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NC Commerce receives $5.25 million to create new program to train job seekers for high-demand occupations

More people in North Carolina will receive help preparing for jobs in high-demand occupations, thanks to a $5.25 million federal grant awarded to the state. The money will be used to create and implement a new program called NCWorks Certified Career Pathways.

The state received a Sector Partnership National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support education and training programs, such as on-the-job and classroom training, for people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own or have struggled with long-term unemployment.

This funding will help more job seekers gain meaningful employment, as well as ensure that employers have access to a steady pipeline of talent.

North Carolina was one of 27 states to win the competitive grant award.

“This grant will support our ongoing efforts to find out what employers need from us and align our workforce services to meet those needs,” said Will Collins, executive director of NCWorks. “By working collaboratively with our partners, we’re creating the best workforce in the nation and making North Carolina a top destination for business.”

NCWorks Certified Career Pathways was developed by a collaborative team across education and workforce programs including community colleges, public schools, and local Workforce Development Boards.

Employers lead the development of a career pathway by identifying the workforce needs in high-demand occupations, such as those in advanced manufacturing, health care, and information technology.

Workforce and education partners use this information to develop clear education and training plans to meet those requirements.

Pathways helps prepare individuals for work in a shorter period of time because they follow a path that leads to success without duplication of effort or added cost.

The NCWorks Commission will begin certifying career pathways this summer to ensure they meet the commission’s high-quality criteria such as being data driven, meeting existing and future workforce needs and educating students on potential careers and work-based learning opportunities.

NCWorks

The NCWorks initiative includes the NC Commerce Division of Workforce Solutions, the North Carolina Commission on Workforce Development, the NC Department of Public Instruction and the North Carolina Community College System.

The goal is to create a stronger alignment of services and resources to meet the workforce needs of businesses, connect North Carolinians to technical training and quality careers and use data to monitor and assess program outcomes

NCDMV State Moped Registrations Begin July 1

On Wednesday, July 1, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles will introduce new statewide requirements for moped operators in accordance with House Bill 1145. These new regulations require all moped operators to register their vehicle with the DMV, and obtain a registration card and license plate, which must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle at all times.

Moped operators will be required to visit their local license plate agency for the registration process. The office locations can be found on the DMV website.

The cost of registering each moped is $18 annually. Durham ($15), Orange ($15), Randolph ($1) and Wake ($5) counties each charge an additional transit tax.

Operators must be 16 years of age or older and must have a valid N.C. driver license or N.C. ID card along with the moped manufacturer’s certificate of origin (MCO). If an operator does not have an MCO for their vehicle, the operator can fill out an Affidavit of Facts for the Registration of a Moped form (MVR-58) to serve as proof of ownership.

State statute defines a moped as having two or three wheels with an engine capacity of 50 cubic centimeters or less, no external shifting device or the ability to exceed 30 miles per hour on a level surface.

To help customers determine if their vehicle falls within the moped category, Division License and Theft Bureau inspectors will be available at most license plate agencies during the first week of issuance to answer questions. If an L&T inspector is not available, you can visit your nearest L&T District office.

Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Marriage Is a Constitutional Right

In a historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today 5-4 that gay and lesbian couples across the country have a constitutional right to marry.

Minutes after the vote was announced, President Obama tweeted, “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins”

The Supreme Court’s decision caps a long and often contentious battle over what many have called the “defining civil rights challenge of our time.”

At least 36 states plus the District of Columbia currently recognize gay marriage in some form. The other states passed state laws banning same-sex marriage.

So two questions in particular were facing the Supreme Court: Does any part of the Fourteenth Amendment, with its guarantees of equal protection and due process, compel states to perform same-sex marriages? And – if not – are states required to at least recognize same-sex marriages performed in another state?

Public support for gay marriage has reached a new high, with 61 percent of respondents in an ABC News/Washington Post poll two months ago saying gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to legally marry.

The case behind today’s decision began in 2013, after the Supreme Court ruled in a separate matter that same-sex spouses must be afforded the same federal benefits as other married couples. That ruling, though, did not tackle the question of whether gay marriage is a Constitutional right.

In the wake of the United States v. Windsor decision in 2013, Ohio real estate broker Jim Obergefell and his dying partner of 20 years were married in Maryland. But the state of Ohio, which has passed a ban on same-sex marriages, refused to recognize Obergefell as a “surviving spouse.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit backed the state of Ohio, ruling Ohio didn’t have to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Soon enough, the matter landed before the Supreme Court, consolidated with cases fighting over similar issues in Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on April 28. As with many cases before the high court, many expected moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy to provide the deciding vote in Obergefell v. Hodges.

During the arguments, Kennedy noted the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman “has been with us for millennia.”

“And it’s very difficult for the court to say, ‘Oh well, we know better,’” he said.

In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriage. In the years since, as other states followed suit, the U.S. government extended certain benefits to same-sex couples.

Four years ago, the Defense Department ended its policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing gay and bisexual soldiers to openly serve in the military.

“After decades of untold struggle, unyielding advocacy and unfathomable bravery, it is clear that we are in the midst of a national awakening,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch told an advocacy group this past week. “Of course, even as we celebrate remarkable advances, it is clear that we still have more work to do.”

