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News General

The last comprehensive report compiled in Macon County that looked into child care issues in the community was published in January 2010 and found that there were far two few available spots for children in Macon County. Now five years later, not a lot has changed and parents are still scrambling to find child care options for their children.

"The quality child care shortage is a real problem in our community," said Commissioner Ronnie Beale, who served on the Macon County Child Care Issues Committee (CIC) in 2009. "To add to this growing problem, the income rates for parents have been lowered, thus fewer parents qualify for child care subsidies."

In basic economic terms, affordable and available child care for Macon County’s working parents is on the same level of importance as affordable housing and affordable health care. The committee believed that parents value affordable child care availability on a par with other employee benefits.


Macon County Sheriff's deputies spent nearly nine hours on Friday working a standoff that resulted in one individual being taken into custody under an involuntary commitment.

Around noon on Friday, MCSO deputies initiated a welfare check on a Macon County resident after dispatch received calls from someone out of state concerned about the resident. A police welfare check occurs when a report is made to law enforcement about an individual who may be in some sort of peril, usually in that person's residence.

On Friday, dispatch received a call from a woman that said her friend had threatened suicide over the phone. When officers went to the address, they were confronted by a person within the residence.


Pat Betancourt touts communication and work ethic.

Patrick Betancourt, the new director of the Macon County Department of Social Services (DSS), moved here from Union County where he was the Social Work Program Administrator.

“I’ve been working in DSS now for a little over 20 years, so Union’s just a little bit bigger county, but other than that, all pretty familiar,” said Betancourt.

“One of the things I can speak to that is completely different here in Macon County from anywhere else I’ve ever worked is, probably the most positive thing that we have is, on a regular basis, our Mental Health providers will come together in the same room with our Child Welfare workers and we’ll staff cases ... it was pretty amazing the first time I saw this take place at one of these meetings where, quite literally what happened was, one of the mental health providers said, ‘We can’t pick this particular child up for this particular service but we know that that service need is there, can somebody else pick them up?’ and the next provider just seamlessly said, ‘Yup, we got ‘em, we’ll check in with the family or we’ll do whatever needs to be done.’ I have to say that’s unique to Macon County, or to this region,” said Betancourt. “It’s not something I’ve experienced anywhere else. I think that ongoing communication, those ongoing staff meetings, really set us up for a place where we’re that much more successful with child welfare.”


Macon and Jackson County have yet to reach an agreement on the great border debate for properties that fall on the county lines in the Highlands/Cashiers crossover.

While Macon County's full request for funding from Jackson County wasn't met, some relief will be provided in the upcoming budget cycle. Earlier this year, Jackson County commissioners approved a new fire tax for homes that are technically located within Jackson County, yet receive fire services from the Highlands Fire Department. The fire tax is expected to generate $50,000 in revenue that will be directly allocated to the Highlands Fire Department.

And while Jackson commissioners acknowledged the fire costs associated with the 300 homes in question, it doesn't address the other essential services provided by Macon County to those homes such as trash, recreation, 911 and EMS. Commissioner Jim Tate, who has led the discussion from the beginning addressed that very issue last month.


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