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WCU Announces Summer Concert Series

The rock trio American Gonzos will kick off WCU’s Summer Concert Series on Thursday, June 11. The Asheville-based musicians are (from left) Michael Dean, Toby Burleson and Andrew Thelston. Dean and Thelston are WCU alumni.

The rock trio American Gonzos will kick off WCU’s Summer Concert Series on Thursday, June 11. The Asheville-based musicians are (from left) Michael Dean, Toby Burleson and Andrew Thelston. Dean and Thelston are WCU alumni.

The 2015 Summer Concert Series at Western Carolina University gets underway Thursday, June 11, with a free performance featuring the rock trio American Gonzos.
The Asheville-based musicians will take the stage at 7 p.m. at WCU’s Central Plaza. Those attending are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs for comfortable seating.
American Gonzo includes two WCU alumni from the class of 2009 – Andrew Thelston, guitarist and lead vocalist, and Michael Dean, who plays bass and provides backup vocals. The third member of the trio is Toby Burleson, drummer and backup vocalist.
Known for their musicianship and catchy tunes, members of the trio say they gather inspiration from many genres of music, including rock, funk, punk and alternative. The band was organized in 2010, and in 2011 the three musicians released their self-titled debut album, which was followed by their second album, “No Way to Live,” in 2013. The band members are currently working on a new collection of songs with longtime producer Randall Harris.
All concerts in the free series are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursdays in June and July. Upcoming acts include Bubonik Funk, June 25; Doug Gibson, July 16; Buchanan Boys, July 23; and Steph Stewart and the Boyfriends, July 30. The rain location for all the events is Illusions in A.K. Hinds University Center.

Crowds flock to SCC’s 50th open house scholarship scavenger hunt

KarenaMasonKarena Mason of Franklin won the grand prize of a full-year scholarship at Southwestern Community College’s 50th anniversary open house celebration and scholarship scavenger hunt Friday, April 10, at SCC’s Jackson Campus.

Among the roughly 500 people who attended the event, 96 participated in the scavenger hunt. Each participant had to visit three separate program presentations, each at a different building. Upon successfully completing the hunt, participants’ names were placed in a drawing that evening in the Burrell Conference Center.

Karena Mason’s parents – LaRessie and Mark Mason – graduated from SCC in the mid-1990s.

“This is an answered prayer,” LaRessie Mason said. “The whole idea of being able to win a scholarship was great. But when I heard the faculty and staff gave so much of the money, it made it even more special because it’s from their hearts.

“It was neat to come back,” she added. “I hadn’t been back in that capacity in years, and it was so neat to see that it’s still the same. And that’s what I wanted Karena to see: that the teachers care about their students.”

Other winners included Taylor Medlin ($1,000 scholarship) of Tuckasegee; William Bateman ($500 scholarship) of Franklin; and Jesica Palacios ($250 scholarship) of Waynesville. Seven gift certificates (three worth $100 each and five worth $50 each) to the SCC bookstore were also awarded.

All prizes were provided through the donations of SCC faculty and staff with support from the SCC Foundation.

“It was heartwarming to see all these people here helping us celebrate Southwestern’s 50th anniversary,” said Dr. Don Tomas, SCC president. “And it was truly gratifying knowing that these scholarships helped out several area families. We’re very pleased to know these students will be attending SCC in the near future, and we hope everyone who participated in the scholarship scavenger hunt now considers Southwestern as their top college of choice.”

Faculty and staff representing a wide variety of SCC’s programs provided demonstrations and answered questions throughout the event, and the Mountain Area Medical Lift (MAMA) helicopter made an appearance.

Representatives from each board of commissioners in SCC’s service area (Jackson, Macon and Swain counties) were present to read a joint resolution. N.C. Senator Jim Davis and Webster Mayor Nick Breedlove also read resolutions.

WCU students to present mock trial based on Ron Rash novel ‘Serena’

Western Carolina University business law students will present a mock trial based on the Ron Rash novel “Serena” at a courtroom in the Jackson County Justice and Administration Building on Tuesday, Dec. 9.

