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Jackson County Woman Sentenced on Child Porn Charges

510ae4a99c3a2.imageA Jackson County woman was sentenced on Tuesday, June 3,
2014, to serve 210 months in a federal prison for producing, receiving, possessing and
distributing child pornography, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western
District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger
also ordered Kimberly Rachael Moore, 31, of Tuckasegee, N.C. to serve under court supervision
the rest of her life upon release from prison and to register as a sex offender.

Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas and
Sheriff Jimmy Ashe of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office join U.S. Attorney Tompkins in
making today’s announcement.

In December 2012, a federal criminal indictment charged Moore with one count of
production of child pornography, one count of possession of child pornography, one count of
receipt of child pornography and four counts of distribution of child pornography. Moore
pleaded guilty to the charges in May 2013. According to court filings and proceedings, during
the investigation detectives discovered an extensive collection of child pornography, as well as a
computer hard drive, an email account, and online photo sharing accounts.

Moore is in federal custody and will be transferred into custody of the Federal Bureau of
Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. Federal sentences are served without the
possibility of parole.

The investigation into Moore was handled by HSI and the Jackson County Sheriff’s
Office.

Cherokee Author Finalist for Prestigious Prize

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Executive Director of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation in Cherokee, North Carolina, is a finalist for the 2014 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. The award was established in 2000 by Barbara Kingsolver and is funded entirely by her. Clapsaddle is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and graduated from Yale University and the College of William and Mary.

The 2014 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction is presented biennially to the author of a previously unpublished novel of high literary caliber that promotes fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships. This is the second year in which PEN is administering this award.

The winner, chosen by judges Terry McMillan, Nancy Pearl, and Kathy Pories, will be announced later this summer and will be honored at the PEN Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City on September 29th. The $25,000 prize includes a book contract with Algonquin Books.

New EPA Rule Could Clean Up Power Plants by 2030

4024864398_f86182024c_oPower plants in North Carolina could be required to “clean up their act” by 2030. The EPA has proposed the new carbon emission limits for existing power plants. If adopted, the rules are expected to help curtail global warming by reducing the pollutants known as greenhouse gases. John Robbins, owner of Greathorn Properties in Concord, says the protection goes beyond safekeeping for the environment.

“Wildlife and tourism are good business for North Carolina as well and so, by protecting our wildlife resources, the habitat, etcetera, we protect a very important economic element in this state.”

Robbins is also a member of the group, Environmental Entrepreneurs and vice chair of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. Both groups spoke out in support of the emission guidelines under the Clean Power Plan. The rules would require that North Carolina cut its carbon emissions by almost 40-percent of current levels by 2030.

Opponents of the new EPA rule warn it will have a chilling effect on some parts of the economy, by placing a costly burden on energy providers that would be passed along to customers. Joshua Saks with the National Wildlife Federation says there were bound to be critics.  “I don’t think there is any regulation that the President could put forward – even one that would give free candy and cookies to every American – that wouldn’t be assailed by certain people for purely political reasons.”

A recent poll by Environmental Entrepreneurs found 54-percent of small business owners in North Carolina believe reducing carbon pollution would be good for the state’s economy. Robbins is one of them.

“I think the potential is there for these rules to generate jobs in the renewable sector as we march towards meeting the goals laid out in the carbon plan.”

The same poll also found that 55-percent of the business owners polled want state lawmakers to take steps to address climate change. The EPA now takes public comment on the rules for the next four months.

Common Core In NC

NorthCarolinaSealNorth Carolina legislators are revving up the debate over whether to set aside nationally developed academic standards the public schools already have embraced. The House Education Committee scheduled for its Tuesday meeting agenda a proposal that would direct the State Board of Education to replace Common Core standards for math and language arts. A legislative study committee recommended the replacement after hearing concerns about losing local control from teachers and parents, and even Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. But Gov. Pat McCrory has spoken publicly in favor of Common Core. Common Core has been accepted by more than 44 states, but some are having second thoughts.

Comedian Louis CK is just one of many who have expressed his concern for the standard taking to Twitter to make jokes such as this tweet: “My Kids Used to Love Math. Not it makes them cry. Thanks Standardized testing and common core.”

Common core has students and teachers being judged on results, many say. Some proponents think common core is being adopted to go along with No Child Left Behind which has federally mandated tests.

Advocates say it is being taught new ways to arrive at old answers. It sets unified expectations for what k-12 students should know and be able to do in each grade in preparation for college and the work force. Common core has a new emphasis on breaking down numbers into their component parts so kids can better understand what it means to add, subtract, multiply and divide. The adoption of common core will see a rise in equality of what is being taught across the nation. It will make moving easier, which is one reason why the US Military has advocated for common core. Other countries with high performing students use national standards.

