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.

nullspace for future use

nullspace for future use


Friday, June 21, 2013

Macon County Planning Board 06-20-2013

June 2013 Planning Board

The Macon County Planning Board met yesterday afternoon and discussed the county sign ordinance, including whether or not the county needed one and the issue of non-enforcement of the current county sign ordinance, which has been in place since the middle 1990s. It was also brought up that the NC DOT sporadically enforces their own sign ordinance, typically during mowing operations.

The county planner reminded board members that the there would be a public hearing on the county subdivision ordinance at the July 9, 2013 meeting of the county commissioners. The next meeting of the planning board will be July 18, 2013 at 4pm.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Franklin TDA 06-10-2013

Franklin TDA Generic Meeting Notice

The next meeting of the board will be Tuesday, June 18th at 5.30pm.

**note** This conflicts with the previously scheduled meeting of the Macon County Commissioners. I'll try to arrange to have cameras at both events. I may need a volunteer who is willing to sit with the camera I leave at the TDA meeting to ensure that Mike Gruberman does not shut it down prior to the start of the meeting like he did the last time I had two meetings that conflicted.

Here is a copy of the agenda (I've corrected some formatting errors that were present in the official copy), minutes the financial report, which was only included with the printed version of the document. I'll try to transcribe it if I have time...but I am very busy this week and may forget.

Town of Franklin Tourism Development Authority

Monday June 10, 2013
5.30pm Town Hall Board Room

1.) Call to order - CHair Candy Pressley

2.) Approval of the May 8 and May 13, 2013 minutes

3.) Financial Report - Summer Woodard

4.) Sub-Committee Reports
a. Finance.Budget Chair report - Mike Gruberman
b. Policy and Rules of Procedure Report - Vickie Springer
c. Application and Review Chair report - Summer Woodard

5.) New Business
a. Presentation by Premier Marketing
b. Discussion on Marketing Plan for FY 2013-2014

6.) Items from the board

7.) Announcements - The next regularly scheduled TDA meeting is Monday, July 8, 2013 at 5.30pm in the Town Hall Boardroom.

8.) Adjourn

Friday, June 7, 2013

Two Minor Quakes Shake Macon and Jackson Counties
Updated with Information on the June 7th Tremor

**update** Another minor quake, this one Magnitude 2.4 has happened this morning. Some people are reporting they felt two separate events. I have added information about the new quake at the end of this article.

**update #2** The USGS has adjusted the magnitudes of the recent quakes as follows:

The strength of the second quake (previously 2.2 Magnitude) has been more than doubled to match the first quake. Both are now rated at 2.5 Magnitude.

Today's quake, previously rated 2.4, has been lowered to 2.3 Magnitude. 

**update #3** They've also changed the epicenters to the quakes. They are all reported to have taken place beneath Panther Knob now.

June 6th 2013 Quake Epicenters

Yesterday, June 6, 2013, two small quakes occurred beneath Panther Knob. The first one (orange circle in the above graphic) happened at 5:58:14 am and was heard or felt by people in Macon and Jackson Counties, waking a few up. It registered Magnitude 2.5 at occurred at a depth of 4.4 miles.

The second one (red star in the above graphic) happened at 2:21:19 pm and was felt or heard by a number of people also. It registered Magnitude 2.2 and occurred at th a depth of 3.17 miles. It released less than half the energy of the first minor quake.

Minor earthquakes above Magnitude 2.0 like these happen about ten times a year within a hundred mile radius of where these occurred, most of them in Tennessee, where there is more geological activity. Lesser tremors below 2.0 occur more frequently.

USGS Event Pages are available for both quakes and I have linked to them below for your convenience.

5.58 am Quake Event PageUSGS Community Intensity Map

2.21 pm Quake Event PageUSGS Community Intensity Map

A map from the North Carolina Geological Survey showing epicenters of earthquakes between 1698 and 1997 is available at


June 7 Quakes

June 7th Earthquake Information:

Another minor quake has been reported. It was a Magnitude 2.4 and happened at 6:28:50 at a depth of 3 miles below the Comer Knob area (just a little north of the two previous tremors. Here is a map of where the quakes are in relation to one another:

More information on this morning's tremor is below:

June 7, 2013 6:28:50 am Quake

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Macon County Fails to Receive PARTF Grant for Parker Meadows Property
Will have to pay full price

Parker Meadows

RALEIGH — State officials today announced the award of $3.8 million in grants from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to 14 local governments for parks and recreation projects.

