Vaccinations are the Cure for Unnecessary School Suspensions

VaccineThe North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reminding parents to ensure children are up-to-date with vaccines to avoid suspension from school. North Carolina law requires children who are home-schooled or attend a public, private, charter or religious school to be up-to-date with North Carolina-required vaccinations within 30 calendar days from the first day of school.

Failure to show proof, such as shot records, will result in the suspension from school until the required immunization has been obtained.

Vaccine-preventable diseases, such as chicken pox, meningitis, pertussis (whooping cough) and others, are still experienced throughout North Carolina. Staying up-to-date with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended vaccinations is the best way to protect schools and communities from diseases that can cause unnecessary illnesses and death.

For a complete list of required vaccines or additional information, visit: www.immunize.nc.gov

Another Record Enrollment at WCU

One year after total student enrollment at Western Carolina University topped 10,000 for the first time in the institution’s history, records continue to tumble at WCU as this fall’s official enrollment stands at 10,382.

 University officials say the 2.7 percent jump in the total student population over last year’s tally of 10,107 is driven in part by an increase in the size of the freshman class and another year of improved retention rates.

 That’s the word from WCU’s Office of Institutional Planning and Effectiveness, which compiles official census statistics for reporting to the University of North Carolina system.

Experts Say Pick Up a Book to Better Bond with Your Child

Finding time to stop and read to your child can be hard at the end of the day, but experts say making the time will pay off in the long run. Programs in North Carolina, such as Reach Out and Read, work to encourage reading.

Brian Gallagher with the organization explains how the simple act of reading aloud to your child can make a difference, “By having the parent hold the child, sit with the child, have the child hear the parent’s voice, the book in many ways helps to create that interaction.”

Tag:  In North Carolina, Reach Out and Read distributes almost 223-thousand books annually. The program works with North Carolina pediatricians to hand out books at annual well-check visits. According to Child Trends, 55% of children aged three to five in the US are read to every day.


H.W. Cumming is a technology executive and dad who in spite of travel made time for nightly reading to his children. Some nights he made up stories and recently turned them into a children’s fantasy novel that’s been published this summer.  “It was always something that we kept very sacred. It was just something that we had to do. It was something that we did that was our bonding time, and we never missed it.”

Gallagher says by working with doctors to distribute donated books, Reach Out and Read is able to connect with children and their parents, “The doctor is that trusted messenger. When the doctor hands that child a book, starting when they’re babies, the parent’s going to hear that message very early on that this is something that’s good for your child, it’s good for you.”

Tag 2:  In addition to making reading to your child a part of your everyday routine, Gallagher recommends letting your child turn the pages, talk about the pictures and ask your child to retell the story.

September is Grape And Wine Month in NC

grape muscadineIn recognition of the state’s growing wine and grape industry, Gov. Pat McCrory has proclaimed September 2014 as North Carolina Wine and Grape Month.

The state’s wine and grape industry has grown significantly in recent years. It now employs more than 7,600 workers and has an economic impact of nearly $1.3 billion.

One indicator of the industry’s maturity is the federal government’s recent designation of a fourth American Viticultural Area in the state. The Upper Hiawassee Highlands AVA covers 690 square miles within the upper Hiawassee River basin in Western North Carolina. It joins the Haw River, Swan Creek and Yadkin Valley AVAs.

Having four distinct AVAs in North Carolina is a testament to the variety and quality of wines that NC is able to produce.

North Carolina boasts more than 400 commercial grape growers. Muscadines are grown mainly in the East, while European-style vinifera grapes are grown in the West and Piedmont. While many of the grapes are used to make wines and other specialty products, there is also a significant fresh market for the fall fruit. In September and October, shoppers can find fresh, native muscadine grapes at farmers markets and roadside stands.

North Carolina’s grape-growing history dates to the late 1500s, when Sir Walter Raleigh’s explorers first noticed wild scuppernongs on Roanoke Island.

Americans Are Not Saving For Retirement

Much has been written about the “sandwich generation” — middle-aged Americans who are caught between their financial obligations to elderly parents and to their children, while they also try to prepare for their own retirement years.

Yet millions of Americans face an even bigger bind: More than one-third of all working-age adults haven’t managed to save any money toward retirement, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com. The personal finance site found that 26 percent of people 50-to-54-year-olds and 14 percent of those age 65 and older have no savings.

The survey of over 1,000 adults living across the U.S. also found that 69 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds and a third of 30-to-49 year-olds have yet start putting something away for their later years.

