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Macon County Sheriff's Office Detective Amy Stewart spoke with members of the media last Thursday for the first time since being served with two criminal summonses on Jan. 6. Under the advisement of her Asheville-based lawyer, Jack Stewart, Detective Stewart answered questions from members of the media that did not directly reference the pending charges or ongoing investigation.

“The way I have been treated is unfair,” said Stewart. “Because of the events and the way the school's administration has handled it, I can not go to my daughter's senior basketball games. If my daughter was hurt, I wouldn't be allowed on campus to take care of her. If she needed money for something I couldn't take it to her, and this may continue and prevent me from attending her high school graduation.”

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Macon County Department of Social Services still has money for CareNet to administer crisis funds for the Crisis Intervention Program (CIP). Households that are eligible for CIP must meet income guidelines including crisis guidelines posted at CareNet. The Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) will provide payment to the vendors for eligible households. Funds are limited and no appointments will be made for the energy programs.

Funds are available for LIEAP, beginning February 1 for individuals and families with the lowest income and highest relative energy cost. All eligibility requirements must be met which include income & asset guidelines. Funds will continue through March 31 or until LIEAP funds are expended.

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Negotiations in works for sale of Franklin facility

More than 100 people found themselves out of a job last week, when they were informed that Whitley Products Franklin facility would be closing its doors. With just a day's notice, employees showed up for work on Thursday morning, and were turned away.

Employees first caught wind of the problem Wednesday morning when they received a letter from Whitley's corporate office in West Warsaw, Ind. The letter cited financial difficulties as being the reason for the facility's demise.

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Thunderstorms swept through Western North Carolina on Wednesday afternoon, causing severe flooding. Throughout Wednesday, Macon County was under a Tornado Watch, a Flood Warning, High Wind Warning and a Thunderstorm Warning.

Main Street down to the Highlands Road was temporarily closed after the road became impassable due to drainage pipes being unable to keep up with the torrential rainfall. As of 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Duke Energy had reported 3,602 power outages for Jackson County and 3,315 outages in Macon County.

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Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit instrumental in solving case.

On Saturday morning, with the help of Clifford, a oneyear- old member of the Macon County K-9 unit, Macon County Sheriff's deputies were able to apprehend a 22-yearold man after a “snatch and run” of an undisclosed amount of money from the Otto General Store.

An Otto General Store employee explained that after the suspect entered the store, the staff began watching him closely because of suspicious behavior.

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After nearly a month of seeing his wife being forced to miss their daughter's basketball games, Steve Stewart went before the Macon County Board of Education on Monday to request that the ban prohibiting his wife, Amy Stewart, from being on school property be lifted.

"Both my wife and I both work at the Macon County Sheriff's Office and are good, upstanding members of the community," said Steve Stewart Monday night. "I believe that the ban is unreasonable and unprecedented."

Steve Stewart's request comes after Interim Superintendent Dr. Jim Duncan sent a letter to Amy Stewart on January 7 notifying her of his administrative decision to ban her from Franklin High School. The letter reads, "This letter is to inform you that, due to your involvement in events on or about Jan. 5 of this year, I am directing that you are not to be present on any school property or at any school activities for the remainder of this school year."

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Lease negotiations for the highly anticipated and valiantly fought for dialysis center have concluded and renovations to an already existing building are expected to begin the first week of February.

At the request of community members, which was supported by commissioners, representatives with DaVita Dialysis Center, the company awarded the contract to open a center in Macon County, diligently searched for an already existing and vacant building in Macon County to house the new center. The search hit a small snag when options and locations for the center were limited to buildings not able to accommodate the center's need.

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Officials making plans to compile necessary data.

The Macon County tax office has procured new software that will allow them to better identify and collect delinquent taxes. In accordance with North Carolina General Statute §105-368, the county is responsible for identifying delinquent taxpayers in the county and take the appropriate actions to collect the taxes.

“We have followed N.C.G.S. §105-368 for years when using enforced collections,” explained Teresa McDowell. “We have used it to garnish N.C. Dept. of Revenue Tax returns, wages, rent proceeds, escheat accounts and bank accounts, and have done wage garnishments on more than one occasion. However, since we have such a small staff, we were never able to do them on a large scale. With the procurement of this new software, we will be able to do wage garnishments on a larger scale.”

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As a result of last week's torrential rainfall accumulations, a portion of road on the Great Smoky Mountains Parkway connecting Cherokee and Tennessee, was swept away in a landslide. The first assessment of the landslide which occurred along Newfound Gap Road in North Carolina shows that the landslide is approximately 90,000 cubic yards of material or 350-400 feet — around the length of a football field — and 45-50 feet deep.

According to Molly Schroer with the National Park Service Public Affairs department, as of Tuesday, the slide is still active and an assessment team has observed debris continuing to fall.

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In keeping with the goal of open, bi-partisan communication for the people of Macon County, commissioners held their mid-year review retreat last Saturday. The meeting, which is held midway through the fiscal year (which runs from July 1-June 30) is intended to evaluate the county's to-date progress and look toward planning for the upcoming year.

County manager Jack Horton began the meeting by giving commissioners a brief summary of on-going and new projects in the county. Horton noted that the upgrade to the water and sewer system, a project that has taken more than a decade since it began, is nearly complete, and other projects such as renovations to the Highlands School are just about to begin. “There are several projects both new and old that the county has taken on,” said Horton. “Regardless of the project, these things are necessary improvements to the infrastructure of our county.”

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