Jackson County Offers New Services in Cashiers

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office will be providing easier access to some administrative services to residents of southern Jackson County beginning July 7, 2015. These administrative services will be offered at the Sheriff’s Office substation in Cashiers on Frank Allen Road on the first Tuesday of the month from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Currently, these services are only offered at the Sheriff’s Office in Sylva.

Administrative services to be offered:
Fingerprinting for concealed weapon permits
Fingerprinting for job applicants
Collection of unwanted medicines
Applications for gun permits
Applications for concealed weapon permits

For those interested in gun permit applications, the Sheriff’s Office has begun accepting online gun permit applications. Application and payments can be made online. These permits are still required to be picked up in person. Residents of southern Jackson County can pick their permits up on these dates if requested. You can visit www.sheriff.jacksonnc.org to apply.

Forest Service Releases Draft Decision to Approve Access to Private Property in Clay County

The U.S. Forest Service released a draft decision to issue a special use authorization to the Laurel Creek Property Owners Association providing the association access across National Forest System lands to private property surrounded by National Forest System (NFS) lands located on the Tusquitee Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest.

If finalized, the special use authorization will allow the landowners to construct, at their expense, a road across NFS lands to their 50-acre tract of private property located within the Fires Creek watershed near Hayesville, N.C. The access route, authorized by the Forest Service, will require reconstruction and repair of portions of the Rockhouse Branch Road (Forest Service Road 340A), Phillips Ridge Road (Forest Service Road 340A1) and construction of approximately one-third mile of new road on NFS lands.

Federal regulations require the Forest Service to provide access to private property that is surrounded by Forest Service land so the landowner may experience “reasonable use and enjoyment” of their property (36 CFR 251.54). The Forest Service requires the landowner requesting access across NFS lands to exhaust all alternatives means of access through private property or other rights-of-way before approving access across public lands.

“This draft decision strives to strike a balance between private property rights and protecting valuable forest resources,” said Kristin Bail, Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in North Carolina. “We worked hard to ensure that community members’ concerns with the project were addressed in the draft decision.”

Since 2010, the Forest Service has been conducting an environmental assessment to analyze and disclose the effects to national forest land that could result from the road construction. The environmental assessment considered effects to the environment related to water quality, acidic rock, wildlife habitat, scenery, recreation, heritage and cultural resources, and other issues. As part of the analysis, the Forest Service considered comments from individual citizens and a wide variety of organizations concerning the project.

On June 25, 2015, Forest Supervisor Kristin Bail released a draft decision on this project that authorizes the landowners to construct a road to access their property. In accordance with federal regulations, the Forest Service will offer a 45-day formal objection period on the draft decision, which will begin with a legal notice published in the Asheville Citizen Times. The legal notice is expected to be published on June 25, 2015.

NCDOT improvements in Haywood County

You might think of NCDOT crews tackling jobs such as patching or paving, but there’s also plumbing. Workers are focusing on making the I-40 rest areas in Haywood County more water efficient.

“With an increase in travelers coming through this summer, we want to make sure there’s enough supply to meet the demand,” says Richard Queen, roadside environmental engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The eastbound North Carolina Welcome Center and westbound rest area, nestled in the Pisgah National Forest near the Tennessee border, are unique for more than their scenic surroundings.

“Those facilities are 15 miles away from the nearest municipal water system,” says Queen. “We have to use six wells that pump into a reservoir to serve both sides.”

Crews are working to keep those reservoir levels up. That means isolating some flush valves, and replacing fixtures that are using more water than they should. The work may occasionally require one of the two rest areas to temporarily close. “We want to get that reservoir as full as we can going into weekends,” says Queen, “when we know there are even more people coming through.”

For westbound travelers, the next closest rest area is the Tennessee Welcome Center, 15 miles away. Eastbound travelers who continue through Asheville will come to another rest area on I-40 near Marion, or on I-26 East just beyond the Asheville Regional Airport.

Ginseng Permit Process for 2015

The U.S. Forest Service, National Forests in North Carolina announced that forest visitors have until Wednesday, July 15 to submit their contact information to a Nantahala or Pisgah National Forest district office if they want to participate in the lottery to receive a ginseng harvest permit this year.

Visitors must obtain a permit to collect wild ginseng in the two national forests during the designated harvest season.

In 2013, due to concern over reductions in wild ginseng numbers, the Forest Service implemented changes to wild ginseng harvests in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests to conserve wild ginseng populations. These policies remain in place including:

The number of permits issued is limited to 136 annual permits, a 75 percent reduction from historical permit issuances.
Permits are issued through a lottery system (selected randomly) by each district office. Individuals may submit their names at more than one district office.
A permit allows a person to harvest 1-3 wet pounds (at $40 per pound) of wild ginseng in the ranger district where the permit is issued.
The permitted harvest season is 2 weeks. Harvesting will be allowed Sept. 1-15 in 2015.
Each district ranger may further limit ginseng harvests to certain areas of the national forest to allow the plants to regenerate, or to protect designated wilderness and other natural areas. Harvest area descriptions and maps will be provided to permit recipients.
Those requesting a permit must call or visit a ranger district office and submit their name and address by July 15. Requests by email will not be accepted. Written notification will be mailed to applicants selected by lottery before Aug. 15. District offices will issue permits Aug. 20 – Sept. 1 to selected applicants. Harvest is prohibited in designated wilderness and other natural areas set aside for research purposes, such as Walker Cove and Black Mountain.

