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Local law enforcement authorities continue the investigation into the incidents that ensued as a part of the escape of Macon County Detention Center inmate Charles Cochran. Cochran, who was being held by local authorities on minor trespassing charges in Colorado, escaped from the Macon County Detention Center on July 30. Five days after his initial escape, authorities were able to locate Cochran and take him back into custody without incident.

While Cochran was on the run from authorities, a house in the Burningtown Community was burned down, resulting in one death, of a victim who has yet to be identified, and a middle of the night shooting occurred within Franklin city limits. Although Cochran is believed to be connected to both incidents, authorities have neither confirmed or denied his involvement as of yet.

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The Town of Franklin is experiencing a bit of an identity crisis. Forums are being held to consider the town's future, the Tourism Development Authority has turned its attention towards marketing the town to potential visitors, and various committees and civic groups have popped up in an attempt to overhaul the brand that stands behind Franklin.

But what is that brand exactly? It may be safe to say that it is jumbled at best. Franklin is still the “Gem Capital of the World” though the economic boom that was once experienced as a result of mines in the area has decreased over the years. Features like antique stores can fill a day or two visiting, plus weekend festivals, vibrant colors that paint the mountains during the fall months, not to mention the vast array of outdoor attractions like waterfalls, scenic highways, and hiking trails.

All of these characteristics are used in advertising to garner attention for the community. With such lively examples of what the town has to offer, some are left wondering if the town seal that is being used to represent the town in its board room and on many of its town vehicles may be lacking.

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Sheriff Robert L. Holland released the following statement in regards to the trustee program and the Macon County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).

“MCSO “Trustee” Program inmates in just the year of 2013:

• Spent 1,078 hours utilized in the collection of 4,480 pounds of roadside litter. This totals 242,512 pounds of trash picked up since Sheriff Holland established the program in 2002.
• Spent 921 hours devoted to improvements and maintenance of county buildings.
• Spent 30 hours to non-profit and civic organizations such as CareNet, Relay for Life, Scottish Heritage Day, The Greenway, The Veteran’s Park and more.

read more of the statement after the jump!

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The Town of Franklin has entered into a contractual agreement with Tony Angel Media to serve as a consultant for the Franklin Main Street Program.

"The Town of Franklin is pleased to have Tony Angel Media serve in a consulting role for the Franklin Main Street Program,” said Summer Woodard, Town Manager. “Mr. Angel has a long history with Main Street and we’re looking forward to working with him to provide guidance to the program during this period of transition.”

The Franklin Main Street Program is currently without an Executive Director.

“I’m delighted to be working with Ms. Woodard and the Town on this project,” said Tony Angel.

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According to the World Health Organization, recent global figures indicate that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

With the statistics of violence against women in the United States alarmingly high, organizations such as RAD – Rape Aggression Defense – have sprung up to help women take control of their lives.

Since taking on the role as Franklin Police Chief David Adams has made it his mission to hold RAD courses for individuals in the county. A program he built during his tenure in Hendersonville, RAD is a national, innovative self-defense course for women designed to help them avoid becoming the victim of a sexual assault. It helps women enhance situational awareness and develop confidence so they can thwart an attacker and escape quickly from a bad situation.

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Monday night, Macon County Sheriff’s Department (MCSO) ended a five-day search for inmate Charles Andrew Cochran without incident. The MCSO SWAT was able to take Cochran down at a residence with a little struggle, but no injuries.

Cochran escaped from the detention center Wednesday around 9 p.m. while on trash detail for the Sheriff’s Office trustee program.

According to a statement released by the MCSO on Thursday, during the evening of July 30 at approximately 9 p.m. detention officers were utilizing two inmates to do routine maintenance in and around the Macon County Detention Center. After completing the tasks assigned, a detention officer took the two inmates out to dispose of the garbage, as is done on a daily basis. It was at this time that inmate Charles Andrew Cochran, 21, of Franklin, ran into a deeply wooded area next to the detention center and disappeared.

 

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Last Wednesday night, the Franklin Town Hall hosted Western Carolina University's Public Policy Institute (PPI) along with many members of the community for a question and answer forum in hopes of providing a clear picture of the future for the Town of Franklin.

“Towns are having a difficult time in Western North Carolina. Franklin is actually doing pretty well. A lot of places are suffering more than Franklin is,” said Dr. Todd Collins, director of the PPI. "Our purpose is to just facilitate. We have no vision. The mayor may have his vision, you may have your vision. We want to hear your ideas."

Brian Burgess took the lead on the project moving through a slide show that posed many questions to the crowded room. For quite a while now, empty buildings, crumbling sidewalks, and at times, a stagnant economy have filled discussions between town officials and various civic groups. At this meeting in particular however, individuals on behalf of only themselves, were given the opportunity to share their opinions.

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Public servants explain responsibilities of the position.

Macon County citizens take to the polls every two years to decide who would be the best representatives for the county. County commissioners are elected to serve their respective districts and make important decisions that affect all county residents. It is public knowledge that the commissioners convene once a month to discuss matters pertaining to the county and to consider important county business, but what do they do beyond that? What does it take to be a county commissioner and what sort of commitment have the five men who currently sit on the Macon County board made to the citizens?

We wanted to know just that, so we asked them. To start, we asked why they wanted to run for office, and if their reason has changed.

Commissioner Ron Haven was first sworn in to represent District II of Macon County in 2010, and is up for re-election this year. When asked why he first ran for office, and if that had changed, Haven said, “I felt like Macon County could have been run responsibly for far less tax money. Has that reason changed? I still believe with the right interest it can be.”

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To help ease congestion and prevent collisions, the North Carolina Department of Transportation placed a “No U-Turn” sign at the intersection of East Main Street and the Highlands Road.

The sign, which was placed in the left turning lane turning from East Main Street toward McDonald’s and Hardee’s, was placed by the DOT about two months ago on June 6. The sign now requires that vehicles turning into McDonald’s or the Dollar General go through the light, turn left at the light, then enter the business through the back entrance.

Previously, vehicles heading east on East Main Street using the left turning lane at the red light, would make a U-turn into McDonald’s or Dollar General. The U-Turn was deemed unsafe as vehicles would encounter traffic turning left off of the Highlands Road or right off Lakeside Drive.

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Arthur Phalo (L), center director at Lyndon B. Johnson Civilian Conservation Center, was named as the Outstanding Business Leader for 2013-2014 by the Rotary Club of Franklin Daybreak.

Phalo has been instrumental in supporting various organizations in the community by encouraging his students to take an active role in local events and fundraising projects.

He was also the driving force behind securing accreditation for the LBJCCC.

The award was presented by Charles Thun.

 

 

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