Header

Education Superhighway? NC Approves Virtual Charter Schools

Starting next year, North Carolina’s charter schools will expand beyond the four walls of a classroom. State lawmakers approved a pilot program in this year’s budget that requires the state Board of Education to approve two statewide virtual charter schools – making the companies eligible for millions in public education dollars.

Yevonne Brannon with Public Schools First NC is concerned about the quality of education that state tax dollars will fund, “It’s something to really be concerned about because we’re taking tax dollars earmarked for public schools, and we’re putting them into a charter. It’s totally online. We have no way to judge its quality or judge the impact on the actual student learning.”

K-12 Incorporated and Connections Academy – the nation’s two largest online education companies – have applied for online charter school status. The schools would receive approximately nine-thousand dollars per student. Supporters of the charter programs say it will offer the state’s students more choices. The program is separate from the North Carolina Virtual Public School – currently run by the state, that offers online classes to students.

Neighboring Tennessee opened a K-12 Incorporated school four years ago but may shut the school down at the end of this year, citing three years of low test scores. Brannon says “We’re going to be pouring more students, more money away from the public schools.”

If approved, as many as three-thousand students could be enrolled in the two schools combined by the end of next year.

Parkway closes at Milepost 422 for tunnel repair

Blue Ridge Parkway officials announce the closure of a small section of motor road between existing gates at Milepost 420.3 near US Forest Service Road 816 (Black Balsam Road) and Milepost 423.3 at NC Highway 215. Both lanes of the motor road in that section will be closed to all visitors beginning Nov. 3, 2014 through May 2015.

During this closure, Devil’s Courthouse Overlook at Milepost 422.4 will be accessible from the south by foot, bicycle or skis at NC Highway 215. The Art Loeb Trail crossing at Milepost 421.2 will be accessible from the north at Black Balsam Road. Visitors inside the closure are encouraged to use extreme caution and watch for construction related traffic also in the area.

Devil’s Courthouse Tunnel was originally constructed in 1941. This project will make repairs to the aging drainage system and concrete lining inside the tunnel. The work requires that portions of the overhead concrete lining be removed, creating potentially hazardous conditions for visitors that require a full road closure. The tunnel will be sealed and inaccessible to any traffic during this project.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is recognized internationally as an example of landscape design achievement and Parkway tunnels are a significant design feature along the historic route.

Twenty-five of the twenty-six tunnels along the Parkway are in North Carolina, with all Parkway tunnels representing 36 percent of the entire National Park Service tunnel inventory. Tunnels along the Parkway were often constructed to reduce excessive scarring that open cuts would entail, enabling the Parkway to cross through ridges in the interest of maintaining the most desirable route location.

The distinctive stone masonry portals on most Parkway tunnels were generally not part of the original construction, added later in the 1950s and 1960s.

For regular Parkway updates on this and other projects follow the Blue Ridge Parkway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BlueRidgeNPS; or for real-time road closure information visit maps.nps.gov/blri/road-closures/.

Voter Suppression? There’s an App for That

Early voting in North Carolina is well underway. On Election Day thousands will wait until the last minute, and there will be trained election monitors at polling stations to make sure people are given every legal opportunity to vote. This year many will be armed with a mobile application – or app – to record in real time any voting irregularities across the state.

“Election Collection” is the brain child of Sarah Moncelle with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, “Here at the office on Election Day, as the volunteers are inputting the reports, they get updated in real time to the database and also to the map so we can sort of see spatially where the patterns are. ”

Tag: Data collected from the app will be used to determine if additional staff or volunteers should be sent to particular polling locations, and also shared with groups who are monitoring the effects of North Carolina’s new voting law. More information on the midterm election can be found at NCVOTERGUIDE.ORG

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice worked with several partner groups to train volunteers on using the app. It will enable them to collect personalized accounts of issues at the polls, as well as any examples of voter suppression. Moncelle says it’s another tool for voters, in addition to the voting hotlines that are available, “The hotlines are a way for people to report what’s happening, find out their rights, find out their polling location. This app is more for like specifically documenting so that we have a more detailed documentation we can use to show the negative effects.”

On Election Day, because of North Carolina’s new voting law, there is no same-day registration and you must vote at your assigned precinct since no provisional ballots will be offered for out-of-precinct voting. You are not required to have a state issued photo ID.