The Bankrate findings jibe with other research that illustrate the death of retirement savings. The median retirement account balance for all working-age households in the U.S. is $3,000, and $12,000 for near-retirement households, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security.

However,  Those who are saving for retirement are starting earlier than in the past. And Millennials — people born between 1980 ad 2000 — at least feel more financially secure than any other age group surveyed, which may account for their lack of retirement savings.

Of course, preparing for retirement in a post-recession economy is easier said than done. A recent CBS News poll found that about 70 percent of working Americans are finding it hard to save for retirement at all, as they attempt to pay bills and meet their basic living expenses.

Only 18 percent of U.S. workers say they are very confident of having enough money to live comfortably during their retirement years, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Tunnel Repair Begins on Newfound Gap

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced upcoming tunnel repair work inside the Morton Mountain Tunnel from September 2 through September 27. A full-time, single-lane closure will be in effect throughout the duration of the project. The tunnel is located 12 miles south of Sugarlands Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road.

 A leak in the tunnel ceiling and walls caused significant damage on the north end of the tunnel. Last winter, the leak formed very large icicles and an ice mound on the road surface causing roadway hazards for drivers that had to be cleared before the road could be opened for safe travel. During the repair, the tunnel will have one lane closed to allow workers to cut channels for the installation of drainage pipes in the walls and ceiling of the tunnel. Debris curtains will be set up to shield vehicles from construction activities in the closed lane.

 Visitors should expect delays through the 0.25-mile, single-lane closure area. Bluegrass Contracting Corporation of Lexington, KY was awarded the contract and will maintain traffic flow through the area using a temporary traffic signal. On weekends, flaggers will direct traffic through the area from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on both Saturdays and Sundays.

Report: Not All Cancer Care in NC is Created Equal

UNC research found that proximity to care impacts publicly insured patient's ability to continue cancer treatment. Photo courtesy National Cancer Institute

UNC research found that proximity to care impacts publicly insured patient’s ability to continue cancer treatment. Photo courtesy National Cancer Institute

The quality of cancer care you receive in North Carolina could depend on where you live. That’s the conclusion of two studies recently published in the North Carolina Medical Journal.

Stephanie Wheeler at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill analyzed people on Medicaid in the state to evaluate the frequency and availability of chemotherapy treatments, “Distance does matter, and we found that in urban areas, as we would expect, the further away that you live from a radiation provider, the lower odds you have of receiving radiation.”

One surprising outcome of Wheeler’s research – rural patients living less than 10 miles away from their provider are less likely to receive therapy than those living further away. She attributes that to the fact that people who live in rural areas are accustomed to driving further for their needs.


A separate study released this summer from the American Society of Clinical Oncology found there is a projected shortage of 1,500 physicians over the next 10 years to care for cancer patients.Wheeler also points out rural areas often have fewer specialists in close proximity. “There’s quality of care issues everywhere. I think what some of the issue might be in rural settings is that sometimes the oncologist practicing in those settings are more often generalists.”

The study also found that two-thirds of small oncology practices reported they were likely to merge, sell or close within a year. The report suggests an expansion of tele-medicine to give patients greater access to specialists and reducing the instability of payments from publicly insured patents that have a disproportionate impact on small community practices.

Women’s Equality Day Activities Planned Across North Carolina

The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote 94 years ago this week. Now the anniversary of the amendment's signing marks Women's Equality Day nationwide. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote 94 years ago this week. Now the anniversary of the amendment’s signing marks Women’s Equality Day nationwide. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Today marks the 94th anniversary of the signing of the 19th Amendment – granting women the right to vote. Events are planned in cities across the state including Charlotte and Raleigh to commemorate the day. Women’s groups are also using it as an opportunity to talk about policy changes that impact women in their pursuit for equality, including education and health care.

Ashley Simons-Rudolph with the Women’s Center at NC State explains what the day means to her,”There are always going to be ebbs and flows with equality, but you know I’m really proud to be North Carolinian and really proud of my state.”

Today in Raleigh women will gather at the State Capitol in recognition of Women’s Equality Day. The event is part of a Moral Week of Action, with citizens gathering all week to urge state leadership to reconsider public policies they see as counterproductive to the wellbeing of citizens.

Tara Romano with NC Women United is coordinating the Raleigh event and says the Moral Week of Action is a platform to discuss issues like the repeal of the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit and the decision to not expand Medicaid, “We are excited to be a part of it because we do feel it’s an opportunity for us to talk about issues that don’t typically get talked about, like child care and women’s dual roles as breadwinners and caretakers.”

