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Macon County students will be putting on their backpacks on Monday to head off to the first day of the 2015-16 school year. After a couple of months break, the North Carolina Department of Transportation wants to remind motorists to be cautious of children getting on and off the school bus and make sure citizens allow for the change in traffic.

In North Carolina, more than 14,000 school buses travel our highways daily transporting children to and from school. Most motorists that meet school buses on the state’s highways actually stop as required by North Carolina law. However some do not. The results can be tragic. Since 1999, 13 children in North Carolina have been struck and killed while loading and/or unloading from a stopped school bus. School buses are easy to spot. They typically are painted yellow with the words “School Bus” printed in large type on their front and rear as well as being equipped with alternately flashing red lights on the front and rear. Yet despite these distinguishable traits, motorists still fail to properly stop.


Macon County's August Superior Court session had a full docket, with several cases being decided by Honorable Superior Court Judge William Coward.

Adam Lee Hensley was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to a term of 48 to 70 months for the death of Larry Nelson Wilt on March 9, 2014.

Hensley was arrested and charged with first degree murder after an altercation claimed the life of Wilt at a residence on Kirkland Road.

While the MCSO was clearing the scene, it was evident that a fight had broken out between Adam Hensley, 31, and Larry Nelson Wilt, 31. Officers found both men covered in blood and severely injured, reported Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland.


The last comprehensive report compiled in Macon County that looked into child care issues in the community was published in January 2010 and found that there were far two few available spots for children in Macon County. Now five years later, not a lot has changed and parents are still scrambling to find child care options for their children.

"The quality child care shortage is a real problem in our community," said Commissioner Ronnie Beale, who served on the Macon County Child Care Issues Committee (CIC) in 2009. "To add to this growing problem, the income rates for parents have been lowered, thus fewer parents qualify for child care subsidies."

In basic economic terms, affordable and available child care for Macon County’s working parents is on the same level of importance as affordable housing and affordable health care. The committee believed that parents value affordable child care availability on a par with other employee benefits.


Macon County Sheriff's deputies spent nearly nine hours on Friday working a standoff that resulted in one individual being taken into custody under an involuntary commitment.

Around noon on Friday, MCSO deputies initiated a welfare check on a Macon County resident after dispatch received calls from someone out of state concerned about the resident. A police welfare check occurs when a report is made to law enforcement about an individual who may be in some sort of peril, usually in that person's residence.

On Friday, dispatch received a call from a woman that said her friend had threatened suicide over the phone. When officers went to the address, they were confronted by a person within the residence.


Pat Betancourt touts communication and work ethic.

Patrick Betancourt, the new director of the Macon County Department of Social Services (DSS), moved here from Union County where he was the Social Work Program Administrator.

“I’ve been working in DSS now for a little over 20 years, so Union’s just a little bit bigger county, but other than that, all pretty familiar,” said Betancourt.

“One of the things I can speak to that is completely different here in Macon County from anywhere else I’ve ever worked is, probably the most positive thing that we have is, on a regular basis, our Mental Health providers will come together in the same room with our Child Welfare workers and we’ll staff cases ... it was pretty amazing the first time I saw this take place at one of these meetings where, quite literally what happened was, one of the mental health providers said, ‘We can’t pick this particular child up for this particular service but we know that that service need is there, can somebody else pick them up?’ and the next provider just seamlessly said, ‘Yup, we got ‘em, we’ll check in with the family or we’ll do whatever needs to be done.’ I have to say that’s unique to Macon County, or to this region,” said Betancourt. “It’s not something I’ve experienced anywhere else. I think that ongoing communication, those ongoing staff meetings, really set us up for a place where we’re that much more successful with child welfare.”


Macon and Jackson County have yet to reach an agreement on the great border debate for properties that fall on the county lines in the Highlands/Cashiers crossover.

While Macon County's full request for funding from Jackson County wasn't met, some relief will be provided in the upcoming budget cycle. Earlier this year, Jackson County commissioners approved a new fire tax for homes that are technically located within Jackson County, yet receive fire services from the Highlands Fire Department. The fire tax is expected to generate $50,000 in revenue that will be directly allocated to the Highlands Fire Department.

And while Jackson commissioners acknowledged the fire costs associated with the 300 homes in question, it doesn't address the other essential services provided by Macon County to those homes such as trash, recreation, 911 and EMS. Commissioner Jim Tate, who has led the discussion from the beginning addressed that very issue last month.


Shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon a Macon County paramedic was sent to the hospital to be treated for a dog bite she sustained while caring for a motorcycle accident patient.

Dispatch received a call regarding a motorcycle accident around 1:20 p.m. on Tuesday at the intersection of Louisa Chapel Road. The caller advised dispatch that she had the driver of the motorcycle in her car and was attempting to transport him to the hospital. While reportedly en route to the hospital, the motorcycle driver become more visibly ill, causing the driver to pull off the road to wait for paramedics.


Seth Adams, director of the Macon County Parks & Recreation Department, recently updated the Kiwanis Club of Franklin on progress at the Parker Meadows project.

Initiated through a $500k PARTF grant, the project is nearing completion very close to budget in spite of unexpected design changes.

A grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 25 to highlight the eight ball fields, a soccer field, a one-mile walking track, basketball court, covered shelter as well as three river access points. Many local businesses contributed to the project, including donated score boards and field sponsorships.

With seven baseball tournaments already scheduled this fall, Seth Adams is confident this project will add significant economic impact to Macon County.

Pictured with Adams is Kiwanis president Beverly Barnett.

Earlier this year, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) announced that phone scams were among the worst tax scams popping up in 2015, and months later, Macon County residents are still getting fake phone calls.

"We have had at least four complaints in the past few months," said Franklin Police Chief David Adams. "One victim claimed that the caller threatened him because he refused to go to Walmart and wire the IRS a payment."

Adams' word of advice to Franklin residents: never give out your information over the phone with verification. "They should never send anyone or company money after receiving a phone call or provide their bank account numbers or Social Security numbers," cautioned Adams. "All federal agencies, utility companies and financial institutions will have the aforementioned numbers and they will not ask for payment via money orders."


A two-vehicle accident occurred Wednesday afternoon on Highlands Road just west of Ellijay Road sending four people to area hospitals with a report of one fatality.

No names had been released at presstime.

The initial investigation indicated that a green van went off the pavement on the right and over corrected several times before hitting a beige Tahoe.

The accident shut down Highlands Road for more than three hours as traffic was rerouted around Sugar Fork and River Road.


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