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Sunday, January 11, 2009

West of the Balsams News Roundup
January 11, 2009

I bet that I haven't done a linkfest that focused on the real western North Carolina, the six county area that is west of the Balsams that separate Haywood and Jackson counties for nearly a year. So, here goes...and since I am a blogger, I will focus first on the bloggers, then move on to the Dead Tree Media from the west to the east. 

This first piece is by my favorite west of the Balsams blogger, a pseudonymous blogger known as gulahiyi...

After all the recent rain, I’ve seen brooks and rivulets where I haven’t seen them in a long time. But what’s good for groundwater supplies and stream levels isn’t always so good for houses built on precarious slopes. Two people miraculously escaped death when their new house in Maggie Valley tumbled down the mountain this week.

The devastation was similar to that of a deadly landslide that destroyed a Maggie Valley home in 2003, shown here in a North Carolina Geological Survey (NCGS) photo...

Source: |Ruminations ffrom the Distant Hills|, in
Slip Sliding Away

And this one from Bill Graham...

RALEIGH–When former football star Heath Shuler displaced longtime congressman Charles Taylor as the 11th district’s representative in Washington, folks worried that the mountains would lose a seat on the big stage by sending a neophyte to replace the entrenched Taylor.

Fret no more.

Former Preseident Bill Clinton will host a $1,000 to $5,000-a-plate fundraiser for 11th District Rep. Heath Shuler later this month in Raleigh, reports the Raleigh News and Observer.

Source: |The Southern Highland Reader|, in
Bill Clinton to host fundraiser for Shuler

And now to the electronic versions of the dead tree news...


Murphy – The man charged with the death of a 3-year-old boy after he struck a four-wheeler on which the youngster was a passenger will spend 12½ -16 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday at the Cherokee County Courthouse.

Nicholas Eric Brumbley, 22, of Farner, Tenn., pled guilty as a jury was waiting to be seated. On April 29, Brumbley, while legally drunk, struck an ATV driven by Grady Anderson of Hiwassee Dam. Anderson’s grandson, Brady Singleton, was knocked down an embankment and pinned under it.

Source: |The Cherokee Scout|, in
Drunk driver pleads guilty in boy’s death


I have always wanted to go to the possum drop in Clay County, but the weather has not been kind to that wish...

About 2,000 people braved the frigid 20-degree temperature, dense fog and misty rains that rolled in New Year’s Eve, but inclement weather could not dampen the spirits of the folks who came to Clay’s Corner in Brasstown to usher in the new year at the 2008/2009 Possum Drop.

The festivities kicked off with a blessing given by Dr. Dan Stroup and the Brasstown Brigade including Dr. Mitchell, George Heilner and friends.

As the evening progressed, the crowd was entertained with live music and plenty of humor provided by the master of ceremonies and event founder, Clay Logan, also known as the “Ambassador of Brasstown.”

Source: |Clay County Progress|, in
Possum Drop a blast


Graham County is in the process of hiring a county manager,  and if you want to read the had better hop on over there before they delete it and replace it with the next top story when the next edition of the paper comes out...

The Graham County Commission will pore over 21 applications for county manager in the upcoming days, but no firm date has been set for hiring the key position.
Interim County Manager Kim Crisp said the county received 21 applications by the Dec. 24 cutoff dat The Graham County Commission will pore over 21 applications for county manager in the upcoming days, but no firm date has been set for hiring the key position.
Interim County Manager Kim Crisp said the county received 21 applications by the Dec. 24 cutoff date. 
At Tuesday evening’s commission meeting, Chairman Bruce Snyder asked the board what they wanted to do about the appointment.
"Should we set a firm date [to hire]?" Snyder said.
Commissioner Billy Cable said the county needs to act as quickly as possible, but he thought Commissioner Jerry Sherrill should be present to consider the hiring. 
Sherrill has missed all meetings since November after he was injured in a fall. Sherrill was not present when the board voted 2-1 to remove former County Manager Lynn Cody. 
Smith suggested each commissioner pick four candidates they like and see if they match up. 
The commission will likely interview the top candidates in a closed session in the next few weeks.

Source: |Graham Star|, in 
Commission to mull 21 candidates for manager


Macon County can boast of half a dozen newspapers, with four having websites. Here is a story from the northwestern section of the county...

Whether it be recent rainfall or the economic downturn, owners of many outdoor businesses have reported a drop in business while hoping for a better summer.

James Reid of Reid’s Lawn Service said his work has decreased significantly this year. Typically, Reid said he has two employees working 25-30 hours a week during the winter. This year, Reid’s crew works about four or five hours a week.

“We need the rain, but I don’t think it’s the rain that’s hurt our business” he said. “It’s the economy.”

Reid said to get major projects done, he typically needs two to three dry days before hand for the ground to dry up.

“It’s just hard to get projects done,” he said, “It’s just working in between showers, that’s all you can do.”

Source: |The Andrews Journal|, in
Rain, economy takes big toll on outside businesses

And this from the opposite end of the county, in the southeastern corner...

Affordable housing task force members weathered a setback when they lost a crucial vote at a town board meeting in August, but members say they continue to work to create affordable housing in Highlands.

