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White-Tailed Deer To Increase On Cherokee Reservation

(1/20/2014) The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in conjunction with the Morrow Mountain State park has struck a deal to increase the White Tailed Deer population in Cherokee.  The Cherokee Reservation will receive twenty-five to fifty white tailed deer every year for the next three years. The Project hopes to increase Cherokee’s dwindling deer population and help ease Morrow Mountain’s abundance of deer.

Utility Larceny Arrests in Haywood County

The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office has arrested eight people for allegedly cutting telephone wires and selling them for their copper content. The incidents occurred in the Hyder Mountain Road and England Road areas between October and December of 2013.  The replacement cost for the damages caused in the crimes is estimated to be $50,000.

After weeks of investigating, breaks in the cases came through information provided by witnesses and the public. Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher said, “Our citizens were a key element in solving this case. We’re very grateful for the partnership we share with the people we serve.”

The eight individuals arrested have been identified as Sara Kent, 20, of Canton, Kevin Douglas Gibson, 28, of Clyde, Steven Charles Allred, 43, of Canton, Clifford Lowell Lance, 33, of Canton, Gwendolyn Wikes Burnette, 43, of Clyde, Leiha Boyer, 31, of Clyde, Ricky Hill, 26, Canton, and Ryan Green, 30, of Clyde. All are facing felony charges ranging from Larceny, Possession of Stolen Property, and Injuring Utility Wires/Fixtures. Secured bonds ranged from $5,000 to $10,000. Investigators say there are additional suspects with more arrests pending.

Tonight’s Game

The Smoky Mountain vs Pisgah game for tonight is scheduled to continue as planned. We will be streaming live online around 6pm.

Cold Weather Tips

Cold WXOf course the best solution for battling the cold weather is to stay indoors as much as possible, but for those that need to be outside they should follow a few guidelines. Frostbite in these cold of temperatures can hit in as little as five minutes, so people should make to cover as much bare skin as possible, especially the ears, toes and fingers because those are more likely to get frostbite. You should also wear as many layers of loose-fitting clothing and water-resistant coat and boots. If you are traveling, make sure to have winter survival kits in your car as well as a full cell phone battery in case you get in an accident. Vehicles themselves need to be taken care of in the cold as well. Make sure to start your car at least fifteen minutes before driving, and make sure to check the tires because they can lose air in the freezing temperatures.

2013 Yields Record Rain Fall for Western North Carolina

 

Flooded Tobacco Field

Flooded Tobacco Field

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension reports that the western counties of North Carolina saw an average of 75.2 inches for the year in 2013 which is nearly 10 inches higher than the previous annual record and nearly twice the normal annual rain fall of 40-45 inches. The heavy amounts of precipitation lead to a landslide last January that closed Highway 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for weeks. There were other landslides as well as high levels of flash flooding and erosion reported throughout the region during the year. The Cooperative Extension says in agriculture, dry weather crops, such as tobacco, were the most effected, but nearly all aspects of growing saw changes. Hay growing was effected for cattle raisers, and even the regions bee colonies saw lower production since bees cannot fly and pollinate in the rain. Last year’s record rain fall has regional farmers hoping for a dryer 2014 with the approaching spring planting season.

Concerned about the Target security breach?

By now you may have heard the news that national retailer Target experienced a massive data breach that could affect approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts.

A data or security breach happens when records containing personal information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card or bank account numbers, are lost, stolen or accessed improperly.

Just because your information was part of a security breach doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll become a victim of fraud or identity theft, but it does put you at greater risk.

To protect yourself:

  • Check your credit and debit card accounts and report suspicious charges to your bank or credit card company immediately.  Also, request a new card with a different number and change any PINs or passwords for the affected account.
  • Check your credit reports.  Once criminals have your personal information, they may use it to open new accounts in your name. Everyone is allowed a free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus.  Breach victims can also request a fraud alert from one of credit bureaus, and should consider a security freeze for maximum protection.
  • Check out our detailed list of tips for what to do after a security breach.