The bill would create a commission to help the education board come up with new standards. The Senate Education Committee plans similar bill debate Wednesday

Cherokee to Host State GOP Convention

Republican_Party_(North_Carolina)The North Carolina Republican Party will host its annual convention in Cherokee this year June 6-8th. Normally, the convention is held in cities like Raleigh or Charlotte. There is an anticipated 1600 attendees. The city hosting the convention needs to have accommodations to handle the group. Cherokee happened to be one of few locations which fit this criteria. The convention will include committee meetings and general sessions which will map out the future for the Republican party in the state. US Senate nominee Thom Tillis is expected to give his acceptance speech at the event. A Dinner will also feature former US Speaker Dennis Hastert.

A Vote on Medical Marijuana

cross.onlyA state lawmaker wants to put the issue of medical marijuana before North Carolina voters as a proposed constitutional amendment.

Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, filed House Bill 1161 last Tuesday calling for a referendum on the November ballot to legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana in North Carolina to treat more than two dozen “debilitating medical conditions,” from cancer and Lou Gehrig’s disease to incontinence and sleep apnea.

Alexander filed a medical marijuana bill last year that was quickly defeated in committee. He said putting it to a statewide vote should give lawmakers some cover in voting for a controversial measure.

 

Alexander noted that some polls show a majority of North Carolinians favor legalizing medical marijuana and called on fellow lawmakers to let everyone decide instead of snuffing out the issue in the General Assembly.

Constitutional amendments are extremely difficult to pass, requiring super-majorities in both the state House and Senate before going to the voters.

Teacher Raises Come with Cost

NorthCarolinaSealNorth Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger released the details of his 2014 education budget Thursday, which would provide teachers with an average 11 percent increase in pay beginning this fall.

But there is a catch — those who would like to take home the significant pay raise, which amounts to somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000 for many teachers, will have to give up their career status, also known as tenure. Lawmakers have been trying to squash tenure for some time, and the General Assembly repealed it during last year’s legislative session.

Governor McCrory said he had problems with the proposal. A court ruled recently that lawmakers can’t strip tenure from teachers. McCory disagreed with the budget on other fronts too including impacts on the Department of Transportation, environmental protection, commerce and health and human services. The budget would also include 14.8 million to build a crime lab in WNC. Extra spending comes from the cuts some of which include eliminating teachers assistants in second grade classrooms across the state.

A bill must pass 3 readings but can’t be voted on the same day. The short session has made it difficult for the public to be involved. Senators have been told to stay in Raleigh on Saturday signaling a vote could come as early as just after midnight Friday.

Haywood County Ultimate Neighborhood Giveback Challenge

Pennington, TyHaywood County has officially entered the Ultimate Neighborhood Giveback Challenge where the winning project could receive up to $50,000, and runners up will receive up to $10,000 per project.

The funds are available through the mortgage company Guaranteed Rate, and Ty Pennington, the host of the television hit “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Projects being sought for the next series involve those that will benefit a community.

Haywood’s project is the ongoing effort to renovate the former Hazelwood Prison to serve as a half-way house for those released from jail and to serve as an emergency shelter. Open Door Soup Kitchen will open a secondary location at the center as well to serve a greater portion of the community.

Part of the challenge involves an online Facebook voting effort. There are more than 100 projects under consideration, and many were entered in March when the ultimate challenge event started.

The online voting effort is 20 percent of the criteria to determine which projects are selected as the top six finalists. That effort ends June 9.

To help Haywood be the winner, go to Facebook and type in Guaranteed Rate. Click on the “Ultimate Neighborhood Giveback Challenge” icon to see all the projects and vote. Each Facebook user can only vote once, but all can share the voting site frequently to convince their friends to vote.

Swain County Car Crash Kills Man

Troop GA single car crash between Cherokee and Bryson City early Thursday morning claimed the life of 23 year old Travis Squirrel. The Highway Patrol reported the car ran off Coopers Creek Road and down an embankment.

Dustin Taylor, the driver, and another passenger were injured. Troopers believe alcohol was involved and no one in the car was wearing a seatbeat. Charges are pending.

 



NC Ranked Among Worst For Obesity and Diabetes

mid section view of a man sitting on a bench in a parkOverweight, obesity and diabetes are among the most costly and harmful health problems in North Carolina. Presently, North Carolina has some of the worst rates in the nation. NC is ranked 17th most obese state and 9th for diabetes in this country. The rates are increasing at alarming speed.  65% of NC residents are overweight or obese. 1 in 10 residents is a diabetic. These issues are all closely related. Obese adults are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than healthy weight adults.

Poor eating habits and physical inactivity are among the leading causes of overweight and obesity. In 2011, 86% of North Carolina Adults did not consume 5 or more fruits, vegetables or beans daily the recommended amount by the Center for Disease Control. It was also reported that 56.5% of adults drank one or more sugar sweetened beverages or more a day.

The Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School will release its 2014 New North Carolina State Report: Providing Access to Healthy Solutions (PATHS) – The Diabetes Epidemic in North Carolina: Policies for Moving Forward. The report is funded through a grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and was released during the CHLPI Diabetes Leadership Dinner on May 29 and Strategy Forum on May 30 in Raleigh. The report will also be presented to the North Carolina Diabetes Advisory Council (NCDAC) at its spring meeting on Friday May 30. The NCDAC advises the state government on diabetes prevention and management.

NC Writer Maya Angelou Passes On

5 22 2010 Anstiss Krueck PartyA literary voice revered globally for her poetic command and her commitment to civil rights has fallen silent.

Maya Angelou died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Wednesday, said her literary agent, Helen Brann.

The 86-year-old was a novelist, actress, professor, singer, dancer and activist. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.

One of Angelou’s most revered books was “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

Writer Julian Mayfield is said to have described the autobiography as “a work of art which eludes description.”

Affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, the professor never went to college. She has more than 30 honorary degrees and taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.

Webster Announces Proposed Budget

250px-Webster_Baptist_ChurchThe town of Webster released the proposed budget for 2014-2015. Mayor Nick Breedlove sent a memo explaining the budget is actually down from last year coming in at $77,600 when it was previously $79.250. The largest portion of monies would be allocated for Fire protection at $16,800 and law enforcement at $10,000. Other monies would be used for landscaping and sidewalk maintenance, street lights and the Webster cemetery in addition to Administrative costs. The tax remains unchanged at 5 cents for $100 valuation. A public hearing will be agreed upon at the first June meeting.

Fracking Gets More Steam

fracking_17A key committee in the North Carolina House has advanced a bill that would lift the state’s moratorium on fracking for natural gas. The House Public Utilities and Energy Committee passed the Republican-backed measure Tuesday with several Democrats in the minority voting no.

The bill was amended to remove a provision directing the first drilling permits be issued in July 2015, replacing it with language allowing permits to be issued 60 days after the final regulations for the industry are approved.

Fracking is used by the energy industry to extract oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals.

The bill was approved by the state Senate last week. The legislation’s next stop is the House Finance Committee.

Jackson County is one of several western counties that will see carbon testing as early as August. If the legislation passes, fracking permits will be issued as soon as July 2015.

NC to Receive $4 Million in Grants for Veteran’s Homeless Shelter

Geary-chartGovernor Pat McCrory announced one of the largest federal community development block grants in the state’s history today, a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to create a facility for homeless veterans.

 

An unused state building in Butner will be transformed into the Veterans Life Center, a facility where homeless veterans will find the services they need to become independent once again. The building will provide clean, safe housing, as well as access to life-affirming services such as  vocational education and mentoring.

The center will offer health and wellness services such as counseling for substance abuse and mental health and nutrition services, as well as professional counseling services and life skills development.

 

The goal of the program is to achieve self-reliance for up to 150 veterans in two years or less. The project will benefit homeless veterans from all areas of the state.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce has awarded these funds to the nonprofit Veterans Leadership Council-CARES of North Carolina, which assists veterans across the state by creating private-public partnerships between government agencies and volunteers.

The VLC is based in Raleigh and has been in operation since 2009. Its executive director, John Turner, is a former Army officer and decorated Iraq combat veteran. Marine veteran Jeff Smith also leads the organization.

Governor McCrory also thanked U.S. Senator Richard Burr for his unceasing dedication to the project. Burr, the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has been a chief advocate in Washington of the project since its inception.

Second Graders Remember Student Teacher

Reagan Hartley, student teacher at Cherokee Elementary School, was killed in a fatal car crash in April.

Reagan Hartley, student teacher at Cherokee Elementary School, was killed in a fatal car crash in April.

 

Second grade students at Cherokee Elementary School gathered today to honor their former student teacher, Reagan Hartley. Miss Hartley was killed in April in a fatal automobile accident resulting from a high speed police chase near Greensboro. Ronnie Fichera was fleeing from police and heading the wrong way on the highway when he struck Miss Hartley.

 

A special page was added to the yearbook, which was also dedicated to Miss Hartley. Students presented books of their art work and writing to the family. They also created a memory wall decorated with butterflies in the hallway near the second grade classrooms.

 

Miss Hartley’s family and Western Carolina University faculty were present for the event.

 

Following the presentation, students released red, white and blue ballooons and planted a tree in memorial of their teacher.

Sylva Woman Wins Trip to Macy’s Parade

pride-of-the-mountains-for-webVivian Cleaveland of Sylva had forgotten about the raffle ticket she bought to support Western Carolina University’s Friends of the Arts when Robert Kehrberg, dean of WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts, called with some news and asked if she was sitting down.

