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News General

During last week’s statewide “Booze it or Lose It: Operation Firecracker” campaign, state and local law enforcement officers throughout North Carolina cited 1,192 motorists for driving while impaired, said State Transportation Secretary Gene Conti, in a recent press release. During the statewide campaign, which ran from June 27 to July 4, a total of 42,997 traffic and criminal citations were issued statewide.

“The Governor’s Highway Safety Program, along with state and local law enforcement officers worked hard during this campaign to remove drunk drivers and other violators from our roads,” Conti said. “Safety is our top priority and this effort shows there are serious consequences to drinking and driving.”

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Lifelong Jackson County resident Steven D. Lillard, a Gulf War veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, is Western Carolina University’s new assistant chief of police.

A member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and a 1996 graduate of WCU with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Lillard comes to the position from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, where he was operations major. He was also formerly a detective and criminal investigator with the Sylva Police Department.

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Two years after the death of a 22-year-old Highlands woman, the Macon County Sheriff’s Office has been ordered to release witness statements collected in the course of its investigation to the woman’s father.

Elizabeth Coram died at the home of an acquaintance on July 9, 2009, due to a lethal dose of prescription drugs combined with alcohol. In September 2010, Coram’s father, Jennings B. Coram of Scaly Mountain, Ga., filed a civil suit complaint of wrongful death against two witnesses in the case: Larry Murray and Adam Hicks.

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The staff attorney from a national organization dedicated to preserving the Constitutional separation of church and state has sent a formal letter to Macon County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Dan Brigman, requesting that he “take immediate steps to ensure that religious ritual and proselytizing” are kept out of high school graduation ceremonies from now on.

The letter from the nonprofit organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, is in direct response to the sermon delivered last month by Rev. Daniel “Cowboy” Stewart during a commencement address given last month at Nantahala School. The graduation ceremony was held on June 4 in the gymnasium of the small, K-12 school in the mountainous northwest corner of Macon County.

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