Prescribed Burns in Jackson County

The U.S. Forest Service plans to conduct a series of prescribed burns in the Nantahala Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest, this fall. Weather will dictate the dates of the prescribed burns. All four sites are located in southern Jackson County.

The Moses Creek area burn units are:
Coward Bald (684 acres)
Moses Creek (158 acres)
The Panthertown area burn unit is:
Big Green (497 acres)
The Bonas Defeat area burn unit is:
Awl Knob (240 acres)
The Forest Service will conduct these understory burns to reduce hazardous fuel and restore conditions in the forest. Prescribed burning also promotes forest health and wildlife habitat. Public safety is the highest priority during a prescribed burn. The dates for each burn will be announced as they are decided and weather permitting.

Numbers Show Solid Turn Out in Early Voting

Early voting is off to a good start in North Carolina. Close to 300,000 people have taken advantage of early voting since the polls opened on Thursday. It’s closing in on the ten day total of early voters in the 2010 midterm. The voting period is shorter this year, but more one stop voting sites are available with extended hours.

The total number of ballots cast so far including absentee and military ballot pushes the number of votes so far to almost 400,000. This year more than 360 early voting sites are offered across the state, the most sites ever offered. Early voting ends on Nov. 1.

Fireworks Fundraiser in Downtown Sylva Saturday Evening

96.5 Band House Band will play on Saturday night.

96.5 Band House Band will play on Saturday night.

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce is planning an evening of music at Sylva’s Bridge Park Nov. 1 to benefit the return of fireworks to Sylva on July 4, 2015.

The Fall Fireworks Fundraiser will be held at the Bridge Park in Sylva from 5 to 9 p.m., on Saturday, Nov. 1 and feature food and drinks and performances by two of the region’s hottest bands; Soldier’s Heart and the 96.5 House Band.
The 96.5 House Band will perform from 7-8:45 p.m. They will bring the sounds of Jerry Lee Lewis, KC and the Sunshine Band, Van Morrison, Elvis, The Eagles, Hall & Oates, Wilson Pickett, Dion, Queen, The Beatles, Otis Redding and lots more.
The 96.5 House Band has been entertaining audiences around Western North Carolina since November of 2002. The band has earned a reputation for its upbeat live shows.

The 96.5 House Band has performed multiple times throughout the Asheville area and with legendary bands such as the Beach Boys, The Temptations, Gary Puckett, The Drifters, The Rascals and many more. All have praised the band’s performance and ability to work the crowd when it opened up for these acts. The Beach Boys even asked if they’d open the next few shows for them.
The 96.5 House Band is:
Chris Hoffman – Lead vocals.
Phil Smith – Saxophone, acoustic guitar.
Frank Verhaeghe – Lead guitar.
Pat Ryan – Bass guitar, backing vocals.
Steve Stewart – Drums.

The band Soldier’s Heart will bring its Americana music from the front porch to Sylva’s Bridge Park from 5-6:45 p.m., as well.
Formed In the spring of 2012 and founded on the principle of front porch music Soldier’s Heart began to woodshed ideas into songs. The band has honed a new sound that can only and aptly be described as “Porch and Soul.”
Soldier’s Heart is a Southern Appalachian Folk/Roots band. This six-piece seamlessly blends traditional mountain instrumentation with contemporary songwriting to accomplish the goal of “Bringing the front porch to the people.” With influences from the late Doc Watson to Dylan and The Band, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy!
Soldier’s Heart is:
Caleb Burress: vocals, acoustic guitar
Joey Fortner: vocals, banjo
Jeff Mendenhall: fiddle
Rick Shore: drums
Zack Edwards: bass
Chris McElrath: electric guitar

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce is requesting at least a $5 donation for admission to the Nov. 1 concert, with proceeds to help support financing fireworks in Sylva next summer. There will be food and drinks available for purchase by local vendors. Fans should bring a chair or blanket.