In addition to reducing the legal harvest of wild ginseng, the Forest Service plans to increase law enforcement efforts to reduce poaching. Removing a wild ginseng plant or its parts from national forests without a permit or outside of the legal harvest season is considered theft of public property. Penalties for plant poaching may include a fine up to $5,000 or 6-month sentence in federal prison, or both. Every plant on the national forest is public property and is sustainably managed by the Forest Service to meet the needs of present and future generations.

Ginseng root has been favored as a tonic primarily in East Asia for the past two-and-a-half centuries. In North Carolina, ginseng is more common in the mountains, very infrequent in the piedmont, and very rare in the coastal plain.

Folkmoot USA 2015 Schedule

Folkmoot USA is proud to present the 32nd annual International Folk Festival, July 16 – 26, 2015. Named by USA Today as one of the Top Twenty Festivals in North Carolina, Folkmoot is a ten-day event featuring more than 200 international performers from ten countries with performances in 12 Western North Carolina communities.

Folkmoot performers are primarily college students who are acting as cultural ambassadors for their home countries. In 2015, Folkmoot is expecting musicians and dancers from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Canada, Ecuador, Chile, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee plus several regional bluegrass and clogging groups representing Appalachian culture.

Folkmoot, literally a “meeting of the people” provides programs based on cultural exchange, designed to build global relationships, foster cultural understanding and develop community prosperity. Folkmoot creates opportunities for individuals and communities across the globe to build a deeper sense of connection, mutual respect and shared purpose.
What’s new for 2015? Folkmoot recruits new countries each year. In Folkmoot’s 32-year history, we’ve hosted almost 8,000 performers from more than 200 countries.

“Say Hello” is a new educational and interactive component of Folkmoot performances. In order to enhance and personalize Folkmoot events, emcees and group directors will engage audiences in learning how to pronounce basic greetings in the languages of our performers. Different words and facilitators will be part of each performance and Say Hello will be a feature in our commemorative guidebook.

“Kids by the Carload” is a new event for Folkmoot, held on Thursday, July 23 from 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm at the Haywood County Fairgrounds in Clyde. For just $20, families, church groups, senior centers and others are invited to drive a vehicle full of friends to see and interact with three international performance groups, purchase local and international handicrafts, and enjoy low cost pizza, drinks and ice cream.

Dress in your best cultural regalia for Folkmoot performances! The public is encouraged to join the fun by sharing their own cultural heritage at all Folkmoot events in 2015. As an example, individuals with Scottish heritage are invited to wear a kilt to any Folkmoot performances. At each event, the “best dressed” will be chosen and this audience member will win a Folkmoot t-shirt. Folkmoot will also feature a photo of these individuals on our Instagram and Facebook accounts.

How to get involved?
Folkmoot USA is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that relies upon donations, sponsorships, Friends of Folkmoot members, ticket sales and grants to hold the Folkmoot Festival each year. Everyone can celebrate and support Folkmoot USA programs by becoming a member through the Friends of Folkmoot on our website, www.FolkmootUSA.org. Your donations support community-building events for kids and families and support our international guests during their stay in Waynesville at the Folkmoot Friendship Center. Pick up a brochure at your local Visitor Center or go online to FolkmootUSA.org to learn more.

Volunteers Needed – Volunteer groups are still needed to prepare the Folkmoot Center for the Festival. If you, your company, church or civic group would like to help, please contact Doug Garrett at 828-452-2997 to find out how you can help.

Tickets are now on sale for all performances and can be purchased on the Folkmoot website folkmootusa.org, in person at the Folkmoot Center, or by calling toll free 877-365-5872. A complete schedule can be viewed on Folkmoot’s website. Like us on Facebook: “Folkmoot USA, The “Official” North Carolina International Folk Festival” to take advantage of special ticket promotions.

The festival schedule is as follows:
Festival Event Schedule*
*This schedule is subject to change. Please visit FolkmootUSA.org for additions or cancellations or call the ticket office, 828-452-2997. The number of performance groups are included for each venue.

Thursday, July 16
7:30 pm—Folkmoot Gala Champagne & Dessert Reception, Stompin’ Ground, Maggie Valley. (All Groups) Private event for Friends of Folkmoot, donors and sponsors

Friday, July 17
1:00 pm—Folkmoot Parade of Nations, Waynesville. Beginning on N. Main St. & finishing at Historic Waynesville Court House. (All groups) Free Event
7:30 pm – Folkmoot Grand Opening, Stompin’ Ground, Maggie Valley. (All groups) Reserved seating adults: $30-$25; General admission adults: $20; Students & children: $5

Saturday, July 18
10am- 5pm —International Festival Day, A World-Class Arts Event, Main Street, Waynesville. All Folkmoot groups perform to benefit Haywood County Arts Council. Info@haywoodarts.org or 828-452-0593. (free event)
7:30 – Haywood Community College, Clyde. (All groups) Reserved seating adults: $30-$25, General Admission adults: $20, Students & Children: $5

Sunday, July 19
1:30 pm – Diana Wortham Theatre, Asheville. (All groups) 828-257-4530, General admission adults: $30; Children (12 & under): Half price
7:00 pm – World Friendship Day, Stuart Auditorium, Lake Junaluska. (4 groups) Reserved Seating Adults: $25-$20; General Admission Adults: $15; Students & Children: $5
7:00 pm – SALT Block Auditorium, Hickory. (3 groups) Hickory International Council 828-234-6330. General Admission Adults: $16; Children (12 & under): half price

