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News 2012 The Year in Review

Newsmakers and Top Headlines of the Year - Part One

National news headlines affected us all in 2012, whether it was nail biting down-to-the-minute news when President Barack Obama put another stamp on history when he defeated challenger Mitt Romney and was elected to a second term; or watching the Powerball lottery figures hit $550 million, the highest figure ever; or news that devastated the nation as Superstorm Sandy pounded the East Coast in October, leaving ruins that are still being cleaned up; or senseless tragedies such as the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida or most recently, the unfathomable mass murder of 26 in Newtown, Conn.

In 2012, the nation waited with perceived anticipation as we dodged the predicted apocalypse on Dec. 21 as the Mayan calendar drew to a close. The entertainment world lost Whitney Houston and the forever young Dick Clark who made our New Year’s Eve celebrations memorable for almost 40 years.

Earlier in the year we learned of the engagement, marriage, and then news of the future child of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

In the sports world, the highly publicized trial of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator charged and convicted of 45 out of 48 counts of sexual abuse, captivated headlines, as did the public's reaction to Sandusky being stripped of his accomplishments in the wake of the trial.

Sandusky wasn't the only member in the sports world to lose his honors, as seventime Tour De France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong was charged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency with having used illicit performance-enhancing drugs.

Even though much of the nation’s attention was on the devastated coast of New England, Hurricane Sandy touched the coast of North Carolina as well, flooding roads and damaging homes in the October Superstorm. Photos providedAnd sadly for Braves fans, after 19 seasons starting for Atlanta, long-time third baseman Chipper Jones hung up his number 10 jersey and walked away from baseball.

2012 was an impressive year for technological changes and social media advancements. The mainstream social media and marketing tool Facebook went public, and apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pintrest and Snapchat have seen a huge growth, changing the face of communication and daily interaction. Smartphones and tablets were all the rage, leaving the entire technological realm right at the touch of a fingertip.

North Carolina shared in the national news hype by hosting the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte as well as proposing a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, which passed state-wide during the primary election. North Carolina politics continued to change as Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue announced her retirement and was replaced by former Republican Charlotte mayor, Pat McCrory decided in the Nov. 6 election as he won over Gov. Perdue’s Lieutenant Gov. Walter Dalton. McCrory is the first Republican governor in more than 20 years. Republicans also gained the majority in the N.C. House and Senate.

North Carolina took a bite out of the film industry becoming home to blockbuster hits such as the “Hunger Games” and “Iron Man 3,” with a total of 50 productions being registered in the state in 2012.

The 27-year-old Raleigh native Webb Simpson, added to North Carolina's 2012 sports news headlines when he won the U.S. Open in June. 2012 will also be remembered as the year North Carolina had no team in the NCAA Final Four at the College World Series or in the ACC football title game at Charlotte.

Western Carolina University contributed to state and local sports headlines by sending graduate and former Catamount Manteo Mitchell to the 2012 Olympic games, where he helped the Unites States bring home a silver medal in track and field, despite competing with a broken leg.

Local headlines continued with sports standouts as Smoky Mountain High graduate Jackson Simmons, who was recruited to play basketball for the North Carolina Tarheels, started his second year and Franklin High School standout Lindsay Simpson was recognized for her accomplishments in both volleyball and basketball with the retiring of her jerseys.

Following is the Year in Review as it appeared in the Macon County News in 2012.

January

Macon welcomes first baby of 2012

Franklin’s first baby of 2012 was born at Angel Medical Center on Monday, Jan. 2. The New Year’s child, Eric Alexander Norga, was born to Francisca Diaz and Euctacico Morga Santiago. Norga was born on Jan. 2, 2012, at 10:12 pm. The baby boy weighed seven pounds and was 20 inches long.

Macon Airport Authority secures $2.09 million from state

The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) Division of Aviation approved a $2.09 million grant award for Macon County’s Airport, with the federal funds going toward the reconstruction and repaving of the airport’s parking apron. Macon County’s airport authority submitted its grant application to the NCDOT last October. The state officially approved of the grant on Dec. 30, 2011.

