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Final Week to Donate to 5th Annual “Coats for Kids” Drive

This is the LAST week to donate to the 5th Annual “Coats for Kids” Drive. Donations are greatly appreciated to help the children of our community stay warm this Autumn/Winter Season. Childrens’ new and good condition used coats, hats, gloves, winter clothing and shoes can be dropped off at the following locations until Monday Sept. 30. Drop-off locations include Cullowhee United Methodist Church, Sylva Walmart (inside store), Sylva First Presbyterian Church, Pathways Thrift Store and Jackson County Public Library.

To make a monetary donation, please send checks to: Cullowhee United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 1267, Cullowhee, NC 28723 with “Coats for Kids” on the memo line.

Distribution day for “Coats for Kids” will be held at Sylva First Presbyterian Church, 46 Presbyterian Drive, Sylva, NC 28779, Saturday, October 5, 9 A.M.-Noon for any family in our community who needs warm clothing for their children. Children will need to be physically present to receive items.

 

Plans for Artisans Complex at Jackson County Green Energy Park

During a recent work session by the Jackson County Commissioners, Jackson County Green Energy Park Manager Tim Muth laid out plans for the artisans complex at the Dillsboro Facility. Muth feels that the artisans complex will be comparable to some of the art venues in Asheville. The Green Energy Park is the only facility of its kind in the world, using land field methane for energy to help create pottery and ceramics, stained glass and even blacksmithing. If you would like to find out more information on the Green Energy Park contact Tim Muth at tmuth@jacksonnc.org.

National Farm Safety & Health Week

This week marks National Farm Safety and Health Week. In Jackson County alone there are over 300 number of farms which attribute to over 13,000 acres of farmland. President Obama has declared National recognition of agricultural safety during this week. “This week we resolve to make farms and ranches safer places to live, work and raise families.” .WRGC had the privilege to talk with North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. As a native North Carolinian and farmer he had great incite on how to keep our farmers safety. Commissioner Troxler discussed how education and awareness were the two biggest factors for keeping the men and women in the agriculture business safe. According to the National Safety Council, farm accidents and other work related health problems claim as many as 1,300 lives and cause 120,000 injuries per year, most of which are preventable. Commissioner Troxler stated that tractor and other machinery accidents on farms cause the highest number of fatalities with tractor overturns accounting for 44% of all tractor fatalities. Always use proper safety equipment, and maintain regular equipment maintenance and have an emergency plan in place to help avoid farming accidents.

Funds Allocated for Jackson County School District

Superintendent Dr. Murray is allocating the new funds from the Jackson County Commissioners and planning the final stages of the current building projects in the Jackson County School District. Smoky Mountain High School’s current construction project of the new fine arts building and gymnasium are reaching their final stages. The new allocation of funds from the County Comission will greatly help the School Board progress their construction projects and even adding on more Resource Officers as needed and help in keeping Teacher’s Asssistants in the classrooms.

School Librarian Suspended Pending Embezzlement Investigation

A Jackson County School System employee has been suspended without pay after being accused of stealing from school funds. Authorities say Patricia Dunford, 45, a librarian at Cullowhee Valley School, has been charged with Larceny by Employee for embezzling money from the school system from August of 2012 to May of 2013. Dunford will remain suspended pending the outcome of the investigation and is scheduled to appear in court to face these charges on September 24th.

