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Just a few months after the two-year anniversary of joining the United States Air Force, John B. Mitchell, 22, nearly lost his life in combat.

The 2009 Nantahala High School graduate grew up in Macon County's Nantahala Community, and joined the Air Force in March 2011 after studying Criminal Justice at Western Carolina University. He was a member of the TACP (Tactical Air Control Party), a small group in the Air Force who travelled with the Army.

Mitchell had been deployed in Afghanistan since March 2013 and was due to return home in mid-September.


Last Tuesday, commissioners recognized Macon County residents Stephanie Smathers and Rebecca Schilling for their work constructing a courtyard at the Highlands School.

Smathers, who teaches science at Highlands, developed the idea and reached out to Schilling, member of the Mountain Garden Club and other members of the community to work together to beautify the Highlands campus by turning the school courtyard into an outdoor classroom.

The development of the outdoor courtyard became an educational experience for the Highlands students.


Bobby Joe Watson and Bonnie Lee Cheek Watson of Franklin, formally of Marietta, Ga., celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with many friends and family on Saturday, July 6.

A reception was held at the Cheek Reunion in their honor.

The couple married on July 5, 1963, at Westminster, S.C.

The couple have two children, Michael Watson and wife Melissa of Sylva, N.C., and Michelle Watson of the home.



Cheryl Darlene Brown of Toccoa, Ga., and James Keith Woodard of Clayton, Ga., announce the engagement and forthcoming marriage of their daughter, Julia Brianne Woodard, to Zachary John Lona, son of Susan and John Miller of Franklin, and grandson of Altha Feneis and the late Gregory Feneis of Franklin, and grandson of Elvira Miller and the late John Miller Sr.

The couple will exchange vows at the Macon County Courthouse on Friday, July 19, with plans for a formal wedding in 2014.

After the marriage, the couple will continue to reside in Franklin.

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