Each year, organizations across North Carolina team up with Safe Kids and the Department of Justice for drug takeback events to properly dispose of unused and unwanted medication.
Locally, the Macon County Sheriff's Department, along with both the Franklin and Highlands Police Departments work together throughout the year for Operation Pill Crusher. Through events that coincide with the state's Operation Medicine Drop, as well as each law enforcement agency having permanent medication drop boxes, Macon County officials work year round to keep unwanted medicines off the streets.
Last Saturday, the Macon County Sheriff's Department collected 18,286 pills during its annual spring drug take-back event. Since October 2014, through similar events as well as their permanent drop box, the sheriff's department has collected 90,462 pills.
Macon County Sheriff's Department Detective Tim Holland is still at home recovering from surgery that was a result of injuries incurred in a police chase that ensued Thursday evening.
Detective Holland, along with Detective Will Rhoden were involved in a chase Thursday after a suspect failed to stop for a routine traffic stop. While briefly attempted to flee police in his vehicle, Jessie Mal Cowart, 25, wrecked on Arthur Drake Road before taking off on foot.
According to Sheriff Robert Holland, Cowart fled into a wooded area and was immediately pursued by both Rhoden and Holland at which point Cowart refused to cooperate with law enforcement's commands to stop.
Fourth grade students at East Franklin Elementary put on their thinking caps last week for the 11th annual science fair. Project choices were selected by the students according to their interests and they were asked to follow the scientific method. The students came up with a "big question," created their hypothesis, conducted research and then completed their experiment in order to draw a conclusion.
"The kids were all very excited and a few were nervous but they all had a great time showing off their projects to other East Franklin students and their families," said East Franklin Fourth Grade Teacher Lora Neitz.
Franklin one of 35 stops along the Appalachian Trail.
In 1948, Earl Shaffer became the first person to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Now at 2,168.1 miles, the journey is an ambitious mission in itself, but completing the trek wasn't Shaffer's sole mission. His intention was to "walk off the war" to forget about the sights, sounds, and losses of World War II.
It took Shaffer a little over four months to hike the entire trail. Recognizing that having to become reaccustomed with day to day life, and to set aside the training and instinctual reactions taught by the military as being no easy feat, following in Shaffer's footsteps, Marine Corps Captains Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin turned to nature to help become reassimilated into life after service.
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.