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News

When tragedy takes place in Macon County and a fire threatens homes, land, vehicles and lives, the people who are found on the scene putting their lives and well-being at risk to put the blaze out are more often than not volunteer firefighters from one of the local stations. These volunteers go beyond their duty of fighting fire in order to assist in situations such as accidents involving vehicles and other emergency situations, all while receiving no income in return.

Eleven fire departments operate in Macon County, each serving a different community while providing assistance to the others if needed. The fire departments use tax dollars to operate and hold fundraisers throughout the year to supplement those funds. In order to function, they must have proper equipment such as fire trucks, tools and proper protection equipment for the volunteers. Members also participate in on-going training.

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The Board of Aldermen met Monday night for its monthly meeting to discuss the budget that was presented last month by Town Manager Warren Cabe. Though the public was invited to comment on the proposed budget, none did so. Alderman Bob Scott moved to approve the budget with no amendments and Alderman Verlin Curtis seconded. The motion passed unanimously with no discussion.

Under the new business portion of the meeting, Town Planner Derek Roland presented to the board a potential plan to rezone two areas in the Franklin city limits. The first proposed area is the corridor that includes East Main Street, Gaston Street, Green Street, and West Palmer Street. The petition by the Town of Franklin would rezone the R-1 (residential) properties of those areas to R-2, allowing for manufactured homes to be placed on the properties.

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The Section 8 housing program in Macon County could start feeling ill effects from the recent federally imposed sequester. Across the board cuts that were enacted by Congress have begun to put a strain on a variety of public programs. Some local citizens are beginning to feel the burn as Macon Program for Progress (MPP) encounters financial shortfalls in its Section 8 funding.

According to MPP Executive Director Chuck Sutton, MPP provides rental assistance to property owners on behalf of its clients— those who are considered to be low income, many of whom are elderly or are disabled and unable to support their housing needs.

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The American Legion Post 108 of Franklin hosted its annual Memorial Day Service on Monday, May 27. Hundreds of people came to honor the nation’s veterans at the Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Scottie Thomas, Commander of American Legion Post 108, opened the ceremony and introduced Tom Fisher, director of Men Macon Music, to say a few words before the presentation of the colors. Men Macon Music sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag” during the presentation, followed by a prayer led by Rev. Steve Reeves.

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Mayor Joe Collins has decided that he will not seek reelection this fall.

“I've spent 16 years on the board and I think it's just time to take a step back,” said Collins. “I've enjoyed my service over the years, both as an alderman and as mayor of Franklin.”

Collins, a Franklin native is a lawyer by trade who graduated from Franklin High School in 1973 and UNC at Chapel Hill in 1977. Ten years later, he received his law degree from Campbell University's School of Law. In 1997, he was elected to the Town Board of Aldermen and served in that capacity until 2003 when he was elected as mayor.

“I've been doing this for a while now and I think I'm just going to take some time off to spend with my family,” he said. “At the moment, I'm the youngest person on the board and if there comes a time when I want to try it again then I'll still have that option.”

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Fate of teachers positions still uncertain.

At the school board meeting Tuesday night in Nantahala, citizens from Macon County filled the room to hear first hand what the future of 31 teacher positions would be for the 2013-2014 school year.

Macon County Schools had initially requested about $9.6 million from county commissioners for the upcoming year, but commissioners were only able to grant $7.1 million.

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Proposed land swap would create area in town park.

The Town of Highlands may soon be getting some recreational soccer fields if County Commissioner Jimmy Tate sees his plan come to fruition.

At the county commissioner's board meeting held in Highlands on May 20, citizens of Highlands joined Tate to convey the need for new soccer fields.

“We have a lot of youth soccer players here. They start at the age of three and play through high school,” said Jeff Weller who coaches the Highands High School girls varsity soccer team.

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Local fire departments responded to a house fire on Trimont Mountain Road shortly after noon last Saturday. As a result of the fire, the home is believed to be a total loss. Along with the house, a Dodge Ram pickup truck was also burned.

A woman who was pulled from the structure was taken to Angel Medical Center to be examined and/or treated for smoke inhalation.

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Falling in line with Macon County, Jackson County Manager Chuck Wooten has presented commissioners with a balanced budget for next year, that does not include a tax increase. The $60.7 million General Fund balance was developed while maintaining the tax rate at its current rate of $.28 per $100 and is .4 percent less than the current year's budget.

Of the proposed $60.7 million, the majority of the budget, at 25.83 percent goes to Human Services, followed by Education at 19.16 percent, public safety at 18.71 percent, general government operations at 14.93 percent, debt services at 10.56 percent, cultural/ recreation at 5.17 percent, transportation at 1.97 percent, economic development at 1.15 percent, environmental projects at .4 percent and other expenses accounting for 2.12 percent of the budget.

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The Big Bear Bark Park in downtown Franklin was closed temporarily starting May 1. The Friends of the Greenway, with a grant from the Nutro Dog Food Company Room to Run Project, and with technical help from Habitat for Humanity, closed the park in order to build a shelter over the “people” benches inside the Park.

Because the proposed construction would require the moving of some interior fencing, the dog park was scheduled to be closed during construction.

According to representatives with Friends of the Greenways, the shelter that was proposed would be located within a Duke Energy easement.

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