Monday, July 20
7:30 pm – Franklin High School, Franklin. (3 groups) General Admission Adults: $18; Children (12 & under): half price

Tuesday, July 21
7:30 pm – Colonial Theatre, Canton. (3 groups) General Admission Adults $16; Students & Children $5
7:30 pm – Swain High School, Bryson City. (3 groups) Adults: $16; Children (12 & under): half price

Wednesday, July 22
2:00 pm – Blue Ridge Community College, Flat Rock. (All groups) General Admission: $30; Children (12& under): half price
7:30 pm – Blue Ridge Community College, Flat Rock. (All groups) General Admission: $30; Children (12& under): half price

Thursday, July 23
2:00 pm – Town Center, Burnsville. (2 groups) General Admission Adults: $16; Children (12 & under): half price
4:00 pm – Haywood County Fairgrounds, Waynesville (3 groups) General Admission Carload: $18
7:00 pm – Jewish Community Center, Asheville. 236 Charlotte St., 828-253-0701, (2 groups) General Admission Adults: $18; Children (12 & under): half price

Friday, July 24
2:00 – Extravaganza Matinee, Stompin’ Ground, Maggie Valley. (All groups) Reserved Seating Adults: $30-$25; General Admission Adults: $20; Students & Children: $5
6:30 pm – Folkmoot Group Guest Appearance at Mountain Street Dance, Main Street, Waynesville. Free event
7:30 pm – Extravaganza, Stompin’ Ground, Maggie Valley. (All groups) Reserved Seating Adults: $30-$25; General Admission Adults: $20; Students & Children: $5

Saturday, July 25
3:00 pm – Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds, Cherokee. 800-438-1601, (1 Cherokee and 1 Folkmoot group) General Admission Adults: $10, Students & Children: $5
3:00 pm – Western Carolina University Theater, Cullowhee. (3 groups) Reserved Seating Adults: $16, Students & Children: $5
7:30 pm – Haywood Community College, Clyde. (All Groups) Reserved Seating Adults: $30-$25; General Admission Adults: $20; Students & Children $5

Sunday, July 26
1:30 pm – Diana Wortham Theatre, Asheville, 828-257-4530. (All Groups) General Admission Adults: $30; Children (12 & under): half price
7:00 pm – Candlelight Closing, Stuart Auditorium, Lake Junaluska. (All Groups) Reserved Seating Adults: $30-$25; General Admission Adults: $20; Children (12 & under): half price

Haywood County students are admitted to all performances, except the Grand Opening and Candlelight Closing for $5.

Haywood County Sheriff offers tips for a safe Fourth of July weekend

With the July Fourth weekend approaching, Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher asks all citizens to join him in making this Fourth of July holiday happy, enjoyable and safe for everyone.

Citizens should remember that fireworks, as enjoyable as they are to watch, can be dangerous and should only be handled by professionals. According to the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission, there are nearly 9,000 emergency room-treated injuries associated with fireworks each year. You can enjoy a safe Fourth of July by following these safety tips:

Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
Keep a supply of water close-by as a precaution.
Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
Stay at least 500 feet away from professional fireworks displays.
Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.
Sheriff Christopher also wants citizens to use caution when swimming at a lake, river or pool.

Sheriff Christopher said, “Sadly, most deaths from drowning occur within a few feet of safety.”

The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. The Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability. To find out where lessons are offered, or to enroll in a CPR/AED or first aid course, contact your local Red Cross chapter.

At a swimming pool, take the following precautions:

If no lifeguard is on duty, do not let children swim unless they are accompanied by a responsible adult who knows lifesaving techniques and first aid.
Post CPR instructions and directions to call 911 or your local emergency number in the pool area.
Look around the pool area to be certain lifesaving devices are readily available for emergency use.
Be sure covers are installed on all drains of a swimming pool or in a wading pool. The suction created by the pool’s circulating pumps can be very dangerous unless it is reduced by covers.
Take frequent breaks (about once an hour) where everyone gets out of the water, drinks water, reapplies sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) and rests.
If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.
To reduce the risk of eye, ear, nose or throat infection from contaminated water, swim only in pools in which water quality is properly maintained. The water should appear crystal clear, be continuously circulated and be maintained at a level that allows free overflow into the gutter or skimmer. There should not be a strong odor of ammonia or chlorine.
At the lake or river, take the following precautions:

Swim in a supervised area and swim with others. Never swim alone. Life vests are always recommended.
If you are caught in a strong current, swim parallel to the riverbank until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward land. If you can’t swim to the bank, float or tread water until you are free of the current and then head toward land.
Watch out for the “dangerous too’s” – too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun and too much strenuous activity.
Look for movement in the water; it helps keep the water clean. Do not swim in stagnant or still water.
Do not swim right after a heavy rain. Runoff following a heavy rain may result in strong currents and a high bacteria level.
Do not dive into lakes or rivers.
Avoid getting lake or river water in your mouth or nose.
Sheriff Christopher said, “Following these precautions will help the children and citizens of Haywood County stay safe and healthy this holiday weekend and throughout the summer.”

