Officials are looking for a person who pointed a laser at an aircraft. The pilot radioed the FAA with ground coordinates, which placed the person with the pointer at the intersection of Old US-70 and West Orchard Road in Old Fort. The incident occurred yesterday and McDowell County 911 was contacted. Officers who responded found no one at that scene and say it would be about impossible to locate, but local authorities are still investigating. The FBI recently launched a nationwide crackdown, targeting people who point lasers at planes. Civil penalties can go as high as $30,000, and in criminal cases, up to five years in prison.
Driving the length of the Blue Ridge National Parkway has been ranked the fifth best National Park experience by two travel writers. Kay and David Scott - authors of the acclaimed travel books Guide to the National Park Areas: Western States and Guide to the National Park Areas: Eastern States say the 469 mile route stretching from Virginia thru North Carolina is the experience of a lifetime. Many people cruise the route every year, enjoying the beauty, the limited access points and no commercial signs or vehicles. Short drives off of the Parkway allow you to experience the local communities. Overlooks and established picnic areas are located all along the roadway as are many camping facilities. The Parkway accesses Mitchell County at NC226 South and Yancey County at Hwy 80 South.
Residents of Lincoln Park in Burnsville took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday to celebrate a new pump station in their community. For some time the residents of the area had suffered with low water pressure in their homes and apartments. But through the efforts of (more)
A string of robberies around Bakersville has led to a full scale investigation by the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department and one arrest has been made so far. Within a two week span, at least three residences along Hwy. 261 north of Bakersville have been robbed, according to authorities who say intruders had stolen money, TV’s, video games systems and laptop computers as well as other items. All the residences were just miles apart and the Sherriff’s Department believes the break-ins occurred around the same time. The department got a break on one of the cases when, after checking area pawn shops, it was discovered that a TV had been pawned from one of the break-ins. Jonathan William Ponder Jr. of Snow Creek Road was arrested and charged with felony breaking and entering and larceny as well as obtaining property by false pretenses. Ponder is accused of breaking into a camper trailer on Snow Creek and taking items including a television. He was released on a $3,500 secured bond. At this time officials cannot find any connection between Ponder and the other break-ins in the Bakersville area but the investigation is ongoing.
A jury returned a guilty verdict, for second-degree murder on John Hurbert Pritchard, 62, of Burnsville. He had been charged in the March 6, 2011 death of Jonathan Russell Whitson Jr., 29, who was found deceased in a home located off English Branch Road in the Jacks Creek Community. Pritchard, a former substance abuse counselor, could serve up to 20 years in jail. He was also found guilty of intentionally and unlawfully distributing morphine, a Schedule II Controlled Substance, and maintaining a vehicle to distribute drugs. (more)
With the beginning of prom season, North Carolina the Highway Patrol will conduct Operation “Drive to Live” during the week of April 21, 2014. The operation will be conducted from 6:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. each day. The operation is an initiative by the Highway Patrol to reduce the number of teenage related traffic collisions and deaths. According to National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, young drivers are significantly over represented in fatal crashes, particularly 16- and 17-year-old. One area that is particularly concerning is distracted driving.Our youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk, with 16% of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under 20. In 2013, the Highway Patrol investigated over 47,013 motor vehicle collisions involving drivers and passengers who were between the ages of 15 – 19. Of those collisions, 86 resulted in one or more fatalities. Troopers will be enforcing all traffic laws around the state’s schools and conducting traffic safety education programs at the high schools prior to the school year ending.
The N.C Department of Transportation has awarded a contract for improvements along the Interstate 26 and N.C. 280 interchange in Asheville near the Buncombe/Henderson county line. Once the project is completed, the updated and redesigned interchange will make the intersection more efficient and reduce congestion through the area. The $8,775,537 contract was awarded to Young & McQueen Grading Company, Inc. of Burnsville. Work on the project can begin as soon as mid-May, with final completion scheduled for late November 2016. In an effort to minimize the construction's impact on motorists, most of the project work with the potential to disrupt traffic flow will be done during off-peak hours. This is one of the 25 road and bridge contracts worth $71 million recently awarded by NCDOT for projects across North Carolina. The contracts were awarded to the lowest bidders, as required by state law. The low bids received on the projects were 1.2 percent, or $845,000 below NCDOT estimates.
The Center for Rural Health Innovation and Country Cablevision held a live technology demonstration at the new Technology Center in Burnsville, Tuesday, April 15th to show the benefits of telemedicine to the community.
The deadline for filing your taxes is fast approaching. According to the IRS, you must have your 2013 tax return postmarked by midnight tonight, April 15, 2014, to receive your tax refund or to avoid late penalties. In Yancey and Mitchell Counties the US Post Office will be operating on their regular schedule today with a 4:30 p.m. deadline for last pickup of mail from their drop boxes.
Unemployment rates fell across Western North Carolina according to recent figures released by the Commerce Department. In Yancey County the unemployment rate dropped from 8.4 to 7.8 percent from January to February, in Mitchell it fell from 9.5 to 8.9 percent and in Avery the rate declined from 8.3 to 8.0 percent. Madison County saw its rate drop to 5.5 from 5.9 percent in January while McDowell’s unemployment rate fell to 7.5 from 7.9 percent.
North Carolina’s jobless rate dropped to 6.4 percent in February, the lowest since mid-2008. It’s also the first time in eight years the state has posted a lower unemployment rate than the national average, which was 6.7 percent last month. February’s drop continues a trend in which the state’s unemployment picture is making dramatic gains while other economic measures lag. North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.7 percent in January and from 8.6 percent in February 2013.