“We have not given up,” said Bob Wright, affordable housing task force chairman. “We will present our ideas much more thoroughly the next time around (to the public). We’re also looking at alternative approaches, anything from single-family to multi-family.”
The town voted against connecting the town’s sewer and water to the proposed Shortoff Woods affordable housing development on the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital campus outside town limits because they said it would set a precedent for future connection requests. It appeared that with that vote, the possibility of building the project on that site had been squashed.

However, Wright said that even though the committee is looking at more than 275 possible sites for an affordable housing project, the hospital’s campus has not been crossed off the list yet.

Source: |The Highlander|, in
Affordable housing task force continues its work

And here is a story about the passing of a man who has shaped more lives than any other in Macon County, Mr. Proffit from the major county paper, The Franklin Press...

Teacher, friend, father, mentor and community leader – those are just a few words that come to mind with the mention of Wayne Proffitt. A man whose name is synonymous with the Macon County Fair, Wayne Proffitt, 80, passed away Monday, Dec. 29, after a lengthy illness.

Proffitt was well known throughout the community as most of the men who were raised in Franklin likely sat in his classroom at one time or another. An agricultural teacher for 44 years at Franklin High School, Proffitt was also the last surviving charter board member of the Macon County Agricultural Fair.

“They wouldn’t allow girls to take agriculture until the early 1970s, but I know my father had a huge impact on many of the men in this county, and I’m not saying that just because he’s my father,” said his daughter, Gail Young.
Young said her father expected the best and taught her a great deal about respect.

“He was kind and gentle, but you behaved for him,” she said. “My father expected us to be respectful both in manner and appearance,” she said.

His former students echoed not only the discipline but also other life lessons Proffitt imparted during his life dedicated to the students of this county.

“He was a very special man in a lot of ways, especially to his students,” said Ronnie Beale, a former student and longtime friend of Proffitt. “He taught you things you could carry into your adult life, and any of his students would echo what I’m saying.
“He was a person who didn’t command respect, but he received it,” Beale said. “He was a quiet leader. We were rowdy boys, but not in his class.”

Source: |Macon County News|, in
Macon mourns the loss of beloved Ag teacher Wayne Proffitt

And another look at the rains from the same paper...

December rains have brought some relief to drought-stricken Macon County, according to a recent report from the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council (DMAC), which monitors drought conditions statewide.

On Dec. 11 the DMAC listed the county under exceptional drought status, the highest of their five drought classification levels.

As of the most current DMAC report on Jan. 1, Macon is now listed under a severe drought status, the third highest category of drought.

Drought conditions have been improving all over the state and presently only 28 counties are listed under any form of drought advisory, according to DMAC's website.

In contrast, at the end of 2007, Macon was one of 67 counties experiencing an exceptional drought and all one hundred counties in North Carolina were still listed under one of the three highest levels of drought.

Source: |The Franklin Press|, in
Rainfall brightens outlook


Jail Break in Swain County! I once had the same opportunity, but discretion won the day on my part, and hundreds of others down through the years. 

Jody Montgomery Smallwood put a lot of effort into staying out of jail. Nonetheless, his housing arrangement at press time was in a cell in the Swain County Law Enforcement Center.

Smallwood, 37, of Knoxville, Tenn., was scheduled to appear before a judge on Monday, but escaped from a holding cell at the Swain County Courthouse shortly before 11:30 a.m. He then led local law enforcement officers on a seven-hour search and a high speed chase that ended on U.S. 19/74.

Smallwood had been arrested on Saturday for felony fleeing/eluding arrest with a motor vehicle, driving while license revoked, driving while impaired, resisting a public officer, reckless driving, failure to heed light and siren, possession of controlled substance at prison/jail and possession of Schedule II controlled substance.

Source: |The Smoky Mountain Times|, in 
Suspect's capture caps manhunt, high-speed chase 


CHEROKEE - Cherokee Police Detectives have arrested and charged three people in connection with the Tribal Operations Building arson investigation.
Considerable progress has been made in the investigation however, no one has been charged with the arson at this time. 
Those arrested are Tara Pheasant McCoy, 32, Justin Michael Arch, 26, and Cammy Jo Brady, 22, all of Cherokee. All are charged with burglary, grand larceny, receiving or possessing stolen property and criminal conspiracy. 
Cherokee Police continue to investigate all leads from the community, and will utilize all available resources for their investigation. 

Source: |Cherokee Times Online|, in 
Three Charged With Larceny in Connection to Arson Investigation


Here is a story regarding the teaching of something other than socialism at Western Carolina University. There are some commie professors with very ruffled feathers on campus!!!
In its agreement with the university, dated March 14, 2008, BB&T agreed to give WCU $1 million over seven years. Officials from the College of Business, aware that the bank had made donations to other schools, approached BB&T about the money because they wanted to establish an interdisciplinary business course, “designed for students to explore issues involving ethics, leadership and capitalism,” said Ronald Johnson, Dean of the WCU College of Business.

In exchange for its donation, BB&T wanted “to impact the leadership, ethics and capitalism” curriculum, according to the agreement. Some of the ways it would do so proved to be a bone of contention with some faculty, who didn’t become aware of the terms of the agreement until after it was already signed by university administrators.

