National Park Service designates SCC to pilot nation’s first 650-hour training program

0828_SLET When National Park Service officials increased Seasonal Law Enforcement Training from 400 hours to 650, they decided to use Southwestern Community College’s Public Safety Training Center as the pilot program for the new regimen.

The decision was not made randomly.

“SCC-PSTC consistently demonstrates a high standard and delivers a high quality of instruction,” said Mark Cutler, Branch Chief of Seasonal Law Enforcement Training for the National Park Service. He was in Macon County in mid-August for the pilot program’s launch.

“Plus, they have the necessary resources available,” Cutler added. “They’re what we consider a ‘Tier 1’ academy; they’ve met or exceeded all criteria we set out.”

SCC first offered the SLETP program in 1978. Only six other schools across the country are accredited to offer the program, which makes successful graduates eligible for a Type II commission in the NPS.

Twenty-one recruits representing 14 states and one U.S. territory started the pilot program, which is technically SCC’s 96th SLET class – though this session will contain significantly more training in all seven critical areas: legal, behavioral science, enforcement operations, patrol procedures/scenarios, firearms (pistols, rifles, shotguns), driving and physical techniques for subject control.

Current recruits hail from far away as Alaska and Puerto Rico.

“We’re wanting to erase the training disparity between seasonal and permanent rangers,” Cutler said. “We’re increasing all aspects of the training so that graduates will get broader preparation for what will be expected of them in the field.”

Southwestern offers SLETP twice annually, preparing graduates for assignment to one of more than 400 parks, monuments and other facilities within the 50 states – as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam – under the authority and jurisdiction of the NPS.

Overseeing the training are Curtis Dowdle, Dean of SCC’s Public Safety Training; Mitch Boudrot, SCC’s Law Enforcement Training Director/Coordinator/Instructor; and Don Coleman, SCC’s National Park Service Law Enforcement Training Instructor.

“We’re honored that the National Park Service holds us in such high regard that they’ve appointed us to launch this expanded curriculum,” said Curtis Dowdle, Dean of Public Safety Training at SCC. “We do not take this designation lightly, and our instructors will continue to deliver the same high quality of training the NPS has come to expect.”

Great Smokies Health Foundation Awards “2015 Thrift Shop Grants”

Great Smokies Health Foundation awarded 23 Grants totaling $73,510.00 to non-profit and governmental agencies in Jackson & Swain Counties from the “2015 Thrift Shop Grant Program”. on Thursday, August 27, 2015 at the Great Smokies Health Foundation Thrift Shop, 965 Skyland Drive in Sylva and on Friday, August 28, 2015 at the Great Smokies Health Foundation Thrift Shop, 112 Plateau Street in Bryson City.

The following agencies received grant funding: Community Services of Swain Inc., Cullowhee Community Safety & Parks Association, Inc., Good Samaritan Clinic of Jackson County, HIGHTS/Whee Market, Jackson County Department of Public Health, Habitat For Humanity for Jackson Neighbors in Need in Jackson County, Life Challenge of Western North Carolina, Inc. , MedicForce, Mountain Projects/Circles of Hope in Jackson County, Reach of Macon County, Reach Out and Read Carolinas, Smoky Mountain Pregnancy Care Center, Swain County Caring Corner, Swain County Health Department, Swain Family Intervention Services, Inc., Sweet Thoughts Alzheimer’s Support, The Community Table, United Christian Ministries of Jackson County, Vecinos Inc. Farmworker Health Program & Webster Enterprises.

The mission of the “Great Smokies Health Foundation Thrift Shops is “to raise money to support the health needs of our community by selling, at an affordable price, items donated by and sold to our customers”. “The 2015 Thrift Shop Grant Program is a way to make an impact in the health and wellness of the communities we serve, said Michele Garashi-Ellick, Executive Director, Great Smokies Health Foundation.”
To receive additional information contact Michele Garashi-Ellick, Executive Director of the Foundation at (828) 507-2270 or E-mail: greatsmokieshealth@gmail.com.

Waynesville Man Arrested in 22 year old murder

A man is arrested in Haywood County for a murder that happened 22 years ago.

