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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.

SAFETY TIPS FOR BACK TO SCHOOL

Sheriff Jimmy Ashe offers some safety tips for those youngsters who will be walking back and forth to the bus stop or school this year.

“Parents can teach their children the following safety tips which will inform the youngsters of the danger signs to watch for and avoid when walking between school, bus stops, and home,” Sheriff Ashe said.

“Drivers should be cautious of children walking back and forth to school,” added the Sheriff.  “We can all learn from the safety tips below and abide by them to make Jackson County safer for all.”

  • While walking, remember to always travel with a friend.  Two heads are better than one, especially if there’s an emergency.
  • A stranger is anyone you or your parents don’t know well.
  • You or your friend must never take candy, money, medicine or anything else from a stranger.
  • If a stranger in a car asks you questions, don’t get close to the car (you could get pulled in) – and never get in the car.
  • Strangers can be very tricky – they can ask you to walk with them to “show” them something; they can offer to pay for your video game, or ask you to help them find a lost dog or cat.  Don’t be fooled!
  • Don’t tell anyone your name or address when you’re walking and don’t think that because someone knows your name that they know you – they may just be looking at your name printed on your lunch box, school bag or T-shirt.
  • If you think you’re in any danger, yell, and run to the nearest store or “safe house” or back to school.
  • Always tell your parents or teacher if a stranger has approached you.

“By taking the time to carefully prepare your child on how to handle these situations, you can insure your child’s safety whether they are on their way to school or home, playing on a playground or riding their bikes,” Sheriff Ashe concludes.

To reach the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, call 586-4355 or 586-8901.  Our CrimeStoppers Hotline is 631-1125.  Visit us on the web at sheriff.jacksonnc.org.

 

WCU Campus Master Planners to Seek Community Input

Representatives of the firms assisting Western Carolina University in drafting a comprehensive master plan that will guide campus development and improvements in the years ahead will return to Sylva on Tuesday, Aug. 13, to seek additional community input. The drop-in session is scheduled for 5:30 until 7 p.m. in the atrium of Jackson County Public Library. Refreshments will be served, and community members can arrive at any point during the event to offer feedback. The public session is a follow-up to a previous forum held in Sylva in May. It will be led by Ron G. Smith, a Sylva native who has worked on the renovation project for the Jackson County Public Library and on WCU’s Hunter Library master plan. Smith is among the principal consultants with the architecture firm McMillan, Pazdan and Smith, which is working on the WCU project with Hanbury, Evans, Wright and Vlattas, a firm specializing in campus design and planning. Launched last year, the 17-month master planning process has included public forums held on and off campus last fall to help the steering committee set directions, with a community meeting at Cullowhee Valley School. Consultants were on campus in April soliciting feedback, gathering information and conducting impromptu focus groups with students, faculty, staff and members of the community. A preliminary report and plan by the consultants are expected to be completed by early September, followed by a series of campus and community presentations for reaction in October and November. After revisions based on that feedback, the final master plan should be ready for consideration by the WCU Board of Trustees at its meeting in December.

For more information about the master planning effort, visit the website masterplanning.wcu.edu, where there is a “share your feedback” link.

SCC Receives $7,700 Donation from Wells-Fargo for Scholarships

 

Maggie Melton (second from right) of Wells Fargo recently presented a $7,700 check to Southwestern Community. SCC officials pictured with Melton are, from left: Dr. Thom Brooks, vice president for instruction and student services; Sonja Haynes, dean of workforce and economic development; and Scott Sutton, director of occupational training.

Maggie Melton (second from right) of Wells Fargo recently presented a $7,700 check to Southwestern Community. SCC officials pictured with Melton are, from left: Dr. Thom Brooks, vice president for instruction and student services; Sonja Haynes, dean of workforce and economic development; and Scott Sutton, director of occupational training.

In order to help unemployed area residents get a fresh start, Wells Fargo has donated $7,700 to Southwestern Community College. The grant, which was secured following an application submitted by SCC’s Sonja Haynes, will allow multiple students to attend occupational training programs through the college’s workforce and economic development department. “This fits perfectly with the vision and values of Wells Fargo,” said Leslie Hayes, regional president for Triad West Community Banking. “Our foundation has designated education as one of our primary focus areas. We realize that education is one of the most important investments we can make in our country’s future. Considering our service area’s high unemployment rate, it’s not just enough to provide training,” said Haynes, who is SCC’s dean of workforce and economic development. “Many of our students are among the long-term unemployed and have used up their unemployment eligibility. When you’re in that position, even a small registration fee would be difficult. That’s why SCC is always looking for ways to help pay the tuition; we want to help our students get the training they need to get back in the workforce.”