“We’re excited to not only bring these two amazing bands to Sylva for a fun night of music, but we’re also extremely pleased to be working diligently on bringing fireworks back to the downtown Sylva area next summer,” said Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Julie Spiro. “The community’s support of this event and others this winter will help finance a July 4 fireworks festivity downtown that everyone will be proud of for years to come.”
Citizens and businesses can make donations for fireworks anytime at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. Volunteer, vendor and sponsorship opportunities are also available.
For more information, call 828-586-2155 or visit www.mountainlovers.com

Federal Appeals Court to Hear Arguments on North Carolina Forced Ultrasound Law

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hear oral arguments on Wednesday over a 2011 North Carolina law that would have required abortion providers to show a woman an ultrasound and describe the images in detail four hours before performing an abortion, even if the woman objects. A federal court struck down key provisions of the law in January; the state is now appealing that ruling.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed the law requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and place the image in the woman’s line of sight in July 2011 over the veto of then-Governor Bev Perdue. Under the law, the provider would be required to describe the embryo or fetus in detail and offer the woman the opportunity to hear the “fetal heart tone.” While the law would allow the woman to avert her eyes and “refuse to hear,” the provider would still be required to place the images in front of her and describe them in detail. The measure would make no exceptions for women under any circumstances, including cases of rape, incest, or those who receive a tragic diagnosis during pregnancy.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a constitutional challenge to the law in September 2011, arguing that it violated the rights of health care providers and women seeking abortion care.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles blocked key provisions of the law from going into effect in October 2011. In January 2014, Judge Eagles struck down the law, ruling that it was an unconstitutional violation of doctors’ free speech rights.

Upside of Affordable Care Act: Health Care Costs Down

Not long ago, the airwaves were filled with predictions that health-care reform would be a disaster for taxpayers and consumers. That hasn’t happened. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – will cut the federal budget deficit by a hundred billion dollars. That despite adding health coverage for about ten million people, by federal estimates.

Paul Van de Water at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the reform has been able to do this because it’s had real success at one of its key goals – holding down the cost of health care, “The growth of health-care costs has been at close to historic lows, both in the public programs – that is Medicare and Medicaid – as well as the private sector.”

Tag: Some critics still argue that health-care reform will be a disaster, but that position is not getting a lot of support from the data. Other critics have simply fallen silent. Up until now, North Carolina has opted out of billions in federal funding to extend Medicaid to more than 300,000 low-income North Carolinians, but more than 200,000 of the state’s residents signed up for a health plan through the Affordable Care Act.

The overall federal deficit has dropped dramatically. It’s now projected to total nearly 5 trillion dollars less by 2020 than was expected just four years ago. And maybe more importantly, Van de Water says the ACA is improving the health of the vital Medicare program, which is threatened by an influx of millions of baby boomers, “Medicare will continue to need adjustments, but it’s clear that health reform has made Medicare’s prospects better, not worse.”

Another prediction that hasn’t come true yet is that premiums would skyrocket. Van de Water says the huge variation in the cost of insurance makes it difficult to describe a simple pattern. But he says it looks like slowing the rise in health-care costs has helped keep the price of premiums in line – especially in the new insurance exchanges, “Premiums in the health-insurance exchanges have turned out to be lower than what the congressional office was originally projecting. Now premiums are still going up, but it’s likely that they’re going up by less than what would have otherwise been the case.”

Ceremony for Dockie Brendle Bridge Wednesday

Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Dockie Brendle will have a bridge officially named in honor of him this month. The NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata will be in attendance next week as the department recognizes Brendall’s bridge, located off U.S. 74, exit 64. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the Senior Citizens Center, 129 Brendle St., in Bryson City.

WCU vice chancellor honors parents, supports band students with new scholarship

Standing from left, Robert Edwards, Chancellor David O. Belcher and Wayne Edwards join (seated from left) Roy and Hazel Edwards in honor of the establishment of the Roy and Hazel Edwards Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Standing from left, Robert Edwards, Chancellor David O. Belcher and Wayne Edwards join (seated from left) Roy and Hazel Edwards in honor of the establishment of the Roy and Hazel Edwards Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Robert Edwards, who is stepping down in December as Western Carolina University’s vice chancellor for administration and finance after 37 years of service to the university, has turned around the age-old notion of “retirement gift.” Instead of merely accepting a gold watch or a rocking chair, Edwards has made a gift of his own to establish a scholarship fund honoring his parents and his high school band director.

Through contributions totaling more than $10,000, Edwards has created the Roy and Hazel Edwards Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide annual support to members of WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band who are from one of the 17 westernmost counties of North Carolina.

