Header

Brown Mountain Reopened

NC-Forest-LogoThe U.S. Forest Service has reopened the Brown Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area. The popular area was closed last week due to a wildfire located between the east side of the Brown Mountain OHV Area and Wilson Creek on the Pisgah National Forest, Grandfather Ranger District. The wildfire burned approximately 500 acres. No injuries were reported, and no structures were threated. A lightning strike started the fire last Thursday. The N.C. Forest Service and Collettsville Volunteer Fire Department assisted in reporting and locating the fire.

Blue Ridge School Break-In

crime-sceneIn the early morning hours of April 7, 2014, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office was requested by the Cashiers Fire Department to come to Blue Ridge School.  The Fire Department was already on scene for a fire alarm activation.  Suspects had forced entry into the school and thousands of dollars of damage to the interior of the building was done.  Damages included spray painting and flooding.  The Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the incident and is asking for anyone with any information to contact Detective Rick Buchanan.  The Sheriff’s Office is offering a $500 reward for anyone with any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an offender in this case.  Please contact Detective Rick Buchanan at (828) 269-5698, email him at rlbuchanan@jacksonnc.org or contact Crime Stoppers,at (828) 631-1125 or crimestoppers@jacksonnc.org

Jackson County ABC Board

liquor-1221-1280x960After months of discussions and negotiations a plan has finally emerged which would consolidate the control of hard liquor sales in Jackson County under a single county wide Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. County Manager Chuck Wooten presented his plan to the Jackson County Commissioners on Monday and asked for a meeting on Monday April 14th with Town of Sylva officials to formalize the agreement. Once the agreement is signed a Jackson County ABC Board would be appointed. Initially the appointments would have term limits in order to get the board into a three year staggered system of rotation. Board members would be paid $150 per meeting plus travel. The ABC Board Chair would receive $250. plus travel for each meeting.  Wooten stressed that operations of the Sylva ABC store then the Cashiers ABC store expected to open in May would be under the control of the Jackson County ABC Board by May. One of the concerns expressed by the Town of Sylva is the loss of revenue generated by the Sylva ABC store. According to the merger agreement the Town Of Sylva would continue to get a share of the net profits and a guaranteed return. Once the new merged board is in place then steps would be taken to adopt the current standard operating procedures. Wooten also described how employees of the present Sylva ABC Board would be transitioned into the new Jackson County ABC Board. The Sylva ABC Board would be compensated for the inventory and fixtures at the ABC Store. It was recommended by the current members of the Sylva ABC Board that at least six weeks of working capital be available for ongoing use. Elected officials of the Town of Sylva and the County of Jackson will meet Monday April 14th to complete the merger agreement which will end the Sylva ABC Board  and create a new Jackson County ABC Board.

Benifit For Washington State

WAWestern Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center is sponsoring a Friday, April 11, concert to benefit landslide victims in Snohomish County in Washington state – an area with strong ties to Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. The concert, titled “The Circle is Unbroken: A Benefit for Oso, Washington, from Western North Carolina,” will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at Sylva’s Bridge Park. The bluegrass show will feature local bands Mountain Faith and the Boys of Tuckasegee. A few days after the landslide disaster struck on March 22, taking lives and destroying homes, two WCU historians who have researched the migration of WNC residents to the Pacific Northwest, Scott Philyaw, director of the Mountain Heritage Center, and Rob Ferguson, visiting assistant professor, were discussing ways to assist the victims.  Ferguson contacted officials in Darrington, Wash., and learned that financial assistance is what those who have lost their homes need most. Recognizing the strong connections between WNC and Washington state, they decided to reach out to the local community, Philyaw said. For much of the 20th century, migrants from the southwest mountains of WNC moved to western Washington state in such large numbers that they outnumbered every other immigrant population in a half dozen communities, said Ferguson. At first, the migrants from North Carolina represented many types of occupations, but from 1920 to 1940 the Pacific Northwest slowly replaced the Appalachians as the center of the nation’s lumber production, and that development led many people in that line of work to move west permanently, he said. Philyaw said many WNC residents still have family and friends who live in the area of Washington state where the landslide occurred, in surrounding communities such as Darrington and Sedro Wooley, and in many other towns in Skagit and Snohomish counties. Assisting Ferguson and Philyaw in organizing the benefit and local fundraising activities are Lane Perry from WCU’s Office of Service Learning, who is coordinating efforts on the WCU campus, and the Rev. Tonya Vickery of Cullowhee Baptist Church, who is coordinating outreach with local churches. Perry can be reached at 828-227-2643 and Vickery can be contacted at 828-293-3020. Individuals who would like to assist in the effort can contact Philyaw at 828-227-3191 or Ferguson at 828-227-3502. Updated information about the concert is available on the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/OsoMudslideBenefit.

