Folkmoot USA to Celebrate New Home

DSC0263Folkmoot USA will host an Open House on Thursday, June 26, from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m., to celebrate Haywood County’s generous donation of the historic Hazelwood School to the cultural organization.


On June 16, the Haywood County Board of Commissioners approved the donation of the historic Hazelwood School facilities to Folkmoot USA. According to county tax records, the facility is worth approximately $1.3 million. This marks the first time that Folkmoot USA has had a permanent home in its 31-year history of offering its annual summer festival and other events celebrating international culture.


“We have operated as tenants in this facility for more than a decade,” explained Karen Babcock, Executive Director of Folkmoot USA. “Ownership opens the door to both new responsibilities and exciting opportunities.”


By fixing the roof, renovating the auditorium, and making other facility changes, Folkmoot USA can achieve its goals of offering events year-round and operating a center that brings the local, regional and international communities together. Some of the possibilities include hosting guests and creating venues for community and international events and performances. Folkmoot USA has already secured $167,000 in cash support to help initiate these changes.


“We are very grateful to Haywood County for providing the largest donation in Folkmoot USA’s history,” said Rose Johnson, president of the board of Folkmoot USA. “The Open House is an opportunity to celebrate this amazing gift and also start the conversation about the future. We are thoroughly committed to utilizing this historic school facility to serve the community. We’re eager for people to come see the center and offer their ideas.”


Folkmoot USA supporters, former teachers and students at the historic Hazelwood School, Hazelwood neighbors, and the general public are all welcome to attend the Open House, which will take place at 112 Virginia Avenue in Hazelwood (Waynesville), from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 26. This free event will include light refreshments.


Nominations for new Folkmoot USA board members are now being accepted. Terms will begin in September, 2014. Forms may be picked up during the Open House or requested via phone or email.


For more information about the Open House or board member nominations, please call 828-452-2997 or email info@folkmoot.com

Information Sought in Haywood County Burglary

John Cleveland Meris is wanted in connection with a robbery in the Hemphill community in Haywood County.

John Cleveland Meris is wanted in connection with a robbery in the Hemphill community in Haywood County.

One Canton man has been arrested and another is wanted in a breaking and entering that resulted in the theft of more than $150,000 in money and jewelry from a home in the Hemphill community Wednesday.


James Cleveland Meris, 32, of Canton was arrested and charged with felony breaking and entering, larceny, conspiracy, and possession of stolen property.  He was also charged with felony obtaining property by false pretense and misdemeanor resisting arrest.


James Meris was jailed Thursday night in lieu of $50,000 secured bond.  He was released from custody after posting bond Friday afternoon.  His court date is set for June 25.


Also wanted in the incident is 56-year-old John Cleveland Meris, of Carson Street, Canton. He is described as a white male, approximately 5’9” tall, weighing about 140 pounds, with gray hair and brown eyes.  He is believed to be driving a green Ford F-250 4×4 truck.  Anyone with any information as to his whereabouts is asked to contact the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office at (828) 452-6666.


The case remains under investigation, and additional arrests and charges are expected.

Trooper Blanton Memorial Scholarship Winners

Recipients of the Trooper Blanton Memorial Scholarship

Recipients of the Trooper Blanton Memorial Scholarship

On Saturday June 14 the Trooper Shawn Blanton Memorial Scholarship Fund held their 7th annual fund raiser at Sequoyah National Golf Club in Jackson County.  At the conclusion of the fundraiser, the 2014 Scholarship winners were announced.  The winners were selected among numerous applications received from multiple counties across Western North Carolina.  To qualify for the scholarship, each applicant must be participating in their high school softball program, be a senior, be accepted to a university or a college, and present a letter requesting consideration for the scholarship.  Each winner received a $1000 to go towards the expenses related with furthering their education.  Trooper Blanton was shot and killed on I-40 in Haywood County while conducting a traffic stop on June 17, 2008.  After his death, his father, David Blanton organized a Scholarship Fund for young ladies who played high school softball that wanted to further their education.  Trooper Blanton was the head JV softball coach at Smoky Mountain High School and an avid recreational softball player.  Since beginning the scholarship, there has been $32,000 given to help these ladies pursue their education. Winners from our area include Ashley Doolin from Smoky Mountain High School, Kendra Kirland from Swain County High School and Tristan Woodall from Tuscola High School and Erin West from Andrews High School.