FHS Marching Band goes to Gator Bowl

The Franklin High School Marching Band was given a surprise welcome home after their trip to the Gator Bowl at the Georgia State line by the Macon County Sheriff's Office and other authorities. The 73-member band travelled to Jacksonville, Fla. to perform in front of 85,000 people during halftime of the bowl game on Jan. 2.

After the Gator Bowl parade, the band was named Grand Champions of Class A division of the competition after taking first place in every category for their “Sunday Crosswords” themed show. The FHS Band brought home 13 of the 18 trophies available in its division.

Third annual ‘Operation Think Twice’ held

For its third consecutive year, sheriff’s deputies in Macon County kept roads safer over the New Year’s holiday for Operation Think Twice, as reported by MCN on Jan. 5. Party-goers were given rides by deputies with no questions asked when they called the Macon County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) to request a ride home. “Think Twice,” a local initiative seeking to lower the rate of drinking and driving during the New Year’s celebrations, has seen moderate success in recent years. From 9 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 6 a.m. on Jan. 1, the public was encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office to request a ride.

Kayak racer at the U.S. open on the Nantahala.In 2012, the operation saw an increase in both requests and drunk driving violations. Eighty-five individuals called the MCSO and requested a ride home. A total of five D.W.I.s were reported throughout the county. In 2011, 51 people were transported to their destinations by officers assigned to the operation, and four D.W.I.s were reported.

WCU student convicted of bank robbery

Bryan Anthony Edwards, 21, a Western Carolina University student was arrested for robbing the State Employees Credit Union (SECU) near campus on Dec. 14 and convicted of the charges in Jackson County Superior Court on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Edwards was sentenced to a minimum of 10 months and a maximum of 21 months to be served in the North Carolina Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to common law robbery.

The fact that Edwards used a toy gun, which under the law is not a dangerous weapon, is the reason he was convicted of common law robbery and not robbery with a dangerous weapon, which was the original charge.

According to District Attorney Michael Bonfoey’s office, Edwards entered the Cullowhee branch of the SECU wearing a partial mask, sunglasses and a hooded jacket to disguise his appearance. After approaching a bank teller, Edwards brandished what appeared to be a firearm, but was later determined to be a toy gun. After demanding money, Edwards was given a money bag with cash and a dye pack before exiting the bank. The dye pack went off while Edwards was attempting to flee the bank.

David Key officially named EMS Director

David Key - EMS directorOn Thursday, Dec. 22, Macon County hired David Key, who had served as interim director of Macon County’s Emergency Management Services since early August 2011, to officially replace former EMS Director Warren Cabe.

Key has 19 years of experience with the county’s EMS unit, 10 of which he was as the Assistant Director of Emergency Management Services under Cabe. “David has by far the most experience and expertise in this particular field,” wrote County Manager Jack Horton about Key’s hiring.

Simmons secures 500th career win at Smoky Mountain

Longtime Smoky Mountain girls basketball coach Cindi Simmons made school history in January by securing her 500th career victory. The Lady Mustangs gave Simmons the win at their Jan. 11 home game by beating East Henderson, 67-47, bringing Simmons' career record to 501-255.

Former Senator John Snow announces candidacy for 2012

On Jan. 10, former state Democratic Senator John Snow announced that he would seek reelection to his former seat in the 50th Senatorial District that covers Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties. Incumbent Senator Jim Davis defeated Snow in 2010 by a slim margin of 161 votes.

John Snow announced his candidacy for N.C. Senate in January.For more than 30 years Snow served Western North Carolina (WNC) as an Assistant District Attorney and District Court Judge. Snow also served six years as a state Senator before losing to Davis. Snow was elected to the state Senate in 2004 after defeating long-time Republican Senator Bob Carpenter by less than 300 votes. Sen. Davis retained his seat in the November election.