The event, which lasts three hours and begins at 5 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Rash, an award-winning writer and WCU’s Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture, authored “Serena,” and the novel set in Western North Carolina is this year’s selection for the WCU Office of First Year Experience’s One Book program. The program is designed to encourage students to have common intellectual conversation about one book. Freshmen were provided with copies of the novel, which was incorporated into transition courses as well as multiple upper-level courses in a range of disciplines.

Jayne Zanglein, professor of business law, assigned her students to develop a trial based on the characters and a legal issue in “Serena.” They crafted a case set in 1930 titled “Susan Harrill, as spouse ‘ad litem’ on behalf of William Harrill, deceased, Plaintiff v. The Pemberton Lumber Company, Defendant.”

In the lawsuit, Harrill alleges that an agent of the lumber company intentionally cut a cable wire in an attempt to injure or kill her husband.

The mock trial will involve a range of witnesses including the book’s title character, Serena Pemberton, as the wife of the lumber company manager. Exhibits include historical images, detailed information and diagrams of log loaders and equipment, and statistics regarding workplace injuries in the southern United States from pulpwood logging.

For more information, contact Zanglein at 828-227-7191.

Prescribed Burns in Jackson County

The U.S. Forest Service plans to conduct a series of prescribed burns in the Nantahala Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest, this fall. Weather will dictate the dates of the prescribed burns. All four sites are located in southern Jackson County.

The Moses Creek area burn units are:
Coward Bald (684 acres)
Moses Creek (158 acres)
The Panthertown area burn unit is:
Big Green (497 acres)
The Bonas Defeat area burn unit is:
Awl Knob (240 acres)
The Forest Service will conduct these understory burns to reduce hazardous fuel and restore conditions in the forest. Prescribed burning also promotes forest health and wildlife habitat. Public safety is the highest priority during a prescribed burn. The dates for each burn will be announced as they are decided and weather permitting.

Debnams Give to SCC’s Student Success Campaign

Over the 26 years that Jack and Gail Debnam have owned Western Carolina Properties, they’ve noticed the essential role Southwestern Community College plays in the region.

SCC’s ability to quickly adapt to the changing needs of Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties and the Qualla Boundary was the primary reason the Debnams decided recently to give $1,000 to the college’s Student Success Campaign.

“SCC offers a product that’s more agile than the typical higher education,” Jack Debnam said. “They try to meet the demand of what our population and businesses need, and they’re better aligned to do that.”

The most ambitious fundraising effort in the Southwestern Community College Foundation’s history, the Student Success Campaign aims to narrow the gap between scholarship need and availability by raising more than $1 million through community’s generosity and with the help of a federal challenge grant.

Every dollar donated up to approximately $300,000 will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Generous gifts like the one the Debnams made are going to make it possible for more students than ever before to get a quality education at Southwestern,” said Mary Otto Selzer, director of the SCC Foundation. “We are pleased that Jack and Gail are so keenly aware of Southwestern’s significant impact on the region, and we are thrilled by their support.”

The Debnams’ daughter Cori and son-in-law Jason attended SCC, and Jack Debnam said he’s particularly impressed by the fact that 90 percent of Southwestern graduates remain in the area after receiving their degrees, diplomas and/or certificates.

“As a commissioner, I’m a firm believer in supporting our local community,” Jack Debnam said. “Through SCC, you get more bang for your buck.”

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.