Gov. McCrory Concludes Sylva/Dillsboro Visit

Governor McCrory Hosts the Roundtable Discussion

Governor McCrory Hosts the Roundtable Discussion

Gorvernor Pat McCrory visited Sylva, North Carolina today, and met with business leaders at local industries as well as had a discussion with regional leaders and citizens. The Governor’s visit began with a tour of Jackson Paper Company where he spoke with both executives and mill workers to get a better understanding on how the company has coped during the recent economic decline. Following the visit at Jackson Paper, the Governor hosted a round table discussion forum at the Jarrett House in Dillsboro. Nearly 40 invited guests were on hand to hear the governor speak and ask him questions. Governor McCrory began the roundtable event with the following opening statement, “You know, what I want to do is first of all, I am here to have conversation with you. I’m not here to give a speech and we’ve got business leaders in here, we’ve got republicans, democrats, and independents here in this room and I want to welcome all of you. This is about governing and this is about leading now.” He went on to say, “For the people of Jackson County and Sylva, I’ve said it in 2008, this is one of my two favorite towns in North Carolina.” “I love the Main Street here.” During the 45 minute roundtable discussion the Governor touched on questions across a wide range of topics, including taxes, spending, state hiring practices, health care for the mentally ill and the tourism industry. When asked about criticism he has received regarding the states education budget, the Governor replied, “I want to also let you know, despite what you read, K through 12 spending is the largest this budget has ever been in North Carolina history.” WRGC’s had the opportunity to sit down with the Governor and ask how hi tour of the Jackson Paper Company went and why he chose to visit. “One is, I went to that company back in 08′ when I was running for governor and I wanted to see what’s changed since 08′ and what some of their challenges are. I want to get feedback from the industries that are making things. We’ve got to continue to be a state where we make and build, innovate and grow things. As Governor I am focusing on the agricultural industry, the manufacturing industry, and travel & tourism. We kind of take those industries for granted, and those industries margin a profit.” “I went there to listen, and not just to the head of the company, I went to listen to the employees. I met with their employees that work on the line and just trying to make it through the day.” At the conclusion of his stay, WRGC asked the Governor what he had learned about the needs of our area during his visit. “There are some very basic things that we can look at to make a positive difference. For example: Signage on state roads, that’s not too complicated. A lot of times its the small details that people are looking for. You just need to listen.”

Governor Pat Mccrory to Visit Historic Dillsboro

It has been announced that NC Governor Pat Mccrory will be visiting Jackson County on Thursday. According to an unofficial schedule he will begin a tour of Jackson Paper Company in downtown Sylva at 10 am and later in the day move to the Jarrett House in Dillsboro to have lunch and host a roundtable discussion with invited guests. Jim Hartbarger confirmed that he and his staff will indeed be hosting the Governor along with several others. Jim had the following to say, “The only thing we know is that he is going to have a round table discussion at lunch. They said that there would be between twenty and twenty-five people in the roundtable discussion.” Even though all details of the trip have not yet been made public Jim said that he and his staff are excited to add Pat Mccrory to the list of Governors that have visited his establishment. “We’ve been here thirty-eight years, so we have had may Governors during that time and we are honored to have him.” WRGC will be continuing coverage of the Governors trip to our area.

NC Governor Appoints Three New Members to WCU Board of Trustees

A Rutherford County educational foundation executive, the first woman elected principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and a Highlands homebuilder are the three newest members of the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees.

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Charles Philip Byers to fill a recent board vacancy, and Joyce Conseen Dugan and John R. Lupoli to four-year terms on the WCU board.

Byers is filling a vacancy on the board created by the departure of Brenda Wellmon of Mecklenburg County, who stepped down as a trustee for personal reasons this summer.

In addition to Wellmon, McCrory’s appointments to the WCU board fill vacancies left by outgoing members Tommy Saunooke, member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council, and William Forsyth, retired executive director of the Cherokee County Economic Development Commission.

Byers, Dugan and Lupoli will join two other new members – Phil Drake, chief executive officer of Drake Enterprises, and Kenny Messer, an executive with Milliken Corp. – elected to the WCU board earlier this year by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The board will hold its first quarterly meeting of the new academic year at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in the board room of H.F. Robinson Administration Building. The board also will hold committee meetings and discussions beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at various locations on the fifth floor of the Robinson Building.

 

Hundreds Gather at The “Taking the Dream Home” Rally in Sylva

RALLY Hundreds of people from all across Western North Carolina congregated at Sylva’s Bridge Park this Wednesday. They were there for many causes, from supporting public education to restoration of voting rights. The “Taking the Dream Home Rally” in Sylva was just one of 13 gatherings of people across the state of North Carolina in celebration of the anniversary of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech given by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The rally also was an extension of the Moral Monday protests held earlier this year in Raleigh. The rally placed large emphasis on a recently passed voting law which requires residents to show identification before being able to vote.