Cullasaja Campground owner airlifted to Mission

Benji Lafamm, owner of Cullasaja Campground, lost control of his 2008 Toyota on Jan. 13 and struck the side of the campground’s office. Lafamm struck a row of mailboxes before crashing into the building. He was airlifted to Mission Hospital in Asheville to be treated for internal injuries. According to State Highway Patrolman Tony Hawkins, authorities believe Lafamm suffered from a seizure, causing him to crash.

GOP meet and greet

On Saturday, Jan. 14, the Macon County GOP held a general meeting and “Meet and Greet” for members and congressional candidates at the Boiler Room in Franklin. Six of the eight Republican congressional candidates attended: Spence Campbell, Dan Eichenbaum, Jeff Hunt, Vance Patterson, Chris Petrella, and Kenny West. Jim Clayton attended on behalf of Mark Meadows. Phil Drake delivered the invocation and GOP member Grace Johnson, who led the Pledge of Allegiance, was recognized for her 24 years of service in the Army Nurse Corps, retiring as a Lt. Colonel. Johnson entered service in 1968.

About 80 people attended, including Sen. Jim Davis, Rep. Roger West, Commissioners Kevin Corbin, Ron Haven and Jimmy Tate, former Commissioner Harold Corbin and three former Macon GOP Party chairman. Helen Carpenter received the Republican Party’s Hall of Fame Award. The award was presented by GOP District Chairman David Sawyer to Helen, and posthumously to her husband, former State Senator Bob Carpenter. Dan Forest, candidate for Lt. Governor was the guest speaker.

Commissioners fight for McCoy Bridge

The end to the decade-long debate over what to do with the McCoy Bridge was finally in sight early last year, as a letter, written by DOT construction engineer Brian C. Burch, to County Manager Jack Horton suggested that state transportation officials would agree to a compromise with locals, which would allow the county to have ownership of the bridge. State funds for demolition of the structure were offset for the maintenance of it in the amount of $126,000. Commissioners voted in December to save the bridge, utilizing it for bike and foot traffic.

Counties delay revaluation following statewide trend

After a lengthy debate over whether or not to postpone the county’s revaluation, Jackson County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution on Jan. 17 to delay the process until 2016, instead of the scheduled 2013 date. Jackson was among many WNC counties including Macon to follow the trend across the state to push back property revaluations until the real estate market improves.

The county’s tax administrator/assessor, Bobby McMahan, advised board members to postpone the revaluation date during the county’s Jan. 13 work session, citing a lack of comp data (comparable home prices in a localized area) and an insufficient amount of time to complete the study as the main reasons such a decision was warranted. After the 2016 revaluation, Jackson County will return to their original four year revaluation cycle. State law mandates counties to reassess property values at least once every eight years.

Jackson County conducted their last property revaluation in 2008, right before the housing market tanked. Market data from 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 was used for the county’s last revaluation, a period when the housing market was greatly inflated.

February

Duke increases rates despite opposition

As reported by MCN on Feb. 2, Duke Energy customers began paying more on their monthly power bill. The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) officially approved Duke Energy Carolinas’ request for an average increase of 7.2 percent on the average customer’s electric rates in North Carolina.

After holding public hearings across the state, Duke Energy Carolinas and the North Carolina Public Staff reached an agreement which called for the rate hike of 7.2 percent instead of the original request of 15 percent. Public Staff, an organization affiliated with the N.C. Utilities Commission, opposed Duke Energy’s initial 15 percent rate hike, and after hearing from Tar Heels across the state, North Carolina’s Public Staff and Duke Energy agreed to the rate reduction.

When the electricity provider originally proposed rate increases in the summer of 2011, representatives cited the additional costs were to cover necessary improvements needed to better serve their customers. “Since 2009, we’ve spent $4.8 billion to modernize the system and comply with environmental regulations,” said Brett Carter, president of Duke Energy North Carolina.

Highlands routs Tallulah, honors Coach Smart

The stands were full at Highlands’ gymnasium Jan. 28, where fans and community members came together to honor Butch Smart, long-time head coach of Highlands’ boys’ basketball team and athletics director. After the Lady Highlanders soundly defeated Tallulah Falls for the second time by a score of 52-39, current and former players, school officials, and residents gathered at center court to show their respect to the high school hoops coach who was hanging it up after more than four decades of directing teams from the bench.

