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Mars Hill College Receives $250,000 Grant toward Archives


Mars Hill College has received a prestigious $250,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to endow funding for the Southern Appalachian Archives, housed at the Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies on the campus. Chief among the goals for the grant is to help meet the requirements of a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The N.E.H. grant, received by the college in November of 2006, provided a $500,000 federal contribution, contingent on a 3-to-1 match to be raised by the college by July, 2012. The $2 million total is to create endowment funds for a full-time archivist and preservation and programming costs for the Archives.

Rural Residents Depend on Social Security 


According to a recent report published by the Social Security Administration, if Yancey County residents didn’t receive their monthly payments from the Social Security Administration, 12.8 percent of total personal income in the county would be lost, almost 60 million dollars in 2009. In neighboring Mitchell County 12 percent of total personal income would be lost if residents did not receive Social Security payments, or a total of just over $50,564,000 in 2009.  Yancey County and Mitchell Counties are more dependent on Social Security payments than the rest of the country. Nationally, 5.5 percent of total personal income in 2009 came from Social Security payments. In North Carolina, 6.6 percent of all income comes from these payments. In Yancey County, 5,210 people receive some form of Social Security payments. Social Security beneficiaries represent 28.1 percent of the total county population. In Mitchell County 4,335 received Social Security payments, or 27.7 percent of the total county population, according to 2009 figures. A greater percentage of people in rural America receive these payments than in urban counties, and so rural counties have higher average payments per resident. Total Social Security payments in Yancey County and Mitchell Counties amounted to $3,234 per person in 2009. The national average was $2,199 per person, and in North Carolina it was $2,336. These figures are based on publicly available data from the Social Security Administration and the Bureau for Economic Analysis.

Drivers License Offices Hours Cut Back


The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles will temporarily reduce the days of operation of driver license offices located in Spruce Pine and Newland beginning today. Because of a temporary staffing reduction and other budget constraints, the Spruce Pine office will reduce its operations from two days weekly to opening on Mondays only, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Newland office will reduce its days of operation from Wednesday through Friday, to opening on Fridays only, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Division anticipates the reduced schedule will extend for at least six weeks. DMV will notify local communities when the offices will return to a full schedule.

Safety precautions for time change and Halloween


The N.C. Department of Transportation is reminding motorists that daylight saving time ends this weekend and to be alert to the change. The switch back to standard time at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6, means the sun will set an hour earlier in the day and leave less light for evening commuters. With the days already getting shorter, drivers should be extra alert for pedestrians and cyclists along the roads. That is especially true tonight  as trick-or-treaters take to the streets. According to NCDOT statistics, 875 pedestrians and 187 bicyclists statewide were involved in vehicle crashes during dusk and nighttime hours last year. Additionally, there were about 16,488 crashes involving animals. Standard time will remain in effect until March 11, 2012 at 2 a.m.

Eight More Arrested On Drug Charges


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office and the Burnsville Police Department have arrested the following individuals as a part of the continuing drug operation between the two departments.David Jay Henson, 32, of Bowditch Street in Burnsville, Sarah Jay Blalock, 21, of Deer Tack Lane in Burnsville, Danny Ray Edwards, 30, of Possum Trot Road in Burnsville, Billy James Barnes, 21, of Upper Doe Bag Road in Green Mountain,  Khristine Cassandra Barajas, 23, of Cleo Drive in Marion, Clayton Tremane Parker, 20, of Magnolia Lane in Spruce Pine, Robert Len Parker , 52, of Magnolia Lane in Spruce Pine and Joseph Michael McCurry, 33, of Highland Lane in Burnsville were all arrested on various drug related charges.

Child Porn Crack Down


27 year old Jerry Plumley of Marion has been arrested and charged with six counts of child pornography.  Plumley was one of 24 people arrested during a statewide crackdown called "Operation Spyglass." The NC Attorney General's Office said as part of the crackdown, they used new technology to bust people who exploit children.

Warren Hughes Appointed to 24th Judicial Court


Retired clerk of court Warren Hughes has recently been appointed to District Court bench for the 24th Judicial District by NC Governor Bev Perdue. Hughes, who will represent Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey Counties, will be sworn in on October 31 at 4 p.m. at the Yancey County Court House. Hughes fills the void created by the early retirement of Judge William Leavell, who after serving as a judge for 16 years, left the bench for health reasons. Hughes, a Democrat, was elected last November to a four year term as Yancey Clerk of Superior Court, but later decided to step down and enter private practice. He had served as Clerk of Yancey County Court since 1984.

Spruce Pine Attorney Accused of Inappropriate Behavior


Longtime Spruce Pine attorney Gary B. Kivett has been accused of making inappropriate sexual advances toward some of his female clients, according to the North Carolina State Bar Association. Kivett allegedly made unwanted sexual comments and advances to six female clients and the wife of one male client dating back as far as 2005. A hearing for Kivett is scheduled for January 12th and 13th in Raleigh. Kivett’s lawyer, Dudley Whitt of Winston Salem said that he is looking forward to clearing the matter up. Kivette faces disciplinary actions ranging from disbarment to reprimands and censures for his alleged actions.

Seven More Arrested in Ongoing Drug Operation


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office and the Burnsville Police Department have arrested the following individuals as a part of the continuing drug operation between the two departments.

Deonna Mae Murray, 40, of David Park Drive in Burnsville, Gerald Douglas Styles, 54, of Stone Gap Lane in Burnsville, Caleb Lee Black, 20, of Hardscrabble Road , Jennifer Nicole Fowler, 22, of Bridget Lane in Burnsville, David Reed Greene, 44, of Galley Street in Burnsville, Charles Cecil Burgin, 29, of White Oak Road in Burnsville, Jessica Lynn Crain , 29, of Johns Trailer Park Road in Burnsville were all arrested on various drug charges.

N.C. Jobless Rate Continues to Rise


Another round of government job losses during September sent the state's jobless rate to its highest level in 17 months, the N.C. Employment Security Commission reported Friday. The rate increased 0.1 percentage point to 10.5 percent. The state experienced a loss of 22,200 jobs during September compared with August, of which 13,700 were government jobs. Over the past 12 months, there has been a reduction of 18,700 government jobs. The one bright spot in the private sector was a net gain of 2,800 construction jobs. The commission reported a loss of 3,000 jobs in the financial-activities sector, along with the loss of 2,100 jobs each in the trade, transportation and utilities sector and the education and health-services sector, and 1,900 in leisure and hospitality services. North Carolina's labor market has made no meaningful progress so far in 2011. In September, only 55.3 percent of working-age North Carolinians had jobs.



Mars Hill College has joined with 32 other leading institutions to launch the Billion Dollar Green Challenge. The goal is to invest a cumulative total of one billion dollars in self-managed green revolving funds that finance energy efficiency upgrades on campus. As part of the Founding Circle, Mars Hill College has the distinction of being the only institution in North Carolina to take the lead in making this commitment. The Challenge is inspired by the exceptional performance of existing green revolving funds, which have a median annual return on investment of 32%. The Billion Dollar Green Challenge asks our higher education systems to invest in green revolving funds to support the campus sustainability movement. Mars Hill is establishing a self-managed Green Revolving Fund, with $200,000 in the first year, to help finance a variety of campus energy efficiency improvements. Some of the improvements needed across campus include replacement of fuel oil heating units, lighting replacement and water conservation in bathrooms.

Mitchell School Board Approves Budget


The Mitchell County School Board approved their $22.5 million combined budget of the 2011-2012 school year last week. Two thirds of their allocation comes from the state while about $2.3 million is from local funding. Another $2.1 million comes from the county with the remaining $211,000 coming from the school’s local fund balance. The school system is also receiving $2.1 million in federal grants, an amount that is expected to be slashed by a fourth next year, leaving a hole to be filled by other revenue sources or future budget cuts.

North Carolina Releases State Report Cards for 2010-2011


On October 27, schools across the state will be sending home copies of the North Carolina School Report Card. This Report Card includes important information compiled over the last school year regarding school and student performance, class size, attendance, school safety, instructional resources, and teacher quality. Report card data will be available for each school, for each school district, and for the state’s education system as a whole. The Report Cards also provide details about school performance under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. They contain information about school discipline, high school graduation rates, and Internet connectivity. In addition, the district Report Cards provide details about student and teacher demographics, district financial information, and principal qualifications and credentials. These Report Cards are an excellent tool for parents to use in gathering important data about schools. Parents and community members are encouraged to ask additional questions and learn more about the special programs and efforts under way at their children’s schools.

Bakersville Man Charged With First Degree Rape


37 year-old David Masters of Bakersville is being held in the Yancey County Jail under a $1 million secured bond after being charged with rape following an incident in Mitchell County on October 13. Masters told detectives that he had been drinking heavily since the day before the incident in which he is said to have put a knife to a woman’s throat and dragged her into a house on Masters Drive in Bakersville before sexually assaulting her. He was also charged with second degree sexual offense, first degree kidnapping and assault on a female. Masters is scheduled to appear in court on October 20.

Mitchell County Teacher and Principal of the Year Awards


The administration of the Mitchell County School System recently honored their retirees and their school and system wide teachers and principal of the year with a luncheon and awards ceremony at the central office in Ledger. Greg Franklin of Greenlee Primary School and Jennifer Foxx at Mitchell High will share the Teacher of the Year honor for Mitchell County this year. Franklin will represent Mitchell County in the regional Teacher of the Year competition. Deyton Elementary School Principal Gary Moore was honored as the Mitchell County Schools Principal of the Year.  Mr. Moore has been a principal in Mitchell County for 7 years. Teachers who earned the award for their respective schools were: Bowman Middle School – Donna Hickman,  Buladean - Crystal Willis,  Deyton Elementary– Julie Hoyle, Gouge Elementary– Brandon Birchfield, Harris Middle School– Chad Dellinger,  Mayland Early College High School – Jeff LaVoie, and Tipton Hill– Angela Guinn.


Two Arrested for Bombs at Gouge School


Two young men were arrested Thursday night on charges that they placed four homemade explosives at a Mitchell County elementary school. The two turned themselves in Thursday after the bombs made from “the Works” toilet bowl cleaner were found on the grounds of Gouge Elementary School. Police Chief Justin Biddix said. 22 year old Michael Paul Hansen, of Pate Creek Road in Green Mountain, in Yancey County and 19 year old James Robert Morgan, of Polly Hollow Road in Bakersville were arrested. Each was charged with one felony count of malicious use of an explosive inflicting injury and possession of a weapon of mass destruction. One Gouge Elementary student sustained a chemical burn when liquid from one of the explosives splashed on his leg. Biddix said the child was treated and released from the hospital and is “doing well.” Bond was set at $100,000 each for Hansen and Morgan. Both were transferred to the McDowell County Jail.

Yancey County Man Sentenced for Murder


35 year-old David Lester Phillips of Yancey County was sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison last week for the murder of Leroy Riddle. Phillips, who was staying at the home of the 46 year old man when he disappeared September 1st 2009, pled guilty to second degree murder as well as felony breaking and entering and larceny. Phillips was on probation for other crimes in Yancey County when he committed the murder. Riddle was missing for more than a week when his body was discovered down a rock embankment off Dam Road in the Bakers Creek Community. Authorities believe that Riddle was first hit over the head with a hammer and then shot several times after Phillips panicked. Riddles body was eventually found several miles from where his abandoned pickup was located.

Poachers of Ginseng Root Plead Guilty


Four men from Buncombe County and one man from Tennessee have been convicted and sentenced in separate cases in U S District Court for the illegal possession or harvesting of American Ginseng from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Officials from the US Park Service and the US Attorney’s office announced this week that in all cases the men pled guilty to the poaching charges and were sentenced in federal court. Permits to collect ginseng are issued annually through the US Forrest Service. Permits are not available in National Park Lands, such as the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where forestry and wildlife officials say the areas have been severely impacted by Ginseng poachers. In each of the recent cases the recovered ginseng roots were replanted by the staff of the National Park Service.

Suspects in Custody for Incident at Gouge School


Dangerous chemicals discovered late Wednesday night at Gouge Primary School in Bakersville turned out to be a toilet bowl cleaner called “The Works”, according to Mitchell County Sheriff Donald Street. Street said the North Carolina SBI Bomb Squad inspected the contents of four bottles that were placed behind the school and in the parking lot on a chain link fence. Street said that the chemicals in “The Works” could be used to make a small explosion and that his department, the Bakersville police Department and the SBI currently have several suspects in custody and that he expects to have the investigation into the incident completed by the end of the day. Street could offer no motive for the crime which closed Gouge School and caused school officials to delay opening other schools near Bakersville Thursday morning. The bottles were initially thought to contain a mini meth lab or “shake and bake lab”. Gouge School is expected to be back on normal schedule on Friday, but Mitchell County officials will be making the necessary calls to parents as soon as they get an all clear on the cleanup effort from SBI Bomb Squad and the Sheriff’s Department, according to Assistant Superintendent Rick Spurling.

Dangerous Chemicals Found Near Bakersville School


Authorities in Bakersville are on the scene of what is believed to be a meth waste chemical spill near Gouge Elementary School. Mitchell County Schools Superintendent Dr. Brock Womble said at 10 a.m. this morning that he received information on Wednesday that what might be a potential meth hazard had been discovered on school property and that some students may have suffered chemical burns. Although the contents of the containers that were found have yet to be determined, the decision was made to delay the start of school on Thursday for two hours due to the safety concerns. Further investigation into the incident by the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department and the Bakersville Police Department forced the closure of Gouge Primary School on Thursday and prompted a two hour delay at Bowman Middle, Tipton Hill and Buladean Schools. The decision was made to give authorities time to do an investigation and to allow time for any possible cleanup that may be needed. Mitchell Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Spurling said that suspicious chemicals had been discovered behind Gouge School near the creek late yesterday afternoon. Four of the bottles containing the as yet unknown chemicals were found, three behind the school and one which had been inserted in a hole in the chain link fence in the school parking lot. He stated that a couple of kids had come in contact with the bottle in the parking lot and that one of the students had received minor burns from the solution in the bottle. As a safety precaution parents of students at the school were informed on Wednesday night of the situation through calls made by school board officials. A HAZMAT team from Greensboro should be on the scene today to begin what should be a two to three hour cleanup of the site. Spurling said that the incident is disturbing and sad situation and that safety of the students in the county is always the school system’s top priority. Dr. Womble later called WTOE/WKYK Radio and stated that the chemicals in the bottles that were found do not appear to be meth but are still considered dangerous and that they are being properly disposed of. We will continue to update this story as more details are made available.

Donate to Save Lives


Donate Life America and its state affiliate, Donate Life North Carolina (DLNC), announced today that a major milestone has been reached in donor designation in the United States with 100 million people registered as donors across the country.  In North Carolina, over 4.1 million people have registered to save lives through organ and eye donation.  Currently, there are more than 112,000 people – men, women and children – on the national organ transplant waiting list, including 3,575 in North Carolina.  People die each day because there are not enough donated organs.  Each person who signs up as a donor could save the lives of up to eight people. The vast majority of people sign up when they get or renew their driver license or ID card.  North Carolinians can also register online at Donate Life North Carolina’s newly redesigned website, 

Yancey County Teacher of the Year Jodi Antinori


Jodi Antinori has been honored as the Yancey County Teacher of the Year.  She is a fourth grade teacher at Burnsville Elementary and an executive officer in the schools PTO.  Jodi is teaching her students to be physically active through the Fun Fit Fridays program, which instructs kids about eating healthy and staying involved in physical activities at the school. She has been at Burnsville Elementary since 2004 and recently presented several workshops on various math topics to fellow 4th grade teachers after completing an extensive professional development study in the Math Partners program through Meredith College. She has an extensive background in elementary education and is a huge asset to the Yancey County School System. Jodi Antinori, Yancey County Teacher of the Year.

Spruce Pine Truck Driver held on Murder charges


Those who know Alan Rogers of Spruce Pine are still in shock that the 32 year old truck driver has been accused of murdering a Knoxville woman. Rogers, was arrested by Tennessee authorities in Mitchell County on Friday.  He drives for RVH Transport in Spruce Pine and is accused of picking up 35 year old Summer Nelms near Knoxville, killing her and then dumping her nude body behind a BP gas station.  Rogers was traveling to Crab Orchard to pick up a load when the crime happened. Rogers has worked with RVH Transport for six years and has never been in trouble according to his boss Van Houston.  Houston says he was a great guy and a family man. Rogers has been indicted on 1st degree murder charges. He's being held in the McDowell County jail while he awaits extradition.

Spruce Pine Man Indicted For Murder of Tennessee Woman


A Spruce Pine man was indicted in Cumberland County Friday for first-degree murder in the death of a Knoxville woman whose nude body was discovered last week near a gas station. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation identified the victim as 35 year old Summer Nicole Nelms, and the suspect in her death as 32 year old Alan Stacy Rogers, a truck driver from Spruce Pine. Rogers has been arrested in North Carolina and is being held there pending extradition proceedings. The TBI says that Rogers picked the victim up "in the Knoxville area," killed her, then dumped her body, which was found behind a service station in Crab Orchard Tennessee. An autopsy indicates she died of multiple blunt force trauma and stab wounds. The investigation included a search of the truck Rogers was driving. Nelms was positively identified by the TBI crime laboratory through her fingerprints and from a tattoo on the victim's leg. Nelms' body was found in a gravel parking lot behind the Crab Orchard BP station just off Interstate 40 Exit 329 in Cumberland County on Tuesday afternoon. Reportedly, the woman had suffered multiple injuries, including stab wounds, and had been run over by a large vehicle. Allen Stacy Rogers drives a truck for RVH Transport Company. Agents said they went to North Carolina and with help from Roger's employer, found him and talked to him before the arrest.

Careful with Burning


Nine out of 10 wildfires in the United States are started by humans. This week is Fire Prevention Week and while we do have rain in the forecast, it’s a good time for a reminder that everyone needs to be extremely careful with burning. The USDA Forest Service and the North Carolina Forest Service are urging residents throughout the state to keep safety in mind and exercise caution during the upcoming fall wildfire season that typically lasts from mid-October until mid-December. More than 40 percent of all wildfires are caused by careless debris burning -- the number one cause of wildfires in the state. Private landowners who cause wildfires may be liable for fire suppression costs on state and national forest land if a fire originates on their property. The N.C. Forest Service encourages anyone considering debris burning to contact his or her local county forest ranger. The forest ranger can offer technical advice and explain what the best options are to help maximize the safety to people, property and the forest. To obtain a burning permit online, visit Remember the forest service slogan, “Only YOU can prevent wildfires.”

Clearing up Boundary Dispute


New technology will help Mitchell and McDowell permanently fix a border between the two Western North Carolina Counties which has caused disputes over property taxes since the early 1990’s. Mitchell County Tax Assessor Blair Hyder told county commissioners last week that is it time for the two counties to compromise over the disputed border line which in the past has been considered the ridge line where the two sides meet. Disputes between tax payers near the border would be settled by the new boundary which could be determined by the more accurate technology that would allow officials to use contour lines applying a system of Light Detection and Ranging which uses lasers mounted on aircraft to determine terrain heights and elevation. A new boundary line is expected to have minimal effect on property tax bases and revenues in the two counties.

Mitchell Looks at the Need for School Sports Facilities Upgrades


Mitchell County Associate School Superintendant Rick Spurling suggested to the school board last week that the county needs to start thinking about updating athletic facilities in the county, something that hasn’t happened in the past 30 years. Recent discussions about closing some existing schools in the county and build new facilities prompted the discussion. He told the board that plans for new ball fields and practice facilities at the counties two middle schools should be discussed in conjunction with the eventual construction of a single middle school in Mitchell County. Spurling stressed that now is the time to plan for the future needs of the sports facilities because the price of land is relatively cheap and that the value of land in the county is only going to increase. The need to take care of other pressing needs at the schools has, understandably, put the upgrades for sports facilities on the back burner, according to Spurling.

Flag Pole Fundraiser


Currently, three, aged and damaged 30’ poles stand at the entrance to the upper parking lot at Mountain Heritage flying the American Flag, the North Carolina State Flag and the Mountain Heritage School Flag. Staff and students at Mountain Heritage hope to raise enough money to replace the 3-pole display with a single, 50’ pole that will accommodate a much larger American Flag and the North Carolina State Flag to hang on the same pole. Efforts began at last Friday night’s Homecoming Football Game and will continue on October 14th on Senior Night vs. Mitchell High Mountaineers. In addition to donations collected by JROTC members at the football games, students will have the opportunity to contribute to the flag pole fund during the school day through a student-led collection. Businesses and community members are invited to support students in this exercise of civic awareness and involvement.

Yancey School Board’s October Meeting


At its regular October meeting the Yancey County Schools Board of Education approved the 2011-12 Budget Resolution. A major point of focus in this year’s budget has been to fill the gap created by state and federal cuts. By making minimal personnel cuts in this year’s budget, this will position Yancey County Schools with a fund balance that will allow them to meet the state mandate of having the least impact on classrooms for the 2012-13 school year, barring any additional cuts at the state and federal levels. In recognizing how these cuts have impacted non-certified ten month employees, the Board has voted to offer a one-time retirement option for those eligible. From now through June 29, 2012, eligible non-certified ten month employees who file for retirement will receive a payoff of accumulated annual leave at the 2010-11 daily rate. Also at this meeting, the School Board voted to enter into negotiations with Mike Cox of Architectural Design Services. The firm was selected from a group of seven who submitted letters of intent to provide design services for the grant-funded addition to the Cane River and East Yancey Middle Schools Health Centers.

More Drug Arrests in Yancey County


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office and the Burnsville Police Department have arrested the following individuals as a part of the continuing drug operation between the two departments.  Briton Lee Chaney, 26, of Buttersop Road in Burnsville was arrested and charged with the following:     Four Counts of Trafficking in opium or heroin (Hydrocodone), Felony Possession of a Schedule II drug, Possession with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a Schedule II drug (Hydrocodone),  Maintaining a Vehicle\ Dwelling place for the sale of controlled substances, Simple Possession of Schedule II (Hydrocodone).   Nathan Murph Angel, 47, of English Branch in Burnsville was arrested and charged with the following: Two Counts of Possession with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a Schedule II drug (Morphine), Two Counts of Possession of a Schedule II drug (Morphine), Two Counts of Sell or Deliver a Schedule II drug (Morphine), Maintaining a Vehicle\ Dwelling place for the sale of controlled substances. William John McMahan,18, of North Bend Rd. was arrested and charged with the following: Possession of a Schedule VI drug (Marijuana), Possession with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a Schedule VI drug (Marijuana), Sell or deliver a Schedule VI drug (Marijuana), Maintaining a Vehicle\ Dwelling place for the sale of controlled substances. Holly Terees Caravano, 26, of Ransom Silvers Road in Burnsville was arrested and charged with the following: Three counts of Simple Possession of a Schedule II drug (Oxycodone), Three counts of Possession with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a Schedule II drug (Oxycodone), Three counts of Maintaining a Vehicle\ Dwelling place for the sale of controlled substances, Two counts of Sell or deliver a Schedule II drug (Oxycodone), Simple Possession of Schedule IV controlled substances (Alprazolam). Edd Robinson, 81, of Rock Creek Road in Burnsville was arrested and charged with the following:  Possession with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a Schedule II drug (Endocet), Possession of a Schedule II drug (Endocet), Sell or Deliver a Schedule II drug (Endocet), Maintaining a Vehicle\ Dwelling place for the sale of controlled substances.  Michael Dale Carroll, 43, of Possum Trot Road in Burnsville was arrested and charged with the following: Four counts of Trafficking in opium or heroin (Meperidine Hydrochloride), Two counts of Possession with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a Schedule II drug (Meperidine Hydrochloride), Two counts of Possession of a Schedule II drug (Meperidine Hydrochloride), Two counts of Possession with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a Schedule II drug (Meperidine Hydrochloride), Two counts of Sell or Deliver a Schedule II drug (Meperidine Hydrochloride), Maintaining a Vehicle\ Dwelling place for the sale of controlled substances. Linda Gail McCurry, 50, of Pensacola Road in Burnsville was arrested and charged with the following: Two counts of Possession with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a Schedule II drug (Methadone), Two counts of Possession of a Schedule II drug (Methadone), Two counts of Sell or Deliver a Schedule II drug (Methadone), Two counts of Maintaining a Vehicle\ Dwelling place for the sale of controlled substances.

Stay alert for Deer


To help reduce the number of wildlife-related automobile crashes, the N.C. Department of Transportation reminds motorists to be aware of the increased presence of deer on state roads during the fall months. More than 19,500 animal-related crashes were reported each of the last three years, and 90 percent of those involved deer. Since 2008, the incidents have resulted in 3,453 injuries to people, of which 17 were fatal, and nearly $136 million in property damage. While a crash involving a deer can happen at any time, the majority of deer-vehicle collisions occur between the months of October and December,. Crashes are most common during the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., when deer movement increases and limited lighting makes it more difficult for motorists to see them on or near roadways. Statistics indicate most car-deer crashes occur near bridges or overpasses. Deer also follow railroad tracks, streams and ditches. Remember that deer often travel in groups, so do not assume that the road is clear if one deer has already passed.

Mitchell Deputy Returns Fire after being shot


At approximately 11:13am Friday, Mitchell County Sheriff Donald Street and Mitchell County Deputy Cecil Hobson were dispatched to a family disturbance call between a mother and her son,  49 year old Lew Jessie Ayers.  When Sheriff Street arrived at the residence located at 5101 NC Hwy. 226 North, he spoke with Ayers’ mother who informed him that her son was armed with a gun.  Deputy Cecil Hobson arrived moments later and was met by Ayers outside the residence.  Ayers then raised and fired a handgun at Deputy Hobson with one bullet striking Deputy Hobson in the left ear.  Deputy Hobson then returned fire striking Ayers.  Ayers died at the scene as a result of the incident.  Deputy Hobson was transported to the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine where he was treated and later released.  He is expected to make a full recovery from his injury. The SBI is conducting an investigation of the event as is common practice in all officer involved shootings.

Mitchell Deputy Returns Fire and Kills a Man


 A Mitchell County deputy is expected to make a full recovery after he was shot while responding to a domestic call, this morning. (click audio for details)

Flu Shots Recommended


Flu season is quickly approaching and local County Health Departments are offering flu shots starting in October.  The flu is a highly contagious disease that is caused by the influenza virus which infects the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs).  Each year about 36,000 people in the United States die because of the flu. The Health Department recommends the flu shot for everyone with the exception of People with severe allergies to eggs, People who have had severe allergic reaction to a past influenza vaccine or Children younger than 6 months of age. Flu shots are available at the health department, starting at 8:30a.m. and continues until 4:00p.m.  The cost of the flu shot is $30 and the pneumonia shot is $65.  Getting a flu vaccine is easy.  It is available through your doctor, local health department, and even at many retail pharmacies.  For more information about the influenza vaccine contact the Yancey County Health Department at 682-6118 or the Mitchell County Health Department at 688-2371.

Propane Tank Explosion Cause of Spar Mill Road House Fire


A propane tank explosion in an RV was determined to be the cause of a major house fire in the South Toe Community early last Tuesday morning. A call came into Yancey Emergency Management around 7:04 a.m. September 21 stating that there was a camper on fire at 400 Spar Mill Road. Arriving on the scene shortly thereafter, firefighters found a camper ablaze and that the fire had spread to a nearby house owned by Don and Sue Cook. Firefighters from Newdale, South Toe and Burnsville Fire Departments battled the fire for around four hours. The Yancey County EMS and the Yancey County Fire Marshall also responded to the call.

High Speed Internet Project on Track


High speed broadband internet service should be available to those households and businesses in Mitchell County who want it by early summer 2013, according to an official at Country Cablevision.  Shirley Anders , Human Resources and Safety Director at Country Cablevision said the project for Mitchell and Yancey Counties has hit a few setbacks recently but that high speed fiber network should be finished before the projected completion date of July 2013. In Mitchell County all of the mapping work is complete and the company plans on beginning installation in the county by this coming spring. In Yancey County Country Cablevision is currently hanging fiber optic cable, starting in Burnsville and moving outward. Country Cablevision was awarded a $25.3 million broadband stimulus grant last August to help with the project.

Black Mountain Campground Open for Business


Black Bear activity near the Black Mountain Campground has died down since US Forest Service Officials closed some campgrounds and trails in and around Mount Mitchell, back in August. Al Hamilton, manager at Black Mountain Campground, said that although his operation had to close for a couple of weeks in August due the decision made by the Forest Service, the campground is now open and he welcomes campers for the upcoming fall season.  Experts expect an excellent year for fall color in Western North Carolina this year.

Hunting Season Means Safety Season


Late September in Western North Carolina means the arrival of much-anticipated activities such as fall hiking, trout fishing, football and one of the biggest — hunting. With archery season for deer opening Sept. 12, the time-honored tradition is well under way, but it is a good time to remind non-hunters, as well as the quarter-million annual hunting license holders, to be safe and avoid accidents in the woods. In general, people should wear bright clothing when out in the national forests during hunting season. Bright orange is best. And if you’re with a dog, they should be on leash and have an orange vest also. If you are in the woods during hunting season hiking or just enjoying the weather and colors you should also make some noise so hunters know you’re there, but when you see a hunter, be respectful of what they’re doing. It’s a balance. Our national forests are intended for multiple uses.

Continuing Drug Operation


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office and the Burnsville Police Department have more people as a part of the continuing drug enforcement operation between the two departments that has been running for several months. Randall Clay Haney, 39, of Cane Branch Road in Burnsville, Mallory Alina Hyatt, 20, of Comet Road in Burnsville , Henry Paul Deyton, 26, of White Oak Road , Kristina Marie Baber, 25, of Charlie Brown Road in Burnsville , Kagney Landon Ray, 25, of North Ridge Rd. in Burnsville, Robbie Jean Brown, 54, Charlie Brown Road in Burnsville , Orin John Wilson , 29, of Partner Lane in Burnsville were all arrested on various drug related charges. All have an October court date. For details of charges go to

Unemployment Rates Fall In Mitchell and Yancey Counties


According to recent NC Employment Security Commission figures, unemployment rates increased in 47 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in August. Rates decreased in 32 counties and remained the same in 21. Locally, in the Tri-County area only Avery County, whose unemployment rate remained unchanged at 10.1 percent from July to August, did not see an improvement in the jobless numbers. In Yancey County the unemployment rate fell from 12.0 percent in July to 11.6 percent in August, a gain of 0.4 percent, while Mitchell County’s rate fell from 11.8 in July to 11.5 percent in August, a gain of 0.3 percent. The numbers in Madison County went up from 8.9 percent unemployed in July to 9.1 percent in August, while McDowell’s numbers fell from 13 percent to 12.8 percent over the same period. The unemployment rate in Buncombe County rose from 8.0 in July to 8.4 in August and North Carolina’s statewide unemployment rate was 10.4 percent in August. The rate showed no change over the month and a 0.3 percentage-point increase over the year.

Mitchell Schools Celebrate Golden Leaf Laptop Grant


Mitchell High School recently welcomed students, parents, and the community to share in celebrating the receiving of the Golden LEAF Grant for the 1:1 laptop initiative.   Dr. Morgen Houchard, Technology Director for Mitchell County Schools, spoke about receiving the Golden Leaf grant and the process Mitchell County has taken to ready the schools for a 1:1 environment.  Golden LEAF representatives, Mark Sorrels and Dan Gerlach, explained the community assistance grant and presented Mitchell High School with a check to display at school showing the amount received for the laptop initiative. The event was a success and was well received by attendees. On December 5 a required parent meeting will be held at Mitchell High School for parents to pay insurance fees for the computers and sign required paperwork, then a week later students will be receiving their computers at school. A similar program at Moorsville High School has seen their graduation rate rise by 21 percent since the initiative was implemented four years ago.

Mountain Heritage Implements Bullying Prevention Program


Mountain Heritage High School is taking proactive steps to stop and prevent bullying by adopting the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. This research-based school-wide “systems-change” program has been used successfully in schools all over the country and around the world with positive results. As part of the program, students participate in weekly class meetings to learn about the effects of bullying, what they can do about it, and how they can work with adults at school to put a stop to it even as bystanders. Implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program is a long-term commitment to making Mountain Heritage High School a safer, more positive place to be. For more information about the program and/or ways to become involved with Olweus at MHHS, contact Principal Mrs. Bennett, or Counselor Shane Sullivan.

Prescription Drug Bust in Yancey County


Yancey County authorities are calling it one of their biggest prescription drug arrests this summer.  A man they suspect as one of the top dealers in the area was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon. Authorities arrested 24-year-old Christopher Elliott at his home on Satin Wood Drive in Burnsville. Christopher and his older brother, James, are accused of traveling to South Carolina to get Oxycodone pills and then returning to the area to sell them. Burnsville Police Detective Randall Shuford tells us more.. (Audio 1)  In June the Yancey Sheriffs Department and the Burnsville Police Department teamed up to kick off “Operation Slinger”. Since then 40 suspected prescription drug dealers have been charged or arrested.  Detective Shuford says there will be more arrest (Audio 2).  Yancey County Authorities are asking for your help in locating James Elliott. If you have a tip, contact the Yancey County Sheriffs Dept or the Burnsville Police Dept.