Jackson County Justice Center

SCC-JessicaWaldronIn the monthly meeting of the Jackson County Commissioners on Monday County Manager Chuck Wooten gave a progress report on the proposed renovation of the Jackson County Justice Center. It was reported several months ago that Superior Court Judge Brad Letts had spoken with Mr Wooten and the Commissioners about the current the growing need for courtroom space at the Jackson County Justice Center. The Commissioners decided to follow-up on recommendations to seek the advice of the Heery International company who had designed the renovations to the Haywood County County Courthouse. Many in the legal profession hold up that facility as a model which is adequate to meet both current and long term judicial processing needs. Consultants from Heery International have conducted both site visits and interviews from current occupants of the building in order to assess both the wish list needs and the absolute needs. Wooten reported to the Commissioners in February that specific needs included more building security, additional court and mediation rooms, separate secure entrances so the victims of crimes and the person facing charges for those crimes do not have to enter the courtroom by the same entrance, also building facilities from heating and air conditioning to additional Americans With Disabilities Act compliance standards. According to County Manager Chuck Wooten the commissioners will hear the report from Heery International Associated at their next meeting. One action already completed is the movement of the District Attorney into the space formerly occupied by the Jackson County Board of Elections after that agency moved to the Skyland Services Center. The planning and design process could cost the county upwards of three quarters of a million dollars. Some have speculated that the future needs of the building would require an addition of thirty five thousand square feet of space. The construction costs of the building twenty years ago was eighteen million dollars. Estimates are the additional 35,000 square feet in floor space could cost the county about a 100 thousand dollars a year to maintain and secure.  During each meeting there tends to be time set aside for the commissioners to appoint individuals to serve on county boards. There are twelve such boards each with up to a dozen members who are appointed to their position for up to three year terms and often reappointed and serve the maximum number of years. In some of the  board positions the members are paid for their services such as those on the ABC Board who are paid 150 dollars plus travel to attend the meetings. The Chair of the Board will receive 250 dollars and travel for each meeting. In March County Manager Wooten reported to the Commissioners on what he perceived as a need to audit the performance of these Boards and establish evaluative criteria including attendance reports and a review of the minutes of the meetings as well as publishing the assignments for each of the boards.

Tick & Mosquito Concerns

Natural-mosquito3With summer fast approaching and people spending more time outdoors, it is important for everyone to take precautions against tick and mosquito bites. Tick and mosquito borne infections cause illnesses and deaths in North Carolina each year, with more than 800 cases reported in 2013. To encourage awareness of this issue, Governor McCrory recently proclaimed April 2014 as “Tick and Mosquito Awareness Month” in North Carolina. Tick borne diseases in North Carolina include Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. These diseases are diagnosed from all regions of the state and can be acquired at any time of year. However, the vast majority of infections occur in the months of June through September. The North Carolina Division of Public Health encourages using repellents, using air conditioning and keeping windows closed, and emptying free standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets and pool covers.

Internship Applications Available

NorthCarolinaSealThe Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office within the Department of Administration announced that they are accepting additional applications for the 2014 State Government Internship Program for select projects. The program has 6 remaining paid internship projects in Raleigh and Pine Knoll Shores. Internships would start May 27 and end on August 1, 2014. Application deadline is postmarked by April 21. The 2014 State Government Internship Project Booklet describing all rules and available opportunities is now online. The State Government Internship Program offers students real-world experience in a wide range of state government workplaces. Internships provide opportunities for students to work in their chosen field and to consider careers in public service. More than 3,600 students have participated since the program was established in 1970. Paid summer internships are available in locations across the state. They provide North Carolina students with compensated professional work experience that integrates education, career development and public service. Opportunities exist in numerous recognized fields of study, from accounting to zoology, and interns will also participate in seminars, tours or other activities designed to broaden their perspective of public service and state government. Interns will earn a stipend of $8.25 per hour and work 40 hours per week for 10 weeks in the summer. For more information, please visit the Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office online or by phone at 919-807-4400. Information is also available in campus career services or cooperative education offices.

NC-CDL Registeration Deadline

NCDOT LogoNorth Carolina has about 35,000 commercial driver license holders who have still not certified their driving to the N. C. Division of Motor Vehicles by next week’s deadline. During the past two years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has required all CDL holders to certify to NCDMV whether they drive interstate or intrastate and for what purpose. If required, they must also provide their current DOT medical card to NCDMV. The final deadline for contacting NCDMV with this information is April 10, 2014.  About 312,000 North Carolina drivers hold commercial licenses. To date, more than 277,000 drivers have reported their medical status to NCDMV. Commercial drivers must provide medical information that they are certified to operate a commercial motor vehicle or their North Carolina commercial driving privilege will be downgraded, allowing them to drive a Class C regular motor vehicle only. Commercial drivers with questions about complying with the requirement are urged to call (919) 861-3599.ext