This breach is a good reminder that we all need to watch our accounts for unauthorized charges and monitor our credit, especially during the busy holiday shopping season.  For more tips on protecting yourself from crimes and scams, visit www.ncdoj.gov.

This message brought to you on behalf of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Golden LEAF awards $500K to WCU

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University is the recipient of a $500,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation to help expand engineering education across Western North Carolina through a partnership with regional community colleges.

The funding will support WCU’s efforts to ensure a seamless transition for community college students who want to earn four-year degrees in engineering through the implementation of engineering pathway courses at community colleges and the recruitment of qualified students into the program.

Asheville-Buncombe Technical, Blue Ridge and Isothermal community colleges are initial partners in the effort, which will eventually include WNC community colleges from Rutherfordton in the east to Murphy in the west.

The grant, awarded out of the foundation’s Essential Skills in Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, will help produce qualified workers for manufacturers, including some of the region’s largest private-sector employers, said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president.

“The grants awarded under this initiative will provide citizens from tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural communities with access to skills training for high-wage jobs, connect the state’s industries with the skilled workers they need and upgrade the capacity of our training institutions,” Gerlach said. “North Carolina leads the Southeast in manufacturing jobs, with more than 18 percent of the rural workforce earning $8.5 billion in manufacturing wages.”

The funding will provide support for Western Carolina’s recently announced undergraduate program in engineering at its instructional site at Biltmore Park Town Square, and will supplement advanced manufacturing engineering education on the campus in Cullowhee, said James Zhang, dean of WCU’s Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology.

During the past legislative session, the N.C. General Assembly approved a budget that includes more than $1.4 million for expansion of WCU’s engineering program to Biltmore Park. The appropriation was designed to enhance education opportunities in the fast-growing corridor between Asheville and Hendersonville to help meet increasing industry and business demand for a highly qualified workforce.

University officials have credited N.C. Sen. Tom Apodaca, who represents constituents in Buncombe, Henderson and Polk counties, with ensuring that the state budget included funds to bring WCU’s engineering program expansion to the Biltmore Park instructional site. WCU expects to begin offering engineering classes there in the fall of 2014.

“This grant is key to strengthening the linkage between WCU and Western North Carolina community colleges and industries, as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at high schools in our region,” Zhang said.

“These funds also will greatly assist us in our work with our community college partners to develop short-term training courses to meet the immediate needs of industry in the region,” he said.

Funds from the foundation also will enable the acquisition of a new piece of equipment – a selective laser melting apparatus – that will enable students to gain hands-on experience working with 3-D printers that are capable of creating metal prototypes of objects, adding to WCU’s current inventory of 3-D printers that create prototypes in plastic and resins.

The equipment will be housed in the university’s Center for Rapid Product Realization. The “engagement arm” of the Kimmel School, the Rapid Center provides technical assistance to companies, organizations and entrepreneurs through faculty expertise and hands-on learning activities for students.

“By locating this new equipment in Cullowhee, located in the middle of the region that we serve, we will have the opportunity to provide education and training to engineers from all over Western North Carolina,” Zhang said.

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy through grants made possible by a portion of the state’s settlement agreement with cigarette manufacturers.

For more information about engineering at WCU, visit the website engineering.wcu.edu. (Bill Studenc, Senior Director of News Services, Office of Public Relations,Western Carolina University)

Accident on Cowee Mountain

According to Jackson County Rescue Squad, there is a vehicle over the bank just above the runaway truck ramp coming down Cowee on the Jackson County side. Injuries have been reported. Use caution while traveling this stretch of highway 441.

Stay tuned to 540AM WRGC for further information as it becomes available.

