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During their regularly scheduled monthly meeting Tuesday night, Macon County Commissioners voted to appoint a Board of Directors to oversee the historic Cowee School project.

County Commissioner Ronnie Beale has been acting as a liaison to the project and informed the board the he considered the community input as well as the advice of County Commissioner Paul Higdon, who represents the Cowee district, when looking for individuals to serve on the board.

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Macon County District Court dismissed charges regarding alleged communicating threats against Macon County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Detective Amy Stewart last Thursday. Court documents signed by prosecutor James H. Moore Jr., show the two criminal cases against Stewart were both dismissed.

The case involving alleged threats made via social media from Stewart toward a Franklin High School student were dismissed because “mediation successful.”

The second case involving Stewart and Macon County Schools' employee Anna Shields was dropped citing, “there is insufficient evidence to warrant prosecution for the following reasons; the statements and actions of the defendant do not constitute a threat as defined by law.”

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Two years after the death of 15-month-old Aubrey Littlejohn, a conviction has been made. A Swain County woman pleaded guilty last Monday to killing her 15-month-old niece in a case in which social workers are accused of ignoring, then covering up the child's abuse until after her death.

Ladybird Powell, 39, of Bryson City, appeared in Swain County Superior Court on March 4, where she pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, extortion, possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of felony child abuse.

Judge James Downs sentenced Powell to 12 years in prison.

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A joint investigation between the Macon County Sheriff’s Department and Franklin Police Department led to the discovery of illegal sweepstakes machines at two locations last Friday.

According to Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland, the Dowdle Mountain Pit Stop and Pots of Gold Sweepstakes Parlor at the Georgia/ North Carolina state line were found to be operating sweepstakes slot machines and employees at the two local establishments were given citations for illegally operating poker machines.

Holland stated that the investigation was launched after both agencies received complaints that the establishments had reopened and were running the machines despite a recent North Carolina Supreme Court ruling deeming the machines illegal.

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American Legion member appeals to commissioners.

Since its inception in 2007, the Macon County Veterans Memorial Park has become a community project geared toward honoring the brave men and women who have served the country in all branches of the military.

A joint venture between the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Marine Corps League of Franklin and members of the community, have continued to work to create a destination for locals and visitors to remember all those who have fought for our country.

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Nantahala School appears to be 30 miles from Franklin on a map, with several route options to get you there. The shortest trip to Nantahala from Franklin, however, is estimated to take 57 minutes on a two-lane, curvy, remote road through the National Forest.

Because of the isolated location of the Nantahala community, Nantahala School remains one of only three traditional kindergarten through 12 (K-12) grade schools left in the state.

According to Andrew Cox with the North Carolina Department of Instruction, while there are 33 public K-12 schools in the state, only three operate as traditional educational institutions, with the other 30 being alternative or special education schools. Macon County houses two of the three K-12 schools (Nanahala and Highlands), with the other being located on the coast in Hyde County.

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Like Macon County, Jackson County commissioners are considering a salary increase for all employees. According to Jackson County Human Resources Director Danielle Wittekind, the county is currently considering a two percent increase for all employees based on the Consumer Price Index and the associated increase in the cost of living.

The last increase Jackson County employees received was during FY 2012-2013. “This was a one-time payment of $650 to employees who earn less than $40,000 per year,” said Wittekind. “Prior to this there has not been any pay increase (step, merit, COLA or otherwise) since the Mercer salary study was implemented that had planned adjustments in FY 2008-2009 and FY 2009-2010 based on aligning Jackson County salaries with the results of the survey.”

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On Monday, March 4, the Town Board of Aldermen held its monthly meeting for the public to comment about their concerns and to discuss a variety of different issues. Among the agenda items were the possible opening of an indoor firing range and the approval of an updated nuisance ordinance.

Indoor firing range

Bob Simpson, owner of Bob Simpson Contracting and Mountain Firearms located on East Main Street, approached the board during the public comment period to discuss the proper route needed to take in order to open a sound proof indoor firing range. Simpson proposed using 10,000 square feet of the old Burcliff Industries building located on Ulco Drive. According to Simpson, the closest indoor ranges are located in Asheville and Brevard.

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Jackson County Sheriff’s Office employee Major Shannon Queen has been accused of domestic violence. According to court documents on file at the Jackson County Clerk of Courts Office, Major Queen's wife, Katherine Queen, filed a Feb. 20 complaint alleging that her estranged husband threatened her and mistreated their children.

According to Katherine's signed statement, “Shannon had a weekend visit with our children the weekend of Feb. 15-17. On Feb. 19 my daughter (a 5-year old) showed me a mark across her right thigh she said was caused by Shannon hitting her leg,” she writes. “(My daughter) said she is scared of her dad but does not want him to get into trouble but she is afraid he will hit her again.”

In addition, Katherine Queen writes in the complaint that in February 2012 Shannon Queen “grabbed my arm and left bruising.”

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On Saturday, Southwestern Community College’s Public Safety Training Center in conjunction with the Franklin Fire Department conducted a training exercise at 2235 Georgia Road which culminated in the demolition of a structure by fire.

This exercise allowed local fire departments an opportunity to train in realistic firefighting scenarios.

Photo by Vickie Carpenter

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