Four lose their lives in the line of duty in 2014
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #81 of Jackson and Macon Counties held the annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service last Friday on the courthouse square.
With flags flying and law enforcement officers from across Western North Carolina in attendance, guest speaker Ashley Welch addressed the crowd.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you, my hometown, today and to honor the servicemen and women who lost their lives protecting us," said Welch. "But I wish I was here under different circumstances. I wish I was just here to thank you for your service and dedication to your community, but unfortunately I am not. I am here to remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty."
During its annual budget retreat, the town of Franklin presented a budget reflecting a one cent tax increase for the coming year.
Due to the property tax revaluation in Macon County this year, the town's property value declined by $7,281,676 in assessed value, equating to a 1.014 percent reduction. Factoring in the new tax base, the town would need to increase the current tax rate of .27 to .2727 to maintain a revenue neutral budget.
Since 2007, the town of Franklin's tax base has grown on average by 2.07 percent. In applying a growth factor to the town's current tax rate of .2727, to produce a revenue neutral tax rate, the town would need to increase the rate to .2784 cents per $100 valuation.
After Stephen Siller lost his life in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, his family set out to honor his life and legacy by establishing The Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers Foundation.
One Franklin businessman was honored this week for his support of the Staten Island based charity, and was given a piece of steel from Ground Zero.
Tom Tastinger, of Tastinger's Floor Covering, Carpet One, was presented with a piece of steel from the fallen World Trade Center by Charlie Gussamann, a retired FDNY (Fire Department of New York City) member.
How county contributions compare to state allocations.
Over the last 10 years, public education in North Carolina has shifted, as the state's structure has changed in order to accommodate for student enrollment growth, the rise of charter and virtual schools, and other factors that have caused state dollars to be stretched a little further.
Looking at data over the last decade, school enrollment in Macon County has increased by about 250 students. Funding from the state has gone from $20.3 million in 2005 to $24.6 million in 2014 with a difference of more than $3 million between 2008 and 2009. On the local level, beginning in 2007, the county provided $6 million, and by 2014, was up to $7.3 million. After the jump is a look at public education funding in Macon County over the last 10 years.
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.