The agreement called for the establishment of a new Distinguished Professorship of Capitalism. “The Professor shall work closely with the Ayn Rand Institute and have a reasonable understanding and positive attitude toward Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism,” it stated.

This was a red flag for Hale and others, who wondered how the professor could be critical of Rand’s philosophy if he or she was expected to hold it in a positive light.

“It is clear that s/he will have little academic freedom to analyze critically Rand,” wrote Hale in an email to the chancellor, provost and deans.

There was also concern over the involvement of the Ayn Rand Institute. The organization seeks to further Rand’s ideas, and is viewed by some as espousing radical right-wing viewpoints. Recent opinion pieces and articles on its Web site included “The Danger of Environmentalism,” and “Animal ‘Rights’ and the New Man Haters.” Faculty were cautious of the organization wielding too much power over the new curriculum.

Source: |Smoky Mountain News|, in
Who controls what’s taught? Donation sparks debate over academic integrity

Here is an article regarding the years-long battle that has been waged between the Jackson county commissioners and a bunch of pissed off environmentalist whackos who want Sylva to end up like Asheville with their screwed up road system. The messed up roads are one reason I don't go to Asheville for anything unless I absolutley cannot avoid it.

A member of the Jackson County Smart Roads group told county commissioners on Monday (Jan. 5) that there needs to be more planning when it comes to the proposed N.C. 107 connector, a.k.a. Southern Loop.

The proposed road would connect N.C. 107 with U.S. 23/74 to relieve congestion on N.C. 107.

The Smart Roads representative, Jeanette Evans, said it is up to the county to develop a vision for future growth and development, particularly along the county’s primary commercial artery. She suggested that now is a good time for the county to launch a plan for N.C. 107 since the N.C. Department of Transportation is footing the bill to come up with solutions to congestion, whether it’s building a by-pass or improving the existing roadway.

It may be a good idea to develop an individual plan for N.C. 107 similar to what has been done on the 441 corridor, Evans said.

Evans, who is the Smart Roads representative on the Jackson County Transportation Task Force, said whatever is done to N.C. 107 will have a permanent affect on the county. The transportation task force is just in the “modeling stage” of determining how growth will affect N.C 107.

The fear is that the Southern Loop would destroy mountain landscapes.

County Commissioner Joe Cowan said N.C. 107 has been discussed for 10 years and has been “talked to death.” Cowan said Smart Roads has not developed one plan that addresses traffic concerns on N.C. 107. He said Smart Roads is “stagnant.”

Source: |Smoky Mountain News|, in
Smart Roads calls on county to step up in 107 planning

Jackson County has bought themselves a well. How nice.

Jackson County commissioners voted unanimously to purchase a state certified public well in Cashiers to the tune of $350,000.

"This type of purchase doesn't come to an entity often," said Commissioner Mark Jones of the well, previously owned by William McKee. "It allows very fair treatment to customers based on state utility requirements."

Commissioners made the decision at their Monday, January 5 meeting.

The well produces 110 gallons of water per minute and currently serves 11 customers in Cashiers, including Summit Charter School. It will be used to serve these current customers, as well as new ones as water needs arise.

"The number one priority is making sure our public buildings like the library, the post office and the new recreation center all have water," Jones said.

The county plans to turn over the newly purchased well to the Tuckaseigee Sewer and Water Authority. That means future customers would tap in through TWSA, not the county. Jones said the reason for the transfer is because the county. "is not in the business of selling water." The transfer should take a couple of weeks and is pending an approval from the State Utilities Commission. It is up in the air whether or not the county will hand over the well or sell it to TWSA.

"Will we charge them? Will it be free?" Jones said. "We have not made that decision yet."

Source: |Crossroads Chronicle|, in
Jackson County buys public well in Cashiers

Here is a story regarding the fight to keep the Dillsboro Dam by the Jackson County commissioners. Duke Power has been wanting to destroy the dam for years, and has refused to sell it to Jackson County

Duke Energy this week opened another front in its five-year legal battle with Jackson County over the removal of the Dillsboro Dam.

Power company lawyers Monday (Jan. 5) filed a complaint with the Jackson County Clerk of Court stating that commissioners and planning director Linda Cable have illegally denied Duke permits to dredge behind the dam, a required step in advance of federally mandated dam removal.

Along with a court order requiring the county to issue those permits, Duke is requesting the county pay its attorney fees and at least $10,000 in damages.

The matter will be heard in Superior Court.

“We regret having to file this suit, but we feel the county is breaking the law by not issuing those permits,” said Fred Alexander, Duke’s business relations manager. “Our basis for the suit is that the county should not require these permits, but if they do require them, there’s no reason they should not have given them to us. Right now we’re under two orders from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to get that dam out by sometime in 2010. This is keeping us from following those orders.”

According to county Manager Ken Westmoreland, the legal dispute with Duke over removing the Dillsboro Dam has to be settled before any permits required for dredging can be issued. Until that ongoing case is settled, he said the county can’t issue the permits.

Source: |The Sylva Herald|, in
As promised, Duke takes county to court over permits