I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Macon County Commissioners

Coverage of the meetings of the Macon County Board of County Commissioners.

Franklin Town Board of Aldermen

Coverage of the meetings of the Franklin Town Board of Aldermen.

Macon County School Board

Coverage of the meetings of the Macon County School Board.


Photos from my photoblog.

Nothing is here yet

I haven't decided what to put here yet, so look at this pretty photo.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Franklin Aldermen February 2015 Regular Meeting

Aldermen560 photo Aldermen560_zpsa73258a9.jpg

Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen 


Monday February 2, 2015 7:00 p.m.

1.       Call to Order- Mayor Bob Scott
2.     Pledge of Allegiance- Vice Mayor Verlin Curtis
3.     Adoption of February 2, 2015 Proposed Agenda
4.     Approval of the January 5 and January 24, 2015 Board Minutes
5.     Public Session
6.     New Business
A.)  Proclamation for Hunger Awareness Month- Margaret Freeman
B.)  Presentation of Sufficiency Notification for 44 Lowery Lane- Town Clerk Chad Simons and Land Use Administrator Justin Setser
C.)  Board Authorization for the Advertisement of Real Property Tax Liens for Current Year 2014- Tax Collector Jessie Wilkins
D.)  Budget Amendments- Town Manager Summer Woodard
E.)  Replacement of Town Bridge- Town Manager Summer Woodard
F.)   Town of Franklin Travel Policy- Town Manager Summer Woodard
G.)  Update on State Revolving Loan Fund for Town of Franklin Water Plant Upgrade and Expansion- Town Manager Summer Woodard
H.)  Forward Re-Zoning Petition for three (3) parcels on Siler Road to the Town Planning Board- Land Use Administrator Justin Setser
7.     Legal
A.)  License Agreement for Bowery Restaurant- Town Attorney John Henning Jr and Town Manager Summer Woodard
8.      Set Continuation Meeting for February 16, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

The Franklin Town Board of Aldermen met on February 2, 2015 for their regular February 2015 meeting at the town hall. The video and public agenda of the meeting are above and the agenda packet that is shared with members of the media is at the end of this article. The next board meeting will be on February 16, 2015 in the town hall at 5:30 pm.

Immediately below is a video of the License Agreement discussion between the Town Board and the owner of The Bowery restaurant, which has been the source of some controversy. [See Macon County News article]


Macon Media (me)
The Franklin Press
Macon County News and Shopping Guide

And here is the agenda packet that is shared with the media. I include it here in the interest of transparency.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day 2015
Early Spring, Late Winter or Bitten?

Groundhog Day is here and the groundhogs, and a white squirrel have made their prognostications.

Here is the list of the predictions from several groundhogs in the United States. Canada has several, but I ignored those because it's always winter in Canada.

The most famous goundhog of them all, Punxsutawney Phil, of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has predicted 6 more weeks of winter.

Here is a list of the groundhogs who agree with him:

Mount Joy Minnie Lancaster County, PA
Poor Richard York, PA
Chuckles Manchester, CT
Holtsville Hal Holtsville, NY
Malverne Mel Malverne, NY
Chattanooga Chuck Chattanooga, TN
Sir Thomas Hastings Hastings, NE
Queen Charlotte Charlotte, NC

And here are the groundhogs who disagree with Phil and say we're in for an early spring:

Staten Island Chuck Staten Island, NY
Dover Doug Dover, PA
Octorara, Orphie Quarryville, PA
Cocalico Cal Ephrata, PA
Dunkirk Dave Dunkirk, NY
Buckeye Chuck Marion, OH
French Creek Freddie French Creek, WV
General Beauregard Lee Lilburn, GA

There were more ground hogs on a list I found, but I could not find what they've had to say. Brevard, NC has a White Squirrel called Pisgah Pete who agrees with the prediction of 6 more weeks of winter.

And last, but not least, there is the ccontroversysurrounding Jimmy the Groundhog. His handlers say he says 6 more weeks of winter, but the Mayor of Sun Prairie, WI says that Jimmy told him that an early spring is in store. Jimmy also bit the Mayor, so maybe the Mayor lied. LOL

Until next year, stay safe and watch out for those never of them may be able to forecast the weather next groundhog day

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Macon County Planning Board Continues Work on Noise Nuisance Ordinance

The Macon County Planning Board met on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 to continue work on the proposed noise ordinance. It has morphed into a nuisance ordinance that is concerned with noise.

