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Mayor urges caution when giving to private businesses.

On Monday the Franklin Tourism Development Authority held its monthly meeting at the Franklin town hall to discuss potential funding opportunities for some previously proposed projects coming to the area. One in particular drew lengthy discussion among the board members. Last month, Paul Garner, general manager of the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts approached the board to ask for $15,000 to go towards advertising for events at the facility.

Board member and Franklin town manager Summer Woodard informed the members that the county's Tourism Development Commission had approved a matching grant of $15,000 last week.

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Shortly before 8 p.m. election results started to roll into the lower level of the Macon County Courthouse at the board of elections office. With candidates patiently waiting with their friends and family, and the news media anxious to report results to the public, one by one Macon County’s precincts began delivering results.

While the official election results won’t be available for a couple of days, the unofficial results were tallied and proclaimed some incumbents victorious, as well as named a few new faces to open seats.

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Principals and administrators trying to fill the gap.

Early each morning, most days before the sun comes up, school bus drivers around the county brave the elements to take the community’s young residents to and from school, ensuring that they get to school safe in the mornings and get home safe in the evenings. While some routes take three to six hours a day, the average route for a bus driver in Macon County is about four hours.

North Carolina has long since battled bus driver wages, finding it hard to keep fulltime bus drivers in the districts, when they are technically considered part-time employees based on hours worked. The state’s bus driver debate is as divisive as ever and in Macon County, has resulted in buses at Franklin High School having to be parked due to the lack of drivers.

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With about 25 months left on the county’s current landfill lifespan, Macon County commissioners voted during the October meeting to move forward with allowing the solid waste department to purchase two parcels of land totaling $1.5 million.

As an enterprise agency, the funds to purchase the property will come from the solid waste department, and not from the county budget. Chris Stahl, the county’s solid waste director, informed commissioners that by purchasing the property now to complete the expansion, more than 40 years will be added to the life expectancy and save the county $36 million in operating costs over that time.

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Panel to speak from individual perspective, expertise.

A panel of Western Carolina University faculty members, including an environmental health professor who has studied the spread and control of infectious agents such as Ebola for more than two decades, will take part in a discussion about the virus on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Part of WCU’s Global Spotlight Series, the event will be held in the auditorium of the Forsyth Building from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Faculty members Burton Ogle, Jen Schiff, Rebecca Dobbs and Saheed Aderinto will offer environmental health, political, geographic and historical perspectives of Ebola based on their expertise and participate in a question-and-answer session.

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Each budget process, county officials set aside $50,000 for the community funding pool for the purpose of awarding grants to local charities.

The Community Funding Pool was established to help the Macon County Board of Commissioners allocate tax-generated funds to local non-profits in a fair and efficient way. The CFP Task Force is composed of citizens chosen by the board of commissioners to consider applications and make recommendations to the Board, who make the final funding decisions.

Organizations applying for CFP funds must provide financial statements such as budgets and federal tax-exempt reports, organization goals and objectives and program/service description. Fifteen agencies applied for funding through the county this cycle, with a total requested amount of $94,500.

“Each year, the Community Funding Pool Task Force members review the grant applications,” explained Karen Wallace, who has served on the CFP Task Force almost since its inception. “We meet as a group, using an evaluation process to determine our recommendations.”

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Changes to a state law are doubling the cost some Macon County parents are now paying for child care. The change, which took effect across the state on October 1, altered the way North Carolina determines eligibility for child care subsidies and has affected thousands of low income families across the state.

“We are confused and disappointed when the young families who are trying their hardest by working and remaining in school are the families who lose services,” said Sheila Hoyle, director of Southwestern Child Development Commission. “It seems to me that these are the families that our public policy makers would want to offer a hand to. These are families who have a chance of becoming self-sufficient.”

Before the legislation change, all children under 13 qualified for child care subsidies if their parents earned less than 75 percent of the state median income or about $50,244 for a family of four.

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Last Thursday the Macon County Planning Board held its monthly meeting and took another look at a possible noise ordinance that could be adopted by the county commissioners in the future.

Last month the board was tasked by commissioners to take a look at some approaches to an ordinance when members of the community voiced complaints about noise from neighbors. At that meeting they considered the ins and outs of adopting a fair policy. At this month's meeting, the same concerned citizens were present and Sheriff Robbie Holland was there to give his perspective on the issue.

He said over the last three years, the number of noise complaints were small in comparison to other things.

“I would say that of the calls we got, probably less than one percent were for noise,” he said. “Of the complaints we get, none are about animals making noise. It's usually neighbors who are being loud. They may be yelling, revving motors, or playing their music too loud.”

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Last week, Macon County’s phone services experienced an interruption that caused some voicemails to not be retrievable by county departments. The problem has continued throughout the week but is expected to be corrected later this week.

According to Andy Muncey, the county’s IT Director, on the evening of Monday, Oct. 13, the telephone link between the Macon County Courthouse and the Macon County Detention Center and Human Services building faulted. Other data connections between the sites on the same fiber bundle remained active. The link fault caused interruption to services at other sites as well.

Throughout the events, there were no interruptions to 911 or dispatch services.

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On Oct. 20, at approximately 6:38 p.m., the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call at 77 Paniolo Drive, Sylva, regarding a shooting. The caller stated to the 911 operator that he had shot his father. Dispatchers kept the caller on the phone, instructed him how to check for breathing, and eventually how to conduct CPR.

Deputies arrived on scene a short time later and assisted with CPR. West Care EMS arrived shortly thereafter and continued CPR with assistance from the Balsam-Willets Volunteer Fire Department’s first responders.

Deputies secured the shooting scene, then obtained and served a search warrant. Deputies were assisted by agents with the NCSBI during the search. As a result of the investigation and after conferring with the District Attorney’s office, the caller, identified as Travis Lindsey Heffner, was arrested and charged. The deceased is Kenneth Rodney Heffner, 47, father of the suspect, of 14 Gentle Ridge, Sylva.

 

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