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‘Stepping Up’ initiative addresses issue, raises awareness and increases services

Since becoming president of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC), Ronnie Beale has been working to bring the state's mental health crisis to the forefront. Seeing the struggles mental health issues cause locally in Macon County, Beale has made it a state priority to address the issue, and increase awareness and services for those affected.

Last week, the Macon County Board of Commissioners (BOC) passed a resolution in support of the National Association of Counties "Stepping Up" initiative.

"The Stepping Up initiative is a state and nationwide effort to get mental health services to those who are incarcerated," said Beale. "Our local jails and state prisons have become overrun with citizens needing this help."


Macon County's homeless population was top priority on Tuesday night when members of the community addressed commissioners. While it is hard to determine the actual number of homeless individuals in the area, recent studies conducted in the region show that there are more than 20 homeless individuals in Macon County. That number varies based on circumstances, but despite the fluctuating homeless population, one thing remains true, there are Macon County residents who do not have a place to sleep at night.

Lowell Monteith, pastor of Father’s House, signed up for public comment period to speak to commissioners regarding a recent notice from the county regarding the building he is operating as not being up to code.


Board looking at $500k reduction in revenues this year.

Three years ago, the state lawmakers implemented a plan to withhold 10 percent of North Carolina counties' Medicaid Cost Settlement funds, while reviewing local departments' programs. After three years, those funds were expected to be released back to local departments. According to Macon County Board of Health Director Jim Bruckner, when it came time to release those funds, the state failed to do so. For Macon County, that means $125,000 over three years that the health department is having to scramble to make up. The 10 percent withholding, paired with the fiscal year 2015 Medicaid Cost Settlement funds that have yet to be released to the county, has left the local health department looking at an unanticipated $484,121 reduction this budget year.


Mayor wants to address issue before problems occur.

July's Franklin town board agenda covered everything from approving a new antenna for an existing cell tower, to sending items to the planning board for review before final approval by the board.

The board unanimously voted to allow wireless provider T-Mobile to add an antenna to the cell phone tower located on Cunningham Road. Justin Setser, Franklin's Town Land Use Administrator reviewed TMobile's request and recommended its approval to the board. T-Mobile will be adding three new antennas and associated appurtenances to the existing tower, which will boost cell reception for the phone provider within Franklin.


Grant funding builds transit bus stops around Franklin

Macon County Transit has been busy this week putting the final touches on Franklin's first two bus stops. Located on East Main Street near Hot Spot and on Siler Farm Road by the Macon County Public Library, Franklin's first two transit bus stops are intended to better serve residents who rely on the transportation service.

"In an effort for the Mountain Gem Route to have the look and feel of the public transportation service that it is," said Kim Angel, Macon County Transit Director. "We also felt that adding the shelters in certain locations would encourage ridership on the route. The cost to operate this route is much less than our traditional door to door service we offer..."


Citizen cites violation of the fourth amendment.

Monday night the Franklin Town Board of Aldermen were presented with agenda items regarding minimum housing code and nuisance ordinance violations for properties within the city limits. While the town board was addressing enforcing the ordinances, one Franklin resident was questioning the constitutionality of their existence.

Angela Moore, who has run for town board in the past and has filed to run again this November, signed up during public comment to express her concerns regarding the town's regulations.

"The enforcement of the minimum housing ordinance as it is written is a gross violation of the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution," claimed Moore. "Violating the rights of people to be secure in their persons and their homes against unreasonable searches and seizures is personal. If you are violating the rights of even one person you are trampling the freedom of all of us."


Funding to come from transportation budget surplus.

It’s a contant struggle for school bus drivers across the country when it comes to safely stopping to pick up children in the mornings and drop them off in the evenings. A survey conducted by the state reported that bus drivers indicate 3,000-3,500 drivers illegally pass stopped school buses a day. During a count done in March, school bus drivers reported more than 400 violations in Wake County in one day. Wake County is the state's largest school district and has 900 buses.

Under state law, when a school bus displays its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights, vehicles in both directions must stop and not attempt to pass the bus until the sign is withdrawn, the lights are off, and the bus has started to move. The rules are different for a divided highway of four lanes or more and in that case only traffic following the bus must stop.


Two Franklin Police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave after a gun battle resulted in the death of Clay Alan Lickteig, 52, of Hayesville.

Around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, two Franklin police officers, who are not being identified at this time, were attempting to serve Lickteig with a felony probation violation warrant for arrest, when Lickteig became confrontational and brandished a weapon.

The FPD officers met Lickteig in the driveway of a residence at which he had been staying, and when ordered by officers to show his hands, he refused. According to Police Chief David Adams, the officers first attempted to subdue the suspect with a taser gun, which was deployed twice. Lickteig then opened fire on the officers.


Order of the Long Leaf Pine recipients honored

"Here’s to the land/ of the long leaf pine, The summer land/ where the sun doth shine, Where the weak grow strong/ and the strong grow great, Here’s to “down home”, the Old North State!”

When it comes to being a North Carolinian, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the highest honor the state can bestow on one of its citizens. The award, doled out by the governor of the state, is a prestigious recognition that has been earned by some of history’s greatest individuals. The honor, which was first established in 1965 has since been awarded to about 15,000 people in the state which include the likes of Maya Angelou, Billy Graham, and Andy Griffith.


The Macon County News has learned of a possible scam taking place in the Franklin area.

A resident reported seeing what looked to be someone injured or dead lying on the side of the Georgia Road with a black SUV nearby. The person stopped, locked the car doors and called 9-1-1. Shortly thereafter, the person lying on the side of the road got up and got in the SUV and drove away.

Persons encountering such a situation are urged to notify law enforcement by calling 9-1-1.

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