For the second consecutive year Yancey Hospice has been named a 2014 Hospice Honors recipient, a prestigious award recognizing hospice agencies providing the best patient care and caregiver experience. Awarded by Deyta, this prestigious annual honor recognizes the top 100 agencies in the country that continuously provide the highest level of satisfaction through their care as measured (more)
Unless you’ve been vacationing on a tropical island for the past few days, you’ve likely heard of the “Heartbleed” bug, a computer security vulnerability that can reveal the contents of a server’s memory and expose private data such as user names, passwords and even credit card information. The Better Business serving Asheville/Western NC would like to provide the (more)
Patrick Ronald Silva, 43, of Burnsville appeared in U.S. District Court in Asheville Friday, April 11, for arraignment on federal indictments charging him with sexual exploitation of a minor. The charges were the result of an investigation in February 2013 that resulted in Silva and Tabatha Black being arrested. Black has not yet been served with warrants to appear in U.S. District Court on the federal charges. She was charged locally with four felony counts of first-degree sex offense with a minor and has remained in jail since her arrest. Silva has been out on bond awaiting trial on the same charges in Yancey County. He was served with federal warrants on Tuesday, April 8th. Appearing before a U.S, District Court judge, the federal indictment was read and Silva entered a not guilty plea. He remains in jail until trial or a plea agreement is reached, or he calls for a bond hearing. A trial date of May 7, 2014 was set during the arraignment. The original charges allege that Black took inappropriate photos involving a child and Silva then distributed them online. Local authorities were contacted by overseas law enforcement that discovered the photos online and tracked them back to Silva.
N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced today that the International Trade Division (ITD), in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has established an educational series entitled Global Appalachia Eye Opener Workshops. The workshops will consist of a customized look at innovative businesses located in the Appalachian Region. It will allow any business the (more)
Burnsville has been selected by the American Planning Association, NC Chapter as a finalist in its Great Places in NC: Public Places award category. An expert panel selected Burnsville, along with six other communities, to participate in an online “People’s Choice” contest. There were numerous nominations from across the state and Burnsville and the other finalists in this category will compete for the award, as determined by the number of online votes received for each community. This is a very prestigious award that has become extremely competitive over the years. Please spread the word about this amazing opportunity for the Town and get all your friends and supporters of Burnsville and Yancey County to vote online. More information about the contest and the opportunity to vote is available at www.greatplacesnc.org.
The N.C Department of Transportation will begin replacing a bridge on N.C. 226 over Big Rock Creek in Mitchell County on Wednesday, April 16,. A detour will be in place during construction to help motorists navigate the bridge closure. Motorists traveling along N.C. 226 at Big Rock Creek will be asked to take Fork Mountain Road to N.C. 261 before turning back onto N.C. 226. The Big Rock Creek bridge replacement costs about $950,000 and is the final project to be completed in a contract for nine bridge replacements in NCDOT’s Division 13. The $8,040,000 contract for the bridge replacement projects includes replacing one bridge in Buncombe County, two in Burke County, one in Madison County, three in Mitchell County and two in Rutherford County.
The new Big Rock Creek Bridge will be slightly wider than the original structure and will accommodate all legal loads. The existing structure was built in 1949 and is considered structurally deficient. That means that although the bridge is considered safe, it requires significant maintenance and repair to remain in service, and therefore needs to be replaced.
Mountain Heritage High School Principal Kevin Huskins reported at the regular meeting of the Yancey County Board of Education on April 7th that the Mountain Heritage High School dropout rate has just been announced for the March 2013-March 2014 timeframe and is the lowest in the (more)
Governor Pat McCrory has appointed former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert “Bob” Orr as the interim district attorney for the 24th Judicial District to fill the vacancy created by District Attorney Jerry Wilson with his sudden retirement March 31st due to health problems. Gov. Pat McCrory's office announced the appointment on its website Tuesday, saying, "I would like to thank Justice Orr for (more)
(provided by the Yancey County Sheriff's Department)
Jeff Ronald Miller, 54 and Debbie Lyn Miller, 52 of 701 English Branch Road, Burnsville were arrested after a search warrant was executed on April 1, 2014 at their residence on English Branch Road. Deputies located a sophisticated in-door grow operation with a large amount of marijuana ready for use and approximately 100 plants growing (more + pics)
District Attorney Jerry Wilson has announced early retirement. This announcement was received from the 24th Judicial District District Attorney's office that serves Yancey, Mitchell, Madison, Avery and Watauga Counties. Wilson was initially slated to retire at the end of his term, which was set to expire after the upcoming general election in November, but a battle with lung cancer forced Wilson to expedite his retirement. Wilson announced his retirement effective March 31st. Wilson said he counted it a special honor that the people of this district allowed him to serve them as District Attorney and Prosecutor for over 30 years. Wilson served in the District Attorney’s office for 32 years – with 20 of those years as assistant district attorney. Three Republicans, including Assistant DA Britt Springer, are running for the district attorney's position, with the winner to be decided by the May 6 primary. The other candidates are Seth Banks of Burnsville and Nathan Miller of Boone. A decision on the interim district attorney will be announced by the governor’s office.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is accepting grant proposals from nonprofits and government agencies through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The program aims to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the marketplace. The department will accept grant requests ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 from nonprofit organizations, commodity associations, state and local government agencies, colleges and universities. The application deadline is 5 p.m. May 2. Projects involving the following specialty crops are eligible: fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, as well as nursery, floriculture and horticulture crops. Funding is also available for projects aimed at developing local and regional food systems and improving food access. For grant guidelines and an application, go to www.NCSpecialtyCropGrant.org.
Buck Stove Corporation of Spruce Pine has announced that it will expand its operations at the current location with 30-50 new jobs over the next 3 years and an investment of over one million dollars in the current facility. (more)
Dr. Sidney “Chip” Zullinger, died Tuesday night, April 1, after suffering a heart attack Monday. At the time of his death he was the Chief Elementary School Officer in Houston Independent School District. in Texas. Sidney “Chip” Zullinger served as Yancey County’s School Superintendent for two years, beginning in July 1984. At that time at age 34, he was the (more)
31 year old Jeffery Daniel Waycaster of Marion is finally behind bars. Waycaster has been avoiding the law in McDowell County for about eight months. Waycaster has been charged with felony common law robbery, felony safe cracking, felony larceny, felony breaking and entering and misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury. On June 27, 2013, Jimmy Parker, of Owl Hollow Road in Marion, reported that a man came into his house at approximately 12:30 p.m. The man, later identified as Waycaster, is acquainted with Parker. Waycaster allegedly threatened and assaulted Parker and then stole a locker safe containing cash. Waycaster has been on the run since the incident. Waycaster was arrested on Friday, March 28.