Highlands School officials wanted to give Smart a surprise ceremony to fully extend their gratitude to the coach who led the Highlanders’ basketball team since 1996. Smart had tallied more than 700 career wins in his 44 years of coaching high school basketball.

Since taking over at Highlands, Smart led the boys’ basketball program to three conference championships and an appearance in the state playoffs every season. Smart’s record speaks for itself, but given the fact that many of his former players were on hand to show their support for their old coach is telling, and further spoke to his role as a community leader and public servant for the town of Highlands.

Macon Couple discovered deceased in murder-suicide

A Macon County couple was discovered dead by family members when they returned home one early February evening in a case that investigators deemed to be an alleged murder-suicide. Kenneth and Fran Simmons, along with the family dog, were found dead in their home from apparent gunshot wounds. The 9-1-1 caller believed his mother-in-law had shot Kenneth Simmons and the dog, and later killed herself.

Shell casings and a five-page note were left on the countertop in the home, according to the 9-1-1 dispatch report and Sheriff Holland. Following the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office ruled the case as a murder/suicide, said Holland. Investigators with the Sheriff’s Office received assistance from the State Bureau of Investigation.

Towing companies complain of favoritism

The owners of several towing companies came together during February’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Town of Aldermen to lodge a formal complaint with both town and county officials regarding the wrecker service rotation used to respond to traffic accidents throughout Franklin.

“Tonight we would like to bring to your attention the ongoing situation regarding how towing companies are dispatched when there is an accident inside the city limits of Franklin,” said Lloyd Cox, owner of Ambassador Auto in Franklin. Cox was one of two men who addressed the Town Board on behalf of the towing companies operating in Franklin.

According to Cox, over the previous two years many of the local towing companies in the county experienced a substantial decrease in the amount of towing calls received from 9- 1-1 dispatch within the town. Cox noted that while his business, as well as the others, had experienced a drastic reduction, Nathan’s Paint and Body had seen a significant increase in the number of calls they had received.

From Dec. 4, 2010, through Feb. 1, 2012, Nathan’s Paint and Body answered 76 calls from dispatch to report to an accident to tow away a vehicle. During the same time period, the other six towing companies in Franklin averaged 35 calls between them, a little more than half of the calls received by their competitor.

Cox asked the board to consider adopting the Highway Patrol's directive to no longer allow any wrecker employees to be on the wrecker rotation if they also serve as civilian employees to avoid conflicts of interest.

The Town Board agreed to allow the Town’s attorney, John Henning Jr. to review the Highway Patrol’s policy, as well as further investigate whether there is a need to adopt a new policy in the event that misconduct is found.

David Adams selected as new FPD Chief

David Adams Franklin Chief of PoliceDuring their February meeting, Franklin’s Town Board of Aldermen announced that the Town of Franklin selected a replacement for former Police Chief Terry Bradley.

Bradley announced in the fall of 2011 that after 25 years of service to Macon County, he would retire effective March 1, 2012. After a four-month-long search, the Town selected David Adams, a captain with the Hendersonville Police Department to serve as Franklin’s next Police Chief. “I am really looking forward to taking over as Franklin’s next Police Chief,” said Adams. “I believe it will be a challenging but a very rewarding experience and I am excited to begin serving the people of Franklin.”

Adams worked with the Hendersonville Police Department for 17 years, starting as a Patrol Officer in 1995, then moved up the ranks. Adams served in several capacities with the Hendersonville PD including detective, lieutenant and as captain over investigations. Prior to his career in law enforcement, Adams served in the U.S. Army from 1989-1993 as a squad leader and paratrooper.

Arrests made in Swain DSS investigation

More than a year after the death of 15-month-old Aubrey Littlejohn, an arrest was made on Feb. 3, by the Swain County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the District Attorney’s office, Ladybird Powell, Aubrey's great aunt, was arrested and charged with second degree murder, two counts of felony child abuse, kidnapping, extortion, and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

The caseworker handling Aubrey’s case at the time of her death, Craig Smith, was arrested on Feb. 7 and was charged with three counts of obstruction of justice. His bond was set at $25,000 unsecured.

