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News

Shortly before 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, Macon County residents were slightly rattled when an earthquake struck a few miles northeast of Franklin near the Jackson County border. Several residents thought the short “boom” was thunder.

According to David Key, Macon County’s Emergency Services Director, several residents reported hearing a large “boom” and called trying to find out what caused it. Key reported that no damage has been reported as of press time.

Teresa Burns of Sylva said she thought someone had crashed into her garage. “I was about to get in the shower and heard a loud boom,” said Burns.

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Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen passed the proposed town budget for the fiscal year 2012-13 earlier this month, wherein board members resolved the contentious issue of establishing municipal water and sewer rates for Maconians tapped into the utility.

The June 7 meeting was a continuation from a budget workshop held just days before, where officials held little debate over most of the proposed $8.4 million budget laid out by Town Manager Sam Greenwood. The proposed flat budget included no increase on the valuation tax rate, and introduced a small raise in base pay for town employees.

Aldermen and Mayor Joe Collins could not however decide on setting a water and sewer rate schedule. The proposed budget levied for an average increase of six percent for water and 14 percent for sewer services to compensate for a shortfall in utility revenue.

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced $9.6 million for the creation of two new Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas in New York and North Carolina, and the expansion of an already established BCAP project area in Arkansas. The announcement provides the opportunity to expand the nation's non-food, energy crops used in the manufacturing of liquid biofuels and to help meet state mandated Renewal Portfolio Standards (RPS).

“Increasing the production of renewable, home-grown fuels is vital to reducing our country’s reliance on foreign oil, while creating good-paying jobs and diversifying the agriculture economy,” said Vilsack. “These projects are the foundation for an even stronger energy future in rural America.

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After a six-month long process, The Macon County Board of Commissioners approved the 2012/2013 budget during its regularly scheduled June board meeting on Tuesday night. Without having to raise the county-wide tax rates, the commissioners worked with department heads, the finance director, and County Manager Jack Horton to establish a $44,391,193 balanced budget for next year.

Next year's budget, although three percent more than the current year's budget, redirects funds and utilizes the reserved fund balance in order to avoid raising taxes and passing the burden on to Macon County residents.

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The task of establishing water and sewer rates is not an easy one for the Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen. As part of adopting the proposed $8.4 million budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, aldermen contemplated the issue at their meeting on Monday, which included a public hearing.

Two residents voiced their concerns at the hearing about the water and sewer rate schedule. The proposed budget levies for an average increase of six percent for water and 14 percent for sewer services.

 

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Board of commissioners taking bids on renovations.

Since the Macon County public pool was first constructed in 1974, its infrastructure and design has remained unchanged. Aside from the occasional coat of paint, or applying a mix of sand and paint to keep the floors slip resistant, no substantial maintenance projects have been ordered for the pool, which according to commissioners, needs to be addressed.

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Sheriff’s recommendations not heeded by officials.

During a June 4 budget work session for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, board members voted to revoke Sheriff Jimmy Ashe’s ability to provide the state ABC board with the local recommendation regarding suitability for businesses to sell alcohol. In a 3-2 vote, Commission Chairman Jack Debnam and Commissioners Doug Cody and Charles Elders voted in favor of releasing the Sheriff of the duty, and Commissioners Mark Jones and Joe Cowan voted against the measure.

On May 8, voters in Jackson County overwhelming voted in support of a referendum permitting countywide alcohol sales in unincorporated areas. County officials had to appoint a local designee to approve or deny suitability on behalf of the local government for applicants seeking alcohol permits.

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Plans are currently under way to alleviate Macon County’s dismal child care prospects.

Last month, Town Planner Derek Roland submitted a statement to the media regarding the issue, lauding the efforts of locals to increase the availability of childcare facilities in Franklin. The statement followed the town’s allocation of water and sewer services to an organization seeking to establish a new center on 2255 Old Murphy Road.

“It is no secret that a significant and growing shortage of child care capacity exists in Macon County,” said Roland in his statement. “

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The Macon County Art Association (MCAA) is again announcing its Veteran’s Portrait Project.

The MCAA is asking families to submit a photo of a local veteran and to write a limited two to three paragraph essay about the veteran. Families should bring the picture, essay and submitter’s contact information to the gallery at 30 E Main Street, Franklin. The deadline for submitting portraits is June 30. If more than 10 vet portrait requests are submitted the project committee will select from these and advise those families that are not selected to resubmit next year.

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The North Carolina State Highway Patrol along with the Division of Law Enforcement from the Wildlife Resources Commission and local law enforcement have released the Memorial Day Weekend totals for “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign. The “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign is a multi-agency initiative that is designed to combine law enforcement resources to ensure that all motorists can safely travel on highways and waterways during the summer months.

Operation “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” will continue on the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends. Troopers along with Wildlife Resource officers and local law enforcement will be conducting various driving while impaired checkpoints near parks and water recreational areas.

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