Michael Haim is accused of killing his wife, Bonnie, back in 1993 at their home in Jacksonville, Florida. The investigation into Bonnie Haim’s disappearance, a 23-year-old mother, began after a local resident found her purse in a dumpster on the northside of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.

Police questioned Bonnie’s husband, Michael Haim, 49, who told investigators he did not know where his wife was and that she’d left the night before her disappearance after an argument.

Deputies say skeletal remains were found last December after workers were digging out an old pool in the backyard of their former home in Florida.

The remains were just confirmed to be Bonnie.

On Aug. 21, an arrest warrant for Michael was obtained and was served by Haywood County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 24.

Haim is currently in the Haywood County Detention Center on no bond, awaiting extradition to Florida.

Sixth annual Public Lecture on Indian Health at WCU

Sarah Sneed, a resident of Cherokee’s Birdtown community who earned her law degree at Harvard Law School, will visit the Western Carolina University campus Wednesday, Sept. 2, to deliver the sixth annual Public Lecture on Indian Health.

Sneed will speak on the topic “Federal Indian Health Policy and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians” at 6 p.m. in Room 204 of WCU’s Health and Human Sciences Building.

Sneed’s lecture will provide an in-depth look at federal Indian policy in relationship to the evolution of health care for the Eastern Band, said Lisa J. Lefler, director of WCU’s Culturally Based Native Health Programs.

Sneed graduated with honors with a degree in history at the University of Colorado at Boulder prior to earning her law degree. She has worked in various capacities with Indian tribes throughout her career.

Write-in candidacy for Maggie Valley mayor by Mayor Pro Tem

Maggie Valley Mayor Pro Tem Saralyn Price will be a write-in candidate for mayor in the November election.

Price, a native of Maggie Valley, if a 30 year-veteran of law enforcement and served as the former Maggie Valley police chief. She was elected as an alderman in 2007.

“Due to the untimely death of Mayor Ron DeSimone, and since I love and believe in Maggie Valley, I felt that it was necessary for me to seek this office,” Price said. “Over the past two years, the board has been working in harmony trying to better Maggie Valley. I want to see continued improvements for businesses and residents alike.”

Price stated that within the next 10 days, she will comply with state laws regarding campaigns and will provide detailed background information as well as goals, objectives and vision for continued positive improvements for Maggie Valley and the surrounding community.

Spending by domestic visitors up by 4 percent in WNC

Visit North Carolina has announced that domestic visitors to and within Haywood County spent 161.59 million in 2014, an increase of 4 percent from 2013.

Tourism impact highlights for 2014

— The travel and tourism industry directly employees more than 1,640 people in Haywood County

— Total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Haywood County was $33.09 million.

— State tax revenue generated in Haywood County totaled $8.63 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. Approximately $5.97 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses. Gov. Pat McCrory announced in May that visitors to North Carolina spent a record $21.3 billion in 2014, an increase of 5.5 percent from 2013.

These statistics are from the 2014 Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties. The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by the U.S. Travel Association.

“All eight regions of the state had spending growth of 4 percent or more and 90 percent of the state’s counties saw direct tourism employment growth from 2013 to 2014,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina. “As the sixth most visited state in the country, tourism continues to be major driver of economic development across North Carolina.”

Statewide highlights include:

— State tax receipts as a result of visitor spending neared the $1.1 billion mark in 2014. The figure represents 4 percent in growth over 2013’s $1.0 billion.

— Visitors spend more than $58 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds more than $4.6 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $2.9 million in state taxes and $1.7 million in local taxes).

— The travel and tourism industry directly employees more than 200,000 North Carolinians.

Haywood Art Studio Tours Announced

A Studio Tour Show is being held at Haywood County Arts Council Gallery & Gifts, 86 N. Main St. in Waynesville, from Oct. 1-29.

An opening reception will be held at Art After Dark on Friday, Oct. 2 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A self-guided driving tour of artist studios and creative centers in Haywood County will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The 2015 Haywood Art Studio Tour includes 38 artists at 22 locations in central and north-central Haywood County.

