological fieldtrips and build curriculum highlighting the Overhill Towns of east Tennessee pre-European contact.
Jackson County: To commission a plan utilizing Tribal experts to develop a preservation plan for the significant sites on the Drexel site. Jackson County will work with EBCI THPO and Cultural Resources to create this plan and develop signage to educate visitors on the EBCI and the significance of the site.
Sequoyah Birthplace Museum: To enhance the new permanent exhibit with multimedia displays, energy efficient modalities throughout the building, and measurements to improve the safety for visitors and staff and to host the first Cherokee Heritage Fall Festival.
North Carolina International Folk Festival, Inc.: To include the EBCI in a cultural exchange festival in Haywood County. At least two different EBCI dance groups will perform traditional dance and music during the Folkmoot Festival from July 16th-26th 2015. Representatives from other cultures, hosted by Folkmoot, will perform in Cherokee.
Land Trust for the Little Tennessee: To enhance the bird monitoring, research, and education programs tied to the national MAPS program. Educational materials will be produced to present information on native birds in Cherokee and English.
Cherokee Historical Association: To assist in the development of a new business plan to benefit all cultural partners. With this plan, along with new programs, short-term and long-term visitation and revenue numbers will increase, enhancing the sustainability of these important Cherokee tourism attractions.
Snowbird Cherokees Traditions: To continue the 2015 Snowbird summer language camp and adult classes. The summer language camp offers six weeks of activities and instruction around Cherokee language and culture to approximately 25 youth, primarily from the Snowbird community of Graham County.
Cherokee Central Schools: To continue Technology Engineering & Design, and Agricultural Education classes and improve the instructional program for students at Cherokee Central schools. By offering a broader range of vocational courses allows students to excel in areas of interest, while achieving requirements established by the state.
EBCI Kituwah Preservation and Education Program (KPEP): To support their ongoing development and delivery of Cherokee language instruction. As the EBCI enters the next 10-year phase of the Kituwah Language Revitalization Initiative, the focus will be on building areas of competency and persevering and protecting the language resources for future generations.
Museum of the Cherokee Indian: To revitalize the Cherokee Friends program, and upgrade the Cherokee Heritage Trails website. The Museum will select, hire, and train new seasonal Cherokee Friends and hire a full time manager.
Museum of the Cherokee Indian: To highlight Jerry Wolfe as the first Beloved Man of the Cherokee since 1801. The Museum will interview, publish a book, and create a short film on his life. The schools, community members and others will access the information through the Museum’s audio and visual archive system.
Western Carolina University: To continue leadership development opportunities through the Right Path adult leadership program. The program will continue developing curriculum that is culturally based and reflects traditional Cherokee core values. Leaders will learn and interact with elders and other cultural experts.
For spring 2015, every one dollar given by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation is matched by $.63, either by secured funds/grants, in-kind or leveraged resources, making CPF’s total contribution to the region $4,113,000.

Ceremony for Dockie Brendle Bridge Wednesday

Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Dockie Brendle will have a bridge officially named in honor of him this month. The NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata will be in attendance next week as the department recognizes Brendall’s bridge, located off U.S. 74, exit 64. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the Senior Citizens Center, 129 Brendle St., in Bryson City.

Duke LifePoint Announces The Purchase Of Westcare Health Health System

Sylva, NC (August 1, 2014) – The WestCare Health System Board of Trustees and Duke LifePoint Healthcare today announced that the acquisition of WestCare by Duke LifePoint has been finalized.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, which was reviewed by the Attorney General of North Carolina, Duke LifePoint purchased Harris Regional Hospital, an 86-bed hospital in Sylva; Swain County Hospital, a 48-bed hospital in Bryson City; and WestCare Medical Park, an outpatient medical facility in Franklin. Duke LifePoint will invest a minimum of $43 million in capital improvements over the next eight years and provide new resources to help the system grow, recruit new physicians, enhance services and improve health care delivery throughout the region.

“As we have explored this acquisition over the last several months, Duke LifePoint has shown that it shares WestCare’s commitment to our hospitals, our patients and our communities,” said Bunny Johns, Chair of the WestCare Board of Trustees. “We are excited to begin our future as part of Duke LifePoint and to explore the great opportunities we have to enhance health care services to make our communities healthier.”

Becoming part of Duke LifePoint offers many benefits to WestCare’s hospitals, medical staff, employees and communities. Proceeds from the acquisition will retire WestCare’s financial obligations and fund a locally governed charitable foundation to support community needs. WestCare also becomes a local taxpayer, providing a source of new tax revenue to support the local economy.

“Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital have been a critical part of the health care infrastructure in western North Carolina for many years,” said LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William F. Carpenter III. “We are proud to partner with these hospitals to strengthen quality care across this region and look forward to working with their teams to better position the hospitals to grow and prosper in the changing health care environment.”