Jarrett House Sold

The Jarrett House

The Jarrett House

The Jarrett House in Dillsboro has taken on a new primary owner and major changes are coming to the structure that was built in 1884. Jim and Jean Hartbarger announced yesterday to Constantine Roumel who also owns the Nantahala Village and Resort in Bryson City will become the new primacy partner. The Hartbargers purchased the Jarrett House property in 1975. They will continue as the administrators, oversee renovations, prepare for the opening in late April or early May, and coordinate marketing and brand imaging. Renovations are now under way to the lobby and the two dinning rooms. The parlor is being converted into an English Tea Room. Other renovations include a new face lift to the inn which will start this fall. The menu will also be changing with popular items remaining but new items offered will include pastas, salads, pastries, espresso and a full-service bar. The new owner Roumel is a native of Crete and resides in Europe yet spends much of his time in the US with offices in Atlanta and Orlando. The Jarrett House was penned to the National Register of Historic Places on March 1st, 1984 and is one of the oldest operating inns in Western North Carolina.

Sneek Peek At WCU Facility

WCU Facility ConstructionWestern Carolina University will host a “sneak peek” Wednesday, April 16, of the soon-to-be-opened laboratories and classrooms that will enable the expansion of WCU’s undergraduate engineering program to the Asheville-Hendersonville area.  Nearly 11,000 square feet of space on the ground floor of a building located in Biltmore Park Town Square is undergoing renovations to accommodate the expanded engineering program, with classes scheduled to get underway in August. Expansion of WCU’s engineering degree was made possible through more than $1.4 million in the state budget. The N.C. General Assembly approved roughly $700,000 dollars for start-up costs and laboratory equipment for the 2013-14 fiscal year, with nearly $720,000 in recurring funds to cover faculty positions and ongoing operations. Western Carolina began offering the bachelor of science degree in engineering in the fall 2012 at its campus in Cullowhee as a new stand-alone program. The university had partnered with UNC Charlotte to jointly offer a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from 2004 until 2012. The open house will from 4 until 6 p.m on the 16th and will enable guests to observe renovation work at the facility, followed by a reception and optional tour of WCU’s existing instructional site at Biltmore Park.

Tuscola Prom Problems

Tuscola High School

Tuscola High School

Organizers at Tuscola High School moved the prom from the Deerpark Restaurant at Biltmore, to the much smaller Laurel Ridge Country Club in Waynesville. Prom organizer Maggie Melville says the prom was moved because it had gotten too expensive to have in Asheville. She says in February, they limited ticket sales to Juniors and Seniors, and told students about the change. But by mid-March, only three tickets had been bought. Then sales opened up to the whole school and they quickly sold out. Prom organizers say they may consider finding a different venue next year.

Trout Season Opened Saturday

NC Trout WatersA Successful Trout season opened in North Carolina on Saturday. Thousands of anglers flocked to The Mountains to fish. Western North Carolina has over 3 thousand miles of trout waters. “The first warm weather that comes around…people are itching to get out and get at it,” says Josh Garris, a fly fishing guide in Asheville. People from all over the world book fishing trips in and around The Mountains. A license is required to fish in North Carolina. It costs $20 but is good for the entire year.

Haywood County Bank Robbery

Matthew Mark Lloyd

Matthew Mark Lloyd

A local bank was robbed today and the quick thinking of the tellers helped deputies catch the suspect. The robbery happened at the BB&T Bank on Soco Road in Maggie Valley. The suspect, 36-year-old Matthew Lloyd of Lenoir, was arrested just seven minutes later on Highway 276. Deputies say the tellers took down his license plate number and direction of travel which helped deputies locate him. Lloyd is being held on $30,000 bond.

WCU Student Killed in Car Accident In Greensboro

A 22-year-old Western Carolina University student was killed in an automobile accident Thursday night in Greensboro. According My Fox 8 TV News In Greensboro the student was killed when her car was hit head on by a driver driving west on the eastbound lanes of I-40 near the Wendover Avenue exit around ten fifteen last night. The student has been identified as 22-year-old Reagan Hartley who was scheduled to graduate next month from Western Carolina University with her degree in elementary education. Hartley was from the town of Willow Springs NC and a 2010 graduate from West Johnston High School. She was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.
The driver of the S U V has been identified as 46-year-old Ronnie Fichera. Police said Fichera entered Greensboro on I-40, exited the interstate at the High Point Road exit leading officers around Four Seasons Mall and reentered the interstate again driving west in the eastbound lanes. He struck the convertible about a mile down the highway. Greensboro police were not involved in the pursuit but are investigating the crash. Units were called to assist when Randleman Police initiated the pursuit. “It’s a tragedy, there’s no way around that,” Lt. C.M. Shultheis said. “I don’t know what goes through a drivers mind when they are trying to elude police. I don’t know what the level of impairment was, the driver may not have realized he was going the wrong way.”
540 A-M WRGC Radio shares the grief with the entire University family with the death of this aspiring teacher who is described by her student teaching supervisor “as having all the qualities for being a really great elementary school teacher.”

