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WNC Agricultural Options' 10th annual grant cycle is under way. With funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, WNC AgOptions will award a total of $153,000 to diversifying farmers in western North Carolina in 2014. Farmers have until Dec. 13 to submit an application for a $3,000 or $6,000 grant.

"The 2014 funding cycle will represent a decade of service to our agricultural industry through farmer grants, educational seminars and technical assistance," said Ross Young, Madison County Extension Director and WNC AgOptions steering committee leader. "Since 2004, more than 350 farmer grants and several community grants have been awarded. We are extremely grateful to the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission as the sole funder of this program since its inception."

The commission has helped ensure that farmers continue farming during changes in the tobacco industry in the past 25 years.


North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory recently appointed Macon County attorney William (Bill) Coward as Superior Court Judge for the Judicial District 30A.

Prior to his appointment, Coward worked as an attorney with the firm Coward, Hicks & Siler for more than 25 years. He has also served for 15 years as the town attorney for Highlands. Coward is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Coward has practiced law in Western North Carolina continuously since his graduation from the University of North Carolina Law School in 1987. His practice has been devoted exclusively to civil litigation and criminal law, with cases involving corporate disputes, defense against condemnation of land by the Department of Transportation, personal injury and car wreck cases, family law and construction law.


Energy costs across the state are once again increasing as Duke Energy Carolinas was awarded another overall 4.5 percent rate increase by the North Carolina Utilities Commission. The rate increase, which stands as Duke Carolinas’ third since 2009, will increase to 5.1 percent after two years. That increase will allow the utility to make a 10.2 percent shareholder profit and a capital structure of 53 percent equity in a challenging economic climate.

“I feel the same why about this increase as I have about all the others,” said Macon County Commissioner Ronnie Beale. “In this environment, we have to do what is best for our citizens and they cannot afford another increase. We have a large population of elderly residents and people on fixed incomes. I don't know of any other business that has gotten to raise rates three times in two years.”


Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry is using the 14th anniversary of Hurricane Floyd to encourage North Carolina families, businesses and schools to take steps to prepare themselves for all types of emergencies. While many recall the devastating flooding that followed Hurricane Floyd, the current flooding in Colorado shows that it does not take a hurricane or tropical storm to cause major damage. Secretary Perry urges every family to have both an emergency plan and kit.

“The devastating Colorado floods are a somber reminder of the destruction that two thirds of our state endured following Hurricane Floyd,” Perry said. “In North Carolina, we typically associate major flooding with hurricanes or tropical storms, but the floods we’ve experienced this summer in the western part of the state weren’t caused by any tropical system. For me, that’s a serious reminder that we need to be ever ready for any disaster.”


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