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News

The Nikwasi Mound, a monument of deep and spiritual significance to the Cherokee Indians, has been a site of controversy as of late within the Town of Franklin. At the request of members from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, (ECBI) an informal meeting was held at the Macon County Historical Museum regarding the stewardship of the mound by the Town of Franklin. The purpose was simple: To express to locals the site’s deep meaning to the native people as well as their frustration with the herbicide application that occurred in April.

The Nikwasi Indian Mound, which predates the Cherokee themselves, is in fact one of the largest intact mounds located in Western North Carolina. Present at the meeting were people from throughout the region who, in some way, are impacted by the mound socially or politically.

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Kathy Paulette Pruitt, an Otto woman charged with the first degree murder of her son, will not be facing the death penalty.

At Monday’s session of Macon County Superior Court, prosecutors declared that they would not pursue the death penalty for Pruitt, in what is known as a Rule 24 hearing. According to the sheriff’s office, it was a special murder case proceeding wherein a prosecutor declares what sentence will be sought.

Instead, if convicted of the offense, Pruitt will face life in prison without the possibility of parole. Kathy, 53, along with her husband, Frank Pruitt, 62, was present for the proceeding.

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Ordinances were proposed and discussed at a brief meeting of the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen on Monday. It also proved a vocal one for Alderman Carolyn “Sissy” Pattillo who voiced her concern for working through recent controversies faced by the town.

Unified Development Ordinance amendment

The Board of Aldermen voted to amend the town’s Unified Development Ordinance. According to Town Attorney John Henning, the original ordinance contained an oversight since it was passed in 2007. A public hearing on the matter was held, but no one from the public spoke.

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A Franklin man arrested a year ago on multiple charges related to child pornography was recently indicted on several new similar charges.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 48, of Shady Cove Lane, was arrested last year after being initially investigated following a complaint from a concerned citizen in early August 2011.

Initially, Macon County Sheriff's Office detectives searched Kennedy's residence during an identity theft investigation, but during a search for his identification, the suspect “admitted that there was child pornography in the residence,” according to search warrants from August 5 of last year.

During an interview with the suspect, Kennedy reportedly admitted to trading hundreds of pornographic photographs of children. Investigators seized evidence during the execution of the search warrants, where numerous items were taken as evidence.

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During a joint meeting of the Town of Franklin, the Town of Highlands and the Macon County Board of Commissioners, Warren Cabe informed local officials that fire departments in Macon County are in jeopardy due to a decrease of volunteers.

Of the 11 fire districts in the county, there are approximately 400 volunteer firefighters. According to Macon County Fire Marshal Jimmy Teem, each fire department has to have a minimum of 20 members (18 firefighters, two traffic control officers). “If a department has a substation then that would require that fire department to have an additional eight firefighters for each substation in that district,” explained Teem. “Cowee, Otto, Clarks Chapel, Mountain Valley and West Macon have one substation each and Nantahala is working to get a substation online in the near future.”

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A traffic accident that occurred around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday on U.S. 441 South in Otto has left one dead and two in critical condition according to Trooper Leah McCall with the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

The fatal crash resulted in the death of Sylvia Bolick, 70, after she was involved in a head-on collision with a truck driven by Christopher McMahan, 39, of Sylva.

According to McCall, as of Wednesday afternoon both McMahan and Mrs. Bolick’s husband, Ellard Bollick, 76, who was driving, are in critical condition at Mission Hospital in Asheville.

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With cash in hand and on a mission to support the local economy, 30 “mobsters” gathered at the clock tower on Main Street on Saturday afternoon to mob the Rosebud Cottage.

The cash mob, which was organized by Venture Local and executed by a diverse group of business owners, residents and people who had just heard of the idea moments before, was orchestrated to offer a quick boost to a local business.

The general idea of a cash mob is to encourage people to go into small, locally owned businesses and commit to spending their money, en masse, to give the business owner a little bit of economic stimulus.

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Promoters have till Tuesday to obtain proper insurance.

At the request of Candy Presley, member of Franklin's Tourism Development Authority (TDA), a special called meeting was held Tuesday afternoon to discuss insurance coverage for the Smoky Mountain Rumble Rally that is slated to be held Aug. 17 and 18 on the Highlands Road.

According to Presley, she called the meeting after discovering that the event promoters and owners of USRiders Magazine, Scott and Sylvia Cochran, failed to meet the Friday deadline to present the TDA with proof of adequate insurance for the motorcycle rally.

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An Otto couple allegedly involved in a murder case earlier this month face additional charges, including first degree murder.

According to police reports, Frank Kelly Pruitt, 62, was initially charged with second degree murder for fatally shooting his son on July 8 following a heated argument at his Coweeta Lab Road residence. He had called authorities moments before the incident requesting assistance according to 9-1-1 recordings. Nearby neighbors also reportedly made calls to authorities. His wife, Kathy Paulette Pruitt, 53, was charged at that time with resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer.

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During the July meeting of the Macon County Board of Education, the board voted to approve $97,000 from the school's capital outlay budget to fund some much needed upgrades to schools within the district.

Among renovations projects to get under way this school year are overall renovations to Union Academy that total $20,000. The renovations include basic improvements that are intended to bring the school to the same functioning level as other school sites in the districts. The board also allocated $20,000 of the $97,000 to be used to finish upgrading the windows at Nantahala. As funding has allowed over the years, outdated windows have been replaced at Nantahala so the board decided to fully fund that project so it can be completed.

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