Traditionally during the July Fourth holiday, highways experience one of the highest traffic flows of the year. The Sheriff reminds all Haywood County residents to follow these safety tips:

Always shift your attention every few seconds, constantly scanning the road ahead and behind you. Never blankly stare ahead nor fix your gaze on one point on the road.
When passing an automobile, always glance at the ground beside the front wheel of the car you intend to pass. You will know instantly if the car is about to veer – giving you an extra few seconds to respond.
You should pull out into the opposite lane of traffic when passing while you are still well behind the car in front. This should give you some time and space to build up speed and will enable you to pull back into your own lane should the need arise. Never cut abruptly out of your lane into the opposite lane when passing.
Always signal your intentions with your brake lights, turn signals, horn and/or headlights so that other drivers will see you well before you change course.
Drivers should always “aim high” in steering. That is, you should glance frequently at points well ahead of you. Not only will this help your steering, but it will also help you check the position of vehicles in front of you as well as on-coming ones.
Never follow too close. Remember that, as your speed increases, it takes you substantially longer to stop. Also remember that it’s good to have an extra cushion of space in front of you if you’re being tail-gated, on a slippery road or in low visibility conditions.
“Lastly, I would remind all motorists to practice the Golden rule when driving. Be courteous and tolerant of other drivers. Please don’t get angry with bad drivers or reckless ones – just get out of their way,” Sheriff Christopher said in closing. “Let’s make this summer a safe one on the roads in Haywood County.”

NC teen charged with attempting to aid terrorists

A Morganton teen has been charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, federal law enforcement officials announced Monday.

The criminal complaint was filed Monday in federal court in Charlotte, charging Justin Nojan Sullivan, 19, with one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIL, one count of transporting and receiving a silencer in interstate commerce with intent to commit a felony, and one count of receipt and possession of an unregistered silencer, unidentified by a serial number, according to a news released from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sullivan was arrested in his home on Friday at 5470 Rose Carswell Road without incident. Morganton, in Burke County, is about 60 miles east of Asheville on Interstate 40.

“As alleged in the complaint, the defendant was planning assassinations and violent attacks in the United States and is charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIL and federal firearms violations,” Assistant Attorney General Carlin said. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism and we will continue to pursue justice against those who seek to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

The criminal complaint alleges that the FBI became aware of Sullivan’s plans to obtain a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at the Hickory Gun Show on June 20, which he planned to use to kill a large number of U.S. citizens on behalf of ISIL.

The news release and accompanying criminal complaint make no mention of whether Sullivan ever was in contact with the terror group. Justice department spokeswoman Lia Bantavani said she could release no other information.

According to the criminal complaint, an FBI undercover agent made contact with Sullivan beginning on June 6, during which time Sullivan described himself as “a mujahid,” and as a Muslim convert living in the eastern United States. Sullivan also told the agent that “the war is here,” and gave the agent the opportunity to join what he called the Islamic State of North America, whose “doctrine is Guerilla Warfare in and out,” the complaint alleges. The criminal complaint further alleges that over the next few days and during various conversations, Sullivan discussed with the agent, among other things, his various terrorist attack concepts and instructed the agent on how to obtain weapons, specifically “an AR-15 .223 with split ammo” at a gun show.

According to the criminal complaint, “During the course of their conversations, Sullivan made clear to the UC (undercover agent) that Sullivan was familiar with ISIL’s social media efforts to encourage followers to conduct terrorist attacks in the United States.”

According to the complaint, on June 9 Sullivan discussed with the agent the possibility of making homemade silencers and asked the agent whether he would be able to make one. When the agent said that he thought he could, Sullivan told the agent, “I’ll need to have one built by next week.” The complaint alleges that Sullivan also told the agent, “Yeah ill let u mail me…I plan on using it this mont[h],” and that Sullivan planned on doing “minor assassinations before the big attack for training.” He also told that agent that “we are going to send a video to IS.”

According to the complaint, during a follow-up conversation, Sullivan told the agent again that he would need the suppressor “before the end of next week,” apparently referring to June 19.

On June 19, the FBI, with the support of the Hickory Police Department, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, arrested Sullivan at his home and located the silencer at his residence, which Sullivan had received earlier that day. No one was harmed during the arrest.

Sullivan is in federal custody. He was expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Charlotte on Monday.

Storm Tears Through Cullowhee; Damages Hunter Library

Attachment-1A storm hit campus at 7:20 Wednesday evening. High winds, heavy rain, reports of trees down and power lines down all over Jackson County.
Hardest hit area of campus was Hunter Library.

Nine trees fell onto the roof of the library, and another 10 trees down that blocked the road. Those trees are probably 50 years old or older.
Also some trees down in other areas of campus, but not nearly to the same extent as at the library.

Two trees down near Scott residence hall, and a tree on the upper campus that apparently was struck by lighting and split in two.

Library sustained damage to the roof. Our crews estimated 50 to 60 puncture holes in the roof.

Work crews have already patched those holes, and were done doing so by about 4:30 this morning.

In addition, there is some water damage to the interior of the library. Debris from the trees, pine needles, leaves and other debris clogged up the drainage system, and also water came through the holes in the roof…probably hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water.

But the library has a plan to handle situations like this, and the library staff went into high gear to implement the plan, moved books and maps, and used plastic to cover items in the library to protect them from further damage.

The area of the library affected the most was the map collections area, which experienced some flooding and water damage. It appears that the damage is minimal.

We do not yet have an estimate of cost of damages to the campus from the storm.