An accident involving a tractor and trailer and a dump truck snarled traffic during early morning rush hour Tuesday as students were making their way to school while others were trying to get to work. According to the NC Highway Patrol, the tractor and trailer rolled into the roadway and struck the dump truck ripping a hole in the oil pan and spilling motor oil onto the roadway. Crews are still working to clean up the spill that occurred just past East Yancey Middle School. No injuries were reported and no further details are available at this time.
The iconic Grandfather Mountain sign that served as a Linville landmark for nearly 60 years was leveled Sunday morning by high winds. The large wooden sign, located at the intersection of U.S. 221 and N.C. 105, was constructed in the late 1950s and was designed by architect (more)
(Press Release from Mitchell Sheriff's Department)
Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a store clerk for using a customer’s EBT card. Jessica Lee Porter, age 34, of 78 Buckeye Hollow Road, Bakersville faces two felony charges. Captain R.V. Wiseman advised the Sheriff’s Office received a complaint from an individual stating their EBT card had been (more)
(Press Release from Mitchell Sheriff's Department)
Mitchell County Deputies have arrested a Henderson County man on felony drug charges. William Allen Cason, age 18, of 18 Willis Way, Fletcher is charged with possession of methamphetamine after traffic stop. (more)
WASHINGTON —The Internal Revenue Service today warned consumers to be on the lookout for a new email phishing scam. The emails appear to be from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service and include a bogus case number. (more)
Fourth grade classes at Burnsville Elementary were awarded a $4,000 grant from the Burrough’s Wellcome Fund last week for a project that will shed light on some of universe’s greatest scientific mysteries. (more)
Ryan Wiebe, a 34-year-old farmer from the South Toe area of Yancey County has been named the 2014 North Carolina Small Farmer of the Year by the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University during ceremonies Wednesday, March 26, in Greensboro. The six-acre Wiebe Farmin’ operation began in 2004 with assistance from Yancey County Cooperative Extension and A&T’s Extension program. Known for its organic vegetables, quality packaging and clean operation, Wiebe Farmin’ ships 3-to-5 tons of produce weekly during its peak growing season and about 20 tons annually. In accepting the honor, Wiebe thanked A&T for helping him get started in farming 10 years ago, and also said, “I owe a lot to Yancey County Extension and retired agricultural technician Claude Deyton. He really saw something in me that I didn’t know even existed.”
Left to Right - Phil Stevens, Don Smith and Mike Brown. The Don Smith Ford Subaru Dealership in Spruce Pine has been sold and is now Mike Brown Ford Subaru. Owned by Don Smith for many years the dealership built a reputation for integrity and customer service. (more)
The early morning fire Wednesday at Wolf Ridge completely destroyed the upper lodge at Wolf Ridge Ski Resort in Madison County. Fire crews were hampered fighting the blaze because of ice-covered roads and below freezing temperatures but it was the snow on the ground that helped contain the fire to the main lodge building. No one was inside the lodge at the time and no one was injured. Investigators have not been able to determine a cause. Arson investigation is standard procedure in that type of fire. SBI agents will be sifting through the ashes today at Wolf Ridge.
The Yancey County Board of Equalization and Review has scheduled its first meeting to hear property tax appeals. The board convenes on April 14 at 5 pm. Request for a hearing must be received by the board no later than final adjournment, set for 9 am. on May 5th. If there is an earlier or later adjournment notice will be publicized. The schedule for the hearing of appeals will be posted at the office of the Yancey County Tax Assessor and request for hearings should be made to : Jeff Boone, Clerk of the Yancey County Board of E&R, 110 Town Square, Courthouse Room 2, Burnsville, NC 28714. You can also request a hearing by calling 682-2198, faxing 682-4817 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. E&R Meetings begin at 5 p.m. in the Commissioners Board Room at the courthouse.
A father from Nebo faces charges in the death of his 12 year old son who died from carbon monoxide poisoning last month. The McDowell County Sheriff's Office reports Timothy Bartlett's negligence lead to his 12-year-old son's death. On February 7th, Bartlett and his two sons were found unconscious in their home. Detectives say Bartlett should not have had a generator inside and that the home had no carbon monoxide detector. They also say Bartlett was in possession of methamphetamine. 30-year-old Bartlett surrendered to authorities Tuesday afternoon. A day after a grand jury indictment was handed-down. He's charged with involuntary manslaughter, felony child abuse and possession of methamphetamine. Bartlett is being held in the McDowell County Jail under a $70,000 bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for April 28th.
Multiple fire departments responded over night to a structure fire at Wolf Ridge Ski Resort. The Call came in around 1am this morning. The main lodge was destroyed by fire. There are no reports of injuries but the icy road conditions and cold weather have mad fighting the fire difficult. The fire was contained to the lodge building, but is expected to smolder most of the day.
Yancey County Schools is beginning to plan the Title I program for the 2014- 2015 school year. Qualifying private schools within the area may be eligible to apply for Title I funds. Private School eligibility information is available at the US Department of Education website, http://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/index.html, or by contacting Shane Cassida, Yancey County Schools Title I Director, P. O. Box 190, Burnsville, NC 28714; by phone at 828.682.6101 Ext. 302; or by email at email@example.com.