Concerned Citizens Pack School Board Meeting


At the School Board meeting last week, concerned citizens from Bakersville, Tipton Hill and Buladean communities in Mitchell County heard from a member of a team that recently recommended closing Bowman, Tipton Hill and Buladean Schools. A four man crew from the Department of Education visited each of the counties elementary and middle schools at the request of the Mitchell County Board of Education back in July. The groups report listed recommendations on how to deal with declining student enrollment, aging facilities and shrinking state funding for school operations in the county. Architect Roger Leeson took questions and tried to clarify the recommendations his team made and the reasons behind them. Around 40 people attended the meeting. No decision on the future of the schools was made at the meeting.

Cause of Death Apparently Drowning


A Yancey County man found floating in the Cane River recently, apparently died from drowning. According to a preliminary autopsy report, Timmy Norton, whose body was found in the water on September 2 on Bakers Creek Road near Dam Road, drowned, but officials are waiting for toxicology reports to officially name a cause of death. Norton, 54, was staying at a Burnsville nursing home but had checked himself out prior to the incident.

A Morning Blaze in South Toe Community


Several Yancey County fire departments and emergency crews responded to a structure fire in the South Toe Community early Tuesday morning.  A call came into Yancey Emergency Management around 7:04 a.m. stating that there was a camper on fire at 400 Spar Mill Road. Arriving on the scene shortly thereafter, firefighters found a camper ablaze and that the fire had spread to a nearby house. Firefighters from Newdale, South Toe and Burnsville Fire Departments battled the fire untill around 11 a.m. but were called back several hours later to put out several hotspots that had become active again. The Yancey County EMS and the Yancey County Fire Marshall also responded to the call as did Yancey Emergency Management Director Bill Davis, who said that the house suffered major damage and that the cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Meth Drug Arrest


Deputies in Mitchell County issued 158 warrants and made 31 arrests yesterday in Meth Drug raids.  News 13 Sherril Barber has the story. (Audio) 

Mitchell County Deputies have teamed up with Yancey County Deputies as both counties continue undercover operations to stop the manufacturing of Meth in the mountains.

250 jobs coming to Western North Carolina


NC Governor Bev Perdue was in Rutherford County yesterday to announce that 250 new jobs are coming. The Horsehead Corporation, based in New Jersey, recycles and manufactures zinc based products. The company will invest $350 million in their new plant and operations. State officials say this is the largest single industrial announcement in Rutherford County history.

Spruce Pine Police looking into church break-ins


Mitchell County authorities are investigating separate breaking and entering incidents at two Spruce Pine churches.  Spruce Pine Detective Billy Summerlin confirmed that his department is looking into break-ins over the weekend at Grassy Creek Baptist Church and another at the Spruce Pine Methodist Church on Burleson Hill. Sumerlin said, “We expect to have more information about the incidents later tomorrow but right now we can’t say anything other than that the break-ins did occur and that we are investigating,” There is also word that the SBI has been called into the investigation to see if these break-ins are related to other church break-ins reported in several surrounding counties.

Nickels for Know-How


A self-assessed, state-wide check-off that supports agricultural research, extension, and teaching programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at NC State University will be held Wednesday, November 16, 2011 subject to approval by the Board of Agriculture. Users of feed and fertilizer in North Carolina will vote on November 16 whether to continue the voluntary 15 cents per ton self-assessment on fertilizer and animal feed produced in our state.  Since 1951, the Nickels check-off has been voted on every six years and has passed in the 13 previous referenda by an average 90% favorable vote. The Mitchell County Extension Center, Mitchell-Yancey Farm Service Agency and Griffiths General Merchandise have been designated as polling locations for this year’s check-off vote.  For more information contact Jeff Vance at the Mitchell County Extension Center, 828-688-4811.

Madison County Prescription Drug Bust


Fourteen people have been arrested in a Madison County prescription drug trafficking roundup. Sherrill Barber of News 13 tells us more…. 

Seven of the fourteen arrested are scheduled for a first court appearance today. Some are being held in the Haywood county jail because there’s not enough room in the Madison County Jail.

Charter to close Burnsville walk-in office


Due to the lack of customers who use the Charter walk-in office in Burnsville, the telecommunications company has decided to close its facility at 1023 East Hwy. 19E. The decision has been made to close the sales and service center effective September 16. The company says that the number of people who come in to pay their cable television bills has significantly dropped off and that additional methods of assisting customers have been implemented. Burnsville customers of Charter can make payments with a MoneyGam at CVS Pharmacy, through the US Mail, by electronic fund transfers, by credit card or by ePay at on their computer. Charter’s Burnsville employees will relocate to the Charter Sales and Service Center in Marion and will continue to serve the Burnsville Community.

Broadband Project Delayed


Country Cablevisions effort to bring broadband service to all of Yancey and Mitchell Counties has been dealt a 60-day delay to allow for an environmental site plan study, a company spokesman has announced. Progress towards the completion of the project hit an unexpected snag due to the construction of the head-end building that will house the systems control equipment. Additional information has been requested by the Rural Utilities Service regarding the environmental impact of placing the building on the planned site. The installation of lines is progressing on schedule and has not been adversely affected by the delay, according to Bryan Hyder, operations manager for the company.

Yancey Schools Receive ABCs Awards


At the Yancey County Board of Education meeting Monday night, the Board recognized the following schools and their principals for achieving the highest recognitions under the ABCs of Public Education Accountability Program: Bee Log Elementary – Honors School of Excellence-Cane River Middle – Honors School of Excellence-East Yancey Middle – Honors School of Excellence-South Toe Elementary – Honors School of Excellence-Burnsville Elementary – School of Distinction-Clearmont Elementary – School of Distinction-Micaville Elementary – School of Distinction. To be an Honor School of Excellence, a school must meet all state ABCs standards and all federal No Child Left Behind standards. Rather than providing banners to recognize the winners this year, the Department of Public Instruction has created recognition seals that can be used on school websites and stationery. Yancey County Schools websites have proudly added the official state-designed seal of recognition to their websites.

Litter Campaign starts Saturday


The N.C. Department of Transportation is urging the public to turn their attention to local roadways with a two-week long litter-prevention celebration that begins Saturday and goes through Oct 1. Volunteers were essential to the spring Litter Sweep, responsible for removing more than 1.6 million pounds of roadside litter. The N.C. State Highway Patrol will also be on alert and policing the roadways for motorists with unsecured loads and others that intentionally and unintentionally litter. Interested Litter Sweep volunteers should contact their local NCDOT county maintenance office to obtain cleanup supplies.

Mars Hill College Ranks 35th in Regional Colleges in US News Rankings


Mars Hill College has placed 35th among the best regional colleges in the South on the U.S. News and World Report 2012 “America’s Best Colleges” rankings. This is the eighth time that Mars Hill College has made the U.S. News rankings. Over the past two decades, the U.S. News “America’s Best Colleges” ranking has grown to be one of the most comprehensive research tools for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.  Among the criteria for the best regional colleges category were: peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

More Drug Arrests made in continuing Operation


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office and the Burnsville Police Department have arrested two individuals from Taylorsville, North Carolina who were bringing illegal Oxycodone pills into Yancey County to sell. Arrests were also made as a part of the continuing drug operations between the two departments of two other local individuals who were also selling Oxycodone pills. Danielle Rae Witherington, 23, of Bowditch Street in Burnsville  was arrested and charged and Jason Kimball Cooper, 35, of Deneen Road in Burnsville was arrested and charged. For a complete list of charges and photos see

Booze and lose it Labor Day Numbers


The numbers are in from the recent Labor Day booze and lose campaign. A total of 96,827 traffic and criminal citations were issued statewide. State and local law enforcement officers cited 2,957 motorists for driving while impaired. Officers also issued 6,774 safety belt and 1,180 child passenger safety violations, 28,242 speeding violations and 2,182 drug charges. In addition, they apprehended 1,353 fugitives from justice and recovered 139 stolen vehicles.

Blue Ridge Relay to Come thru This Area


The 208 Mile Blue Ridge Relay, which is one of the longest running relay races in the United States, takes place in the Blue Ridge and Black Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina.  The race will be held September 9-10 and is expected to come thru the Burnsville Town Square between 5 and 7 am on Saturday the 10th. The Relay consists of maximum 12 person teams that rotate through 36 transition areas as they cover the 208-mile distance of the race. Each relay team member runs 3 legs of varying lengths and difficulty and will cover an average total distance of 16.6 miles. The runners rotate in a set order once the race begins and will be obligated to follow this rotation until the final runner finishes in Asheville. The Relay starts at Grayson Highlands State Park, Grayson County, VA. The course primarily follows scenic, country roads as it winds its way through North Carolina's High Country to the finish in Asheville. Exchange zones in our area include  Newland Elementary School - Newland, Gragg Farm and Nursery - Newland,  Plumtree Presbyterian Church - Newland, Green Valley Fire Department - Green Valley,  Mt. Carmel Baptist Church - Spruce Pine, Ingles Grocery - Spruce Pine,  Penland School - Penland, Snow Creek Storage - Bakersville,  Bakersville Fire and Rescue  - Bakersville, Red Hill Baptist Church -Red Hill,  Tipton Hill Elementary School - Green Mountain, Clearmont Elementary School - Burnsville,  Mountain Heritage High School - Burnsville,  Ms. Karen Cooper - Burnsville, Pensacola Sales & Service - Burnsville,  Laurel Branch Baptist Church - Burnsville, Pensacola United Methodist Church - Burnsville, Wilson Ridge Development Company - Burnsville,   Barnardsvile Elementary School - Barnardsville, Reems Creek Beech Presbyterian Church - Weaverville, Ox Creek Community Center - Weaverville, South Fork Independent Methodist Church – Asheville. For map and detailed information go to

Flags at Half Staff this Sunday


North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue has ordered that all United States and North Carolina flags at state facilities be flown at half staff on Sunday, September 11, in recognition of Patriot Day, which President Obama is expected to declare as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Flags are to be lowered to half staff from the time that they are normally raised until the close of day, then returned to full staff on Monday, September 12. 

McDowell woman scratches off $100,000 Wheel of Fortune prize


Melissa Hink, an office assistant from Old Fort in McDowell County, is the first player to win the top prize of $100,000 in the N.C. Education Lottery’s new Wheel of Fortune scratch-off game. Hink plans on depositing her winnings, worth $68,001 after taxes, into her bank account. She purchased her ticket when she stopped for gas last Friday at the I Market on Trade Street in Dallas, NC. From March 30, 2006 through June 30, 2010, McDowell County players have won more than $10.8 million in lottery prizes and county retailers have earned more than $1.4 million in commissions on ticket sales. During the same time period, McDowell County education programs have received more than $6.1 million in lottery funds. By law, those funds benefit teacher salaries, school construction, need-based college scholarships and prekindergarten programs. To date, the N.C. Education Lottery has raised more than $2 billion for the education initiatives it serves statewide. In Yancey County Education has received 2.1 Million Dollars. In Mitchell County education has received 2 Million dollars.

Mitchell County Schools Meet AYP Goals


Mitchell County Schools have earned the distinction of being the only district in the state, out of 115 school systems, to meet their AYP goals for the 2010-2011 school year. This is the first time that the school system as a whole has made Adequate Yearly Progress after meeting all 38 of their goals. The tough goals are set out by the National No Child Left behind Act. Mitchell County testing director Chad Calhoun said that everyone has been working hard to get to this point and that it show the tremendous efforts of students, teachers and principals working together.

Repairs to Spruce Pine Bypass Bridge Delayed


Garry Moore, Division Bridge Project Manager with the North Carolina Department of Transportations Division 13 has announced that repairs to the Spruce Pine bypass bridge, originally scheduled to begin in October, have been put off until next spring. The work to repair the deterioration under the Hwy.19E Bridge likely won’t pick back up until April, which will give DOT officials time to check plans and make sure that all repairs that are needed will be taken care of this time. Work was stopped on the first attempt to repair the bridge in the spring when additional deterioration in the steel supports underneath the bridge was discovered. The barrels on the bypass that cut traffic down to two lanes on the bridge have recently been replaced with orange post. Moore said that the bridge is safe and that the goal is to get the structure back functioning the way it is suppose to be as soon possible. He said that as long as everyone stays in the traffic pattern there are no safety issues with the bridge.

Western North Carolina dodges big rain


Most of the heavy rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee missed Western North Carolina but gusty winds downed trees and caused scattered power outages across the mountains yesterday. No injuries were reported, but several structures were damaged by falling trees.  The Boone and Blowing Rock area received the greatest amount of rain, recording over 7 inches. Instead of rain the wind picked up, gusting to 20-30 mph yesterday. Trees were reported down in Macon, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties. Progress Energy reported about 150 customers in Buncombe and another 75 in Mitchell without electricity Tuesday. Duke Energy reported nearly 4,000 customers without power in the two Carolinas.

Snow Creek Drug Arrest


45 year old Gary Wayne Ayers, of 337 Murdock Road, Bakersville has been arrested on numerous felony and misdemeanor drug charges after a three month undercover drug operation conducted by Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department. Captain R.V. Wiseman and Spruce Pine Police Detective S.B. Hughes started the investigation back in March. Ayers was apprehended leaving a known drug dealers residence in the Ledger Community in possession of two 30 milligram Oxycodone pills. In June and July undercover agents purchased prescription pills from Ayers. Ayers was arrested on numerous drug charges. Captain Wiseman said more arrests are pending in this continuing investigation For details see the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Report on

Three Burnsville Men Face Drug Charges


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office and the Burnsville Police Department have arrested three individuals who resided at Satinwood Drive in Burnsville as a part of the continuing drug operation between the two departments. 25-year-old Christopher Lee Elliot, 23-year-old James Ray Elliot and 67-year-old William Daniel Elliot were charged with numerous drug offenses after authorities caught the trio with 112 Oxycodone pills in their possession. All three men have made bond and have a September 13 court date.

Yancey County Sheriff’s Department Make Arrests 


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Department announces the following arrests:

*Joshua Ray Nanney of Lower Browns Creek Road was charged on August 17 with Breaking and Entering and Possession of Stolen Property after a family member reported a gun had been taken from his residence in the South Toe Community.

*Stephen Terry Carroll of Joe Young Road, Burnsville, was arrested on August 23. He was charged with Violation of a Prior Release Order, Breaking and Entering of a Motor Vehicle, Larceny of Motor Vehicle and First Degree Trespassing. Carroll ran his vehicle off an embankment while trying to flee officers who were responding to the call. He fled the scene of the accident and was later arrested.

*Tyler Joseph Owens of Weaverville, was arrested on August 23 and charged with Possession of a Gun on Educational Property and Possession of a Handgun by a Minor after a student from Mountain Heritage High School told the Principal that there was a young male at the Mountain Heritage football game the previous Friday night that had a handgun in his possession. It was determined that the student, who is 16, had carried the gun to the ballgame and that in fact the gun was stolen from a residence in Buncombe County.  

* Jason Todd Laws of Saw Mill Hollow Road in Burnsville was arrested on August 29 and charged with Breaking and Entering, Larceny after Breaking and Entering, Possession of Stolen Property, Forgery, Uttering, and two counts of Obtaining Property By False Pretense.

Body Found In Cane River


The lifeless body of a 54-year-old Yancey County man was discovered in the Cane River Thursday morning. The Yancey County Sheriff’s Department received a call from someone in the Bakers Creek Community at around 8 a.m. Thursday stating that they had just seen a body floating in Cane River near the intersection of Bakers Creek and Dam Road. When authorities arrived on the scene they discovered the body of Timothy Norton, of Mountain Manor in Burnsville, face down in the river. The Burnsville Fire Department also responded to the call and retrieved the body from the water. Sheriff Gary Banks said that it did not appear that there was any foul play involved and that the body could not have been in the river very long because Mr. Norton was seen on Bakers Creek by residents between 6 and 7 p.m. on Wednesday night. The SBI was called in to assist the Sherriff’s Department in the ongoing investigation, according to Sheriff Banks who said that the preliminary results of an autopsy would not be available until sometime on Tuesday.

The Coast is not clear for vacationers


With the Labor Day holiday weekend coming up, the Coast is not clear for vacationers. NCDOT crews today continued to make progress clearing debris, including trees and power lines, from roads in coastal counties impacted by Hurricane Irene. Scattered areas of flooding are still present on roads in several areas. Although some sections of N.C. 12 are still closed, traffic has been safely restored in a lot of areas. Gov. Perdue has told NCDOT engineers to provide a plan for a short-term solution to the breaches on N.C. 12 by early next week.  Due to power outages and heavy winds, some traffic signals are not functioning in coastal areas. NCDOT reminds motorists to treat a signalized intersection as a four-way stop, and use extra caution while driving.

Yancey Courthouse Tightens Security 


Access to the Yancey County Courthouse will be restricted early in September to comply with a request from Senior Superior Court Judge Phillip Ginn. The county has responded to the request, purchasing a metal detector and working with Sheriff Gary Banks to staff the front door with a  law officer. Plans are to secure the two side entrances for employee access, and those employees will have to swipe a key card and enter a PIN number to enter the building. County employees who are not stationed at the courthouse must go through the front door. Visitors to the courthouse will also be required to use only the front door and must go through a metal detector. A deputy will be stationed at the metal detector and will oversee access. The security controls will be in place any time the courthouse is open.

NC Law Enforcement Out in Force over Holiday Weekend


The North Carolina State Highway Patrol along with the Division of Law Enforcement Wildlife Resources Commission and the Alcohol Law Enforcement Division are combining efforts in saving lives this Labor Day weekend. Whether on the road or on the water, law enforcement officers across the state will be on the look out for impaired drivers by conducting numerous DWI checkpoints, especially near recreational boating areas. Last year, the Highway Patrol investigated 270 fatal collisions and over 8,700 injury collisions during the summer months. This includes 62 fatal collisions and 871 injuries due to impaired driving. The holiday weekend officially begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 2, and ends at midnight, Monday, September 5.  Last year 11 motorists died and 330 were injured in traffic collisions investigated by the Highway Patrol over the Labor Day holiday.

Keith Holtsclaw Named as New Mitchell County Commissioner


The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners meet in Special Session on Monday to appoint Keith Holtsclaw to the vacant county commissioner’s seat left open by the recent resignation of Chairman Marvin Miller. Holtsclaw received unanimous support from the commissioners. The Board also elected Commissioner Bill Slagle as their new chairman. Holtsclaw is the Former Mitchell County Manager and he recently retired as President & CEO at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital. Holtsclaw was nominated by the Mitchell County Republican Party to fill the vacant position.

Mixed Results for Unemployment Rates in Area


According to the latest figures from the NC Employment Security Commission, the unemployment rates decreased in 48 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in July while rates increased in 39 counties and remained the same in 13. Locally only Avery, Madison and Buncombe Counties saw decreases in their unemployment rates while Mitchell,Yancey and McDowell saw their rates go up slightly. Avery County dropped from a rate of 10.4 in June to 10.1 percent in July, while the rate in Madison County fell from 9.3 to 8.9 and Buncombe County declined from 8.2 to 8.0. In Mitchell County the rate rose from 11.2 percent in June to 11.6 in July while the unemployment rate in Yancey County rose from 11.5 to 12.0 percent during the same time period. McDowell County saw it unemployment rate grow from 12.7 percent to 12.9 percent.  

Disaster Relief Fund for Hurricane Irene


Citizens wishing to offer monetary relief for survivors of Hurricane Irene may send their donations to the N.C. Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund is set up to distribute money to various volunteer organizations that work on long-term recovery efforts, such as the repair and rebuilding of homes. Donated funds are for recovery efforts only, and are not used for administrative purposes. The fund is set up through the N.C. Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. All donations are tax-deductible. Checks may be mailed to: N.C. Disaster Relief Fund, 20312 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC, 27612. Credit card donations may be made at:

Storm clean up progress


Department of Transportation crews have made progress yesterday in Eastern North Carolina. Most roads are clear; however, there are still areas of isolated flooding and downed trees that are entangled in power lines, which will take longer to clear. The two counties with the most storm-related problems are Craven and Pamlico, as well as the south side of Beaufort County.  Millions along the East coast are still without power because of the weekend storm.

Yancey County Mines will be closed


A press release from Tina Tilley, Appalachian District Ranger with the Pisgah National Forest has announced that The U.S. Forest Service will permanently close 11 abandoned mine shafts at the Ray Mines area in Yancey County to promote public safety and protect bats and other forest resources.  The Forest Service is closing eight shafts by replacing existing, ineffective fences. The mines have remained inactive since the 1940s. Mineral material, including mica, was mined at the site. The Forest Service temporarily closed the shafts at Ray Mines about two years ago as part of a Southern Region Closure Order to protect endangered, threatened and sensitive bat species, and to prevent the spread of white-nose syndrome.

 Irene effects to North Carolina


Six North Carolinians have died so far as a result of Hurricane Irene; two in Pitt County and one each in Nash, Onslow, Sampson and Wayne counties. Three were killed in motor vehicle crashes, two were killed by falling trees and one suffered a heart attack while preparing for storm.  Twenty-three shelters remain open, housing more than 1,700 occupants, down from a peak of more than 7,500 people in 81 shelters Saturday. Saturday, American Red Cross, North Carolina Baptist Men and the Salvation Army cooked more than 21,400 meals for evacuees and first responders. More than 444,000 power outages remain. Utility crews from across the state and other states are headed down east to help restore power. Transportation crews began working at daylight to clear and reopen more than 130 roads and bridges closed by fallen trees, downed power lines and storm debris. NCDOT has more than 1,800 staff responding to the storm.

Medicare Part D Annual Election Period Changing 


All members of Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) Plans and Medicare Health Plans may change their coverage each year during the Annual Election Period. Beginning this year, the AEP will now be from Oct. 15 thru Dec. 7, according to the NC Cooperative Extension. All changes made during this time will be effective Jan. 1, 2012. It is imperative to remember that Medicare beneficiaries will no longer have until the end of the year to make changes, so you need to plan now. Part D plans contract on a yearly basis with the Medicare program. The Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) encourages each Part D participant to compare the coverage offered by their current plan with the coverage that will be offered by all plans available in 2012. Medicare beneficiaries with low incomes and limited resources may be eligible for an Extra Help/Low Income Subsidy (LIS) program that reduces or eliminates the monthly premium and annual deductible and reduces prescription co-payments. Trained SHIIP counselors are available for one-on-one counseling appointments in all 100 North Carolina counties. For more information, contact SHIIP at 1-800-443-9354.

Detour for I-240 West in Asheville Begins Today


Contractors for the N.C. Department of Transportation have completed the rehabilitation of bridge decks on Interstate 240 East in West Asheville, and will now begin rehabilitating bridge decks on I-240 West as the next phase of a project to rehabilitate 31 bridge decks in Buncombe and Madison counties. The work will necessitate weekend closures of I-240 West from Smoky Park Bridge (Exit 3) to the I-40/I-26 junction. The first closure will take place from 6:30 p.m. today, until 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 29. Closures are planned for the next several weekends.  I-240 West will not be closed during holidays. Motorists needing to access I-40 West or I-26 East from I-240 West will take Exit 3B (Westgate Resort Drive), go under the Patton Ave. bridge, take the exit to the right and go back down I-240 East to I-40 West, which is Exit 9. NCDOT will keep the public informed as construction progresses. Changeable message signs will also be utilized to alert motorists of construction information.

Should Mitchell County Schools Close?


A school facility survey requested by the Mitchell County Board of Education suggests closing Tipon Hill and Buladean Elementary Schools as well as Bowman Middle School, the NC Department of Public Instruction reported this week. The four member board from the DPI visited each of the county’s elementary and middle schools in July and evaluated each school based on physical condition, age, cost of operation and enrollment data. The closure of Bowman would force middle school age children in Bakersville, and the lower end of the county, to transfer to Harris Middle School in Spruce Pine. The DPI committee’s recommendations are non-binding and will be discussed in open session at an upcoming Mitchell County School Board meeting, according to board chairman Roger Burleson.

Changes in Breakfast Program in Yancey County Schools


The North Carolina legislature has eliminated the state funded Kindergarten Breakfast Program that provided the meal to all kindergartners. The funds will be used to provide free breakfast to all children in grades K-12 who qualify for reduced price meals. School officials say that Yancey could run out of funds for this program before the end of the school year. The program officially began in Yancey County Schools on Monday and will be retroactive to the beginning of the 2011-12 school year.  For students that paid for reduced-price breakfasts during the first two weeks of school, a credit will be given to the student’s account.

Short List for Replacement of Judge Bill Leavell


District Court Judge Bill Leavell has stepped down due to health reasons. The District Bar Association met last week to vote on names to submit to Gov. Bev Perdue. Candidates are Warren Hughes, Kyle Austin and Virginia Thompson. Hughes, the former Clerk of Court in Yancey County, received the most votes with 39 while Austin, a former district court judge of Avery County, received 38 votes. Thompson, an assistant district attorney in Madison County, garnered 14 votes. Gov. Perdue must appoint a replacement for Judge Leavell within sixty days.

Madison County guns recovered


Madison county deputies recovered rifles, handguns and ammunition stolen from a Mars Hill home over the weekend.  Investigators have arrested three 19-year old suspects; Robert Conner, Dalton Boyer and Joshua Cantrell. Investigators say the suspects broke into Johnny Whitaker's home early Sunday morning while the family was away for the weekend.  All three are in the Madison county jail facing a range of  charges including, breaking and entering, larceny, larceny of a motor vehicle and possession of stolen goods.  Investigators say one of the suspects said they stole the weapons so they could use them to rob drug dealers.

Spruce Pine Chef Wins Chef’s Challenge


Nate Allen, Chef at the Knife and Fork Restaurant in Spruce Pine was recently crowned champion of the WNC Chefs Challenge competition in Asheville. The competition, at the WNC Magazine Wine and Food Festival, pitted the Spruce Pine chef against the big dogs in Asheville’s dining scene. Allen, who opened Knife & Fork in July 2009, started the challenge six months ago. He survived three rounds before making it to the final, beating out 16 other chef’s for the honor. Allen bested Michael Gonzalez of Bistro at Biltmore in the finale to take home the top prize. Nate runs the restaurant with the help of his wife Wendy, who grew up in Burnsville. The couple moved to the area from Los Angles where they worked in several restaurants and Nate was a private chef. Their focus on the food and the farm-to-table lifestyle helped win them the prestigious award.

Drugs and Guns Discovered


An undercover drug bust leads Mitchell County Authorities to over 80 guns and thousands of dollars. 61 year old Bobby Yelton of Bakersville faces several felony drug charges. He’s accused of selling prescription pain pills to an under cover officer on more than one occasion. When deputies searched his home they came up with more than drugs. In addition to prescription pills they seized 75 shot guns and rifles, 15 handguns and more than 26,000 dollars in cash. Yelton is due in court September 2.

Reminder for Parents


North Carolina State law (GS 130A-155 (c)  says that all children must have on file at school a certificate of immunization within 30 calendar days of enrolling.  NC State law (GS 130 A-440), also requires that all Kindergarteners must have a certified Kindergarten physical on file at school within 30 calendar days of enrolling.  Students who do not have the immunization and/or physical data on file by Tuesday, September 6, will be suspended from school as required by state law. 

New Meeting Policy at Yancey Board of Education


In the spirit of openness and time management, the Yancey County Board of Education is changing its meeting format to better accommodate the public who attend its meetings. Starting with its September 12, 2011 meeting, the Yancey County Board of Education will begin Closed Session at 6:00 p.m. and begin its Open Session at 6:30 p.m.   This will allow information discussed in Closed Session and voted on during Open Session to be known / released to those attending the meeting. Times may vary as the Board adjusts to this new format.  Meeting times will be posted each month on the Thursday prior to the Monday meeting date at

Unemployment Rate Up in NC Higher Than National Average 


North Carolina’s July 2011 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, at 10.1 percent, increased 0.2 of a percentage point from the previous month’s revised rate of 9.9 percent. The rate was 10.3 percent in July 2010. At 10.1 percent, North Carolina’s July unemployment rate is 1.0 percentage point higher than the United States’ 9.1percent rate. Also, figures from the NC Employment Security Commission show that the number of people unemployed increased 1.7 percent to 454,989.  North Carolina paid $307.9 million in Unemployment Insurance benefits to claimants in July. These payments include state and federally funded benefits.    

Booze it and lose it


The Booze it and lose it campaign is already underway. State and local law enforcement officers are out in force as part of the “Booze It & Lose It” Labor Day campaign. Checkpoints and stepped-up patrols started Friday and will continue through Monday, Sept. 5, across the state in an effort to remove impaired drivers from the roads. In 2010, there were 500 alcohol-related crashes in North Carolina during the Labor Day campaign, which resulted in 20 fatalities and 395 injuries. Officers charged more than 3,200 North Carolina motorists with driving while impaired during the 2010 “Booze It & Lose It” Labor Day campaign.

East Yancey Sewer Project Sets October Start Date


The bidding process for the $5 million East Yancey Sewer Project has been completed and work on the long awaited project could begin as early as October, according to Yancey County Manager Nathan Bennett. The low bidders for the contract were Devere Construction out of Forrest City, who will build the treatment plant, while Moore and Son Site Contractors out of Mills River will handle the line work. Two local companies put in bids for the line work but unfortunately neither bid was close to the winning low bid. The project is funded primarily by grants and with a local match of $340,100 which has been split by the county and the town. The County received the funding from the Un-sewered Communities Program and at some point plans are for the town to take over the operation of the sewer treatment facility.

Graduation Rates Increase Across North Carolina


According to the student and school achievement results just released by the State Board of Education, high school graduation rates improved in 2011, increasing to 77.7 percent, the highest four-year graduation rate ever reported in North Carolina. At the same time, other performance measures were similar to last year.   The 2010-11 ABCs of Public Education accountability report indicated that the percentage of students graduating in 2011 in four years or less increased by 3.5 percentage points from 2010. In addition, the percentage of students graduating in five years increased to 77.7, a 3.0-percentage point increase statewide from 2010.  The report also showed 81.4 percent of schools meeting or exceeding their academic growth standard, a decline from 2009-10 when 88.0 percent met or exceeded their growth standard.

Search is On for Judge Leavell’s Replacement


The retirement of Superior Court Judge Bill Leavell, due to health reasons, created a vacancy on the bench that will be filled within the next three months, according to NC Governor Bev Perdue. The 24th Judicial District Bar will meet this week to nominate three people to be considered for the position after which Gov. Perdue will have sixty days to announce Leavell’s replacement. Nominations need only be a resident of Mitchell, Avery, Madison, Watauga or Yancey Counties and licensed to practice law in their district. If Gov. Perdue does not make the selection within 60 days, the person receiving the highest number of votes from the district bar will get the job.

Mitchell Schools Deal With Budget Shortfalls


Mitchell County Schools will have $1.6 million less in state and federal funding than they had to work with last year after viewing their first budget draft for the first time last week. The cuts from the state came in at around $450,000. The school system will need to make do without an additional $1.1 million from the federal government as well. The sharp cuts force the school system to reduce its payroll by about $750,000, which means cutting around twenty positions system wide.

Teen injured from fall


In a story reported on in Charlotte. A North Carolina Army National Guard crew in a helicopter lifted a teenager to safety after he had fallen onto a narrow ledge around 7pm last night in Linville Gorge. Burke County EMS supervisor Brad Brown said a helicopter was needed because there was no way to reach the teen. The teen apparently walked outside of the designated safety rail on Erwin Overlook, slipped on some pine needles and fell about 40 feet onto a tree. The Burke County Office of Emergency Services received the call around 4 p.m. The victim, an unidentified teen, did not appear badly injured.

Carolina Mountains Literary Festival Awarded $6,000


The Carolina Mountains Literary Festival has been awarded $6,000 from the North Carolina Arts Council to support the three days of programming which brings more than 30 authors to Burnsville each September. The funds will be used in part to provide special programming for elementary aged students, such as the Poetry Alive! on Saturday, September 10.  Poetry Alive! is a energetic and fun duo who improve student literacy with their performances and writing workshops.  The support of funds also helps make the festival free to participants, so that everyone can attend. Last year, the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival provided programming for more than 400 students and citizens from Yancey County and beyond.  Highlights of this year's festival include 50 different sessions and the documentary film "The Day Carl Sandburg Died."  More than 8.7 million people participated in N.C. Arts Council-funded projects last year in schools, senior centers, museums, concert halls and community centers.  Nearly 2.9 million of these were children and youth. For more information about the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival visit their website or email

Yancey Commission Board Meeting


McGill & Associates has completed the bidding process on the East Yancey Sewer Project.  Bids were opened last Thursday. Yancey Commission Chairman Riddle has called a meeting of the East Yancey Water & Sewer District Board for this morning at 8:00 a.m. in the commissioner’s boardroom. The purpose of the meeting will be to hear a report on the Micaville sewer project, review the bids received to complete the work, consider making a tentative award,  and any other business the sewer board needs to discuss.

Burnsville Water Pressure Advisory- Rescinded


Based on the laboratory analysis of water samples collected from the Town of Burnsville on 8-11-2011, water users are hereby notified that it is no longer necessary to boil water used for human consumption. We appreciate your cooperation during this period.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact Randall Wilson, Town of Burnsville, 682-2420.