Simons-Rudolph says budget cuts to health and education programs in recent years are forcing organizations to maximize resources. “I think everyone in the state is learning to do more with less, and we just need to continue to do the good work that we’re doing. ”

Wednesday the Moral Week of Action will continue with discussion of Medicaid expansion, health care and environmental justice, and Thursday will conclude with a rally for voting rights in North Carolina.

A Little Help Please? Fewer Teaching Assistants in NC Classrooms

gr-41300-1-1School is well under way and public school teachers may be feeling the burden of a new year a little more this year. Many teachers in younger grades won’t have the help of teaching assistants this year, as North Carolina lawmakers opted to shift$105-million dollars away from a funding source for hiring teaching assistants.

Mark Jewell with the North Carolina Association of Educators says with fewer Teaching Assistants now being shared between classrooms and grade levels, it will be impossible for them to meet students’ needs,”The quality of the work that they’re able to do has been diminished. That’s a big concern for us out there, when you’re removing another highly qualified adult away from direct contact with their students out there.”

Teaching assistants work with individual and small-group learners, communicate with parents and help create materials used in the classroom.

The multimillion-dollar cut from the teacher assistant budget eliminates 22-percent of the money local schools have to hire them. It’s left school systems such as Charlotte-Mecklenberg without funding for 90 positions, and Winston-Salem with a potential loss of 125 assistants. Jewell sees this cut as part of a larger problem, “You can’t educate North Carolina children on the cheap, and this is the kind of philosophy that North Carolina has transitioned to over the past two years.”

Speaker Thom Tillis publicly defended the budget change, saying the money was shifted to a fund where schools can decide if they increase teacher pay or continue to pay for assistants. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the move makes it more difficult for schools to reallocate the money to Teaching Assistants.

Local Hospitals Earn Top Awards for Patient Satisfaction

WestCare Emergency Medical Services and Swain County Hospital Emergency Department were recently awarded for excellence in patient satisfaction in the U.S. by Professional Research Consultants, a national healthcare research firm and leader in gauging healthcare consumer perceptions.

PRC annually recognizes healthcare facilities, providers, outpatient service lines, and inpatient units scoring in the top percentages of their national client database for the prior calendar year through the National Excellence in Healthcare Awards.

WestCare EMS received the 5-Star Award, scoring in the top 10 percent of the national database.

Swain County Hospital Emergency Department received the 4-Star Award, scoring in the top 25% of the national database.

The awards are based on the percentage of patients who rated the units “excellent” for the overall quality of care question.

WestCare EMS staffs three ambulances daily, responding to over 400 calls a month, in addition to providing support for the Jackson County First Responder program as well as educational and outreach programs for a variety of local institutions. The unit is also a North Carolina Office of EMS accredited teaching institution and an approved teaching site for many of the National Association of EMT’s courses.

The Swain County Hospital Emergency Department has provided emergency medical care to residents of Bryson City and surrounding communities for many years, offering the full spectrum of emergency care. The department is staffed with physicians with special training in emergency medicine, as well as an outstanding nursing staff with many years of clinical experience.

NC Voucher Program Ruled Unconstitutional

On Thursday, a Wake County judge ruled against the state’s new school voucher program, immediately ending the transfer of millions of public education dollars to fund private schools. The judge found fault with the “Opportunity Scholarship Program,” set to begin this school year.

Chris Fitzsimon with the North Carolina Justice Center explains the reason behind the court’s ruling,  “It seems to clearly violate the constitution of using public money for a private purpose. This program allows our public taxpayer dollars to go to entirely unaccountable, unregulated schools and we have not idea where this money is going.”

Judge Robert Hobgood said the funds should be “exclusively used for establishing a uniform system of free public schools.” Supporters of the voucher program argue that it is increasing access to educational opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available to lower-income families.

Hobgood also noted that private schools receiving the voucher funds are largely unregulated and therefore, are not obligated to demonstrate improvement in student performance.

Fitzsimon says based on the judge’s ruling, the vouchers won’t be dispersed, leaving qualified North Carolina families unclear whether there will be funding for their child’s private education this year, “The judge was clear that funds will be frozen. It’s my understanding that no funds will be dispersed until there’s either a trial that finds this program constitutional, or the Court of Appeals rescinds the stay.”

In 2013, state lawmakers allocated 10-million dollars for the “Opportunity Scholarships” to begin this fall. The vouchers are worth $4,200 dollars apiece.

