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Archive for Jackson County

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.

 

 

Jackson County to be Awarded Grant from NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund

During Monday nights regularly scheduled meeting of the Jackson County Commissioners, County Manager Chuck Wooten annoucned that Jackson County has been awarded a $435,000 grant from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. The grant is a State 1 to 1 match of County funds, meaning the cost for this portion of the Greenway Project is estimated at around $870,000. County Manager Wooten said that even though the money has yet to be officially awarded, he expects the money to be in hand to begin the project in the next few months. County Manager Wooten went on to say, “We do not have the letter in hand that officially notifies us of that but we have received the calls and have been told that it was approved in the current funding cycle. That means that funds should be available on July first, so both those projects are shovel ready. It’s Just a matter of our engineers updating the documents for bidding and we should be ready to go to bid soon and see some construction begin on that in early summer. I think that’s an exciting project, we have been waiting for a long time to see the Greenway move forward in Jackson County and I think the idea of a bridge at Locust Creek is going to be a homerun, it will be something the County can be really proud of”.

Poor Housing Trends Expected to Change in Jackson County

Recent trends show positive gains in our area’s housing market. Like many other areas across the nation, Jackson County has seen a significant decrease in housing activity over the past several years including home sales and new construction. Recent numbers released regarding the first three months of this year show that those trends may be changing. WRGC spoke with Jackson County Commissioner Doug Cody about those numbers, and the Commissioner had the following to say, “We are getting an up tick in our home construction. We were number one west of Buncombe County in the first quarter in permits for homes over $400,000 in value. That shows us that the second home market is returning and we are happy about that”. Commissioner Cody went on to say that even though we have not yet seen a full return to the housing market, these numbers are very promising especially regarding the labor force and future tax revenues. “Those homes to be constructed, they have to have the labor to do it and the materials both of those are good things as they help give people jobs. The revenue from sales tax for materials is a big thing and down the road tax values will increase and that will keep pressure off us to cut services or raise taxes. This is something we have looked forward to happening for the past 2 years so hopefully it’s turning around”.