Chairman of the Mitchell Commissioners Resigns


The Chairman of the Mitchell County Board of Commissioners resigned this week in protest to an order by Superior Court Judge Phillip Ginn. Board Chair Marvin Miller turned in his resignation and walked out of a meeting called to discuss Judge Ginn’s mandate that Mitchell County pay for security upgrades to the County Courthouse. Mitchell County Manager Chuck Vines said “Although Mr. Miller respects Judge Ginn, he did not see eye to eye with the judge’s order that taxpayers money be obligated to implement the project,. Several items on Judge Ginn’s list to beef up security at the Court House have already been implemented by the county. But two of the more costly, the hiring if a full time deputy at the Courthouse, and the installation of a closed circuit monitoring system, were at issue.  “Marvin is a mighty fine person and he has done so much for the people of Mitchell County,” Vines said. “He was just trying to take care of the funds that he felt belonged to the taxpayers and he just couldn’t bring himself to comply with the Judge’s list of demands.” Vice Chair Lee Roy Ledford was appointed as temporary chairman until another board member is appointed and a new chairman is elected. Vines said that commissioners are scrambling to set in motion the process that will allow them to fill the vacant position on the Board as soon as possible.  After Miller left the meeting, the motion to take a vote on Ginn’s order was made and it carried.  The County commissioners will now ask the sheriff to appoint a deputy for the court house and the County Manager’s Office is now in the process of taking quotes for a closed circuit security system.

Burnsville Water Advisory


The Town of Burnsville has issued a water advisory for residents in the areas of Hillside Dr, Westover Dr, Yancey Commons, Reservoir Rd. Bowditch St. Customers that live in the higher elevation of the water system are experiencing periods of low pressure and outages in the distribution system due to having to repair a valve on the main that supplies this area. Periods of low or no pressure in the distribution system increases the potential for back siphoning and introduction of bacteria into the water system. The Town of Burnsville advises that when water is restored consumers should boil all water used for human consumption (including drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, making ice and washing hands) or use bottled water. Vigorous boiling for one (1) minute should kill any disease-causing organisms that may be present in the water. Boiling water concentrates any levels of nitrates that may be present in the water. Infants below the age of six months and pregnant women should use an alternate water supply (e.g., bottled water) whenever possible. This advisory remains in effect until further written notification is issued.

Madison County Tax man Charged


Acting on a tip, deputies and SBI agents went to the home of Madison county Tax Administrator Chris Maney on Maney Cove Rd. yesterday and found several marijuana plants weighing a total of 5 1/2 pounds.  They also found marijuana seeds, pipes, and starter pots. Maney faces three felony charges.  He was released on a $15,000 unsecured bond.The county manager says Maney has been suspended.

Mitchell County Will Get New Dental Facility


East Carolina has selected Mitchell County as one of ten locations to locate a dental facility for 4th-year students enrolled at the University’s new dentistry school. The school recently announced that it will build a $3 million service learning center near the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. Full time dental school faculty members will staff the center that will provide a general dentistry office with 16 treatment rooms and classroom space for students in their final year of study. The center will serve Mitchell County residents and those of surrounding counties, providing lower cost dental care for those in need. The Samuel L. Phillips Family Foundation gift of three four year dental scholarships to Mitchell, Avery and Yancey County area students played a big part in ECU’s decision to locate the facility in the Tri-County area. The project should be up and running by 2014.

Company Plans Green Jobs For Area


A planned solar energy facility in Yancey County could provide more than 50 jobs for area residents if a joint effort between the county and three other counties becomes a reality. The proposed solar energy project is being developed by a Florida company on a tract of land already purchased in Pensacola. Part of the 14.7 acre location off Hwy 197-S would be used for non-reflective solar panels that would not distract from the surrounding landscape, according to Yancey County Manager Nathan Bennett who unveiled the plan to commissioners last week. The company, Nationwide Renewable Energy is working with Mayland Community College and McDowell Technical Community College to establish a certified education and jobs training program to support the solar energy business in Avery, Mitchell, Yancey and McDowell Counties. The high tech program will be based around four individual solar farms, one in each county and is estimated to cost around $65 million.

Man Killed when freight train hits mini van in McDowell County


Highway Patrol Troopers report that a Marion man was killed by a train around 10:30am yesterday. The 80 year old man was driving a 2004 Chrysler minivan down Fairfield Lane in Marion when he was struck by the train at a crossing.  Troopers say the driver likely didn't hear or see the eastbound train approaching, and that the engineer sounded a warning. Nearly two-dozen rail cars weighing more than 3,000 tons hit the minivan.  The man's name has not been released. The crossing is private and has a stop sign and "cross bucks" to warn cars of trains. Norfolk Southern Railways says it can take a train up to a mile to come to a stop.

Single Vehicle Tractor Trailer Accident


Yancey County emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle tractor-trailer accident around 4:15pm Tuesday that closed a Yancey County roadway for several hours.  The KRD Trucking tractor-trailer contracted by GDS Republic Disposal Service to haul trash from the Mitchell-Yancey Transfer Station overturned on NC Highway 80 North approximately 2 miles south of the transfer station in route to a landfill facility in Caldwell County.  According to the truck driver he had stopped to allow a car to pass in a narrow curve and when the driver attempted to proceed the trailer slid off the soft road shoulder causing the entire truck to turn over on its side.   The driver sustained only minor injuries. Officials from Yancey County Emergency Management, Newdale Fire Department, NC DOT, Highway Patrol, Decola and Davis wrecker services and GDS worked through the night to clear the scene.  Heavy construction equipment was brought in this morning to help clear the wreckage.

Security Cameras Installed at MHHS Athletic Fields


Community walkers, football fans, and all exercise-enthusiasts alike will have an extra dose of safety this fall now that new security cameras have been installed all around the athletic fields at Mountain Heritage High School. Several high-definition cameras were installed this summer using grant money from the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund. This security system will provide high quality images if tapes need to be reviewed and can even identify the license plates of vehicles accessing the fields at night.

Tennessee men arrested for selling drugs


Mitchell County Sheriff’s Captain R.V. Wiseman said a joint drug operation between his office and Bakersville Police Department resulted in two men from Tennessee being arrested for selling drugs. On Monday afternoon August 1st, Captain Wiseman along with Bakersville Police Chief set up an undercover drug buy of Crack Cocaine. A Mitchell County Sheriff’s Deputy working undercover met Dustin John Barnett, age 24, and Jeremiah Steven Miller, age 26,  both of  Roan Mountain Tennessee. Miller pulled onto the parking lot of French Broad Electric in Bakersville. Barnett exited the vehicle and got into the undercover deputy’s vehicle. Barnett then handed the undercover deputy a cellophane wrapper, which contained a rock of crack cocaine. The undercover deputy using photocopied money Captain Wiseman had provided and paid Barnett for the crack cocaine. Captain Wiseman, Chief Biddix, and Deputy C.C. Hopson moved in and arrested Barnett and Miller. The two men were taken into custody without incident and charged with various drug violations. Sheriff Street praised the efforts of the officers and cooperation between the agencies. Sheriff Street went on to say he was thankful for such a good working relationship with the other agencies in Mitchell County.

Campground closes near Mount Mitchell


According to a news release from the state park, due to recent bear activity, the U.S. Forest Service has closed the Commissary Ridge Campground until further notice, All Forest Service trails leading to the Commissary Ridge Campground are also closed. Also, Mount Mitchell State Park has closed the Mount Mitchell trail and the Commissary trail beyond the Camp Alice intersection until further notice.  Forest Service rangers have reported that Black bears have been active in and around the park, and sometimes aggressive at the Commissary Ridge area.

Road Closure


The North Carolina Department of Transportation is performing cross line pipe replacements on NC 226, commonly known as “Coxes Creek”, in McDowell County from the northern most intersection of NC 226A, the top of the mountain, south for 1 mile today. The road may be closed until as late as 9pm. A detour is posted along US 221 to NC 194 to US 19E.

Parents may Request Teacher Qualifications


The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires school districts to notify parents/legal guardians of children attending Title I schools of their right to know the professional qualifications of the classroom teachers and paraprofessionals who instruct their child.  All K – 8 schools in Mitchell and Yancey County are Title I schools. Both school systems will provide you with this information in a timely manner if you request it.  Specifically, you have the right to request the following information about each of your child’s classroom teachers/paraprofessionals:

·         Whether the teacher meets the state qualifications and licensing criteria for the grades and core academic subjects he/she teaches.

·         Whether the teacher is teaching under emergency status because of special circumstances.

·         The teacher’s college major, whether the teacher has any advanced degrees and the field of discipline of the certification or degree.

Mitchell County and Yancey County Schools are committed to providing quality instruction for all students and if you would like to receive any of the information listed above please contact your child’s school to request forms.

Back to School


This is back to school week for many schools in Western North Carolina.  Yancey County Students return to the classroom today for a half of school. Mitchell county students report tomorrow. Avery and Madison schools start on Wednesday. Mcdowell County students will not start back until August 25th.

Big Events in Both Counties


Our area comes alive this week as thousands of tourists come to attend the biggest festivals of the year being held in each county. Burnsville places host beginning today and continuing tomorrow to the 55th annual Mount Mitchell Crafts Fair. There will be over 150 crafters along with craft demonstrations, live entertainment and food of all kinds on Burnsville’s town square. The Southern Tourism Society has selected this event as one of the top twenty to attend in the Southeast. In Spruce Pine mineral and gem vendors from across the country and many parts of the world gather at both The Bridge Coliseum (formerly Pinebridge) for the North Carolina Mineral and Gem Festival and at Grassy Creek along Hwy 226 for the Grassy Creek Gem Show. Gems, minerals, jewelry, and other items of interest are all for sale.  You can also find some great barbecue at the Grassy Creek location. The gem festivals continue through Sunday.

Mitchell School Superintendent’s Contract Extended


By a vote of 3-2, Mitchell County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Brock Womble’s contract has been extended. Womble, who has overseen the school system through some tough budget cuts recently while Mitchell County has seen its EOG test scores improve, received votes of confidence from Board Members Sam Blevins, Jeff Harding and Tommy Ledford, while Board Chairman Roger Burleson and Board Member Dean Myers cast the dissenting votes. Womble’s contract was extended through June 30, 2014.

Parents may Request Teacher Qualifications


The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires school districts to notify parents/legal guardians of children attending Title I schools of their right to know the professional qualifications of the classroom teachers and paraprofessionals who instruct their child.  All K – 8 schools in Yancey County are Title I schools. Yancey County Schools will provide you with this information in a timely manner if you request it.  Specifically, you have the right to request the following information about each of your child’s classroom teachers/paraprofessionals:

·         Whether the teacher meets the state qualifications and licensing criteria for the grades and core academic subjects he/she teaches.

·         Whether the teacher is teaching under emergency status because of special circumstances.

·         The teacher’s college major, whether the teacher has any advanced degrees and the field of discipline of the certification or degree.

Yancey County Schools is committed to providing quality instruction for all students and if you would like to receive any of the information listed above please contact your child’s school to request forms, or you may download forms at


Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Announces New CEO


Blue Ridge Regional Hospital has announced that Oscar K. Weinmeister III, FACHE, has accepted the position of President and CEO. Weinmeister joins Blue Ridge Regional Hospital from Georgetown Hospital System in South Carolina where he was the Administrator of Waccamaw Community Hospital.

Mr. Weinmeister was offered the position at Blue Ridge after completing the interview process which included several other candidates. “We spent a great deal of time searching for a candidate with experience and someone who would be a good fit for our organization,” says BRRH Board Chair Courtney Mauzy, “The search committee and Board of Trustees feel that we have chosen the best candidate, and we are pleased that Mr. Weinmeister has accepted the position.” Oscar Weinmeister will officially join the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital team beginning August 8.

Unemployment Numbers Rise Across WNC


Unemployment rates increased in 91 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in June. Rates decreased in six counties and remained the same in three, according to the latest figures released by the NC Employment Security Commission. North Carolina had 46 counties that were at or below the state’s unadjusted unemployment rate of 10.4 percent, while rates increased in all 14 of the state’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Locally in the unemployment rates have all increased from the months of May to June. In Yancey County the jobless number shot up from 10.7 percent to 11.5 percent, Mitchell County’s rate rose from 10.7 to 11.2, Madison County saw its rate rise from 8.5 percent to 9.3 percent and McDowell County was up from 12.4 percent to 12.7 percent. Even Buncombe County, which had show gains in employment each month since the beginning of 2011, saw its rate jump from 7.6 percent to 8.1 percent. Scotland County recorded June’s highest unemployment rate at 17.1, while Currituck County had the lowest. Unemployment rate in the Tarheel state at 5.5 percent.

Upcoming Sales Tax Holiday Could Give a Big Boost to Small Business


The upcoming sales tax holiday, set for August 5th through the 7th   in North Carolina, can be a big help to small businesses still struggling to recover from the economic recession, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. The Association believes that the sales-tax holiday is really going to make a difference, because it’s going to help families stretch a dollar and should help put people in the mood to spend. You can use this opportunity to support the local economy and shop at small businesses in the area. Small business is what drives our economy and according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 98 percent of all employers in the state and employ almost half of the state’s private-sector workforce. Make sure you take advantage of the sales tax holiday to stock up on school supplies and other items your kids will need this school year.


Yancey Man Arrested for Incident At Ingles Supermarket


Burnsville Police have arrested the man who caused a stir at Ingles Supermarket Wednesday afternoon. 54-year-old Larry Dean Hunter was arrested at his residence on Cane River Church Road at around 7 p.m. Thursday without incident, according to Police Chief Brian Buchanan. Hunter, who entered Ingles sometime before 4 p.m. on Wednesday and reportedly displayed a gun and became irate inside the store, frightening several customers, was able to leave the premises before the Burnsville Police and the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department arrived. Surveillance video at the store helped authorities identify Hunter and officials were able to keep an eye on his house until they were able to apprehend him while he was outside working in his yard. “Everything went down smoothly and no one was injured during the arrest,” Chief Buchanan said. Hunter was charged with “going armed to the terror of the people and carrying a firearm into an establishment where alcohol is sold or consumed”, according to Buchanan. Hunter was released on bond and faces a future court date in Yancey County.

A Letter from Representative Phillip Frye


It has been my distinct honor and privilege to represent District 84 in the General Assembly for the last five terms, a total of ten years. As we went into the ten year redistricting process, I stated my desire to keep a good strong District for my counties. As the process began to develop, it was clear that the three counties of Avery, Mitchell, and McDowell Counties would make up an ideal District. I knew I would lose my part of Caldwell County, because Caldwell would become a whole one county District. I hated to lose Yancey County, but the numbers, to have 80,000 constituents in each District, while keeping counties whole, just would not allow this to happen. The new District 85 combines two counties from the old 84th District with one county from the old 85th District. It is a good District which will serve the citizens well for the next ten years. I ran for the NC House planning to run for three terms. I have ended up serving for five terms. I have now been in continuous elected office for the last 39 years, and have enjoyed every year of my service in local and state government. I will not be filing to run for another term in the North Carolina General Assembly. Again, it has been an honor to serve you these past five terms, and I thank each of you for your tremendous support throughout my time of service, and look forward to completing my term until the end of 2012.

Representative Phillip Frye

Asheville Firefighter Dies


37 year old Captain Jeff Bowen died yesterday afternoon fighting a fire at a medical building near Mission Hospital in Asheville. Another firefighter Jay Bettencourt was taken to a hospital in Augusta with serious injuries. Seven other people, including 6 other firefighters, were taken to the hospital, many suffering from heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Bowen was a 13 year veteran of the Asheville Fire Department. He was a husband and a father of 3. Captain Bowen was amoung the first firefighters to reach the sceene and rushed into the building to rescue others. Something went wrong and Bowen called “mayday” over the radio, a distress signal that sent rescuers scrambling to find him. A statement by the city said Bowen went into cardiac arrest after succumbing to intense smoke and heat. The tragedy marks the first time in nearly 30 years that a city firefighter has died in the line of duty. It was the city's first four-alarm fire in at least three decades.

Area Schools Fair Well On Adequate Yearly Progress Reports


Mitchell County Schools received some good news when the federal Adequate Yearly Progress report was released recently. Overall seven out of nine schools and the district as a whole reached AYP goals which are used by the US Department of education to measure public school districts across the country using standardized testing as a part of the No Child Left Behind Act. Mitchell High, Deyton Elementary and Gouge Elementary made AYP in all 13 of their respective target goals while Buladean Elementary and Tipton Hill Elementary as well as the Mayland Early College Program also reached goals in each of their two sub-groups. Greenlee Primary, a feeder school for Deyton, made the grade as well. The County’s two Middle School Schools, Bowman and Harris did not make AYP by four sub-groups combined. Bowman made AYP in 10 of 13 targets while Harris missed by one of their 17 targets. Because Bowman did not achieve all of their AYP goals for the second straight year and the third time in four years, Bowman moves into the corrective action stage which means that parents of children at the school have to option of moving their students to the other middle school in the county, Harris Middle. In Yancey County seven of ten schools met AYP goals while four of Avery County’s eight schools met the standard.

News from the Yancey County School Board


On Monday, July25, the Yancey County Board of Education held a Special Meeting to conduct important business in preparation for the 2011-12 school year, which begins on August 4th for teachers and August 8th for students. The Following is a list of items approved by the school board: 

Approval of American Advantage K&K Insurance as student insurance provider for the 2011-12 school year:

--Approval of a right-of-way request in the Clearmont Elementary School district

--Approval to move forward with construction projects in conjunction with receiving $500,000 grant from the US Department of Health & Human Services for the Middle School Health Centers

--Approval of revisions to the 2011-12 Rights and Responsibilities / Code of Student Conduct Handbook

--Approval of Fee Changes at South Toe Elementary School

--Elimination of year-end bonuses for all school bus drivers

The School Board also made the following employment decisions:

• High School Social Studies Teacher – Cathryn Hughes

• Head Boys Basketball Coach – Dwayne Buckner

• Itinerant Elementary PE Teacher – Brinton McKinney

• Dr. Sarah Obsorne – Itinerant Physical Therapist

• Child Nutrition Manager, Micaville – Felicia Wyatt

• Child Nutrition Assistant, Burnsville - Jennifer Bennett

• Bus Driver, MHHS – Eric Penland

• Bus Driver, Bee Log – Monalisa Phillips

• Reinstatement of Diane Laws to Teacher Assistant ISS Position at Cane River Middle School

Also Christy Deyton at Cane River will transfer from her position as Language Arts Teacher to Media Coordinator.

Yancey County Schools awarded a $500,000 grant


Yancey County Schools was awarded $500,000 through the Health Resources and Services Administration to fully construct and equip two 1,400 square foot facilities at East Yancey and Cane River middle schools. These facilities will become the new home for the school based health centers and will free up the space currently being used at each school to make new classrooms, offices, etc. The size and the layout of the new space used will be upgraded to provide for improved clinic staffing, enhancement of current services, and the addition of new services. “This project is a tremendous opportunity for our school system to improve the quality of care our students receive at our health centers,” said Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton. “We are very appreciative both of this grant award and our partnership with the Toe River Health District which provides the staffing for the health centers. Through their work, our students are healthier and better prepared to learn.”

NC Unemployment Rate Increases Slightly 


North Carolina’s June 2011 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, stood at 9.9 percent. The rate increased 0.2 of a percentage point from the previous month’s rate of 9.7 percent. The unemployment rate was 10.5 percent in June 2010. At 9.9 percent, North Carolina’s June unemployment rate is 0.7 of a percentage point higher than the United States 9.2 percent rate.The number of people employed in the state decreased 0.2 percent to 4,055,699, while the number of people unemployed increased 2.2 percent to 446,377 during the month of June.



Yancey County Schools will be conducting its annual hearing screenings during the weeks of August 8th thru the 19th for all students in 1st through 5th grades. Students in the middle schools and the high school will be screened only upon request of the parent. Also receiving the hearing test, new referrals to the Exceptional Children’s Program, and those students requested by the special education teacher. If you have a kindergarten student that has not yet been screened please contact your child’s school. Any parent who does not wish for his/her child to be screened must submit a written request to the school principal. This screening is completed in accordance with State and Federal guidelines.  If you have any questions please contact Pete Peterson, Director of Student Services, at the Yancey County Board of Education at 682-6101.

Grand Opening for Yancey County Public Library


The long awaited and much anticipated opening of the new Yancey County Public Library is set for 2pm this Sunday as the doors will officially open with a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for around 2:30. The opening of the new state of the art facility will feature broadband internet service including 18 desktop computer and 12 laptops for public use. It is the latest in the list of accomplishments in the 50 year history of the Avery- Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library System which has served thousands of people in the Tri-County area in its long history. Teleconferencing ability at the new library will support educational programs that will benefit individuals, small businesses local government and health care and human services agencies across the area helping reduce the need for travel and lower cost associated with doing business for the community.

Marion Business Owner Thwarts Theft Attempt


During the early-morning hours of Friday, July 8, Bobby Hicks was conducting surveillance at his business, B&H Used Auto Parts on U.S. 70 East, and noticed a gray Pontiac enter the lot and a man exit the vehicle.  A short time later, the car left. After about 30 minutes, the Pontiac returned. This time, a different man got out of the vehicle and started loading used auto parts into the automobile. Hicks confronted the two men. One suspect fled on foot, while the second suspect complied when Hicks told him to get on the ground while he notified the Sheriff’s Office. The McDowell County Sheriff’s detective charged Nathaniel Graham Smith with numerous counts of obtaining property by false pretense, first-degree trespassing, misdemeanor larceny, felony larceny and attempted felony larceny. He was released from custody on a written promise to appear in court. Sammy Allen Moody was also charged and taken into custody in lieu of a $20,000 bond. Both suspects were from Morganton.

Coxes Creek Temporary Closure July 27


The North Carolina Department of Transportation is planning to close and perform cross line pipe replacement on NC 226, commonly known as “Coxes Creek”,  in McDowell County from the northernmost intersection of  NC 226A, the top of the mountain, south for 0.50 mile on Wednesday, July 27th, 2011.    Weather permitting the closure will start at approximately 7:30am and could last as late as 9pm.  A detour will be posted along US 221 to NC 194 to US 19E. If you have specific questions or concerns about the road closure, please contact Wade Tate, McDowell County Maintenance Engineer, at 828-652-4024.

Shoplifting Incident Leads To Drug Arrest


A shoplifting incident at Walmart in Spruce Pine on July 8 led to the arrest of a 40-year-old Elk Park Woman. Walmart security observed Pamela Pate leave the store with some lingerie without paying for the items. Pate was observed getting into a vehicle and exiting the Walmart parking lot. The Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department was notified of the incident and later observed the vehicle traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway. After stopping the car on Altapass road, officers searched the vehicle and discovered a small quantity of marijuana and drug paraphernalia hidden in the car. Pate was arrested and later released on a $4000 secured bond. She is scheduled to appear in a Mitchell County Court on August 11.

Midmorning Crash Sends Two to Hospital

07/19/2011    Photo by David Grindstaff

A midmorning accident today, at the intersection of Pensacola Road and Hwy 19E East in Burnsville, sent two area residents to the Blue Ridge Medical Center for treatment. According to Burnsville Police Officer Gerald Barnett, a 1991 Chevy Truck driven by Roy Moss of Pensacola Road in Burnsville struck a 1995 Chevy car driven by Leroy Stotts of Green Mountain after Moss failed to stop at a red light at the intersection. Mr. Stotts and his wife Patricia Ann were transported to Spruce Pine by the Burnsville Rescue Squad after complaining with chest pains. According to Officer Barnett, Mr. Moss, and a passenger in his truck, were not injured and all occupants in both vehicles were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident. Mr. Moss was cited for failure to stop at a stop light. The Burnsville Fire Department also responded to the accident and spent some time cleaning up gasoline and oil that was spilt on the highway during the incident.

Biotechnology Center Grants


Students at four Western North Carolina educational institutions are getting hands-on introductions to futures in biotechnology through more than $162,000 in North Carolina Biotechnology Center grants. More than $486,000 in Educational Enhancement Grants (EEGs) were awarded statewide. The 12 grants ranged from $6,000 to one at Appalachian State University worth more than $85,000. Locally, Kari Loomis, Ph.D., will receive a grant totaling $36,801 to revive the biotechnology curriculum at Mars Hill College, while agriculture teacher John Grice at Avery County High School was awarded a grant of $26,003 for developing a “Growing Biotechnology One Student at a Time” curriculum which will emphasize the use of plant tissue culture and is designed to help boost Avery County’s plant nursery and Christmas tree industries. The EEG program supports the design and implementation of biotechnology education activities and programs. K-12 schools, school systems, community colleges, private colleges, universities, museums and other groups with an educational focus are eligible to apply. The Biotechnology Center is a private, non-profit corporation supported by the N.C. General Assembly. Its mission is to provide long-term economic and social benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business, education and strategic policy statewide.

Field for Burnsville Town Council Election is set


Four candidates have filed for two open seats on the Burnsville Town Council in the municipal election set for November 8. According to Yancey County Elections Director Loretta Robinson, incumbents Judy Buchanan and Doyce McClure will be seeking to retain their seats on the board while William D. Bill Wheeler and Armin L. Wessel secured their spots on the ballot just before the filing deadline which expired at noon last Friday.

County looks into missing campground funds


A glitch in the new procedures put in place by Yancey County concerning the collection of fees for seasonal rental space at the County operated campground have caused a problem that has forced County Manager Nathan Bennett to ask the Sheriff’s Department to look into possible wrong doing after money was missing from his office at the courthouse. In question is the whereabouts of a $1700 cash payment for a seasonal site fee that was paid at the courthouse prior to the opening of the campground, which is located on the South Toe River. The payment was made in the county manager’s office on April 7 and although the County finance staff looked through campground receipts and searched other records to see if the money had mistakenly been mixed with and deposited in another account, the missing funds were never located. The $1700 cash payment was put into an envelope and placed in the interoffice mailbox for Campground Manager Randy Hall to pick up, according to Bennett. Bennett later directed the unnamed employee to replace the missing money if she could not find it because it was under her care when it was received. The employee did replace the $1700 from her own money last week. Bennett said that anyone passing through the office could have taken the cash because the money was placed in an unsecured mail slot.

Bowman and Harris Middle Schools Get New Leaders


Bowman and Harris Middle Schools will have new Principals when the 2011-2012 school year begins in August. Stacie Burleson will move from her former position as Assistant Principal at Mitchell High to head the facility at Bowman Middle, while former Bowman Principal, Rodney Slagle, will transfer to Spruce Pine and take over as Principal at Harris. The decision was made recently by the Mitchell County School Board.

Mitchell County Could See Changes in New Redistricting Plan


A proposed North Carolina Senate district map released Tuesday afternoon splits up Burke and Caldwell counties, adding each to a different Senate district.. The newly proposed N.C. House map would combine southern Burke County with all of Rutherford County — instead of McDowell County, as it presently exists — into a new District 112. Rep. Mike Hager from Rutherfordton, leader of the House freshmen Republicans, currently represents District 112. House District 85, now made up of southern Burke County and all of McDowell County, is represented by Mitch Gillespie, R-Marion. It would become a three-county district, combining all of Mitchell and Avery counties with McDowell. The proposed Congressional map would move Mitchell County into Rep. Heath Shuler’s 11th District along with neighboring Burke and Caldwell Counties. The current 10th District consist of Mitchell, Avery, Caldwell, Burke, Catawba, Lincoln and Cleveland Counties as well as parts of Iredell, Gaston and Rutherford Counties and has been a solid Republican district in past elections. The House and Senate will have a full session in two weeks to discuss and debate the maps and the new districts won’t take effect until 2012, if they’re approved by then.  Because the redistricting process has just begun, it’s possible the districts will be redrawn before the map is approved. It is also possible that lawsuits could force more changes. Redistricting, the redrawing of districts from which public officials are elected, occurs 10 years after the national and state census. Population growth across the rest of the state, and the relative lack of growth in Western North Carolina, has changed the formula for dividing up the state into congressional and senate districts.

Mitchell Town Council deadline draws near


The deadline for filing for town council elections in Spruce Pine and Bakersville is Friday July 15 at noon and currently only two incumbents have secured a spot on the November 8th ballot. In Spruce Pine, Mayor Phillip Hise and council member John Boone have already filed and were unopposed as of July 11. In Bakersville, as of Monday, no one has filed for the open seats of George Wilson and Charles Nash. Last year the election deadline had to be extended in the Bakersville election because no one had filed before the original deadline had passed. Mitchell County Board of Elections Director Amy Young hopes to avoid that scenario this election cycle.

Yancey School Board Announces Budget Cost Cutting Measures


At its regular meeting on Monday night, the Yancey County Board of Education discussed the ramifications of the as yet to be finalized budget for the 2011-2012 school year. The discussion centered around guidelines set forth by the state that direct local education agencies to make every effort to reduce spending whenever and wherever such budget reductions are appropriate, with the goal of protecting direct classroom services. A major goal of the board was to protect as many current employees as possible while protecting instructional time. To that end, reductions were recommended and approved in the following areas: -- All 10 month non-certified employees will be paid for a 37.5 hour workweek instead of a 40 hour workweek that has previously been paid with the exception of school bus drivers, cafeteria staff, custodians, head bookkeepers in the schools and the gatekeeper at Mountain Heritage High School. Additionally, these 10 month non-certified employees’ days of employment will be reduced from 215 days to 205 days for the school year. This will allow for all staff to retain their benefits. Also, Assistant principal positions have been reduced from full-time to half-time at Burnsville Elementary, Cane River Middle and East Yancey Middle Schools for the school year, while an Assistant Superintendent position at the Central Office was eliminated. Because of previous anticipatory actions taken by the Yancey County Board of Education in not replacing some vacant positions over the course of the year, the projected budget shortfall may not be as devastating as is the case in other school districts around the state. By taking these steps, the school board was able to protect instructional class time while protecting jobs and benefits of its current employees, according to a press release from newly appointed Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton.

DMV Seeks Applications


The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is seeking applications to operate a license plate agency in Yancey County. The current contract for the local agency is not being renewed due to the retirement of its agent. The Yancey County agency will continue to operate until August 18. In the meantime the DMV will be accepting applications from individuals for a new contract. You can download an application form from the N. C. DMV website, or call 919-861-3332 for more information. The application must be returned to the N.C. DMV no later than Monday August 15. Currently, around 120 license plate agencies operate across North Carolina, offering vehicle registration services and title transactions as well as vehicle plate renewals, replacement tags and duplicate registrations.

Burnsville Town Council Seats


Yancey County Board of Elections Director Loretta Robinson announced on Friday that incumbent Judy Buchanan has filed for one of two seats open on the Burnsville Town Council. Persons interested in filing for the positions have until noon this Friday to do so. The election is to fill seats currently held by council members Doyce McClure and Judy Buchanan.

Beware of Area Phone Scam


When you answer your phone this week please be aware that someone is currently perpetrating a scam designed to separate you from your money. The Burnsville Police Department reports that unknown persons are making calls to area residents asking them to participate in a survey. As a reward the caller is promising a free gas card. The unknown caller will then ask for a small processing fee and request your payment information. This is an attempt to illegally collect your identity info to be used for future financial gain. Simply hang up on the caller, and never give out your personal information to anyone unless you yourself are calling a reputable business that you can trust.

Two Arrested for Meth near Spruce Pine


An expired tag led to the arrest of two people for methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in Mitchell County last week. After stopping a vehicle near Spruce Pine, a Sheriff’s Department K9 officer alerted Deputies to the possibility of drugs in the car. The vehicle was searched with the consent of the driver, 46-year-old Terry Lewis Ledwell, of Marion. Officers discovered meth in a container in the console and drug paraphernalia underneath the seat on the passenger side of the vehicle. Ledwell, and his passenger, 20-year-old Chloe W. Ayers of Spruce Pine, were arrested and later transported to the Yancey County Jail. Both were placed under secured bonds and are scheduled to appear in a Mitchell County Court on July 22nd.

Bike Race Fatality


On Friday morning Over 100 bikers participated in the 5th annual Grizzly Bike Race, the second leg of the extreme athletic challenges held as part of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Grizzly bikers pedaled through fog and drizzle throughout the 65-mile mountainous course to reach the finish line in MacRae Meadows. The morning was marked with tragedy when one of the participants lost control of his bicycle and was fatally hit by a vehicle. The NC Highway patrol reported that 25 year old Dr. Erik Lie-Neilson, a Doctor from Winston Salem, was traveling downhill during the Grizzly Bike Race when he lost control of his bicycle, crossed the center line of a rural road and hit an oncoming car. Troopers said the accident occurred about 7:40 am near Crossnore, at Watauga Medical Center, Lie-Nielsen was pronounced dead of severe head trauma. No charges are expected against the driver of the oncoming vehicle.

Drug Related Arrests Continue In Yancey County


An ongoing drug investigation between the Yancey County Sheriffs Office and the Burnsville Police Department has kept law enforcement officers busy and has resulted in more arrests. Teresa Jane McClellan Morgan of Spruce Pine was arrested on July 1 in Micaville for multiple drug charges. She was placed under a $7,500 secured bond. Darrell Wayne Carroll of Burnsville was taken into custody by authorities on June 9 and charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, Simple Possession of Schedule IV Controlled Substance, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Carroll was later arrested on June 13 for multiple drug charges and placed under a $34,000 Secured Bond. On June 9 authorities also arrested Johnny D. Cooper of Green Mountain for the Manufacture of Marijuana. He was placed under a $2000 bond. Another Green Mountain man, Gary Joe Cooper, was arrested on June 21 and charged with Breaking and Entering, Larceny and Felony Possession of Stolen Goods. He was placed under a $9,000 Secured Bond for those charges. Christopher Dale Robinson of Burnsville was arrested on June 11 for multiple drug charges. He was placed under a $34,000 secured bond.