Many protesters say that this law is regressive and a bid to keep certain people from being able to vote. Organizers of the rally helped register people to vote as well as handed out information about how the people may be affected by the new voting law. Civil Rights era songs were sung by people on and off the stage. Organizers reported expressed plans to focus the energy of these protests into the next voting period.

WNC Scam Alert

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division is reporting a new scam that has been reported in Western North Carolina. Business owners have reported receiving official looking letters from a group called Corporate Records Services. Asking individuals to send money to a Raleigh address. The letter is misleading and includes seals and North Carolina laws from the Secretary of State. Many local businesses have fallen prey to these types of scams before. Several years ago a California company was shutdown for sending out similar letters and eventually had to return over ninty-thousand dollars it had collected from small business throughout North Carolina. If you suspect you have received one of these letters, do not respond. Call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at http://www.ncdoj.gov/.

 

Sylva Woman, Robyn Crawford Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Today in Jackson County Superior Court Robyn Dillard Crawford, age 51, from Sylva pleaded guilty to six felonies for the embezzlement of $150,000 from the WNC Eye Care between March of 2005 and March of 2010. Crawford was the office manager at WNC Eye Care, working there for nearly eleven years. Crawford reportedly used credit cards issued by the company for things like; personal hotel stays, out-of-state travel, and even groceries. Robyn Crawford’s sentence of more than 3 years has been suspended due to the plea agreement and on the condition she pay $50,000 in restitution to Dr. Richard Beauchemin, the former owner of WNC Eye Care, and also pay a fine and court costs totaling $2650. Crawford’s attorney, Frank Lay, asked the court to forgo the court costs and probation supervision fee’s but was denied. If restitution is not made, a probation violation report will be issued, and her sentence could possibly be activated regardless of the plea deal.

Large Turnout Of Teachers At Library Complex

In what was billed as a rally for teachers,  former North Carolina Teacher Of The Year  Penny Smith motivated the near capacity crowd in the Community Room of the Jackson County Public Library Complex on Thursday night with stories of teachers who shaped her life and motivated her to be a teacher. She was followed as a speaker by former Jackson County School Superintendent Sue Nations and current superintendent Dr Michael Murray who also spoke of the quality o0f teachers from prior era’s who had influenced them to enter the teaching profession and inspired them for a special standing and value model in  society.  Jackson County Commission Chairman Jack Debnam spoke of a teacher who had influenced him by his corrective style then later in life the person became an employee of Mr. Debnam. Other speakers included , Rene Coward, and current teacher Edith Callahan. Retired teacher and coach Boyce Dietz also spoke of Coach Babe Howell and others who had given him the opportunity to get coaching experience and those  who had been instrumental in his career. Across North Carolina other teacher groups have rallied to show support for the state’s teachers despite the state budget cuts which have ended teacher tenure, reduced the number of teacher assistants, and have expanded classes sizes.  Some teachers groups are saying the cuts will threaten the future of quality education in the state because teacher salaries are expected to be among the lowest in the nation which will deter aspiring teachers to look elsewhere in a career choice or for employment.

Scam/Fraud Alert – MedWest Lifeline Calls

image001 There have been reports of people receiving recorded calls from MedWest Lifeline stating that the service has been paid for and is free and all is needed is to set up a time to come install equipment. This is not MedWest Lifeline or any MedWest affiliates. The calls have been reported to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. If you receive one of these calls do not call them back. You may report the call by calling Jackson County Crimestoppers at 828-631-1125 or email crimestoppers@jacksonnc.org MedWest-Harris Home Care Services provides Lifeline as one of its services but it has to be signed up for and there is a nominal fee involved.

