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News General

Don Willis and his canine partner, Christine, with the crime scene unit of Macon County’s Sheriff's office assisted Jackson County’s emergency management department in an early Monday morning fire. Christine was on scene to offer her expertise in accelerant detection during the investigation. Although Willis could confirm that Christine was there to look for accelerant, because the investigation is ongoing, he could not confirm whether or not she found any.

The Fireplace Tavern (formerly known as Annie’s Food & Spirits) burned to the ground early Monday morning. The State Bureau of Investigation’s (SBI) arson unit is working with Jackson County’s fire marshal, Alan Farmer, and the emergency management team to determine the cause. A search warrant was issued for the tavern late Monday afternoon.

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The town-sponsored biker rally, planned for August of next year, now officially has a name.

At its monthly meeting last Monday, members of the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) unanimously voted on the name after hearing from event promoter Sylvia Cochran, publisher of U.S. Rider News.

After trying to figure out what to call the rally, Cochran, along with the help of her husband and business partner Scott Cochran, finally decided on “Smoky Mountain Rumble.” After little deliberation, the board approved the event name.

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Authorities in Macon County are searching for a man wanted for sex crimes against a minor.

Jose Manuel-Portillo Espinal, 30, is wanted on several charges including statutory rape, sexual offense, indecent liberties with a minor, kidnapping and second degree rape.

According to a statement by the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect, a Mexican male, worked for a painting company until recently. Authorities are unable to locate Espinal at this time. He was said to have been working in the Franklin, Highlands and Cashiers area recently.

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County Commissioner Ronnie Beale will be traveling to Raleigh on Friday after receiving an invitation to here the recommendation of the Medical Facilities Planning Section and the North Carolina State Health Coordinating Council regarding the petition for a certificate of need for a dialysis center in Macon County.

If the petition is approved, a Certificate of Need will be issued for Macon County, allowing a dialysis center to be started and operated in Franklin.  Commissioner Beale has taken on the responsibility of bringing the dialysis center to Macon County, and is hopeful of the results he will be given on Friday. “We are very hopeful that we will get a positive recommendation on Friday, and that the report will be in our favorite,” explained Beale.

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