A wide range of artistic endeavors in all media and many expressions within each media category will be available for the public to experience. The tour will include nine clay artists, two fiber artists, nine wood artists, three jewelry artists, two glass artists, seven two-dimensional artists working in watercolor, acrylic, oil, encaustic, and gold and silver leaf. Four mixed-media artists use a wide range of materials including wood, steel, leather, gourds, natural materials, paper, encaustic and clay.Two sculpture artists complete the roster making large scale steel sculptures and surrealistic construction incorporating found objects.

Brochures of the tour, including maps, may be picked up at Haywood County Arts Council Gallery & Gifts on Main Street, Waynesville, and Art on Depot and Grace Cathey Sculpture Garden on Depot Street in Waynesville.

Maps for the tour will be available for download from the web – details to follow.

The 2015 Tour has been organized by a group of Haywood County artists to introduce visitors and county residents to the depth of creative talent alive in Haywood County in all media, and to benefit the artists in the county by adding another venue for artists to introduce their work to the public.

Watvh Group Questions Abuse of NC Taxpayer Resources Exposed in Ashley Madison Hack

More than 30 North Carolina state and local government email addresses were uncovered today by NC Capitol Connection as part of the more than 10,000 government and military email addresses released in the hack of the online affair site, Ashley Madison.

NC Capitol Connection is still uncovering additional NC government email addresses and analyze the list further.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg of government employees using taxpayer resources for personal use. Unfortunately, people will be distracted by the salacious nature of this abuse and not the fact that North Carolinians are being taxed to support government at all levels using state and local resources to engage in this activity at work as opposed to serving the people of North Carolina.”

A few of the NC government domains included in the addresses uncovered at the time of this release are: NC Department of Health and Human Services, NC Department of Juvenile Justice, Moore County, and the Cities of Greensboro, Charlotte, and Greenville.

WCU’s Pride of the Mountains preparing new production, ‘That’s What’s Up’

Nine months after serving as the lead band at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, members of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band are rehearsing their new production, “That’s What’s Up,” and planning trips to the Bands of America Grand National Championship and a Carolina Panthers football game.

Also on the Pride’s fall agenda is a collaboration with a local bluegrass band during a WCU home football game in November.
With a good mix of veteran members and more than 200 freshmen, this year’s Pride of the Mountains will total 475 students, said David Starnes, WCU’s director of athletic bands.

“A leadership team comprised of over 90 students have planned, recruited and trained the band in an effort to maintain the traditions of the program, while elevating musical and visual expectations,” Starnes said.

This year’s production is designed and implemented by Starnes, along with two assistant directors of athletic bands, Matt Henley and Jon Henson. Musical arrangements are by Doug Thrower, a free-lance composer and arranger from Ontario, Canada, and drill design is by Jamey Thompson, a visual designer from Chicago, Starnes said.

“That’s What’s Up” will explore the concept of “up” through the use of emotion, with music made famous by artists ranging from Marvin Gaye to Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder, Coldplay and Fall Out Boy, Starnes said. The new production “illustrates mood, momentum and ascent through music and visual performance,” he said. “The real message of “up” lies in the potential to be our absolute very best in all that we do.”
In addition to performing at WCU home football games, the Pride of the Mountains’ schedule includes a trip to the Bands of America Grand National Championship in Indianapolis, where more than 90 of the best high school bands from across the nation will compete. The Pride not only will present its new show, but also will take part in the event’s 40th anniversary ceremony, Starnes said. Performing in Indianapolis “is an honor that the band does not take for granted and a performance opportunity that allows Western Carolina University’s name to reach thousands of the top high school band students and parents in Lucas Oil Stadium,” he said.

In July, Henley was contacted by the Carolina Panthers organization with an invitation for the Pride’s drumline to take part in a “Drumline Showcase” during halftime of the Panthers’ game versus the Houston Texans on Sunday, Sept. 20. The Pride has two drumlines, Purple and Gold, and members of both will travel to Charlotte to perform in the showcase with the drumline from South Carolina State University and the Panthers’ drumline, Henley said.