When it comes to scams, here's how to avoid being an "April Fool"
If you haven't already, chances are good that you'll have a run-in with a schemer. It might be a phishing email asking you to click on a link, a phone call telling you your computer has been compromised, or a contractor who shows up at your door ready to trim your trees. (more)
The Madison County Election Board has been working to decide if a Sheriff's Candidate is eligible to run in the upcoming election. The controversy surrounds Candidate John Ledford as some Residents petitioned the local Broad of Elections claiming John Ledford can't legally run for that office. The petitioners say there's no utility bill in Ledford's name at the Madison County address and didn't stay there long enough to qualify him as a resident. The board looked at evidence and heard witnesses for nearly six hours yesterday. They agreed unanimously to reject the petition and approve his candidacy. Some county officials say this argument is likely to be appealed to the State Board of Elections.
North Carolina’s 6.7 percent unemployment rate for January was down 0.2 of a percentage point from December’s rate. This continues a downward trend in unemployment numbers. The national rate also decreased slightly from 6.7 percent in December to 6.6 percent in January. However locally unemployment rates increased across the board. Rates in Avery County were up from 7.5 in January to 8.4 percent, in Mitchell rates increased from 8.5 to 9.6 percent while in Yancey County the unemployment rate grew from 7.8 to 8.4 percent. Madison County saw its rate jump from 5.2 to 5.9 percent, Buncombe County’s rate was up from 4.8 to 5.2 percent and the unemployment rate in McDowell County rose from 7.6 to 8.0 percent from December to January. (more)
A District Attorney Candidates Forum for the 24th Judicial District is planned for this evening at 6pm. The three candidates, Nathan Miller, Britt Springer and Seth Banks will take part in the event. The Forum is being held at the Spruce Pine Fire – Rescue Station and is open to the public. For those who can’t make it to the forum is will be broadcast live on 1470 WTOE, 940 WKYK and on those web sites.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to begin improving several sections of Yancey County roads. The 11.2-mile project will include milling, resurfacing and shoulder reconstruction on N.C. 80 from Colberts Creek Road to Hickory Springs Road, as well as several sections of secondary roads in the county. Work on the project is expected to begin in early April and should be finished by mid-October. Maymead, Inc., of Mountain City, Tenn., was awarded the $1,589,731 contract for the project. This is one of the 17 road and bridge contracts worth $32.2 million recently awarded by NCDOT for projects across North Carolina. The contracts were awarded to the lowest bidders, as required by state law. The low bids received on the projects were 8.5 percent, or almost $3 million below NCDOT estimates.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to improve 12.5 miles of highway and secondary roads in Madison County. The $2,451,367 projects includes milling, resurfacing and shoulder reconstruction of two sections of U.S 25/70, one section of N.C. 209, and six sections of secondary roads. Work on the project can begin as early as March 31, with the project scheduled for completion by mid-October. Harrison Construction Company Division of APAC-Atlantic, Inc. was awarded the contract for the project. This is one of the 17 road and bridge contracts worth $32.2 million recently awarded by NCDOT for projects across North Carolina. The contracts were awarded to the lowest bidders, as required by state law. The low bids received on the projects were 8.5 percent, or almost $3 million below NCDOT estimates.
The Spruce Pine Main Street organization has asked for help from the town and the county in an effort to acquire the former Pinebridge Coliseum in order to convert it into a community recreation facility. The project may potentially include three full length basketball courts, an indoor walking track, an indoor driving range and mat space for sports such as gymnastics and wrestling. Main Street Manager Starli McDowell went before the town board in Spruce Pine this week asking them to consider a partnership with Main Street to help purchase the building and surrounding property which has a price tag of $300,000. McDowell said that Main Street has already raised around $210,000 towards the purchase through donations and from funds provided by the Spruce Pine Rotary Club and the Phillips Foundation. Spruce Pine Mayor Phillip Hise suggested that McDowell meet with Mitchell County Commissioners and the EDC to come up with firm commitments from them by the next Town Board meeting before a decision can be made about the potential partnerships.
The Burnsville Fire Department responded to a house fire around 5pm yesterday to a home located just off East Main Street in Burnsville. The residence of Bryan Butner was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. The home was destroyed but Firefighters were able to keep nearby homes safe. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
The Yancey County Sheriff's Department has arrested 33 year old Sean Neilson Masten, of 170 Trout Lily Road, Burnsville and charged him with several sex offenses. This arrest comes as a result of a joint investigation between the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office and the Yancey County Sheriff’s Office. The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office received a report last week regarding the possible sex abuse of a child who resides in Yancey County. Officers from both departments worked together and served a search warrant at the home of Mr. Masten in Yancey County in an attempt to recover evidence related to the crime committed in McDowell County. During the execution of the search warrant, officers seized several items of computer related media which contained hundreds of files of child pornography. Mr. Masten was charged with one count of First Degree Sex Offense on a Child Under 13 Years Old, Two Counts of Second Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, and Two Counts of Third Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. The investigation is ongoing and more charges are possible. Mr. Masten is being held in the McDowell County Jail under a total secured bond of $275,000.
Yancey County Sheriff Gary Banks wants to remind everyone of a valuable resource to protect our counties children from sexual predators. It is the State of North Carolina Sex Offender Registry. You can access the registryathttp://sexoffender.ncdoj.gov/search.aspx On this site you can determine if you have a registered offender living in your area, see their picture and the crime that they committed to be placed on the registry. Also from this site you can search the National Sex Offender Registry which could be utilized when traveling out of state. There is also an app available for your mobile device for your convenience:http://ncdoj.gov/Protect-Yourself/Find-Sex-Offenders/Sex-Offender-Mobile-App.aspx Sheriff Banks says that educating the public is an important step in providing for our children a safe and prosperous county to live in.