Cleaveland had won a trip for two to New York City to see WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band in the upcoming Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The package includes airfare, a three-night stay in a four-star hotel, limousine services, Grand Stand VIP parade seating, Thanksgiving dinner with the band and a $500 gift card for meals, shows and other expenses.

“I should have sat down,” said Cleaveland, remembering the phone call. “I was absolutely thrilled to death. I’ve never won anything in my life. I was elated and shocked. It’s just awesome.”

A retired federal employee, Cleaveland works part time for dentist Dr. David McGuire and bought the raffle ticket from Jeanne McGuire, a Friends of the Arts silent auction committee member who works in the same building. Jeanne McGuire is the wife of Dr. Patrick McGuire, a dentist and brother of Dr. David McGuire.

A long-time supporter of WCU and Jackson County Schools, Cleaveland has watched the Macy’s parade on television and has enjoyed seeing the WCU marching band perform at football games.

“We have a close connection with the band and love to watch them perform,” said Cleaveland who plans to take the trip with her daughter. “The music is great and the formation of the marching band is just spectacular.”

The raffle and a silent auction were part of a spring fundraiser that generated about $70,000 for College of Fine and Performing Arts scholarships and programming.

Lynda Sossamon, chair of the Friends of the Arts advancement council and the raffle committee, said event organizers wanted to include a trip to New York City in the raffle and were excited when David Starnes, director of the Pride of the Mountains, offered two VIP seats in the stands along the parade route as well as Thanksgiving Day dinner with the band to include in the package.

Elections in North Carolina

election2014The State Board of Elections Thursday authenticated results for the May 6 Primary.

More North Carolinians voted early and within fewer days compared to 2010, the most recent non-presidential primary year. Early voting also formed a greater proportion of overall participation. The May Primary was the first election held under a compacted 10-day early voting schedule. Average votes-per-hour at one-stop polling locations increased 34% over 2010.

Statewide participation increased to 15.8% of registered voters compared to 14.4% in 2010.  More than 148,000 additional voters cast ballots in 2014 than in 2010.

Second primaries will be held Tuesday, July 15 to decide 19 contests in 37 counties.  Early voting begins Thursday, July 3.  No statewide ballot item required a second primary. Republican Candidate for Jackson County Sheriff Curtis Lambert will face challenger Jimmy Hodgins in a run off on the 15th.

The State Board unanimously denied the appeal of an elections protest filed by Bruce Davis, former candidate for the Democratic nomination in the Sixth Congressional District. Board members also voted unanimously to reprimand Jerry Wallin of the Madison County Board of Elections regarding a Facebook “like” of a candidate’s page.

The Agency’s review of county abstracts confirmed that the State Board’s website accurately displayed results submitted for each race.  The site had intermittently displayed an incorrect number of precincts reporting on election night.

Fracking Debate Hits Home in Jackson County

000_480270741.siAn official from North Carolina’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources confirms experts will take rock samples from areas around Northern Jackson and Graham Counties and the town of Topton, to test for carbon amounts. Jackson, Haywood, Macon, Swain, Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties are the only counties in North Carolina where natural gas may be found.

Carbon can indicate if there could potentially be natural gas to extract from the ground. A bill that would lift the moratorium on fracking has made it through the Senate. Testing would begin on the rock in late August and through the fall, with results coming back in late 2014 or early 2015.

With the passage of the new bill, fracking permits could be issued as soon as July 2015.

K-9 Vests For Local Law Enforcement

385_K-9BakerOPD-vest_Large_The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office and Waynesville Police Department have been awarded ballistic vests for two K-9 officers, thanks to the Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association and the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

On Saturday, June 14, Haywood County Deputy Randy Jenkins will be presented with a ballistic vest for his K9 partner, Lenny, and Waynesville Police Officer Zachary Faulkenberry will be presented with one for his K9 partner, Valor.  The vests will be awarded during the Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association All-Breed Dog Show, Obedience and Rally Trials at the Haywood County Fairgrounds.

The Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association donated $1,900 to Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. to enable the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office and Waynesville Police Department K-9s to receive the vests.  WCDFA raised the money at their annual “Bark in the Park” event.  John Havrilla, a North Carolina artist, donated a painting to the winner of the raffle held to raise money for this cause.

North Carolina has lost several service dogs in the line of duty over the past year.  Events like this allow law enforcement agencies to protect K9s who are on the front lines with their handlers.

Asheville Native Wins American Idol

02-top9-portraits-caleb-1170x658Big News for Asheville and Western North Carolina! Native Caleb Johnson won the 13th season of American Idol on Wednesday night. He was named the latest champion of the Fox singing competition over runner-up Jena Irene. Caleb will be awarded a record contract. He’ll release an album on August 12.