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Archive for Sylva – Page 2

“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.

Western Carolina University Celebrates their 125th Birthday With A Bold Vision

Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher and Melissa Wargo unveiled their long term and short term Comprehensive Master Plan Tuesday in a special presentation to the Jackson County Commissioners. Wargo explained how the process to develop a plan to serve as a blueprint for future campus access and building construction was developed. Nor only is the campus poised for growth, the area around the campus is on the verge of significant development as well with several residential and commercial on the drawing boards. Wargo and Belcher stressed the critical need for a significant upgrade to the mid campus area adjacent to the Natural Sciences Building, McKee, and Killian. The plan calls for the construction of a facility which would replace the Niggli Theater property and attach to the Natural Sciences Building which is now forty years old and in need of an upgrade. The road through that property would be closed in order to create a better pedestrian friendly center of campus. While Western Carolina University swelled to over ten thousand students this year Chancellor Belcher pointed out that the University’s future growth would be contingent upon the availability of additional classroom space especially in the sciences. The WCU  Millennium Campus is a large acreage tract of real estate about two thirds of that property is not suitable for development. The plans show how several smaller structures to accommodate the new Health Sciences building could fill out that campus. Also the need to connect the two campuses with pedestrian and shuttle service are in the plans. Two other significant projects were shown one if the eventual change of the main entrance to adjoin the Little Savannah Road intersection which would also connect in with a new road to connect the current road around Belk Building and the Bardo Center with the oldest part of the campus near the chancellors dwelling. The property now known as the camp building would be converted into a 1200 car parking deck. The University has a busy day planned for Thursday with the kickoff of the observance of the 125th anniversary celebration. Activities will take place at the University Center. Also the first 500 fans at the WCU and Davidson basketball game on Thursday will receive a WCU white T shirt to celebrate the anniversary celebration.

Four Forty One Corridor Development Creeping Forward

The Director of the Jackson County Planning Department  Gerald Greene and Jackson County’s new Business and Industry Development  Director, Richard Price gave positive reports on Tuesday about the growth possibilities along what is identified as the 441 Corridor between Dillsboro and Cherokee. Green reported that several plans are emerging which show the property in the vicinity of the Old Mill being the focal point for development in the near future. Several design images were shown which show how the new shopping areas could have more of a town approach rather than a traditional shopping center characterized by a huge asphalt slab surrounded by big box stores. According to Green, one elusive fact is the potential buying power of those passing through the corridor. The second detail is designing a shopping facility which will have the power to attract the motoring public. While several property owners in that area are making long range plans for development. Green added that some other near by property owners have expressed a desire to sell property for future development along the 441 Corridor. Richard Price added that the Whittier property which was once occupied by Drexel is getting more attention from those looking for development opportunities. He also pointed out that his meetings with Swain County and Eastern Band officials have expressed an interest is forming a collaborative entity to move forward with an Agricultural venue. The Commissioners suggested that it might be time to involve the Tuckaseigee Water And Sewer Authority in the planning since the potential for a substantial use of their service could easily be envisioned.

Jackson County Property Evaluation Process On Schedule With No Rate Increase Projected.

The Jackson County Commissioners heard reports from a number of county agencies Tuesday during the annual Planning Retreat which was held at the NC-CAT facility at Western Carolina University. Bobby McMahan and Kevin Ford with the Jackson County Tax Department reported that the property re-evaluation field review of the real estate in Jackson County is about fifty percent complete with all the current data now entered. Also the data for all property sales in Jackson County in 2013 are now entered into the system. With the property reevaluation process underway and the report by Jackson County Finance Officer Darlene Foxx that the county fund balance at the end of the fiscal year was at 35% with just under a million dollars more than the prior year, and Jackson County having the lowest tax rate in the state it was projected by the commissioners that no tax rate increase is anticipated for this year. The Commissioners also felt it was not necessary to move forward with a Fire Tax until an additional review can take place.

