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News

Town board agrees to discuss resolution of ownership.

The debate regarding the Nikwasi Indian Mound may soon see a resolution. Monday night, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Michell Hicks spoke to the Franklin Town Aldermen in hopes of beginning talks regarding the preservation of the historic landmark.

“I have a simple request … obviously the Eastern Band feels, for many reasons, that the mound should be back in the name of the Eastern Band,” said Hicks. “I understand that may not be a simple task as it relates to the history of the mound and the responsibility of the town. One of the things that is important to us as a tribe is to make sure that we are at least part of the process of protecting these lands, these areas that are so rich from a spiritual and cultural perspective. I feel a true responsibility as a tribal leader. As requested by many of our tribal leaders, we want to do our best to do the right thing.”

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A former Macon County Educator was arrested by the State Bureau of Investigations last week and charged with statutory rape of a 15 year-old-girl. Following an investigation, David Milhous Peterson, 32,  was charged with felony statutory rape. At the time of the investigation, Peterson was employed as a deputy with the Swain County Sheriff’s Office assigned as a school resource officer (SRO) at East Swain Elementary.

Peterson was arrested by the SBI and was placed in the Macon County Detention Center. Peterson posted bond at $50,000, according to Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland. The case remains under investigation by the SBI.

According to Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran, Peterson was new on the job. “The SBI is still investigating and we won’t have anything until the investigation is completed, however Peterson was only employed with us for approximately three weeks and was under supervision during this time,” said Cochran.

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After reviewing cost estimates, tax assessments and anticipated insurance settlement proceeds, the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund of Western Carolina University has decided against replacing or repairing three dining establishments damaged by a November fire.

The board of the Endowment Fund, which owns the commercial strip along Centennial Drive in the center of the WCU campus where the fire occurred, has agreed to proceed with demolition of the property, followed by private development of a new mixed-use facility on the site.

In reaching its conclusion, the board weighed factors such as the historic significance of the property to the campus community, the contributions to WCU culture made by private businesses operating in the center of campus, and ongoing support by members of the campus community for owners and employees of the affected businesses.

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Erik Rhysdon of W.K. Dickson, a consulting firm out of Charlotte was present at Tuesday's Macon County Airport Authority meeting to give the board an update on a variety of issues that the authority has had in the works over the last year.

He first gave an update on a pending grant that had recently been received.

“We have received $166,000 for the apron rehab that was recently carried out leaving a remaining balance of $21,000,” said Rhysdon.

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With the departure of Chairman Derek Roland from the Macon County Planning Board, Chris Hanners was appointed to the position while Joe Deal was appointed as vice chairman, at the February meeting held last Tuesday.

“It's important to remember that we're at the direction of the commissioners,” said Hanners. “We need to consider the mission statement and keep that in mind as we move forward.”

The mission of the planning board is “to develop and advocate public policy and procedure to preserve the integrity of our mountain heritage, the beauty and tranquility of our communities, as well as our natural environment for the benefit of current populations as well as future generations while sustaining economic vitality and the social welfare of our citizens.”

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Macon County Commissioners recently directed the county planning board to review county owned property to determine potential uses for individual sites or the possibility that the properties be designated surplus.

The planning board completed the assessment and Macon County Planner Matt Mason reported the board’s finding to commissioners at the February meeting.

According to Mason, the planning board reviewed nine different properties owned by the county and one owned by the school board.

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2014 election filing deadline February 28

Filing for the 2014 election cycle concludes on Friday, Feb. 28.

As of noon Wednesday, the following candidates have been added to the list of those running for office:

view the full list after the jump!

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With the March 31 deadline approaching for all Americans to have access to health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Mountain Projects is hosting a free seminar Saturday, March 1 to explain and review how the ACA may impact health care coverage for individuals and businesses. This free seminar will review the individual mandate in detail, discussing the benefits, the penalties, and the tax implications.

Beginning in 2014, every U.S. resident will be required by law to have health care coverage or pay a tax penalty. Macon County Certified Healthcare Navigator Cynthia Solesbee will provide a basic overview of the law, followed by a brief discussion of the program's new requirements, along with some of the plans available for consumers, small business employers, and employees of small business. Solesbee represents Mountain Projects, the nonprofit community action agency responsible for Head Start and many other programs which provide vital services to the elderly, disadvantaged and general public throughout Western North Carolina.

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Haven, Higdon object to financing $1.8 million for the project

In a split 3-2 vote, the leaders of Macon County opted to fully develop the new recreational facility at Parker Meadows over the next year. With Commissioners Jim Tate, Ronnie Beale, and Kevin Corbin voting in favor of the project, the board had the majority vote to move forward.

Macon County commissioners had already approved the project, but were only obligated to minimally develop the project to obtain money from the state. After research into the cost of developing the project in phases compared to completing the project all at once, Recreation Director Seth Adams asked the county to consider different development options.

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Snow barreled down in Macon County last week, with totals ranging from 4 to 11 inches.

From Otto to Cowee, the county was blanketed white.

Spring like temperatures quickly melted the snow, but not before giving Macon residents a few days to enjoy the winter wonderland.

Photos by Vickie Carpenter, Betsey Gooder, Shana Bilbrey, John MacLean, Kayla Robb, Cindy Thompson, Patricia Williams, Betsy Campbell and Sherry Hays

more after the jump!

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