“Through the local grant program of the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, state and local governments have been partners in providing green space, outdoor recreation opportunities and stimulus into local economies,” said Lewis Ledford, director of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. “The result has been healthier citizens and improvement in the quality of life in North Carolina.”

The matching grants, awarded by the Parks and Recreation Authority, will help fund land acquisition, development and renovation of public park and recreation areas. The authority considered 73 grant applications requesting more than $20 million. A maximum of $500,000 can be awarded to a single project.

Source: NC Political News
Hat Tip: Anonymous

From what I heard at the Commissioner meetings, this grant was supposed to be a slam dunk. Guess not.

The county will now have to pay $550,000 for the property.

Here is video of the vote by Commissioners that allowed the purchase to go through to completion...

FY 2013-2014 Macon County Budget Discussion Videos

Budget Discussions

According to my calculations, the county commissioners have spent around 16 hours publicly discussing elements of the FY 2013-2014 county budget. Close to 6 hours alone have been spent on the budget of the Macon County School System.

They still have a public hearing on the budget (next Tuesday at 6pm) and another possible meeting beyond that.

This article has all the videos of their budget discussions in one place for anyone who cares to sit through something that is an hour and twenty minutes longer (and less entertaining) than The Winds of War Miniseries.

I have written no commentary for this article so that you may make up your own mind regarding the content of the videos and have included copies of the annual budget message by the county manager and the proposed budget so that you may download them and read them for yourself. 

Please let your friends know that the entire series of public meetings is available here for them to watch for themselves instead of reading a few paragraphs in the local papers spread out over the course of the last five months.

I will add a video of the public hearing and any other additional public meetings held by the Macon County Commissioners regarding the FY 2013-2014 budget to this article, so bookmark it for future reference.

County Manager's FY 2013-14 Budget Message by Thunder Pig

2014 Admin Recommended Budget by Thunder Pig

Mid-Year Retreat January 19, 2013

Part I (1h 44m)

Part II (1h 28m)

Part III (1h 24m)

Joint Meeting between the Macon County Commissioners and the Board of Education (2h 02m) 02-26-2013

Joint Meeting between the Macon County Commissioners and the Board of Education (1h 55m) 04-18-2013

County Manager's Budget Message May 20, 2013 (48m)

Budget Work Session I May 28, 2013 (1h 39m)

Budget Work Session II: Public Safety May 30, 2013 (2h 40m)

Budget Work Session III: Board of Education June 4, 2013 (2h 13m)

Macon County Commissioners
Budget Work Session III: Board of Education 06-04-2013

June 4 Budget Work Session
Here is low resolution video of the budget work session held last night by the Macon County Commissioners, the bulk of which was devoted to "discussing" the budget of the Macon County School System. I didn't get the feel that the Commissioners were willing to budge on their previous position of not giving the Board of Education any more than they've already committed to in the FY 2013-2014 budget.

To refresh your memory, the proposed budget includes $7,118,330 for current expenditures for the Macon County School System.


See for yourself all the videos of the FY 2013-2014 Budget Meetings held by the Macon County Commissioners.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Storm Chasers Get Too Close to Tornadoes in Oklahoma
Is it Time to License Chasers?

Mike Bettes the Hypocrite Storm Chaser

I'll just leave this here and let you compare the hypocrisy of The Weather Channel's Mike Bettes speak for itself. People like him, Brandon Sullivan and Reed Timmer give legitimate severe weather chase teams a bad name with their blood lust for better footage in the name of TV Ratings and profit from the sale of footage of tornadoes.

Mike Bettes in 2011 on storm chasers who get too close to storms, risking getting flipped and injured:

“Chasing can be an educational and exhilarating experience, but it also is inherently dangerous. An increasing trend I see happening is chasers trying to get as close as possible to one-up their competition, and cash in on dramatic video. And the one thing I always hear from professional chasers is how safety is their number one concern, and warning the public is their number one priority. Me? I Call B.S. on that one. When you’re being hit by debris, and you’re flipping your car while pursuing a tornado, you’re not very concerned about your safety, or anyone else’s. You’re setting a bad example for a younger generation of chasers who follow your lead.” - Mike Bettes, 2011 

Compare that to the following video from yesterday, where he gets too close, gets flipped and suffers minor injuries:

Video of Brandon Sullivan purposefully driving into the circulation of a tornado and getting pounded by debris:


The videos above show examples of the type of "storm chaser" that gives legitimate severe weather research teams a bad name.

I am a small government type of guy, but I believe the time has come for storm chasers to go through a licensing process by the federal government, probably the National Weather Service and licenses should be permanently revoked for getting this close to a storm unless they're in an approved research vehicle.