For more information about Southwestern’s workforce and economic development programs, contact Haynes at 828-339-4218, email to shaynes@southwesterncc.edu or visit www.southwesterncc.edu.

 

Missing Woman Last Seen in Swain County

 

Teresa Johnson

Teresa Johnson

The Swain County Sheriff’s office is trying to locate a missing woman. Teresa Johnson is from Cordele, GA. She was last seen in Swain County on July 5th. She was wearing jeans and a multi-colored flower print blouse. If you know where she is call the Swain County Sheriff’s Office: 828-488-0159.

WestCare Foundation Honors Local Students

Pictured, left to right, are: Jonathan Bridley, graduate of Smoky Mountain High School; Mellanie Parton, of Swain Middle School; Madeline Carter, of Smokey Mountain Elementary School; Kimberly Mason, graduate of Swain County High School; Eva Palacios-Poxtan, of Cullowhee Valley Elementary School; Adele Gurevich; and Morgan Carpenter, of Scotts Creek Elementary School

 
Pictured, left to right, are: Jonathan Bridley, graduate of Smoky Mountain High School; Mellanie Parton, of Swain Middle School; Madeline Carter, of Smokey Mountain Elementary School; Kimberly Mason, graduate of Swain County High School; Eva Palacios-Poxtan, of Cullowhee Valley Elementary School; Adele Gurevich; and Morgan Carpenter, of Scotts Creek Elementary School

MedWest’s WestCare Foundation recently honored 7 students from schools in Jackson and Swain counties with the Anne and Robert Landsman Fund Award. Students are nominated by their school’s guidance counselors and must meet criteria set by former teacher Adele Gurevich, daughter of Anne and Robert Landsman, who established the Landsman Fund through the WestCare Foundation. Gurevich selects students who are not typically recognized in an academic setting, and who have overcome personal obstacles to achieve academic success. The award consists of a commemorative certificate and a monetary prize. The WestCare Foundation is a non-profit committee of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital that raises and allocates funds for benefit programs and services of MedWest. The primary goal of the Foundation is to garner financial support that directly benefits the community through the provision of quality local healthcare. All donations are tax deductible. To make a donation, call (828) 631-8924.

4th of July Event Cancellations, Postponements, and Scheduled Events

Due to the heavy amounts of recent rain fall and the predictions of more to come several local 4th of July celebrations and firework displays have been either cancelled or postponed. In Jackson County, the Dillsboro fireworks show has been moved back to later in the year. Jeff Carpenter, the Director of the Parks & Recreation Department for Jackson County had this to say; “The fireworks show for the 4th of July in Dillsboro has been postponed to December 14th due to the weather. Because we shoot at such a tough site our fireworks company called us with some concerns over safety as it relates to the weather. We have to get up on top of the rock quarry and there were some concerns by the fireworks company and the quarry about being up on that location in the bad weather. If we start the show that night and then we get bad weather we will lose the show. With other shows cancelling and the upcoming weather forecast we thought it was best to cancel early so people could know. We have worked with the merchants about a rain day for December 14th, which is the Saturday of the luminaries”. Despite the fireworks show being cancelled merchants of Dillsboro still plan to host guests with special 4th of July sales and events, including a live WRGC broadcast from downtown Dillsboro. Other shows in our area have also either postponed or cancelled their 4th of July events due to weather. Franklin’s fireworks display has been pushed back to Saturday, the 6th in hopes of better weather. Even though some surrounding areas have cancelled or postponed their events there are still some going on as planned. The fireworks extravaganza on The Green in Cashiers is still scheduled for Friday, July 5th and will take place on the Village Green Commons with a live performance by the Asheville R&B band “The Extraordinaires”. In Bryson City, the all day 4th of July Street Festival which includes a dog show, music, arts & crafts, and children’s events is still going on as scheduled. In Haywood county, both the downtown Waynesville and Lake Junaluska are still on schedule and open to the public. For a full list of 4th of July activity scheduling, rescheduling, and cancellations go to our news page at