Sylva Parade Canceled

The weather system moving through the mountains stalled long enough to create headaches for those in Sylva who had their fingers crossed in hopes the rain would clear out in time to keep on schedule with the Sylva Christmas Parade. The weather did not cooperate and the parade was canceled at 11:30.  WRGC Radio was notified by Police Chief Davis Woodard and the message was also published on the Sylva Downtown Merchants Association website concerning the cancellation. Word has been received at 2:00 concerning the Dillsboro Fireworks display.

WestCare Health System Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Duke Lifepoint Healthcare

Today the WestCare Health System Board of Trustees announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding to be acquired by Duke LifePoint Healthcare. The memorandum is a non-binding agreement that outlines the terms upon which WestCare and Duke LifePoint may move forward to finalize the proposed acquisition.  It also establishes a due diligence and negotiation process, which is projected to take 60-90 days, after which, the parties intend to enter into a definitive agreement. The agreement would then be subject to review by the Attorney General of North Carolina before being finalized.

At the announcement, Steve Heatherly, WestCare Health System President and CEO said, “We evaluated partnerships with several organizations and ultimately chose Duke LifePoint because it aligned with our strategic priorities, including positioning WestCare to reach its full potential in serving its communities.” Also, potential buyer, LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William Carpenter said, “We are excited at the prospect of partnering with the dedicated board, management team, clinical staff and employees at WestCare to strengthen their hospitals for the future. We seek to be a collaborative partner with Harris Regional and Swain County and look forward to exploring this proposed partnership further in the weeks to come.”

The WestCare Board of Trustees had said that becoming a part of Duke LifePoint offers many benefits to WestCare’s communities. The organization would become a local taxpayer, providing an important source of new tax revenue to support the local economy. Additionally, proceeds from the acquisition would retire WestCare’s financial obligations and fund a locally-governed charitable foundation to support crucial community needs. Also, as part of Duke LifePoint, WestCare would have access to wide range of clinical, safety, quality and operations experts. It would also have the ability to collaborate and share ideas and practices with staff at nearly 60 peer community hospitals in 20 states through the LifePoint system.

After the 60-90 day due diligence period, should the two organizations enter into a definitive acquisition agreement, that would not be the final step in the process. The agreement would then be subject to review and approval by the Attorney General of North Carolina before being finalized.

Jackson County Transit Now In Their New Home

If you are looking for Jackson County Transit you will not find them in their former location on Skyland Drive in Sylva. Jackson County Transit has completed the move to their new home on Haywood Road just west of Dillsboro next to the Green Energy Park. The Transit Department has operated in the County Services Building that once was the home of Southern Lumber Company. The property was collateral for a loan used to open a full service building supply which was not able to survive with the arrival of the big box stores. Once the County took control of the  building  several departments relocated into the facility including Jackson County Transit and the Driver’s License Office. The property was also a county vehicle and equipment depot. The new home of Jackson County Transit in located next to the Green Energy Park and the Dillsboro Landfill in the former home of Western Builders. The property was purchased from Western Builders several years ago when the well on the property was found to be contaminated by leakage from the landfill. Once a water and sewer line was installed to the property and connected to the Tuckasegee Water and Sewer Authority the building and grounds were used to house portions of the Jackson County Maintenance Department. The former home of the Jackson County Transit Authority will be converted into the Jackson County Board of Elections. Part of the building will contain a classroom, and the county’s voting machines will be stored there. Some county offices now located in the Justice Center may be relocated to the County Services Center to create addition space for the court system.

Jackson County Librarian Retiring

The Jackson County Public Library will be celebrating a bitter sweet milestone with County Librarian Dottie Burnette on December 11th. Burnette will be retiring from her post at the end of the year. Brunette has served as Jackson County Librarian since May 2007, and before that was branch librarian at the Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library, as well as an assistant librarian at the Macon County Public Library and WCU’s Hunter Library. A native of Sylva, Brunette graduated from Western Carolina University and received her Master of Library Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. As Jackson County Librarian, Brunette oversaw the library’s 2011 move from its previous location on Main Street, currently the Sylva Police Department, to its new home on the site of the Old Courthouse overlooking Main Street. The December 11th reception, held in her honor, will be from 2:00 to 4:00 pm in the Community Room of the Jackson County Library. It is open to the public and light refreshments will be served. For more information, call the Jackson County Public Library at 586-2016.