The Panthers are supplying transportation, food and seats for the drumline members to watch the second half of the game, Henley said. “We are honored to be chosen and look forward to throwin’ down some purple and gold beats,” he said.
Another highlight of the Pride’s schedule is hosting its 15th annual Tournament of Champions, a competition for the best high school marching bands across the South, on Saturday, Oct. 17.

Later in the fall, on Saturday, Nov. 7, local bluegrass-gospel group Mountain Faith will join the Pride in performing the National Anthem before the start of WCU’s home football game against Furman. Mountain Faith has been garnering considerable national exposure in recent weeks on the NBC show “America’s Got Talent!”

Other members of the Pride’s 2015 instructional and design team, in addition to Starnes, Henley, Henson, Thrower and Thompson, are Bob Buckner, pregame drill designer; Bobby Richardson, color guard director; Ian Lewis, color guard choreographer; Scott Beck, rifle/saber choreographer; Brittany Mastromatteo, color guard technician; Scott Lanning, Purple drumline director; Chelsea Levine, cymbal technician; and Taylor Barnes, bass drum technician.

Staff coordinators are Jesseca Gregory, Alex Larsen, Brian Porterfield and Daniel Scott. Drum majors are Taylor Andrews, Zach Henderson, Victoria Johnson and Brandon Truitt, and caption coordinators are Malyk Adams, Justin Aponte, Brandon Kasseb, Jamie McDonald and Alaina Seidle.

YOur Fall Color Prediction 2015

Fall leaf color in the mountains of Western North Carolina should be the best it has been in a number of years because of generally drier-than-normal conditions during 2015.
That’s the word from Western Carolina University’s autumnal season sage Kathy Mathews in her annual prediction of how foliage around the region will perform as the sunlight of summer wanes and days become frosty.
Mathews, an associate professor of biology at WCU, specializes in plant systematics and bases her color forecast on both past and predicted weather conditions. She believes that the formation of higher levels of pigments in the leaves correlates with dry weather throughout the year, but especially as fall comes around the bend.
“This fall could be one of the best leaf color seasons in Western North Carolina in recent memory,” Mathews said. “Three words explain it – unusually dry weather.”
U.S. Geological Survey records indicate that the region had been drier than normal for most of the year, but with enough rain, particularly in the months of April and June, to avoid drought and keep the trees healthy, she said.
Sugar concentrations in the leaves increase during dry weather because the trees are not taking up as much water through their roots, Mathews said. The abundance of sugars leads to the production of more anthocyanins, the red pigments that appear when green chlorophylls begin receding. “That’s what causes the leaf colors to really pop, along with the simultaneous appearance of orange and yellow pigments on the same or different tree species,” she said.
Some foliage fans may be wondering if the much-publicized El Nino weather pattern may affect the fall colors. Meteorologists are predicting a light hurricane season in the Atlantic this year, partly because of dry air over the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean caused by El Nino, and that reduces the chances of heavy rain and big wind storms in the mountains in August and September – good news for the leaf display, Mathews said.
Leaf-peepers always want to know when the “peak color” will happen, but the timing of the color change is highly dependent on the decreasing amount of sunlight that comes with the passing days, plus the elevation of a particular location, she said. “The peak of fall color often arrives during the first and second week of October in the highest elevations, above 4,000 feet, and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations, 2,500 to 3,500 feet,” Mathews said. Visitors can look for leaves to be peaking in color intensity a few days after the first reported frost in any particular area, she said.
Regardless of all the factors that affect leaf color, visitors to Western North Carolina always will find a pleasing leaf display somewhere in the mountains from September into November, with a wide range of color made possible by the region’s elevations ranging from 1,500 feet to over 6,000 feet and the more than 100 tree species, Mathews said.

Harrah’s Announces New Restaurants at Murphy Casino

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel (HCVR) officials announced the line-up of its Food Market on Tuesday, Aug. 18.

“We’re excited to offer these five quality brands to the Food Market at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel,” said Lumpy Lambert, HCVR general manager. “They represent a variety of freshly prepared menu options and will be complemented by terrific service from our team.”