North Carolina Nonprofits Urge Legislature Not to Harm Nonprofits

The N.C. Center for Nonprofits, with 1,500 nonprofit members serving all 100 counties of North Carolina, has alerted the House and Senate members that certain nonprofit provisions under consideration in the Senate tax plan would cause significant hardship to nonprofits and communities across North Carolina.

“We are concerned that the Senate’s tax plan would harm communities across the state by taking away already limited resources from nonprofits that provide essential services for every citizen of our state,” said David Heinen, Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy for the N.C. Center for Nonprofits, at a news conference at the North Carolina General Assembly today.

Joining Heinen at the news conference were officials from nonprofit organizations including churches, colleges and universities, hospitals, YMCAs and others, who agreed that the Senate’s proposal would have a crippling effect on the more than 10,000 nonprofits that serve the state.

The Center and its nonprofit members are especially concerned with proposals for new taxes for large nonprofits and limitations on tax incentives for charitable giving. The Center noted that, under current law, almost all charitable nonprofits are eligible for semi-annual refunds of all of the sales tax they pay on their purchases, but that the Senate plan would phase down a cap on these refunds to $1 million per year by 2020. Nonprofit representatives demonstrated that this downward trend suggests that the nonprofit sector is not safe from shortsighted tax reform efforts. This tax increase will affect more than just the largest nonprofits in the state – in fact, it would have a significant effect on the entire nonprofit sector and on our communities. The Senate plan also only allows nonprofits to apply for refunds once a year – meaning that charities would loan their private money to the state for 12 months instead of the previously dictated six months.

Additionally, the plan includes charitable deductions in a $20,000 cap on all itemized deductions that would be barely higher than the standard deduction. This would effectively eliminate any state tax incentive for charitable giving, leading to a decline in private giving to North Carolina’s nonprofits. Currently, North Carolinians give nearly $6 billion per year in tax-deductible charitable contributions.

“I pray that our elected officials will demonstrate compassion for our fellow North Carolinians who need food, clothing and shelter, and the many nonprofit organizations that provide this support. Subjecting charities, including churches, to a greater tax burden will hamper our ability to serve our communities and create holes in the safety net that we’ve built across the state,” said Rev. Joe Mann, adjunct professor at the Duke Divinity School.

“If enacted, the Senate’s tax plan would critically reduce the ability of YMCAs and many other key nonprofits to offer programs and services for the most under-resourced areas in our community, as well as for children and families with the highest needs across our region,” said Sherée Vodicka, Executive Director of the NC Alliance of YMCAs.

New Vaccine Requirements For NC Students

Students in North Carolina public schools must meet new vaccine requirements in order to attend class in the fall.

The new guidelines include:

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV) – 2 doses

One dose is required entering the 7th grade or by age 12, whichever comes first.
A booster dose is required entering the 12th grade or by age 17 beginning August 1, 2020.
If the first dose is administered on or after the 16th birthday, the booster dose is not required.
Changes to previous shot requirements include:

Polio vaccine – The booster dose is required on or after the 4th birthday and before entering school for the first time.
Varicella vaccine – Two doses administered at least 28 days apart.
One dose is required on or after 12 months of age and before 19 months.
A second dose is required before entering school for the first time.
Documentation of disease must be from a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant verifying history of varicella disease. Documentation must include the name of the individual with the history of disease, approximate date or age of infection and a healthcare provider’s signature.
Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) – Tdap

A booster dose of Tdap is required for individuals who have not previously received Tdap and who are entering 7th grade or by age 12, whichever comes first.

More information about the immunization requirements can be found on the state’s immunization website.

USDA seeks applications for grants to develop rural co-ops

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to help rural cooperatives develop new markets for their products and services. USDA is making the grants available to nonprofit corporations and institutions of higher education through the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program.

“Cooperative organizations are important catalysts for economic growth and job creation in rural America,” Vilsack said. “The lack of investment capital is often the key factor holding many rural areas back from economic prosperity. The investments that USDA is making available will help organizations start cooperatives, expand existing ones, boost sales and marketing opportunities, and help develop business opportunities in rural areas.”

USDA’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant program improves economic conditions in rural areas by helping individuals and businesses start, expand or improve the operations of rural cooperatives and other mutually owned businesses through cooperative development centers. Other eligible grant activities may include conducting feasibility studies and creating business plans.

USDA is making up to $5.8 million in grants available in Fiscal Year 2015. One-year grants up to $200,000 are available. In most cases, grants may be used to pay for up to 75 percent of a project’s total costs. Recipients are required to match 25 percent of the award amount. The grants will be awarded prior to September 30, 2015. The recipients will have one year to utilize the awarded funds.

The application deadline is July 30. For additional information, see Page 34129 of the June 15, 2015, Federal Register or contact the USDA Rural Development State Office.

Online Driver License Renewal Announced in NC

Governor Pat McCrory announced that the state has launched a testing phase for on-line driver license renewal. This new service will allow customers to save time and complete driver license renewals at their convenience without having to visit a driver license office. Allowing customers to renew online will also help reduce wait times in North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles offices throughout the state.

“This new service is a major milestone in our continued efforts to improve customer service online and in our DMV offices throughout the state, making it faster, easier and more convenient for people to complete their business and get back to their busy lives,” said Governor Pat McCrory.

“I am proud of the tremendous efforts and major impact our team has made to enhance customer focus since early 2013, including extending hours across the state, adding greeters to help triage needs, and incorporating new innovative technology,” said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. “Online renewal is another important step and just the beginning of more enhanced services to come for our customers.”