Bill Slagle announces that he will seek re-election to the Mitchell County Board of Commissioners. It has been my privilege to serve the citizens of Mitchell County over the past 4 years . When I was elected 4 years ago I made a promise to the people of Mitchell County that I would not vote to raise taxes and I have kept that promise, another area we stated we would (more)
Matthew “Vern” Grindstaff would like to take this opportunity to announce his candidacy for Mitchell County Board of Commissioners. Vern is a life-long Conservative Republican and Mitchell County resident, having graduated from Mitchell High School in 1999. He attended Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute in Hendersonville where he received an (more)
A tractor trailer hauling a mobile home overturned in McDowell County. NC 226 North (Coxes Creek Road) was blocked for several hours Monday evening. The road was back open to traffic early this morning. Detours were set up with local traffic traveling NC 226A and commercial vehicles traveling NC 221 North. Two patients were treated and transported. One patient suffered non-life threatening injuries and was taken to Blue Ridge Hospital. The second patient was airlifted to Mission Hospital with serious injuries.
Beginning this week, qualified North Carolina military veterans will be able to carry the designation “VETERAN” on their driver licenses and identification cards. Thanks to a law passed by the General Assembly, veterans who have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces who present their DD-214 discharge form can apply at a driver license office for the new designation. The designation will assist in obtaining military discounts from a wide variety of retailers and service providers without having to show the military discharge form. Putting the designation on the driver license or ID card will enable the state’s veterans to show their photo ID and their veteran status at the same time. Many states are making such designations available. Veterans who are interested in applying for the designation should take their DD-214 discharge form to their local driver license office to show they been honorably discharged. They can request the designation be added to their license at their next renewal at no additional charge.
(provided by Mitchell County Sheriff's Department)
Mitchell County Sheriff’s Deputies arrest two individuals from Mitchell County and one individual from Avery County for selling drugs. Betty Thompson Webb, age 47, of 64 Daisy Avenue, Spruce Pine, N.C., faces several felony charges for selling marijuana. Sandra Ann Little, age 39, of 12217 US19E, South, Spruce Pine, (Avery County) N.C., faces several felony charges for selling (more)
Yancey County Schools have begun the process of having Saturday as a make-up day for school for inclement weather days missed Monday through Thursday. Beginning Monday, March 17th, Yancey County Schools will add 15 minutes to the end of the school day through the remainder of this school year. School will begin the same time as always but will dismiss 15 minutes later than normal. Parents will need to pick up children 15 minutes later than normal and the buses will arrive 15 minutes later than normal. Adding this time, adds 1 hour and 15 minutes per week for a total of an extra 15 hours “banked”. This adds 2 ½ days of instructional time that can be forgiven by the Superintendent, if needed. This will allow Yancey schools to keep vacation days at Easter and still finish school around mid-June. After the Governor decides about forgiving inclement weather days the School System will have a better idea of what they can do in Yancey County and when school will end. Currently the calendar shows Yancey County Schools’ last day at Tuesday, June 17th.
Benjamin Ernest Johnson, a Navy recruiter from Weaverville has been charged with multiple sexual crimes involving a child. The 37-year-old Johnson has been charged with three counts of indecent liberties with a child, two counts of felonious restraint and one count of first degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Johnson is believed to have recruited at area schools and worked his job as a recruiter in Buncombe, Mitchell, Madison and Yancey counties. A Buncombe Sheriff's spokeswoman would not detail what the sex charges specifically relate to, only to say Johnson had the opportunity to have contact with juveniles and that detectives are keeping the case open should any other alleged victims come forward. If you have any information related to Benjamin Johnson having inappropriate contact with children notify the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office at (828) 250-4516.
According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Katherine Bryant, 47 of Unicoi, and her 6-year-old grandchild were hit by a Kia Sorrento, driven by Kris Ann Waterhouse, 57 of Bakersville, Thursday in Unicoi County, TN. A Unicoi school bus was supposedly stopped on Unicoi Drive and the 6-year-old started to walk across the road to get on the bus. Waterhouse failed to stop for bus, which had all of its flashing lights on, as well as its red stop sign out. Bryant reportedly saw Waterhouse's vehicle not stop for the bus and used her body to protect her grandchild from getting hit. Both Bryant and her grandchild were taken to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment. The extent of their injuries is unknown at this time. Waterhouse was charged with one count of passing a school bus and two counts of felony reckless aggravated assault.
Yancey County, the Economic Development Commission and Country Cablevision will host the grand opening of a new technology center in the former library building on Town Square today at 2 p.m. The new technology center will give residents a chance to use high-speed internet for free. Plans are for the center to be open from 9 a.m. till 9pm. Monday through Friday with Saturday hours in the future. Those who use the center must bring their own laptops or mobile devices to tap into the free wireless service. Country Cablevision has begun installing high speed broadband service for its residential and business customers who want the service. The company, working with county government's Broadband Task Force, was awarded a federal stimulus grant in 2010 to provide last mile fiber to more than 95 percent of homes and businesses in Yancey and Mitchell Counties. The $25 million project must be completed by early 2015 and will make Yancey the only county in North Carolina to offer broadband up to 100 megabits to all homes and businesses.
Residents in Mitchell County who overpaid vehicle property taxes due to a system error will be getting a refund from the county. The tax office in Mitchell County has gone through the first month of eight months worth of bills, finding 389 with bad values out of 1054 bills examined so far. Refunds for the first month totaled $4,344.37. At the beginning of the year the tax office discovered a problem with the vehicle property taxes, attributing the error to their outdated computer system. The tax office has between 8000 and 9600 tax bills still to be reviewed, a process that is expected to take a couple of weeks.
A group of people are backing an effort to raise money to renovate the historic Penland Post Office building in Mitchell County. The nonprofit group has raised $50,000 so far, including a $10,000 grant, and has also had the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The organization is asking the public to show their support by donating their time and money and will be seeking new members at a meeting planned for 7 p.m., March 27th at the Ridgway Building on the campus of Penland School of Crafts. People interested in helping the cause can also contribute by purchasing stamps at the Penland Post Office and by shopping at the organization’s rummage stall at The Market in downtown Spruce Pine. For more information about the project visit www.penlandpostoffice.org or call 828-765-6539.
