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News

Law enforcement prepares for “worst case scenario.”

Just days before school was set to open for the 2015-16 school year, deputies, police, fire and rescue personnel responded to Macon Middle School in response to a dispatch call that would be any parent's worst nightmare. Emergency Personnel and law enforcement got word that three masked gunmen had made entry into the school and the school was placed on lockdown. The realistic situation was an "Active Shooter Training Exercise" conductted by the Macon County Sheriff's Office, Macon County Emergency Services, and Macon County Schools.

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At the direction of the Franklin Board of Aldermen, the Franklin Planning Board took a closer look at the town's Unified Development Ordinance text amendment for the proposed indoor shooting range to be located within the city limits.

Originally, the town planning board recommended the town consider allowing indoor shooting ranges within C1SU, C2SU, and C3SU zoning districts in Franklin as well as taking out a section of the text amendment that stated that indoor shooting ranges would require a 250-foot buffer when in close proximately to a property of residential use.

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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.

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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.

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Three years after commissioners began a journey to develop a new recreation complex for the citizens of Macon County, the park is finally ready for the first pitch. Macon County officials invite the public out for the first time on Tuesday, Aug. 25, beginning at 6 p.m.

"With the grass mowed, the fields perfected, and everything finally in place, we couldn’t think of a better way to say thank you than to give our citizens the opportunity to have the first look,” said Derek Roland, Macon County manager. "Without the support of the Macon County community, this project would not have been possible. This is their facility and Macon County is honored to be able to show it to them for the first time."

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The N.C. Highway Patrol needs the public’s help in locating the driver who hit a 12-year-old boy on a bicycle around 7 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 16) near the Western Carolina University campus.

August Lusk of Cullowhee was riding his bike on Old Cullowhee Road in front of Carolina Village Apartments, where his father, Matthew Lusk, lives. A truck attempting to pass, struck the boy from behind, said Trooper Cory Hipp, who investigated the accident.

August is in Asheville’s Mission Hospital. Michelle McCall, who is the mother of Matthew Lusk’s girlfriend, Deanna McCall, lives with August’s family. She listed August’s injuries, which she says include a compound leg fracture, a nearly severed Achilles tendon, broken collarbone and shoulder, broken pelvis, fractured skull and broken facial bones, bleeding on the brain and contusions.

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Macon County students will be putting on their backpacks on Monday to head off to the first day of the 2015-16 school year. After a couple of months break, the North Carolina Department of Transportation wants to remind motorists to be cautious of children getting on and off the school bus and make sure citizens allow for the change in traffic.

In North Carolina, more than 14,000 school buses travel our highways daily transporting children to and from school. Most motorists that meet school buses on the state’s highways actually stop as required by North Carolina law. However some do not. The results can be tragic. Since 1999, 13 children in North Carolina have been struck and killed while loading and/or unloading from a stopped school bus. School buses are easy to spot. They typically are painted yellow with the words “School Bus” printed in large type on their front and rear as well as being equipped with alternately flashing red lights on the front and rear. Yet despite these distinguishable traits, motorists still fail to properly stop.

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Macon County's August Superior Court session had a full docket, with several cases being decided by Honorable Superior Court Judge William Coward.

Adam Lee Hensley was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to a term of 48 to 70 months for the death of Larry Nelson Wilt on March 9, 2014.

Hensley was arrested and charged with first degree murder after an altercation claimed the life of Wilt at a residence on Kirkland Road.

While the MCSO was clearing the scene, it was evident that a fight had broken out between Adam Hensley, 31, and Larry Nelson Wilt, 31. Officers found both men covered in blood and severely injured, reported Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland.

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The last comprehensive report compiled in Macon County that looked into child care issues in the community was published in January 2010 and found that there were far two few available spots for children in Macon County. Now five years later, not a lot has changed and parents are still scrambling to find child care options for their children.

"The quality child care shortage is a real problem in our community," said Commissioner Ronnie Beale, who served on the Macon County Child Care Issues Committee (CIC) in 2009. "To add to this growing problem, the income rates for parents have been lowered, thus fewer parents qualify for child care subsidies."

In basic economic terms, affordable and available child care for Macon County’s working parents is on the same level of importance as affordable housing and affordable health care. The committee believed that parents value affordable child care availability on a par with other employee benefits.

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Macon County Sheriff's deputies spent nearly nine hours on Friday working a standoff that resulted in one individual being taken into custody under an involuntary commitment.

Around noon on Friday, MCSO deputies initiated a welfare check on a Macon County resident after dispatch received calls from someone out of state concerned about the resident. A police welfare check occurs when a report is made to law enforcement about an individual who may be in some sort of peril, usually in that person's residence.

On Friday, dispatch received a call from a woman that said her friend had threatened suicide over the phone. When officers went to the address, they were confronted by a person within the residence.

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