Lambert And Hodgins Face Run-Off In Republican Race For Sheriff

The Jackson County Board Of Elections on Tuesday released the certified results of the Primary Election held on Tuesday May 6th 2014. The canvas showed that neither of the three Republican candidates for sheriff exceeded the 40% plus one vote threshold to be declared the winner. Curtis Lambert was the top vote getter with 424 votes. He was followed by Jimmy Hodgins with 376 and Mary Rock had ONE VOTE fewer with 375. This election shows that ONE vote makes a difference. As reported on WRGC Radio News last week Jimmy Hodgins said that he would exercise his right for a runoff election if he was the number two vote getter. Hodgins trails Lambert by exactly 50 votes. According to Jackson County Board Of Elections Director Lisa Lovedahl, Hodgins immediately filed the form required for a run-off. Lovedahl further reported that a 2nd primary has been called in a federal office (congressional district)
and all 2nd primary dates have been moved to July 15 (federal election date). All of the precincts will be open on a regular election day schedule. Early voting will be offered at the Board Of Elections during the week prior to the run-off election. In the initial vote tally Hodgins had led Mary Rock by four votes 374 to 370 but when the additional ballots were counted and the certification process took place Rock gained five voted and Hodgins gained two votes. The outcome of the Democrat races were unchanged. Democrat Chip Hall who won the Democrat primary outright will face the winner of the run-off race between Curtis Lambert and Jimmy Hodgins.

Jackson Wins First Place

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

Candidates Forum Held Thursday

Thursday's Candidates Forum

Thursday’s Candidates Forum

The six democrat candidates for sheriff of Jackson county appeared before a packed room of voters on Thursday evening in the community room at the Jackson County Public Library Complex in Sylva. They were joined by the Ron Robinson and Jane Hipps who are competing for the opportunity to take on incumbent State Senator Jim Davis. Also present were Democrat candidates for commissioner, clerk of court, register of deeds, district attorney, and NC House District 119. The forum was coordinated and moderated by the Democratic women of Jackson County.

Winter Storm

Tilley Creek

Tilley Creek

Jackson County and surrounding counties received significant snow accumulations over the course of the last two days. While the snow has stopped, the danger still exists, especially those on secondary roads. Pictured, Tilley Creek near Speedwell, one of the countless back roads in Jackson County that are still snow covered.  The North Carolina Highway Patrol says they responded to minor accidents this morning and throughout the day. Many Schools, Churches and Businesses are still closed due to this wintry weather mix. for a complete list of those CLICK HERE

Commissioners Considering A New 9-1-1 Facility And Emergency Operations Center

The Jackson County Commissioners were updated Monday by Architect Odell Thompson on the planned new 9-1-1 Facility and Emergency Operations Center to be constructed on Highway 441 South on the same property where the current 9-1-1- Dispatch Office and Emergency Management Offices are located. This is the property formerly occupied by Duke Power Maintenance Operations. The proposal is for the construction of a new facility to allow for the consolidation of all communications and emergency services in one location. The facility would be constructed to a standard sufficient to withstand most any terrestrial condition so communications and emergency services would not be disrupted during the most severe weather conditions. The the design process which is now underway will include additional drainage issues for the property and security enhancements. The finals are expected to be approved early in 2014 with a targeted date of May 2014  for construction to begin. It expected to take one year for the construction to be completed.

Gov.McCrory Visits Sylva

Gov. McCrory Visits Sylva 2  9.12.13

Gov. McCrory Visits Sylva

Sylva Town Manager Paige Roberson greets Gov. McCrory this morning while visiting Jackson Paper. Gov. McCrory will move to the Jarrett House in Dillsboro to have lunch and host a roundtable discussion with invited guests.

Governor Pat Mccrory to Visit Historic Dillsboro

It has been announced that NC Governor Pat Mccrory will be visiting Jackson County on Thursday. According to an unofficial schedule he will begin a tour of Jackson Paper Company in downtown Sylva at 10 am and later in the day move to the Jarrett House in Dillsboro to have lunch and host a roundtable discussion with invited guests. Jim Hartbarger confirmed that he and his staff will indeed be hosting the Governor along with several others. Jim had the following to say, “The only thing we know is that he is going to have a round table discussion at lunch. They said that there would be between twenty and twenty-five people in the roundtable discussion.” Even though all details of the trip have not yet been made public Jim said that he and his staff are excited to add Pat Mccrory to the list of Governors that have visited his establishment. “We’ve been here thirty-eight years, so we have had may Governors during that time and we are honored to have him.” WRGC will be continuing coverage of the Governors trip to our area.