Jackson County Dept. of Transportation Converting to Propane/Gas Hybrid Engines

During Mondays meeting of the Jackson County Commission, Commissioners voted unanimously to move ahead with a lease agreement to begin the process of taking several vehicles with the Jackson County Department of Transportation and begin converting them to use propane energy. The three-year lease agreement is for propane conversion equipment from Alliance Auto Gas that will convert regular gas burning engines to a duel-fuel consumption engine. Department of Transportations Chuck Norris had this to say explaining the matter; “This is not a complete conversion, this is a bi-fuel conversion where we will be able to convert and use propane and still be able to use gasoline as well”. The conversion of the propane consumption of the Department of Transportations vehicles is expected to have several cost saving benefits, the first of which is fuel prices. Currently the market price for a gallon of propane is around three dollars, which is a considerable savings compared to current market values of gasoline and diesel. Steve Whaley, a representative of Alliance Autogas gave further details on the conversion, “The price of propane in the last 24 months compared to the national price of gasoline in the last 24 months has averaged $1.50 a gallon less. Propane isn’t tied to the petroleum market anymore because of the number of shale finds of all the natural gases here in the United States. (Propane) has drifted far apart from the gasoline and diesel costs that are on an international market and where ever we get natural gas: methane, pentane, butane, and propane, all of them come out of the ground together and we segregate them so it’s not tied to gasoline prices”. Not only are fuel costs expected to go down maintenance costs are expected to drop as well. With propane being a lower carbon and cleaner burning fuel oil changes can be done less frequently and engine life is expected to rise. Overall the three-year lease agreement for equipment to convert nine vehicles is expected to cost a little over $21,000, and during that same time period the county is expected to save over $26,000 in fuel costs alone. At the end of the three-year lease agreement the county will have the option to purchase the equipment outright for the price of $1. Before critics start to say that all this sounds “too good to be true”, Mr. Norris has said that other governments in our local area have already seen similar results. Several county leaders have said that should this initial conversion project prove as successful as predicted, then other county-wide fleets could see similar upgrades in the future, including maintenance and even sheriff’s department vehicles.

New Festival Unites Blues, Brew & BBQ on Village Green

 

Mac Arnold Plays The Blues

Mac Arnold Plays The Blues

The village green in Cashiers springs to life this Memorial Day weekend with a new festival: Blues, Brew and BBQ. This family-friendly event takes place Saturday, May 25, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It mixes local barbecue, craft beers, and one of the most popular blues bands in the Southeast. Headlining the festival is Mac Arnold and Plate Full O’ Blues. Arnold, of Pelzer, S.C, was a nominee for best traditional blues artist at the 2012 Blues Music Awards. He is a legend in the genre, having performed with the likes of: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Otis Redding, James Brown and B.B. King. Opening for Arnold is The Lauren Mitchell Band of Sarasota, Fla. Mitchell showcases a classically-trained voice influenced by Etta James and Aretha Franklin. And she brings energy to the stage with “a love of blues, soul rock, and, most importantly, all-out, full-throttle performing.” In recognition of Memorial Day weekend, the festival honors military veterans with a special VIP seating area. All other attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

Meanwhile, a pre-festival poker run will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. The run navigates a scenic 130-mile loop beginning at 10:30 a.m. Registration is at 9 a.m. “We decided it would be appropriate to celebrate Memorial Day weekend outdoors with a fun-filled day featuring great blues, good brews, local barbecue, and a tribute to our veterans,” said Jodi Moore of the festival committee. “Saturday was selected so people have the opportunity to come up for the entire weekend and enjoy all that Cashiers has to offer.” On the Side BBQ and the Cashiers Farmers Market will provide all food, while The Ugly Dog Pub provides the beer selection, as well as wine. Additionally, a moonshine margarita bar will be set up by Troy & Sons distillery of Asheville. The festival is free of charge and takes place rain or shine. Personal coolers are not permitted. Lodging specials are available on the website for local accommodations.

For further information, go to: VisitCashiersValley.com or call (704) 458-7686.

Possible Hepatitis A Exposure in Jackson County

The Jackson County Department of Public Health is reporting an isolated case of Hepatitis A at the High Hampton Inn in Cashiers. As a precaution, people who may have been exposed by eating at their restaurant between April 26 and May1, 2013 are being asked to contact the Department of Public Health for information on where to obtain vaccines or shots to help prevent them from getting sick. The possible exposure is due to an infection in an employee who was diagnosed on May 6, 2013. Symptoms, which include fever, a feeling of being unwell, loss of appetite, and more, appear 2–7 weeks after exposure. This means that anyone potentially exposed could experience symptoms as early as May 10, 2013 and as late as June 20, 2013.    The Department of Health says High Hampton Inn has been extremely proactive and cooperative with local and state health officials.  They have been fully cooperative in contacting their guests and members once the situation became apparent. Anyone with exposure concerns or questions is asked to call the Jackson County Department of Public Health at 586-8994.