NCDMV is also now issuing a new more secure and durable type of driver license through the online renewal and online duplicate request testing phase. The new design helps prevent counterfeiting, reduces the risk of identity theft, decreases the potential for fraud and meets federally recommended security features. The new license is expected to be available in NCDMV offices beginning this summer.

Among the DMV customer improvements added since 2013 are extended service hours in mornings, evenings and on Saturdays in key locations, adding front desk greeters, self-service kiosks and improved equipment, all with the goal of reducing wait times in some of our busier offices.

Weekend Shark Attacks Shake Coastal Community

Two shark attacks over the weekend in Coast North Carolina has left many stunned.

Officials say two young people who lost limbs in separate shark were in waist-deep water about 20 yards offshore when they were attacked.

Sunday’s attacks happened less than 90 minutes apart. The call about a 12-year-old girl came in about 4:40 p.m. The call about a 16-year-old boy attacked about two miles away came in at 5:51 p.m.

The girl lost part of her arm and suffered a leg injury. The boy lost his left arm. Their names haven’t been released. Both teens were on vacations and live in other parts of the state.

Officials said they couldn’t confirm whether the same shark attacked them or give details on the size of the animal or animals.

Both victims were airlifted to a Wilmington hospital on Sunday night with life-threatening injuries and underwent surgery.

Poultry shows and public sales will be suspended this fall due to threat of avian influenza

State Veterinarian Doug Meckes and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced today that all North Carolina poultry shows and public sales will be suspended from Aug. 15 to Jan. 15 due to the threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza. This includes the N.C. State Fair and Mountain State Fair poultry shows, bird shows at county fairs, live bird auctions and poultry swap meets.

The current strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza has been found in 21 states, mostly in the Midwest, and has not been detected in any state along the East Coast. This strain has not been found to affect human health and does not affect food safety. The virus is thought to be carried by migratory fowl, so veterinary officials are bracing for possible introduction of the virus during the fall migration.

“We did not make this decision lightly,” said Meckes. “Highly pathogenic avian influenza is a serious threat to our state’s poultry and we anticipate the threat of the virus will increase this fall. We want to take appropriate precautions to prevent the introduction to backyard and commercial flocks.”

The decision comes after department officials consulted with industry representatives, poultry specialists from N.C. State University, fair officials and other related parties. North Carolina joins at least 13 other states that have cancelled or altered poultry shows due to HPAI.
“We know this ban will affect a number of poultry shows and kids who have planned to exhibit at their county fair or the State Fair,” Troxler said. “We regret having to make this decision, but we think it is in the best interest of everyone involved. We’re working on ways to keep youth who wanted to show at fairs interested in showing.”

Elementary School Gunman has $3 Million Bond

A judge added millions to the bond of a man arrested with a woman last week after they were found with guns at South Macon elementary school campus.
Macon County Detention Center records show Adam Conley now faces a $3 million bond after an altercation at the jail

Records show Conley’s bond was raised on Saturday.

Conley now faces two more charges, in addition to those filed in connection to his arrest at South Macon Elementary School last Thursday.
The additional charges are assault on a government official, which carries a mandatory $2 million bond, and resisting a public officer.

Conley and Kathryn Jetter were arrested early Thursday morning after a bus driver reported them on the elementary school campus. Investigators say they were armed with loaded guns on school property, tried to shoot at a deputy during the arrest and had a gun on a school bus. Police say the two were also on drugs and shot and killed a cat at the school.

Conley and Jetter remain in the detention facility. Jetter’s bond remains set at $1 million.

Senate’s Comprehensive Economic Development Plan to Provide Balanced Tax Relief, Support Job Growth Statewide

Senate Republicans proposed a comprehensive economic development solution Wednesday that provides balanced tax relief to North Carolina families and businesses, reforms outdated and unfair tax laws, and empowers the entire state to grow and compete for new jobs.

The plan responsibly extends the state’s jobs incentives programs to recruit new businesses, while also further improving the tax climate for existing businesses so they can invest and hire more workers statewide. And it reduces the tax burden for North Carolinians of all income levels – including working families, seniors and lower income earners.

“This comprehensive package is the next step in making North Carolina more competitive for jobs and allowing working families and small businesses to keep more of their hard-earned money,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham.). “It builds on the successful tax reform efforts of 2013 by cutting taxes across all income spectrums and providing solutions to some unanticipated outcomes. Gov. McCrory has insisted on a balanced approach, so we’ve gone back to the drawing board to make sure every area of the state is more attractive for job creation – both rural and urban alike.

“These are some of the most challenging issues facing our state, and I am grateful to Sens. Brown, Gunn, Rabon and Rucho for working together to find common ground and a fair compromise that helps all of North Carolina.”

The Senate revisions to House Bill 117 will:

· Extend the state Job Development Investment Grants (JDIG) program for an additional two years while providing an additional $5 million in one-time funding to enable the state Department of Commerce to catch up on grant awards. The bill will also:

o Create a new economic development tool for attracting major manufacturing projects – like automobile and aerospace manufacturers – that commit to investing at least $750 million and creating at least 2,000 new North Carolina jobs.
o Adopt safeguards proposed by the House to ensure job recruitment dollars are administered responsibly and available throughout the entire year.
o Respond to concerns that struggling, mostly rural areas have received limited support from state incentives programs by establishing more generous grants to companies that locate in poorer counties.
o Eliminate the hard cap on incentives in urban counties found in previous Senate proposals, as requested by the governor.

