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The last of 18 members of a methamphetamine trafficking organization was sentenced on Wednesday, Dec. 17, to 46 months on drug charges, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Angela Leigh Wike, of Bryson City was also ordered to serve three years under court supervision.

In May 2013, 18 members of the drug ring were arrested as the result of a joint law enforcement investigation conducted by DEA, ATF, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Swain County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin Police Department, and Cherokee Indian Police Department.

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In 2011, Macon Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center set out to prove the facility's exemplary standards through achieving various awards with the American Health Care Association's National Quality Award Program. In just a few short years, Macon Valley accomplished something that takes most facilities more than a decade.

"We completed an application on the Organizational Profile for our organization, submitted it for review, were notified in October 2011 that we were a recipient for the Bronze Award 'Commitment to Quality,'” said Richard Brady, Administrator at Macon Valley. "Then for the next three years, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014 we changed our operational procedures, processes and focused on our clinical programs and outcomes. We completed the 25-page Silver application and were awarded the Silver Award Achievement in Quality in October 2014."

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Macon County Schools and county officials are stepping up to make improving Union Academy a priority in 2015. Housed in a building that hasn't been touched in decades, and that was previously placed out of commission entirely, Union Academy has reached the point where minor repairs will no longer suffice.

With no expectations to see a decrease in student enrollment, the alternative learning facility, which is mandated by the state, serves about 111 students. The building was first taken out of commission when Union Elementary closed down during a consolidation process resulting in the establishment of South Macon Elementary. It remained vacant until Union Academy began operations.

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New DA brings many ‘firsts’ to position

For more than 30 years, the 30th Judicial District Attorney has been housed in Haywood County. The 30th judicial district serves the seven westernmost counties and until November, held its main office in Waynesville under former N.C. District Attorney Mike Bonfoey. In November, in a landslide victory against Jim Moore, Ashley Welch secured the seat.

Welch, who resides in Macon County, will bring the district attorney's office to Macon County for the first time in the state's history.

Bringing the office to Macon County is not the only milestone Welch achieved when she was elected. At 36, Welch is one of the youngest prosecutors in the state. Welch is also the first female to serve the 30th Judicial District and stands as one of only 10 female district attorneys in North Carolina's 44 districts.

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