Guests of all ages will have access to these outlets, which will be conveniently located between the hotel, main casino entrance and the gaming floor.

The following will be offered at the property: Starbucks, Panda Express, Earl of Sandwich, Papa John’s, and Nathan’s Famous.

Starbucks officials commented, “We believe that our stores, our partners (employees), our customers and our coffee can help bring people together and are proud to play a significant role in building awareness of the finest coffee around the world.  We’re excited to be opening a new location with Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino this fall and look forward to continue serving the community.”

Gunman in Haywood County Church Identified; Father of 9

Investigators said Thursday that multiple law enforcement agencies responded to a 911 call claiming that four people had been shot at about 3:15 p.m. at Maple Grove Baptist Church on Stamey Cove Road in Waynesville.

Sgt. Heidi Warren of the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office said there was a man alone in the church when law enforcement crews arrived. The man exchanged gunfire with the officers, she said.

The man has been identified on Thursday as Wade Allen Baker, 44, formerly of Marshalltown, Iowa. He was living in Clyde, N.C.

Shannon O’Toole, assistant special agent in charge, said the four law enforcement officers involved in the shooting were: officer Brennan MeHaffey, of Maggie Valley PD, deputy Jamie McEntire, of the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office and officers Heath Presley and Tyler Howell, of Waynesville PD.

He died from injuries sustained in the shooting.

“Wade was a husband and father, son and brother. Wade is survived and will always be loved by 6 sons and 3 daughters: Nicholas, Mason, Jackson, Jakobi, Tanner, Gage, Kyla, Dana and Kayla; his wife Michelle; loving parents Candy and Daryl; a sister Laura, and his service dog Honor,” reads a statement from his family.  “Like other members of our community and family, we are struggling to understand these events. We are grieving for our loss. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers in the coming days, and hope that others will respect our privacy.”

Investigators contacted Paw & Effect after finding a dog with Baker. He is a 6-year-old service dog. The dog is safe and healthy. The group helps place therapy dogs with veterans.

The dog was reportedly placed with  Baker in March 2012. Baker served in the U.S. Army from August 1989 to Nov. 1998




Canton Officer Hit By Car

A Canton Police Officer was assisting a motorist just east of Exit 104 on U.S. 19/23 when he was struck and injured by a passenger car that had apparently lost control.

Around 1.p.m. Wednesday, Officer Darren Joppa was assisting the driver of a Ford pickup truck who had been pulling a trailer that was hauling a trenching machine. The trenching machine had fallen off the trailer into the roadway.

Joppa was struck while trying to move the equipment out of the travel lanes. No one else was injured in the accident.

The identities of the passenger car driver and pickup truck driver have not been released at this time pending investigation.

The officer was transported to Mission Health by Haywood EMS.

U.S. 19/23 was closed down to one lane while the investigation was conducted.

Stepmother sentenced in Haywood Child’s Death

A Haywood County woman was sentenced Friday to a minimum of six years in prison for her part in the murder of her stepson, 4-year-old Jake Russell, on Aug. 16, 2012. Julia Marie Phillips, 25, is the former wife of Michael Swayngim.

Swayngim pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in March 2015.

Phillips, who has since divorced Swayngim, took an Alford Plea. The Alford Plea is a guilty plea by the defendant who proclaims he or she is innocent of the crime, and admits that the prosecution has enough evidence to prove that he or she is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

She was sentenced for the crime of aiding and abetting felony child abuse.

Church Shooting In Haywood County

Maple Grove Baptist Church

Maple Grove Baptist Church, Waynesville


UPDATE: 01:12pm (08/20/15)

The State Bureau of Investigation was requested to investigate the officer involved shooting that occurred at a Haywood County church yesterday.

The incident took place at the Maple Grove Baptist Church located at 2501 Stamey Cove Road, in Waynesville.  Officers from Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to a 911 call claiming four people were shot. After a brief standoff, Wade Allen Baker, 44, of Clyde, was pronounced dead at the scene. Four law enforcement officers were involved in the shooting.  They have been identified as officer Brennan MeHaffey, of Maggie Valley PD, deputy Jamie McEntire, of the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office and officers Heath Presley and Tyler Howell, of Waynesville PD. There were no other individuals or shooting victims located at the church, as the caller had claimed. As with all officer involved shooting investigations, the investigative report will be delivered to the District Attorney’s office once complete.