Sylva Business Group Introduces New Marketing Image

Dig Sylva Buy LocalA group of Sylva merchants have published a new marketing logo for Sylva and backed up with the marketing message of “Plant your $ where your roots are”. Local businesses have struggled for the past five years while the economy has languished in recession. However, numerous economic indicators are showing significant stock market gains, increases in building permits,  and increases in home prices.  Also, local retail sales are increasing, and Jackson County’s unemployment rate is dropping. With these improving conditions, local businesses are making a much stronger appeal to Jackson County residents to shop at their local retailers. Across the nation awareness has been rising of the value of supporting local businesses. One such movement called “Small Business Saturday”, is a grassroots effort to encourage buyers to visit their local retailers, instead of the big box stores, during the upcoming holiday shopping season. With their own take on the message, Sylva merchants are spreading the word to “Dig Sylva, Buy Local”.

The D-S-S Low Income Energy Assistance Program Starting In December

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program in Jackson County will start accepting applications on December 2, 2013. This program gives  the elderly and people with a disability a one time payment to their vendor/provider to help pay cost of heating their home. The program is open to all residents of Jackson County who meet the eligibility criteria, and applications will be taken at the Jackson County Department of Social Services building beginning on December 2, 2014 through January 31, 2014 or until the funds are exhausted. Applications may be made Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Everyone must complete an application to receive the assistance; there is no automatic eligibility to receive this assistance. Households using coal or wood will receive $200.00.

Chamber Of Commerce Publication Wins Major Award

SYLVA, N.C. – The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce recently won Best Relocation-Visitors Guide with Our Town magazine at the Annual Management Conference for CACCE, the Carolinas Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.  Chambers of Commerce in North and South Carolina competed in the two state area.   CACCE is the premier association for leadership and organization development of Chambers of Commerce in the Carolinas.  The awards were judged by Chamber peers across the state region. Jackson County Chamber’s Executive Director Julie Spiro (right) was presented the award by incoming CACCE President, Patrick Coughlin. Julie stated, “Our members make our magazine interesting, and help make Jackson County, our town, a wonderful place to live and work each day. I am happy for the attention this brings to our membership and Jackson County. It’s great to be recognized on the state level!” Our Town magazine is published annually by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and is offered free of charge to people relocating to the area, as well as visitors and area businesses. The magazine is also disbursed in select NC Welcome Centers. (Story by Julie Spiro)

Jackson County Transit Vehicles Now Converted To Natural Gas

Several months ago the Jackson County Commissioners voted to move forward with the conversion of the vehicles used by Jackson County Transit to propane and stop using gasoline for fuel. The Commissioners received a report this week the conversions had been completed. While it is too early to determine the savings of the conversion it is expected that the fuel costs will be about a dollar and a half cheaper than gasoline per gallon. Other counties having made similar conversions report the vehicles have a longer life expectancy, are less polluting, and have no drop off in power with the use of propane. The payback for the conversion is expected to be in between three and five years thus rendering a savings for the remaining life of the vehicle.

The Sale Of The Harris Regional Hospital Property Has A County Property Tax Angle

The Jackson County Tax Collector has been called upon to report on the tax potential which could arise from the sale of the property now owned by Medwest should that property be sold as has been reported by the WRGC Radio News Department. The Jackson County Tax Department reported the property evaluation for the hospital and affiliated property and buildings to be $74 million. Should this property be sold to Lifepoint which is a for profit organization as reported, the property would then become taxable rather than continue to qualify for tax exempt status. Since the property is situated inside the city limits there would be both a city tax and a county tax assessment. The county tax assessment is estimated to be $207.000. The city tax would likely be that much or more. Also as a for profit business Lifepoint would also no longer be exempted from paying taxes on purchases. If the sale closes in 2014 as expected the taxes assessment would become applicable in 2015.

