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News General

A federal jury sitting in Bryson City found an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians guilty of fatally shooting Erien Amanda Smith on the reservation on May 18, 2010, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

In a superseding criminal indictment filed on December 7, 2010, James Ernest Lespier, 33, of Cherokee, was charged with one count of first degree murder and one count of use of and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. After an eight-day trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins was assisted in the case by Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Charlotte Division, and Ben Reed, Chief of the Cherokee Indian Police Department.

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On Tuesday night, the Macon County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the final 2011-2012 budget, which includes the first pay raises county employees have seen since 2008. The pay raises include a three percent salary increase for all county employees plus an additional two percent increase for all deputies of the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Robert Holland, who attended the meeting along with a contingent of some 15 deputies who were there to support him, said he was disappointed by the five percent increase, which fell significantly short of his request. “I’m not happy,” said Holland, responding to the commissioners announcement that they would not be able to fund the requested increases in this year’s budget. “I’m very disappointed by the decision that you all as a board have made.”

 

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As of Tuesday, Macon County can claim to have a comprehensive, 20-year plan for development and growth in just about every sector of activity. The Comprehensive Plan is the result of nearly two years of intensive labor by the Macon County Planning Board, as well as several other all-volunteer sub-committees, which have collectively invested more than 1,000 hours to research and draft the various elements of the plan.

The 164-page document includes an exhaustive analysis of the county’s history, population and economic trends and then gives recommendations for future growth in five major areas: economic development and public services; land use and environment; education and recreation; transportation and housing; and healthcare, childcare, and senior services.

 

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In an effort to revamp the criminal justice system in North Carolina, legislators have proposed a bill that would move some inmates in state prisons to county jails to relieve overcrowding and cut state expenditures.

House Bill 642, titled the “Justice Reinvestment Act,” seeks to authorize state prison facilities to enter into voluntary agreements with counties to provide housing for misdemeanor offenders serving periods of incarceration between 90 and 180 days, excluding those convicted of impaired driving.

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published: 10/18/2013
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