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Last Monday, the public along with Town of Franklin officials, met with members of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to discuss the pros and cons of adopting a flood plain ordinance for the town during the regularly scheduled meeting.

In the event of a major storm, FEMA official Roy McClure explained a flood could prove costly for property owners who do not qualify for federal protections from flooding if the town does not adopt such an ordinance.

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The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) is investigating a breaking and entering at Scotts Creek Baptist Church located on Steeple Drive in Sylva. The break-in occurred during the night of July 31 and/or the early morning hours of August 1. The perpetrators took items such as credit cards and damaged the church with estimates around $700.

The Sylva Police Department is investigating similar break-ins at the First Baptist Church of Sylva and Sylva Methodist Church, both located downtown. Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact the investigating detective, Sergeant John Buchanan at (828)631-1131 for the Scotts Creek Church break-in or Detective Aimee Watson with the Sylva Police at (828)586-2916. A reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) related to this crime.

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At a joint meeting held three times a year for Macon County and the townships of Franklin and Highlands leaders met to discuss recent accomplishments and continuing projects within their respective jurisdictions. The meeting was held last Thursday, July 21, over dinner at Franklin’s Cajun Connection.

Mayor of Highlands David Wilkes began the meeting by introducing Bob Zoellner as the new interim town manager, taking over after Jim Fatland was dismissed for performance issues. Wilkes described Zoellner as being a “long-time Highlander from a long-time Highlands family” and having deep roots in Highlands. “We are real happy to have Bob with us, helping us out.”

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FAA representative, Hoke Wiese, presented the prestigious Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award to Neil Hoppe of Franklin Aviation.

A ceremony took placed on Tuesday, July 19, at the monthly meeting of the Aviation Historical Society at Macon County Airport.

Hoppe is honored for 50 years of service in the aircraft maintenance industry.

This FAA award is named in honor of Charles Taylor, the first aviation mechanic in powered flight.

Taylor served as the Wright Brothers' mechanic and is credited with designing and building the engine for their first successful flight.

The arduous relationship between sheriff’s offices and those committed to the state for mental health issues is only becoming more taxing, according to Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland.

“What we’re seeing this year is a significant increase across the board in all aspects of our portion of the mental health system, which basically relates to the transport, care and custody of involuntary commitments,” said Holland during his department’s budget request meeting last month to county commissioners. This year’s request was an increase from last year’s, though it was lower that the fiscal budget of 2009.

“The increase can be primarily attributed to the minimal control that we can do over the mental health system,” said Holland of MCSO personnel hours spent keeping watch on such cases.

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Robert Zoellner named interim replacement

Earlier this month, the Town of Highlands terminated its manager, Jim Fatland, without giving any details to the public. Last week, Highlands officials were finally able to release some information to the public regarding Fatland’s firing.

On July 20, Highlands Town Attorney Bill Coward released this statement to the local media:

“I drafted a release agreement in which the town was released from all liability and all possibility of a claim by Jim Fatland against the town, which Jim agreed to sign in return for a statement of the reasons for his dismissal being: ‘Mr. Fatland did not meet the reasonable expectations of the board as to his overall job performance as Town Manager.’” The statement, Coward added, would go onto Fatland’s personnel jacket, possibly affecting any similar employment opportunities in the future.

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MST2 Nicole C. Emmons, formerly from Franklin, was among five servicemen and women who received military citations at the 11th Annual Military Times Service Members of the Year Awards Ceremony held at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. July 21.

Emmons was named “Coast Guardsman of the Year” by the Navy Times. According to one of Emmons’ supervisors, Emmons has demonstrated outstanding performance in the best military tradition. Emmons works with the Contingency Preparedness/Incident Management Division at MSU Lake Charles and has “contributed countless hours to the stand-up of her units first Homeland Security Division,” say superiors. Emmons has previously been awarded the Commandants Letter of Commendation and the Coast Guards Special Operations ribbon for her key role with the EAGLE OTOME 450,000 gallon crude oil spill.

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A Franklin man charged with the grisly murder of his own mother was found not guilty by reason of insanity at a Superior Court hearing Monday.

Harold Jason Campbell, 31, was arrested in December 2006, and charged with murdering his mother, Gloria Campbell, at her home on 880 Brendle Road.

At the time of the incident, Gloria had reportedly just arrived home from grocery shopping when Harold shot her five to six times in the yard beside her home. Harold then threw her body over a brushfire in the backyard that he had prepared earlier.

Witnesses working on a construction site nearby saw the shooting and called 9-1-1. Roger Thompkins placed the call and told the dispatcher that he had witnessed a woman getting shot. “He’s burning the body in the backyard,” said Thompkins in the call.

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This fall, regional hunger-relief agency MANNA FoodBank will be closing down its distribution center in Franklin, in order to cut back on expenses during tough budgetary times. The Franklin facility is the only satellite branch of its kind throughout its 16 countywide distribution area.

The closure will change the way MANNA delivers its services and food assistance in the area, explained MANNA Communications and Marketing Coordinator Joshua Stack.

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The two-year controversy between the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Cherokee Reservation continues with a new billboard recently posted by the PETA organization on Interstate 26 near Asheville, N.C.

The billboard, which features a disturbing image of a small girl in tears with a bloody, bandaged hand, claims the zoos are “prisons” and discourages tourists from visiting them.

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