Edwards, a 1977 graduate of WCU, said he named the scholarship in honor of his parents, Roy and Hazel Edwards of Sylva, because he wanted to publicly thank them for enabling him and his brother, Wayne Edwards of Waynesville, to attend and graduate from the university. Wayne Edwards, a 1979 graduate of WCU, is a Haywood County insurance executive.

“I know that my mother and father sacrificed quite a bit financially and in other ways so that Wayne and I were able to go to Western Carolina University,” he said. “Without their sacrifices and support, neither of us would have been able to have obtained a college education, and I felt it was important to recognize that fact by naming this scholarship fund in their honor.”

Edwards said there are two main reasons why he stipulated that the scholarships supported by the endowed fund should benefit students who are part of WCU’s marching band program.

“First, I truly believe that the marching band is one of the best things we have going at Western Carolina,” he said. “With its growth in size and quality, it has become a significant part of recruiting students to come to Cullowhee, and I wanted to do what I could to help with that.”

In directing his gifts to support the marching band program, Edwards also wanted to pay homage to his former band director at Sylva-Webster (now Smoky Mountain) High School, Bob Buckner, who would go on to assume the reins of WCU’s marching band program and help it grow from fewer than 90 members to more than 400 when he retired. The band, now directed by David Starnes, has more than 500 members this year.

“Bob is truly the mastermind of what we have going on today in our marching band program. The program is thriving because of the strong foundation that Bob left when he retired. Besides my mom and dad, Bob Bucker is the individual who has had the most influence in my life,” Edwards said.

“He taught me that perfection is only obtained through hard dedicated work. I learned how to be a winner with humility and modesty and I learned how to accept losing with dignity and grace,” he said. “Bob always had a special talent of getting more out of us than 100 percent. He taught all of us to do more than what we thought we were capable of doing. Throughout my life, there have been numerous times when I found myself digging deep within myself, remembering these life lessons from Bob.”

Buckner, a 1967 graduate of Western Carolina, became director of WCU’s marching band in 1991. During his tenure, the band received the 2009 John Philip Sousa Foundation’s prestigious Sudler Trophy, the nation’s highest and most-coveted award for college and university marching bands. Capping his career was a 2011 New Year’s Day appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade by the Pride of the Mountains, which was named “best band” in the parade in an online poll conducted by KTLA-TV of Los Angeles. Buckner retired in the summer of 2011 after 20 years as director.

This year, the band will be participating in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Edwards became vice chancellor for administration and finance on July 1, 2011, after serving in the role in an interim capacity. He had previously worked as the university’s internal auditor for 27 years. Born and raised in Jackson County, he graduated from Sylva-Webster High School in 1973.

The Roy and Hazel Edwards Endowed Scholarship is expected to be awarded for the first time next year, with preference given to a graduate of Smoky Mountain High School who is a member of the WCU marching band. Recipients must demonstrate financial need, and may be either new or continuing WCU students who are in good academic standing.

The gift from Edwards is the latest in a series of new endowed scholarships created at WCU since the installation of Chancellor David O. Belcher in March 2012. During his installation address, Belcher identified raising funds for endowed scholarships as the top philanthropic priority for WCU.

Early Voting Starts Today: High Turnout Expected at Polls

Jackson County Board of Elections is open for voters today. Photo by Heather L Hyatt

Jackson County Board of Elections is open for voters today. Photo by Heather L Hyatt

It’s a sprint and not a marathon for North Carolina voters this election season. Early voting starts today and runs until November 1st – seven days shorter than in previous years. Boards of Elections are ready for the high turnout expected – as voters try to make sure their vote counts in this midterm election, where several high-profile offices are at stake.

Trena Parker, director of elections in Buncombe County says her staff is ready, “It will just be more condensed. The State Board of Elections has been preparing all of the counties accordingly. We feel like we’re ready. We trained the workers.”

Every county offers Saturday early voting, and some offer Sunday voting. More information on voting and the candidates is available at ncvoterguide.org. Unlike Election Day on November 4th, you can vote at any precinct location in your county for early voting. You are not required to have a photo ID for this election.

Brent Laurenz with the North Carolina Center for Voter Education encourages people to vote early because you can’t always predict what might happen with your schedule on Election Day. He adds the hotly contested US Senate race may increase crowds at the polls, “The U.S. Senate race between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis is drawing a lot of attention. I think that’s going to attract a lot of voters, probably more so than maybe last midterm election in 2010.”