Miller Contracting and Construction Company of Spruce Pine has been awarded a contract to do renovations on the new location of the Spruce Pine Town Hall. Town Hall was moved from near downtown to the former PNC Bank building at the top of Burleson Hill on Hwy 226. Architectural plans call for a new entrance with stonework exteriors, a drive through window with a canopy and a new addition to the rear of the building for a town board meeting room. Contractors have an August 15th deadline to complete the $229,062 project. The Town Hall is the first phase of an overall plan for the property that may eventually include a separate police department, driver’s license office, magistrate’s office as well as an office for the NC Highway Patrol.
(provided by the Yancey County Sheriff's Department)
Yancey County Sheriff's Department has reported six drug related arrests and one arrest for Felony Larceny. Richard Ervin Johnson, 28 of 1156 Hardscrabble Road Burnsville, NC was arrested and charged with Felony Possession of Schedule VI (Marijuana), Felony Possession of Schedule II (Methamphetamine), Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver Schedule VI (Marijuana), Manufacture of Schedule VI (Marijuana), Maintain a Dwelling to Keep a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. (more)
Superintendent Tipton informed the Board that a representative from the NC Department of Public Instruction has cautioned all school systems to wait on extending the school day or making drastic changes to their school calendar until a decision is made out of Raleigh regarding forgiving school days due to inclement weather. NC Governor Pat McCrory is discussing this option with state legislators. Dr. Tipton informed the Board that while waiting for this decision to be made, YCS is looking at the possibility of extending the school day 15 minutes at all schools to meet the required 1,025 instructional hours per school year without having to extend further into the month of June because of additional bad weather. YCS will continue the “Saturday School Plan” for the time being but how effectively it serves students will constantly be monitored. Parents will be notified well in advance once a decision has been finalized
At its regular meeting on Monday Yancey County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton presented a draft to the Board that outlines the school board’s plan as required by the General Assembly, to choose 25% of teachers in the school system for a pay increase over four years and a four-year contract in return for giving up career status. Career status simply ensures due process and is (more)
Monday night the Yancey County Schools Board of Education approved the use of a locally-developed alternate assessment plan to show reading proficiency for 3rd graders enrolled in YCS in order to meet the strict guidelines of the NC General Assembly’s Read to Achieve legislation. This is in response to the NC State Board of Education approving thirty (30) different LEA requests from around (more)
Mitchell County Manager Charles E. Vines (Chuck) was presented with the prestigious Order of the Longleaf Pine Award on behalf of Gov. Pat McCrory during the Commissioners meeting Monday night. Pictured left to right: Rep. Josh Dobson, Rep. Phillip Frye, Vines and (more)
ASHEVILLE, NC – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 15.2 million visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2012 spent $902 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 12,168 jobs in the local area. (more)
Yancey County Economic Development Commission Director Wanda Proffitt has announced that Country Cablevision will make the official announcement of the rollout of the New High Speed Fiber Optic Broadband Project for Yancey County at an open house event this Friday. The $28.3 million project will eventually include Mitchell County. When completed High speed fiber optic broadband will be available to 100% of homes in Yancey and Mitchell County, with initial deployment to the Town of Burnsville. This project has been under construction since 2010 and funded through the Rural Utilities Service Division (RUS) of USDA. After many hurdles and some delays, Country Cablevision has received approval to start connections to business, industry and homes. The new high speed Broadband Fiber Optic Network will be deployed in segments, first serving the Town of Burnsville area. High speed Internet Service offered will be in 25 Mbps, 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps packages in Burnsville, as well as, Telephone and Video Services. The Open House event will be Friday at 2pm at the Yancey County Technology Center located on Town Square (former library).
The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office Sex Offender unit has arrested Ivan “Van” Dario Roldan of 76 South Toe River Rd and charged him with one count of failure to register as a sex offender, which is a felony in NC. Sheriff Gary Banks says that this arrest is part of the Sheriff’s Office on-going efforts to closely monitor sex offenders in Yancey County. “If sex offenders are going to live in Yancey County, they should know that they are going to be monitored and expected to abide by the law,” said Sheriff Banks. Officers received a tip that Mr. Roldan was living in Yancey County and was a registered sex offender in Florida but had failed to register with North Carolina as required by general statute. A subsequent investigation by Sheriff Deputies revealed that Mr. Roldan had indeed been living un-registered in Yancey County for a period longer than the three days that the North Carolina Statute gives him to register. On Thursday Jan 30th 2014 Sheriff Deputies arrested Mr. Roldan without incident and he was placed in The Yancey County Jail under a $25,000 secured bond. Mr. Roldan is scheduled to appear in court on May 21st.
The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office has arrested 63 year old John Abner Rozelle, of 55 Ruffed Grouse Lane, Apartment # 4, Burnsville. Rozelle has been charged with seven counts of Taking Indecent Liberties with a Child and one count of Felony Indecent Exposure. Responding to concerns from officers and concerned citizens, investigators from the Sheriff’s Office began looking into concerns regarding Mr. Rozelle, who is currently on the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry. During the investigation, officers identified a child victim who disclosed that Mr. Rozelle had exposed himself to the child on several occasions. Mr. Rozelle was subsequently interviewed and charged with the crimes. Mr. Rozelle is being held in the Yancey County Jail under a $250,000 Secured Bond.
The Mitchell County Economic Development Commission is pleased to announce that the organization has been awarded a grant from Duke Energy’s Community Investment Fund in the amount of $14,400. The specific purpose of the grant is to develop a Preliminary Engineering Report for a proposed Certified Industrial Site in the Altapass community near Spruce Pine, stated EDC Interim Director Bill Slagle. A primary goal of the EDC is to create public/private partnership with companies like Duke Energy to help offset the cost of projects similar to the Certified Industrial Site. Slagle said, “We have found that Duke Energy is willing to help forge a business relationship with Mitchell County and we would like to say thank you to Mr. Bill Roberts, Economic Developer for Duke Energy and Mr. John Geib, Manager of the Community Investment Fund for partnering with us on this very critical project. This grant will allow us to satisfy a portion of the North Carolina Department of Commerce requirements for achieving a certified industrial site status”.