Jessica May Carpenter Charged with Statutory Rape

 The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance in locating other potential victims and/or witnesses in the case involving the listed arrestee.  While investigating a case where alcohol was bought and given to a minor person, investigators determined further criminal conduct had occurred.  Subsequently, Carpenter was charged and arrested with the offense listed.  The investigation into this offense as well as other offenses is continuing.  Other witnesses and potential other victims may have not come forward.  Those persons are encouraged to contact Detective Andi Clayton at (828) 586-1392.  Potential victims may be minors who received alcohol from the suspect or are victims of sexual misconduct.

 STATUTORY RAPE or SEXUAL OFFENSE of a PERSON 13, 14, or 15 years old $100,000 secured Bond.

(Press Release from the office of Sheriff Jimmy Ashe)  

Jessica May Carpenter Arrest 12.16.13

Jessica May Carpenter

57 Aurora Lane

Sylva, North Carolina 28779

DOB, 04/05/1978

FIREWORKS A GO FOR TONIGHT

Word was received at 3:45 that the fireworks are loaded and ready to go tonight at 8:30 from the Dillsboro Quarry.

WCU Campus Master Plan Wins Approval of Board of Trustees

A new campus master plan endorsed Friday by the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees is designed to closely link physical facilities of the university, including future construction and renovation, to goals of its recently approved strategic plan. The master plan is meant to provide “a flexible framework for growth,” said Keith Storms of Hanbury, Evans, Wright and Vlattas, a firm specializing in campus design and planning.

The plan is based on enrollment projections that anticipate more than 11,000 students studying on the campus in Cullowhee by the year 2023, and the need for approximately 486,000 gross square feet of additional interior space to accommodate the needs of those students. Currently, about 7,800 students out of WCU’s total enrollment of 10,107 live and study in Cullowhee.

Approval of the plan, which was drafted with the guidance of a 16-member task force, comes after a 17-month process that included numerous public forums designed to collect input and feedback from university students, faculty and staff and from residents of surrounding communities. During that process, the task force and the master plan consultants presented numerous options for land use and future development. Feedback from the campus and community led to a preferred land use plan that focuses on reinforcement of the existing academic core of campus, reconnects that core to the historic hill area of WCU and seeks opportunities for strategic
development around the new Health and Human Sciences Building on the university’s West Campus.

In presenting the master plan to the board for its consideration, Chancellor David O. Belcher called it “a living document, one that is not set in stone but will be a guide to us as we go forward.”

Highlights of the plan include:

*Construction of a new science building of approximately 130,000 square feet that would replace the existing Natural Sciences Building and create a “science quad” by incorporating renovations to the existing Stillwell Building.

* Construction of a new building for the College of Business and additions to the existing Forsyth Building, which is home to most business programs.

* Consolidation of programs in the College of Fine and Performing Arts to new and existing space near the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

* Enhancing pedestrian connectivity across campus, especially between the academic center of campus and the historic area. The plan envisions a signature building located between the upper and lower areas of campus that would house existing programs in student engagement and related activities.

* Additional revitalization of the historic hill area of campus, including improvements in transportation flow and new residence hall and dining space for 300 additional students.

* Creation of a new main entrance to campus on N.C. Highway 107 that links the traditional campus with the newer West Campus, with a new visitor center and enhanced public parking for visitors attending fine arts, athletics and entertainment events at the Bardo Arts Center, Ramsey Regional Activity Center and athletics fields.

* Phased development of two buildings for private/public partnerships adjacent to the Health and Human Sciences Building on the West Campus while reserving steeply sloped land as an environmental preserve.

* Enhancing views of and recreational opportunities along Cullowhee Creek as it flows through campus by removing invasive vegetation, and using existing green space in the flood plain of the creek for recreation and athletics fields.

* Improvements to athletics facilities including a new field house, indoor practice facility and enhanced stands and a new press box on the west side of E.J. Whitmire Stadium.

* A possible mixed-use facility featuring dining and retail space on the ground floor and residential space on upper levels.
Additional information about WCU’s master planning process can be found at the website masterplanning.wcu.edu.