Parker says polling locations will have extra staff to accommodate crowds, but it’s also important for voters to come prepared – with some knowledge of the races, “Voters should try to treat voting just as they would a doctor’s appointment. You need to prepare for ‘OK, where it is I go? What do I need to know before I go?’ A little bit more preparation this time might be to their benefit.”

Unlike prior years, there is no straight-party voting on the ballot, so voters must select each candidate choice for each race, even if they are voting party line. If you wait until Election Day, it’s important to verify your precinct location, since because of the new state voting Law, no provisional ballots will be accepted

WCU Homecoming Parade & Activities

Western Carolina University will hold its homecoming parade Friday, Oct. 24, in downtown Sylva.The parade begins at 6:15 p.m., and university alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends are invited to cheer as community and student floats, Catamount cheerleaders, the Homecoming Court and the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band march and roll down Main Street.
The parade will start at Mark Watson Park and march toward downtown Sylva along Main Street. As parade participants reach the east Main and Mill street intersection, a Sylva police officer will determine which floats continue straight or turn onto Mill Street, depending on their size. Floats that cannot make the turn will continue to Jackson Paper to turn around.

Starting at 6:10 p.m., Main Street traffic will be diverted at the old Rescue Squad building onto Dillsboro Road. Westbound traffic into town will be stopped at Speedy’s and rerouted onto Municipal Drive.

WCU will celebrate with events that include a professional step show performance, golf tournament and football game against The Citadel.
This year’s theme is “Cheers to 125 Years of Catamount Pride!,” a tip of the hat to 2014 being the 125th anniversary of WCU’s founding.
Activities set for Thursday include the “Last Lecture” delivered by Lisa Briggs, WCU associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, at 4 p.m. in the theater of the University Center. The annual event honors a WCU faculty member who has been recognized by students for teaching with great passion and enthusiasm. Briggs, who holds two degrees from WCU, will address the topic “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Please Help Guide Us Through it All.”

Later today, Catamount fans will gather for the Spirit Night pep rally at Central Plaza. The 6 p.m. event will feature a free cookout and appearances by the cheerleaders, dance team, Homecoming court, athletic teams and pep band.

Activities on Saturday, Oct. 25, will begin with the Chancellor’s Brunch and Alumni Awards Ceremony from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the Grandroom of the University Center. Honorees include Robert Edwards, WCU vice chancellor for administration and finance, Distinguished Service Award; and Jarrett Frazier, ingest coordinator in video controls for NBC Sports in Stamford, Conn., Young Alumnus Award. Football tailgating will begin at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 25, and Catamount fans will gather at E.J. Whitmire Stadium at 2 p.m. Halftime activities will include recognition of the Homecoming award winners and court, plus an announcement of this year’s Homecoming king and queen. Tickets to the game are available from the WCU athletics ticket office at 800-344-6928.

For more information about Homecoming events, visit homecoming.wcu.edu or contact WCU’s Alumni Affairs office.

NCDMV, NCSBOE Partner to Validate Voter Registration Applications in Advance of Election

The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles is supporting the N.C. State Board of Elections in its efforts to confirm the validity of voter registration applications. NCDMV is using the U.S. Department of Homeland Security database to assist in this proactive process.

“This is an example of the continued partnership between NCDMV and the State Board of Elections,” said NCDMV Commissioner Kelly Thomas. “Through this team approach, we will do all we can to help the Board of Elections ensure the security and accuracy of voter registration applications.”

Through the research to date, NCDMV has found that 11 people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) issuances were also registered to vote through NCDMV.

Three of those people were registered in error and SBOE is working to remove them from voter registration rolls. The remaining eight people were registered to vote through NCDMV prior to March 2013 when DACA went into effect and were already registered voters when they received their DACA issuance. As of Oct.18, NCDMV had 15,250 total DACA records in its database. The State BOE has the responsibility to remove any ineligible individuals from voter rolls.

NCDMV will continue to cross-check and verify the database to reinforce this data process moving forward. NCDMV information is provided to SBOE in an effort to ensure that only valid voters are allowed to cast ballots. SBOE currently receives an update of the NCDMV database weekly.

“We appreciate the continued partnership with NCDMV and we will continue to working through this process as quickly as possible to ensure the integrity of the election for all North Carolina voters,” said Kim Strach, SBOE executive director.