A Spruce Pine man has been charged in connection in the deaths of two passengers riding in a vehicle he was operating that wrecked on Hwy. 19E in September of 2013. Twenty-six–year-old Jeremy Wayne Greene of Biggerstaff Road was driving left of center on Oak Avenue in Spruce Pine on the evening of September 17th when he reportedly drove through a grassy area on the shoulder of Hwy 19E causing his vehicle to overturn across the highway, ejecting both of the passengers in the process. Twenty-five-year-old Jeremy Rumfelt and his 57-year-old mother Vicki Rumfelt both died as results of injuries sustained in the crash. Greene, who was not ejected in the accident, was airlifted to Mission Hospital following the wreck. He has been charged with manslaughter and is currently being held in jail under an $80,000 secured bond and a $100,000 unsecured bond. Following an investigation, police say speed was a contributing factor in the accident but found that no drugs or alcohol were involved.
The Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina have stood as silent witnesses to the un-interrupted, nightly rain of starlight for nearly a half-billion years, but artificial light now threatens this nightly show. In honor of notable local efforts to preserve the natural nighttime landscape (more)
The fires in Marion that we told you about yesterday are now being called suspicious by police. The flames engulfed three homes along Tate Street near downtown Marion. The fire destroyed all three homes in less than three hours Sunday night. Authorities believe it began in the back of one home that they say has been vacant for months. Neighbors that watched the blaze say the flames appeared to spread in thin trails from one structure to another. One witness said the fire began to move up the hill in a narrow straight line and went right to a car and then to a mobile home. There are no suspects at this time, but police say there are several people of interest in the case.
Several structures were seriously damaged after a large fire broke out in Marion Sunday night. Firefighters say no one was injured, but several homes, outbuildings, and a car were damaged by fire. It broke out around 8:00pm on Tate Street, near downtown. Officials believe the fire started in the back of one home then spread uphill to the house next door, and a mobile home behind it. One person was home and was able to get out safely. Firefighters say dry, windy conditions helped the fire to spread quickly. About 50 firefighters from half a dozen different departments helped put the fire out. The cause is still under investigation.
In a response to the number of school days lost due to snow and other weather this winter the Mitchell County School System has taken measures to make sure that the county students reach the required hours set by the state. Mitchell Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Spurling said that the school system has already missed 15 days of school so far this winter with another 22 hours lost from delays and early dismissals. Winter weather last week has caused the school system to start school on Saturday for any additional school closures from this point forward according to Spurling. Starting March 19th the school system will add 30 minutes to the end of each school day with the exception of Friday in an attempt to meet the states required 185 school days or 1,025 instructional hours. As of last Monday Mitchell County students had attended school 101 days so far this school year.
A project to restore the river cane to a section of the Cane River in Yancey County was announced this week. A partnership between the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Resource and Conservation and Development and Yancey County Government plans to restore river cane along the river bordering the county’s new Cane River Park just outside of Burnsville. The Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources initiative is designed to help the Cherokee Indians restore the traditional Cherokee balance between maintaining and using natural resources like river cane, clay and white oak used to make baskets and pottery. Archaeological evidence shows that the Cherokee at one time had dwellings in Yancey County, using the area for agriculture and hunting. Large cane breaks are hard to find in today’s modern world so the effort to establish a stand of native cane can help sustain the Cherokee artist traditions.
Mitchell High has received more than 30 applications for the vacant head varsity football coaching position and the search has been narrowed down to 10, according to School Superintendent Dr. Rick Spurling. The search committee will now conduct interviews with the ten finalists on February 24th and 25th with final interviews taking place the same week. The Mountaineers are searching for a replacement for longtime coach Russell Barnett who resigned last month.
In an electrical storm early this morning - an apparent power surge from a transformer did extensive damage to the Terminix building in Spruce Pine and significant damage to equipment in the WTOE transmitter facility located next door. WTOE engineers are working to make repairs. In the meantime you will be able to continue to hear WTOE live on this website.(Listen Live button at left).
Candidates for upcoming local and state elections have begun filing for office in Mitchell and Yancey Counties. On the opening day of the filing period of the 2014 general election the Yancey County Board of Elections filed paperwork for Democrats Jill Austin, Johnny Riddle and Jim Edwards and Republicans Byrl Ballew, Earl Tipton and Jeanette Maddox in the County Commissioners race, Tammy McEntyre for Clerk of Court and Mike Orr, Jack Tipton, Grace Whitson and Judy Presnell for the School Board race. Democrat Dean Hicks also filed to run against Republican State Rep. Michele Presnell in the state house race. As of now the Mitchell County Board of Elections has had Janet Cook to file for Clerk of Court, Joe Street and Bill Slagle have filed for County Commissioner and Donald Street has filed to retain his post as Sherriff of Mitchell County. Republican Ralph Hise has also filed to run for his seat in the NC Senate for another term. The Filing period ends at noon on February 28th.
A glider plane crash yesterday left a pilot stuck in a tree off the ground. The glider was tethered to a plane that had taken off from Shiflet Field in Marion. It went down in Yancey County after being released. Emergency workers and fire departments were called to the scene near Big Ridge Road in the South Toe section around 9:30am and found the glider stuck in a tee. The pilot, 66 year old Jay Campbell of Camden South Carolina was conscious and alert after the crash and was airlifted to Johnson City. Five fire departments, an EMS unit and French Broad Electric worked to free Campbell-dangerously close to power lines using a bucket truck and a front end loader.
At this time first responders and emergency personnel are responding to a small plane crash in the South Toe area near Big Ridge Road. One person was on board, the plane is stuck in a tree and emergency personnel are working to stabliize the plane. Wings from Johnson City has been called to the scene. We will have additional details when they become available.