WCU to host thousands of visitors this weekend

05/09/13-This weekend thousands of visitors will flock to catamount country for commencement. Western Carolina University has announced the schedule and tips to help visitors and locals with the influx of traffic this weekend. Ernie Hudson, Chief of Police for WCU recommends avoiding the main entrance to WCU’s campus if at all possible. Arriving early if attending the commencement ceromonies and using the Old Cullowhee Road to bypass the majority of the traffic.

On Friday the 2013 Spring Graduate Commencement will be held at the Ramsey Center at 7pm and doors will open at 5pm. Saturday their will be two ceromonies at the Ramsey Center to accomodate the largest graduating class in WCU history. Commencement for Arts and Sciences will begin at 10am and at 3:30pm commencement will be held for the College of Business, etc.

For more driving and parking information check out http://wcu.edu/24593.asp.

210th Military Police Battalion Rolls Out

05/08/13-The teary-eyed goodbyes early Wednesday morning were of mixed emotions. The families and friends of the 210th Military Police Battalion were up early to send off the group from the Franklin National Gaurd Amory. Hugs, kisses and handshakes for a safe return as parents, husbands, and wives said farewell to their service members. The 210th Military Police Battalion will be stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas for several weeks for training before being deployed to Afghanistan . The 210th will be in Afghanistan  for one year to help with Operation Enduring Freedom.

Tasha Black described how proud she is of her husband who is being deployed, “Very proud…this is why he joined not for the glory but to serve.” Tasha and the rest of the families who were their for the sendoff are praying for a safe return of the brave men and women they Rolled out early wednesday morning from the Franklin National Guard Armory for a one year deployment. From the 540 WRGC team we would like to thank all service men and women and their families for their sacrifices for freedom.

WCU Professor Nominated for Tony Award

 

Terrence Mann on stage with WCU students

Terrence Mann on stage with WCU students

Last week the nominees for the 2013 Tony Awards were announced and one nomination in particular has people at Western Carolina University excited. Terrence Mann, WCUs Carolyn Plemmons Phillips and Ben R. Phillips Distinguished Professorship in Musical Theatre, was nominated for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical” for his role as King Charlemagne in the Broadway revival of “Pippin”.

Even more impressive is the fact that this is not Professor Mann’s only Tony Nomination. His first came from his performance as the Beast in musical adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast, and his portrayal of Javert in the Broadway classic “Les Miserables” earned him his second nomination. Nathan Thomas, director of WCU’s Musical Theatre Program, said, “Congratulations to Terrence Mann on his third Tony nomination, proof that nice guys can succeed. Our students are extremely fortunate to be able to work with artists of Terry’s caliber.”

 WRGC had the opportunity to speak to Mann, and ask him about the challenge of maintaining a teaching career as well as an acting career in New York City. Mann said, “Well I have a really amazing group of folks, from the Chancellor on down to those who run the theater department. I am able to travel down to North Carolina and direct the major musicals, and when I am in New York students come up and I try to mentor them around here, show them performances, behind the scenes, and give them a feeling of what it will be like once they are in the profession. I have had a little bit of my cake and eaten it too, by being able to be in New York and work, but also come back to North Carolina and remember why I love what I do.”

The 2013 Tony Awards will be held in New York City on June 9th, and Terrence Mann will not only be in attendance, but will also be preforming with the cast of “Pippin”. There are many at WCU that are hoping that after the night’s festivities Professor Mann will be able to swap “Tony Award Nominee” for a newer “Tony Award Winner”.

New Master Plan for Jackson County Recreation and Parks Department

The Jackson County Recreation and Parks Department has achieved many goals on the master plan created several years ago. While that plan has been updated a few times, its time to wrap that one up and start a new one.

“About 8 years ago we were one of the first counties west of Asheville to do that… We’re in the process of finishing up that plan,” Director Jeff Carpenter.

As the old plan finishes up, the Department wanted community feedback and direction for the new master plan. To get this feedback, they conducted an online survey of local residents.

“We got close to 800 responses to our survey. Indoor pool was the #1 answer in the community. Walking areas was another big answer, and picnic areas and playgrounds were very high too.”

People are wanting areas to play, workout, and see their tax dollars at work.

“Everybody can use parks,” Director Jeff Carpenter.

2013 Mountain Heritage Nominations Open

Western Carolina University is accepting nominations for the Mountain Heritage Award, an honor bestowed annually on one individual and one organization that has played a prominent role in the preservation or interpretation of Southern Appalachian history and culture. Nominations for the award will be accepted through Monday, June 24.