Search for Stolen Artifacts from Cataloochee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are offering a reward for information regarding the recent theft of artifacts from the Palmer House in Cataloochee. The missing artifacts, including a trowel, mill pick, and a coffee mill, were taken from locked display cases in the Palmer House where historical information and exhibits are provided for park visitors.

Park officials are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible for the theft. The unique, wall-mounted coffee mill was donated to the park in 1935 by a Cataloochee resident. The trowel and mill pick, which was used to cut and sharpen millstone grooves, were also part of the park’s permanent archival collection.

It is unlawful to disturb or deface historic resources within the park. Perpetrators may be sentenced up to 6 months in jail and or fined up to $5,000. Anyone with information as to the possible identity of the individuals responsible for the theft is encouraged to call the tip hotline (865) 436-1580.

The Airwaves: For Public TV or Internet Interests?

gr-42407-1-1As the song goes, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Will wireless kill some free public TV? That’s the latest media question. The FCC is holding an auction in which wireless companies such as Verizon and A-T-and-T will bid on parts of the nation’s airwaves currently being used by television stations. It’s called a spectrum auction.

Todd O’Boyle of Common Cause says there are billions at stake, “On the one hand, the broadcasters are looking at a big payday, potentially. And on the other hand, the cellular folks are looking at making lots of money building next-generation networks.”

But some observers are concerned that, given the incentive to sell spectrum, the owners of some public television stations that serve diverse communities in many cities will give in. Minority voices would be muffled and the T-V industry, virtually bereft of any minority ownership to begin with, would be further “mainstreamed.”

Public broadcasting advocate John Schwartz, director and founder of the Voqal companies, says the government doesn’t seem sympathetic to pleas on behalf of public TV, “The FCC is strongly influenced not only by the lobbying power of the big carriers – because obviously that’s massive – but also out of the concern that the most important and most valuable use of spectrum now is for wireless broadband and not for broadcast.”

According to one estimate, the auction could generate 45 billion dollars, and another forecast says nearly 35-hundred low-power television stations could be affected by the spectrum changes. The government also intends to use some of the money raised to build a next-generation public safety communications system. The auction is set to start on the 13th of next month.

One Stop Early Voting in Jackson County

JACKSON COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS OFFICE
876 SKYLAND DR # 1
SYLVA, NC 28779
Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

CASHIERS RECREATION CENTER
355 FRANK ALLEN RD
CASHIERS, NC 28717
Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

CULLOWHEE RECREATION CENTER
88 CULLOWHEE MOUNTAIN RD
CULLOWHEE, NC 28723
Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

WOLFTOWN COMMUNITY GYM
28 LONG BRANCH
CHEROKEE, NC 28719
Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Local Man Charged in Shooting Death of His Father

Travis Heffner has been charged in the shooting death of his father Kenneth Heffner

Travis Heffner has been charged in the shooting death of his father Kenneth Heffner

On October 20, 2014, at approximately 6:38 p.m., the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call at 77 Paniolo Drive, Sylva, NC regarding a shooting. The caller stated to the 911 operator that he had shot his father. 911 dispatchers kept the caller on the phone, instructed him how to check for breath, and eventually how to conduct CPR. Deputies arrived on scene a short time later and assisted with CPR. West Care EMS arrived shortly thereafter and continued CPR with assistance from the Balsam-Willets Volunteer Fire Department’s first responders. Deputies secured the shooting scene, then obtained and served a search warrant. Deputies were assisted by agents with the NCSBI during the search. As a result of the investigation and after conferring with the District Attorney’s Office, the caller, identified as Travis Lindsey Heffner, was arrested and charged. The deceased is Kenneth Rodney Heffner, father of the suspect. The investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

Time to Escape a Home Fire? 2 Minutes, Says Red Cross

 In addition to checking the batteries in your smoke detectors, the American Red Cross recommends going over your home escape plan in the event of a fire. Photo credit: S. Carson.

In addition to checking the batteries in your smoke detectors, the American Red Cross recommends going over your home escape plan in the event of a fire. Photo credit: S. Carson.

More than 2,300 people die nationwide and another nearly 13,000 are injured in home fires. This month, the American Red Cross is kicking off a national campaign to reduce deaths and injuries from house fires by as much as 25% over the next five years.