Commissioners Considering A New 9-1-1 Facility And Emergency Operations Center

The Jackson County Commissioners were updated Monday by Architect Odell Thompson on the planned new 9-1-1 Facility and Emergency Operations Center to be constructed on Highway 441 South on the same property where the current 9-1-1- Dispatch Office and Emergency Management Offices are located. This is the property formerly occupied by Duke Power Maintenance Operations. The proposal is for the construction of a new facility to allow for the consolidation of all communications and emergency services in one location. The facility would be constructed to a standard sufficient to withstand most any terrestrial condition so communications and emergency services would not be disrupted during the most severe weather conditions. The the design process which is now underway will include additional drainage issues for the property and security enhancements. The finals are expected to be approved early in 2014 with a targeted date of May 2014  for construction to begin. It expected to take one year for the construction to be completed.

Smoky Mountain High Declared Ineligible for Playoffs

Tonight’s high school football playoff matchup between the Smoky Mountain Mustangs and the Forest Hill Yellow Jackets has been cancelled and will be recorded as a loss/forfeit for the Mustangs. The issue stems from a player who was found to be illegible on the Smoky Mountain squad. During a check of athletic records at the high school, it was discovered this morning that a Mustang football player had an out of date physical on file. As soon as school officials were made aware of the situation, they self-reported the circumstances to the North According North Carolina High School Athletic Association. According to NCHAA policy, any player without a current physical on record is automatically ineligible for competition, and any game that they participated in while ineligible must be forfeited by the offending team. After looking at the documentation, the NCHAA has determined that the player in question is indeed ineligible, and further ruled that SMHS must forfeit tonight’s game. After further investigation, it is likely that the NCHAA will make further changes to Smoky Mountain High’s record for the year. Dr. Mike Murray, Superintendent of Jackson County Schools said, “It will affect their season. There will be retro-active actions taken, but right now that is still under investigation.” Forrest Hills will now advance to round two of the High School football playoffs.

Brenda Anders Receives Duke Energy Citizenship And Service Award At Chamber of Commerce Event.

Brenda Anders who is the Executive Director of the Dogwood Crafters Cooperative in Dillsboro was the recipient of the Annual Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award presented Thursday night at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Holiday Reception. This award is a tribute to individuals or groups who make a difference in their communities or places of work by using their time, talents and compassion to positively impact the lives of others. Recipients of the award help foster a culture of citizenship and service that acts as a catalyst for others to become involved in civic and social activities. Brenda Anders was nominated by the Dillsboro Merchants Association, as well as Carolyn Wiggins, for her continued commitment,  passion, and enthusiasm for the township of Dillsboro. Anders has provided key leadership to the Dogwood Crafters Cooperative which has given hundreds of local and regional artisans the opportunity to market their craft products in a viable way with a Cooperative with a reputation for having sustained uncompromising quality workmanship for a long period of time. Brenda has also led the Dogwood Cooperative toward their long term goal of having their own property in a key Dillsboro location which is critical for the long term success of the organization and opportunities for future artisans from the region. The crystal award was presented by Lisa Leatherman who is the Manager of the Nantahala Division of Duke Energy.

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David Profit Recieves Prestigious Award

Long time Jackson County School System employee David Profit has been named the first recipient of the Steven Jones Distinguished School Administrator Award. The award was established by the Jackson County School system this year to continue to honor the years of popular Jackson County School’s employee Steven Jones who died unexpectedly last year. According to Jackson County School’s Superintendent Dr Michael Murray, David Profit is most deserving to be the recipient of this first time award. In addition to Profit’s many assigned responsibilities as the Technology Coordinator of the school system, David also volunteers much of his time as the voice of the Mustangs at High School football and basketball games, and renders so much assistance and leadership to the system and his co-workers. Dr Murry added that due to the close relationship that existed between David Profit and Steven Jones that it was humbling for Mr Profit to accept the award named after his dear and deceased friend.