DOT Supervisor Arrested


The Madison County Sheriff's Office has arrested a DOT supervisor. 38 year old Michael Gentry faces five counts of embezzlement of state property, three counts of obtaining property by false pretense, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Sheriff Buddy Harwood says during his time as a DOT supervisor, Gentry stole gravel and diesel fuel from two state maintenance facilities after normal work hours. Gentry was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond and a $5,000 secured bond.

New Yancey Library Tentatively Set to Open July 18


Construction crews and volunteers have been working hard trying to get the new county library ready for a tentative opening date of July 18. The new library is located at the newly renovated Yancey Collegiate Institute in the School Historic District. The sidewalk and paving work was completed last week and contractors are now beginning the task of moving and reinstalling shelving and furniture from the former library on Town Square. Thousands of books have been packed by volunteers who now await the completion of the shelving project to begin restocking the items in the new state-of-the-art facility. Beginning July 13, AMY Regional Library Director Daniel Brown will oversee the massive effort to move the materials, with the help of employees from the county, town and school system volunteers. The more than $3 million project has taken over a decade to complete, with much of the funding coming from foundation and government grants and donations.

Lake James Drowning


A camping trip turns tragic when a Swannanoa man drowns in Lake James.  Thirty-year-old John Hefner’s body was found Monday morning.  Investigators say Hefner and his friends were camping, when they decided to use a water slide on private property around 1:00 am.  The group was warned to leave and scattered, but Hefner never returned to the camp ground.  Friends and family initially filed a missing persons report.  Authorities say it took them several hours to locate Hefner in the water.  They say he was found about ten to fifteen feet from the slide, but the dark conditions made the search difficult.  The slide is located at a lakeside camp owned by New Manna Baptist Church in Marion.  The McDowell County Sheriff says the group had consumed alcohol, but wasn't sure what role that played in the drowning.  An autopsy will be performed. Hefner's wife, Heather, says her husband was a good swimmer and had some Navy training.  She also says July 4th would have marked their one month wedding anniversary.

Yancey Library is ready for move


The Yancey County Public Library on the Burnsville Town Square will be closing at 1 pm on Saturday,  to begin the move to their new location , 321 School Circle, between the Yancey Schools Administration Building and the Parkway Playhouse, and adjacent to Kid Mountain Playground.  Listen for Details about their Grand Opening in the days ahead.

Dr. Tony Tipton Sworn in today


Dr. Tony Tipton will be sworn in as Yancey County School Superintendent on Friday July 1, at 2 p.m. at the Board of Education office. The public is invited to a reception to welcome Dr. Tipton following the ceremony. Tipton, formally principal of Madison County High School and assistant principal at Mountain Heritage, will fill the position vacated by the Dr. Tom Little, who resigned his post back in June of this year. Dr. Tipton and the rest of the Yancey School Board face some tough choices when he takes the helm as the elected officials try to deal with large state budget cuts expected in the upcoming school year.

Filing Opens for Town Election


The filing period for two members to be elected to two seats on the Burnsville Town Council begins at noon today and closes at noon on July 15th.  The election is to fill seats currently held by council members Doyce McClure and Judy Buchanan.

4th of July Celebration events


The Town of Burnsville will host a Patriotic Celebration on the Town Square tomorrow. The Independence Day celebration will include fireworks starting at around 9 pm, and will include a variety of food and craft vendors and musical entertainment. Bakersville and Spruce Pine have combined resources to present a fireworks show worthy of celebrating the Fourth of July and the county's sesquicentennial.  The celebration will get underway with live music around 6:30pm at Mitchell High School followed by the county-wide fireworks display just after dark.

NCDOT Aims to Help Travelers save Time and Money


As the summer travel season continues, the N.C. Department of Transportation is taking steps to help motorists save both time and money by suspending most road construction activities on major routes across the state. By avoiding traffic delays, motorists can reach their destinations more quickly while also cutting down on fuel consumption and costs. Most construction projects along interstate, N.C. and U.S. routes will be suspended beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, July 1, until 9 a.m., Tuesday, July 5, including work on the Hwy. 19E four lane projects through Madison and Yancey Counties. Here are some additional tips to stay safe on the highways: Buckle up, don’t drink and drive; stay alert; obey the speed limit and minimize distractions. To help reduce fuel consumption the NCDOT recommends that motorist don’t rush and  observe the speed limit. Use cruise control whenever possible and remove unnecessary items from your vehicle to reduce weight. It is also recommended that you maintain your vehicle by keeping your tires properly inflated and changing your oil and replacing air filters. All these together can help you improve your fuel economy. Have a safe and Happy 4thof July.

New Camera System in Spruce Pine Businesses


Big Brother is watching the streets of Spruce Pine with a newly installed camera system designed to help catch potential criminals and assist the police department in keeping an eye on possible hotspots on Upper and Lower Streets. The system consists of a single camera unit that can be controlled manually by a computer in the police department or when set on autopilot scans for movement for up to a mile giving officers a new tool to see activities which would up until now have been impossible to detect. The camera has the ability to read vehicle license plates with great detail from as far away as 300 yards. Depending on how well the single camera system performs, the town may decide to add more cameras in other high traffic areas. Officials have told town residents not to worry about the system being used to spy on law abiding citizens. The stated goal of the surveillance camera is to make Spruce Pine a safer place and to discourage those who might commit serious crimes in the downtown area.

Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Named 5 Star


Blue Ridge Regional Hospital was recently recognized as a Community Value Five-Star Hospital by Cleverley and Associates for the fifth year. The Five-Star survey examines ten measures in four key performance areas: Financial viability and plant reinvestment, Hospital Cost Structure, Hospital Charge Structure and Hospital Quality Performance. It is an honor to be named a Five-Star Hospital for the fifth year”, says President and CEO of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Keith Holtsclaw, “Our dedicated staff strives to provide our patients with Five-Star quality care close to home.”

Operation Firecracker Campaign Is Underway


State and local law enforcement officers will be out in force over the Fourth of July holiday as part of the “Booze It & Lose It: Operation Firecracker” campaign. Checkpoints and stepped-up patrols will be conducted through Monday, July 4, across the state in an effort to remove impaired drivers from the roads.  In 2010, there were 205 alcohol-related crashes during the Independence holiday week resulting in six fatalities.  Alcohol-related crashes also accounted for 105 injuries in the state during the same week last year.  Officers charged more than 1,200 North Carolina motorists with driving while impaired during the 2010 “Booze It & Lose It: Operation Firecracker” campaign. More than 4,600 stepped-up patrols and checkpoints were conducted.

Employment Figures Show Modest Gain


New figures from the NC Employment Security Commission showed that unemployment rates had decreased in just under half of North Carolina’s 100 counties in May, with rates falling in 40 counties, increased in 44 counties and remained the same in the other 16. Statewide the unemployment rate fell from 9.7 to 9.6 percent with the unemployment rate decrease in Yancey County mirroring the state average, falling .01 percent from 10.7 in April to 10.6 in May. In Mitchell County the numbers were slightly better, dropping .03 percent from 10.9 to 10.6 percent while Avery County saw the biggest drop in the Tri-County area, falling from 11.3 percent in April to 10.2 percent in May. The unemployment rate in Madison County fell for the second straight month, dipping to 8.5 percent from a high of 9.0 percent in April, while Buncombe County remains as one of the best places to find a job in WNC. The unemployment rate in Buncombe County dropped from 7.5 percent to 7.4 percent from April to May. North Carolina had 40 counties that were at or below the state’s unadjusted unemployment rate of 9.7 percent while rates increased in 10 of the state’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The unemployment rate in the Asheville area continued to beat the state average and stood at 7.8 percent in May.

Nebo Shooting Update


McDowell County authorities have charged a Morganton woman with murder in the shooting death of a McDowell man Sunday. 36 year old Treeva McPeters Rooks, of Stonebridge Drive, was held without bond Monday at the McDowell County Detention Center. She’s charged with killing 39 year old Mark Anthony Salyer, of Pinnacle Church Road in Nebo. The McDowell Sheriff’s department said Salyer was killed by a shotgun blast to the chest at about 4 p.m. Sunday. The investigation of the shooting continues but they do know that after Salyer arrived at the Rooks’ residence at 257 Southern Way, a dispute erupted and Rooks shot Salyer with a 12-gauge shotgun. Salyer was charged on May 18th with breaking into Rooks’ residence and stealing a $300 acoustic guitar.  Salyer is no stranger to that area of Nebo. According to previous reports, in May 2006, Salyer showed up unannounced on the Southern Way property of Darrell Freeman. A confrontation ensued, Salyer brandished a weapon and Freeman pulled a .45-caliber handgun, shooting Salyer once in the chest. He spent some time in the hospital before being released.

Fatal shooting in Nebo


The McDowell County Sheriffs Office is investigating a fatal shooting in Nebo. Investigators said it happened on Sunday afternoon. They said a white male was shot outside of a trailer located on Southern Way.  The Sheriffs Office said one person of interest is in custody. More details as they become available.

Yancey Commissioners Hold Public Hearing on Proposed Budget


Only one person had questions for commissioners about the Yancey County 2011-2012 fiscal budget during a public hearing portion of the special board meeting on Thursday. County Manager Nathan Bennett delivered a budget message to the commissioners which laid out in detail how the County plans to utilize its resources while also highlighting some of the more significant impacts to the county’s budget. Bennett pointed out that the proposed budget would allow the county to maintain current services without raising taxes by applying a 5 percent reduction to current year expenditures across all departments and agencies. The proposed budget would also allow commissioners to work on restoring fund balance reserves to the state mandated level of 8 percent of expenditures. The budget proposal recommended that Yancey County maintain the current property tax rate of 45 cents per $100 of valuation, which would provide an estimated 53 percent of the total general fund budget. He also told commissioners that sales tax receipts have leveled off after several years of decline due to the economic downturn and that changes to other revenue sources, such as fees for building permits and deed filings, are projected to be minor due to the depressed housing construction and real estate sales in the county.

Mitchell Deputies Destroy Two Meth Labs


Following a tip from a land owner, Mitchell County Sheriff’s Deputies recently discovered and destroyed two meth labs in the Grassy Creek Community. Officers located a shake and bake lab in the woods off Chelsea Lane on June 7 but were not immediately able to connect a suspect to the illegal operation at the time of discovery. Several days later Mitchell Deputies responded to a disturbance on Chelsea Lane, near the location where they had made the earlier discovery and after questioning the residents they were able to come up with a suspect name concerning the meth lab. Deputies traced the individual, 32-year-old Benny Lee Phillips, to a house on Hoot Owl Road in Spruce Pine. Phillips was apprehended following a short foot chase and later admitted to the officers that he had a meth lab in the back of his truck. He also said the shake and bake lab that had been confiscated earlier in the week was his. The Phillips vehicle was impounded by the Sheriff’s Department and he was placed in jail.

Public Hearing Set to Discuss Yancey County Fiscal Budget


A public hearing is set for today, to give Yancey County Commissioners an opportunity to receive input for citizens concerning the 2011-2012 fiscal budget. The budget for the new operating year is just over $19.4 million dollars and keeps the County property tax rate at 45 cents per $100 in property valuation. The budget reflects the efforts of commissioners and department heads to trim five percent across the board, except for salaries and employee benefits, as well as making a five percent reduction in the amount of money that the County has been contributing to the Yancey County School System. A copy of the budget draft is available for public inspection at the Yancey County Managers Office. The meeting will be held in the Courthouse at 6 pm this evening.

NC Unemployment Rate Unchanged


North Carolina’s unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent for the third consecutive month. Since May 2010, numbers show a gain of 31,500 jobs in the private sector. The number of people employed (seasonally adjusted) increased by 12,040 while the number of people unemployed increased by 99 workers, according to recently released Employment Security Commission figures. Since this time last year, the number of people unemployed has decreased by 55,097 and the number of workers employed is up by 15,168. The state unemployment rate in May 2010 was 10.8 percent. The next unemployment update is scheduled for Friday, June 24, when the county unemployment rates for the month of May will be released.

65th Annual Rhododendron Festival a Big Success


The 65th annual Rhododendron Festival wrapped up on Sunday with ceremonies at Roan Mountain State Park. Festival activities included vendors selling handmade crafts, lots of traditional music with street dances each night as well as several old-time folkway demonstrations and plenty of festival food. The highlight of the festival came on Saturday night with the crowning of the Senior and Junior Rhododendron Queens. Twenty-year-old Laura Page from Gastonia was the overall winner in the senior pageant. A junior at UNC-Chapel Hill, Laura received a $5,000 scholarship as the top prize. Chloe Hollifield, the 12-year-old daughter of Amanda and Damien Hollifield of Spruce Pine, was crowned as the Junior Rhododendron Queen after winning the talent and interview portion of the competition. She received a $1,000 scholarship as her prize. Other local winners in the Junior pageant included Alicia Garland, Daughter of Tara and Richie Garland of Bakersville, who won the Junior Congeniality award, and Macie Stafford, daughter of Michelle and Tom Stafford of Spruce Pine, who captured Second Runner-Up honors. Local winners in the Senior pageant included, 1st runner up and interview winner Sydney Schultz, daughter of Marsha and Kurt Schultz of Bakersville, and Macie Peterson, daughter of Lynn and Kathy Peterson of Green Mountain who was named 2nd Runner-Up. See pictures at and

Strong Weekend Storms


Severe storms blew through downtown Asheville Saturday.  Strong winds took down power lines and trees.  West Asheville was without power for much of the day.  The storm also ruined the annual 'Art in the Park' Festival.  Vendors rushed to save their work but some couldn't beat the storm.  One artist from Tennessee estimated he lost half of the inventory he brought to the Asheville show. Progress Energy responded to power outages in Spruce Pine around 5:30am Sunday morning. Over 2000 customers were without power for several hours before service was restored.

Windmill Bill Not Heard


A legislative proposal in North Carolina General Assembly that would have enlisted the help of Appalachian State University to create a wind energy facility in Mitchell County fell by the wayside this week after it failed to make the deadline for passing in the chamber it originated in. The delay was necessary to form a study commission to take a look at some of the concerns of several environmental groups, according to Senator Ralph Hise, who along with Rep. Phillip Frye, introduced the legislation. .“We want a little more time to study the bill and make sure that some of these concerns raised by these conservation groups are addressed,” said Hise, who added that he expects the commission to make recommendations that will hopefully keep the bill on track. The project, which opponents say would be highly visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Roan Mountain and other high peaks in the area, may have lost some support after some legislators and environmentalists expressed disapproval about the possible impact on the tourism industry and the idea of  breaking the Ridge Law. The proposed construction of 15 to 20 test towers that would stand over 250 feet tall, would have breached the Mountain Ridge Protection Act, which was passed by the NC General Assembly in 1983 after the construction of Sugar Top resort on Sugar Mountain in Avery County. The Ridge Law, which bans structures larger than 40 feet at elevations above 3000 feet, included an exemption for windmills, but lawmakers are worried about disturbing the ambiance of these areas where conservation organizations and the US Forest Service have been active since the 1950s. Hise said that conservation lobbyist have approached ASU and tried to persuade the university to pull its support of the project, but that he expects the issue to be revisited by the General Assembly in the near future.

Barn Fire on Champ Ray Road


A barn near a home at 44 River Rock Ridge on Hwy. 80 in the Newdale Community burned to the ground after it was believed to have been struck by lightning during one of the heavy thunderstorms in the area on Wednesday night. Yancey County Emergency Management Coordinator Bill Davis said that the structure, on Champ Ray Road, was packed with hay when the fire broke out around 6:45 pm and it did not take long for the spark to destroy the barn and its contents. Units from the Yancey County EMS, Newdale, Burnsville, South Toe and Parkway Fire Departments fought the blaze and were on scene till around 11 pm making sure that the fire was completely out. The Barn was in flames when the first firefighters arrived, according to Davis, who said that no one was injured and no other property damage related to the incident was reported.

Black Bear in Burnsville


A large Black Bear made its rounds through Burnsville early Wednesday morning without incident, but ran into trouble after shattering a plate glass window at Edward Jones Finical Services offices in the Yancey Common Shopping Center. This picture of the animal was shot by Sav-Mor employee Daniel Silvers before it made its escape onto Reservoir Road after dashing between the Dollar Store and Sav-More Grocery. Beverly Deyton was at her desk when she reportedly heard a loud noise like a “bomb” and the sound of shattering glass. She investigated and witnessed a large Black Bear galloping through the Roses parking lot. After calling police she surveyed the damage and discovered a big hole and broken glass in the front entrance. “It was very scary, Deyton said. “ This bear could have come on through into the building if some cars driving through the parking lot had not frightened it off.”  According to witnesses the refugee from the forest was first spotted near McDonalds and later at Hill Top Restaurant before it made its way across the highway to the shopping center. An increase in bear sightings have recently been reported across WNC.

Mitchell Schools Ask for State Input


The Mitchell County School Board voted last week to enlist the assistance of state officials in helping them study how the school system could handle any decision about the possibility of shutting one or two schools in the county and combining students at other schools. Board Chair Roger Burleson made the motion that would the ask the state to help determine what the best course of action would be if the need should arise in the future to take such actions, due to the state budget cuts and declining enrollment in the counties nine schools The motion was unanimously approved by board members. Superintendent Dr. Brock Womble and County Finance Officer Danny Young were asked to work on having a plan in place in case such a scenario should arise. The debate arose as part of a discussion over needed repairs at Tipton Hill, Deyton and Buladean Elementary Schools. Mitchell County Schools face a possible $1.5 million shortfall in funding from the state just as it sees it student population decline to just over 2000 students countywide.

Marked Increase In Mitchell Graduation Levels 


Four out of five students who entered Mitchell High School as a freshman, graduated with their classmates in 2011, according to school testing director Chad Calhoun. The graduation rate at MHS was up seven percent over last year and that number increased a whopping 19 percent over figures from just five years ago, according to Calhoun who credited the sharp turnaround to efforts put forth by the students and a variety of programs put in place by the school system. The 80 percent graduation rate even eclipsed the gains made statewide where the NC graduation rate rose above the national average for the first time ever. In this tough economy, Calhoun said that students are seeing the advantage of getting at least a high school education and he indicated that the majority of the school’s 128 graduates have plans to further their education at the community college or university level.

Wednesday Storms


Strong Storms rolled across Western North Carolina last night. Over 70,000 Duke Power and Progress Energy customers lost power during the storm.  Areas west of Asheville were hardest hit.  The winds blew the roof right off a home in Sylva and brought down trees all cross the area, blocking dozens of road around Western North Carolina.

House Fire on Upper Gouges Creek Road


Fire fighters from the Spruce Pine, Parkway and Ledger Fire Departments responded to a house fire in Spruce Pine On Wednesday morning. When Emergency personnel arrived at the Byrd residence at 955 Upper Hanging Rock Road they discovered a portion of the home involved in flames, which had apparently spread from an adjacent out building. According to spokesman Chris Westveer Fire fighters were able to quickly bring the blaze under control. One room of the house was heavily damaged by fire while the rest of the structure escaped with moderate smoke damage. It was reported that the home owners were out of town at the time of the fire and that there were no injuries. Spruce Pine Fire Chief Eddie Bell was the incident commander on scene and reported that the fire is still under investigation.

Double Island Home Destroyed by Fire

06/16/2011 Photo by Jody Higgins/Yancey Common Times Journal

A house near Micaville was totally destroyed by fire yesterday morning, according to Yancey County Emergency Management Coordinator Bill Davis, who said that flames were shooting through the roof of structure at 5779 Double Island Road when the first fire truck arrived shortly after 10:25 am. A neighbor called 911 and numerous fire departments from Yancey and Mitchell Counties responded but were unable to save the house where an unidentified occupant was later transported to the Blue Ridge Medical Center in Spruce Pine to be checked out for possible injuries. Several firefighters were also overtaken by heat exhaustion while fighting the blaze, due to the high temperatures, but no other injuries were reported. Teams from Burnsville, Double Island, Clearmont, New Dale, Pensacola, Fork Mountain and Parkway Fire Departments as well as the Yancey County EMS all responded to the call. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

NCDOT Awards Contract for U.S. 19 Project In Yancey County


As expected, N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to widen 7.4 miles of U.S. 19 East from Jack’s Creek Road to Old U.S. 19 through Burnsville in Yancey County to four lanes with a median. The $41.5 million project contract was awarded to Young and McQueen Grading Co. of Burnsville. Work can begin as early as June 27 and is scheduled for completion by July 1, 2015. This is the second phase of the U.S. 19 widening project in Yancey and Madison counties. The first phase, widening U.S. 19 from Interstate 26 in Madison County to Jack’s Creek Road in Yancey County, is scheduled for completion by October 2012.

NCDOT Awards $8 Million for Bridge


N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a design-build contract to replace nine bridges in Buncombe, Burke, Madison, Mitchell and Rutherford counties. The bridges need to be replaced due to their age and condition. The $8 million design-build project contract was awarded to Crowder Construction Co. of Charlotte. Work can begin as early as June 27 and is scheduled for completion by Nov. 1, 2014.The bridges to be replaced are: 

•Bridge on Dillingham Road over Stony Fork Creek near Barnardsville, built in 1970

•Bridges on Grace Hospital Drive eastbound and westbound over the east prong of Hunting Creek in Morganton, built in 1969 and 1971 

•Bridge on Paint Fork Road over Paint Fork Creek near Mars Hill, built in 1970 

•Bridges on N.C. 226 eastbound and westbound over Big Rock Creek in Red Hill, built in 1949
•Bridge on N.C. 197 over Big Rock Creek near Red Hill, built in 1964

•Bridge on Henson Road over Floyds Creek in Forest City, built in 1950
•Bridge on S.R. 1709 over Roberson Creek near Washburn, built in 1964

This is one of 11 contracts totaling $127.3 million awarded for highway and bridge projects across North Carolina. NCDOT awarded the contracts to the lowest bidders, as required by state law. The bids received on the 11 projects awarded came in about 8.7 percent, or about $12 million, below NCDOT estimates. According to the Federal Highway Administration, every $1 million spent on transportation creates 30 jobs, and according to the construction industry, every dollar invested in transportation generates $6 in economic impact.

 “Click It or Ticket” Yields 12,223 Violations


North Carolina Transportation Secretary Gene Conti announced that more than 12,223 drivers and passengers were cited for seat belt and child passenger safety violations during the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which began May 23 and ended June 5. State and local law enforcement officers issued the citations during more than 6,752 checkpoints and stepped-up patrols. In addition to cracking down on unrestrained drivers and passengers, officers across the state charged 2,042 motorists with driving while impaired. Officers also issued a total of 7,205 criminal violations, including 1,478 drug charges, 59 stolen vehicles and 849 fugitives captured.

Yancey Drug Arrests Continue


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office and the Burnsville Police Department have almost concluded serving all the arrest warrants issued related to their most recent undercover drug operation and at this time are releasing the most current names and charges involved with the operation. Also additional charges have been filed on some individuals at time of their arrest. One individual with arrest warrants from this operation has been located and picked up by Michigan authorities and is awaiting to be extradited back to North Carolina to face charges. One other individual has not yet been located by authorities Elizabeth Aljonette Jackson of Burnsville. If anyone has information that would lead to the arrest of this individual please contact the Yancey County Sheriff’s Office at 682-2124 or the Burnsville Police Department at 682-4683. This operation netted charges against 25 separate individuals for an ending total of 271 charges being filed to date. This operation is a continuing effort of both agencies to battle the drug abuse problem within Yancey County and Burnsville.      List of those charged

No Tax Increase for Mitchell County Residents


Mitchell Commissioners were able to approve the 2011-2012 county budget last week without raising property taxes. By a unanimous vote the elected officials decided to keep the counties’ property tax rate at 40 cents per one hundred dollars of value after considering a proposal to increase the rate by a penny. By keeping the tax rate as is the commissioners hope to minimize the hardships that many county residents are suffering due to the economic downturn as well as maintain an attractive tax rate for industry and job recruitment.

Yancey Elections Director Under Investigation


The Yancey County Board of Elections has petitioned the state to remove Elections Director Loretta Robinson from her position. Allegations of criminal conduct were leveled against Robinson following a closed session meeting by county election officials Charles McCurry, Gary Boone and Grace Whitson, according to an article in the Yancey Common Times Journal. The investigation into voting irregularities which supposedly took place as long as five years ago, is now in the hands of the SBI. The probe will also delve into allegations that several felons were allowed to vote in this past November’s elections. Robinson, who has been in the position since 1990, contends that she has done nothing wrong and that she would not “stick her neck out” to do something illegal for anyone. Robinson stated on Wednesday that she has no immediate plans to leave her position.

New Damage Discovered Under Hwy. 19E Bridge


After discovering additional deterioration in the steel supports under the Highway 19E Bridge in Spruce Pine, work that had begun last month was stopped by DOT officials so that a new contract can be let to take care of the problem. The newly discovered damage to the 34-year-old bridge near the Blue Ridge Community Hospital could push the project’s completion date into 2012 instead of the projected date of August of this year. State officials stated that the estimated damage was about 60 percent worse than previously thought and that it would be more cost effective to start from scratch with a new contract that would take care of the entire project rather than continuing with the original contract. The bridge currently has the two center lanes closed as a safety precaution to limit how large of a load is placed on the bridge at one time. 

Windmill Bill for Mitchell County


A bill before the North Carolina General Assembly would revive an alternative energy project that would create a wind demonstration site in Mitchell County. Bills in the state House of Representatives and Senate, introduced by Senator Ralph Hise and Representative Phillip Frye, would enlist the help of Appalachian State University to create a wind energy facility that could possibly see the construction of 15 to 20 test towers that would stand nearly 250 feet tall. Officials are looking at portions of the Penland Bailey property as a possible site for the operation that would begin with a single demonstration site which would be exempt from the state’s Ridge Law. The project, estimated to cost around $80 million, would be subject to property taxes and could help create much needed jobs for the county.

Reward for Information on Vandalism


Mountain Heritage High School is offering a $500.00 reward for  information that will lead to the arrest AND conviction of the person(s) responsible for the vandalism on the campus on June 4, 2011. All information needs to be directed to the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department at 828-682-2124.

SBI Was Not Asked to Investigate Tom Farmer


The SBI never received a request to conduct an investigation into the pawning of county-owned firearms for personal gain by former chief deputy Tom Farmer of the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department. The Yancey County News reports that County Manager Nathan Bennett, who wrote a letter to District Attorney Gerald Wilson asking that the SBI be asked to investigate the pawning of the guns, said that he had assumed that the district attorney would have asked the SBI to investigate after the formal request from the county was made back in March. County Attorney Donny Laws said the county did everything it should have to urge an investigation into the pawning of the guns but that where the investigation went after that he did not know. Sheriff Banks was unavailable for comment on the issue.

Memorial Day Weekend Totals


The North Carolina State Highway Patrol along with the Division of Law Enforcement Wildlife Resources Commission and the Alcohol Law Enforcement Division have released the Memorial Day Weekend totals for the “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign .The campaign is a multi-agency initiative designed to combine law enforcement resources to ensure that all motorists can safely travel on highways and waterways during the summer months. Over 10,000 citations were issued by the collaborative law enforcement efforts, which included 278 arrests for driving while impaired, 38 drug violations and over 1900 seatbelt tickets issued by the Highway Patrol. Alert officers from the Wildlife Resources Commission snared another 50 individuals for operating their watercraft while impaired and they also handed out citations for over 400 other boat violations. The ALE reported 50 violations of alcohol and drugs in the holiday weekend operation. The campaign will continue on the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends.

Accident Sends Two to Hospital


Two men were injured in Yancey County Wednesday afternoon when a tractor driven by 88-year old Sherman Fox was struck by a Dodge Dakota pickup driven by 25-year-old Bradley Duncan. According to the NC Highway Patrol, the accident happened on Hwy 19E near Young’s Tractor in Newdale. While trying to cross the road to get to a field near his home, Mr. Fox pulled his tractor in front of Mr. Duncan’s pickup. Following the 1:20 p.m. accident Mr. Fox was taken by family members to the Blue Ridge Community Hospital in Spruce Pine while Mr. Duncan was transported by ambulance to Memorial Mission in Asheville. Neither man’s injuries appeared to be serious according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman. Mr. Fox was cited for failure to yield the right of way in the incident.

State Budget Cuts May Hurt Mayland


State budget cuts are expected to leave Mayland Community College around $1 million short of the college’s projected $11.1 state allotment, according to MCC President John Boyd, who said that the loss of the funding could mean the loss of 13 to 17 jobs at the school which serves Mitchell, Avery and Yancey Counties. The school’s possible plan to reduce the workforce is based on the worst case scenario laid at their feet by the Senate Budget shortfalls. Boyd said that the impact of the cuts would be felt strongest in Mayland’s dual-enrollment and prison programs. Regardless of where the state’s final budget figures fall, President Boyd said that the school would use the opportunity to prepare for the future.

New Ban on synthetic drugs


A new law went into effect yesterday banning synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine. Police can arrest those possessing or selling the synthetics on charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies depending on the drug and quantity, with penalties including fines or jail time. Before Wednesday, synthetic marijuana, also known as spice, often was marketed as incense and sold in gas stations, head shops and online. Synthetic cocaine was marketed as bath salts. But drugs have been blamed for serious illnesses, hallucinations and even deaths, mostly among teens and young adults. Three Madison students were hospitalized in March after being sickened while at school by a synthetic form of marijuana called Mary Joy. The American Association of Poison Control Centers analyzed nationwide figures on calls related to synthetic drugs. The findings showed an alarming increase in the number of people seeking medical attention. At least 2,700 people have fallen ill since January, compared with fewer than 3,200 cases in all of 2010. At that pace, medical emergencies related to synthetic drugs could go up nearly fivefold by the end of the year.

Unemployment Rates Show Improvement


Recently released figures from the NC Employment Security Commission for April showed slight improvement over unemployment numbers from the previous month. Unemployment rates decreased in 73 of North Carolina’s 100 counties in April, while rates increased in 10 counties and remained the same in 17. North Carolina had 47 percent of its counties whose unemployment rate fell between 5 and 10 percent while 53 percent of the counties were over the 10 percent mark for unemployment.  Rates for Yancey and surrounding Counties saw an improvement in their unemployment rates from March to April. Yancey’s rate fell 1.2 percent, down to 10.7 percent while the Mitchell County rate dropped 1.0 percent, down to 10.7 percent. McDowell and Avery Counties continue to struggle with high rates in spite of modest gains in employment over the past month. McDowell’s rate dropped from 13.6 percent to 12.2 percent while Avery’s unemployment rate of 11.2 percent was down just 0.3 percent. Madison County continued to beat the national average with 8.9 percent unemployment, showing a 0.9 percent drop over March numbers.

Today is Memorial Day


Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5th 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30th 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May, passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971. As a sign of respect for the sacrifices of our armed services personnel, NC Governor Bev Perdue has ordered that the United States and North Carolina flags at all state offices be flown at half staff today until 12 noon in honor of Memorial Day.

Parkway Playhouse Wins State Theater Honor


The North Carolina Theatre Conference will present the Parkway Playhouse with the George A. Parides Award on June 4th in a short ceremony before that evening’s 7:30pm performance of An Uncivil Union: The Battle of Burnsville.  The award is in honor of the Parkway Playhouse’s commitment to excellence in theatre and its many cultural contributions to the Western North Carolina region and the state of North Carolina.  The Parkway Playhouse is a member organization of The North Carolina Theatre Conference. NCTC organizes and runs state wide High School and Middle School Play Festivals which Yancey Schools have long participated in and garnered numerous honors for students and drama teachers. Tickets to the June 4 performance of An Uncivil Union: The Battle of Burnsville, which is a world-premiere production inspired by local history, are available at the Parkway Playhouse Box Office and the website

Spruce Pine Town Board Gets First Look at Budget


The tax rate in the town of Spruce Pine will not change if the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year becomes a reality. The Town Board got its first look at the $1.82 million budget proposal last week in a draft from Town Finance Officer Dave Lindsey. The budget projection reduces the town’s expenses by nearly $180,000 under last year’s budgeted figure. The largest decreases to the 2011-2012 budget comes from the expiration of capital outlays and other projects undertaken by the town. The draft also included a reduction in road maintenance expenses for the town.  No action was taken by the council on the first draft. The Town Board is expected to present their final budget draft on June 13.

Yancey Schools Cut Some Positions


Yancey County Schools are keeping an eye on the state legislature and news concerning 2011-2012 public school allotments.  While the school system does not expect a final budget from the state for several weeks, Board actions taken this week show that proactive steps in dealing with the shortfall of the budget are already being taken. The Board and Dr Tony Tipton expect to take additional reorganization steps and cost-cutting measures that could result in additional reduction in force and/or transfers, when a final budget is received from Raleigh. Some school staff members, who were not approved for continued employment at the meeting, were not released for cause but rather due to cost-saving measures based on cuts to the budget.  For those employees impacted by this action and who qualify, the state will provide twelve months of employee-only health insurance premiums as well as unemployment benefits. School systems across the state have to deal with the same issues due to the shortfall of revenues in Raleigh.