Possum Drop to Remain NC tradition

possumintroduced_GJCThe marsupial star of a New Year’s Eve tradition in a North Carolina mountain town can remain the center of attention.

The Senate agreed Wednesday without discussion on a bill excluding opossums from state wildlife laws between December 26 and January 2 in Clay County, where the annual Possum Drop celebration is held.

The Possum Drop involves lowering a possum in a clear plastic box at midnight and then releasing it.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has tried to stop the event, saying the animal is cruelly treated. A judge last year dismissed a PETA lawsuit, but another hearing is expected.

The bill is considered local legislation, which means it takes effect without the governor’s signature.


Feud Heats Up Over Good Discount Driver Bill

The rates North Carolina drivers pay for car insurance could go up, and it wouldn’t be because of a person’s driving record under legislation being proposed in Raleigh.

State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin isn’t a fan of what’s being called the “Good Driver Discount Bill” circulating in State Assembly committees. He’s convinced it wouldn’t offer anything but increased insurance rates for motorists.  “My experts and a number of the larger insurance carriers here agree with me – instead of lowering premiums for North Carolina drivers, it actually will cause their premiums to go up.”

North Carolina has the lowest car insurance rates in the Southeast, due in part to Commissioner Goodwin’s ability to set a cap on rates charged by insurance companies. The Good Driver Discount Bill would allow insurers to bypass the cap requirement. The bill’s supporters say the commissioner would still have the power to approve or reject rates proposed by individual companies.

Supporters of the bill say it will allow companies to offer car insurance discounts that aren’t currently available in North Carolina.

Goodwin says he’s worried with the cap removed, there’s nothing to stop rates from increasing. “That’s a tremendous concern of mine, is that I want to make sure that our drivers, our families, our small businesses are not hit with some increases in their car insurance bills.”

More than 150 companies write insurance policies in North Carolina. The state Insurance Department says there are already two-thousand discounts available to drivers.

Armed Robbery in Jackson County

David Earnest Frizzell

David Earnest Frizzell

On Sunday, June 8, 2014, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office investigated an armed robbery on Buff Creek Road in Jackson County involving an 86 year old victim.  The crime was perpetrated by using a firearm at the victim’s residence as he returned home.   The suspect, David Earnest Frizzell,was known and identified by the victim and investigators believe this was an isolated incident involving the armed robbery.  Deputies located and arrested the suspect a short time after the incident occurred and is currently being held in the Jackson County Detention Center.  The suspect had previous outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest for other property crimes.

NC to Host Championship Golf Tournament


Pinehurst No.2 will be the site of the US Open and US Women's Open this year.

Pinehurst No.2 will be the site of the US Open and US Women’s Open this year.

With tens of thousands of golf enthusiasts descending on North Carolina over the next two weeks for the 2014 U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open, the state has worked hard to make sure they will have a great and unique experience.  Several of the state’s cabinet level agencies have coordinated their effort to put North Carolina’s best foot forward for visitors.  It is estimated that more than 400,000 people will attend the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open in Pinehurst during the unprecedented back-to-back events.

Departments including Commerce, Public Safety, Transportation and Cultural Resources have spent more than a year going over the smallest details to get ready for the events. From coordinating meetings with international businesses to improving transportation infrastructure, North Carolina is going all out to be an outstanding host.

N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker sees the tournament as a great vehicle to market the state to businesses that might be considering locating here.  The N.C. Department of Commerce is coordinating a number of the state’s events surrounding the U.S. Open Championships, including a special “North Carolina Night” performance by the N.C. Symphony on Friday, June 13, to highlight the various amenities North Carolina offers. The concert is free and the public is invited to attend.

The local convention and visitors bureau estimates the total economic impact of the two championships will be $169 million.  That includes money spent on lodging, food, beverages, transportation and shopping.