Jackson County Hires Richard Price As The New Director Of Economic Development

Joseph Richard Price (Rich) has accepted the position of  Jackson County Director of Economic Development effective  November 1, 2013. Mr. Price has been a resident of the Whittier community in Jackson County since 1991 and is a 1988 graduate of Western Carolina University. He possesses a diverse professional background involving banking, management, owning and operating an small business, and most recently a member of the senior administrative staff with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel serving as the Director of Casino Marketing. Rich brings a proven track record in relationship marketing, financial  analysis, strategic planning, and sales.  The appointment of Rich Price follows an extensive recruitment and interview process that involved business leaders, education leaders, leaders in the travel and tourism industry, elected officials and other county employees.

The Director of Economic Development reports to the county manager and will utilize a Business and Industry Advisory Committee composed of leaders from local community to develop strategies for implementing the Jackson County  comprehensive economic development strategy that was created and approved by the Board of Commissio0mers in 2012. As Director, Mr. Price will work with existing business and industry to address the challenges and obstacles they are experiencing and to respond to inquiries about Jackson County as a possible site for new business opportunity, One of the first task for the new director will be preparing an inventory of existing businesses and industry,  identifying available buildings and properties for new business development, and documenting the location of existing utility infrastructure that is an essential component of economic development

The office location for the Director Of Economic Development will be room A231 in the justice and Administration Building

Commissioners Approve Contract For Dillsboro Landfield Improvements

Jackson County is responsible for maintenance of the Dillsboro Landfill on Haywood Road which closed in 1998 for at least 30 years. This year the landfill has experienced some significant slope failure, some suspect because of the higher amount of rainfall. However the county is not eligible for state or federal funds at the current time because the structure failure was not directly tied to the January situation of heavy rains which let to slope failure on US Highway 441 between Cherokee and Tennessee.  According to Jackson County Manager Chuck Wooten, should there be significant slope failure which exposed buried garbage the county would have no choice but act quickly and without little control over the costs. The County voted to enter into a contract with Lofquist and Associates to develop plans for drainage, structure stabilization, and drainage control.  With road construction taking place on Highway 107 a significant amount of free dirt is available which can be used to construct slopes with a lesser degree of slope which would stabilize the surface, allow for easier maintenance, and cost the county about half the cost otherwise. The contract is going to cost the county about $400,000 which will be taken from the reserve in the Solid Waste Fund. This is about half the cost if the repairs had to made under a full contract basis. The County will be responsible for contracting for the drainage, ground stabilization, and maintenance.

Mountain Heritage Day. Saturday, September 28th

Western Carolina University’s 39th Annual Mountain Heritage Day will commence this weekend on Saturday, the 28th. The WCU Mountain Heritage Day festival will be free to the public and feature a full list of mountain music, activities, and many arts & crafts, and food booths. Scott Philyaw had the following to say about the festival’s history, “When this school was started, back in the 1880′s by the people of the Cullowhee valley and Jackson County, they included things that are very similar to mountain heritage day. The very first commencement had music, it had barbecue, it had presentations of the various aspects of the region, much as Mountain Heritage Day does. It attracted a large number at that time of one thousand people for a weekend. In many ways Mountain Heritage day harkens back to those earliest celebrations when what we call Western Carolina University was known as Cullowhee Academy.”

The Mountain Heritage Day will start off with a 5-K foot race at 8 am. The Blue Ridge and Balsam Stages will be playing continuous mountain music, clogging, and southern storytelling. There will be demonstrations of Cherokee stickball among other games from the Cherokee Tribe. Directly in front of the Balsam Stage there will be a new platform, created for members of the audience to show off their dance skills. There will be a children’s tent providing activities for the younger attendees, as well as hayrides. Among all the other mentioned events there will also be demonstrations and competitions for: Chainsaw wood cutting, baked and canned goods, period costumes, and contests for beard and mustaches. Expect to see, blacksmithing, black powder shooting, as well as interpretations of Cherokee hunting capabilities. The festival will be rain or shine. No pets allowed though service animals are welcome. “The festival itself starts at 10:00am, the 5-K Race starts at 8:00am. Registration for the chainsaw contest starts at 9:00am. We are recommending people show up around 9:30 so they can find a place to park. The festival closes down at 5:00pm.”

For more information visit MountainHeritageDay.com or call 828-227-7129