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Since its founding in 1927, the Highlands Biological Station has had a wider scope than research alone. A quote from Ralph Sargent’s book “Biology in the Blue Ridge” (1977) summarizes this idea nicely – “[The Highlands Biological Station] has sought to interest local residents, visitors, and the general public in the full natural and cultural history of the region and to bring to them awareness of and care for the whole environment, physical, biological, and human of the southern mountains.” One of the station’s most enduring avenues for spreading this interest has been the tradition of weekly summer lectures. Every summer the Highlands Nature Center hosts evening lectures on Thursdays focused on the theme of natural history and conservation, a tradition that began in the 1930s. Today, these lectures are known as the Zahner Conservation Lecture Series.

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The Franklin Chamber of Commerce is finalizing plans for the largest annual Independence Day celebration in Western North Carolina. The 4th of July Fireworks in the Park will be held at the Macon County Veterans Memorial Recreation Park just south of Franklin off U.S. 441 on Thursday, July 4. Activities will begin in the park at 3 p.m. and conclude at dark with the largest fireworks display in the area.

“We always work hard to make this a very special day for those who attend,” said Cindy Cavender, special events coordinator for the Chamber. “Our plans are complete and the crowds can expect a spectacular day of fun and excitement for the entire family. While the day will not begin until 3 p.m. there will still be lots to do including live entertainment, bungee jump, a horseshoe tournament, a cornhole tournament, the famous Plunger Toss and new this year, the blind golf cart obstacle course. A special added attraction this year will be a free kid’s inflatable area sponsored by Biltmore Baptist Church. In addition to the inflatables, Biltmore Baptist Church is the sponsor of this year’s fireworks display.”

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A valuable piece of the history of the Rickman General Store is back in its original home thanks to a contribution from Habitat for Humanity. A 1930 wood frame glass showcase from the Saginaw Company in Michigan, used by Tom Rickman to display valuable merchandise, was rescued from destruction and returned to the historic building in the Cowee Community this winter.

According to Rick Westerman, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, in 2008 Macon Bank invited Habitat to a property that was in foreclosure. The bank offered Habitat any items they could use for their projects. The showcase was found on the porch of the house with the glass broken and full of junk.

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After almost 11 years of service, Rev. Donna Cobb will be leaving her position on June 23, as pastor of the two-church charge of the historic churches of Snow Hill United Methodist in the Cowee community, and Iotla United Methodist Church in Iotla Valley.

She came to her position in August 2002 with years of training, experienced in working with small churches, and equipped with administrative knowledge gained through her various positions in the United Methodist Church (UMC).

“Pastor Donna,” as she is affectionately called by her parishioners, worked at the Hinton Center in Hayesville as an administrative secretary in 1986. The Hinton Center specializes in retreats for pastors and other groups, training mission work teams, and providing training for small churches. Later she became the full time director of the mission work team program.

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