On Tuesday, the public had its chance to voice any opposition they had towards Duke Energy and their proposed rate hikes. Duke Energy has proposed a 9.7 percent increase in its electric rates. The North Carolina Utilities Commission is holding hearings across the state to allow the public to have their say. Franklin was the site of one of these hearings — the only one west of Asheville — and people filled the courtroom designated for the hearing at the Macon County Court House Tuesday night.
Macon County commissioners got their first glimpse at the 2013-14 proposed budget on Monday night during the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the board of commissioners.
“Macon County continues to maintain a solid financial position compared with many counties in North Carolina,” said County Manager Jack Horton. “The county currently has the lowest ad valorem property rate among all 100 counties in North Carolina at 27.9 cents per $100, and our fund balance remains healthy. This continues to provide a high degree of financial security in terms of being prepared for unexpected emergencies and shortfalls in revenue.
Monday night, the Macon County Board of Commissioners met in Highlands for its regularly scheduled May meeting. Among items discussed, was County Manager Jack Horton's 2013-2014 proposed budget. By law, Horton must present a balanced budget to commissioners to review as a balanced budget must be approved and submitted to the state by June 18.
With possible state budget cuts to education still to come and the uncertainty of funding sources, the school system was forced to turn to the county in April to request $9,567,455 from county commissioners for the 2013-14 school year; an increase of $2,656,455 from this school year.
The Macon County Humane Society hosted its fifth annual Super Adoption Day last Saturday. The event featured adoptable pets from seven rescues and shelters in the area, including Macon County Humane Society, Macon County Animal Control, Rabun Paws 4 Life, P.A.W.S. Bryson City, Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society, Toccoa-Stephens Humane Shelter, and WNC Large Breed K-9 Rescue.
With more than 50 pets adopted, the event was an undeniable success. Todd Ortiz, shelter manager at Macon County Humane Society, is grateful to all who came to show support.
Citizens in Macon County officially have a new location to seek treatment when needing dental services. The Macon County Public Health Department has expanded the dental clinic options as the grand opening for the new adult dental facility was held last Thursday. More than 100 visitors stopped in to tour the new facility and about 70 participated in free health screenings. The clinic provides services for patients 18 and older.
The facility actually opened a few days prior to the ceremony. The new clinic, located at 108 Macon Center Drive, is a 2,000 square foot facility, more than twice as large as the last clinic.
“The facility was expanded from 800 square feet to 2,000 square feet,” said Jimmy Villiard, Personal Health Section Administrator at Macon County Public Health. “In addition, we were able to expand from three dental chairs to four. Panorex x-ray capability was also added. The Panorex allows for full-mouth x-rays.”
Dr. Villiard is responsible for managing the dental services for the health department. He was also the project coordinator for the construction of the new clinic.
In addition to the extra space and upgraded equipment, the clinic's expansion will allow the health department to begin offering dentures for adult clients. The clinic also offers comprehensive dental care and can serve as a patient’s primary dental provider. Dr. Bruno Kaldre and his staff offer a full spectrum of preventive, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency care.
“Access to dental care has been a consistent need identified in Macon County’s Community Health Assessment,” said Villiard. “This clinic is open to all residents of Macon County. Because fees are assessed on a sliding scale, based on the income of the client, the services are accessible to almost everyone in the community, regardless of income. In addition, the clinic is one of the few in Macon County that accepts Medicaid reimbursement for dental care. Oral health is an important component of overall wellness. Most significantly, poor oral health can lead to cardiovascular medical complications.”
While the dental clinic's upgrade was approved and supported by county commissioners, Macon County Public Health was able to use Medicaid reimbursement monies to cover the project costs, so no local funding was allocated to the project. According to Villiard, the project came in on budget.