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News General

Every year seems like a battle as rural school districts across the country eagerly wait to see if they will receive federal funding from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act (SRSCA) or Secure Rural Schools (SRS). This year, Macon County awaits word on $180,000. While the amount of funds from the federal programs have decreased a little each year, the funds have always come, but maybe not this year.

SRSCA has historically provided federal funds which are used to directly fund teachers salaries and crucial education programs throughout the county. Any decrease in funding could lead to a loss in teaching positions, as well as continued decrease in programs such as More at Four and after school programs. The $180,000 Macon County hopes for equates to three teacher salaries.

Despite a bleak look on whether or not the federal funds would be included for 2015 at all, the federal government announced last Thursday that monies would be provided to the rural counties historically receiving SRSCA funds. While funds will be provided, they have drastically decreased.

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While counties throughout Western North Carolina have passed anti-fracking resolutions, and have sent messages to the state declaring their objection to the state's plan to allow it, Jackson County took it a step further.

"Commissioner Vickie Greene made the motion to adopt the resolution and indicated that this was consistent with what many surrounding local governments had done," explained Jackson County Manager Chuck Wooten. "She also indicated that she had unsuccessfully tried to get a similar resolution approved by the previous board."

Instead of only passing an anti-fracking resolution last week, Jackson County commissioners also instructed the county's planning board to immediately review the county's current law in order to change the current language, or even develop a new ordinance that would essentially prohibit the practice in Jackson County.

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In order to get from the town of Sky Valley, Georgia to Sky Valley's town hall, citizens have to pass through a strip of Macon County. With the road connecting the town's main city and town hall winding through North Carolina, often times, emergency personnel from the small Northern Georgia town were first to arrive on scene in the event an accident occurred.

While they have often rendered aid while waiting for Macon County personnel to arrive, the two entities just formalized a plan to allow Sky Valley emergency workers to legally operate in North Carolina.

In an Emergency Management Mutual Aid and Assistance Agreement unanimously approved by Macon County Commissioners last week, both Macon County and Sky Valley are given permission to legally render aid along the border road which meanders through both entities.

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Macon County's finance director had good financial news to share with commissioners Tuesday during their annual mid-year review retreat. With four months of the county's sales tax to report, Finance Director Lori Hall reported that revenue is up eight percent over last year.

While the numbers are preliminary, Hall is optimistic the trend shows an increase in revenue for the county for 2015.

"Our sales tax collection is up over last year so far, and with a three month lag in reporting, the increase doesn't even include the holiday shopping months," said Hall. 'While I like to be conservative and it is early, if we continue on this trend throughout the year we could have additional revenue by the year's end."

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