Waynesville Man Faces Felony Shooting Charges

 

Anthony Scott Price

Anthony Scott Price

On Tuesday evening around 5:45, Haywood County Sherriff’s Deputies responded to reports of shots fired on Geneva Lane in Waynesville. Upon arriving on the scene deputies say they found a 2002 Mazda Protégé with evidence of bullet damage and a male victim claiming that he was fired upon while inside the vehicle by 26-year-old Anthony Scott Price, of Waynesville. Also on the scene was a female victim who claimed that Price had struck her in the face during the incident. While conducting their investigation, officers suspected that Price could still be in the area and began searching the scene and nearby woods. After hiding from investigators for some time, Price walked out of the woods and surrendered to law enforcement without incident. Anthony Price has been charged with felonious discharging a weapon into an occupied vehicle, and misdemeanor counts of assault with a deadly weapon, resisting a public officer, and domestic assault on a female. He is remains in custody in lieu of $20,000 secured bond.

WCU Officials Await Answers on Nov. 21 Fire

The future of three dining establishments damaged by a November fire on the Western Carolina University campus remains unknown as state insurance and construction officials continue analyzing the structural integrity of the building and conducting a financial assessment of the damages.

Representatives of the State Construction Office and N.C. Department of Insurance were on the scene the day after the fire to begin their work. University officials say they do not know how long that work may take, but caution that it could require as long as a year to complete.

No injuries were reported during the fire, which broke out in the morning hours of Thursday, Nov. 21, in the commercial strip of Centennial Drive in the center of the WCU campus. The blaze damaged the Subway sandwich shop, Rolling Stone Burrito and Mad Batter Bakery and café.

The businesses are located on the ground floor of the two-story structure. The second story of the building, which had contained apartments until several years ago, was unoccupied. The section of the building that houses Bob’s Mini Mart was not damaged.

The property affected by the fire is owned by the WCU Endowment Fund and leased to the business owners. The structure was formerly the site of the Townhouse restaurant, a longtime campus landmark and a popular gathering place for students, faculty and staff from the late 1940s to the mid-1980s.

“We certainly would like to know as quickly as possible what will happen with this building located in the heart of campus,” Chancellor David O. Belcher said. “But we also realize that there are state policies and procedures that must be followed, and we understand that the process inevitably will take some time. We will keep the campus and community informed as additional information becomes available.”

The university has established a website for updated information about the fire and its aftermath at http://fire.wcu.edu.

NCSHP to Participate in Nationwide Thanksgiving Highway Campaign

Research indicates that the Thanksgiving holiday period is one of the most heavily traveled times in the United States, heaviest of which are 12 p.m.-12 a.m. the Wednesday before and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. the Sunday following.  To promote a safe and uneventful driving environment, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol will join forces with numerous highway patrol and state police agencies across the nation in an enforcement campaign concentrated solely on I-40. During the two-day operation, North Carolina troopers, along with other states, will be patrolling along the I-40 corridor every 20 miles from coast to coast.  It is hoped that the constant visibility of law enforcement from state to state will create a safe driving environment for all motorists but more importantly save lives and prevent injuries. Last year during the Thanksgiving holiday, the highway patrol investigated 11 fatal collisions, 432 injury collisions and 1,457 property damage collisions. Many of these collisions were attributed to excessive speed. Speed remains the leading cause of traffic collisions and fatalities in North Carolina as well as across the country. Last year the Highway Patrol investigated 1,801 fatal collisions on North Carolina. Of those, 245 deaths were contributed to speed, compared to 244 deaths in 2011. Motorists who are travelling the highways this Thanksgiving holiday are urged to contact the State Highway Patrol should they observe motorists who are driving in a careless and reckless manner. The Highway Patrol can be reached on any cellphone by dialing *HP or *47.

Mustang Girls Lose Season Opener

(11/21/13)  The Mustang girls staged a huge comeback in the third quarter against Madison to cut the Patriots lead to four points but could not hold it in the fourth quarter and lost the season opener at home 62 to 48.

