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Multiple drug charges in joint investigation

Nineteen members of a methamphetamine trafficking ring have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Thirteen of those charged were arrested on Wednesday, May 29, during an early morning round-up conducted by federal, state and local law enforcement.

“Our agency and members of our Narcotics Unit spent many hours involved in this investigation during the past year,” said Macon County Sheriff Robert L. Holland. “This investigation is a good example of when citizens report suspicious drug activity to law enforcement and they think nothing is being done about it ... there’s a good chance there is.”


A milestone was reached last Friday when the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) assumed ownership of the Hall Mountain tract of land in the Cowee Community just north of Franklin. The 108 acres overlooks the Cowee Mound and will host a series of hiking trails in hopes that it may be used as an educational resource for schools in the area as well as the public. The celebration took place at 7339 Bryson City Road.

The project first began in 2005 with the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee and the Wilderness Society playing important roles in the project. The funding come from the USDA Forest Service Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program.


Money and cartons of cigarettes among items stolen.

The Ingles store on West Palmer Street was burglarized sometime Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. Store employees went to work Wednesday morning to find the lock to the front door had been cut.

The perpetrators made off with money from the store's cash registers and safe as well as multiple cartons of cigarettes. A blow torch was used to cut out a hole in the bottom portion of the safe while the top portion where money that would have been sent to the bank for deposit along with lottery tickets went untouched. They used water from jugs taken off of the shelves of the store to cool the metal down in order to reach inside.


Public comment hearing on the budget set for Tuesday.

The Macon County Board of Education (BOE) met with county commissioners Tuesday night for a work session to continue to try to work through budget constraints. The BOE is facing a budget shortfall this year and made its final attempt to secure funds Tuesday night, requesting $440,000 from the county in addition to funds that have already been granted. The schools originally approached the county with a request of $9.6 million for the 2013- 2014 school year, but were only granted $7.1 million.


At the county commissioner's budget work session that took place last Thursday, Sheriff Robert Holland presented his department's budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

The Sheriff's Department had 13,337 emergency calls last year which translates to 37 calls each day, along with 13,740 walk-ins and 16,391 non-emergency calls for a total of 43,000 or 119 incidents a day.

One of the budget items Holland brought to the attention of the commissioners was a request for funding of updated SRT (Special Response Team) or SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) equipment to replace bullet proof vests and helmets for the officer's safety in conducting SWAT operations.

“Our equipment is like most things, it has a shelf-life,” he said. “The shelf-life on our equipment has been expired for several years now.”


On Saturday, June, 8, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Southwestern Community College’s Public Safety Training Center in conjunction with the Franklin Fire Department will be conducting a training exercise at 35 Wayah Street. This exercise will allow local fire departments an opportunity to train in realistic firefighting scenarios. This exercise will culminate in the demolition of a structure by fire.

During this training evolution flames and smoke will be visible and at times prevalent in the area of Franklin High School and Wayah Street. Apparatus and other emergency service vehicles will be utilizing Maple Street and Wayah Street in this area so minor traffic delays are possible. During the demolition of the structure between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., traffic delays can be expected.

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.


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.


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.


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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