WestCare’s hospitals now have access to Duke University Health System’s top-ranked patient safety, quality and education programs and LifePoint’s financial and operational resources and expertise.
“We are pleased to welcome WestCare to Duke LifePoint,” said William J. Fulkerson Jr., M.D., executive vice president of Duke University Health System. “Generations of people in this region have relied on WestCare’s hospitals and, together with WestCare’s board, executives, medical staff and employees, we will work together to further enhance health care in this region.”

WestCare will be governed by a regional board of trustees comprised of members of WestCare’s communities, local physicians and representatives from Duke LifePoint.

“WestCare’s relationship with Duke LifePoint marks a new beginning for our hospitals in Sylva and Bryson City and our outpatient center in Franklin,” said Steve Heatherly, CEO of WestCare Health System. “I look forward to working with Duke LifePoint to strengthen health care in our community by providing exceptional experiences for patients and families and growth opportunities for our staff,”

About WestCare Health System
WestCare Health System was formed through a partnership of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital in 1997 and serves Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties with primary and subspecialty care, outpatient facilities and urgent care.

About Duke LifePoint Healthcare
Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System, Inc. and LifePoint Hospitals® (NASDAQ: LPNT), was established to build a dynamic network of hospitals and healthcare providers. The joint venture, which brings together LifePoint’s experience in community-based hospital management and Duke’s world-renowned leadership in clinical service, is strengthening and improving healthcare delivery by providing community hospitals the clinical, quality and operational resources they need to grow and prosper. For additional information, visit www.dukelifepointhealthcare.com.

Swain County Joins Anti-Fracking Movement

safe_imageSwain County has gotten on board with the anti-fracking movement by passing a no fracking resolution. In addition to Swain County, other mountain communities such as Jackson County have also passed anti-fracking resolutions. In July, first Webster and then Sylva town boards passed resolutions. In August, Forest Hills officials will consider a similar resolution.

Proponents contend that fracking is safe and will provide a source of both energy and jobs. Critics — which include a unanimous Swain commission — argue that the practice raises environmental concerns about issues such as groundwater contamination.

The resolutions are entirely symbolic. The newly passed state law stipulates that local governments have no authority to ban fracking.

Amputee Adventure Camp Offers Possibilities to Kids

9-2The Adventure Amputee Camp is located in the mountains of western North Carolina in the Nantahala Outdoor Center which is near Bryson City.  The Adventure Amputee Camp, Inc., provides children who have suffered amputations the opportunity to stretch their reality and imagination of what is possible to achieve.

Camp activities include river rafting, high ropes and waterskiing. All activities are modified as necessary to meet the ability and interest level of each camper. Other activities (which can include bowling, crafts, games, swimming, and horseback riding) may be less physically stressful, yet provide many campers an experience that was previously untried, unobtainable, or unimaginable.

The physical challenges and peer support frees children from self or societal imposed restraints. Volunteers with amputations are role-models of adults who are living productive and fulfilled lives.

The camp is in it’s 19th year at Nantahala Outdoor Center.

Cherokee Author Finalist for Prestigious Prize

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Executive Director of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation in Cherokee, North Carolina, is a finalist for the 2014 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. The award was established in 2000 by Barbara Kingsolver and is funded entirely by her. Clapsaddle is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and graduated from Yale University and the College of William and Mary.

The 2014 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction is presented biennially to the author of a previously unpublished novel of high literary caliber that promotes fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships. This is the second year in which PEN is administering this award.

The winner, chosen by judges Terry McMillan, Nancy Pearl, and Kathy Pories, will be announced later this summer and will be honored at the PEN Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City on September 29th. The $25,000 prize includes a book contract with Algonquin Books.

Swain County Car Crash Kills Man

Troop GA single car crash between Cherokee and Bryson City early Thursday morning claimed the life of 23 year old Travis Squirrel. The Highway Patrol reported the car ran off Coopers Creek Road and down an embankment.

Dustin Taylor, the driver, and another passenger were injured. Troopers believe alcohol was involved and no one in the car was wearing a seatbeat. Charges are pending.

 



Road to Nowhere Funding Hearing

road-to-knowhere-2Republican Congressman Mark Meadows and former Democratic Congressman from the 11th district  Heath Shuler teamed up Tuesday morning in asking the House sub-committee to pay Swain County money set aside for the “Road to Nowhere”.

Shuler released a written statement saying the US Department of Interior has been shortchanging the residents of Swain County over the North Shore Road since 1943.

Congress approved funds in 2012 but they have not been given to the county yet.If the sub-committee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations agrees, the bill will go to the US House for a vote.

The National Park Service is sitting on 4 million appropriated in 2012 that was meant for the county as part of a settlement with the federal government over a road it agreed to build along the North Shore of Fontana Lake in 1943.

The road was never completed and the government promised to pay the county 52 million instead of building it in 2010 after decades of debate. The county got an initial payment of 12.8 million but the House must approve the other 4 million for release.

 

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