Each year, Duke Energy works with counties across the state to identify a member of the each community who has worked selflessly throughout the year to help others. In Macon County, Duke Energy works alongside the Chamber of Commerce to solicit nominations from the community identifying an individual who has gone above and beyond to help friends and neighbors. After nominations are narrowed down, one person is selected to be the recipient of the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award.
On Tuesday night, Lisa Leatherman presented Macon County resident Laura Vargas with the 2014 Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award.
After 20 years in Macon County, Caterpillar Precision Seals (CAT) will be closing their doors and moving to Mapleton, Illinois, taking 150 jobs with it.
Since 1995, Caterpillar has operated a plant in Macon County at the county’s Industrial Park off 64W. Generations of family members have worked for the plant and as of Thursday, will now have to find some other means to make ends meet.
The announcement doesn't mean the plant is closing tomorrow, instead it gives a timeline to have the Franklin location closed by 2016. The news was a surprise for local residents.
Way to go, graduates!
Friends and family of the fall 2014 graduating class of Union Academy gathered last Friday to watch their graduates walk across the stage.
“I am proud of these students for having completed their requirements for graduation,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for students, their teachers and also their families. I am excited about what the future holds for these students.”
With a message from guest speaker Terry Bell, long time educator in Macon County, he admonished students to never stop learning.
Requests considered on basis of safety and dire need.
Each year the Macon County School System asks that principals at all county schools develop a capital outlay request for each school. The school board prioritizes projects based on funds available from county commissioners for capital outlay improvements to the school system. This year, the school board prioritized projects based on safety and dire need. Those requests are then present to Macon County Commissioners, who vote to allot funds for the completion of the identified projects.
Requests are listed by school for the 2015-16 school year. Projects identified by the school system as being a priority for this year are underlined. The priority projects total $413,100.
On Saturday, April 13, a group of about 50 volunteers comprised of a diverse group of citizens from the Franklin and Highlands areas joined forces to clean up the Cullasaja River Gorge's roadsides and river banks.
This initiative is one of the Highlands Chamber of Commerce's ongoing annual projects to help keep area natural resources clean. The cleanup takes place every spring during the NCDOT's clean sweep week and has been headed up by the Highlands Chamber for the last 10 years.
This year, members of Venture Local Franklin, Franklin Chamber of Commerce staff/board members, Stay And Play in the Smokies, and others joined in to make an even bigger impact on this stretch of the “Mountain Waters Scenic Byway.” Of the 50 volunteers on Saturday, 20 volunteers represented Franklin.
"Franklin and Highlands market this same stretch of scenic highway for tourism and recreation purposes, and its very important for both communities to keep the roadsides of Highway 64 as beautiful as the natural assets that surround them,” said volunteer Matt Bateman. “So we decided to reach out to Jennifer Smathers at the Highlands Chamber Visitor Center to join forces."
Bateman, who is a member of Venture Local Franklin (VLF) and tour guide, believes it is important to build a mutual cooperation to take full ownership in maintaining the natural beauty of the roadside. "One of VLF's goals is to continue to reach out to other groups and entities within Franklin and beyond, so we can work together on moving Franklin forward in a positive direction," said Bateman.
The combined effort bagged litter from just above Cullasaja Falls, all the way up to the city limits of Highlands. More than 100 bags were filled by volunteers and hauled away by the U.S. Forest Service.
Main Street Coffee & Tea in downtown Franklin donated coffee for the volunteers of Franklin, while Bill and Sharon Van Horn donated bagels from Dills Creek Bagel Co. also of Franklin.
To finish the day, volunteers were treated to a cookout provided by the Highlands Chamber of Commerce at the Cliffside Lake Recreation Area.