MEDIA ROLL CALL (Reporters from local media organizations at the meeting)

Macon Media
The Franklin Press
Macon County News and Shopping Guide

A video of the full meeting is above, and copy a copy of a draft copy of the Nuisance Ordinance the planning board members amended is is below.

The next meeting of the planning board will be Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 4 pm in the Environmental Resource Center, then on the 17th, they will be holding a joint meeting with the Macon County Commissioners at the Macon Bank Corporate center at 6 pm..

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mid Year Budget Review and Work Session Scheduled for January 20, 2015

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The Macon County Commissioners will be holding their annual mid-year budget review and work session on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 20th. It is scheduled to last a little over 4 hours. The agenda for the meeting has been posted below and you can check out what went on at last year's meeting by clicking this link.

Macon County Board of Commissioners
January 20, 2015 – 12:30 P.M.
Work Session Agenda

12:30 – 12:40 Welcome – Chairman (Kevin Corbin, Chairman)

12:40 – 1:00 2014 Year in Review (County Manager, Tommy Jenkins, Economic Development Director)

1:00 – 1:30 Mid – Year Financial Review (Lori Hall, Director of Finance)

1:30 – 1:40 Proposed Budget Calendar for FY 2015/2016 (County Manager)
•Budget Challenges and Goals for FY 2016

1:40 – 2:00 NCACC legislative goals (Ronnie Beale, Kevin Corbin)

2:00 – 2:20 Health Department  (Jim Bruckner, Health Director)
•Medicaid Cost Settlement Revenue Adjustment

2:20 – 2:50 Public Safety (Sheriff Robbie Holland, EM Director Warren Cabe)
•Future projects and needs

2:50 – 3:20 Public Schools (Dr. Chris Baldwin, Superintendent of Macon County School System)
•Macon County School Needs Assessment

3:20 – 3:30 Macon County DSS (Jane Kimsey, Director of Social Services)
•Successful  Implementation of NCFAST in FY 15

3:30 – 3:50 IT (Andy Muncey, Director of Information Technology)
•Phone System/Security System upgrade and  Implementation of SAN Data Storage

3:50 – 4:10 Tax Office  (Richard Lightner, Tax Administrator)
•Update on Revaluation

4:10 – 4:30 Recreation Department (Seth Adams, Recreation Director)
•Operating costs associated with Parker Meadows

4:30 – 5:00 Goals and expectations for FY 2015/2016 (Board of Commissioners, County Manager)

5:00 – 5:15 Wrap-up and closing comments (Kevin Corbin, Chairman)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Macon County Planning Board
Video of December 2014 Meeting

The Macon County Planning Board met for the regular December 2014 meeting last night at the Health Department. Commissioner Jimmy Tate reflected on his time served on the board for the last 5 years, he introduced Commissioner Gary Shields, who would be taking his place as liaison to the planning board.

Two citizens spoke during public comment. James Wright shared his noise and nuisance problems that had been ongoing for over two years without resolution. Donna Majerus also shared some of her problems for the last few years with a noisy neighbor.

The main topic of the meeting was the noise ordinance that the county commissioners had instructed them to create. Board members spoke at length about what they wanted and didn't want in the ordinance. County Planner Matt Mason handed out a copy of the as yet unadopted noise ordinance for neighboring Clay County for members to refer to and there was some discussion on that document and how it might be amended to fit Macon County.

Chariman Chris Hanners reminded the board that the terms of himself (2/2015), Susan Ervin (5/2015), Peggy Patterson (5/2015) and Mark West (11/2015) would be expiring in 2015, as well as that of the seat of the Town of Highlands (1/2015). The current occupant, John Underwood, indicated that he no longer wished to serve on the board and would only serve until a replacement had been located.

The next meeting on the board will take place on Tuesday, January 13th at 4 pm at the health department. The February meeting will be a joint meeting with the Macon County Commissioners at a location to be determined, but has in the past been held at the Macon Bank Corporate Center.

Here is a video of the meeting. The audio is amplified because there were a couple of members who do not speak loudly enough to be easily heard.

Here is the agenda for the meeting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tractor Trailer Rolls Over on Cowee Mountain

On December 16, 2014, a tractor trailer rolled over in Waterspicket Curve near the top of Cowee Mountain on US-441. Mountain Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Macon County EMS and the North Carolina Highway Patrol responded to the incident. Firefighters, EMS and bystanders extricated the driver of the truck and Macon County EMS transported the victims to Angel Community Hospital.

Here are some photos and video from the scene, with snippets of the radio traffic mixed into the video.