Candace Lassiter, a supervisor with the Swain County Department of Social Services at the time of the incident was also arrested and was charged with three counts of obstruction of justice and three counts of forgery.

According to court reports from the State Bureau of Investigation, Lassiter instructed Smith to falsify documents associated with Aubrey’s death.

Term limits approved for Planning Board

As reported by MCN on Feb. 16, in a 4-1 vote, the Macon County Board of Commissioners approved term limits for the Planning Board on Feb. 15. The amendment to the Planning Board ordinance was somewhat different than what was originally proposed by Commissioner Ron Haven. Board members voted on the measure after a lengthy public hearing session which saw 33 Maconians voice their opinions on the recommended changes to the county’s Planning Board ordinance. Commissioners voted to pass term limits of two consecutive three-year terms, with the caveat being that they are not retroactive.

EDC launches revamped website

With help from Tony Angel of Tony Angel Media, Macon County’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) has a revamped website with a variety of new features designed to assist existing businesses in Franklin, while also promoting more investment in the area.

When Director Tommy Jenkins, showcased the website’s new features to the EDC board on Feb. 21, members were impressed. “I think that’s the best economic development website I’ve ever seen,” said County Manager Jack Horton.

The website promotes Macon County by giving an overview of the county’s infrastructure, and lists information for business leaders looking to relocate to the area. The site also has a list of rental properties available in Macon County, as well as other business services entrepreneurs may find useful. The website can be accessed online at http://www.maconedc.com/.

East Franklin raises funds for UNICEF

East Franklin raises money for UNICEFSecond grade students at East Franklin Elementary worked on a unit focused on the United Nation’s Children’s fund (UNICEF), as reported by MCN on Feb. 23.

Members of the African Dance Company of Asheville held the dance presentation on Feb. 21 and were followed by vignettes highlighting the stories of four children from different countries and a song selection which included “We are the World” and “Love Can Build a Bridge.”

Throughout the project, students have learned about countries all over the world and worked in conjunction with UNICEF to raise money for a gift goal to address impoverished countries’ needs for food, immunization, shelter and clean water.

Brigman warned by secular group again

East Franklin raises money for UNICEFThe staff attorney for the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a national organization dedicated to preserving the Constitutional separation of church and state, sent a second formal letter to then Macon County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Brigman, requesting that he “refrain from including religious references in email correspondence from your official public school account or on future blog postings.”

The letter from the nonprofit organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), was the second communication Dr. Brigman received during the school year, the first letter being a response to a sermon delivered the previous June by Rev. Daniel “Cowboy” Stewart during a commencement address given at Nantahala School.

FFRF attorney Rebecca Markert sent Dr. Brigman a letter regarding the organization’s objection to an email Brigman sent to all Macon County employees on Dec. 21, 2011, as well as a post on the superintendent’s blog on the district’s website, which can be viewed by the general public. The message read, “And, finally, Christmas is a time of joy and celebration as we have already received the ultimate gift and sacrifice that continues to present each of us with hope.”

Venture Local group works to improve local economy

The citizen group, Venture Local Franklin, held a meeting last February at Willy's BBQ to discuss what is already great about Franklin in order to better assess what the community needs as a whole.

Venture Local Franklin is a grassroots movement geared toward promoting positive and sustainable community advancement. As a citizen-maintained movement, they value inclusivity and participation that is action based and outcome focused. The group works together to collaboratively strengthen the regional economy by utilizing the area's natural resources to establish common goals, nurture entrepreneurial ventures and drive innovation with the goal of moving Franklin forward.

The group holds its meetings at locally owned businesses in order to further support Franklin’s local economy, which is a primary goal of Venture Local. “I would also like to mention that meeting at locally owned businesses is paramount, and supporting our local businesses is a major goal when deciding upon meeting locations.” said Matt Bateman, member of the organization.