House Fire in Estatoe Community


The Estatoe home of Debbie and Tyler Boone suffered major damage after it was engulfed in flames late Tuesday afternoon. The home owners returned shortly before 6 P.M. and found the house on fire. They called 911 and when fire crews arrived the structure was heavily involved in flames, according to spokesman Chris Westveer. Fire crews from the Spruce Pine, Parkway, Ledger and Newdale Departments fought the fire for about 30 minutes from the outside and after knocking down the flames entered the house and extinguished the blaze. Westveer said that it is believed that the fire started in the kitchen area of the home near the stove or microwave.

Brothers Arrested In Mitchell Meth Sting


The Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department has charged two brothers from Humpback Mountain with several felony drug charges. 37-year-old Billy Joe Sparks and 38-year-old Daryl L. Sparks, both from Spruce Pine, were arrested for selling methamphetamine to an undercover agent. The Sheriff’s Department was able to set up an undercover buy after years of complaints from citizens in the community about the two men and their activities. A search of the Sparks home on White Rock Road uncovered several more grams of methamphetamine, cash and several firearms. Both brothers face numerous drug charges, and are being held in the Rutherford County Jail under high bonds.

Bakersville Man Arrested for Sale of Prescription Drugs


A 45-year old Bakersville man was arrested by the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department after selling the prescription drug Hydrocodone to an undercover agent. Kristopher Eric Roeske of Harrell Hill Road was taken into custody when a sting operation was executed by the sheriffs department after they received numerous complaints about suspicious activity at the Roeske residence. Roeske faces charges including:  sell and delivery of Schedule II controlled substance, possession with intent to sell and deliver, and maintaining a dwelling for keeping and selling a controlled substance. He was released under a $10,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in Mitchell County Court on June 10.

256 Charges issued in multiple arrests


The Yancey County Sheriff's Office and the Burnsville Police Department have conducted a 6 week long drug operation which has resulted in numerous arrests.  Sheriff Gary Banks stated that there were 256 charges issued for 24 different individuals on a variety of drug and firearm related charges.  There were 32 charges for trafficking in controlled substances, 12 charges related to the sale of Methamphetamine and various other charges connected to the sale of prescription medication.   Banks stated this operation is a continuation of the ongoing efforts between the two departments to deal with the growing problem of drug abuse both in the Town of Burnsville and Yancey County as a whole.  The investigation revealed that several of the individuals had been selling quantities of prescription medication in excess more than 1000 pills per month.  Information provided to the investigators revealed that these medications came from various sources and many came from other states.

RV hits restaurant


A restaurant in Yancey County has been damaged by an RV. Frank Kracher of WLOS news has the details.

Volunteers Needed


Saturday, May 28th is Extreme Playground Makeover Day at Burnsville Elementary.  The school received a Fitness Grant from the NC Health & Wellness Trust Fund in order to make the improvements to their front playground area. Volunteers are needed. You can sign up in 3 hour shifts from 8:30 – 5:30 on Saturday.  There are many ways that you can help such as manning the Food & Water Tent, Child Care Area, Tool Tent and First Aid. Also helping with planting, building, raking mulch and much more.  Another way to help is by dropping off any of the following items to the front office at Burnsville Elementary by Friday morning: Bottled water, Gatorade and healthy snack items to assist the PTO with feeding the volunteers.  All volunteers working will be entered to win prizes throughout the day.  For more information or to sign up call  Suzanne Gavenus at 682-4515.

Yancey County Veterans aboard Final Honor Air Flight


Four Yancey County residents were among 86 Western North Carolina veterans who were aboard the final flight on May 14th of the Honor Air, a program that has flown almost 2,000 WWII veterans to Washington to visit numerous military landmarks in the Nations capital. Donald Ulsh, E. J. Ruebeling, Ward Wilson Jr., and Pearson Riddle took the trip, visiting the World War II, Vietnam, Korean, Iwo Jima and Lincoln Memorials as well as the Arlington National Cemetery. Pearson Riddle was chosen to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The program, which has coordinated some 19 flights for veterans to Washington since 2006, touched down at the Asheville Regional Airport for the last time to the cheers of a large crowd which had gathered to pay tribute to the men who had sacrificed so much in their time at war. Honor Air was conducted by the WNC Rotary Clubs with funds donated by private members and with help from Borg-Warner Corporation and their employees. For a photo of the men and complete story see

Some Carolina First Banks will close


A merger will shut down four Carolina First Bank branches in Western North Carolina, but the new owner, TD Bank, says the merger will create more jobs overall. Carolina First branches in Columbus, Forest City, Marion and Shelby will close. Customers were notified of the closure back in February.  Charles Frederick, Market President for Western North Carolina says "Although TD Bank's acquisition of Carolina First is a growth story, we made a business decision to consolidate the Columbus location based on a combination of factors, including the opportunity to combine operations and improve overall efficiency,"  "We are committed to creating a smooth and hassle-free transition for our Customers." Frederick says. Customers will bank as usual, just in a different location. All existing accounts, terms and agreements are said to remain the same. Employees were offered another position within TD Bank. TD Bank expects 40 new jobs in WNC once the merger is complete, since they will extend their business hours. Bank Branches Will Close.

Area High School Announce Graduation Plans


Former Yancey County teacher, coach and local radio sportscaster, John Stallings will be the keynote speaker at the Mountain Heritage High School 2011 Graduation on Saturday June 4. Heritage expects to graduate around 163 seniors this year in ceremonies beginning at 11 a.m. in the school gymnasium. Mountain Heritage valedictorian Lance Simmons and salutatorian Hayle Austin will be honored at the event. Mitchell High will also have its graduation on Saturday June 4. Ceremonies get underway at 10 a.m. in the school gym. Mitchell’s as yet unnamed valedictorian and salutatorian will follow tradition and deliver the keynote address to the school’s 130 seniors and attending family and friends.

Young-McQueen is Low Bidder on Hwy. 19-E Extension


Young-McQueen Grading Company Vice President Earl Tipton acknowledged on Thursday that the Yancey County company was the low bidder on the contract for the next leg of the project to extend the Hwy. 19-E four-lane road from Burnsville to Micaville. The Young-McQueen bid came in under the project engineer’s estimate, according to Tipton who said that the process is now in a review period and that he sees no reason why his company should not get the contract. Tipton said that it should take DOT officials in Raleigh about 30 days to go over the necessary documents and make their final decision.

Town of Burnsville Looks At Zoning Board


In an effort to deal with future zoning issues that may arise when the current highway project is completed through the Town of Burnsville, the Town Council has decided to look at the possibility of reviving a Planning and Zoning Board of Adjustment. The Town has been enforcing zoning ordinances over the years since a zoning board was disbanded in the 1980s. Some members of the current board, as well as many business owners in Burnsville, are concerned about the growth and changes that could take place and are asking for standards to be put in place to protect the town’s country charm while still encouraging economic development. Burnsville has been approved for a Zoning Assistance grant totaling $20,000 from the North Carolina Department of Commerce for the technical zoning assistance provided to the town by state officials. The Town Board has scheduled a meeting with state officials to discuss how best to implement the grant.

Gas Station Robbery and stand off


A wild chain of events took place in Northern Buncombe County Yesterday afternoon. It started with a robbery at a gas station and ended in a 3 hour stand off. WLOS news 13 reporter Frank Kracher has the story.  (Audio)

Shelton was being held at the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department last night and charged with armed robbery and possible assault on a law enforcement officer.

Drug Take Back Day a Big Success


The recent Drug Take Back Day was a huge success in Yancey and Mitchell Counties where over 50,000 prescription pills were turned over to authorities for proper disposal. The fastest growing illegal drug use among teenagers in the US is the abuse of prescription drugs. This prompted the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, made up of law enforcement and concerned community partners, to sponsor the event which exceeded its goals and helped spread the word about people being responsible to take control and keep track of their own medication.

Farmers Market-Town Center Parking


A temporary agreement, which will provide parking space for the Farmers Market and the Burnsville Town Center as well as some town employees, shoppers and others, has been worked out between the Town of Burnsville and the Briggs Estate. Town Council members unanimously agreed to a month to month contract to rent the property for $800 per month with the Town Center, a medical practice and the Farmer’s Market all contributing to the cost.

Yancey County Wins Award for Excellence


The Yancey County Commissioners and the NC State Treasurer Janet Cowell honored Yancey County employees with the Governmental Award for Excellence in Accounting and Financial Management in a special meeting Tuesday at the Yancey County Courthouse. The awards were presented to Finance Officer Brandi Burleson and Finance Director Lynn Hensley, from the NC Local Government Commission. The award is given annually to the units of local government that excelled in implementing financial responsible procedures. Yancey County’s financial department was one of five areas in the state to win the prestigious award this year. They were cited for rewriting personnel and accounting manuals to better incorporate internal controls which helped Yancey County save taxpayer money.

MCC Goes to Four-Day Workweek for summer


In an effort to save local money, Mayland Community College will be going to a four-day workweek this summer, with extended daily hours. The college business hours will be 7:30am to 5:30pm. Monday through Thursday. The college, including the satellite campuses, will be closed Fridays, May 20 through July 29. Mayland saw a significant savings in operating costs last summer by utilizing the four-day workweek. The college does not expect to move to this schedule for the fall and spring semesters. Mayland Community College receives operating funds from Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties that are earmarked to pay for utilities, building and grounds, general maintenance, security and housekeeping services. Closing on Fridays helps reduce expenses in some of these areas. Final registration for the fall semester at MCC will be held August 8-9.

Mitchell to Celebrate National Tourism Week


The Mitchell County Chamber joins hundreds of cities, states and travel-related businesses nationwide in recognition of the 28th annual National Tourism Week, May 7-15. Designated by Congress and established by presidential proclamation in 1983, the event celebrates the value and scope of the nation’s $740 billion travel and tourism industry, and the economic and social contributions it brings to Mitchell County. The tourism industry in Mitchell County employees over 200 people and generates over $19 million for the local economy. The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce will celebrate National Tourism with their Annual Tourism Luncheon to be held Wednesday, May 18th at The Chalet Restaurant in Little Switzerland. 

Kindergarten Kick-Off a Success


The recent Fifth Annual Kindergarten Registration Kick-Off Event at the Town Center was a huge success!  This event was sponsored by Yancey County Safe and Drug Free Schools and the Burnsville Police Department. Some upcoming kindergarteners and their families attended the event.  The Kindergarteners enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon touring a school bus, fire truck, and police car.  The up-coming Kindergarteners also enjoyed, face painting, learning centers, art activities, fingerprinting, meeting Betty Tumey the public Health Dental Hygienist, and enjoying fun activities with Yancey County Schools P.E. staff.  New to the kick-off this year was Firefighter Fred with his mini fire truck, The up-coming Kindergartens loved riding in Firefighter Fred’s fire truck and talking to the Letterland characters.

Schools Ask Commissioners for Additional Money


With an expected loss of state funding over previous years on the horizon, Mayland Community College and the Mitchell County School System have been forced to approach the county commissioners for additional money to help make up the shortfall. Last week officials at Mayland ask the commissioners for $57,000 in additional county funding while Mitchell schools say they need an additional $200,000 for operation expenses from the county. The request reflects hard hits in funding taken by the NC Community College System and many public school systems across the state. Mitchell Commissioners said that the board is not yet prepared to make any determination on increased funding until it gets more information from the state.

Title I Public Input Meeting


Yancey County Schools will hold Title I Public Input meetings on Tuesday, May 31, and Wednesday, June 1, in the Board Room of the Yancey County Board of Education from 7:30 – 9:00am and from 4:00 – 5:30pm. The meetings are to seek input from the public regarding the Title I Plan and application for the 2011 – 2012 school year.  If more information is needed or to schedule a different time for input, contact Jeanne Tyner, Title I Director, Yancey County Schools.

Sherriff Banks Makes Personnel Changes


Sheriff Gary Banks is in the process of restructuring the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department, announcing this week that he is making a number of personnel changes in the wake of the expected retirement of two veteran employees and the recent resignation of embattled Chief Deputy Tom Farmer. Captain Judy Ledford, Bank’s administrative assistant, and Deputy Bobby Austin retired effective April 30th, while the Department will also have to replace investigator John Thomas who left to take a law enforcement job in Buncombe County. Because Lt. Detective Randall Shuford is a relative of Banks, Banks asked the Yancey County Commissioners for permission to hire Shuford of the Burnsville Police Department, on a part time basis to help with the temporary shortage in staff. The Board agreed to the hiring and Sheriff Banks told the commissioners that he also plans on bringing both Ledford and Austin to work on a part time basis as needed. The restructuring also includes the promotions and transfers of a number of personnel within the Department

Mitchell School Board Makes Tough Decisions


The Mitchell County School Board voted last week to look at a plan to eliminate up to 15 classified positions from the payroll for the upcoming school year. The county is trying to close an estimated $1.5 million gap in the money it had hoped to receive from the state by either reducing non-classroom positions, such as custodial and maintenance staff, or using deeper cuts to the classified rolls. Through an early retirement plan the Board is expected to save the school system around $439,000 which will help save four current positions in the county that might have otherwise been eliminated. School Superintendant Brock Womble said that any drastic measures taken this year will lessen any action that may be needed for the 2012-2013 budget.

Strong Storms


Storms knocked down trees and power lines in Western North Carolina overnight, and two people were reportedly killed in Rutherford County when a tree fell on their house in the Ellenboro community. A tree fell on a house on Holly Street north of Marion in McDowell County, but the occupants escaped injury.  In Avery County, a house was struck by lightning in the Banner Elk area but no one was injured. In Buncombe, most of the damage was in the North Asheville and Woodfin areas. In all, trees and power lines were down in Avery, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, Buncombe, Yancey, Mitchell and Madison counties. In Rutherford, schools are operating on a two-hour delay. Progress Energy was reporting 345 customers without power in Buncombe this morning shortly before 7 a.m. Another 700 Progress customers in Mitchell and Yancey counties were without power. Duke Energy was reporting 7,766 customers without power in Rutherford County, along with 2,052 in McDowell and some in Polk and Transylvania. Thousands more outages were reported in the Piedmont area east of the mountains from the storms over night and this morning.

Mortgage Relief for Yancey and Mitchell Homeowners


Unemployed workers and others facing financial hardships may be able to get help with their mortgages through the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund.  To be eligible homeowners must have good mortgage payment history prior to job loss or hardship and demonstrate ability to resume payments once the assistance ends. In high unemployment counties such as Yancey and Mitchell the fund can provide as much as $36,000 with a zero interest loan with no mortgage payment. If you live in your home for ten years the loan will be considered satisfied and you will owe nothing.  Homeowners do not need to be behind on payments to seek help. Attend a workshop Thursday, May 12 from 6 to 7:30 pm at Higgins United Methodist Church in Burnsville for details. Advance registration required. For more information call OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling at 828-255-5166.    

Lawsuit Settled, Franklin Will Be Appointed To DSS Board


Following numerous negotiations, a mutually agreed upon settlement was finally reached in superior court on Monday between the Yancey County Commissioners and Tamera Frank and Peter Franklin. In the agreement reached in the judge’s chamber, the Commissioners conceded that the 2008 DSS Board of Directors appointments of Tamera Frank and Peter Franklin were legal and valid. The NC Court of Appeals ruled that commissioners Walter Savage, Johnny Riddle and Jerri Storie violated the state’s open meetings law when they removed Frank and Franklin from their appointed seats. The commissioners agreed to appoint Peter Franklin to serve a full, 3-year term beginning in July when Judy Buchanan’s term expires. Commissioner Jill Austin was the only commissioner to vote nay to accepting the settlement. Yancey County Manager Nathan Bennett noted that citizens in the county should know that no attorney’s fees were leveraged against Yancey County in the case.

Mitchell County Man Dies After Being Struck While Cutting Grass 


A 43-year old Mitchell County man was killed on May 5 when a riding lawn mower that he was operating was struck from behind by a pickup truck. The NC Highway Patrol said that Tony Watson of Bakersville was cutting the grass at a home on North Mitchell Avenue around 7 p.m. on Thursday when he was hit by a 1997 Ford pickup truck driven by Charles Lee Parker of Knob Creek Road, in Johnson City, Tennessee. Watson was airlifted to the Johnson City Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The incident is still under investigation according to the Highway Patrol.

Dr. Tony Tipton Is New Yancey Schools Superintendant


The Yancey County Board of Education confirmed on Monday the hiring of Dr. Tony Tipton of Burnsville as the new superintendant of Yancey County Schools. Tipton, currently principal of Madison County High School and former assistant principal at Mountain Heritage, will fill the position vacated by the resignation of Dr. Tom Little. An interesting note, Tipton’s wife Barbara, who is currently principal at Madison Middle School, is a former superintendant of schools for Yancey County.

Temporary One Lane Closure


The Federal Highway Administration is completing investigative drilling along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 358 between Craggy Gardens and Mount Mitchell State Park. The drilling will require day and night one-lane traffic control by flagmen beginning on Monday, May 9 and lasting through Friday, May 18th.Blue Ridge Parkway management apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause our visitors but asks that travelers be aware of signs and flagmen in the area. 

Brinkley Arrested On Assault Charges


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Cecil (BO) Brinkley, of 190 Dee Silvers Lane, Burnsville and charged him with “Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury with Intent to Kill” in connection with an incident that occurred on Bear Wallow Road May 5th. The victim is listed as Joseph Chandler of Upper Pig Pen Road Burnsville. Brinkley is currently in custody of the Yancey County Jail.

Mt. Mitchell Scenic Byway Opens


The Mt. Mitchell Scenic Byway became one of North Carolina’s newest and most spectacular routes for motorist with a ceremonial opening April 29th at Mt. Mitchell State Park. The 52-mile section of road begins at the Park and winds down Hwy 128 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trip continues on a beautiful stretch of Hwy. 80 South, skirting along portions of the Toe River to Micaville. A trip on Hwy 19 E takes the traveler to Burnsville and a journey around the Town Square. Going out of town on West Main Street, motorist will run into 19 E and enjoy a ride into Madison County where the byway runs into I-26. Yancey County Economic Development Commission Director Wanda Proffitt said that the byway is a way to help preserve the visual beauty and heritage that Yancey County is known for and that it helps Yancey County to reclaim Mt. Mitchell as its own. Proffitt said that prior to the byway designation, Asheville was a starting point for most people traveling to the highest peak in the Eastern US, but now visitors wanting to go to Mt. Mitchell, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state, can make Yancey County a destination.

French Broad EMC Annual Meeting Scheduled


A health fair will highlight the annual French Broad EMC annual meeting set for May 7 at Madison High School. Following a member meeting to elect directors, the rest of the afternoon will be filled with entertainment and interesting activities including cash door prizes. The popular health fair, scheduled from 3 to 5 pm, will include medical screenings and other information from area health providers. Entertainment will be provided by The Primitive Quartet, while the Mars Hill Shrine Club will be selling meals as a fundraiser event for the Shiner’s Children’s Hospital. All members and their families are urged to come and take part in the day’s activities.

Work Begins On 19E Bridge In Spruce Pine


Work began last week on the 19E Bridge in Spruce Pine as the NCDOT started preliminary work on the structure before it is closed to traffic for repairs that officials say will take a little over a month. The bridge, near the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital needs some preventative maintenance and structural upgrades. While the bridge is closed motorist are ask to detour through downtown Spruce Pine to Hwy 19E, or take Halltown Road to reach Hwy 226 at Grassy Creek.

Broadband Access for Yancey-Mitchell


A grassroots effort to bring high-speed internet access to underserved areas of Yancey and Mitchell Counties will soon become a reality thanks to Country Cablevision and a grant from the federal government. The news was announced at an economic summit at the Burnsville Town Center last week. Country Cable project manager Dean Russell told the gathering of town and county leaders and business people that soon 97 percent of  Yancey and Mitchell County residents and businesses will have access to high-speed broadband. The project’s initial phase, the installation of distribution lines, is scheduled to be completed by the first of June this year, while the deployment of fiber lines to houses and businesses in both counties should be completed by 2013.

Tips from Community Result In Drug Arrest


Responding to numerous complaints from parents about their children finding syringes around the Cane Creek Ball Field in Bakersville, Mitchell County deputies and the Bakersville Police Department conducted an undercover operation at the location. The joint operation resulted in the arrest of 36-year-old Paul Anthony Buchanan, of Spruce Pine. He was arrested after he contacted an undercover agent wanting to sell him prescription drugs and requested a meeting at the vacant ball field. The undercover agent agreed to the meeting and notified his superiors. After close surveillance, Buchanan was seen handing the undercover agent a Copenhagen tobacco can, which was later discovered to contain the drugs. Buchanan was placed under a $70,000 secured bond and then transported to the Yancey County Jail.

Golden Leaf Funding Intercepted


The North Carolina House Appropriations Committee revealed the proposed House budget would intercept all of the 2012 and 2013 payments from the tobacco manufacturers which goes to Golden LEAF under a 1999 court order. This would result in a loss of almost $140 million for the Foundation’s work in communities across the state. While budgets in most other agencies have been cut 10, or 15, or 20 percent, fully 100% of Golden LEAF funds would be diverted for two, and possibly more, years according to the H. 200, Appropriations Act. While the Foundation has an endowment for its use, and can continue to make grants from those funds, the incoming stream of funding allows the Golden Leaf Foundation to provide up to 10 percent of their endowment every year in grants, rather than the 5 percent that a traditional foundation would provide. If funds are diverted from the original promise, then future grants would be dramatically reduced. Supporters of this proposal say this action is needed to balance the state’s budget but the position of the Golden Leaf Foundation is that the pain must be shared equally and it should not be on the backs of those communities who have the least amount of resources to begin with. Since its inception, Golden LEAF has awarded over $483 million through more than 1,000 grants across North Carolina.

Yancey Schools Enter Negotiations for Superintendent


The Yancey County Board of Education has announced that it has entered into contract negotiations with Dr.Tony Tipton for the position of School Superintendent of Yancey County. In a news release, all board members expressed full support for Dr. Tipton and said that they look forward to his leadership of the school system.

Yancey Commissioners and School Board Joint Meeting


Dr. David Johnson with the Graham Children’s Health Services Lifestyle Committee addressed a joint session of the Yancey County Commissioners and the Yancey County Board of Education Thursday night bringing them an update on the study of obesity being done with children in the county school system. Dr. Johnson told the group of community leaders and educators that the number one goal of the committee that he represents is the prevention of obesity and that to do so area churches, schools and the community as a whole must come together to start a dialog and work towards a solution. He pointed out that the number two cause of premature death in North Carolina in obesity, right behind tobacco use. Dr. Johnson also said that the cost of obesity in the United States is around $150 billion per year, something that has direct implications for recruiting businesses to Yancey County. Saying that children born today have a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to obesity, Dr. Johnson pointed out that high school students in North Carolina are #5 out of the 50 states with the highest number of students who are considered obese, while elementary students in the state are ranked in the top ten when it comes to obesity. A study done in Yancey County over the past two years turned up some startling facts: 20% of kindergarten age kids in Yancey County are obese, 32% of third graders fall into that category as well, while around 35% of middle school students in the county are considered obese, according to the report. Dr. Johnson attributed the rise in obesity to a change in lifestyle over the years, pointing out that today’s kids spend much more time in front of a television or computer than previous generations did and that the way that families eat and what they eat have changed for the worse. In conclusion Dr. Johnson told the gathering that obesity is an epidemic that cost people their lives and has serious economic effects on a community, but that working together something can be done about the problem. He praised the school board for making the decision to remove all drinks containing sugar from the vending machines in Yancey schools and for switching from a commercial pizza to a more healthy school produced product. “Little steps like these make a big difference in the long run,” Dr. Johnson said.



Accident in Mitchell County Sends Three to Hospital


A two car accident at the intersection of Fork Mountain Road and Hwy. 226 sent three people to the hospital on Monday afternoon. According to the NC Highway Patrol spokesman, a 1990 Mazda driven by Thomas Jenkins was traveling North on Hwy 226 when it collided with a 1997 Buick driven by Howard Davis. Both drivers and a passenger in the Mazda were all injured and had to be airlifted to the Johnson City Medical Center. There is no word on the condition of those injured. Charges against Thomas Jenkins are pending further investigation, according to the NCHPD.

EDC Roundtable Breakfast Is A Success


In an effort to respond to the diverse economic needs of Yancey County, the Economic Development Commission has developed partnerships with area businesses and entrepreneurs to help bolster the effort to bring jobs and economic opportunities to the area. On Monday the Yancey County EDC sponsored a breakfast for local business people and entrepreneurs, giving them an opportunity to share ideas and information. At the Certified Entrepreneur Council meeting, Yancey County EDC director Wanda Proffitt honored Country Cable founder Ray Miller as the Yancey County Entrepreneur of the Year for his company’s efforts to increase broadband internet access in the county. Yancey County Manager Nathan Bennett praised Mr. Miller saying that Country Cable’s efforts will make the county a more appealing place for businesses to locate.  “The improvements to the county’s infrastructure, such as the work done by Country Cable, as well as the new road and the sewer project for East Yancey should all help improve our changes of attracting new businesses and entrepreneurs to the area,” Bennett said. He added that the Certified Entrepreneur Council is a key component that will foster an environment which will help create jobs locally.  Burnsville Mayor Danny McIntosh agreed with Bennett saying that being part of the Certified Entrepreneur Council will pay big benefits in helping the county obtain grants it may need when the economy comes back and gets moving again. This is the second entrepreneurial roundtable meeting sponsored by the Yancey County EDC.

Mount Mitchell Scenic Drive


The N.C. Department of Transportation is holding a ceremony to officially designate the Mount Mitchell Scenic Drive as a North Carolina Scenic Byway. The 52-mile route begins at the top of Mount Mitchell and travels through Yancey and Madison counties.   N.C. Scenic Byways are unique roads carefully selected to portray the state’s beauty and culture while providing travelers with safe and interesting alternate travel routes.   The Designation Ceremony is being held this afternoon at 2pm in the visitor’s center parking lot at Mount Mitchell.

Mitchell Schools Looks At Ways to Balance Budget


If a first draft of the 2011-2012 budgets is adopted by the school board, around a dozen positions will be axed from the Mitchell County Schools System in order to cover what could be a $1.5 million revenue shortfall. In a worst case scenario, Mitchell County Schools could cut four certified positions at a savings of $200,000 and eight classified positions totaling $250,000. Other school related cuts could see employee Christmas bonuses eliminated, saving around $88,000 while the elimination of the gate guard position at the high school could save another $16,000. Although nothing concerning the budget is yet written in stone, Mitchell School Superintendant Brock Womble said that the sooner some of these decisions are made the better it will be for those affected employees. The final budget numbers will depend on how much funding the school system receives from Raleigh and from the county.

Yancey Commissioners Dig into Budget


Yancey County Commissioners aren’t finding much move to maneuver as they try and come up with a way to slash nearly $1.6 million from the budget for 2011-2012. The commissioners received a first draft of the budget last week. Currently plans are to take the budget that the county is operating under now and cut that figure by five to seven percent which would force department heads to find items in the budget that they feel can be cut without affecting the overall efficiency of the services. County Commissioners will be wrestling with budget figures over the next few weeks as they try to find a way to maintain current services while spending less money.

Grant Could Bring Jobs to Burnsville


As part of North Carolina’s Main Street Solutions Fund, the NuWray Inn in Burnsville will receive a $200,000 grant for the purpose of renovating a portion of the Inn for a Home Cooking School. The school should help position Burnsville, one of only seven communities in the state to receive funds from the organization, as a destination for two to three day workshops and retreats which could educate visitors about what the area has to offer through food, crafts, music and culture. The project is expected to create 11 permanent full time positions and 6 permanent part time jobs as well a numerous construction jobs for the renovation. The grant was awarded through the Town of Burnsville’s Main Street Advisory board.

Yancey County School News


The application process for Superintendent of Yancey County Schools closed on Friday, April 22.  Yancey County School Board members are in the process of reviewing applications and selecting candidates for interview.  Interviews will begin on Friday, April 29.  The Yancey County Board of Education will also hold a joint meeting with the Yancey County Commissioners on Thursday, April 28 at 6:00 p.m. in the Yancey County Schools Central Office Board Room.  Dr. David Johnson will be making a presentation to both boards on Childhood Obesity in Yancey County. The public is invited to attend.

Suspect Nabbed in Theft from Sav-More


Surveillance cameras at the Burnsville Sav-Mor Grocery aided in the apprehension of a suspect wanted for taking several cartons of cigarettes and several cases of beer that were discovered missing from the market. Officers from the Burnsville Police Department watched video surveillance from the store and identified the suspect as Antonio Camacho-Gomez . Further investigation reveled several of the items missing from the store were located concealed in the wooded area behind the shopping center. After a tip deputies located the subject at a residence close to the store and he was arrested without incident. Camacho-Gomez was charged with Felony breaking entering and larceny and Possession of stolen property. He was given a $9000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in court April 26th.

Marion Plant Evacuated


The Coats American plant near Marion was Evacuated Friday Morning when a worker smelled  strong chemical fumes. The irritating odor was coming from the thread dyeing section of the plant. Supervisors found smoke and fumes coming from a barrel in the materials area.  They called firefighters for help and cleared 150 workers out of the building.  Water had apparently leaked into a barrel of hydrogen sulfite, causing a dangerous reaction.  Firefighters neutralized the chemical, and workers were back on the job by 11:30 AM. 

Mitchell County Budget


Mitchell County is looking at different ways that it can balance its budget in these tough economic times. A first draft of the county’s 2011-2012 budget, that would keep county expenses below or near current levels, was presented to the county commissioners at a recent meeting. Mitchell Finance Officer Mavis Parsley said that the $16.6 million budget draft lays out a roadmap for a balanced budget for the upcoming year. She told the commissioners that to adopt a balanced budget that the board would need to appropriate additional fund balance, reduce spending or consider a tax rate increase. County internal departments had their funding cut to critical levels in the draft, according to Parsley who said that department heads will be forced to stick to strict budgetary limits if the budget were to be adopted. A public hearing on the Mitchell County budget will be held at the commissioners meeting on June 6, with the budget ordinance expected to be adopted the following week.

Mayland’s 40th-Year Celebration


Mayland Community College celebrated its 40th birthday last week with a BBQ cookout at the Yancey County Campus on Thursday night. One of North Carolina’s top schools in the community college system, Mayland offers over 35 curriculum programs, including technical, vocational and college transfer courses with campuses in Spruce Pine, Newland and Burnsville. A partnership of the public school systems in Mitchell, Avery and Yancey Counties, Mayland Community College has played a big part in the development of the Tri-Counties and the education of its citizens since its establishment in 1971. MCC serves more than 8000 persons each year through their educational programs, including more than twenty percent of the adult population within the three county area.

Habitat for Humanity Re-Store Temporarily Closed


The Mitchell-Yancey Habitat for Humanity Re-store suffered major damage recently when the building was flooded by city sewer water.. Volunteer Coordinator Linda Ledford said that the store had to close for the rest of this week and next week to make repairs. The flood damaged a lot of inventory as well as the carpet and business offices. Crews are at work cleaning up the mess, having to dispose of a lot of stock items that would have been for sale. The Re-store, which has been located in the building on Oak Avenue in Spruce Pine for the past 5 and a half years, will be in desperate need of donations to replace the lost merchandise as soon as they can reopen, which hopefully will happen by May 3. “We are asking the public to be patient with us until we can reopen, Ledford said. She added that the Re-store appreciates everyone’s patronage over the years, but the organization is in desperate need of donations right now. Ledford asks everyone to please begin gathering items to donate to Habitat as soon as they can reopen For more information on how you can help call 766-9000.

Mitchell County Works Toward a Balanced Budget


 Mitchell County is looking at different ways that it can balance its budget in these tough economic times. A first draft of the county’s 2010-2011 budget, that would keep county expenses below or near current levels, was presented to the county commissioners at a recent meeting. Mitchell Finance Officer Mavis Parsley said that the $16.6 million budget draft lays out a roadmap for a balanced budget for the upcoming year. She told the commissioners that in order to adopt a balanced budget that the board would need to either appropriate additional fund balance, reduce spending or consider a tax rate increase. County internal departments had their funding cut to critical levels in the draft, according to Parsley who said that department heads will be forced to stick to strict budgetary limits if the budget were to be adopted. A public hearing on the 2010-2011 Mitchell County budget will be held at the commissioners meeting on June 6, with the budget ordinance expected to be adopted the following week.

Sewer-Water Line Contract Awarded to Local Company


You may have noticed lots of heavy construction equipment and crews digging at different locations in Burnsville over the past week. The work is part of the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s continuing construction of the Hwy 19 four-lane project from Jack Creek to Micaville. Bryant’s Land and Development, of Burnsville, was awarded the $1.17 million contract to relocate the water and sewer lines for the town. The company began work Wednesday on the project that is expected to be ongoing over the next few months. Bryant’s Land and Development is using their local employees and is providing several needed jobs for the county’s unemployed. The company currently has a crew of six at work with plans to put two more crew on the job as needed. The work, which was scheduled for completion in September, was moved up because of some engineering changes to the project, according to a report in the Yancey Common Times Journal.