 

Doryel Ammons Cain Presents, “Creating a Mural”

muralFARMERpanelsml On Tuesday, September 3, at 6:15 pm Doreyl Ammons Cain will do a presentation and demonstration on the process involved in creating a mural at Swain County Center for the Arts in Bryson City. The Event is free to the public and everyone is invited to attend. Artist, writer, and speaker, Doreyl Ammons Cain of Sylva will be performing a demonstration of the 4-step process of creating a mural at the Swain County Center for the Arts, located in Bryson City, NC. Doreyl Cain is creating a history defining mural for Jackson County. During the demonstration Doreyl Cain will describe the materials she uses, along with resources and process. The 4-step process will include; rough sketching, transfer of sketches to the grid method, the painting of the mural, and finally the protection and placement of the mural. Along with holding a Bachelor of Fine arts degree and a Master of Arts Degree in Biological and Medical Illustration, she has also received “The Best in the West Illustration” award three years in a row. Doryel Ammons Cain along with her sister, Amy Ammons Garza also produce a radio show, “Stories of Mountain Folk” which can be heard on the air through WRGC 540 AM and also on-line at http://www.storiesofmountainfolk.com/. Doryel Ammons Cain and her husband, Jerry Cain, have designed a new line of art cards, limited edition Giclèe art prints and are creating a nature preserve called “Nature’s Home,” based on the principles of Permaculture and sustainability. Her Art Blog is www.yurtstudio.com/myblog. For more information about Art League of the Smokies or to view the exhibits at Swain County Center for the Arts, call Jenny Johnson at 828-488-7843. Go to www.swain.k12.nc.us/cfta to view the current calendar of events.

Record Rainfall May Dampen Fall Color Show

mfec4S8 In the yearly tradition that is the Western Carolina University foliage forecast, given by Kathy Mathews, this years forecast has been delivered. Abundant rainfall during one of the wettest summers in Western North Carolina history may portend a dampening of the intensity of the fall color show this year unless autumn brings vastly drier conditions, predicts Kathy Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fall foliage forecaster. Mathews went on to explain; “With record rainfall during July, the trees in the mountains look healthy and green at the moment, and that’s a good thing for the trees. But leaf-lookers need to keep their fingers crossed for some drier weather in the next couple of months in order for us to see the development of vibrant fall leaf color.” Leaf looking tourists may be in for some disappointment this year, which will possibly affect the local businesses in our area. “There always will be plenty of color in the yellow and orange hues,” Mathews said. “However, if the days remain cloudy throughout September, there won’t be as much of a pop of bright reds on the leaves.” The red pigments called “anthocyanins”, are manufactured by leaves mainly in the fall in response to cooling temperatures and excess sugar production caused by lots of sun, Mathews said. “Dryness also causes production of more red pigment,” she said. “Studies have shown that trees stressed out by dry soils and nutrient deficiency produce more red pigment in the fall. Ample sunshine and dry weather is the combination necessary for brilliant fall foliage.” Another factor in the annual fall color show is temperature. “Cool nights in September, with temperatures dropping into the low 40s, release the yellow, orange and red colors because chlorophyll degrades faster at lower temperatures,” Mathews said. “Temperature may work in our favor this year, as we have seen relatively cool summer months. If this trend continues, colors may be more vivid despite the rainfall.” And there is an upside to all the rainfall, even if it means less-vibrant fall colors, the leaves should hang around longer, “With healthy, well-watered trees, we should not see much early leaf drop,” Mathews said. The color change should begin at the higher mountain elevations in late September and continue through mid-November in the lower levels of WNC. Regardless of when the peak is and how intense the hues are, visitors always can find good fall color somewhere in the WNC mountains, with more than 100 tree species in the Southern Appalachians. That means not only many different colors of leaves in the fall, but also a lengthy fall color season, Mathews said.

Back to School for Western North Carolina Students

It’s almost back to school season for students in the Western North Carolina area and WRGC would like to remind everyone to be wary of heavy morning and afternoon traffic in the upcoming weeks. The Blue Ridge district and Jackson County Early College students will be starting on August 13th. The first day of Southwestern Community College will be August 15th and Jackson County Smokey Mountain school district students will begin August 26th. Western Carolina University fall classes will start on August 19th, and WCU is planning to welcome an anticipated record number of students with total student enrollment already looking to top last year’s fall enrollment of 9,608. WCU’s official fall enrollment will be established on Friday, August 30th which is the 10th class day and the official census date as specified by the University of North Carolina General Administration. Freshmen move-in day will be on Friday, August 16 with an estimated 1,600 freshmen arriving on campus. Officials expect an extra 2,500 vehicles on the lower part of campus, and traffic is expected to be particularly heavy on and near campus between 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. The “Week of Welcome” activities set up by the A.K Hinds University Center include WCU’s annual Valley Balleyhoo event for students on the Central Plaza from 4 to 7 pm Saturday August 17th, which WRGC will be attending. The event will feature food vendors, live music, outdoor activities, and student and community organizations will share information and host give-aways. New students will be taking part in community service activities on and off campus. For more information on all events visit wow.wcu.edu and fye.wcu.edu online.