Candidates for upcoming local and state elections have begun filing for office in Mitchell and Yancey Counties. On the opening day of the filing period of the 2014 general election the Yancey County Board of Elections filed paperwork for Democrats Jill Austin, Johnny Riddle and Jim Edwards and Republicans Byrl Ballew and Jeanette Maddox in the County Commissioners race, Tammy McEntyre for Clerk of Court and Mike Orr, Jack Tipton, Grace Whitson and Judy Presnell for the School Board race. Democrat Dean Hicks also filed to run against Republican State Rep. Michele Presnell in the state house race. As of now the Mitchell County Board of Elections has had Janet Cook to file for Clerk of Court, Joe Street and Bill Slagle have filed for County Commissioner and Donald Street has filed to retain his post as Sherriff of Mitchell County. Republican Ralph Hise has also filed to run for his seat in the NC Senate for another term. The Filing period ends at noon on February 28th.
(provided by the Mitchell Sheriff's Dept)
Two Mitchell County men face several felony drug charges after an indoor marijuana grow operation was uncovered. Walter Andrew Rose, age 42 and Michael Charles George, age 44, of 1547 B&B Road, Bakersville were arrested in connection with marijuana grow operation. Captain R.V. Wiseman said Sheriff Street contacted him and said a concerned citizen had stopped by the office and told (more)
The United States Geological Survey department (USGS) reported another earthquake hit South Carolina on Sunday afternoon at 3:23pm. The 3.2 magnitude earthquake’s epicenter was 7 miles west of the town of Edgefield. This is considered to be an aftershock of the 4.1 magnitude quake on Valentine's Day. The quake on Friday was felt in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. Sunday’s earthquake was only felt about 35 miles from its center, while Friday’s quake was reported more than 150 miles away. Inspectors checked bridges, nuclear plants and dams in the area, but no major damage was reported after Friday’s quake.
PRESS RELEASE: On Monday, February 10, 2014, I filed to become your next District Attorney for the 24th Prosecutorial District including the counties of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey. (more)
The Canopy over the Valero Gas Pumps in Spruce Pine Collapsed from the weight of the heavy snow yesterday. A vehicle under the canopy was damaged from the collapse but no injuries reported. Power companies all around Western North Carolina were spared heavy damage as the snow storm brought a dryer more powder like snow instead of the expected heavy wet snow. Just a few scattered power outages have been reported during the storm. Schools all around the region remain closed again today.
Seth Banks officially filed his notice of candidacy to run for District Attorney for the 24th Prosecutorial District on Wednesday. The 24th District includes Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, and Yancey counties. (more)
The American Red Cross of the Western Carolinas opened an emergency shelter in McDowell County, to serve motorists experiencing difficulties with driving conditions on Interstate 40. The shelter location is the First Baptist Church of Old Fort, 203 S. Main Street, Marion, NC. Shelter will open at 10:00 tonight. A good indication of how widespread the winter storm is across the state is that all passenger train service in North Carolina and all connecting bus service to those passenger trains has been cancelled for today. No alternate transportation will be provided. Most North Carolina passenger train stations will be closed.
Candidates visited the Yancey County Board of Elections this past Monday on the opening day of the filing period of the 2014 general election and Yancey County's School Board election. In the County Commissioners race Democrat Commissioners Jill Austin, Johnny Riddle and Jim Edwards filed along with clerk of court Tammy McEntyre. Filing for another term on the School Board were Mike Orr and Jack Tipton while in the state house race Democrat Dean Hicks, a retired coach and teacher, is challenging Republican State Rep. Michele Presnell. The Filing period ends at noon on February 28th.
Deadlines for absentee ballots and voter registration for elections in North Carolina are quickly approaching. First day absentee ballots will be mailed on March 17th while those ballots request must be received by no later than 5 p.m. on April 29th. The deadline for voter registration in the primaries is April 11th while Oct. 10th is the deadline to register for the general election. In Mitchell County citizens will cast votes for Sheriff, Clerk of Superior Courts and three spots on the county commission. Filing for candidates began on Monday and will continue through Feb. 28th.
With a new Economic Development Commission plan now in place across North Carolina, the Mitchell County EDC is moving forward with plans to hire a new permanent director. Interim Director Bill Slagle said last week that the state's plan to focus on advanced manufacturing, mining and agriculture industries in the county mirrors long term objectives laid out by the local EDC board. He praised the state plan for calling on increased spending on infrastructure in rural areas as well as increasing support for rural industries and communities and said that the Director’s position at the Mitchell EDC is expected to be filled by the end of spring.
A former Bank of America CEO and his wife have given $1 million to Crossnore School to help with the school’s campaign to raise $6.3 million to provide housing for 30 additional students and a new school building. Ken Lewis and his wife Donna of Charlotte made the contribution after taking a tour of the school last fall. Crossnore School helps provide a loving secure home for children that have suffered physical or sexual abuse or severe neglect. The funds will also go towards three new cottages that will each house ten students and a couple to serve as professional foster parents. The project, when completed, will allow Crossnore School to increase enrollment by about a third to 120 students.
(provided by Burnsville Police Department)
Samuel Ray Noblitt, 54, of 240 Sugar Hill Road, Marion has been arrested by the Burnsville Police Department and charged with several crimes related to several larcenies throughout three counties. On Monday, January 20th officers responded to Heritage Lumber Company in reference to a larceny that had taken place at their business. While (more)
Raleigh --Every year about this time, when the winter weather descends upon North Carolina and blankets our state’s highways, citizens call in and ask, “I need to get to work. When are you going to plow my road?” As much as our crews would like to immediately respond to every caller, we have a set snow and ice removal process in place. (more)
Mayland Community College is the recipient of a loan and grant funded through the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program (REDLG) and French Broad Electric Membership Corporation (FBEMC). This $360,000, seven- year construction loan will (more)