Highway Patrol Concludes Operation Drive to Live Campaign


The State Highway Patrol has completed its Operation Drive to Live Initiative that began on April 11 and ended on April 15. The operation is an initiative by the Highway Patrol to reduce the number of teenage related traffic collisions and deaths. Traffic collisions are the leading cause of teenage deaths in North Carolina and the nation. In the last four years 276 teenagers have been killed in crashes investigated by the Highway Patrol. 56 percent of fatal crashes occur on rural roads and speed remains the leading cause of those deaths. During the five day initiative, troopers issued over 9,400 citations. Of those citations issued, 3,846 were speeding violations. Troopers will continue enforcing all traffic laws around the state’s schools and conducting traffic safety education programs at the high schools throughout the school year. Dangerous driving can be reported to the Highway Patrol by dialing *HP (*47) on cellular phones from anywhere in the state.

Spruce Pine Dog Ordinance Now in Effect


The town of Spruce Pine Dog Control Ordinance went into effect on April 15 in an attempt to regain the upper hand on complaints of uncontrolled dogs threatening the public safety and the peace and quiet of the residents of the town. It is now unlawful in the city limits of Spruce Pine;--- to keep a dog that habitually howls or barks to a degree that it disturbs others,--- for a dog to travel off your property unless on a leash accompanied by a person,--- to leave a dog on your property unless the animal is confined or restrained,--- and it is unlawful to leave a dog unattended on your property in your absence in excess of 24 hours. Dog control officers, appointed by the chief of police, are authorized to enforce this ordinance, whose violators will be charged a Class 3 Misdemeanor.  In some instances dogs may be seized and turned over to Mitchell Animal Rescue, while other warrants or citations may be served on owners of the animals. Mayor Richard Canipe said that the Town Council is confident that the ordinance is necessary for the safety and  well being of the town citizens.

Mayland Community College Asks For Help with Survey


In an attempt to turn around a trend known as summer learning loss, Mayland Community College, in association with Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey county schools, is looking at hosting an outreach program for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. This program will be designed to assist struggling students in areas of math and reading. The program, which will be operated during summer months, wants your help in taking a survey to access the needs that our local students have. To take the Parent Survey for student participation and Personnel Survey for educators who would like to assist with the project, you can access the online versions it at For questions about the survey call Melissa Phillips, Community Liaison for Mayland Community College at 765-7351 extension 203. Surveys must be completed by April 29.

Flags at half mast


U.S. and North Carolina flags will be placed at half-staff for the remainder of the work week at state government and university buildings after last weekend's deadly tornadoes in the state. Gov. Bev Perdue directed officials to lower the flags starting this morning through sunset Thursday. Good Friday is a state holiday. State Administration Department Secretary Moses Carey says the flag-lowering is a tribute to the 21 people who died in the storms and emergency responders who've prevented additional deaths and injuries. Over 800 homes were destroyed or damaged across North Carolina during the deadly storms.

Stabbing and Kidnapping in Madison County

(Ingrid Allstaedt – WLOS)


Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood says early Saturday morning four men were partying at the home of Jason Josey in Hot Springs.  A heated argument between friends soon became violent.  Sheriff Harwood says, Chad Stebbins used a pocket knife to stab Josey in the leg, hand and forehead.  He says Stebbins and suspect Marshal English then kidnapped Christopher Crowder.  They allegedly blindfolded and bound Crowder before driving to the Triangle gas station.  It was there that officers swarmed and arrested Stebbins and English.

Quilt Trails of WNC Celebrates 200th Block


The Western North Carolina Quilt Trails organization celebrated the hanging of its 200th quilt block on April 15 in a ceremony at Mitchell High School. The block was attached to the front of the tallest portion of the main campus building during a public ceremony which included addresses by MHS principal Mark Woody, School Superintendent Dr. Brock Womble and WNC Quilt Trails Executive Director Barbara Webster. The festivities included band music, cheerleaders, refreshments, a quilt block raffle and celebratory purple cupcakes for everyone. The block was designed and constructed by Mitchell High students, and pays tribute to the historic Little Poplar schoolhouse on campus. Currently there are Quilt Trails in 27 states as well as trails in British Colombia and Ontario in Canada. The highest concentration of quilt blocks anywhere in the United States is located in Mitchell and neighboring Yancey County.

 Rabies Case Identified in Mitchell County


‎Earlier this week Mitchell County Animal Shelter manager Andrea McKinney announced that a bobcat was killed in the Crabtree Community after it was sighted acting strangely. The cat tested positive for rabies. Toe River Health District Director Linda Kinnane confirmed the case and stated that everyone living within a one mile radius of the location where the bobcat was found was alerted by a reverse 911 call about the possibility of rabies in their neighborhood. If your pets need rabies vaccine the Mitchell Vet Clinic is having a Rabies Clinic this coming Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. Call 765-6039 for information. Dr Stacy Jones in Burnsville is also offering Rabies vaccines through April 22. Appointments are preferred but walk-ins are welcome. Call 682-7710 for more info. It is a state law in North Carolina that all pets must be vaccinated.

Mitchell County Teacher Training Session Funded


A prestigious NC QUEST grant received last year by Mars Hill College and Madison County Schools has been renewed and extended to encompass a similar program with educators in Mitchell County Schools. This year’s $150,000 grant, funded by the Department of Public Instruction, will continue to fund the grant project, titled “Problem Solving Model Leadership Initiative,” for continued training in Madison County and for a similar initiative with educators in Mitchell County. The primary focus of the grant monies for Mitchell County will be to provide several series of teacher training sessions in the most current methods of research-based instruction for core subject teachers. The Project is an 18-month initiative designed to increase the number of at-risk students who meet or exceed state standards in literacy and mathematics.  Mars Hill College is one of only two private colleges in the state to have ever received the grant

MY Health-e-schools Program Launch April 15 in Bakersville


MY Health-e-schools will open and begin operations on April 15. As a project of the Center for Rural Health Innovation, this program will bring school-based health services to the small schools in Mitchell and Yancey Counties. This full service program offers students in these counties acute and preventative medical care, psychological services, and health education. Through the use of advanced telemedicine technology, the program provides services to students in the schools which will in turn save time and expense for students’ families. All students are seen as a part of this program regardless of their or their families’ ability to pay. Before students can be seen they will need to “enroll” in the program. This enrollment process involves getting a brief health record and parental/guardian permission for participation. The My Health-e-schools program launch will take place on Friday April 15 from 1:00- 2:30 pm at the historic Bakersville Courthouse. This event will provide updates and information about the program’s successes and future. Join the celebration in providing a healthy future for our community.

Mitchell County Boy Raises Money For Earthquake Ravaged Japan


A 12-year-old boy in Bakersville is using the art of paper folding to send good wishes and aid to the devastated country of Japan. Wyly Walker picked up the art of origami as a hobby after visiting a Japanese restaurant when he was nine. Following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, the young Mitchell County man began making the figures in earnest and has collected over $2500 for the victims of the disaster so far. Wyly is selling the origami cranes for $2.50 apiece with all proceeds going to Samaritan’s Purse and the recovery efforts in Japan. Using outlets across the Tri-County area and internet social networking sites, Wyly has sold and shipped cranes as far away as New York City and Texas. His goal is to fold 1,000 origami cranes. There is an old Japanese legend that says if you fold 1,000 origami cranes, you can make a wish and it will come true. Help Wyly reach his goal. You can reach him on the web at


Sheriff Relatives Can Work At Department Commissioners Say


Yancey County Commissioners last week decided to allow Sheriff Gary Banks to continue to employ his family members as part of his staff at the Sheriff’s Department. Gary Bank’s father, former Sheriff Kermit Banks, has helped the department as a part time deputy since January, while Bank’s sister, Sharon Burleson will continue her long held position of records clerk at the Sheriff’s Office.

WNC Quilt Trail To Hang 200th Quilt


The Western North Carolina Quilt Trail Organization reaches a landmark milestone with the hanging of its 200th quilt on April 15. The newest block will be attached to the front of Mitchell High School in a ceremony starting at 2 p.m. The block was designed by Mitchell High students, and pays tribute to the Little Popular schoolhouse on campus. The students created the vibrant design featuring the burgundy schoolhouse in the forefront and the high school’s purple and gold colors in the background. Once in place the 8-foot square joins the Bakersville Quilt Trail, one of nine trails showcasing the 200 quilt blocks that brighten up portions of Mitchell and Yancey Counties. The quilt block festival at Mitchell High will include, band music, cheerleaders, refreshments, a quilt block raffle and other activities. Make your plans today to attend.

No Cases of Whooping Cough Reported In Tri-County


Whooping cough continues to spread throughout Western North Carolina, sickening school children around the region and causing hundreds to receive preventative medication. There have been five reported cases of the disease in Buncombe County so far this year, including two in March and one last week. But a check with Toe River Health District Director Linda Kinnane on Tuesday found that there are no reported cases of the disease in Mitchell, Avery or Yancey Counties. “We have had a couple of cases in the area over the past two years but we were able to get on top of them with antibiotics and break the cycle before the disease was able to spread,” Kinnane said. She said that currently there are no cases of Purtussis reported in the Tri-County area. Whooping cough causes sudden, uncontrollable fits of coughing and gets its name from a “whoop” heard when breathing in after a spasm. Infants can die from the disease.

Avery Sheriff’s Department Nets Record Marijuana Bust


The Avery County Sheriff’s Department seized the largest indoor marijuana grow operation in its history recently in a raid in Banner Elk. Several vehicles, guns and a large amount of equipment used in the operation were confiscated as well as 29 pounds of marijuana. Forty-five-year-old Thomas Chessman of Banner Elk and thirty-eight-year-old Jason Franz of Linville were arrested and charged after the Sherriff’s Department’s Special Response Unit and the Avery Municipal Drug Task Force served warrants following an investigation into the illegal activity. Both men were placed under $12,500 secured bonds.

Mitchell County Receives Over $2 Million from Golden Leaf


Mitchell County EDC Director Becky Anderson received some great news for the county this week. Golden LEAF, an organization that promotes the social welfare of North Carolina's citizens with funds for economic impact assistance to economically affected or tobacco-dependent regions, awarded Mitchell County over $2 million in grants to fund five projects. “The people who will benefit from these grants have worked so long and hard to make sure that Mitchell County would be able to take advantage of these much needed funds, Anderson said after learning of the good news on Thursday. The following projects in Mitchell County will receive funding from the Golden Leaf Project: “Wastewater Extension to Mitchell High School & Ledger Community” - received $398,628, Toe River Arts Council – “TRAC Arts Sector Economic Development”  - received $244,127, Center for Rural Health Innovation– “Nurturing Our Own: Developing Rural Medical Providers in our Community” -received $260,000, Mitchell County Schools – “Mitchell County Schools 1:1 Laptop Initiative” -received  $800,000 and the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital received a grant award of $307,500 for Physician Recruitment. Action on a request by the Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library System for a grant to help them in “Creating Digital Citizenship in Mitchell County” was deferred for action until June 2011 according to Anderson.

Town Council Does Not Renew Contract with Tom Storie


In a unanimous vote last week, the Burnsville Town Council decided not to renew the consulting contract of former public works director Tom Storie. The Council, which hired Anthony Hensley to fill the job of public works director back in January, exercised its option to terminate the contract with Storie as of April 30th. Storie, who retired from the position of public works director in 2001, had been working under a yearly contract.

Hoover arrested on Drug Charges 


On March 26, 2011, Deputy A.D. Beam stopped a 2004 Chevrolet pickup for erratic driving on NC 226 near Dula Road.  Deputy Beam detected the odor of marijuana in the vehicle.. David Allen Hoover Jr. gave Deputy Beam consent to search. Deputy Beam located a quantity marijuana, plastic bags, scales, and $305.00 in cash. Captain Wiseman arrived at the scene. Hoover told Captain Wiseman he was selling the marijuana. Hoover went on to say he was trying to make enough money for his wife to travel to Florida to see her grandparents. Deputy Beam arrested Hoover for driving while impaired. Captain Wiseman obtained arrest warrants on Hoover for possession with intent to sell and deliver Schedule VI controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

No Need 2 Speed Numbers


The Governor’s Highway Safety Program has announced that state and local law enforcement officers cited 12,476 motorists for speeding during the No Need 2 Speed campaign, which ran March 28-April 3. A total of 38,104 traffic and criminal citations were issued statewide. Officers also issued 2,468 safety belt and 436 child passenger safety violations and 730 drug charges. In addition, they apprehended 441 fugitives from justice and recovered 32 stolen vehicles.

Mitchell Commissioners Decision on Revaluation


Mitchell County Commissioners have decided not to do their property revaluation on the current four year cycle but rather move the decision up a year to allow some time for property values to recover from the recent economic downturn. The Commissioners are weighing the option of doing the revaluation either on a five year or on an eight year cycle.

Board of Equalization and Review Meeting


The Yancey County Board of Equalization and Review will convene its first meeting to hear appeals from tax payers who own property in the county on Monday April 18, a week later than previously announced. The board moved up its first meeting date a week in order to allow for time to publish an announcement of the process in the local press. The board will adjourn its hearings on May 10 and request for a hearing must be received by 3 PM on that date. In the event of an earlier or later adjournment date by the board, notice will be published in the Yancey Common Times Journal and on this web site. The schedule for the hearings will also be posted at the office of the tax assessor. The Board of Equalization and Review meetings get underway at 5pm on April 18 in the Commissioners Board Room on the second floor of the Yancey County Courthouse.

Tennessee Man arrested on Drug Charges


A Tennessee man was arrested by the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department on Saturday April 2 after a routine traffic stop on Mine Creek Road. Thirty-two-year-old Daniel Brooks Towe of Johnson City was acting very nervous and suspicious after the stop and deputies asked him for consent to search him and the 1992 Oldsmobile he was driving. Officers found a white envelope in Towe’s left front pants pocket. The envelope contained Oxycontin pills. A search of the vehicle turned up more drugs in the form of Oxycodone with Acetaminophen. Arrest warrants on Towe were issued for possession with intent to sell and deliver Schedule II controlled substance and trafficking in opium. He is being held in Yancey County Jail under a $17,500.00 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in Mitchell County Court on April 21.

Big Storms


Emergency crews work to clean up downed trees and power lines across Western North Carolina this morning. A powerful line of thunderstorms moved through the area overnight. The storms brought high winds, hail, heavy rain and lightning. The winds knocked out power to thousands of people. Most of the outages here in the mountains were in Buncombe, Haywood, Jackson and Swain Counties. Thousands of customers are still without power this morning after a violent thunderstorm moved through the Asheville area last night. More than 4,000 Progress Energy customers are without power in Buncombe this morning. In the two Carolinas, more than 200,000 Duke Energy customers are without power. Numerous trees have been reported down in Buncombe and surrounding counties.

Man Electrocuted in Copper Theft


A McDowell County man was electrocuted while attempting to steal copper wire from a Duke Energy substation according to the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department . John Wesley Hylemon age 19 of Marion and Steve Jason Patton age 41 of  Nebo climbed the fence surrounding the substation early Wednesday morning, March 30th and were attempting to remove copper wire when Hylemon was electrocuted.  He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Patton was charged with involuntary manslaughter and faces charges related to the attempted theft. The theft of copper has been increasing in recent years since the price of the metal has risen.

Frontier Communications Responds


Frontier Communications Regional Manager Ken Maxwell addressed a Burnsville Town Council special meeting on Thursday concerning the company’s future plans in Yancey County. Maxwell told the board that since taking over Verizon in July 2010 that Frontier has invested $13 million on maintenance and infrastructure improvements. Maxwell also stated that Frontier is working hard to increase broadband access in Yancey County by 45% over the next three years, something that will improve internet speeds for many of Frontier’s customers. Maxwell pointed out that right now less than 50% of Frontier subscribers in WNC have access to high speed internet. He said the company’s goal is to improve that access rate to 85% by 2013 to those areas that are currently underserved, such as Yancey County. Maxwell also addressed the question of opening up a local office, something that was brought to Frontier’s attention by Yancey resident Lloyd Allen, who headed up a petition drive to request that the company reopen a local office in Burnsville. Saying that Frontier has heard the request for a local office “loud and clear”, Maxwell told the Board that although the company wants to be accessible in the community, the cost of opening an office is a huge challenge at this point. He pointed out that Frontier employees also feel like local offices in the communities that Frontier serves is a good idea and that the company has been looking at those options for some time. But in the interim he suggested that a local pay office relationship with a with a local retailer that would give the people a physical place where they could go to pay their bills might be a short term answer to the problem. Maxwell said that this process will take a little time to set up but that is something that Frontier is definitely considering  here in Burnsville. “Being part of the community is a big part of our business model,” Maxwell concluded. Following his presentation, Mr. Maxwell was presented with the petition with over 800 signatures by Mr. Allen.

Second Meth Lab at Home in Bakersville

As a result of an ongoing drug investigation, Mitchell County Sheriff’s Deputies have located a second meth lab at 386 Blevins Branch Road in Bakersville. Back in October, Deputies and SBI Agents located and destroyed a Shake and Bake Meth Lab at this same address.  On Wednesday, Captain Wiseman, SBI Special Agent C.E. Vines, Detective S.B. Hughes, along with other Deputies from Mitchell County went to the residence. Teresa Jean Perry, was the only resident home at the time. Perry gave officers consent to search the premises and her vehicle.  When the officers entered the residence, they detected a strong chemical type odor. The officers also observed a glass pipe which contained methamphetamine. A search of the residence and an outbuilding revealed items, which were used to manufacture methamphetamine. Perry told officers she and her boyfriend, Gregory Allen Street, started back making meth shortly after they were released on bond from the charges in October. Perry was out on bond and Street had just had his bond revoked by a Superior Court Judge on another pending charge. Perry was arrested on various drug charges. For additional information go to

Debit/Credit Card Scam in Burnsville


An international debit/credit card scam has hit Burnsville big time. The US Secret Service was in Burnsville on Monday after being alerted by the Yancey County Sheriffs Department, which discovered the problem in late February, according to a report in the Yancey Common Times Journal. It is believed that the scam, which obtained account numbers from nearly 200 individuals after they used their debit or credit cards at some businesses and all of the banks in Burnsville, has already netted the cyber criminals nearly $200,000. Yancey County Sheriff’s Detective John Robinson said that the investigation got underway when the Sheriff’s Department got a call from United Community Bank stating that they had 12 to 15 customers who were complaining about fraudulent charges that were discovered concerning their use of debit cards at the bank. Upon further investigation Robinson contacted all other banks in Burnsville and discovered that each one had received the same complaint from 25 to 35 of their debit card customers. Robinson also discovered that most local victims of the scam used their cards at the ABC Store in Burnsville; however it is believed that other area businesses may be compromised as well. The breach within the computer system at the ABC Store happened when a virus, attached by an unknown hacker, infected the computer system and the debit/credit card scanning system allowing access to individual account numbers of customers to an unknown entity. The virus has been removed and new virus protection has been upgraded according to ABC Store Manager Jessica Mack. The investigation is continuing and officials say that the total amount fleeced from affected accounts could go up.

Hopeful Signs In Local Economy


In spite of a spike in the unemployment rate in Yancey County last month, County Commissioners recently learned that there are a few bright spots on the economic scene in Yancey County. The Board was updated on the jobs situation by Economic Development Director, Wanda Profitt. She reveled that Altec Industries, a company that produces bodies for vehicles used in utility, telecommunications and tree trimming industries as well as some vehicles for the US Government, announced recently that it had added 100 employees at its Burnsville plant since the beginning of the year. Sixteen new employees were hired just a few weeks ago, according to Profitt, who pointed to stable employment at Glen Raven and plans for expansion at Hickory Springs as positive trends towards a turnaround in the local job market. Profitt told the Commissioners that infrastructure improvements underway in the county will enhance its ability to bring job producing companies and entrepreneurs to the area as well as aid in the tourism trade.

Population in Mitchell County Shrinks


Mitchell County was one of only seven of North Carolina’s 100 counties to see a reduction in its population over the past ten years it was revealed in the recent 2010 census report. Mitchell, like six counties in the far Eastern part of the state, saw its population shrink while the overall population in North Carolina grew. Mitchell County lost 108 residents over the past ten years while the state’s population grew by 18.5% over the same time period. Since 2000 Mitchell County has seen a sharp increase in its minority population. The number of Hispanics and Latinos more than doubled during the past ten years. The census also showed that the white population in Mitchell County fell by 509 people. Hispanics and Latinos now make up 4.1% of the population in Mitchell County. Other interesting numbers from the census show that one in four homes in Mitchell County sat vacant. The census also revealed that only one in five Mitchell County residents are under the age of 18, leaving a population that clearly shows signs of aging.


NC Highway Patrol to Crack Down On Speeding


During the week of March 28-April 3, the Highway Patrol is cracking down on speeders on the interstates and major four lane highways across the state.  The Governor’s Highway Safety Program and local law enforcement agencies across the state are conducting the No Need 2 Speed campaign in conjunction with Operation Slow Down. Speed is the leading cause of traffic fatalities and collisions in the state. Troopers will be using motorcycles, Chargers, and unmarked patrol vehicles for this campaign. 

Cell phone Ban in some courthouses


A ruling by judges will ban all cell phones inside at least two courthouses.  Cell phone use has disrupted court rooms in Rutherford County in the past, but its fake cell phones that pose a danger.  A stun gun that looks like a cell phone triggered judges to ban all cell phones from the Rutherford and McDowell County court houses after April 15th.  Officials say they Cell phones discovered in those court rooms will be confiscated and not returned.

Yancey Commissioners Receive property tax training


In a first step towards undertaking the appeals made by tax payers concerning the latest revaluation of county property taxes, Yancey County Commissioners underwent a training session by the NC Department of Revenue at a special meeting on Monday. The Commissioners were brought up to date by Doug Huffman and Steve Pelfrey from the Revenue Department on the rules and guidelines that they will have to follow during the review process. The Commissioners have formed a Board of Equalization and Review to hear appeals from tax payers concerning the tax values placed on their property during the last revaluation in 2008. Commissioners are concerned that many residents do not understand that the tax bills that they received for 2010 do not reflect the values of today’s market and current economic situation but rather the situation that existed in January of 2008. Yancey County Tax Administrator Jeff Boone told the Commissioners that he currently has around 70 appeals already filed but that his office should be able to eliminate a portion of those by reasoning with the tax payer and explaining why their properties are valued the way that they are. The Commissioners are required to run notices of the revaluation hearings with local media outlets to give citizens time to prepare to come before the Board of Equalization and Review and make their cases. Tax payers who are not happy with the decisions made by the Board of Equalization and Review can appeal their case to Property Tax Commission in Raleigh. The Yancey County Board of Equalization and Review will convene its first meetings on April 11 and 12. The Board will hear appeals from 5 pm till 8 pm on those dates. The Commissioners also decided on a 3-2 vote to allow Tim Cain and Assessment Solutions, the company which did the last revaluation for the county, to do a new revaluation of Yancey County properties to be completed in 2012. The Commissioners want to move up the revaluation process from the previous eight year cycle to do the revaluation every four years in an attempt to bring property values in the county more in line with today’s markets and make the tax burden more equitable for all tax payers in Yancey County.

Commissioners Discuss County Property Issue behind Closed Doors


A special meeting called by the Yancey County Commissioners on Monday went into closed session to discuss the status of the situation surrounding the Sheriff’s Department and recently resigned Chief Deputy Tom Farmer. Before the Commissioners met behind closed doors, the motion to do so was challenged by Yancey News Publisher Jonathan Austin, who broke the story which brought to light allegations that Farmer had illegally pawned several handguns at an Asheville pawn shop. Austin argued that since the Sheriff’s Department had completed and closed its investigation without filing any charges, by law the meeting should be open to the public. Yancey County Attorney Donny Laws countered saying that "whether charges have been filed or not, it is not a closed investigation”. Laws added that although an internal investigation by the Sheriff’s Department may have been completed, the County has not yet been informed on what the status of any criminal investigation may be. “A decision has not been made by the District Attorney’s Office to close, file charges or anything else,” Laws said. Laws then advised the board to go in to closed session because the status of any criminal investigation is still pending. The Commissioners emerged from closed session without speaking about the matter.

Congressman McHenry Visits Spruce Pine


A cross section of business, civic and citizen leaders met with Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry in Spruce Pine Friday morning to discuss issues related to the availability of credit for small businesses and for home loans, insurance, as well as banking and many other matters that the people of Mitchell County and the surrounding areas are facing during this harsh economic turndown. The meeting, at the Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree Store, was arranged by the Mitchell Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee. Congressman McHenry, Chair of the Banking Commission for the US House of Representatives gave a short talk and then took questions from the audience.


Town of Burnsville May Lose Parking Spaces


The owners of a piece of property in the middle of Burnsville are asking town leaders to prohibit the public from using the space for parking and other activities beginning April 15. The area in question, located near the Town Center, is currently being used for general public parking and as parking for some Town employees. The location is also the home of the seasonal Farmers Market in Burnsville. A letter from the property heirs to the Town Council last week said that the town could rent some or all of the area on a monthly basis; otherwise the area would no longer be available for public use. Mayor Danny McIntosh said that although he is not in favor of using tax money to solve the dilemma, he hoped that two sides could reach an agreement until the town can come up with a way to finance or rent the property. The matter is on the agenda for the board’s March 31 meeting.

Mitchell Chamber Dinner


The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce met last night for their Quarterly Membership Event.   The event was held at the new space in the Cross Street Center and featured Congressman Patrick McHenry as the keynote speaker.  McHenry’s comments touched on jobs, health care, budget deficits and his optimism for the future.  Chamber members also held an election for 9 members of the Board of Directors that will serve a three year term each.  In addition, the Chamber's Membership Committee kicked off a new Membership Drive featuring prizes for members including a dinner a month, a beach trip, an arts and crafts package featuring classes and an overnight cabin stay and more.

Mountain Air Appeals Tax Ruling


The North Carolina Court of Appeals will hear a case filed by Mountain Air concerning an appeal made to the NC Tax Commission that Yancey County’s tax assessment of some of the resort properties is unfairly valued. In February the Tax Commission denied the resort's appeal in Raleigh which claimed that the county had used improper methods of appraisal in putting values on a portion of the development. The developer at Mountain Air claims the value assigned to the properties in question included improvements to amenities and land at the resort. Attorneys for the development said that these improvements should not change the tax value. However the property Tax Commission ruled in favor of the county, saying proper procedures were used and the properties were fairly valued. Yancey County is trying to collect over $480,000 in back taxes from Mountain Air and its holding company. If Mountain Air looses this appeal, the development owners can move on to the NC Supreme Court.

Yancey County Drug Arrest


Three individuals were taken into custody for various drug violations around 8:30pm last night on North Main Street in Burnsville. 29 year old Nicole Leanne Robinson of 170 Dale Earnhardt Drive Burnsville, 27 year old Joseph Wayne Riddle of 39 Church House Lane Burnsville, and 21 year old Zachery James Hensley of 893 Long Branch Road Green Mountain were arrested and charged. Yancey County Sheriff Gary Banks said the arrest were part of a joint effort between the Sheriff’s Department and the Burnsville Police Department. Additional charges will be filed for the sale of controlled substances when results of evidence sent to SBI Lab are received. Banks along with his Deputies and Officers from the Burnsville Police Department investigated the incident as part of an ongoing investigation into the illegal possession and distribution of controlled substances in Yancey County.   Sheriff Banks also added that tips from the public are a crucial part of any successful Drug control program.

Cellphone Discussions


A House Commerce subcommittee debated a measure yesterday that would make using a cellphone while driving illegal unless the motorist can talk hands-free, such as using a Bluetooth or a voice-activated phone. North Carolina lawmakers already have banned young drivers from using cellphones and everyone else from texting or emails while behind the wheel. Now they're considering whether to go further. Fines would be $100 or more but wouldn't lead to driver's license points that could result in higher insurance premiums. There would be exceptions for making 911 calls and for law enforcement officers and first responders performing official duties. Eight states and the District of Columbia already ban the use of hand-held phones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Yancey County Chief Deputy Tom Farmer Resigns


The conflict surrounding the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department came to a head Tuesday afternoon when Sheriff Gary Banks announced the resignation of Chief Deputy Tom Farmer. Farmer was put on administrative leave last week while an investigation was being conducted after allegations surfaced that he had pawned several Sherrif’s Department handguns at Pawn Shops in Asheville and Spruce Pine. In a press release Tuesday, Sherrif Banks said that his department has completed an internal investigation in regard to the allegations of inappropriate conduct committed by his Chief Deputy and that the inquiry revealed that Farmer on occasions did pawn service weapons issued to him by the Department. Banks said that two firearms pawned by Farmer in Spruce Pine were not the property of the Sherriff’s Department. He went on to say that all of the Yancey County Sheriff’s Office firearms are accounted for and that Farmer had returned all Yancey County property and equipment that had been assigned to him and that he had apologized for his conduct. Sheriff Banks will forward his report to the District Attorney who will then decide what further actions might be taken. Farmer had worked for the Yancey Sheriff’s Department for over ten years.

Tammy Riddle McEntyre Named New Clerk of Court


Superior Court Judge Phillip Ginn has announced the appointment of Tammy Riddle McEntyre as the new Clerk of Superior Court for Yancey County. The announcement comes just two weeks after Warren Hughes announced his retirement from the office, which he had held since 1984. Judge Ginn said in a press release that he had talked with numerous individuals in Yancey County and the Executive Committee of the Yancey County Democratic Party and he felt certain that McEntyre will continue the “fine and effective service that the people of Yancey County have come to expect from the Clerk’s Office”. He went on to say that Mrs. McEntyre has the respect of her co-workers and many years of experience which will serve her well.  McEntyre, who has served Yancey County as a Deputy Clerk for over 25 years, will officially take over the duties of Clerk of Court on March 31.

Police Dog Etong Successful In Search


On March 17, 2011, Captain R.V. Wiseman, Lt. J.D. English and K9 Etong, and Spruce Pine Police Detective S.B. Hughes searched the residence of Wilma Lynn Autrey in Spruce Pine.     The officers were there to serve an arrest warrant on Autrey for selling marijuana last October. In addition, at the residence was Terry Lin Hollifield Jr. Marion.  Autrey gave the officers consent to search her residence. Lt. English and Etong entered the residence and began to search. Etong alerted to a dresser in bedroom. Captain Wiseman and Lt. English then located some aluminum foil that still had methamphetamine on the foil. Etong also located a marijuana pipe and a small amount of marijuana in the bedroom. Hollifield advised the foil and meth belonged to him. Captain Wiseman served warrants on Autrey and Hollifield. For details on the charges see Sheriff Street praised the efforts of the officers and Etong. Sheriff Street went on to say that Etong had been a valuable tool in the fight to rid Mitchell County of drugs.

Synthetic Marijuana used at Madison High School


Madison High Principal Tony Tipton said three students were taken to the hospital on Monday after they started acting strangely in class. He said one student fell on the floor and had convulsions, while the other two were very pale and passive. Other students were reporting that the three had taken what is known as Mary Joy, a form of synthetic marijuana. Tipton said this is the second incident involving synthetic marijuana at the school and that the students will face disciplinary action. The use of synthetic marijuana is under increased scrutiny after incidents like the one here and others across the country. A bill has been introduced in the state General Assembly to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana products which are have been marketed and sold legally. Producers spray cannabinoid, a chemical compound, onto flowers, herbs and tobacco, and then sell it in stores as incense and label it as “not for human consumption.” In January and February, North Carolina had more than 20 emergency room visits related to the use of synthetic marijuana and related products.

Mitchell County Meth Lab Discovered


On March 17, 2011 Officers with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Mitchell County Sheriff’s Department, and Spruce Pine Police Department were conducting an investigation of drug activity at a residence at 32 Duncan Street and discovered a Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory at the residence and a Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory dumping site just off Altapass Road in Mitchell County.  As a result of the investigation the owner of the house, Paul Buchanan was charged with Manufacturing Methamphetamine, Possession of Precursor Chemicals with the Intent to Manufacture Methamphetamine, Conspiracy to Manufacture Methamphetamine, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  Others charged With Conspiracy to Manufacture Methamphetamine from the same incident were Ashley Mathis, and Jason Corbin of Spruce Pine.  The dumping site was directly connected with the suspects.  Detectives indicate the investigation is ongoing and there will be further arrests.  Detective Hughes of the Spruce Pine Police Department says that the cooperation among Law Enforcement agencies like the Police Department, Sheriff’s Department and the North Carolina SBI is excellent and is invaluable in fighting Methamphetamine Production.  According to Hughes, “We couldn’t do it without them and the community support”.

Counterfeit Money Passed In Spruce Pine


Businesses should be on the lookout for counterfeit bills in the area after several suspicious notes turned up last week in Mitchell County. Four counterfeit $50 bills were passed at Grassy Creek Golf Course last week. The bogus bills were discovered after the money was deposited in the bank. Bank officials discovered that someone had somehow taken a $5 bill, washed it and made it look like a $50 bill. The fake bill was hard to discover because it passes the “magic marker test” because of it being a real bill printed on US currency paper. Authorities are looking into the matter and caution business owners to keep their eyes open for the phony money.

