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Greenway Bridge Gets Approval

The Tuckaseigee River Green-way got a significant boost Monday night when the Commissioners gave approval for the acquisition of a $304,000 pedestrian bridge to cross the Tuckaseigee River to the Green-way from the parking lot at the Rolling Green. The paving of the Green-way path is expected to be completed by the end of May, but it will take several months to complete the installation of the bridge. The Commissioners have heard numerous comments over the past months about the costs factors and the design of the bridge but when it came time to vote the commissioners decided to go to the more decorative design. According to County Manager Chuck Wooten, “since this bridge is going to be a landmark and staple for a long long time we prefer it to be attractive. We only have one time to buy a bridge and over time the small difference in the price makes it a good decision.” Once completed the Green-way will offer foot traffic and recreational access from the Rolling Green area to the University.

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

Early Voting Starts April 24th

This is a reminder the opportunities for early voting are getting underway. In order to accommodate voters and avoid the voting rush on May 6th voters can vote now. Below are locations to vote in the counties served bt WRGC Radio.

Haywood County
Senior Resource Center
81 Elmwood Way, Waynesville
Canton Library
11 Pennsylvania Ave., Canton
Town of Clyde Municipal Building
8437 Carolina Blvd., Clyde
Hours for all three locations:
April 24 – 25: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 26: 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
April 28 – May 2: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 3: 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Jackson County
Jackson County Board of Elections Office
876 Skyland Drive, #1, Sylva
Hours:
April 24: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Aprils 25: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 26: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
April 28 – May 1: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
May 2: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 3: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Remote Sites:
Cashiers Recreation Center
355 Frank Allen Drive, Cashiers
Hours:
April 24: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Aprils 25: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 26: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
April 28 – May 1: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
May 2: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 3: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Cullowhee Recreation Center
88 Cullowhee Mountain Road, Cullowhee
Hours:
April 24: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Aprils 25: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 26: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
April 28 – May 1: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
May 2: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 3: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Swain County
Swain County Board of Elections Office
1422 S. Hwy. 19, Bryson City
Cherokee One-Stop Site
37 Cherokee Boys Club Loop, Cherokee
Hours for all locations:
April 24 – 26: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 28 – 30: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
May 1 – 2: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
May 3: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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.

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!

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.

National Historic Register Designation

Downtown Sylva

Downtown Sylva

Sylva town leaders are seeking the a seal for National Historic Register designation for downtown Sylva. Town leaders say it would help attract tourists and aid in getting grants. Sylva town Manager Paige Roberson says the designation would not restrict property rights: She says designation would act as a promotional tool for Sylva. Distinctive brown signs would highlight the National Historic Register areas. Sylva will hold a public hearing in May; the town manager said she wants to counter possible fears about restrictions well before that meeting is held.

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.

Sylva Exploring ETJ

sylvaThe town of Sylva is exploring the possibility of using extraterritorial jurisdiction to zone outside of the municipal borders on Highway 107 past Ingles and along 23/74 around exit 85.  Specific land parcels haven’t been identified. State law allows towns Sylva a one-mile ETJ area, but the town is eyeing a smaller boundary than that. ETJ is not annexation, and landowners would not pay town property taxes. But, land included comes under town zoning – the sign ordinance applies, landscape buffers and sidewalk construction would be mandated, and certain types of businesses would require conditional-use permits to open, including animal hospitals, kennels, bars and nightclubs. Sylva has one ETJ now, on Yellowbird Branch Road.

Downtown Sylva Closing

Downtown Sylva

Downtown Sylva

Portions of Main and Mill streets downtown will be closed this Sunday, March 9, as part of a fire and emergency services training drill. The closures will be from 1:30 until 6 p.m. Main Street will be closed from Spring Street to the Sylva Fire Department; Mill Street will be closed from Allen Street to its east intersection with Main Street. Eastbound traffic on Main will be detoured onto Spring and then use Allen Street to access Municipal Drive, returning to Main Street near the firehouse. Westbound traffic, which will be diverted near the Fire Department, will also use Municipal Drive to access the unclosed portions of Main and Mill streets. The simulation will involve all county fire departments, the Jackson County Rescue Squad, Sylva Police and the Sheriff’s Office. Crews will simulate a large fire breaking out in the former Carolina Hotel. There will be no fire lit as part of the drill; emergency vehicles will also not use sirens. Foot traffic will not be allowed in the block where that building is located. There’s also a possibility of the drill to cause some discolored water because of the high flows through the hydrants. Officials chose Sunday because it’s the least busy day downtown.