Scam/Fraud Alert – MedWest Lifeline Calls

image001 There have been reports of people receiving recorded calls from MedWest Lifeline stating that the service has been paid for and is free and all is needed is to set up a time to come install equipment. This is not MedWest Lifeline or any MedWest affiliates. The calls have been reported to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. If you receive one of these calls do not call them back. You may report the call by calling Jackson County Crimestoppers at 828-631-1125 or email crimestoppers@jacksonnc.org MedWest-Harris Home Care Services provides Lifeline as one of its services but it has to be signed up for and there is a nominal fee involved.

 

Back to School for Western North Carolina Students

It’s almost back to school season for students in the Western North Carolina area and WRGC would like to remind everyone to be wary of heavy morning and afternoon traffic in the upcoming weeks. The Blue Ridge district and Jackson County Early College students will be starting on August 13th. The first day of Southwestern Community College will be August 15th and Jackson County Smokey Mountain school district students will begin August 26th. Western Carolina University fall classes will start on August 19th, and WCU is planning to welcome an anticipated record number of students with total student enrollment already looking to top last year’s fall enrollment of 9,608. WCU’s official fall enrollment will be established on Friday, August 30th which is the 10th class day and the official census date as specified by the University of North Carolina General Administration. Freshmen move-in day will be on Friday, August 16 with an estimated 1,600 freshmen arriving on campus. Officials expect an extra 2,500 vehicles on the lower part of campus, and traffic is expected to be particularly heavy on and near campus between 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. The “Week of Welcome” activities set up by the A.K Hinds University Center include WCU’s annual Valley Balleyhoo event for students on the Central Plaza from 4 to 7 pm Saturday August 17th, which WRGC will be attending. The event will feature food vendors, live music, outdoor activities, and student and community organizations will share information and host give-aways. New students will be taking part in community service activities on and off campus. For more information on all events visit wow.wcu.edu and fye.wcu.edu online.

Internet Provider VistaNet seeks Million Dollar Loan from Jackson County

During Monday’s scheduled meeting of the Jackson County Commission it was announced that an internet service provider has made an application for a $1,000,000 loan from the county’s revolving loan fund to aid in the start-up cost in providing rural areas of Jackson County with high-speed wireless internet access. County Manager Chuck Wooten made the announcement to the county commissioners that internet company VistaNet had made the application. Mr. Wooten had the following to say in regard to the details of the loan application; “I’ve reported to the commissioners that I’ve had the application for a revolving loan from VistaNet, and the amount of the loan request is $1,000,000 and I asked the commissioners if they would be willing to sit as a loan committee to take a look at the application before their next work session on August the 19th at 1:30 pm.” Over the past several months county leaders have been look at many options for increasing high-speed internet access throughout the region. Chuck Wooten stated that VistaNet’s proposal to locate several wireless internet providing towers across the county has the potential to meet that need, “They’re looking at trying to establish a wireless internet system that would cover the county and that would require them to construct or co-locate a number of towers across the county. They are interested in serving as many people as they can, they have had a call center up and running and have told me that they have had more calls from people in Jackson County than any other county about wanting to have wireless internet service. Although VistaNet would be providing a service that not only county commissioners but also private citizens have established a need for, a loan of this size would be the largest in the history of the revolving loan fund program and when dealing with a loan of that size Mr. Wooten says that there are a number of obstacles that VistaNet would have to overcome in order to reach an agreement. “The revolving loan fund we have matches loan amount with job creation, in this particular case the application indicates 7 jobs to be created. Even if we had $1,000,000 in our loan fund, we assign a value of $10,000 per job Created so they would not be eligible for $1,000,000 from our revolving loan fund. That’s one of the first hurdles that they would have to come over, the commissioners would have to evaluate this particular request and determine it has enough significance that they were willing to take other county funds to provide enough funds to make this loan. They have another hurdle to come over in the fact that we have already had a negative experience with a loan that was made to the telecommunications company “Metrostat” where both the town and the county had loaned Metrostat monies and they defaulted on that loan in December of 2011. When that loan defaulted there really was no collateral there equal to the value of the outstanding loans, they will have to convince the commissioners that they can fully collateralize this loan.” Another thing the commissioners will have to consider when looking over this loan application is that several other high-speed internet providers are currently looking at options to increase coverage area without requesting loans from public funds. Chuck Wooten had the following to say; “At this point in time AT&T has told us that they are going to be looking to expand both their voice and data wireless service, they have a company looking for tower sites now. When we took back the assets of Metrostat and we knew the town and county would be in the wireless business and we needed to sell those assets, we sold those assets to BalsamWest and BalsamWest committed that they in partnership with Dnet would be looking into expanding internet service to the county. There are several providers out there that have talked about it VistaNet is the first one that’s come with a loan application.” The county commissioners are scheduled August the 19th at 1:30 pm to consider VistaNet’s $1,000,000 loan request.

