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News Franklin Fire Department recommends new firetrucks

After careful consideration, members of the Franklin Fire and Rescue Equipment Committee made recommendations to the board concerning the future purchases of department equipment. At the behest of Town Manager Sam Greenwood, the committee was charged with examining the equipment needs of the department last June.

Chairman of the committee, Warren Cabe, recommended to the aldermen that they consider the purchase of a new ladder truck.

“For practical purposes, this device, if we were to need one for firefighting or rescue purposes, the closest one we could possible call if available is at least 40 to 45 minutes away,” said Cabe, adding that the closest of the types of fire trucks were in Highlands, Cullowhee or Cherokee. “So obviously we felt like the need was there.”

Next fall, Cabe noted, FFR is scheduled for a state fire rating and response inspection. Fifty percent of which the inspection grades is the department itself (equipment, training and personnel). An “aerial apparatus,” or ladder truck, accounts for ten percent of the grading of the department.

As such a vehicle would be used on the front line of the departments operation, Cabe recommended that the town solicit bids on a 75-foot ladder fire truck to replace, after they had tested out different sized fire trucks recently to determine what they needed. The current aerial truck the department uses is a 1972 model which is out of service due to safety issues. It also has no water tank or pump, rendering the vehicle in need of an additional truck to bring further firefighting supplies when in use.

“We wanted a truck that was going to do 90 percent of the fires that we [fight], we didn’t want a new truck that’s only going to do ten percent of what we’re going to fight,” said Cabe, adding that along with a $570,000 a year operating budget, the department has approximately $650,000 in capital funds.

Cabe also recommended that the town consider a “bundling” deal which a lot of fire truck manufacturers are offering. The advantage, he explained, would be a sizeable discount in the purchase of a second truck, something the town will have to consider soon, as another engine is nearly outdated and overworked.

“When we make the decision on this aerial truck, because it’s going to be a big one, some big dollars, we have the big picture of what it’s going to cost, but in another year or two it’s going to cost us this,” said Cabe. “If we finance this, anytime you talk trucks to another dealer they are going start giving you volume discounts. If we could afford to buy both of them at the same time, we would save a significant amount of money because we would do two at one time.”

Aldermen Bob Scott motioned to allow the FFR equipment committee to solicit bundled bids with Farrell Jamison seconding. The board voted unanimously on the motion.

In other business:

Town receives CTP presentation

Following a recent presentation to the Macon County Board of Commissioners, the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen received a draft Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP).

Two years in the making, the transportation plan, looks to meet the transportation needs for the county as it grows over the next 25 years.

At Monday’s aldermen meeting, Ryan Sherby, a Region A planner with the Southwestern Commission and the primary facilitator of the committee’s work over the past year presented the plan, giving an overview of the process, review of the plan itself, the adoption process and how the plan will be utilized in the future. The plan, he noted, would give Macon County an edge on the state’s priority list when it comes to infrastructure and transit projects.

Appointed by county commissioners in 2009, the CTP committe analyzed data, surveyed the public, produced recommendations and presented the recommendations at a public workshop in August 2010. The additional public input was used to refine the plan and come to the draft that will be presented this month to the towns of Highlands and Franklin, and the county as a whole.

Sherby then highlighted each of the major highway components of the plan for which improvements were recommended based on both safety and capacity issues. Several streets and some freeways throughout the county will receive “beefier” lanes to handle traffic congestion.

He listed other specific recommended improvements to non-highway routes around the county, as well as recommendations for public transportation, bicycle routes and pedestrian thoroughfares. The plan also details specific recommended improvements to the Little Tennessee Greenway.

“Right now, Jackson County is the only other county in the western counties that has an adoption plan,” said Sherby. “We’re just starting in Cherokee County, we’re about halfway through with Clay County and we hope to start Graham County next year, so we’re getting most of our counties a solid and adopted plan—very positive.”

The draft plan can be viewed on the town website at

August biker rally not to be confused with 2012 TDA rally

Karen Flowers, a local event organizer for the third annual Ruby Bash biker rally, stated before the board last year that the rally is seeking to raise funds for REACH of Macon County.

Flowers explained that the event lost traction last year due to the economy, bringing in only about 500 bikes as opposed to the 700 that attended the first year. This year Flowers plans on refining the festivities.

“This will get not only a little more entertaining for bikers but for the community to come and join and see what it is we have to offer,” she said, adding that she and her husband Ronnie Smith posted 250 flyers throughout Western North Carolina, Northern Georgia and South Carolina to advertise the event. Twenty five vendors will be present at the event as well.

“We are not the new bike rally of 2012,” said Flowers, referring to the recently TDA-sponsored rally scheduled for next year. “We’re not against it, we’re just not that bike rally.” Flowers added that she and her husband feel they had to fight for their rally because the TDA event was scheduled one weekend before theirs. “That could devastate us. We are a charity,” she said. “We are not here to make lots of money and do all of that stuff.”

Town signs Fish and Wildlife contract

In an effort to protect the resources of the Town of Franklin and benefit the citizens therein, aldermen unanimously voted to approve a contract between the town and Swain County-based Fish and Wildlife Associates, Inc.

The contract would allow Fish and Wildlife to assist the town in the review of the Lake Emory Dam, and negotiate with the dam’s owner, Duke Energy, for a sediment management plan, recreation plan and canoe portage. The contract maintains that the total amount to be billed to the town will not exceed $5,000.

Public hearing set for land re-zoning

Aldermen unanimously approved a public hearing for local land developer Chuck Holland, who is seeking to rezone his commercial property at 1796 Old Murphy road to residential property. The hearing isscheduled for the September 6 Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen meeting.

Rock concert street closure

The Arts Council of Macon County director Bobbie Contino came before the board to request the closure of Iotla Street to Main Street to Church Street for its upcoming Vintage Rock concert.

Contino explained that the event will exhibit music from ’50s and ’70s as well as Motown covers. The event will be held on Sept. 2, from 6 to 10:30 p.m. The concert will be free to the public, and collection cans will be passed around at the event to help offset its cost.

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