The people in the above videos should NEVER be allowed in a storm area unless they live there.

One way to stop this storm chasing for profit would be for the legitimate research teams to start providing footage to the networks and TV Stations for free or next to free. And perhaps they could have Public Information Officers to liaise with the media and the public via social media and live streams.

If you can devalue the sale of video footage and photographs of tornadoes, then that might stop some of the nonsense of people chasing to solely sell video.

People like Reed Timmer and Brandon Sullivan is an example of the type of "storm chaser" that gives legitimate severe weather research teams a bad name. 

At this point, as I mentioned above, I would even support a type of federal licensing program, but I think it would be a bear to set up and monitor. Perhaps it could be like what amateur radio operators have to go through that would subject the license holders to severe fines if they violate the terms. 

I am sure this will be a topic of discussion on Monday night's episode of "Weather Brains." You can follow along  on Google Plus or their website.

PS: Here are some guidelines for chasing severe weather responsibly:

Responsible Chasing

Acting responsibly is a good way to ensure that chasing isn't associated with yahoos, wackos, and thrill-seekers. Apart from ensuring that safety is a constant consideration and courtesy is an automatic action, what do I mean by responsible storm chasing?
1. Keeping our enthusiasm for violent weather in the proper place. If you've had your home and perhaps loved ones taken from you by a tornado, then you are probably not going to react favorably to a bunch of folks whooping it up enthusiastically over a tornado. When I first drove into the damage path of the Union City tornado, shortly after it left town, I realized that the tornadoes that I wanted to happen could wreak havoc on people's lives. After some reflection, I realized that what I wanted didn't really change the weather (good thing, too!), and that by happening in front of trained observers, what we learned could be used to mitigate the impact of such storms in the future. But I still feel uncomfortable dealing with tornado victims. Talking about death and destruction as a good thing in front of the wrong people, even as a joke, can create an awful impression of storm chasers. Virtually all storm chasers would be delighted to have tornadoes happen only in open country where not even crops would be damaged.
2. Chasers can be of tremendous help to science and to the public if they will take a few moments to report what they have seen. Call or visit the appropriate NWS office and give the report of what was seen, including the location of the event(s) and the time(s) of occurrence. I personally do not believe it is necessary to break off a storm chase to call in a report, unless you have some electronic communication aboard your chase vehicle so that you can make a report without terminating the chase. However, as soon as possible afterward, you should report the event(s). If you feel that the storm is about to strike without any warning and you have the opportunity to do something to warn people, then by all means do what you are able to do.
3. Responsible chasers don't endanger themselves or others. Keep in mind that your actions might be used to portray storm chasing as a whole. If you behave recklessly, without regard for your safety and, especially, the safety and well-being of others, then you invite people to make the unfair comparison. I don't want the job of having to answer for your irresponsible actions!
4. Effective chasing is a constant learning process, and responsible chasers need to be aware of what is going on in severe thunderstorm and tornado science. It behooves all of us to be informed about the latest scientific findings, even if the only rationale is to make us better chasers. Participate in the process and don't be selfish with it. If you have seen something noteworthy, you can be responsible for preventing future disasters through sharing what you have seen. Knowing what is noteworthy requires you to be knowledgeable about the science of severe storms, so it is a two-way street that works most effectively when everyone shares what they know for scientific and educational purposes freely.
5. Chasing can become a dangerous obsession. Student chasers who let their studies go to follow the convection run the risk of sacrificing their careers. Chasers who neglect their family responsibilities to chase are not folks I admire, no matter how much they "succeed" in chasing. Letting chasing get in the way of any work responsibilities is also a problem, in my view. Some folks wear their obsession about chasing as some sort of badge of honor, but I say "Get a life!" Everyone has to decide on an individual basis what is their operational definition of "responsible" chasing from this personal point of view. All I know is that building a life totally around storm chasing, in my opinion, is not a very responsible life.
6. Stay out of tornado damage areas if possible. During a chase, this seems fairly obvious. Damage paths are full of hazards that no one would enjoy if it is possible to avoid them; downed power lines, jagged pieces of sheet metal, boken boards, etc. When the chase is over, some chasers may want to do their own damage survey ... in general this is a bad idea! Stay out of such places unless you have been invited to participate as part of an organized storm damage survey or a cleanup crew. You are likely to be in the way of cleanup and folks who have been hit by a tornado tend to be suspicious of strangers in their midst. Gawkers are not appreciated and being taken for a potential looter is not likely to make you welcome!