The U.S. Open will take place at the historic Pinehurst No. 2 course June 9-15, followed by the U.S. Women’s Open June 17-22. Staged by the United States Golf Association (USGA), the U.S. Open is the annual open golf tournament of the United States. It is the second of the four major championships in golf, and is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Seeking Suspects

Elliott Neal Mattox DOB 09/05/1992 195 Black Hill Road Bryson City, NC   28713

Elliott Neal Mattox
DOB 09/05/1992
195 Black Hill Road
Bryson City, NC 28713

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information regarding a June 2, 2014 break in at the Cashiers Valley Pharmacy in Cashiers, NC.  During the theft two masked individuals entered the store and were captured on video surveillance.  Taken from the store were multiple pharmaceutical drugs and firearms.  A large portion of the drugs were recovered during another investigation but the firearms have not been located.  A named person of interest in this case is listed below.  The Sheriff’s Office is offering a reward up to $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects in this case.  Please contact Detective Andi Clayton at (828) 586-1392 oramclayton@jacksonnc.org



FDA Wants to Limit Antibiotics on NC Farms

hogFarm-dmtmNorth Carolina’s hundreds of livestock farms – including poultry and swine – soon will have to look for other means to keep the meat we eat free of disease. The Food and Drug Administration has asked pharmaceutical companies to limit the availability of some antibiotics to farmers, because of concerns it may be promoting antibiotic resistance.

Barrett Slenning is a professor at the NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He says our increasing use of antibiotics has impacted the natural development of bacteria over time. “We are kind of pushing our thumb on the scale, changing that battle because we can now manufacture these compounds and use them, and so we are going to be potentially affecting the environment.”

Slenning says he still believes human overuse of antibiotics – not livestock – is the biggest threat to the spread of diseases such as MRSA. He points out that the MRSA strains often found in livestock are different than those found in humans.

A North Carolina company has developed an alternative to antibiotics in farming. Clearstream – based in Harrisburg – has created a treatment that is applied to an environment to kill the source of bacteria.

While not in use by farms, Clearstream’s products are used in medical facilities, schools, athletic venues and even cruise ships.

Tony Daddona with Clearstream explains why their product may provide a healthy alternative.  “Antibiotics are a band-aid in every situation, so what we try to do is go to the source of the bacteria, before it’s ingested into their bodies.”

In a recent study, Johns Hopkins University found a connection between factory farms and MRSA, particularly in communities with swine-production facilities. According to the state Department of Agriculture, North Carolina ranks second in the nation when it comes to number of hogs in livestock production.

Jim Praechtl is Clearstream’s CEO stated “You’re starting to see more and more community-acquired infections taking place with people that normally would not have been exposed to it. It isn’t like these people all made trips to the hospital and came back out with MRSA.”

The FDA  is recommending veterinary oversight of antibiotic use in livestock farming.

Jackson County Sees Changes at WIC Program

131011123051-wic-north-carolina-620xaThe North Carolina Women Infants and Children Program (WIC) is changing to a new computer system to better serve WIC participants across the state. The new computer system, known as Crossroads, will improve the WIC process and make the WIC experience more efficient for families.

The Jackson County WIC program is in the first group across the state to implement Crossroads. Not everyone in the state will start using the new system at the same time. This means family and friends in other parts of North Carolina might not get the new WIC checks at the same time as clients in Jackson County.

Clients will see changes in the appearance of their WIC checks which will be explained at their first appointment following the implementation of Crossroads. Food packages will better meet family needs and clients should eventually have quicker times for food instrument pick-up. Clients will also have easier scheduling, more education options, fewer questions at check-in and quicker in-state transfers.

The first time a client comes into WIC after Crossroads, WIC staff may ask you some new questions. The things WIC will need to know are as follows: 1) First name, last name and birthday of the parent/guardian, caretaker and/or proxy 2) Physical address 3) Contact information, like phone numbers 4) Voter registration status 5) Language spoken and read. If a parent/guardian should send a proxy to the appointment, please give them this information.

Changes to NC’s Unemployment Laws

NorthCarolinaSealProposed changes to North Carolina’s unemployment insurance laws require recipients to show photo identification and show more effort in their job search to keep receiving benefits. The House gave tentative approval Thursday to the measure that addresses unemployment insurance laws overhauled since 2011. Dramatic changes occurred last year, when maximum benefit levels and benefit weeks were reduced and some business taxes were raised to more quickly eliminate $2.6 billion the state owed the federal government. The bill demands benefit recipients make five employer contacts weekly, up from two. The photo ID requirement affirms a new state policy required when someone visits a workforce development office after receiving their initial benefit. Thursday’s 77-39 vote was largely along party lines in favor of Republicans. A final House vote is expected next week.

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

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.