Mitchell-Yancey Keeping Level Head


A check of area pharmacies suggest that residents in Mitchell and Yancey Counties are keeping a level head amid fears over the threat of meltdowns in several of Japan's nuclear power plants and the possibility of radiation poisoning in the US. Three of four pharmacies in the two counties who were questioned as to whether anyone had asked for potassium iodide in the last week said that they had not received any request for the chemical compound. The pill can help prevent radioactive iodine from causing thyroid cancer, for which children are most at risk in a nuclear disaster, but health officials say that the fear driving sales of the drug in some areas is misplaced and that potassium iodide is not a radiation antidote. “I think that most of the people who want their doctor to prescribe potassium iodide do so to give themselves some peace of mind that they have done something preventative about the perceived health problem they might face, Jordan Baker, Pharmacist at Bakersville Pharmacy told WTOE/WKYK News. Baker said that he has filled three prescriptions for potassium iodide and sold a number of bottles of the Kelp/Alfalfa  Vitamin, which contains a high dose of iodide, over the past few days. Chris Swann, a Pharmacy Technician at Heritage Pharmacy in Burnsville, said that no one has asked for potassium iodide this week, as did a spokesman at Burnsville’s Ingles Pharmacy. Gary Profitt, Pharmacist at Hospital Drive Pharmacy in Spruce Pine, said that as of yet no one was making a rush to stock the drug for their families. “As of now there is no need for anyone in this area to take potassium iodide,” Profitt said. “If something further happens, and the weather pattern was to shift and we knew for sure that a radiation cloud was heading in our direction, then that would be a different story,” he said. Health officials in the Asheville area report a run on potassium iodide and other products that contain iodine as people react to the unlikely possibility of the threat of radiation contamination in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Controlled burn in McDowell County


A controlled burn in McDowell County could go on for several days. The fire was set at the Grandfather Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest.  Crews started burning hundreds of acres on Thursday.  The large plume of smoke could be seen from miles away in Marion. The prescribed fire is used as a wildlife and forest management tool.  Burning the same tract of land every three to seven years decreases the amount of vegetation buildup which serves as fuel for large fires along the mountainside.

Bridge work planned in Mitchell County


The NC DOT has plans to temporarily close two bridges in Mitchell County this summer to do some needed maintenance work on the structures. Transportation officials plan on shutting down the Hwy. 19E Bridge on the bypass near the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital for over a month to do preventative maintenance and structural repairs. Drivers will need to use a route that will take them through downtown Spruce Pine or take a detour through Hall Town Road to avoid the construction work. The DOT also plans on rehabilitating a bridge on Carters Ridge Road this summer. The repairs, designed to strengthen the bridge to support more weight, will cost approximately $125,000 and take about a month to complete.

New dog restraint ordinance in Spruce Pine


The Spruce Pine Town Council has adopted an ordinance requiring dog owners to keep their pets from running loose in the city limits. The new law mandates that dog owners keep their pets confined physically while at home and on a leash when off their property. The ordinance also will allow owners of dogs that disturb the peace with constant barking to be fined. North Carolina rabies statutes which require dogs to wear collars with rabies tags at all times were also adopted. The penalty for owners found in violations of the ordinance will be a Class 3 misdemeanor. The law will go into effect on April 15.

SBI asked to investigate


Yancey County’s Chief Deputy was put on administrative leave this week following allegations that he pawned a sheriff’s department handgun at an Asheville pawn shop. The Yancey County Commissioners met in closed session on Monday to get an update on the county’s involvement in the situation. Allegations made in a local newspaper last week accused Chief Deputy Tom Farmer of pawning two semi-automatic pistols, whose serial numbers matched guns on a list of weapons purchased by the sheriff’s department in 2003. County Manager Nathan Bennett has requested the assistance of the SBI to investigate the matter saying that Yancey County will support prosecution if the claims are substantiated. Yancey County Sheriff Gary Banks said in a letter to Bennett that the action taken by his office was “clearly politically motivated and not in the best interest of county government, the citizens of Yancey County or the sheriff’s office”. Banks also said that if the allegations are proven to be true, he would cooperate with any inquiry.

Marion Store Robbed again


Criminals hit a convenience store multiple times in just one week in Marion. Ingrid Allstaedt from News 13 reports:  (Audio)

Public Meeting with Frontier Communications Announced


The Burnsville Town Board has scheduled a special public meeting with officials from Frontier Communications for Thursday March 31 at 6:00 PM in the Town Hall to discuss issues relating to the possible reopening of an office in Yancey County. Burnsville Mayor Danny McIntosh is making good on a vow to set up a dialog between the Telephone Company and Yancey residents, many of who signed a petition that is attempting to persuade the company to reopen an office in Yancey County. All interested customers of Frontier Communications are encouraged to attend.  You can call the Town of Burnsville at 682-2420 for more information.

New Ordinance Limits Location Of Adult Establishments


The Burnsville Town Board adopted an ordinance on Monday which limits where Adult entertainment businesses can be located in the city limits. The ordinance prohibits “Private Clubs” or “Adult Establishments” from being located or operating within 1000 feet of a school or place of worship or on any real property that borders property that is zoned or used for residential purposes. The ordinance was passed on a unanimous vote by the council at its regular monthly meeting on March 14.

                                                                   Drug Arrest


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested 40 year old Charles Bradley Hill, of 68 Homestead Road, Baskersville, and charged him with one count of Felonious Possession of A Controlled Substance inside a Local Confinement Facility and one count of Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Hill was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and placed in the Yancey County Jail under a $8,500. secured bond. Hill is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on March 25, 2011. Yancey County Sheriff Gary Banks stated that Hill was found guilty of Assault with a Deadly Weapon by District Court Judge Greg Horn on March 8, 2011 and was sentenced to 30 days in the Yancey County Jail.

Sheriff's Dept. Gun Pawning Investigation 


According to the March 10, 2011 edition of the "Yancey County News", a pistol from the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department was pawned in Asheville in January. The "Yancey County News" stated that “the individual pawning the weapon identified himself as Thomas Lloyd Farmer”. Farmer is the chief deputy at the sheriff’s department. Sheriff Gary Banks issued a news release on Friday, March 11 stating. “The gun with the serial number reported in the newspaper has been given to me by an officer and is locked up in the department. At this time, while I can neither confirm nor deny many of the allegations or statements made in the newspaper, because the story alleges criminal misconduct and involves personnel matters, I cannot make any statements at this time except for this Release. Banks went on to say, “ I have placed the employee on administrative leave pending an investigation.” And he said “I have contacted the District Attorney to request investigation of any allegations that are determined to be credible and will cooperate with any investigation that is authorized.”  For complete news release click here.


Madison Coach Arrested on Sex Charges


A coach at Madison High School is accused of having sex with a student. Authorities say 25 yr. old Caleub Paul Rice was arrested Wednesday, and charged with one count of Sexual Activity with a Student, and one count of Taking Indecent Liberties with a Student.  The sexual contact with the 16-year-old girl did not occur at the school and was not related to any school activity. Rice surrendered to authorities Wednesday and was released on a $10,000 bond. Madison County Schools Superintendent Ronald Wilcox said Rice was suspended with pay pending the outcomes of investigations by the Sheriff's Office and the school system. Rice is the school's baseball coach, assistant football coach and teaching assistant in charge of in-school suspension. Rice was a star football player at Madison High. He was named all-conference in 2003.

Yancey Superintendent Tom Little Resigns


Yancey County Superintendent Tom Little has resigned his position as of June 30, 2011. His letter of resignation was sent to Yancey County Board of Education Chairperson Rhonda Boone. According to the letter, Little said  “While I have enjoyed my five year employment in Yancey County and am sad to leave my position, recent changes in the Board of Education have made me feel unable to continue in my current position. “  Little came to Yancey County in 2006 as the assistant superintendent, and took over as superintendent a year later.   In the resignation letter Little also said,  “My experiences in Yancey County have been very rewarding, I appreciate having had the opportunity to work for such a fine school system, and I wish you and the school system continued success."  Click here to view a copy of the letter.

Charges of Passing Stolen Checks


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested 24 year old Jessica Lachele Chandler, of 311 Green Vale Drive, Leicester, North Carolina and charged her with three counts of Felonious Uttering Stolen Checks. Chandler was taken before a Yancey Count Magistrate and released from the Yancey County Jail in lieu of posting a $ 6,000 bond. Chandler is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on March 25th. Yancey County Chief Deputy Thomas L. Farmer stated that Chandler is alleged to have entered Prices Creek Store on three separate occasions during the last week of December 2010 and passed stolen checks to obtain money and other items of value.

Repairs add up at Yancey County Schools


Recent maintenance problems at two Yancey County schools have depleted the $20,000 contingency fund the school board had set aside in its budget this year. Yancey County School Maintenance Director Niles Howell told the board at its meeting Monday night that a hot water storage tank at the high school had ruptured last week and had to be replaced at a cost of several thousand dollars. He told the board that the 318 gallon tank was replaced by two smaller units and that the system is up and running and working fine. The hot water tank supplies the lunchroom at Mountain Heritage where students got out of school early last Friday due to the water situation. Howell also reported to the board that the air conditioner compressor at Cane River Middle School had gone out and that an estimate for the cost of the compressor alone was around $11,500. He added that it would take several thousand dollars more to do the actual work replacing the system. The problems are not good news for the school system which faces future cuts to its budget from the NC State Legislature.

Communities in Schools


According to a five-year comprehensive nationwide evaluation, the Communities in Schools model being implemented in Mitchell County is the only dropout prevention model for delivering service proven to work.  Nationwide and in Mitchell County, CIS is an independent non-profit that works to help students stay in school and achieve in life.  The study shows the services delivered by CIS, the schools that have the program and community partners are the services many students need in order to graduate on time with the skills they need to be successful members of their community. “This is the reason Communities in Schools and Mitchell County Schools supporters have been committed to not just doing something to improve graduation rates, but doing what works,” explained CIS of Mitchell County Executive Director Lori Gilcrist.

Yancey County Clerk of Superior Court Warren Hughes Retires 


A week after honoring two long time employees for their service to their fellow citizens, Yancey County Clerk of Superior Court Warren Hughes has announced his retirement. Hughes, who was reelected in November 2010 for a 4th term, informed Judge Phillip Ginn on February 24 of his intentions to retire, effective April 1. Hughes, who was forced to layoff two veteran employees last week due to state cuts, said that the current budget crunch and the “continuing fiasco” at the NC Administrative Office of the Courts played a big part in his decision to step down. “Trying to run a court office for the citizens while having to beg for supplies means it is time to move on,” Hughes told the Yancey Common Times Journal. The 55-year-old Yancey County Democrat was appointed as Clerk of Superior Court in 1984 following the death of Republican, Arnold Higgins. Hughes was elected to the office each term since being appointed. Judge Ginn has the responsibility for appointing Hughes’ replacement, something he could do within the next couple of weeks.

McHenry to Address Insurance, Credit and Banking


The Mitchell Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee has scheduled a meeting with Congressman Patrick McHenry for March 25th at 10:00 AM in the back of the Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree Store to discuss issues relating to insurance, availability of credit for small businesses and home loans, and banking. Congressman McHenry is the Chair of the Banking Commission for the US House of Representatives. All chamber businesses interested in insurance and banking as well as the availability of credit for small businesses and real estate are encouraged to attend.  Call the Chamber office at 765-9033 for more information.

Yancey Mitchell Pillars Receives Grant from Mountain Air


A $5000 grant provided by the Mountain Air Residents Community Fund will give a big boost to the Yancey Mitchell Pillars project. The school-based nonprofit organization provides a hands-on jobs-skills training program where high school students learn to construct houses while building modular homes for Habitat for Humanity-qualified families. Mountain Heritage High School Career Technical Education Director Tim Hensley told the board that the funding for the current project house has fallen off dramatically due to the slow economy and that the money received from Mountain Air to purchase materials to complete their first house is a real shot in the arm for the organization. “Mountain Air has always been very supportive of our work and this money will assist us as we work to finish up the home currently under construction,” Hensley said. He told the board that this group of seniors who are working on the project are putting in a lot of extra time and effort to make sure that the job is done before they graduate. Hensley said that he feels that the house will be finished by the end of the school year.

Additional Charges for 2 men arrested


On Tuesday March 1 Yancey County Sheriff Deputies arrived at the residence of Jody Allen Barnett located at 4916 U.S. 19E , Burnsville, with arrest warrants to take Barnett and John Travis York into custody on charges filed against them that alleged they had each Feloniously Assaulted and Robbed Aaron Eugene Webb on February 25. In addition authorities had a valid search warrant for the interior and exterior of the Barnett residence to collect evidence pertaining to the assault and robbery. Barnett and York were taken into custody without incident. During the search for evidence attached to the assault and robbery incident, authorities located precursor chemicals used to make Methamphetamine present inside a storage building behind the residence. Barnett remains in the Yancey County Jail under a $9,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on March 8, 2011 for a First Appearance.

Three Arrested on IRS Fraud Charges


The Burnsville Police Department took three individuals into custody on March 2 for fraud related charges. Officers arrested 37-year-old Jason Palenko of Spruce Pine, 26-year-old Angie Noblitt and 33-year-old Michelle Hensley, both Burnsville, as a result of an investigation that determined that the three were involved in a scam to obtain money from the Internal Revenue Service and North Carolina Department of Revenue using false tax information. It is alleged that Palenko and Noblitt took the social security cards of Hensley’s children and went to a local tax filing company and filed their 2010 taxes using one each of Hensley’s children’s information. The two claimed that Hensley’s children were their own in order to claim a child tax credit. For letting Palenko and Noblitt  use her children’s information, Hensley was suppose to receive some of the refund money, according to an agreement between the three. Palenko and Noblitt were charged with two counts each of Felony Obtaining Property by False Pretenses and were each placed under a $5000.00 secured bond. Hensley was charged with two counts of Aid & Abet in Obtaining Property by False Pretenses. She was given a $6000.00 secured bond. All three are scheduled to appear in a Yancey County District Court in March.

Yancey Road resurfacing



N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a $883,383 contract to resurface 8.3 miles of roads in Yancey County. The roads scheduled for resurfacing include: 5.6 miles of N.C. 197 from Powell Road to U.S. 19 East; and
2.7 miles of Jacks Creek Road from Gilders Creek Road to John Henry Road. The contract was awarded to Maymead Inc. of Mountain City, Tenn. Work can begin as early as March 28 and is scheduled for completion by Oct. 15.

4 Charged With Assault and Robbery


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have charged two men and two women in connection with an assault and robbery that occurred in the early morning hours of Friday February 25th in the Micaville Community. Yancey County Sheriff Deputies responded to Cane Branch Road at approximately 4:00 a.m. on Friday February 25th to discover Aaron Eugene Webb semi conscious and suffering from multiple trauma wounds to his head, face and upper torso. Webb was transported by ambulance to Blue Ridge Community Hospital in Spruce Pine, where he was hospitalized and treated for head injuries and facial fractures. Webb has now been released from the hospital and returned to Burke County where he resides. Yancey County Chief Deputy Sheriff Thomas L. Farmer stated that an investigation into the incident revealed that Webb was physically assaulted by the suspects and robbed of his money, i-pod and cell phone while he was at the West residence located at 734 Micaville Loop. Farmer stated that the investigation revealed that Webb was lured to the residence by the two female suspects and then physically assaulted by the two male suspects who were hiding in the home. Farmer stated that the attack and robbery appears to have been planned by all of the suspects involved and that money and valuables totaling $2,300 were reported to have been taken from the victim. Farmer stated that some of the items taken from the victim have been recovered by law enforcement during the investigation. The suspects taken into custody were all charged with one count of Felonious Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury and one count of Felonious Robbery from the Person.   Those charged included 31 year old Jody Allen Barnett of 4916 US 19E, Burnsville, 30 year old John Travis York, of Dock Howell Road, Spruce Pine, 36 year old Karen Green West, of 734 Micaville Loop, Micaville and 20 year old Chloe Wren Ayers, 35 Amethyst Street, Spruce Pine. All of the suspects arrested remain in the Yancey County Jail. They are each under a $15,500 secured bond and are all scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on March 8th.

Mitchell Register of Deeds Replacement


The Mitchell County Republican Executive Committee has wasted no time in finding a replacement for the Register of Deeds position that was left open with the resignation of Patty Young last week. The Republican Committee met on Thursday night and voted to appoint Kathy Laws to fill the vacant position. Laws, who worked as the Assistant Register of Deeds for Mitchell County from February 2003 until she was let go by Young in October of 2010, will serve out the remainder of Young’s term, which expires on December 1, 2012. The Republican Executive Committee had thirty days to nominate a successor for the office before the commissioners would have been able to choose their own replacement for Young, who resigned after a court barred her from performing any of the functions of her office following her indictment for embezzlement. Mitchell County Commissioners are expected to put their seal of approval on the appointment at their monthly meeting scheduled for tonight, according to Board Clerk Kathy Young.

Clerk of Court Positions Cut In Yancey County


State budget cuts are hitting close to home this week with the announcement by Yancey County Clerk of Court Warren Hughes that he has been asked to cut two of the six employees in his office from the payroll. Wanda Woodby, who, specializes in estates, and Lynda Howell, who is involved in civil court and bookkeeping for the office, are the closest of the six to retirement and by making the decision to leave their jobs by February 28 the longtime staff members were eligible for retirement incentives. Both have worked with the Clerk’s Office for 27 years. The move means that the four remaining deputy clerks must now take on extra workloads. Hughes said that he has always had the best staff of any clerk’s office in the state and that his office will continue to provide the same professional services to the public, in spite of the hardships of the budget cuts. Woodby and Howell were honored last week by their colleagues with a reception in the Yancey County Court House.

Four Car Pile Up On 19E


A chain reaction accident involving four vehicles snarled traffic on Hwy. 19E just outside of Spruce Pine for over thirty minutes on Wednesday afternoon. The accident, which happened around 2:30 pm near Spruce Pine Batch Company, also involved damage to a NC State Trooper patrol car. The incident occurred when the driver of a ¾ ton pickup truck, Mark S. Rice of Burnsville, failed to reduce speed when approaching a line of cars that were stopped in traffic due to road construction. Rice’s truck slammed into a flatbed one ton truck driven by William K Ramsey of Marshall. The impact pushed Ramsey’s truck into the back of the patrol car driven by Trooper Ronald K Crawford, who in turn was shoved into a 4th vehicle, an SUV driven by Geraldine P. Canipe of Spruce Pine. Major damage was reported on all four vehicles and the drivers were all transported to the Blue Ridge Medical Center in Spruce Pine where they were treated and released. Mr. Rice was cited for failure to reduce speed and was at fault in the accident, according to a Highway Patrol spokesman.

Bat Fungus Discovered in Yancey County


A fungus that has already killed hundreds of thousands of bats on the East Coast has been found in another mountain county. According to the state Wildlife Recourses Commission the white-nose syndrome, which forms white patches on the muzzles of infected bats, has been confirmed in Yancey County after earlier being found in Avery County. Scientist believes the disease is caused by a fungus that is harmful to the bats but it doesn’t appear to have any effect on people. Officials warn though that the fungus can be spread by humans who visit different caves where bats dwell. The disease was first discovered in New York in 2006 and has slowly worked its way down the East Coast.

Petition Picks Up Steam


 A petition to Frontier Communications that is circulating around Yancey County is picking up steam. Petition organizer Lloyd Allen said on Monday that he has collected over 1000 signatures since he began the campaign about three weeks ago. Allen and other concerned Yancey County citizens are attempting to persuade the regional telephone company to reopen an office in Yancey County which was closed several years ago. Allen pointed out that an office in Burnsville would make it much easier on a portion of the population that is not yet online to make their payments, report troubles they may encounter with their service and even purchase products offered by Frontier. “The price of a money order and a stamp is not much of a burden on most people,” Allen said. “But we have some poor and elderly people on fixed incomes in this rural county that don’t even have a checking account. That extra money that they have to spend to make sure that their telephone bill is paid could be used for something else that they might need,” Allen said. The Burnsville Town Board has gotten involved and recently approved a letter sent to Frontier by Burnsville Mayor Danny McIntosh.  McIntosh sent a letter to Frontier Communications Regional Supervisor Ken Maxwell nearly a month ago asking for a dialog to be opened concerning the problem. Currently subscribers with problems or questions must spend time calling out of state help centers or contact the company via the internet. McIntosh said on Monday that Frontier has yet to respond to the letter. If you would like to add your name to the list you can find a petition at over 25 locations around Yancey County.

Severe Weather Awareness Week


North Carolina’s Severe Weather Awareness Week is February 27-March 5.  On March 2nd, school children across the state will practice a tornado drill. The National Weather Service, through the NOAA weather radios and Emergency Alert System will broadcast at 9:30 am on March 2nd.   Last year, the National Weather Service in North Carolina issued approximately 90 tornado warnings. A total of 26 tornadoes were recorded while more than 900 incidents of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and/or large hail were recorded as well.  Lives can be saved when teachers and children know where to go and what to do in the event of a real emergency. 

Driver in Truck Wreck may face charges


Trooper Chris Robinson with the NC Highway patrol reports that the driver could face criminal charges in the accident Sunday in McDowell County that killed a passenger.  53 year old David B. Small of New Jersey was driving south down the mountain on U.S. 221 about 20 miles north of Marion when he lost control of the vehicle. 51 year old Ricky Dave McDuffie, of Bishopville, S.C., was killed in the accident. Small was airlifted to Mission Hospital and is now listed in serious condition.  Both of the men in the accident were wearing seat belts. The accident is still under investigation, but the highway patrol believes excessive speed could have been a factor. The driver made a statement that he lost the brakes on the truck. Around 2,000 batteries were scattered around the accident, spilling battery acid. A hazardous materials team was sent to the scene to clean up the battery acid and the batteries. McDowell County Emergency Management director Terry Young said the team worked through the night to contain the hazardous material and reopen the road around noon Monday.

Tractor Trailer Accident on 221 in McDowell County


A tractor-trailer overturned Sunday on U.S. 221 in McDowell County.  WLOS news 13 reporter Katie Killen reported from the scene Sunday afternoon.  (Audio) The highway patrol says they believe the truck driver lost his brakes heading southbound on 221 around noon. They say he flipped the truck several times. A passenger died on the scene. The driver was critically injured and transported to the hospital.  The truck was loaded with about 3000 lawnmower and motorcycle batteries. A hazmat team was called in to respond to the accident as officials were worried about battery acid running into the nearby North fork of the Catawba River. Sgt Kevin Owens of the NC Highway Patrol said the section of the two-lane highway north of Marion and near the Linville Caverns entrance “is indefinitely closed until the cleanup in complete.

Yancey Health Department Receives Grant Funding


The Yancey County Health Department has received grant funding to employ a full-time RN for the clinic.  The additional nurse position allows the providers to increase the number of patients they see. The grant also funds Toe River Project Access, helping pay for visits to local doctors for patients with active medical problems.  The health department has also been granted funding for a Medical Access Plan Program. This is available to residents who do not have any source of insurance on a very low co-pay plan of $5 to $20. This will allow patients to be seen as needed in the Primary Care Clinic.

Tax Commission Upholds County Tax Rates For Mountain Air


Yancey County’s ongoing battle with Mountain Air over property tax values at the upscale resort development got a step closer to being resolved when the NC Property Tax Commission last week upheld the county’s real property tax assessment on various divisions controlled by the developer of Mountain Air for tax years of 2008 and 2009. The resort has the option to appeal the February 8 ruling by the tax commission which sided with the county sending the matter before the NC Court of Appeals and eventually to the State Supreme Court.  That move would cost Yancey County taxpayers even more money. Legal fees concerning the matter have already cost taxpayers over $80,000. The NC Property Tax Commission denied the resort's appeal in Raleigh which claimed that the county had used improper methods of appraisal in putting values on a portion of the development. The developer at Mountain Air claims the value assigned to the properties in question included improvements to amenities and land at the resort. Attorneys for the development said that these improvements should not change the tax value. However the property Tax Commission ruled in favor of the county, saying proper procedures were used and the properties were fairly valued. Yancey County manager Nathan Bennett said that for the past two years the county has been aggressively collecting outstanding property taxes in the county and that his office will continue to pursue the money owed by Mountain Air. Money that when collected would be a huge boost to the county’s struggling finances. The tax owed to the county on the properties in question totals $480,700 over the two year period on property valued at around $48 million.

Yancey County Schools Look At Budget Shortfalls


County school systems across the state are grappling with ways to deal with budget cuts by the Department of Public Instruction that could run as high as 10% for the 2011-12 school years. Yancey County Schools face a shortfall of $1 million in the best case scenario of a 5% cut to public education while the impact of a 10% cut could cause the shortage to be as much as $2 million. Yancey County School Superintendent Dr. Tom Little said that careful budgeting and efforts to protect the schools fund balance over the past two years has kept the Yancey County Schools System solvent, which has kept most of the system’s personnel employed. Little said he and the board are committed to not cutting people but that a 5 % decrease in funding would mean the loss of seven teachers, while a 10% cut could cause the loss of nine teachers and possibly the loss of some library staff and counselors as well. The governor’s proposed budget would also shift more cost for non-instructional expenses to school boards and counties. Yancey County Manager Nathan Bennett said that his office is trying to keep the funding levels for the school system near the same level as last year but there is no money for extra cost indicated in Gov. Bev Perdue’s budget proposal.


Mitchell County DSS Supervisor Defends Actions


The Mitchell County DSS supervisor of children’s services unit defended her actions concerning an altercation in Buncombe County last week that led to assault charges being filed against her and her daughter, according to the Mitchell News Journal. Shawn Boone-Burleson told the paper that she traveled to Barnardsville with her daughter Cailie Savanna Burleson to pick up her grandson who was staying with his father, Brian Douglas Kendall. Boone-Burleson said that she was ask by her daughter to accompany her on the trip because of previous problems she had experienced with Kendall’s pregnant girlfriend Casey Leigh Craine, also of Barnardsville. Upon arrival at the Kendall residence Boone-Burleson and her daughter reportedly found the boy sick and dirty in the unkempt trailer. Boone-Burleson notified Kendall that she was not going to let her grandson stay in the house, at which point Kendall grabbed the boy out of her arms. Boone-Burleson said that after she and Cailie stepped outside to call the authorities Craine grabbed her daughter’s hair from behind and was knocked down when Cailie tried to free herself. She said that the assault charges against her resulted from her trying to pull Craine off of her daughter, something that she said she would do again. Craine and Kendall were also charged in the incident. “There is no way in the world I would attack a pregnant woman,” Boone Burleson said. “I was just trying to save some kids,” she added.

Mars Hill Woman Arrested At Prices Creek Store


A shoplifting incident at Prices Creek Store resulted in the arrest of a 24-year-old Mars Hill woman. Jodi Elizabeth Coxe of Metcalf Creek road, Mars Hill, was detained after being suspected of shoplifting at the premises by store employees. An investigation by Yancey County Deputies revealed that Coxe had stolen clothing items valued at $50 which were discovered concealed underneath her own clothes. A search of her purse and vehicle in the parking area revealed her to be in possession of an illegal prescription as well. Coxe was released from the Yancey County Jail after posting a $1,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in District Court on March 8.

Mitchell Commissioners Act to Remove Register of Deeds from Office


Mitchell County commissioners have begun legal proceedings to remove Mitchell County Register of Deeds Patty Young from her office. The motion came a day after Young was arrested by Mitchell County Sherriff’s deputies following a grand jury indictment for felony embezzlement and for failure to discharge the duties of the Register of Deeds office. A temporary restraining order was also filed on behalf of the county by the commissioners to prohibit Young from performing her duties as Register of Deeds. The Mitchell County Register of Deeds office is open and is currently being operated by Assistant Register Shelia King and Deputy Register Martin Webb. If Young is officially removed as Register of Deeds the Mitchell County Republican Executive Committee would have 30 days to meet and nominate her successor. If the executive committee does not choose a replacement in the 30-day time frame, the commissioners would then be allowed to choose a person to serve out the remainder of Young’s term, which expires on December 1, 2012, according to County Attorney Hal Harrison. Young declined to comment before a hearing scheduled on February 24th.

Daughter OF Malcolm X Arrested In Madison County


Madison County Sheriff’s deputies arrested the youngest daughter of slain civil rights leader Malcolm X last week after learning of outstanding warrants out of New York State for the 45-year-old recent Mars Hill resident. Deputies learned of the 2009 warrants for Malikah Shabazz when assisting DSS which was following up on a tip concerning the welfare of her 13-year-old daughter. According to officials Shabazz had lived in Madison County for less than a week and was in the process of renting a home in Mars Hill. Shabazz’s attorney in Asheville said that she faces a laundry list of charges in New York which may be connected to a dispute between herself and her five sisters over their parents’ estate, estimated at $1.4 million. She was being held Monday in the Haywood County Detention Center, while her daughter remains in state custody.

 Habitual Felon Charged With Arson


 Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested a 49-year-old Burnsville man for Second Degree Arson. Cecil Ray Surrett of Love Fox Road was arrested over the weekend after an investigation into a fire on February 18th at the David Peterson Mobile Home Park was determined to have been purposely set. Upon arrival to the scene at # 6 Bridgette Lane around 7:30 pm Friday, fire department personnel confirmed that a 1986 Fleetwood mobile home was burning. Firemen were able to extinguish the blaze but a lot of interior and exterior damage was already done. Surrett, who has a long criminal history and is a Habitual Offender in North Carolina, was also charged with Assault on a Female and for Communicating Threats. He was taken to the Yancey County Jail where he remains under a $15,000 secured bond. Damage to the home is estimated at $ 12,000 and fortunately the residents were not home at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported. Surrett is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on March 8.

Callahan Arrested for Probation Violation


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested Casey Callahan 25, of 9 Mine Branch Road, Burnsville, North Carolina and served warrants filed against him for the offense of Felony Probation Violation. Callahan was entered as a WANTED person in the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) by North Carolina Probation & Parole Officers after he absconded from court ordered supervision. Callahan was located in the Crabtree Community of Yancey County by Deputy Michael B. Davis of the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department and transported to the Yancey County Magistrate’s Office where he was placed in the Yancey County Jail under No Bond.  

Cane River Wrestling Club Produces State Champions


      The Rebel Wrestling Club, comprised mostly of athletes from Cane River Middle School, made a huge impression on the other clubs at the State Wrestling Tournament. The Club which also had students from East Yancey and Bald Creek competing, took nine wrestlers to the tournament and came away with a top ten finish in each of the weight classes represented, including two state champions. 

    Seventh grader AJ Hensley won his 132 weight class to be crowned as state champion, while Greg Johnston, who competed in the 5th and 6th grade 121-pound division, also became a state champion after winning his match. Several other members of the team also placed well. See Local Sports for a detailed story.

       “This is a huge deal for Yancey County, Rebel Wrestling Coach Cody Tipton said after watching his squad represent their county and their schools with the utmost competitive sprit. “I am extremely proud of what our wrestlers at Cane River accomplished during the season this year, and it was very gratifying to bring in some of the other kids from across the county into the Club and have them do so well at the State Tournament, Tipton added.

More Than Waffles in Mars Hill


     A Waffle House employee was arrested for allegedly serving customers more than just late night breakfast food in Mars Hill. An ongoing investigation by the Madison County Sheriff’s Office led to the arrest of waitress, Amanda Roche, 18, of Mars Hill on Wednesday, February 16th, for possession and distribution of marijuana. Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood said that “customers” would call Roche’s cell phone, place an order for marijuana, and get the drugs delivered in the parking lot outside the restaurant. “It was basically curbside service,” said Harwood.

     Ashley Silvers, 19, of Barnardsville, was also arrested on the scene for possession of drug paraphernalia including a grinder and digital scales. Silvers was not an employee of the Waffle House.  Harwood said Roche was arrested after she sold to an undercover officer in the parking lot. Both Roche and Silvers were out on pretrial release in Madison County on pending drug charges.

     This marks the second bust at the Mars Hill Waffle House in less than a year, according to officials. Authorities raided the same Waffle House in May 2010 and arrested two waitresses for selling drugs to patrons as they ate inside the restaurant. “It’s clearly an ongoing problem,” said Harwood. Mars Hill Waffle House manager T.J. Pursifull had no comment regarding his staff or the drug allegations. According to Pat Warner, Waffle House Vice President of Marketing and Communication, Roche has been terminated from her employment with the company and Waffle House is currently conducting an internal investigation. “We have a drug-free work place for associates and employees and have policies set in place for that,” said Warner.

     Roche is currently held on a $10,000 secured bond for two counts of felony possession and distribution. Silvers was detained with a $10,000 secured bond on 1 count misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. News story courtesy Asheville Citizen-Times.


Mars Hill Man Faces Child Abuse Charges


Cigarette burns on the face of a child led officials to arrest a grandfather on charges of sexual and physical abuse to his four-year-old granddaughter. 47-year-old Richard George Flake, of Mars Hill, turned himself in to the Police Department this week after being contacted by the department and informed of allegations of sexual and physical abuse to his four-year-old granddaughter. The child’s foster parents, from South Carolina, reported to the police department that the youth had stayed with her grandfather prior to the Christmas holiday for several weeks and when they returned to pick her up, she had a mark that was healing on her face from an apparent cigarette burn. The child also alleged her grandfather sexually abused her during her stay. Boone was issued a polygraph test concerning the allegations which he failed, according to law enforcement officials.  Boone’s wife Christy insisted that the marks on the child appeared after she spent time with her mother not her grandfather. Flake is currently being held in the Madison County Jail on a $150,000 secured bond.

