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News

With Macon County's recreation facilities virtually doubling with the addition of the Parker Meadows complex, Recreation Director Seth Adams informed commissioners of increased budget needs to adequately manage the county's facilities.

Adams was one of several department heads within the county to present to commissioners earlier this month during a special called budget work session, signifying the beginning of the county's budget season.

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After a six month investigation, the Macon County Sheriff's Department successfully apprehended eight individuals with ties to drug tafficking.

“We understand that drugs and those that distribute them continue to be a menace to our community but our citizens can rest assured we are working to seek those individuals out, diligently building strong cases in an effort to arrest and prosecute them," said Sheriff Robert Holland. "Many times it appears nothing is being done about an individual who is suspected of drug activity in your community, but the reality is that the traffic you see just might be one of our undercover operations in action."

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When Highlands Police Chief Bill Harrell was hired, he understood first hand the importance School Resource Officers (SRO) play in the community. As one of two of the first SROs in Macon County, Harrell knew as Chief, he wanted to make an SRO at Highlands School a priority.

"As I was one out of two of the first SROs in Macon County, I travelled to all of the county schools and I can say it was very difficult and challenging to provide adequate services they each deserve," said Harrell. "Also, in light of past tragedies across our nation and abroad with active shooters in our schools it has always been a priority of mine as a father and a law enforcement director to do everything within my power to make our school as safe as reasonably possible for our students to learn and our faculty to educate."

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Improving the town's infrastructure was at the top of the list at the town of Franklin's annual board retreat on Saturday, as town officials discussed long-term plans to upgrade water and sewer facilities as well as improve the town's sidewalks.

Franklin Town Manager Summer Woodard presented aldermen with a longterm, 10-year plan to implement a complete overhaul of the town water and sewer systems as part of a Capital Improvement Plan.

Woodard presented the board with various debt packages to consider that would include phasing in renovations to the town's facilities over a 10-year period to bring the facilities up to par.

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The Appalachian Animal Rescue Center (AARC) thrift store reopened Monday, Jan. 12, with new managers.

The AARC shelter depends on donations to the store and purchases made by shoppers to continue to care for the cats and dogs in their care until they find their forever homes.

Volunteers are needed that have a true desire to help the animals of Macon County.

The store is located at 1526 Old Murphy Rd, Franklin.

 


 

After 20 years in Macon County, Caterpillar Precision Seals (CAT) will be closing their doors and moving to Mapleton, Illinois, taking 150 jobs with it.

Since 1995, Caterpillar has operated a plant in Macon County at the county’s Industrial Park off 64W. Generations of family members have worked for the plant and as of Thursday, will now have to find some other means to make ends meet.

The announcement doesn't mean the plant is closing tomorrow, instead it gives a timeline to have the Franklin location closed by 2016. The news was a surprise for local residents.

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A fourth grader at East Franklin Elementary School thought he was just showing off his Christmas gift of a BB gun. While officials quickly determined there was no ill intent, the student will still be facing possible legal implications from his decision.

“We want to ensure the public that we are confident that the student who brought the gun did not have any bad intentions," said Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland. "The gun was not loaded and the student involved, by all reports, is a fine young man who has never had any behavioral issues of any kind while at school. All school and law enforcement officials did an outstanding job handling the situation without interfering in the normal activities of the students. Having said that, any time a weapon is brought into one of our schools we consider it to be a serious offense and must be dealt with appropriately and consistently.”

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Every year seems like a battle as rural school districts across the country eagerly wait to see if they will receive federal funding from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act (SRSCA) or Secure Rural Schools (SRS). This year, Macon County awaits word on $180,000. While the amount of funds from the federal programs have decreased a little each year, the funds have always come, but maybe not this year.

SRSCA has historically provided federal funds which are used to directly fund teachers salaries and crucial education programs throughout the county. Any decrease in funding could lead to a loss in teaching positions, as well as continued decrease in programs such as More at Four and after school programs. The $180,000 Macon County hopes for equates to three teacher salaries.

Despite a bleak look on whether or not the federal funds would be included for 2015 at all, the federal government announced last Thursday that monies would be provided to the rural counties historically receiving SRSCA funds. While funds will be provided, they have drastically decreased.

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While counties throughout Western North Carolina have passed anti-fracking resolutions, and have sent messages to the state declaring their objection to the state's plan to allow it, Jackson County took it a step further.

"Commissioner Vickie Greene made the motion to adopt the resolution and indicated that this was consistent with what many surrounding local governments had done," explained Jackson County Manager Chuck Wooten. "She also indicated that she had unsuccessfully tried to get a similar resolution approved by the previous board."

Instead of only passing an anti-fracking resolution last week, Jackson County commissioners also instructed the county's planning board to immediately review the county's current law in order to change the current language, or even develop a new ordinance that would essentially prohibit the practice in Jackson County.

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In order to get from the town of Sky Valley, Georgia to Sky Valley's town hall, citizens have to pass through a strip of Macon County. With the road connecting the town's main city and town hall winding through North Carolina, often times, emergency personnel from the small Northern Georgia town were first to arrive on scene in the event an accident occurred.

While they have often rendered aid while waiting for Macon County personnel to arrive, the two entities just formalized a plan to allow Sky Valley emergency workers to legally operate in North Carolina.

In an Emergency Management Mutual Aid and Assistance Agreement unanimously approved by Macon County Commissioners last week, both Macon County and Sky Valley are given permission to legally render aid along the border road which meanders through both entities.

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