Remembering 9/11 :: September 11, 2001

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Town learns of Cherokee resolution requesting return of Indian Mound

Last week, the Franklin Town Board met with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to discuss the Nikwasi Indian Mound located in the center of town. Based on the belief that the mound was part of Cherokee heritage, the EBCI has expressed a desire to possibly own the mound once again. The belief was that a resolution could be reached between the town and the Cherokee, possibly pursuant to some sort of partnership concerning the mound. That feeling of goodwill changed the day after the meeting when a resolution on behalf of Chief Michell Hicks and the Tribal Council went public demanding for the return of the mound.

“We met with the tribal council on Wednesday and had no idea that this was coming,” said Franklin Mayor Bob Scott.

Election profiles: School board candidates

Macon County residents will take to the polls this November to cast their ballot to fill multiple offices up for reelection. Candidates for commission seats, school board, and other local, state and national seats will be appearing on the ballot this year. With early voting starting Oct. 23, The Macon County News is running weekly profiles of each open seat.

The Macon County Board of Education has two open seats that will be decided in November. District II, currently held by incumbent Tommy Cabe, and District IV, which was left open when Gary Shields decided not to seek re-election.

Cabe will face off against Bill Taylor for the District II seat and Fred Goldsmith and Carroll Poindexter will both be seeking votes for the District IV seat.

Venture Local Franklin shows up in Sylva

Cash mobsters descend on downtown Sylva

The fountain at the bottom of the old Jackson County courthouse was a sight to see last Friday, as more than 150 people gathered all waving $20 bills. Shoppers from Franklin and Sylva all joined together to support Main Street Sylva businesses affected by an August 16 fire that still has a portion of the street blocked off.

Organized by Macon County grass-roots group Venture Local Franklin, the event was deemed a cash mob with the intention of pushing a ton of business into the downtown economy all over the span of a couple of hours, for a short, quick, financial boost for businesses.

‘The Bedroom Project’ targets drug abuse

Traveling exhibit educates parents on what to look for.

Last Thursday, the P.E.A.C.E Foundation brought its "Bedroom Project" to Franklin. The presentation took place at Tartan Hall of the First Presbyterian Church. The organization's mission is to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drugs and empower them with the knowledge to recognize and stop abuse before it starts.

P.E.A.C.E, or Prescription Education Abuse Counseling Empowerment, was founded by Shannon Rouse Ruiz whose own personal tragedy helped fuel the call for action. On June 21, 2011, her 16-year-old daughter Kaitlyn suffered a fatal overdose.

- published 8/21 (Larry) old link: http://www1.cfnc.org/applications/NC_Community_College/apply.html?application_id=1527

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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