Advances to 2-A Western Regional championship
The Franklin High School Lady Panthers have made school history. After becoming the 2-A sectional champions last Friday when they defeated the Lexington Yellow Jackets, 62-46, the girls made their return to Greensboro where they lost last year to the Tuscola Mountaineers. This year, experience and skill would help the Panthers achieve a different outcome.
On Tuesday night, after making the four hour drive to the University of Greensboro, Franklin took on the (23-3) East Rutherfordton Cavaliers in the 2-A Western Regional semifinals.
A former Macon County youth sports coach was sentenced to 33 to 50 years in prison on Friday after pleading guilty to sex crimes against a child. Christopher Lee Burk was sentenced in Macon County court and will be spending at least the next three decades incarcerated by the North Carolina Department of Corrections.
“Burk pled guilty to three counts of sexual offense on a child by an adult, three counts of first degree sexual exploitation of a child, one count of child abuse by committing a sexual offense, and three counts of indecent liberties,” said Assistant District Attorney Ashley Welch. “He received an active sentence of 33 years minimum to 50 years maximum. On the three indecent liberties charges he received three, 16 to 29 month sentences and those were suspended and he will be on five years of supervised probation on those if he lives long enough to serve his active sentence. He must be on satellite based monitoring for life and must register for 30 years after his release as a sex offender.”
Schools throughout Macon County are celebrating reading this week. Iotla Valley Elementary celebrated Read Across America Day with students and teachers dressing up as their favorite book character.
Guest readers like School Board member Tommy Cabe, and Macon County Children's Librarian Maggie Kennedy visited the school to read some of the children's favorite books.
Iotla Valley decorated the school from top to bottom with themes from Dr. Seuss books and others, coinciding with Dr. Seuss's birthday on March 2.
Iotla Valley will end their Reading Celebration Week on Friday with Hidden Reader Day.
Charles Nichols files challenge with board of elections.
Macon County’s commissioner candidate line-up could be changing. Tuesday morning, Debbie T. George, Interim Director for the Macon County Board Elections sent out a public notice regarding the calling of candidacy.
On Monday, March 3, Charles Nichols challenged the candidacy of Commissioner Ron Haven. Haven is seeking re-election to his District 2 commission seat.
Town board agrees to discuss resolution of ownership.
The debate regarding the Nikwasi Indian Mound may soon see a resolution. Monday night, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Michell Hicks spoke to the Franklin Town Aldermen in hopes of beginning talks regarding the preservation of the historic landmark.
“I have a simple request … obviously the Eastern Band feels, for many reasons, that the mound should be back in the name of the Eastern Band,” said Hicks. “I understand that may not be a simple task as it relates to the history of the mound and the responsibility of the town. One of the things that is important to us as a tribe is to make sure that we are at least part of the process of protecting these lands, these areas that are so rich from a spiritual and cultural perspective. I feel a true responsibility as a tribal leader. As requested by many of our tribal leaders, we want to do our best to do the right thing.”
The saga of the Duke Energy rate hikes will continue when the North Carolina Utilities Commission hears expert testimony on July 8 in Raleigh.
Two weeks ago, Duke proposed a settlement of an overall 4.5 percent rate increase that will grow to 5.1 percent in two years, about half of what was originally requested. The higher rate would result in an increase in residential power bills, averaging about $7 a month.
This will be the third increase since 2009 and according to the group, Consumers Against Rate Hikes (CARH), the latest increase would bring household rates to a level 30 percent higher than in 2009; 25 percent higher for small and medium businesses, while the largest industrial customers would only see an increase totaling around three percent. The North Carolina Utilities Commission still has to approve the increase.
At a public hearing held in Franklin on May 21, Duke officials pointed to its ability to keep rates low for large customers like Apple, Google, and others like those companies as a way to bring companies in to N.C. and provide jobs to its citizens. CARH contends that Duke shifts the costs of new power plants needed as a result of this business migration to its smaller customers. By offering extremely low rates and other incentives, Duke entices high-load, low-jobs data centers into the state, driving up demand for even more power plants that otherwise would not be needed—raising small customer rates.
Officials at the organization are also asserting that Duke Energy and Progress Energy have begun to push state politicians to enact legislation that would “make customers pay years in advance for power plants that aren't needed and might never be built.”
The state of Florida recently enacted a similar bill that would increase rates yearly which led to Florida Senator Mike Fasano (R) to pen a letter to N.C. legislators expressing his opinions of such a bill.
“We've learned the hard way here in Florida that allowing utilities to recover the costs of a new power plant before [it is built] is unfair to consumers and bad public policy,” he said.
Citizens have been turning out all across the state to give their opinions on these increases. Some have attended meetings to voice their support while the majority has fervently opposed the increases and cited a variety of reasons.
"I don't think it's fair to the residents of North Carolina," said Chris Evans, a native of Franklin. "There's still people who are struggling throughout the state from the economic downturn, not to mention older people who may be on fixed incomes. I'm just not convinced that Duke is considering these people."
AARP-NC has long opposed these rate increases while pointing to older customers, who, while paying higher energy bills, have yet to see an increase in Social Security that can compensate the rising costs for power.
“For older customers, many of which are on fixed incomes, Social Security increases have not kept pace with the size of the rate increase proposed,” said AARP State Director, Doug Dickerson. “Older and limited-income consumers pay a higher percentage of their income for electricity than do other households. With the seventh highest poverty rate in the nation, programs that provide energy assistance cannot keep up with the demand for assistance. Funds established by Duke Energy for further assistance are appreciated, but will only make a tiny dent in the true need.”
Dickerson is referring to the offer that Duke officials made saying that the company will contribute an additional $20 million to help low-income customers in the state pay their energy bills and provide training that improves worker access to jobs and increases the quality of the workforce.
“We understand there is never a good time to increase rates,” said Newton. “However, we believe this [settlement] will allow us to keep the rate increase to customers as low as we reasonably can, and still recover the investments we've made to modernize our system and to ensure safe, reliable and increasingly clean electricity in the future.”
Another dialogue that has been fueling the public hearings is the concern that many people have about the environment.
"It's the 21st century and they are still focusing on producing energy from fossil fuels," said Corey Picklesimer, another Franklin resident. "I think it's time that they quit throwing money towards these damaging fossil fuels and nuclear plants and start looking to cleaner alternatives like wind and solar."
On Monday, Attorney General Roy Cooper, who has taken on previous rate increases in the past, filed with the N.C. Supreme Court to appeal a 7.5 percent rate hike by Duke.
"Many people are already hard pressed to pay their bills, and now isn't the time to ask them to pay more so utilities can make bigger profit," said Cooper.