Photos can be viewed on Flickr.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Area law enforcement seeking subject wanted for several felonies, including kidnapping

**update** 12/05/2014: The manhunt is over and Jester has been taken into custody by the Rabun County Sheriff's Office at 1:45 pm on December 5th in a field near Yorkhouse Road in Mountain City. The manhunt had started around 10:30 pm the previous evening.

Law Enforcement in North Georgia and western North Carolina are on the lookout for a Phillip Norman Jester for kidnapping, grand theft auto, eluding arrest and several other felonies. The audio included with this post is of a BOLO (Be On the LookOut for) issued by the Macon County EOC just after 4 am this morning.

Jester has eluded capture in Rabun County and was last seen in the Rabun Gap area. They believe he may have stolen a vehicle.

Details on the individual are as follows:

Phillip Norman Jester
Age: 24
Brown Hair and Brown Eyes
Height: 5 foot 10 inches
Weight: 190 pounds
Considered armed and dangerous

Skylar Nichole Foster
Age: 14
Hair is black, shaved on the right side
Height: 5 foot 2 inches
Weight: 110 pounds
May be held against her will

Authorities believe that 24 year-old Jester is holding 14-year-old Skylar Nicole Foster against her will. He is a wanted felon out of Delaware, as well as Georgia and other states. Skylar met Jester on Facebook before he came to Georgia and ran away with him and it is believe she is now being held against her will.

Skylar is believed to be in danger. She is 5'2" and weighs 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing blue jeans with leggings and an oversized blue zip-up hoodie and black shoes. Her hair is dyed black and is shaved on the right side.

If you see Jester or the couple, please do not attempt to apprehend them on your own call 911 and report their location and direction of travel.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Board of Education Swears In Fred Goldsmith and Tommy Cabe
Re-elects Leadership
Recognizes Service of Gary Shields

The Macon County Board of Education met this morning at 9 am.

The first order of business was to swear in Tommy Cabe and Fred Goldsmith to the board. The board then proceeded to re-elect Jim Breedlove as Chairman and Tommy Cabe as Vice Chairman.

The board then presented former board member Gary Shields with a plaque recognizing his service on the school board. Gary Shields did not run for re-election to the board of education and mounted a successful election campaign to join the Macon County Commissioners. He will be sworn into that office at 5:45 pm tonight at the Macon County Courthouse.

Here are a few photos from this morning's meeting:

(You may click the photos to embiggen)

Chairman Jim Breedlove directs meeting via phone
Board member Tommy Cabe sworn in for fourth term
Fred Goldsmith sworn for first term
Departing member Gary Shields recognized for service
Board member Melissa Evans participates in meeting via phone

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2014 Veterans Day Observance in Franklin

The Franklin Main Street Program hosted an event to honor local veterans on Veterans Day, starting with a parade, then a program that included patriotic music and a speech by David Adams, Chief of the Franklin Police Department, and a wreath laying ceremony in the courthouse plaza.

Video and photos from the event are posted below.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 2014 Meeting of Macon County Board of Education

A Migration Celebration poster created for a project that was presented 
to the school board by local students. 
The butterfly pics are courtesy of Jeffrey Pippen.​

Here is the agenda packet that was released to the local media.

The full video of the October 2014 meeting of the Macon County School Board is below.

Here is a briefing of what transpired during the meeting, starting with a roll call of local media outlets represented at the meeting.


Macon Media (me)
Macon County News and Shopping Guide 
The Franklin Press

Spotlight on People and Programs

The board recognized the Franklin High School Exchange Student Program. Donna Bell presented five foreign exchange students to the board and spoke about the program, thanking the various people involved in the program for their assistance, including the families who host the students during their stay in the United States.

Sandra Rippetoe presented information on the observance of Hispanic Heritage Month and the winners of a poster contest held in the Macon County Schools. Several winners were present and spoke about their entry to the board members.

Jennifer Love presented information about the Coweeta LTER Schoolyard Program that is part of the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research Program and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Several students spoke about the research during a slide show. The project is also on Facebook.


No one from the public signed up to speak during this month's meeting.


Sheriff Holland spoke to members of the board about an upcoming Active Shooter Symposium that will be held at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts on November 10, 2014. 

Here is an excerpt from the webpage devoted to the course on the North Carolina Department of Public Safety:

One of the primary goals of the symposium is to provide an overview of the roles of school personnel, mental health providers, students, law enforcement and other emergency response providers in order to reduce violence in our schools. This overview along with discussing the expectations of those involved will serve to strengthen and maximize a uniformed streamlined approach thereby reducing and minimizing injuries in the event of an active threat. In summation, a dialogue will be fostered among all stakeholders to facilitate and enhance preparedness through a “whole community” approach as recommended by the US Department of Homeland Security addressing school violence.