Wastewater Spill in Jackson County

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians had a wastewater spill on July 30th, 2013. The spill was an estimated 1,000 Gallons from a manhole near the Tribal Transfer Station. The untreated wastewater was spilled into an unnamed tributary of Shoal Creek in the Little Tennessee River Basin. The Division of Water Quality was notified of the event on August 2nd, 2013 and are reviewing the matter. The news release is in accordance with House Bill 1160, which requires that municipality, animal operations, industries and others who operate waste handling systems issue news releases when a waste spill of 1,000 or more reaches surface waters. For more information contact the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians at (828)-497-7000.

Dillsboro 4th of July Fireworks Cancelled & Rescheduled Due to Weather Concerns

Jean Hartbarger, of the Dillsboro Merchant Association has just announced that the 4th of July fireworks show in Dillsboro has been cancelled due to weather concerns. The decision was reached during a joint meeting of the Dillsboro Merchants Association, the company providing the fireworks: East Coast Pyrotechnics, and Jackson County Parks & Recreation Director Jeff Carpenter. The decision is in conjunction with the decisions made by surrounding towns and counties to postpone their firework events. The main concerns are safety and cost, once the pyrotechnics are prepared to be fired the county has to pay for them regardless of weather or other factors. East Coast Pyrotechnics also had major safety concerns about the weather and stated that postponing may be the best idea. The band Porch 40 has also cancelled and rescheduled their show to September 20th during Western Carolina University’s Family Night. The Fireworks have been rescheduled to December 14th in accordance with the 30th Anniversary of the Dillsboro Luminaries.

Jackson County Seeks to Expand Broadband Availability

Jackson County is seeking the assistance of county residents to identify areas that lack Internet access.  NC Broadband, a division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, currently collects data on where broadband is available in the state.  In partnership with this effort, Jackson County is distributing a short questionnaire asking residents to provide basic information about the availability of broadband Internet service in their area.  Jackson County and the NC Department of Commerce staff can then use this information to better identify the areas of Jackson County that lack in broadband service.  Jackson County and NC Department of Commerce staff will encourage broadband providers to work with this planning effort to examine possible service solutions, including the ability to leverage community assets to lower the cost and boost expansion. Areas with higher concentrations of households that show an interest in service will be more likely to attract potential providers. The survey can be accessed by clicking HERE. Paper copies are available at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva, at the Albert Carlton Library in Cashiers, at the Jackson County Recreation Center in Cullowhee, at the Cashiers-Glenville Recreation Center in Cashiers, and at volunteer fire department stations throughout the county.

For more information regarding the survey, please contact the Jackson County Manager’s office at 828.631.2295 or JacksonCoMgr@jacksonnc.org.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Urges Citizens to be on the Lookout for Outdoor Marijuana Growing

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is requesting help from the citizens for identifying possible outdoor marijuana grow locations across Jackson County. Outdoor grows are popular due to our wooded areas across Jackson County and large acreage of National Forests. Anyone noticing frequent trips by potential suspects carrying water, plastic buckets, or other growing materials into or around our county without noticeable valid reasons can be investigated. Any suspicious activities will be investigated. Please make reports to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Crime Stoppers at (828) 631-1125 or email at crimestoppers@jacksonnc.org, and may remain anonymous.