NCDOT “Internal Mistake”

NCDOT LogoThe Department of Transportation says the Southern Loop/N.C. 107 Connector project isn’t underway, and that letters sent Feb. 24 to property owners informing them otherwise were the result of an internal mistake. The DOT says it does not know how the mistake occurred, but their working to find out. Work on the 107 connector has been suspended for over a year, and NCDOT says it has no plans to change that. Residence say that the timing of the letter couldn’t have been worse since the commissioners plan to Kill the bill at the March 17th public hearing.

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.

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.

Ledbetter Road Accident

Tuckaseigee River Accident

Tuckaseigee River Accident

A driver ends up in the Tuckaseigee River Monday morning. It happened around 8:30am on Ledbetter Road in Jackson County. The driver of the SUV told troopers a car traveling in the opposite direction, came into her lane. That’s when she over-corrected and went into the river. The driver was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Troopers say it isn’t the first time an accident has happened on this road. A deadly accident has previously occurred in this same spot. The winter weather also played a part in seavral accidents off Ledbetter Road last week.

107 Connector Controversy

NC 107

NC 107

Commissioners are attempting to put to rest what remains of the Old Southern Loop, a proposed road that would bypass the town of Sylva. This will make the third time they’ve attempted to kill the proposed project. County Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing for Monday, March 17th to gather public comment on the project. The strategy would be following the public hearing commissioners would vote to remove the 107 Connector from the county’s offical transportation plan. Commissioners have omitted the bypass from their road priorites list assembled for the DOT at that departments requests. Following the NO vote, commisioners would ask the Rural Planning Organization to approve this amended county transportation plan. Chairman Jack Debnam expresses confidence that the Rural Planning Committee would endorse Jackson County leaders wishes in this matter. Commissioners plan to replace the 107 Connector with proposed road improvements to Ledbetter Road in Cullowhee and to Wilmot Bridge near Whittier. Which in the last two weeks Ledbetter road has seen it’s share of accidents. Citizens have already spoken publiclly about wanting guard rails placed on Ledbetter Road. Supporters of the proposed connector road have said it would ease traffic congestion on current N.C. 107; opponents cite studies that show this isn’t a likely outcome.

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.

Avoid IRS imposters

With the April 15th tax filing deadline coming up, watch out for criminals and con artists posing as the Internal Revenue Service to try to win your trust and steal your money. We’ve warned you before about phony calls from the IRS. Some North Carolina consumers recently reported getting threatening calls from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The fake IRS agent told them a warrant had been issued for their arrest and, if they did not pay his taxes immediately, police would jail them within hours. The caller continued to harass one victim and intimidate him until he felt he had no choice but to pay more than $8,000 to the scammers.

If you get a call that claims to come from the IRS, look for warning signs that it’s scam:

  • The IRS will not threaten arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay back taxes immediately.
  • IRS agents will never demand immediate payment by credit card, pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
  • Typically, the IRS communicates with consumers about tax issues via mail, not by phone, email or text message.
  • Ask for the caller’s call back number and employee badge number, and then call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 to check them out.
  • Don’t rely on Caller ID to identify who is calling you, since scammers can manipulate it to make it appear they are calling from the real IRS.
  • Never share personal information, such as your Social Security Number or bank account number, with anyone you don’t know who contacts you, even if they claim to be with the IRS.  Identity thieves can use this information to open up accounts in your name and even claim your tax refund.

If you spot a tax related scam, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing an online complaint at ncdoj.gov.

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.