Course Objectives:

•Mental Health Issues in Schools & Assistance
•Reducing the Amount of Casualties
•Risk Assessment
•Law Enforcement Tactics
•Role of the School Resource Officer
•School Administrators Response
•Profile of the Active Shooter
•Active Shooter History
•Crisis Negotiations

If you are a stakeholder in the school system or an emergency responder and would like to register for the course, click here.

I covered an active shooter drill at WCU in 2009 with the permission of WCU Staff and local law enforcement. I posted video and photos as the drill took place, simulating live coverage of a shooting event.

The Daily record in Wooster, Ohio recorded video during a similar drill in 2013 and is posted below:

And here is a active shooter response training video produced by a public school just northwest of Cincinnati, Ohio:

Fore more information on the A.L.I.C.E. training shown in the above video, please the A.L.I.C.E. Training Institute Youtube page or website. The Departmnet of Homeland Security has a lot of resources on their website for members of the public who want to know more and to help them prepare for their own safety if they encounter a situation (in or out of school) where an active shooter is present.

There were numerous requests for over or out of district trips and requests to engage in various fund raising programs and personnel notifications presented and approved by the board.


The board approved a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with R.E.A.C.H. of Macon County that "formalizes the commitment" of the two organizations "to work together to provide age appropriate prevention focused education for students, employees, and/or parents." The goal is to prevent sexual violence and to respond appropriately to those ho have been victimized.

The board approved a Clinical Psychologist Contract with Dr Reva Ballew.

The board heard and approved the first reading of proposed revisions to Board Policy #810 and #800. (Hyperlinks lead to the documents).

The board also approved an application for a $25,687.80 reimbursement from the Child and Adult care Food Program for food (afternoon snacks) delivered to various after school programs.


Carol Arnold presented an update on the Title I Program in Macon County.

Learn more about what Title I is at the following websites:

NC Dept of Public Instruction

NC Public Schools

Todd Gibbs presented information on renewing Macon Early College's participation in the Cooperative Innovative High School Program. The board approved.

Learn more at the following links:

NC General Statute Authorizing the program

Nancy Cantrell presented a College and Career Promise update.

Some of the information follows:

Macon county students are taking a total of 1,800 semester hours of credit, saving an estimated $135,000 in tuition, activity and tech fees based on $75 per semester hour of credit.

Breakdown by school: (School/Semester Hrs Credit/Est. cost savings)

Macon Early College  1,374 hrs credit for $103,050 of savings

Highlands School  73 hrs credit for $5,475 of savings
Nantahala School 33 hrs credit for $2,475 of savings
Franklin High School 320 hrs credit for $24,000 of savings

Dr Chris Baldwin, Superintendent of Macon County Schools, pointed out that the $75 per credit hour is what community colleges charge per credit hour. He said that WCU charges $300 a credit hour and other schools charge even more, some being triple that the savings would depend on what school the student attended.

Learn more about this program at the Dept of Public Instruction.


The board approved a request by Highlands Country Club to use a bus and discussed carpet replacement bids at Union Academy and Nantahala School. The board also approved shutting down the Owen House due to a failed inspection by the county Fire Marshal. Bringing the building up to code would be cost prohibitive, so the board directed Terry bell to investigate demolition options, including possible use by SCC during a live fire training class.

Board members also heard another update on the septic system at the old Cullasaja Elementary School. The school board has had the property for sale and is trying to maintain the septic system in order to help the property attract potential buyers.

The board discussed ongoing problems with the Drivers Education Car and voted to replace the car with a car that used to be used for Drivers Education and repair the current Drivers Education car and return it to the Board of Education fleet.

Maintenance Supervisor Tracy Tallent informed the board that his crew has salvaged $4,600 of scrap and requested that the amount be credited to his department for the purchase of tools. He mentioned that there would be additional salvage, as it was an ongoing process. The board approved  up $5,000 for that purpose.


The board voted to disburse $39,722 to the county for a School Resource Officer grant and amended the 2014-2015 Budget Resolution, a copy of which is below:


Dr Chris Baldwin shared information regarding the Franklin High School FFA Quiz Bowl Team competing on a national level. The board changed the November meeting date to December 15th at Nantahala School.  The board then voted to approve a proposed meeting calendar for 2015, a copy of which is posted below:

Dr Baldwin and the board also scheduled the swearing of board members who win the election on December 1st at 9 am. 