Internet Provider VistaNet seeks Million Dollar Loan from Jackson County

During Monday’s scheduled meeting of the Jackson County Commission it was announced that an internet service provider has made an application for a $1,000,000 loan from the county’s revolving loan fund to aid in the start-up cost in providing rural areas of Jackson County with high-speed wireless internet access. County Manager Chuck Wooten made the announcement to the county commissioners that internet company VistaNet had made the application. Mr. Wooten had the following to say in regard to the details of the loan application; “I’ve reported to the commissioners that I’ve had the application for a revolving loan from VistaNet, and the amount of the loan request is $1,000,000 and I asked the commissioners if they would be willing to sit as a loan committee to take a look at the application before their next work session on August the 19th at 1:30 pm.” Over the past several months county leaders have been look at many options for increasing high-speed internet access throughout the region. Chuck Wooten stated that VistaNet’s proposal to locate several wireless internet providing towers across the county has the potential to meet that need, “They’re looking at trying to establish a wireless internet system that would cover the county and that would require them to construct or co-locate a number of towers across the county. They are interested in serving as many people as they can, they have had a call center up and running and have told me that they have had more calls from people in Jackson County than any other county about wanting to have wireless internet service. Although VistaNet would be providing a service that not only county commissioners but also private citizens have established a need for, a loan of this size would be the largest in the history of the revolving loan fund program and when dealing with a loan of that size Mr. Wooten says that there are a number of obstacles that VistaNet would have to overcome in order to reach an agreement. “The revolving loan fund we have matches loan amount with job creation, in this particular case the application indicates 7 jobs to be created. Even if we had $1,000,000 in our loan fund, we assign a value of $10,000 per job Created so they would not be eligible for $1,000,000 from our revolving loan fund. That’s one of the first hurdles that they would have to come over, the commissioners would have to evaluate this particular request and determine it has enough significance that they were willing to take other county funds to provide enough funds to make this loan. They have another hurdle to come over in the fact that we have already had a negative experience with a loan that was made to the telecommunications company “Metrostat” where both the town and the county had loaned Metrostat monies and they defaulted on that loan in December of 2011. When that loan defaulted there really was no collateral there equal to the value of the outstanding loans, they will have to convince the commissioners that they can fully collateralize this loan.” Another thing the commissioners will have to consider when looking over this loan application is that several other high-speed internet providers are currently looking at options to increase coverage area without requesting loans from public funds. Chuck Wooten had the following to say; “At this point in time AT&T has told us that they are going to be looking to expand both their voice and data wireless service, they have a company looking for tower sites now. When we took back the assets of Metrostat and we knew the town and county would be in the wireless business and we needed to sell those assets, we sold those assets to BalsamWest and BalsamWest committed that they in partnership with Dnet would be looking into expanding internet service to the county. There are several providers out there that have talked about it VistaNet is the first one that’s come with a loan application.” The county commissioners are scheduled August the 19th at 1:30 pm to consider VistaNet’s $1,000,000 loan request.

