ART for the HEART of the Hospice House :: Sunday, Augus2t 23rd from 4pm-7pm at CARPE DIEM FARMS :: click here for more information!

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Cowee Celebration & Macon County Heritage Day

The Folk Heritage Association of Macon County partnered with the Macon County Heritage Center at Cowee School to present Macon County Heritage Day last Saturday.

The first ever Heritage Preservation Award was given to former commissioner Bobby Kuppers who was instrumental in the establishment and developing the Historic Cowee School.

A second Heritage Preservation Award was presented to Paul Carlson who was recognized for his work in the development of the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee (LTLT).

State to seek death penalty in Cochran case

Family and friends of Day Williamson gathered in the Macon County courtroom on Tuesday afternoon hoping to find closure through resolution of the case against Charles Andrew Cochran, the man charged with Williamson's murder. After a 20 minute delay to begin court, and another two hour recess at the request of Cochran's counsel, Williamson's family learned that the state will now seek the death penalty.

Before court began, it was believed that the District Attorney's office and Cochran's counsel would be settling on a deal that would offer a life in prison sentence for Cochran instead of the death penalty, if Cochran were to plead guilty on Tuesday. The plea would avoid a trial and provide closure for the family of the victim.

Macon Aeromodelers flying high for good cause

Macon Aero Modelers hosted an AMA National Model Aviation Day Celebration event on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Otto Aerodrome with proceeds to benefit Macon TRACS.

Activities included RC flight simulators, introductory RC flight training, and many demonstrations of Aerobatic Giant Scale RC aircraft, Scale War Birds, Helicopters, and Smaller Park Flyers by its member pilots.

 

 

 

Macon County Airport holds open house

Saturday afternoon members of the community were given a behind-the-scenes look at the Macon County Airport during an open house celebration.

The event, made possible by the county and the Macon County Airport Authority was held to allow members of the public to familiarize themselves with the facility and its role in the community.

Guests were treated to upclose encounters with a slew of airplanes and helicopters including the emergency medical helicopter known as MAMA.

Curtis Blackwell offered musical entertainment and refreshments were served.

Click for Franklin, North Carolina Forecast

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.





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