March

Community Spelling and Trivia Bee raises Read2Me funds

The Western Mountains Reading Council hosted the first annual Community Spelling and Trivia Bee in late February, and raised about $1,700 which went to benefit Read2Me after covering the minimum costs of the event. The Spelling and Trivia Bee was a family friendly event designed to celebrate learning while raising awareness and support for the Reading Council, as reported by MCN on March 1.

The event featured 15, four person teams, which were comprised of at least one Macon County student. The teams competed in a fun and lively single elimination competition to spell increasingly difficult words and answer interspersed trivia questions. The teams were encouraged to create a team name, wear unique team T-shirts or costumes and to bring a cheering section, and prizes were awarded for each category. The winners for the event were the Highlands Smarty Pants representing Highlands School. The team featured Michelle Lane as captain, Denish West, Chris Green and Ahzah Kennemore.

The Read2Me initiative is a public awareness campaign geared towards encouraging the community at large to become highly invested in promoting children learning to read early in order to help all children realize their potential in school and in life.

LBJ graduates 16 students at Spring Commencement

LBJ graduates toss their hats in the air in celebration.Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps Center (LBJ) celebrated the accomplishments of 16 graduates with a commencement ceremony in which the recipients received diplomas, GEDs and certificates of completion from their vocational trades.

After members of the Lyndon B. Johnson Gospel Choir sung the National Anthem and performed a musical interlude, The LBJ Student Government Association President, Carolyn Dehart, introduced the Spring Commencement’s Keynote Speaker, former FHS Principal Gary Shields.

Shields, a current member of the Board of Education, addressed the LBJ graduates as the Keynote Speaker and encouraged them to be proud of their accomplishments. “Young people, the second chance this institution has given you, the LBJ Job Corps also has given a second chance to this community with employment and the economic surge benefiting the people of Macon County,” said Shields.

“As a high school principal of 21 years, I have bestowed close to 5,000 diplomas,” said Shields. “The difference is, you all are graduating out of your choice. On this day, I see young people in front of me who have taken ownership of their own destination. Somewhere you had that talk with the person in the mirror and a light bulb came on and you have sought out to take advantage of this second chance.”

Student-led Cullowhee Voter Initiative hosts informative bicameral debate

As reported by MCN on March 8, Western Carolina University students coordinating the Cullowhee Voter Initiative, a nonpartisan effort to improve voter education and participation in Jackson County, hosted a bipartisan, bicameral debate in early March in which members of the North Carolina General Assembly debated issues ranging from education cuts, to the government’s role in restricting religion in public schools.

The debate included North Carolina Republican Senators Jim Davis and Ralph Hise, and then Democratic House Representatives Ray Rapp and Rick Glazier. Gibbs Knotts, interim dean of WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences, served as the moderator for the event. The debate was broken into two segments. During the first portion, each of the four debaters were given a question to answer and the remaining three members of the debate were given one minute for a rebuttal.

Budget work session reveals dismal future for schools

In anticipation of inevitable funding cuts to public education, the Macon County Board of Education strategized during a work session on how to prepare for the 2012-13 budget.

During a Tuesday morning meeting, members of the Board of Education discussed the anticipated budget for the next year and entertained conversation about areas that could be cut to make up for a reduction in state and federal funds.

Macon County anticipated an increase in the state reversion and planned to send $1.4 million back to Raleigh, said Cook. In 2011, Macon County had to send $1.2 million back to the state, and planned for a 5 percent increase to that amount in 2012. “Basically what the state is doing is shifting the burden of making cuts to the district,” said Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman. “They give us our budget for the year and are now saying out of those funds, identify additional areas that you can cut and send us back the $1.4 million.”

N.C. author teams up with Read2Me to promote literacy

As reported by MCN on March 15, the community-wide initiative, Read2Me, which is geared toward promoting early literacy for children throughout the county, teamed up with North Carolina author, Gloria Houston, to bring her book “Littlejim” to the pages of Macon County's free independent newspaper, the Macon County News.

Read2Me is a public awareness campaign geared towards encouraging the community at large to become highly invested in promoting children learning to read early in order to help all children realize their potential in school and in life.