Macon County House Fire Investigation Leads to Murder

Charles Cochran is considered the prime suspect in the murder.

Charles Cochran is considered the prime suspect in the murder.

According to the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, a victim that died in the August 2 house fire in the Burningtown Community has been identified as 71-year-old Day Williamson.

The body was found in the upstairs back bedroom following a fire that destroyed the home. Although the body was recovered after the fire was put out, the  medical examiner’s findings of strangulation as a cause of death means that Williamson was deceased before the fire.

The Sheriff’s Office say Cochran, the prime suspect in the case, escaped custody from the Macon County Detention Center on July 30 while on trash detail. Cochran was on the run from authorities for five days until he was captured shortly after midnight on Tuesday, Aug. 5.

Authorities indicate Cochran had ties to Ms. Williamson. Her Chevy Tracker was reportedly missing at the time of the fire.  The tracker was found abandoned about a mile away from a residence where Cochran was found. He is also a suspect in a shooting in the town of Franklin on West Palmer Street WRGC reported on a code red alert sent to residents by Franklin police urging to lock windows and doors in the early August incident.

When arrested, he was in possession of a .38 caliber revolver. The investigation also led authorities to discover a bag filled with items , was identified by Day Williamson’s grandson as belonging to the victim.

No charges have been filed yet in the case. Cochran is currently being held without bond at the detention center on charges stemming from a trespassing incident from Colorado.

NC DOT To Replace Bridges in Jackson and Haywood Counties

As part of a continuing effort to upgrade and improve infrastructure across the state, the N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to replace two Haywood County bridges and four Jackson County bridges.


The $5.5 million contract for the bridge replacements was awarded to Simpson Construction Company, Inc. of Cleveland, Tenn.


Construction can begin as soon as Aug. 25, with all six bridges completed by November 2017.


The bridges scheduled for replacement include:


Haywood County:

-Bridge on Hemphill Road over Hemphill Creek, built in 1954 and considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient

-Bridge on Johnson Branch Road over Johnson Branch, built in 1963 and considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient


Jackson County:

-Bridge on Moses Creek Road over Moses Creek, built in 1963 and considered functionally obsolete and  structurally deficient

-Bridge on Woodfin Road over Woodfin Creek, built in 1957 and considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient

-Bridge on Johns Creek Road over Rich Mountain Branch, built in 1961 and considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient

-Bridge on Dills Cemetery Road over Fisher Creek, built in 1963 and considered functionally obsolete


Bridges considered functionally obsolete and/or structurally deficient remain safe for the traveling public, but they were built to outdated design standards and need to be replaced to meet current and future traffic demands.

For more details about improving North Carolina’s bridges, visit NCDOT’s bridge information website.

This is one of the 11 road and bridge contracts worth $43.4 million recently awarded by NCDOT for projects across North Carolina. The contracts were awarded to the lowest bidders, as required by state law. The low bids received on the projects were 2.8 percent, or about $1.2 million, over NCDOT estimates.

Scratch That Itch: How Climate Change is Bugging Us

This time of year, it’s hard to step out into the yard without getting a bite from a mosquito, fire ant or tick. If you think these pests are becoming more common, it may not be your imagination, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation.

In North Carolina, warmer temperatures, reduced rainfall and the introduction of non-native species like fire ants all are affecting whether people can enjoy the outdoors, explains report author, Dr. Doug Inkley. “It’s not our imagination. This is already happening. We must take action now, for our children’s future, for our outdoor experience future. These things are happening now.”

Inkley says deer ticks are another growing problem in North Carolina, and that warmer winters are allowing the population – known to carry Lyme disease – to spread quickly. The report recommends supporting limits on carbon pollution and alternative energy sources to curtail climate change and thereby decrease the spread of problem pests.

The EPA is in the process of establishing carbon pollution limits for existing power plants and is accepting public comment.

Morganton resident Richard Mode with the N-C Wildlife Federation says increased outdoor pests and extreme weather are reminders of how the Tar Heel State is affected daily. “These are things that impact people. It’s not political – it’s a real issue that impacts humans, wildlife, wildlife habitats, our outdoor experience, and things that we love about living in North Carolina.”

In addition to creating problems for humans, pests like fire ants are also impacting the agricultural industry.

Inkley says they damage at least 57 species of crops and other plants. “Fire ants do eat, and are pests in, various agricultural crops. They’re also a problem for our wildlife, because you know fire ants – you don’t want to ever get messed up with fire ants.”