(07:38pm 08/19/15)

At approximately 3:15pm on Wednesday, Haywood County Sherriff Dispatchers received a 911 call concerning shots being fired from the vicinity of Maple Grove Baptist Church on Stamey Cove Road. Officers responded and found a lone gunman inside church. Gunfire was exchanged between the suspected gunman and law enforcement. No law enforcement or personnel were injured. EMS were called in to render aid. It is believed that the gunman is deceased, but that is not confirmed at this point. The SBI has been called in to investigate. No one else was injured in this incident.

Forum to update WCU campus on master plan, reaccreditation, enrollment trends

Members of the Western Carolina University community will have an opportunity to hear updates about three important university topics – the campus master plan, the bid for reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and emerging enrollment and demographic trends – during a public forum Monday, Aug. 24.

The event will be held in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center from 2 until 3:30 p.m., with WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher providing opening remarks.

Mike Byers, WCU vice chancellor for administration and finance, will give an update on construction and renovation projects underway as part of the master plan. Approved by the WCU Board of Trustees in December 2013, the plan is designed to serve as a tool to closely link physical facilities of the university, including construction and renovation, to goals of its strategic plan.

Arthur Salido, associate professor of analytical chemistry and WCU’s SACSCOC director, will share information about the university’s accreditation reaffirmation process, including development of a Quality Enhancement Plan. Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar appointed Salido to take the reins of WCU’s SACSCOC reaffirmation process in May.

A comprehensive multiyear effort, the reaffirmation process involves demonstrating that WCU has met in-depth SACSCOC standards that ensure the university is offering high-quality programs for students. Successful reaffirmation of accreditation is important for reasons such as preserving WCU’s ability to be able to confer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and maintaining eligibility to receive and distribute federal financial aid funds. The university has been continuously accredited by SACSCOC, WCU’s institutional accrediting body, since 1946 and last reaffirmed accreditation for a 10-year period in 2007.

Sam Miller, vice chancellor for student affairs, will discuss enrollment and demographic trends that are expected to have an impact on institutions of higher education. Those trends include a predicted decline in the number of college-going North Carolinians in the year 2021 (the result of a drop in birthrates after Sept. 11, 2001), followed by an increase in college-bound residents in regions of the state east of WCU’s service region.

School Bus Safety: What You Need To Know

Every day millions of students use school buses as transportation to and from school. Although school buses represent the safest form of highway transportation, there are a number of safety factors of which both student and drivers should be aware. Hoping to ensure school bus safety, Sheriff Greg Christopher encourages caution whenever school buses are present.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 134 people die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year and more school-aged pedestrians have been killed during the hours of 7 to 8 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. than any other time of day.

“Children are often eager to get off the school bus because they are excited to tell their parents about all of the fun they had at school that day,” said Christopher. “It is crucial that parents re-enforce the school bus safety rules children learn at school.”

Christopher also suggests that parents drive their child’s bus route with them to practice the proper safety precautions they can take to help ensure their child enjoys a safe ride to and from school.

Teachers return to school Monday, Aug. 17, and students will begin classes Wednesday, Aug. 19. Parents are encouraged to discuss the following safety measures with their children:

— Always arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early.

— While the bus is approaching make sure to stand at least three big steps away from the curb; wait until the bus has come to a complete stop; the door opens; and the bus driver says that it’s okay to board.

— Always walk on the sidewalk when preparing to cross the street near a bus. Make eye contact with the driver so that you are sure he or she sees you.

— Never walk behind the bus.

— If you are walking beside the bus, walk at least three giant steps away.

— Use the handrail when entering and exiting the bus. Take extra precautions to make sure that clothing with drawstrings and book bags do not get caught in the handrail or door.