“Beginning with the award’s inception in 1976 and continuing through 2006, WCU gave out one Mountain Heritage Award each year,” said Scott Philyaw, director of the university’s Mountain Heritage Center and chairman of the awards committee. “Because the contributions of individuals are often different from that of groups and organizations, making direct comparisons difficult, the university’s awards committee decided to begin giving out two awards in 2007 – one to an individual and one to an organization.”

Letters of nomination should not exceed five pages and should include the full name of the individual or organization being nominated, with a website address if applicable; the mailing address of nominee; nominee’s birth or founding date; a list of the nominee’s accomplishments; a list of the awards and other recognitions received by nominee; information about the nominee’s influence in the relevant field of expertise such as crafts, music or organizational cause; and information about the nominee’s role as a teacher, advocate, leader or preserver of mountain culture.

Nomination letters may be hand delivered to the Mountain Heritage Center, located on the ground floor of WCU’s H. F. Robinson Administration Building or mailed to Scott Philyaw, 151 H. F. Robinson Administration Building, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723, or emailed to philyaw@wcu.edu.

Pride of the Mountains Marching Band’s Newest Honor

David Starnes, director of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, displays a commemorative drum head while students celebrate an invitation to participate in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

David Starnes, director of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, displays a commemorative drum head while students celebrate an invitation to participate in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The famous group from Western Carolina University has been honored time and again with invitationals, awards and accolades. The latest in the long list? An invitation to 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“We are honored as well as excited to represent Western Carolina University, the School of Music and the entire Catamount Nation on national television in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” said Starnes. “It is undoubtedly one of the greatest events a band student of any age can experience and we feel privileged to offer our members this opportunity. Our band program has received numerous national honors that carry great prestige. However, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has not been a part of our resume – until now.”

The Pride of the Mountains Marching Band is one of only ten marching bands selected from across the country to perform.

“When you are the best band in the land, you might as well share it with the rest of the world,” Chancellor David O. Belcher said.

NC Tag and Tax

The new bills reflect vehicle property tax information and vehicle inspection and registration information. The new program will require one payment for both bills. Both tag renewals and tax payments must be paid in full to renew registration. Those with a July tag will be among the first to receive the notices by mail. By this time next year, the program should include all NC vehicle owners. Upon receiving your payment, the Department of Motor Vehicles will renew your registration and forward your tax revenues to your local county office. This new program doesn’t affect your mortgage or home property tax. Your vehicle tax is due at the same time your registration is due. The increase in your bill is your property tax, because the registration fee has not changed. For more information, visit the NC DMV website.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Junior Ranger’s Day

Jr. Ranger being sworn in.

Jr. Ranger being sworn in.

As part of National Parks Week (April 20-28), the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is participating in National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 27.

For young children, there will be lots to do and learn with guided Ranger tours, demonstrations and workshops, and real wild firefighters to talk to. For children who complete special programming that day, there is a award ceremony where they will be presented with a Junior Ranger badge.

For middle and high school students, there is also the career day opportunity for them to learn what the park does, how it functions, and what employment opportunities exist within the park from computer work to trees and flower care.

For more information on Career Day, contact Emily at 865-736-1713.

For more information on Junior Ranger activities, contact Lloyd at 865-436-1292.

Tax Scam

Better Business Bureau Western North Carolina President Norma Messer warns taxpayers to be extra cautious of a tax scam. “They may receive an email that appears to be from the IRS. The IRS never sends emails. The message claims there was a problem with your taxes and its impossible to refund your check to be mailed out unless you click that link and if you do, they access your computer and you never get any money.” The point of the scam is to retrieve private information such as bank statements and social security numbers to commit identity theft. If you think this has already happened to you, visit ncdoj.gov or call 877-5NO- SCAM

16th Annual Greening up the Mountains

Saturday, April 27 starting with the 5K run at 9 AM, festival hours 10 AM-5PM, held on Main and Mill Streets. Including children’s performances, heritage dancers, youth talent show, and three musical stages featuring local music acts: Freight Hoppers, Buchannon Boys, John Luke Carter, Positive Mental Attitude, Porch Forty, Noonday Sun, Secondhand String Band, Matt Williams, and Pearly Peach, just to name a few. Storytelling, face-painting, and an inflatable slide plus food vendors. WRGC will be broadcasting live all day long hosting competitions and giveaways. The festival is one of the largest local events, drawing 10,000 visitors annually to Jackson County.