Fire ants are believed to have been transported to the country by ship from South America in the 1930s and 40s. They bite with a venom that can cause burning and blistering, and can even be deadly to humans and animals.

Sylva Streets To Reopen Wednesday

Sylva Town Manager Paige Roberson announced on Tuesday afternoon that Sylva Streets would be open again on Wednesday following an inspection by a structural engineer who certified the walls from the fire gutted Hooper Building on Main Street were structurally sound. One lane of Mill Street and one lane of Main Street will be opened with the inside lane still being coned off for the immediate future. It was also found the walls of the adjoining buildings were also safe. Tenants were permitted into their buildings on Tuesday to remove property and inventory and commence the salvage process from items which suffered water damage. The work of the structural engineer will give credence to the desire to save the historical image of downtown Sylva and commence the renovation to the Hooper property. As mentioned several times during the “live” coverage of the fire by WRGC Radio News Reporter Roy Burnette, the fire departments were constantly watering down the walls of the building in order to keep the walls cooled as much as possible. Obviously their efforts were successful in saving the building and keeping the fire from spreading to timbers which might have been secured to the rock and block structures. The fire departments deserve even another accolade for their work.

Teenage Driver Safety in North Carolina

teendriversincarThe Highway Patrol will be focusing on education and enforcement. Troopers across the state will be educating teenage drivers by implementing teenage driver safety plans and will be working with school administrators in offering any assistance in the area of highway safety. Education however is just one part of the solution. Increased enforcement visibility in and around all school zones will be observed.

On Monday, August 25, schools operating on traditional calendars will begin with more than one million students attending North Carolina’s public schools.  Students will be traveling to and from school and school related activities during the morning and evening rush hours, which happen to be the busiest times for a teenager to be driving on North Carolina’s 78,000 miles of roadways.

Research has shown that teenage drivers lack the experience of seasoned drivers and are more likely to be distracted while operating a motor vehicle.  According to the National Highway and Transportation Traffic Safety Administration and the UNC Highway Research Center revealed some staggering facts:

Approximately two-thirds of the people killed in fatal young-driver crashes are the young drivers themselves or their passengers

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of fatalities involving young drivers occur on rural roadways

One out of four 16-year-old drivers in North Carolina is involved in a car crash every year and nearly half of these crashes are serious enough to result in injury or death according to the U-N-C Highway Safety Research Center

16-year-olds are three times more likely to die in a car crash then other drivers

Sixty-one percent (61%) of all young driver fatalities were NOT wearing their seatbelts

Fifty-four percent (54%) of the vehicle’s occupants were killed as a result of NOT being restrained

Studies have shown that the combination of inexperience and the natural impulsiveness of the adolescent years contribute to this increased risk in being involved in a fatal crash.  Given this information, it is not surprising that traffic collisions continue to be the leading cause of teenage deaths in North Carolina.

In addition, the new school year brings an increase of school buses on North Carolina highways. Motorists should be cognizant of their presence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration an average of 24 school-age children nationwide die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year (11 occupants of school transportation vehicles and 13 pedestrians).


Agricultural Development and Farm Land Preservation Grants Awarded for 2014

The North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund recently awarded nearly $2.3 million to help communities across the state protect farmland and promote agricultural enterprises. These grant recipients were applicants from the trust fund’s Cycle VII request for proposals. Funding resources included statewide general appropriations, Tennessee Valley Authority settlement funds and, for the first time, military funds.

The trust fund collaborated with the military to support agriculture and agribusiness in areas of the state where military bases and training are located. TVA settlement funds were distributed to a 17-county region in Western North Carolina.


The Black Family Land Trust was awarded $143,475 toward the purchase of a 20-year conservation easement on 436 acres of a livestock and horticulture farm owned by Martha Mobley of Louisburg.


The Haywood County Soil and Water Conservation District was granted $362,500 toward the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement on 100 acres of a livestock and crop farm owned by Andrew and Jamie Francis of Canton.

The Haywood County Soil and Water Conservation District received $87,500 toward the purchase of a 30-year conservation easement on 100 acres of a livestock and forestry farm owned by Austin and Kathy Swanger of Clyde.

The Southwestern N.C. Resource Conservation and Development Council was awarded $188,500 toward the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement on 80 acres of a livestock and forestry farm owned by Charles and Janice Henson of Canton.

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy was granted $135,780 toward the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement on 175 acres of a livestock, crop and forestry farm owned by Robbie Kirkpatrick


The Swain County Soil and Water Conservation District was granted $10,200 to stimulate profitable and sustainable farms through a series of educational workshops, market studies and marketing efforts.k of Candler.