— Never stop to pick something up that you have dropped when a bus is stopped. Tell the bus driver or wait until the bus has driven off to avoid not being seen by the driver.


— Remember that children are unpredictable in their actions. Take extreme caution when traveling in a school zone.

— If there are no sidewalks, drive cautiously. Be more alert to the possibility of children walking in the road.

— Slow down and prepare to stop whenever you see yellow school bus lights flashing.

— Never pass a school bus when there are flashing red lights and the stop arm is extended. This is a sign that children are getting on or off the bus. Motorists must wait until the red lights stop flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.

— Learn and obey the school bus laws in North Carolina.

Hit and Run in Cullowhee Hospitalizes 12 year old boy

A 12-year-old boy was hit on a bicycle around 7 p.m. last night off Old Cullowhee Road in front of Carolina Village Apartments.

August Lusk, of Sylva, was riding his bicycle when a truck attempted to pass him. The vehicle hit the boy from behind knocking him off his bike. The truck fled the scene of the accident. NC Highway Patrol is trying to locate the driver of the black Ford truck with a tan camper top.

Two people witnessed the accident and provided a description of the truck, but authorities have not yet identified the owner. Glass from the broken headlight was found in the road after the accident.The vehicle is believed to have damage to the front right headlight.

The boy was airlifted to Mission Hospital in Asheville and is listed in serious condition.

Anyone with information about the owner of the truck should contact the N.C. Highway Patrol Clyde office at 828-627-2851 or *47 after hours on a mobile phone.

Sheriff Offers Back to School Safety Tips

Christopher_3519 3504 Hi JpegSheriff Greg Christopher of Haywood County offers some safety tips for those youngsters who will be walking back and forth to school this year.

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

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

• While walking, remember to always travel with a friend. Two heads are better than one, especially if there’s an emergency.

• A stranger is anyone you or your parents don’t know well.

• You or your friend must never take candy, money, medicine or anything else from a stranger.

• If a stranger in a car asks you questions, don’t get close to the car (you could get pulled in) – and never get in the car.

• Strangers can be very tricky – they can ask you to walk with them to “show” them something; they can offer to pay for your video game, or ask you to help them find a lost dog or cat. Don’t be fooled!

• Don’t tell anyone your name or address when you’re walking and don’t think that because someone knows your name that they know you – they may just be looking at your name printed on your lunch box, school bag or T-shirt.

• If you think you’re in any danger, yell, and run to the nearest store or “safe house” or back to school.

• Always tell your parents or teacher if a stranger has approached you.

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

Haywood Community College Celebrates 50 years

Haywood Community College is pulling out all stops to celebrate its 50th anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 19.

The day will begin at 8 a.m. with the Freedlander 5K and Fun Run, then continue with many activities throughout the day.

To satisfy attendees of all ages and interests, the celebration will have something for everyone.

Following the 5K, there will be live music beginning at 10 a.m., headlined by Joe Lasher Jr. and the Jeff Santiago Band, a classic car show, bounce houses, putt-putt golf, creative arts activities for adults and children, a photo booth, and a fishing tournament with cash prizes at the Millpond.

Adding to the festivities, the event will host a Timbersports demonstration featuring HCC’s Collegiate National Champion, Ben Kniceley, as well as a flag raising ceremony to honor HCC alumni.

“The goals of this event were defined early on and really drove the decision making process as to what we wanted to feature,” said Aaron Mabry, director of marketing and communications for the college. “We (HCC) wanted to celebrate the 50th Anniversary, invite the community, make every aspect of the event family friendly, honor the heritage and the alumni of the college. More than anything, outside of food and the 5K registration, we wanted the event to be free to the community.”

For the food, HCC has invited Dickey’s BBQ of Canton to cater the event. As a thank you from the college, HCC alumni who attend and provide their most up to date contact information (name, address, e-mail), will receive a $5 voucher for the purchase of food at the event. Also in attendance will be HCC’s Waynesville Soda Jerks, serving up their local, handcrafted artisan beverages.