· Reduce the tax burden on North Carolina families and small businesses by cutting the personal income tax rate from 5.75 to 5.5 percent beginning in 2016. The legislation will also create a progressive zero percent tax bracket that year – ensuring all North Carolina taxpayers, regardless of income, will pay no state personal income tax on their first $17,500 of income. And it will increase the amount of nontaxable income even further over the next five years. Under the bill, 88 percent of taxpayers will pay less, pay nothing or see no change in what they pay.

“A major goal of tax reform has been ensuring fair tax relief for all North Carolinians – regardless of income level,” said Senate Finance Committee co-chairman Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg). “Further reducing the tax rate and increasing the zero tax bracket will help achieve that goal and provide significant relief to low-income earners, working families and small businesses across our state.”

· Allow families to claim all deductions offered by the federal government on their North Carolina tax returns – including those for medical, mortgage interest, property tax, charitable, education and other allowable expenses – up to a maximum of $20,000. Together with the increased zero tax bracket, the change will enable 85 percent of taxpayers to claim all deductions for which they are eligible.

· Keep the promise of lower corporate income taxes by allowing the rate to fall to four percent beginning in 2016 and three percent beginning in 2017. The state is already expected to meet revenue targets currently in place that will trigger the reductions. This change will provide certainty that North Carolina’s rate will soon be the lowest in the Southeast.

· Move to calculating corporate income tax on the basis of a single sales factor over three years, so businesses are not penalized for making large capital investments or hiring more workers in the state. Many neighboring states, including South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, use a single sales factor formula, and this has put them at a competitive advantage over North Carolina.

· Allocate sales tax dollars fairly to ensure North Carolina’s local governments benefit from tax dollars paid by their own citizens. Over four years, the plan will provide that 80 percent of sales tax revenues are allocated based on where people live, with 20 percent allocated based on the county where a sale takes place. And it will eliminate outdated and unfair “adjustment factors” that redistribute sales tax revenues to a handful of counties. The changes will enable all areas of the state to receive a fair share of sales tax revenues while still supporting costs associated with providing services and infrastructure in large commercial centers.

“When the current, archaic sales tax system was put in place, North Carolina was a different state. But times have changed, and the outdated distribution policy is creating a major obstacle to job creation in rural areas,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown (R-Onslow). “These reforms strike a balance with our incentives policy and allow all of North Carolina to share in economic prosperity – by giving our rural counties a fair shake while making sure our urban centers still benefit from incentives and sales tax dollars as they grow in population.”

The plan will also:

o Narrow the loophole that major corporations sheltering in nonprofit status are using to avoid paying their fair share of sales tax. Because they are classified as nonprofits, their first $666 million in purchases are not subject to tax, unlike other large businesses. Over five years, the bill will reduce the sales tax exemption for nonprofits to their first $15 million in purchases – still allowing nearly 99 percent of nonprofits to receive the full benefit of the exemption.
o Broaden the sales tax base to continue the goal of moving away from unfair and burdensome taxes on property and income. The bill will expand the base to include advertising, veterinary services and items proposed by the House as part of its 2013 tax reform package. It will also begin the process of eliminating a number of sales tax loopholes by applying the state rate and increasing maximum payment caps.

· Streamline and reduce the franchise tax by 33 percent – cutting what is effectively a statewide property tax on both large and small businesses.

Short Road Leads to Big Opportunities: Paving Underway on Casino Connector

It may be shorter than a mile, but a new road under construction in far western North Carolina has big potential.

“Economically, this is going to be huge,” says Murphy Mayor William Hughes. “We haven’t had an impact like this since the TVA built Hiwassee Dam in the 1930’s, and the population of the town tripled”.

Workers are applying asphalt to the eight-tenths of a mile connector from U.S. 64/74 on the east side of Murphy, to the site of the new Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel. The North Carolina Department of Transportation expects paving to be finished in a couple of weeks.

NCDOT built water and sewer line connections to the property, so it could move forward with building and paving the road. “That work is almost complete, from a DOT perspective, and the tribe will reimburse the state, so it’s a win-win” says Brian Burch, NCDOT Division 14 Construction Engineer. He adds the short road has been a big collaboration. “We’ve worked closely with the Eastern Band of Cherokee, town of Murphy, Cherokee County, and the contractor, Whiting and Turner.”

“This road is the conduit that’s going to provide access to jobs, visitors, and tourists to our area, so we’re real excited to be a partner in this project,” says Burch. “There’s potential in additional jobs created through more restaurants, hotels, and all the things that come with tourists visiting the area.”

Mayor Hughes agrees the impact goes far beyond the anticipated 900 new Harrah’s jobs. “Those 900 people will be living here, spending here, contributing to the economy.”

He adds the new complex will also give those who grew up in the area a chance to stay here. “In the last 40 or 50 years, we see a mass exodus of young people this time every year. After graduation, some go to college, others the service. Those looking to enter the workforce often have to look elsewhere. This will give them a chance to continue living here.”

Harrah’s is hoping to open in late summer, according to the mayor. “Some of the workers have started training already,” he says. “We’ve been anticipating this for a while and are excited for the opportunities it brings.”