Dr. Gloria Houston is internationally known as an educator and author of multi-award winning, best selling books for young readers, as well as a writer of textbook and other teaching materials.

Five killed in jet crash at Macon airport

Five killed in plane crash at Macon County Airport in March.Five people were killed in an airplane crash at the Macon County Airport in Franklin, N.C. Thursday, March 15, when a twin-engine Cessna Citation 501 mid-size executive jet exploded just off the runway following an unusual landing, as reported by MCN on March 22.

Terry Bates, Macon County Emergency Services Coordinator, said that at least three people were killed in the accident, but that it was possible that more would be accounted for as the investigation continued.

By the time the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the bodies, the total fatalities had climbed to five after two more bodies were pulled from the wreckage. Authorities confirmed later in the afternoon that two couples, sets of husband and wife, and the daughter of one of the couples, were killed in the incident.

U.S. Open trials on the Nantahala

On Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25, the best canoe and kayak racers from around the United States met on the Nantahala River in Western North Carolina to decide who would win and who would lose in the last big white water race of the season, the U.S. Open Canoe and Kayak Championships.

One of a series of regional races; this was the last race before the U.S. Olympic Team Trials held April 12-15 in Charlotte, N.C. Competitors used the U.S. Open to judge their chances at the Olympic Trials and to assess the competition. A win or a strong finish at Nantahala would prepare racers for the intense competition they encountered at the Olympic Trials. More than 50 racers participated in the event.

April

Town approves $1.25 million ABC store

Despite some very vocal opposition from the public, the Franklin Board of Aldermen approved a location for the site of the town’s new ABC store.

For 17 years, the town’s ABC store has been leasing a 6,500 square foot space from Macon Plaza and has only had one rate increase resulting in approximately $6,069.76 per month or $72,828 a year for rent.

Students with disabilities go on their first hunt in April.The ABC committee requested the board approve moving the ABC store to the Walmart shopping plaza that was under construction. Town Manager Sam Greenwood sad in the long term by purchasing the building and the property, eventually the town will have complete ownership of the store and the revenues would be greater and mostly all profit. The town applied for the $1.25 million loan to purchase the property and in July, was turned down, ensuring the ABC Store would remain in its current location.

County-wide smoking ban

During the April meeting of Macon County’s Board of Commissioners, commissioners unanimously approved a county-wide smoking ban at all government owned facilities designated for recreational use. All county recreational parks, including the Greenway are now smoke free.

The ordinance, which bans the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco will go into effect 90 days from the day it was passed by commissioners, marking July 9 as the first official day the ban will be effective.

The 90-day period will allow the public to be informed of the new ordinance and will give the Health Department adequate time to post signs and pass out notifications of the ban.

Volunteers take students with disabilities on their first hunt

The North Carolina Wildlife Commission, National Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, North Carolina Handicapped Sportsmen, the Macon County Sheriff's Department and local hunter volunteers hosted the first ever Hunting with the Disabled hunt for students in Macon County with disabilities.

FHS Prom King and Queen, Nash Broyles and Emily Esterwood.Corey Holbrooks, a second grader at South Macon with a physical disability and Miguel Villagomez, a visually impaired 8th grader from Nantahala scored the two kills of the hunt.

Students with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to being legally blind participated in the hunt Saturday morning, April 21. After students were accepted into the program, they were required to attend a Hunter’s Safety class, which was coordinated between a N.C. Wildlife officer and the school teacher.

The adult volunteer hunters were also required to have complete Hunter’s Safety Certification, basic knowledge of the student, standard first aid and CPR, and experience in transportation of individuals using all terrain vehicles to ensure optimum safety of each student.

The children participated in target practice before the final hunt and were treated to a special lunch at the Franklin Fire Department.

Franklin High School prom back in town

Nash Broyles and Emily Esterwood were crowned FHS Prom King and Queen. The Franklin High School Prom was once again held in the school’s gym after previously being held in neighboring towns.


 

See next week’s issue for the Year in Review Part II.





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