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News State / Region

Keeping to his original campaign promise of staying connected to his 17 county district, Congressman Mark Meadows took time last week to address concerns plaguing residents of Western North Carolina.

During his freshman stint in Congress, Meadows has worked to make a name for himself introducing various bills that would affect the national political landscape, such as the Federal Records Accountability Act of 2014 calling for an improvement of deferral record keeping, as well as focusing on endeavors that can make a difference right here at home such as The Great Smoky Mountain National Park Agreement Act of 2013 that calls for Congress to release funds to Swain County for improvements and completion for the "Road to Nowhere."

“We have been busy just trying to make a difference and work for the people of our district,” said Congressman Meadows last Thursday. “We are looking forward to getting the opportunity to be back in the district this fall and hope to re-connect with voters across Western North Carolina.”

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Ayusa International, a non-profit organization that for 31 years has promoted global learning and leadership through high school student cultural exchanges and leadership programs, is launching its annual search for families in North Carolina interested in hosting international students for the 2014-2015 school year.

Ayusa is looking for North Carolina host families throughout the entire state, and specifically in and around Macon, Jackson, Swain, Clay, Graham, Cherokee, Haywood, and Buncombe counties.

Anne Raybon, along with her husband Paul is hosting Khan from Vietnam.

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Recently it was announced that the debt North Carolina owed to the federal government to pay unemployment benefits had dropped from nearly $2.6 billion to $980 million. Now, the Division of Employment Security says they are hoping to pay that debt off early, perhaps as soon as August 2015. Initially it was estimated the debt would be paid off by November 2015.

“The quicker this debt is paid off, the quicker we can lower the taxes and level the playing field for North Carolina employers,” said Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary of Employment Security Dale Folwell.

Since 2011, North Carolina has had to pay interest on this debt. With a projected interest payment of $37 million on September 30 of this year, North Carolina’s employers will have paid nearly $262 million in interest payments alone over the past four years.

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Thousands of North Carolina students were sent to reading camps in July as part of the state’s 2012 Read To Achieve program. State legislature has required that by third grade, if a student was not shown to be reading proficient, the student would be mandated to attend summer reading camps, or be held back.

Based on the law, the requirement that thirdgrade students show proficiency in reading, or qualify for a “good cause exemption,” to get promoted went into effect the 2013-14 school year. For Franklin area elementary schools, 16 students were required to attend the summer camps, of which about 14 have attended. Although 16 children were required by law to attend the camp, Macon County leaders opened the camp to children in second and third grades who were identified as needing some extra support to become better readers, bringing the total number of students in the camp to 37.

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