Cullowhee Business Buildings On Fire Thursday Morning

Several businesses located along Central Drive on WCU’s campus were engulfed in flames Thursday morning. According to early reports the fire started at Subway and quickly spread to other businesses located in that same structure. According to Bill Studenc, WCU’s Director of News Services,  the fire was contained to the one structure at 11:00 a.m. with every effort being made to keep the fire from spreading to other buildings.  Fire departments from Jackson County are working to control and extinguish the blaze with mutual aid being provided by fire departments from neighboring counties.  There are no reports of injuries from the fire or from those who are battling the blaze. Once the fire has been extinguished the investigation as to the cause of the fire will commence. For a video of the blaze go the wrgc facebook page.

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.

Haywood County Man Charged with Additional Counts of Fraud

 

Jeremy Ryan Clark

Jeremy Ryan Clark

Last week WRGC brought you the story of Jeremy Ryan Clark, 30, of Canton, who was arrested on November 2nd, and charged with felony obtaining property under false pretense. Haywood County Deputies arrested Clark without incident at his home, after receiving a complaint from a 93-year-old-man, who stated he gave Clark $200 after Clark claimed that he had a sick child and did not have the money to fill the child’s prescription. Arrest warrants report that Clark’s child was not sick at the time, nor was the child in his custody. After seeing media coverage of the story, several other victims have reported similar crimes committed by Clark. All alleged incidents have been reported to have taken place during the same week, and after investigations, detectives have served Clark with three additional warrants for felonious obtaining property under false presence. Clark remains in custody in the Haywood County Detention Center under a secured bond, and has a scheduled court appearance for November 20th. If you think you may have been a victim, or have similar crime to report in this case, you are asked to call the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office at 828-452-6666.

Local Realtors Donate to Area Elementary Schools

Members of the Northern Jackson Board of Realtors and Multiple Listing Service voted unanimously at their annual organizational meeting in October, to donate up to $2,000 per public elementary school in Jackson and Swain counties for a total of up to $14,000 for 2013. Several options and organizations were considered by the Board for receiving the donations. In their considerations the Board recognized the growing continued needs in school funding and that each elementary school in the region had unique challenges that needed addressing. This led to the decision that the funds not be donated to one school or project, but to all area elementary schools to be used at their discretion. Leaders at each local elementary school were thrilled with the news of the donations, and may have already begun using the funds. Some schools are buying much needed supplies such as copy paper, tape, crayons, pens, pencils, and art supplies.  Others, such as Scotts Creek Elementary School, are adding to their lacking library collections with much needed non-fiction books. Fairview Elementary School will be getting new readers that students could take home and begin to learn the importance of books and reading. The full list of area schools receiving donations includes Cullowhee Valley Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Scotts Creek Elementary, Smokey Mountain Elementary, Swain East Elementary, Swain West Elementary, and Blue Ridge Elementary. The Northern Jackson Board of Realtor members have already established that these are ongoing needs in local schools and are looking to make this an ongoing effort.

Suicide Investigation Temporarily Closes Jackson Plaza

In continuing coverage of a story we reported on Sunday, emergency personnel responded to a report of a possible suicide in the parking lot of Jackson Plaza on Grindstaff Cove road late Sunday morning. Upon arriving, officers found a deceased person in a vehicle with signs clearly posted on the windows warning of dangerous fumes inside. Due to the hazardous situation, all businesses in the Jackson Plaza were closed and evacuated and the North Carolina Hazardous Materials Regional Response team was called to assist. Upon safely entering the vehicle, authorities were able to remove and identify the body of 19-year-old Claude Bolton of Sylva, who is believed to have died of hydrogen sulfide poisoning. Once deemed safe, businesses located in the Jackson Plaza were allowed to reopen Sunday afternoon. The body was taken by medical examiners for autopsy and the police investigation into the incident is still ongoing.