While installing smoke detectors and changing their batteries is an important part of fire safety, the group’s Anne Marie Borrego says your family’s escape plan is just as important, “I would say if there’s one thing that you can do today it’s to go home and really practice that escape plan. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to sit down and talk with your family and actually see how long it’s going to take you to get out of your home.”

A recent Red Cross survey found that people believe they have more time than they do to escape a burning home. Fire experts estimate people have as little as two minutes to escape, while 62% of respondents believe they have at least five minutes.

According to the survey, nearly seven in 10 parents believed their children knew what to do if their house caught on fire, but less than one in five families with children have practiced home fire drills and less than half of them have talked with their children about fire safety.

Borrego says fire safety is a conversation worth having with your kids, “My advice would be to do it in a very matter-of-fact manner. It’s important to talk with them about the need to prepare just in case and to reassure them that mom and dad are doing this just so everyone stays safe.”

The National Fire Protection Association recommends smoke alarms installed inside of every bedroom and on every level of your home.

Moral March to take place on Thursday

A Moral March to the polls is being held in Sylva on Thursday October 23rd–just in time for early voting. Activists and participants will gather at 10:00 am in front of the old Jackson County Courthouse on Main Street and make the 2 mile walk to the Board of Elections office on Skyland Drive.
The Reverend Charles Lee will be leading the procession to the Elections office.

New Book Chronicles History of GSMNP

As one of the largest and wildest national parks in the East and as America’s most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains has a long history that is both dramatic and highly influential.

“Unlike most western parks, which were carved from vacant, public domain or national forest lands, this national park had to be purchased entirely from private landowners,” said Steve Kemp, interpretive products and services director at Great Smoky Mountains Association, publisher of “Mountains for the Masses: A History of Management Issues in Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” a new administrative history of this national park.

The park’s acquired area covers more than half a million acres. While logging companies owned 85 percent of this land, it also encompassed more than 1,000 family farms.

“Making a park and a wilderness from settled, logged-off lands had both political and environmental consequences,” said Kemp. “Throughout this history, the issues of preserving mountain culture, designating wilderness, protecting wildlife and biodiversity – all while managing roads, trails, campgrounds, and other facilities for millions of annual visitors – had to be reckoned with and resolved.”

Chapter topics within “Mountains for the Masses” cover important issues such as: wildlife management, the campaign to establish a park, the CCC era, preserving the mountain culture, Cades Cove, wilderness designation, entrance fees, Mission 66, fisheries management, and the legacy of dispossession.

A comprehensive index makes “Mountains for the Masses” an invaluable reference tool for libraries, agencies and citizens with an interest in how their public land is managed and protected.

“Park superintendents understandably eschew labeling parks as ‘crown jewel’ or ‘flagships,’ insisting that each unit in the National Park System deserves to be valued on its own merits,” author Theodore Catton said. “Still, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is by any measure one of the superlative national parks in the United States.

“Arno B. Cammerer, a key player in the campaign to establish the park in the 1920s, glimpsed its future greatness and popularity when he predicted that Great Smoky Mountains would become a haven for all ‘those from the congested centers of population, the workers of the machines in the lofts and mills, the clerks at the desks, and the average fellow of the small towns,’ who, with only a few days’ vacation at their disposal, would “get the recreation and inspiration that [their] more fortunate brothers now get out of a visit to the Yellowstone or Yosemite,” Catton continued.

Catton is also the author of “Inhabited Wilderness: Indians, Eskimos and National Parks in Alaska” and “National Park, City Playground: Mount Rainier in the Twentieth Century.” Proceeds from sales of the hardback edition at $40, including dozens of photographs of key park staff sites, support the preservation of this national park.

Since its inception in 1953, Great Smoky Mountains Association has given more than $32 million to support the ongoing educational, scientific and preservation efforts of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Support for the non-profit association is derived primarily from online and visitor center sales of educational products and membership dues. Those who wish to strengthen their Smokies experience are encouraged to join GSMA.

Since its inception in 1953, Great Smoky Mountains Association has given more than $32 million to support the ongoing educational, scientific and preservation efforts of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Support for the non-profit association is derived primarily from online and visitor center sales of educational products and membership dues. Those who wish to strengthen their Smokies experience are encouraged to join GSMA.

For more information about GSMA or how to order this new volume, visit www.SmokiesInformation.org; or call toll-free 888-898-9102.