Resolution Passed

jcpsJackson County’s education leaders passed a resolution March 25 opposing state lawmakers’ mandate to give raises to some teachers, but not others. The 25 percent of teachers who accept four-year contracts and $500-a-year salary increases agree, in return, to forfeit tenure. Like dozens of others, Jackson County has gone on record asking the General Assembly to rescind its law. Jackson County last month announced plans to use a selection system that granted points for evaluations, higher degrees and such; that’s not going to happen. Murray plans to present a lottery scheme to school board members in April. Jackson County’s school board followed up the anti-contract vote by approving a second resolution. It urges the General Assembly to give all teachers more pay, not just beginning ones as proposed, and to reinstate salary step increases and financial bonuses for teachers getting master’s degrees.

Jackson Wins First Place

The beautiful wildflower beds dotting North Carolina’s highways took center stage this week at the Annual Wildflower Awards ceremony in Raleigh. The awards were given to the Department of Transportation staff who cultivated the best-looking flowers of 2013, as voted on by a panel of judges. They also recognize the efforts of all NCDOT crews who help carry out the Wildflower Program and work to enhance the overall appearance and environmental quality of the state’s highways. Jackson County took first place in the Best Regional Wildflower Planing catagory for N.C 107 at Cullowhee. The NCDOT Wildflower Program began in 1985 and is coordinated by the department’s Roadside Environmental Unit, which installs and maintains 1,500 acres of wildflowers along North Carolina’s highways. The program is primarily funded through the sale of personalized license plates.

NCDVA

DVA-logoThe North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs, is collaborating with the NC Division of Motor Vehicles and the Motor Vehicle Network to build awareness for veterans’ services. This interagency partnership is an example of how the NCDVA is reaching veterans across North Carolina. The MVN is a closed circuit television network located at 124 Driver’s License Offices statewide that broadcasts messages to DMV patrons. The pilot project of the new NCDVA veteran outreach effort has the potential to reach many veterans and their supporters. Current messaging provides veterans with information about the NC Women Veterans Summit and Expo to be held on April 17, 2014 at the North Carolina National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh. There, women veterans will have direct access to information and services offered by NCDVA and many others. For more information visit www.ncdot.gov/dmv.

Allergy Season in Full Swing

allergiesGrass pollen starts to bloom in April around Western North Carolina and continues into May and June, followed by ragweed and other weed pollen in late summer and early fall, leaving allergy sufferers facing a warm season filled with pesky allergy symptoms. Some 40 million Americans have indoor/outdoor allergies. The most common triggers are tree, grass and weed pollen. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports allergies account for more than 17 million outpatient office visits each year – primarily in spring and fall. You can develop allergies at any age. You’re most likely to develop allergies if there is a history of allergies in your family. Studies show the average wait time to see a specialist is 20 days. Experts recommend a few tips for reducing allergies. Limit outdoor activity to late afternoon – pollen counts are highest in the morning. Keep car and home windows closed and opt for air condition at night to keep pollen out. Change your bedding and pillow covers often and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Spring and fall are the busiest times for Allergy Specialists in Western North Carolina.

12th Annual Green Thumb Day

Nelumno_nucifera_open_flower_-_botanic_garden_adelaide2Whittier community will hold its 12th annual Green Thumb Day Festival on Saturday, April 12, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. along Main and Church streets. The event will include local artists and crafters, live plants and yard sales. Free tree seedlings and information on plants and planting will be available from County Extension Director Rob Hawk. A historical exhibit on early Whittier will be on display at Stuff-n-Such, located across from the post office. Live bluegrass music will be provided by Keep on Pickin’; mountain songs by fretless banjo maker Joshua Grant; and gospel favorites and old-time favorites by the Mountain Strings Dulcimer Club of Bryson City.

 

Deadline “Reasonably Achieved”

food-stampShawn Rogers is one of the thousands of needy North Carolinians caught up in what was a massive backlog of food stamps cases. He, his wife and four-year-old son have been waiting since December for help, when their food stamps were up for renewal and the family moved to Alamance County from neighboring Guilford County. The family’s months-long wait comes despite a deadline Monday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture set for all backlogged cases to be processed. N.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos announced Tuesday afternoon that the deadline had been “reasonably achieved” with only 375 pending cases left in the state. As of Tuesday, Rogers, who is on disability because of psychological issues, said his food stamps benefits card was still showing a $0 balance. He has turned to area food banks for donated canned goods and family members who buy him meat to help supplement the family’s diet.