“We’re extremely excited to invite the community to our campus and celebrate this community-wide milestone. Our mission began in 1965 and remains intact to this day- providing accessible, affordable, and high-quality education, workforce training, and lifelong learning. This event celebrates fifty years of achievement for the college, our alumni and ultimately, Haywood County,” said HCC President Barbara Parker.

Freedlander 5K, Fun Run
The Freedlander 5K is open to runners and walkers for both individuals and teams of four. All registrants in the 5K and Fun Run will receive a race t-shirt. To honor the heritage of the college, the T-shirt is a replica of the shirt given to runners of an HCC 5K in 1980.

The Fun Run is a .44 mile-walk/run that is designed for kids and older adults. All children completing the Fun Run will receive a finisher’s medallion at the finish line and race t-shirt. The Fun Run will start at 9:15 a.m.

Regular Registration for the 5K through Aug. 31 is $25. Late Registration is $30 from Sept. 1 – 19. Registration for the Fun Run is $15. Online registration at haywood.edu ends at midnight on September 17. Race day registration on-site is Sept. 19.

Heritage and Growth
HCC opened in August 1965 as Haywood Industrial Education Center with one curriculum program, nursing and 39 students. Today, HCC offers over 23 curricular programs to over 2,200 students.

More than 5,000 more students attend classes through the Workforce Continuing Education division, including College & Career Readiness, occupational courses, and community service programs.

The college offers some unique programs that are known not only throughout the state but nationally. The Professional Crafts programs of clay, fiber, jewelry and wood combines a unique blend of studio experience, classroom education, and hands-on business experience. Students gain the skills needed to start their own business or become valued, skilled employees in the craft industry.

Another unique area of study for HCC is the Arts, Sciences, and Natural Resources Department. With Associate degrees available in Fish and Wildlife Technology and Forest Management Technology, students come from many counties to be a part of these leading programs. The hands-on style gets students out of the classroom and allows them direct application of the skills learned, often making ties with professionals in the field.
Oftentimes, HCC alumni have jobs before finishing their programs of study.

Graduate Success
According to HCC 1999 Fish and Wildlife Management Technology graduate Shawn Martin, “As a student at HCC, you are able to build your resume while you are still in college. You get job offers before you finish the program. It’s a tough program. A lot of four-year programs don’t give students this kind of exposure.”

Martin is Sergeant of District 9 for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. He enjoys being able to give back to HCC by teaching some classes and speaking to the Natural Resources students. In addition, Martin is an adjunct Basic Law Enforcement instructor. He is certified in the state as a general law enforcement instructor and specialized firearms instructor for law enforcement.

For Donna Forga, 1991 HCC Business Administration graduate, the college was a stepping stone to continuing her education. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Literature and Language from UNCA. In 2000, she finished law school at Chapel Hill.

Forga is a District Judge for seven counties including: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain. She was first elected as District Court Judge in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014.
Forga says that HCC taught her that she could succeed and overcome obstacles. “Without coming to HCC first, I would not have continued my education to become a lawyer then a judge. HCC showed me I could make the grades and balance being a parent while going to school.

Ben Kniceley, HCC 2014 Fish and Wildlife Management Technology and 2015 Forest Management Technology graduate, recently became the STIHL USA Collegiate Champion in Timbersports. He won the title competing in Central Park in New York against five other national qualifiers. This is the fourth HCC student to go to the nationals.

The next stop for Kniceley will be in Austria in November for the world championships. He will spend 2016 competing in the professional series. Kniceley works at the Lumberjack Feud in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
He has worked for the Lumberjack Feud for three years. He also spent a summer working in Alaska for the company’s sister attraction, The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show.

“Being a community college, no one thinks any good can come out of it,” Kniceley says. “But travelling with the school’s timbersports team, Haywood is the team everyone wants to beat.”

At HCC, we know education changes everything. Graduates from the college work throughout Haywood County in many offices such as medical, accountants, and cosmetologists. They also work on cars, build houses, and make a living from their creative artistry. The college would love to hear from these graduates and know what they are doing now.

For more information about HCC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, please visit haywood.edu/50. If you would like to share your HCC story with us, please call 828.627.4679 or email dconard@haywood.edu.