The board then went into closed session under NCGS 143.318.11 (a)(6) (click here to read the state statute that governs when public bodies can meet in closed session) and returned to open session 59 minutes later. Upon coming back into open session, Stephanie McCall motioned, and Melissa Evans seconded that Devon Deal, currently an Agricultural Teacher at Franklin High School,  following a closed session of the Macon County School Board, that a change in status for Devon Deal, Agriculture Teacher, Franklin High School,  to be named as Lead Teacher of Mountain View Intermediate School, effective date to be subject to naming her replacement at Franklin High School.


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Macon County Airport Authority October 2014 Meeting

The Macon County Airport Authority met on October 28, 2014. Among the items discussed was closing out the runway construction project and beginning the taxiway improvement. Also mentioned were bids for a rotating beacon and a discussion about the helipad lights and AWOS Radio System that no longer work.

The Airport Authority meets on the last Tuesday of the month.

Friday, October 24, 2014

NCAE School Board Candidates' Forum

The Macon County chapter of the North carolina Association of Educators sponsored a forum for candidates running for the school board.

Video of the full forum is posted below.

The Little Free Library on Main Street

The Macon County Public Library, a member of the Fontana Regional Library, and the Friends of the Library installed their first Little Free Library at the Franklin Town Hall yesterday.  The Little Library was initially stocked with books donated to the Friends of the Library and children’s books donated to Read2Me.

The Little Library, built by a dedicated volunteer Jim Hartje, was inspired by the architecture of the Macon County Public Library.    Everyone is encouraged to use the Little Library to find something to read, where they can “take a book and return a book.”

Learn more:

Little Free Library 

Macon County Public Library 

Friends of the Library


Here is a video and a slideshow of the event:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Marine helicopters refuel at airport


Two UH-1Y Venoms and six AH-1W Super Cobras stopped to refuel at the Macon County Airport in Franklin, NC on October 16, 2014 and I was lucky enough to be able to capture the event on video and take a few photos while the Marines went about their duties.

For those with a limited attention span, here is a short video:

and for those of us who can't get enough of this stuff, here is nearly 17 minutes of over an hour of footage:

The helicopters where there about two hours in the late morning and early afternoon. You can see the photos I took on Flickr.

For those who want a little more information on the helicopters and their roles in combat, click on the links below.

UH-1Y Venoms



Bell Helicopters

AH-1W SuperCobras



Bell Helicopters

Macon County Planning Board October 2014

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The Macon County Planning Board met yesterday afternoon at the direction of the county commissioners to investigate a potential noise ordinance for the county. The bulk of the meeting consisted of a conversation with Sheriff Robbie Holland, who shared some statistics with the board.

He said according to the Macon County 911 Center, Macon County Deputies answered 13,443 calls in 2011, 13,337 calls in 2012, 14,125 calls in 2013 and 11,239 calls in the first ten months of 2014. The Sheriff said that each year one percent or less of those calls have been calls related to loud music and disruptive neighbors and many of those calls were multiple calls were to the same locations.

Gavel to gavel video of the meeting is below.

The board will meet again next month on November 20th at 4pm to hear some statistics on Animal Control response to loud animals and to hear from the county attorney. (He has been asked several times to attend a meeting to relay information and answer questions, but never has as long as I have been covering these meetings. The board will also been inquiring from jurisdictions that have noise ordinances about enforceability issues.


Macon Media (me)
The Franklin Press
Macon County News and Shopping Guide

If you read or hear a report about this meeting from another news organization, ask them where they got their information about the meeting.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dedication of the Robert C. Carpenter Building

Dignitaries at the Robert C Carpenter Building Dedication
Photo Copyright 2014 by Bobby Coggins

Family friends and local dignitaries gathered at the Community Facilities Building to mark the renaming of the building in honor of the life and legacy of the late Bob Carpenter, who served eight terms in the North Carolina General Assembly and was very active in the community.

People shared their stories about Bob's life and a resolution passed by the Macon County Commissioners was hung in the entry and then dignitaries posed for photos. The above video is of the main event, and you can check out some photos I took over at Flickr.

More information:

Video of Bob speaking at the 2010 convention of the Macon County Republican Party:

My post marking his death

Wikipedia article

He is in some of the photos I took at an election rally for Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2008.

Friday, October 10, 2014

League of Women Voters Host Candidates for County Commissioner

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The Macon County League of Women Voters hosted a forum for candidates for county commissioner Thursday at noon in Tartan Hall. I posted a live play by play on Google Plus and Facebook and recorded the event on video. The video is embedded below so you can see the entire forum and hear word for word the questions and the answers to each.