ASP’s Third Annual Day of Service a Success

In an Update to a story previously reported on by WRGC, ASP’s third annual Day of Service was widely considered a success. Western Carolina University’s Academic Success Program and community partners raised nearly $4,000 for The Community Table, Jackson Neighbors in Need and Communities in Schools during the third annual ASP Day of Service that was held on July 20. Nearly $2,000 of the $4,000 raised to benefit the three Jackson County nonprofit organizations came from the ASP Day of Service festival held at Bridge Park. The event featured carnival games for children, a raffle, live music, informational booths for local nonprofit organizations, a benefit lunch from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and a fake jail fundraiser. An evening benefit concert was performed by PMA and Porch 40. Also, Walmart of Sylva provided $1,500 in grant awards to the nonprofit organizations and served as a designated donation site, collecting an additional $500 in donations and items from the nonprofits’ wish lists. In addition, about 170 ASP students and faculty and staff members from WCU completed more than 900 hours of service for Catman2, Appalachian Homestead Farm and Preserve, the Sylva Rotary, the Community Garden, WATR river cleanup, Pathways Thrift Store and a roadside cleanup along Highway 107 and Old Cullowhee Road. Partnering on the service effort were ASP, Walmart, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, the Town of Sylva, the WCU Center for Service Learning, the Sylva Rotary, WCU Athletics, 540-AM WRGC, the Sylva Police Department and other Sylva businesses and nonprofit organizations.

For more information, contact Glenda Hensley, director of First Year Experiences at WCU, at ghensley@wcu.edu or 828-227-2786, or visit fye.wcu.edu online.

 

Heavy Rain Season Proves Challenging for Local Crop Growers

With Agriculture being a large business in Western North Carolina questions have been raised as to what effect the recent high volume of rain will have on the growing industry in our area. Typically growers are concerned about not getting enough rain for their crops, but too much precipitation can also cause problems. Christy Bredenkamp, Horticultural Specialist for the North Carolina Co-operative Extension had the following to say; “Because of the rainfall we’ve had, disease can come in through the foliage through the wind and rain where there are a lot more leaf spot diseases, there are also diseases that affect the root through the soil. Nutrition wise, the plants are growing much faster and using more fertilizer. If people don’t apply additional side dressings of fertilizer the plants will produce fewer vegetables and fruits or just stop producing.” With the challenges that high rainfall will bring to growing crops our local farmers and growers are already expecting high losses and low production levels this year. “The local farmers know what to do, they are veteran growers and they know how to treat their irrigation systems and what to spray to keep diseases at bay.” Christy Bredenkamp went on to say, “It’s those new growers who don’t have that experience quite yet, they are the ones that are going to suffer more so. It’s the same with gardeners, depending on the type of equipment they have and so-on.” So far Christy Bredenkamp does not expect major issues for the long-time commercial growers in our area, however for the new farmer or the home gardener who may have less experience and equipment than the high volume farms Christy has specific advice for them. “Tomatoes are really suffering. There are wilting diseases and leaf spot diseases, early blight, and late blight already spotted in North Carolina. There is bacterial speck and spot along with different wilting diseases. There are about four different diseases that affect beans. Those are the ones that are going to suffer the most.” For additional information or advice on the challenges of growing in this exceptionally rainy season contact your local North Carolina Local Co-operative extension office at 586-4009.

Final NC Tax Free Weekend

The final North Carolina Tax Free Weekend is only days away. For the past decade the Tax Free Weekend has served as a way for both parents and students to save on back to school supplies. Discounts on State Sales Taxes are offered on a large list of items, including computers, backpacks, and clothing. Due to a major tax reform recently signed into law by North Carolina Governor Pat Mccrory this weekend will the last of those tax holidays. For this coming weekend Sales Taxes are eliminated for clothing, footwear, and school supplies, also items like diapers, coats, and athletic uniforms for items one hundred dollars or less. School supplies include lunchboxes, book bags, and calculators as well as school reference materials, including maps, globes, and textbooks. Sports and recreational gear such as protective padding, helmets, cleats, and even dance shoes are included in the list for items fifty dollars or less. Computing electronics including tablets, netbooks, keyboards, monitors, and speakers for items thirty-five hundred dollars or less per item are also included in the Tax Free Weekend. The Tax Holiday also applies to other computing needs such as data storage media, blank cd’s, printers, paper, and ink. The final Tax Free Weekend will officially begin at 12:01 AM on Friday, August 2nd and will conclude at 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 4th. For a full list of Tax Free items you can visit the North Carolina Department of Revenues website at http://www.dornc.com/.