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Sen. Jim Davis (R-Macon) invites the public to participate in a forum on shale energy rulemaking, exploration and development in North Carolina Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 6 p.m. at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, 1028 Georgia Road, Franklin.

Commissioner Jim Womack, immediate past chair of the Mining and Energy Commission will be the featured speaker.

He will present:

  • Statutory guidelines from the NC General Assembly,
  • Mining and Energy Commission’s organization and rulemaking process,
  • What we know about shale energy deposits in the Triassic Basin,
  • Potential benefits from developing shale resources, and
  • Myths and urban legends about shale energy development (“fracking”).

Following Womack’s presentation, Senator Davis will moderate an extensive Q & A with the audience and an expert panel of guests who are familiar with the N.C. shale energy program, environmental issues, and related legislation.

Science-based, peer-reviewed handouts will be available. Also available for review will be DVDs, books, papers, and maps that provide authoritative information on the subject of shale energy.

Questions must be submitted in writing (blank index cards provided) and will be drawn at random for responses. No signs will be allowed in the building.

Teachers and concerned citizens gathered at town square in Franklin on Wednesday and joined other groups across the state in what was described by NCAE president John deVille as a rally for public education.

While most rallies were deemed a “silent protest,” deVille decided to break from that mold and invite N.C. senator candidate and former educator Jane Hipps as a guest speaker.

Hipps, a Democrat, spoke in opposition to recent policies and budgets passed by the current session of the General Assembly concerning public education in the state.

Photo by Travis Tallent

A month after the fiscal year ended, North Carolina’s General Assembly was able to come to an agreement on a more than $21 billion spending plan for the state, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law last Thursday morning.

While many of the headlines focused on the impact the new budget will have on education, the state’s structure involving Medicaid also was a point of contention for lawmakers. Raleigh officials stumbled on how to effectively reign in Medicaid spending, as well as ensure that all citizens receive the care and coverage that they need.

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This year’s state budget, which was signed into law Thursday, Aug. 7, provides substantial raises for every one of North Carolina’s more than 100,000 public school teachers.

The state sets the base pay for our teachers, and this has an included extra amount paid out each year (after 10 years of teaching) called “longevity pay.” The new raises included in the budget is on top of that extra amount, and under the proposed budget plan, the process is reformed and simplified by folding the extra longevity pay back into the new base pay. By rolling longevity pay into base pay, it gives the public a more honest accounting of what our teachers receive from the state.

The chart at right shows the raises from the state that each teacher will receive next year (in green) over what they currently receive (in blue), based on how many years they have taught school. The new average base salary (including longevity pay and the new pay raises) is $49,117 — now the fourth highest in the southeast. (When you divide $49,117 by the total number of weeks spent working (44), you get an average new weekly wage of $1,116. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly wage across North Carolina was just $673 in 2012. In most counties, it is significantly lower.)

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