Jackson County was granted $10,000 to assess whether a viable business model can be developed for a profitable red-meat slaughter and processing facility in Western North Carolina. This project will impact the TVA region.

The Southwestern N.C. Resource Conservation and Development Council received $25,000 to develop a Smoky Mountain Agriculture Economic Strategy focusing on the needs and opportunities for farmers in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties.

The Swain County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $16,000 for the creation of a mobile soils exhibit that will serve as an interactive education display in order for the public to better make connections between the conditions of soils and water on quality of life. This project will impact the TVA region.

The University of North Carolina at Asheville Foundation was granted $7,000 to demonstrate the innovate use of perennial food crops on marginal land to increase small farm profitability. The program will serve Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties.

WNC Communities received $25,000 to establish a system to deliver brewers grain as an alternative and cost-saving feed source to family farmers with smaller livestock herds. This project will impact the TVA region.

WNC Communities was awarded $32,500 to fund enhancements and safety upgrades to the WNC Regional Livestock Center in Haywood County. The trust fund was a partner in the construction of the center. This project will impact the TVA region.


Smoky Mountain Military Stand Down Reaches Out to Local Veterans

homelessveteranIf you know a Veteran who is struggling with homeless or perhaps just making ends meet, look no further. The Smoky Mountain Veteran Stand Down will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at the Macon County Community Facility Building, located at 1288 Georgia Road, Franklin.

This event is made possible by  efforts of over 50 donors, sponsors and agencies to provide one day of care and services to veterans who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless and low-income veterans who are unable to afford basic care.

Services for veterans will include haircuts, military surplus gear, dental work, optometry, veterans benefit administration, local education services, legal services, housing support, medical and mental health services, veterans service officers and supportive services for veteran families. A hot breakfast and lunch will be served to veterans and their families.

Free transportation is available at the following locations:

— For Haywood County: 7 a.m. at the Open Door Soup Kitchen, located at 32 Commerce St., Waynesville. Call 452-3846.

— For Jackson County: 7:30 a.m. at the Jackson County Justice Center, located at 401 Grindstaff Road, Sylva. Call 586-4055.

— For Swain County: 7:45 a.m. at the State of Franklin, located at 125 Brendle St., Bryson City. Call 488-3047.

For more information, call Mark Schuler at 456-6061 or Mike Casey at 837-7407.

Cullowhee Fire Victim Identified

jennifer lee ludwigIn the early mornings hours of August 14, the Jackson County 911/Dispatch Center received a 911 call reporting a structure fire at 8357 Highway 107 in Cullowhee, North Carolina.  A positive identification has been made on the body that was located in the home.  Jennifer Lee Ludwig, also known by friends and family as JLee Mayer, age 32 was killed in the fire. The cause of death is expected to be released by the medical examiner next week.  Another resident Michael Thad Schrader was also in the home but sustained only minor injuries which were treated by WestCare.

Responding emergency personnel were from the Cullowhee Fire Department, Sylva Fire Department, Canada Fire Department, and Cashiers Fire Department.  Med West EMS provided medical support and the Jackson County Emergency Management Office also assisted.  The investigation will be joint between the Fire Marshal, Jackson County Sheriff’s and and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations.


Bullying: Protecting your child on the “Information Superhighway”

gr-41126-1-1Bullying is no longer a behavior that happens mostly on the playground or the school bus. Social media is providing online channels for negative interactions between children, with more than half of teens reporting they have witnessed online bullying.

Experts like Peggy Caruso, a life coach and author of the book “Revolutionize Your Child’s Life,” says the best way an adult can help their child is to be aware of the potential sources of bullying. “To understand and prevent negative influences, I think the biggest thing is understanding the types of bullying, the signs that you look for.”

She says those signs include a child who seems withdrawn, lacks the desire to interact with others, or exhibits extreme changes in behavior. North Carolina law prohibits bullying, and specifically prohibits the use of technology to inflict psychological distress.

In addition to increased technology providing other outlets for bullies, Caruso says it has also decreased typical communication between children, like talking and problem-solving face to face. “One of the issues with technology and social media and whatnot, is the loss of communication. So, I also teach them how to mastermind together, brainstorm with other children, and just try to bring back some things that are lost.”

To deter negative online interactions, she says advise your child to resist the temptation to respond to the bully, don’t retaliate, save any evidence and use online privacy tools and settings to block the bully.