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A federal jury sitting in Bryson City found an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians guilty of fatally shooting Erien Amanda Smith on the reservation on May 18, 2010, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

In a superseding criminal indictment filed on December 7, 2010, James Ernest Lespier, 33, of Cherokee, was charged with one count of first degree murder and one count of use of and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. After an eight-day trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins was assisted in the case by Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Charlotte Division, and Ben Reed, Chief of the Cherokee Indian Police Department.

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On Tuesday night, the Macon County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the final 2011-2012 budget, which includes the first pay raises county employees have seen since 2008. The pay raises include a three percent salary increase for all county employees plus an additional two percent increase for all deputies of the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Robert Holland, who attended the meeting along with a contingent of some 15 deputies who were there to support him, said he was disappointed by the five percent increase, which fell significantly short of his request. “I’m not happy,” said Holland, responding to the commissioners announcement that they would not be able to fund the requested increases in this year’s budget. “I’m very disappointed by the decision that you all as a board have made.”

 

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As of Tuesday, Macon County can claim to have a comprehensive, 20-year plan for development and growth in just about every sector of activity. The Comprehensive Plan is the result of nearly two years of intensive labor by the Macon County Planning Board, as well as several other all-volunteer sub-committees, which have collectively invested more than 1,000 hours to research and draft the various elements of the plan.

The 164-page document includes an exhaustive analysis of the county’s history, population and economic trends and then gives recommendations for future growth in five major areas: economic development and public services; land use and environment; education and recreation; transportation and housing; and healthcare, childcare, and senior services.

 

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In an effort to revamp the criminal justice system in North Carolina, legislators have proposed a bill that would move some inmates in state prisons to county jails to relieve overcrowding and cut state expenditures.

House Bill 642, titled the “Justice Reinvestment Act,” seeks to authorize state prison facilities to enter into voluntary agreements with counties to provide housing for misdemeanor offenders serving periods of incarceration between 90 and 180 days, excluding those convicted of impaired driving.

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An altercation in the South Skeenah community last Sunday resulted in the arrests of two brothers.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., officers with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 9-1-1 call of an assault in progress. The caller explained that Dustin “Dut” Reed Hathcock, 25, and Preston Ross Hathcock, 31, had been fighting at the younger brother’s residence.

While the officers were en route to the incident, the caller reportedly advised dispatch that the older brother Preston had left in his red Dodge pickup truck, and that she was taking her boyfriend Dustin to the emergency room.

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Director of green economy initiative to oversee entrepreneurial development

AdvantageWest, the economic development partnership for the 23 counties of Western North Carolina, announces the promotion of Matt Raker to the position of Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development & AdvantageGreen. The move comes after the resignation of Pam Lewis, who is leaving her position as Senior Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development to join the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville – Buncombe County (EDC) as Director of Entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial development and the green and clean energy jobs initiative AdvantageGreen are two main areas of jobcreation focus for AdvantageWest. The other areas of focus are the advanced manufacturing segment and agribusiness. AdvantageWest also maintains the Western North Carolina Film Commission.

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A piece of American history will soon travel on North Carolina highways as the “Miracle on the Hudson” jetliner gets closer to wrapping up its trip from New Jersey to its permanent home at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte. The US Airways Airbus A320 was on its way to Charlotte from New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 15, 2009 when a bird strike shut down its engines right after takeoff. Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III managed to land the plane in the Hudson River, and all 155 passengers and crew were rescued by a flotilla of boats.

The transfer of the plane’s fuselage to its final home at the museum has been a monumental task. The company that had been storing the plane in a warehouse near Newark, NJ since it helped haul it out of the water built a special 120-foot hauling trailer with six steering axles for the job.

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The Department of Agriculture today released its annual report, Expenditures on Children by Families, finding that a middle-income family with a child born in 2010 can expect to spend about $226,920 ($286,860 if projected inflation costs are factored in) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise that child over the next 17 years. This represents a 2 percent increase from 2009. Expenses for transportation, child care, education, and health care saw the largest percentage increases related to child rearing from 2009. There were very small changes in housing, food, clothing, and miscellaneous expenses on a child since 2009.

The report, issued annually since 1960, is a valuable resource for courts and state governments in determining child support guidelines and foster care payments. It is based on data from the Federal government's Consumer Expenditure Survey, the most comprehensive source of information available on household expenditures. For the year 2010, per child annual child-rearing expenses for a middle-income, two-parent family range from $11,880 to $13,830, depending on the age of the child.

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June Tassillo has joined RE/MAX Elite in Franklin.

Tassillo has earned the reputation of being a top-producing real esate agent in her first few years in the business.

“June’s energy and enthusiasm for real estate are a tremendous assest to this office,” said Ron Winecoff, cobroker/owner of RE/MAX Elite.

Tassillo was born and raised in Glen Falls, N.Y., but has lived in Franklin for nearly 20 years, building an extensive list of clients.

Formerly of Classic Properties, she specializes in everything from luxury homes to foreclosures.

 

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Franklin Fire Department firemen Tim Chavis and Alan McWilliam oversee the testing of this fire hydrant on the corner of Maple Street and Palmer St.

The testing is being conducted throughout the month of June.

Franklin Fire Chief Pete Haithcock has indicated that some areas may experience water disoloration due to rust in the water system.

Residents are advised to check water color before using.

If discoloration occurs, flow water in the sink until color returns to normal.

Testing will be done between the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Photo by Vickie Carpenter

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