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News General

The extension of the Macon County Airport runway is nearly complete, according to Airport engineer Eric Rysdon, who reported to Airport Authority members on May 29 that the project could be finished within a few short weeks.

The finishing touches of the extension will be applied while additional lights are installed to make the runway operational. “Paving is complete,” said Rysdon. “The painters are actually out there marking the temporary stripes.”

Rhodes Brothers Paving took on the paving project under the commission of Buchanan and Sons, Inc., based out of Whittier, who began the project last October at a price of $2.6 million.

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The history of the Macon County Airport has long been one of controversy and compromise, says Airport Authority Chairman Milles Gregory. At a recent meeting of the Aviation Historical Society, Gregory gave a presentation on that history in which he noted the many fits and starts since the airport was founded.

Born and raised in Franklin, Gregory told members of the society that after leaving town for a time as a young man, he returned with a vision to improve the opportunities for young people. Gregory served as a county commissioner for 8 years. Since 1999, Gregory has been the Chairman of the Airport Authority.

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On Saturday night, a Swain County man died after wrecking his motorcycle in Jackson County.

At approximately 6:40 p.m., 43-year-old Eric Stephen Smith reportedly collided with a guard rail after traveling on the Jackson County side of US 441 North, coming from Macon County.

The wreck occurred eight-tenths of a mile from the county line, according to the accident report from Trooper Rico Stephens of the Jackson County Highway Patrol. Riding as Eric’s passenger was his wife, 41-year-old Kelli Kitchin Smith.

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As of press time, Superintendent Dan Brigman confirmed he is still in the running for the position of superintendent of Huntsville City Schools. Last Monday and Tuesday, May 23 and 24, Brigman traveled to Huntsville, Ala., to participate in the second round of interviews for the position.

Three candidates were invited for second interviews, but according to recent reports, Brigman's main competition is Casey Wardynski, chief financial officer of the Aurora (Colo.) school system. Wardynksi is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army and graduate of a 10-month executive training program at the Broad Superintendents Academy in California.

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