Drug Charges for a Yancey County Woman


A Yancey County woman was arrested for numerous drug charges on February 13 following a traffic stop by the Burnsville Police Department. Thirty-year-old Missy Paulette Hicks of Lester Lane, Burnsville was taken into custody after officers discovered her in possession of the drugs, Endocet, Oxycodone, Methadone, Hydrocodone and Lyrica. Hicks was also charged with driving with no operator's license and was given a $16,500 secured bond. She is set to appear in Yancey County District Court this month.

Mitchell County  Register of Deeds Arrested


Mitchell County Commissioners voted unanimously on Monday to seek a court order to have Register of Deeds Patty Young removed from office after she was indicted for felony embezzlement and for failing to discharge the duties of the office of Register of Deeds. Young is accused of using a county credit card for purposes other than county purchases and further failing to turn in receipts within a week of the cards use to the Mitchell County Finance Office, as required by law. At question are travel expenses and purchases made by Young  totaling over $1,700 involving a California based company that makes transparent holographic chips said to help improve the body’s immune system. Young has repaid over $600 to the county but attempts to repay portions of the remaining funds in question were refused, according to Young. Young maintains her innocence saying that the investigation was a power play by county officials to remove her as Register of Deeds. Young was arrested on February 14 and released on a $10,000 secured bond. She is scheduled to appear in Superior Court on March 23.

Happy Birthday Mitchell County


On this day in 1861, the North Carolina Legislature began the process of creating a new county north of the Toe River when it passed a resolution establishing the boundaries of Mitchell County. Initially, Mitchell was created from parts of Burke, Caldwell, McDowell, Watauga, and Yancey Counties. In the act, the County was named by the Legislature for Elisha Mitchell, the University of North Carolina professor who fell to his death in 1857 while attempting to establish that a mountain known as the Black Dome in Yancey County was the highest in eastern America. That mountain was later named in his honor.  Jacob Weaver Bowman, a young politician who was elected to represent Yancey County, introduced the bill in the State House of Commons. Bowman was a lawyer who was born in the Relief community and campaigned for the State House on the promise of creating Mitchell County and establishing Bakersville as the county seat. He was one of only three representatives elected from north of the Toe River since Yancey County’s formation in 1833. Happy birthday Today to Mitchell.

Yancey Drug Charges


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested 21 year old Shane Boone Webber, of Phillips Road, Burnsville, and charged him with one count of Felonious Possession With Intent To Sale and Deliver Schedule IV Drugs, one count of Felonious Maintaining a Vehicle To Keep and Sell Controlled Substances, one count of Possessing Schedule IV Drugs (Valium), one count of Possessing Marijuana and one count of Possessing Drug Paraphernalia. The arrest was made on Friday February 11, 2011 in the Cane River Community of Yancey County.  Webber was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and released from the Yancey County Jail after posting a $ 12,000 secured bond. Webber is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on March 8th.  Chief Deputy Thomas Farmer stated that at the time of arrest Webber was employed as a care assistance provider being paid to assist a family member who it is suspected he was taking prescription medication from.  Farmer stated that the incident has been reported to the company that employed Webber and to the Adult Services Protection Division of the Yancey County Department of Social Services.


Burnsville Residents Face Drug Charges


On February 8 the Burnsville Police Department arrested the following individuals for drug offenses that were developed from an investigation over the last few months.  37-year-old Charles Levell Hicks of Lester Lane, Burnsville faces numerous counts for Sell and Deliver, intent to manufacture and possession of Marijuana. Hicks was placed under a $24,000 secured bond.  35-year-old Kristin Lea Byrd of 21 Woodland Drive, Burnsville, faces a dozen charges relating to the possession, sell and delivery of Oxycodone and Methadone and possession with intent to manufacture sell and deliver, as well as maintaining a vehicle and a dwelling for the purpose of sale and delivery of a Schedule II Controlled Substance. Bryd was placed under a $53,000 secured bond.  43-year-old Jerry Lee Woody of Harmony Ridge Road, Burnsville faces three counts related to possession, manufacture, sell and delivery of a Schedule Two Controlled Substance. Woody was placed under an $11,000 bond. All three are scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on February 22.

Officials Warn of Email Scam


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Department is warning residents to be aware of a recent scam involving email. The scam starts when someone hacks your email address book and sends out tearful messages to all of your contacts requesting they wire money immediately, via Western Union, to help you out. The scammers are also using Facebook and Twitter friends list to gain contacts for their money making scam. Officials warn everyone to verify the credibility of any email coming from a friends account on one of these social networks.

Youth League Working On No Violence Policy


The Yancey County School Board and the Yancey County Youth League are working together on a no tolerance for violence policy for anyone attending Youth League sporting events in the future. The action was prompted by a recent incident at one of the Youth League basketball games. Although the policy is still under construction, it will in part say: Any violent action taken during a Youth League sporting event, no matter what the reason or what personal problems that may be involved, will result in a one year suspension from league events. Those who are suspended will be banned from participating in the Youth League as a coach, assistant coach, as a game official or even as a parent giving advice on a practice field. Youth League President Tim Allen is working closely with School Superintendant Dr. Tom Little to make sure that the problem is stopped in its tracks. “We are trying to instill sportsmanship in these kids and that concept starts with the adults,” Allen told WKYK News. “Everyone needs to do a better job of setting an example for these kids because they follow the adults lead,” Allen said. An incident at a league game caused the school board to take action to try and stop any more physical altercations at sporting events using Yancey County School facilities. Allen pointed out that only one of the three recent events was related to the games. “We had two dads get into a scuffle sticking up for their kids who were in high school, and another altercation between two women over one of their husbands. It just so happened that they were at the games at the same time and it spilled over onto us.” Allen said. “Although domestic situations like these have nothing to do with the league, this type of behavior at our games will not be tolerated,” Allen added.

Joe Sam Queen Sues Ralph Hise


Former NC Senator Joe Sam Queen is suing his opponent Ralph Hise over allegations of improper campaign advertising during the two’s bid for the office in November of 2010. Queen joined three other Democrats who are suing their republican opponents and the NC Republican Executive Committee, claiming that they violated the state’s “Stand by Your Ad” law. The suits claim that the Republican candidates benefited from more advantageous advertising rates by saying that they themselves paid for the ad rather than the Republican Party. At issue is whether the Republican Party alone paid for the ads and labeled them as being paid for by the candidates, something that is in violation of state election laws. Senator Hise, from Spruce Pine, participated in the opening day of the North Carolina Senate on January 26.

Battle to Gain Access to Locust Creek Continues


It appears that a controversy between private and public land use in the South Toe Community that pits the National Forest Service against hikers, hunters and others who want to access a service road in Locust Creek will continue. Discussion of the closed Forest Service road came up at the recent Yancey County Commissioners meeting. Many people in the county, some who have used the road since 1921, want the gate installed by the state reopened to vehicular traffic. A copy of a road right of way agreement between the federal government was presented to the commissioners by Byrl Ballew. The agreement allowed for construction and maintenance of a road but Forest Service officials have said that they could not find a right of way agreement and decided to shut down access to the road. The state is said to have taken the action because the road goes through several privately owned properties. Yancey Commissioner Michelle Presnell was presented with a copy of the right of agreement from 1952 that was apparently never properly recorded with the Yancey County Register of Deeds Office. The Forest Service has tried to gain access to the Locust Creek property over the past several years but it has been unable to get all private property owners to agree to sign a right of way deal. Some of the property owners say that there was traffic in and out of the road at all hours of the day and night and that it had developed into a safety issue for the community. The Forest Service has pledged to continue to make efforts to resolve the problem.

Burnsville City Limits Accident


An auto accident on the streets of Burnsville sent a Yancey County family to the hospital on February 8. According to the Burnsville Police Department The driver of one of the vehicles, James Whitson of Burnsvile, and his 9-year-old son were transported to Memorial Mission Hospital by ambulance. Whitson’s wife Connie and four other children, who were passengers in the van, were not injured in the 11:15 AM incident. The accident happened when a 2005 Chevy Truck, driven by Terry Ledford, of Champ Ray Road, reportedly pulled out from a stop sign at the intersection at Cherry Lane and West Main Street. His truck struck the 1995 Pontiac van, driven by Whitson, in the side. Major damage was reported on both vehicles, according to the police report. The driver of the truck, who was found at fault in the accident, was not injured. According to a family member face book page, the nine year old boy received broken bones and multiple internal injuries in the accident and is currently in stable condition at Memorial Mission.

 Fights at Yancey Youth League Games


Several altercations at Youth League sporting events over the past several months have caused the Yancey County School Board to fire off a letter to Youth League President Tim Allen demanding that something be done about the situation. Yancey County School Superintendant Dr. Tom Little said that it is just not appropriate that adults fight at school in front of children. “Even if it is not our activity, it is still our school and this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated,” according to Little. He noted that some of the people involved in the altercations have been banished from the games for the remainder of the year and one coach has been banned from coaching in the league for life. Little said that a couple of the incidents were domestic disputes that had nothing to do with the Youth League, but that it is time for the school board to make a stand. The letter to Allen stated that “the board is not going to tolerate this behavior and that if it happens again those involved in the fights will be suspended from any other activities on school property, including the Youth League”. Little also stated that if something is not done about the situation, that the league will not be able to use Yancey County School facilities for their activities in the future.

Financial Card Fraud


Yancey county Sheriff Deputies have arrested 29 year old Orin John Wilson III, of 20 Partner Lane, Burnsville, and charged him with two counts of Felonious Obtaining Property by False Pretenses and one count of Misdemeanor Larceny. Wilson was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and released from the Yancey County Jail after posting a $2,000 secured bond. Chief Deputy Thomas Farmer stated that Wilson is alleged to have illegally obtained money from a local ATM Machine by using a financial transaction card fraudulently. Wilson is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on April 16th.

Bald Creek Teachers Unveil Anti Bullying Video


Teachers at Bald Creek School unveiled an anti-bullying video that brought a round of applause from the audience at the monthly meeting of the Yancey County School Board Monday night. Kristine Buchanan brought the board up to date on the Olweus Program which is designed to reduce the victim/bullying problems among elementary and secondary school students . Buchanan told the board that South Toe, Burnsville and East Yancey Schools have had very successful Olweus programs in place for two years now and that five new schools, Bee Log, Bald Creek, Micaville, Cane River and Mountain Heritage are currently in the process of implementing the program. Karen Fox, who organized the video at Bald Creek, and Kim Bagwell, who shot the film, also addressed the board. Fox told board members that “it is wonderful how the school came together to put a positive spin on bullying and focus on the good we have in our schools.” Bagwell echoed Fox’s sentiments saying, “The kids really embraced the project. We tried to take the negativity and throw it out the door and focus totally on the positive things that can happen throughout the day at school.” Board Chair Rhonda Boone said that the video was “absolutely wonderful” and that the Olweus Program was a positive thing for the students. The video has been submitted to ABC and WLOS TV for public viewing.

Head-on Collision
 (Photo and story courtesy Jody Higgins/Yancey Common Times Journal)


A Mountain Heritage High School student is in critical condition at a Johnson City hospital following a Sunday afternoon head-on collision with a van driven by another Burnsville woman. The accident took place at 1:15 p.m. on February 6th on Hwy 19 near Penland Road in Mitchell County. Alma Leticia Martinez, 16, of Sunset Drive, Burnsville, was flown to Johnson City Medical Center from the scene by Wings medical helicopter, according to Highway Patrol Trooper Sheldon Vaughan, the investigating officer. She was alone in the 1996 Dodge pickup and traveling toward Burnsville when she crossed the centerline and struck the oncoming van. Tracy Caldwell, 37, of 108 E. Main Street, Burnsville, driver of the 2000 Dodge van, was flown to Johnson City Medical Center. Her injuries are not life threatening. Passengers in the van were her husband, Robert Treadway II, 41, and her son, Paul Caldwell, 14, of the same address. They were transported by ambulance to Blue Ridge Community Hospital in Spruce Pine with injuries that did not appear to be serious.
Trooper Vaughan said all individuals involved in the accident were wearing seatbelts.

(Mitchell Sheriff's Department News Release)


The Mitchell County Sheriffs department is reporting that a 16-year-old Burnsville girl was arrested by Deputies on January 30th after a high speed chase on Highway 19E. Officers observed a white Chevrolet Camaro traveling at a high rate of speed in the Estatoe Community.  Deputies pursued the vehicle towards Burnsville with speeds reaching in excess of 100 miles per hour. As the Camaro approached the intersection of Burleson Circle and US 19E at the crest of a hill, it passed a truck on a double yellow line. After the driver turned off the Camaro’s headlights at the Yancey County line, the vehicle suddenly stopped. Officers then arrested Emily Brooke Renfro of Wyatt Town Road in Yancey County. Renfro was charged with felony speeding to elude arrest, aggressive driving, improper passing, and failure to stop for blue light and siren. She was released to her parents on an $8000 unsecured bond. Two other 16-year-old girls who were in the car were transported to Spruce Pine Police Department and turned over to their parents.

Officials Predict Harsh Flu Season


Cases of flu are on the rise in Yancey County and across North Carolina, according to Toe River Health District Director Lynda Kinnane who said that signs of influenza have increased significantly over the past week. The up tick in flu cases prompted Mission Hospital to limit visitations to next of kin or closest contact, the regional medical center announced after confirming more than a dozen cases of flu last week. There is plenty of flu vaccine available and health officials are urging nearly everyone to have a flu shot this year. The Yancey, Mitchell and Avery County Health Departments offer vaccinations from 8:30am to 4pm, Monday through Friday. The vaccine protects against three strains of flu, including H1N1.

Mitchell County Principal and Teacher of the Year


Two Gouge Elementary School faculty members were named Mitchell County School’s Principal and Teacher of the Year for their work during the 2010-11 school year. Gouge Elementary Principal Colby Calhoun and third grade teacher Michelle Lord were recently selected for the honors. Calhoun, who is in his 5th year as Principal at Gouge, was selected for the award by administrators in the central office while Lord, who has been with the school system for 15 years, was picked by a panel of retired educators Gouge School serves grades K-4 and is among the few public elementary schools in North Carolina to receive a distinguished Great Schools Rating.

Burnsville Sundial Wins Award


The Quilt Block Sundial, located on the Yancey Times Journal newspaper office on North Main Street in Burnsville, has garnered the NC Small Town Main Street Award Of Merit. The sundial, designed by amateur astronomer Bob Hampton and created by Martin Webster, took the top prize in the Promotion category at the NC Main Street Conference in Shelby last week. The Burnsville Quilt Block is the worlds first quilt block sundial and the largest vertical sundial in North Carolina. The NC Main Street Program helps small towns to preserve their historic character by providing technical assistance for downtown revitalization.

Schools Worry about State budget Shortfall


Mitchell County could lose 14 to 28 teaching positions next school year if the state budget shortfall hits as hard as expected. An estimated 5300 teaching positions could be eliminated statewide if the Department of Public Instruction is saddled with an expected 10 percent cut. Mitchell County School Superintendent Brock Womble said that budget discussions will begin in earnest later this month and when the school administration gets more specific information on what the cuts might be from the General Assembly they will try and find ways to lessen the impact of the lost funds. It is estimated that Mitchell County Schools could loose 5 to 10 % of their state allotment, which was around $14 million last year.

Mitchell Commissioners Weigh Property Revaluation


With many land and home owners in Mitchell County unhappy about paying taxes on property that is worth less than its assed value, a new revaluation process is being considered by the Mitchell County Commissioners. The last appraisal in Mitchell County was over three years ago before home prices started falling in the current economic downturn. Tax payers are currently paying rates that were established in January 2009. Mitchell County got about 37 percent of its revenue from property taxes in 2009, compared to neighboring Yancey County, which generated nearly 50 percent of its revenue from property taxes. Commissioners noted that historically the tax appraisal is significantly below the price that realtors would ask for a piece of property, but that it is very important that all property is appraised fairly and consistently. The Commissioners are weighing the option of beginning the new revaluation in 2011 and 2012 or waiting until 2013 to begin the process, which will take a year and a half to complete.

Burnsville Drug Arrest


Shayna Brooke Turner, 23, of Bee Branch Road, Burnsville was arrested on Jan 31st, 2011 and served with the following warrants for her arrest. 3 counts of sell and delivery of a counterfeit controlled substance and 3 counts of possession with intent to manufacture sell and deliver a counterfeit controlled substance. This was a result of a investigation conducted by the Burnsville Police Department.  Turner was also served with a order for arrest from where she failed to appear in Yancey County Superior Court on January 31st. Turner was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and was given a $28,000 secured bond and has a court date in Yancey County District Court on February 08. 

Unemployment Rates


According to statistics released by the state’s Employment Security Commission, unemployment rates decreased in 66 of North Carolina’s 100 Counties in December,. The rate increased in 27 counties and remained the same in seven. Unfortunately most of the mountain counties were among those who saw increases in their jobless rate. Yancey County saw the biggest jump in unemployment in the area, going from 11.0% in November to 12.4% in December, while Mitchell’s unemployment numbers rose from 10.4 % to 11.5% in December. Likewise Avery, up from 10.1% to 10.4%, and Madison, up from 8.3% to 9.4%, saw their citizens continue to struggle to find employment.  Buncombe County was the only mountain county in WNC that saw an improvement in their numbers. Their rate fell from 8.0% to 7.6% from November to December. Orange County had the states lowest unemployment rate in December at 5.8%, meanwhile Graham County had the highest at 15.8 %. Overall forty counties had unemployment rates below the state’s average 9.7 percent rate.

Multiple Drug Charges


A drug investigation by the Burnsville Police Department resulted in the arrest of a Yancey County citizen on Jan 27th. 31-year-old Jamie Smith Deyton of Burnsville was taken into custody and served with multiple warrants for possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a controlled substance and maintaining a dwelling to sell a controlled substance. Deyton faces 12 charges resulting from the investigation and was given a secured bond of $31,500. He is scheduled to appear in court on February 8th.

No Fluoride in Local Water Systems


The town of Asheville has lowered the amount of fluoride in its water system in response to concerns about how excess levels of the substance can affect people's teeth. But people in the towns of Burnsville and Spruce Pine don’t have to worry about the controversial chemical because neither of the town’s water systems uses fluoride. “There is no fluoride in the water system in the Town of Burnsville, and as far as I know there never has been”, Mayor Danny McIntosh said on Monday. McIntosh said the use of fluoride has always been controversial and that too much of the chemical designed to fight tooth decay can be dangerous. Likewise the Town of Spruce Pine has never used fluoride in its water, according to Donnie Staton, Operator in Charge at the Spruce Pine Water Treatment facility. “Years ago the state started the push to add fluoride to public water systems, but we did not get involved,” Staton said. He pointed out that many products that people use today contain fluoride, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, ect., and that adding fluoride to the water could push the levels dangerously high. The US Department of Health recently lowered its recommended fluoride content in drinking water from 1 milligram per liter to .07 milligrams per liter in reaction to a US Center for Disease Control study that found that 2 out of 5 adolesencents have streaking or spottiness on their teeth due to too much fluoride.

Officers arrest former MHS student


Mitchell County deputies arrested a former Mitchell High student after being alerted to some suspicious behavior by a faculty member at a Mountaineer basketball game on January 28th. Officers working the game observed two individuals as they left the student parking lot at the school. The Ford Ranger they were driving was stopped after officers observed the pickup traveling in a reckless manner. After gaining consent to search the truck from the driver, 19-year-old Jonathan Dale Wise, of Bakersville , officers found drug paraphernalia and a Winchester 22.caliber rifle, which was located behind the back seat. Wise later told the officers he had just injected the drug Percocet. He was arrested on several drug related charges as well as for possessing a firearm on school property. Wise was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond and is scheduled to appear in court on February 11th.

4th Grade Student makes a violent threat
(Yancey Sheriff's Department News Release)


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies and Yancey County Schools Company Police both responded to Burnsville Elementary School on Saturday January 29, 2011 where they assisted Burnsville School Administration with an investigation in regard to a reported possession of a weapon on the campus. Yancey County Chief Deputy Sheriff Thomas Farmer did confirm that at approximately 10:30 a.m. law enforcement received a call from the Principal at Burnsville Elementary School stating that a lockdown of students inside their classrooms was underway after it was reported to the Principal by a concerned student that a 4th grade male student at the school had made statements that he had a handgun at the school. The student had also allegedly made threats to harm another student and himself. The suspected student was questioned by school administration in regard to the threats of violence  and was found to have been in possession of one live round of ammunition.  No weapon was found at the school and it was confirmed that the male student did not have access to a firearm off campus, but had in fact made statements that he was going to bring a handgun to school on Saturday January 29, 2011 to a peer student. Farmer stated that school administrators followed safety protocol as they secured all students in their respective classrooms with their teachers until a search of the entire school property and buses could be conducted by law enforcement. Farmer stated that juvenile student has been suspended indefinitely by  school administration pending the investigation. Farmer stated that Juvenile Petitions will be filed against the juvenile after consultation with the District Attorney on Monday January 31, 2011. Farmer stated that the juvenile suspect was transported by Yancey County Sheriff Deputies to an appropriate mental health facility where he will undergo mental health evaluation. Farmer stated that school personnel and the Superintendant followed safety protocol and the matter was resolved quickly. Fortunately a peer student reported the threats to school administration and a concerning incident was resolved without incident.


Lock Down At Burnsville Elementary


Officials at Burnsville Elementary School had to lock down the school for two hours on Saturday following a disturbance caused by one of the students. A child was said to have communicated a threat in a  school classroom and police were called to handle the situation, according to a spokesperson at the school. In what was officially called a “soft lock down” , teachers and students were all locked safely in their rooms until the situation was deemed secure by law enforcement. The child was escorted off the school grounds and no other problems were reported.

Mitchell Meth Arrest


On January 23, the Mitchell County Sheriffs Department was investigating the possible thief of a car when they discovered a stash of drugs and a handgun on one of the suspects. Deputies,  P.A. Caudill and R.C. Thomas observed four subjects around Murphy’s Garage on Crabtree Road. After approaching the individuals a scuffle broke out between the deputies and 46-year-old James Roy Boone of Spruce Pine. A Ruger .38 caliber handgun was found in Boone’s jacket pocket and some meth in his pants pocket. The bag of meth weighted 28 grams. Boone was also found to be in the possession of Oxycontin and Oxycodone pills. Boone was arrested for several drug charges.  He will also face charges for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, resisting arrest, and assault on an officer. Boone was placed under an $80,000.00 secured bond which he posted. He is scheduled to appear in Mitchell county Court on January 28. Boone was later turned over to Avery County Sheriff’s office for outstanding warrants in Avery County.

Mitchell School Board tackles new climate system


Problems with an energy saving initiative in Mitchell County Schools have left some students and teachers reaching for jackets and sweaters to stay warm during school hours. Officials from Educon told the Mitchell County School Board last week that early efforts to tweak their system have been problematic but it is something that can be corrected. School Board members have been getting complaints about cold classrooms and schools all winter long. Mitchell County Superintendant of School Brock Womble said that the program would eventually reach a happy medium where savings are possible and the climate in the classroom is comfortable. It was determined that bad communication between the school system and the community concerning the Educon System could have led to a smoother transition in this unseasonably cold winter.

Yancey School Board discusses new plan for snow days


At its January meeting the Yancey County School Board listened to the concerns of parents about the mounting number of days missed due to snow this winter. One of the main topics discussed was about how much classroom time that the students have missed and the effect that it may have on their learning. Yancey County School Superintendent Dr. Tom Little told the gathering that he understood the burden that missed school days puts on parents but if the roads are dangerous the risk of getting a child hurt is too great. Dr. Little outlined a snow day “Plan B” to give parents specific bus stop locations along the main road as drop off and pick up points for their kids. For instance if  a two hour delay “Plan B” were announced parents would know that buses would not be running on their roads and that they would need to see that their child make it to the predestinated bus stop. The NC Department of Instruction requires students to attend school for 1000 hours and 180 days in a school year. Yancey County Schools have missed 18 days because of bad weather so far this winter.

Concerns about Toe River Campground


Last week in a special meeting the Yancey County Commissioners heard the concerns of more than fifty people who use the Toe River Campground. The campground has been under the operation of the county for the past two years. Many of the problems brought to the commissioner’s attention have already been addressed and plans are in the works to make sure that all of the kinks are worked out of the operation before the campground opens on April 15, according to Yancey County Manager Nathan Bennett. Bennett told the group of campers, many of who stay at the campground for six months each summer that the county took over the operation from private contractors due to the physical deteriorating conditions of the campground. The thinking was that by using recreation department staff already on the payroll the money that was going to a contractor could be used to make improvements at the campground. The county recently spent nearly $18,000 for electrical work and is set to spend another $25,000 for septic system improvements at the facility on the South Toe River. In the past, the campground has rarely taken in enough money to pay for the costly infrastructure and upkeep needed at the facility. Many campers at the meeting said that private contractors provided better security, rule enforcement, services and maintenance because they were on site 24 hours a day seven days a week. Randy Hall, new manager of the campground and a county employee, ask the campers to be patient with the new system. “We have got some great ideas that we have put in place, give us a chance,” he said. The campers were invited to the meeting to be updated them on the progress that has been made at the campground since last season so they would be fully informed before they pay for their seasonal rates for 2011.

Publisher’s Clearing House Scam


The Yancey County Sheriff’s Department is warning all residents not to fall victim to a recent Publisher’s Clearing House Scam that has been reported in Yancey and surrounding counties. Chief Deputy Thomas L. Farmer stated that several Yancey County residents have called the Sheriff’s Department reporting that they have received telephone calls from a caller reporting to be from Publisher’s Clearing House in New York, New York. The caller will notify to the citizen that they have won a sweepstakes cash prize and then advise the citizen that a bonding fee to insure the cash prize will be delivered is required. To many times the citizen will make the mistake of giving the caller a credit card or bank account number so the “insurance fee” can be drafted from the citizens’ account. Chief Deputy Farmer stated that Publisher’s Clearing House is a legitimate company, however many sweepstakes scammers pretend to be calling from Publishers Clearing House to convince people to part with their money. There are two very important things to remember about Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes:  1, Publisher’s Clearinghouse does not notify winners by telephone. 2, You NEVER have to pay to receive your prize. Farmer stated that if a person is ever uncertain whether they have actually won a prize from Publishers Clearinghouse they should call them toll free at 1-877-379-3377. Farmer stressed how important it is to never give financial information to any unknown person or suspicious unverified party.         

Yancey Sheriff’s Department Warns About Scam


Yancey County Sheriff Gary Banks is alerting citizens about a scam that has recently occurred in Yancey County. Sheriff Banks stated that several residents have been contacted in Yancey County by a caller who identifies himself as a representative of Direct Diabetic America. The caller will solicit information from those called as to their name, age, and medical history and specifically inquire as to whether or not the party called is a diabetic. Sheriff Banks stated the conversation quickly becomes a question and answer session as to the financial information such as bank accounts, e-mail addresses etc. Sheriff Banks stated that Direct Diabetic America does not exist and is being used as a telephone scam by those people attempting to access financial information and that citizens should never give any financial information to any unknown or suspicious callers

Yancey Drug Arrest


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested 33 year old Benjie Wade Edwards, of 314 School Circle, Burnsville, and charged him with one count of Possessing Schedule II Controlled Substances, one count of Possessing Marijuana and one count of Possessing Drug Paraphernalia. Edwards was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and released from the Yancey County Jail in lieu of posting a $ 500 bond. Edwards is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on February 22nd.

Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested 31 year old Bridgette Nicole Todd, of 164 Mitchell Branch Road, Burnsville, and charged her with one count of Possessing Schedule II Controlled Substances, one count of Possessing Marijuana and one count of Possessing Drug Paraphernalia. Todd was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and released from the Yancey County Detention Center in lieu of posting a $ 500 bond. Todd is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on February 22nd.

McDowell Man wins $250,000


Stephen Duncan, a maintenance mechanic from Marion, plans to pay off his mortgage after winning $250,000 playing Mega Millions. Duncan matched all five white balls but not the Mega Ball in the Friday, Jan. 21 drawing. Duncan doesn’t have any additional plans for his winnings, which totaled $170,000 after taxes were withheld. The ticket was sold at CJ’s Convenience Store on Main Street in Marion.

Commissioners reject Frank-Franklin settlement offer


After meeting with their attorneys last week, the Yancey County Commissioners voted 3-2 on Monday, January 24th, to reject a settlement agreement from Tamera Frank and Peter Franklin concerning an appointment to the DSS Board of Directors. Commissioners Jill Austin, Dale England and Chairman Johnny Riddle voted not to accept the settlement conditions which were offered by Frank and Franklin at a special board meeting last week. Commissioners Michelle Presnell and Marvin Holland voted to accept the offer. Peter Franklin issued a statement that in part said: “It is truly unfortunate that Commissioners Jill Austin, Dale England and Johnny Riddle have chosen to continue ignoring the state laws, refuse to correct a past wrong and insist on costing the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.” “Their actions have given us no choice but to proceed to civil court and force them to obey the law”. Yancey County Manager Nathan Bennett responded to Franklin’s statement saying: “Mr Franklin forgets that the commissioners have made numerous settlement offers which he and Tamera Frank have refused. They are asking for something that we cannot give them,” Bennett said. He said that the demands that the county pay attorney fees and issue a statement admitting their mistakes was probably doable, but that the commissioners have no power to replace Judy Buchanan, who was appointed to the DSS Board instead of Franklin. “If the commissioners were to dismiss Mrs. Buchanan from the board, and she has given us no reason to do that, she then would have the right to sue the county. Bennett said that even if Frank and Franklin win their case in the courts, Mr. Franklin will still not be appointed to the DSS Board because the judge does not have that power either. As for the $100,000 figure that Frank and Franklin are pushing as possible attorney cost for proceeding to civil court, Bennett said that figure is “obtusely insane.” “Awards like that are left up to the judge’s discretion and the court might not even award attorney fees in this case,” Bennett said. 

Business Fraud


For the second time in less than two months 50 year old Perry Stephen Goss, of Horse Shoe, North Carolina was  served with warrants for arrest in Yancey County. Goss was taken into custody on Friday January 21, by Chief Deputy Thomas L. Farmer and served with warrants for his arrest for the offense of Felonious Obtaining Property by False Pretenses. He was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and released from custody after posting a $ 3,000 secured bond. Goss is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on January 27th.  His arrests in December and Friday were made after Goss received thousands of dollars from Yancey County businesses in an agreement to provide industrial air compressors as he operated P&M Solutions of Arden, North Carolina.

Frank and Franklin vs Yancey County


During a special commissioners meeting Thursday evening, a motion to reach a settlement with Peter Franklin and Tamera Frank concerning a lawsuit filed by the two seeking reinstatement to the DSS Board of Directors was defeated and the matter was recessed to another time to give the Yancey County Commissioners a chance to talk with their attorneys. The two are asking the commissioners to acknowledge the validity of their appointments to the DSS Board in 2008 and that Franklin be allowed to fulfill his sworn duties on the board and finish the remainder of his term, which is set to end in March. They are also asking for the county to pay their attorney fees concerning the action, which currently total around $10,000. It is estimated that it could cost Yancey County over $100,000 in attorney fees if the case is allowed to go to Superior Court. Frank and Franklin both stated that they are confident that they would win if the case were to go to court.

Yancey Recreation Park


In a special meeting of the Yancey County Board of Commissioners on Thursday night County Manager Nathan Bennett brought the board up to date on the grant application for the planned Yancey County Cane River Park. He provided the board with a preliminary construction cost estimate for phase one from McGill Associates of Asheville which totaled $231,539. “We have scaled back what we have asked for, Bennett told the board. “In our previous applications we ask for the whole enchilada, about $700,000 to get the ball fields in place, the lighting and some of the other things that will have to be completed to have the project completely done”. Bennett said that completion of phase one of the project should allow the county to have the grading work, drainage and grass planted and have the park basically ready to use. He added that the county has all of the needed permits in hand and that all that is needed now is the cash to start the project. Yancey County is expected to match the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant  total of $115,769. If the grant is awarded the county would have three years to come up with that money.

Accident Update


Trooper Barry Burnette with the N.C. Highway Patrol is reporting that A 34-year-old woman who collided with a car while traveling the wrong way on Interstate 26 Wednesday night was driving under the influence of alcohol. Amy Marie Payne-Whitehead, of Weaverville, was charged with driving while impaired and reckless driving. She refused to take a blood alcohol test at the scene. The highway patrol said she drove the wrong way in the eastbound lane of I-26 near Mars Hill and collided head-on with a vehicle driven by 25 year old Andy Carl Curtis, of Johnson City, Tenn. Both of those involved sustained serious but nonlife-threatening injuries.

McCurry is Burnsville's New Safety Officer


At their January meeting the Burnsville Town Council designated Isaac McCurry as the town's new Safety Officer. In addition to his duties as the towns' only full time paid fire fighter, McCurry will oversee safety related aspects over all town employees to meet OSHS requirements. The Board also gave its support to begin the planning for a new fire department at the meeting.

New Library gets boost


The new Yancey County Library is set to open its doors to the public in April and last week the State Employees Credit Union in Burnsville gave the project a big boost in the form of a $200,000 check. The money is intended to help the new library provide users with a modern technology center that will allow Yancey County residents the use of a state of the art teleconferencing center. Many patrons of the current library facility have to wait in line to use one of a dozen computers designated for public use. This money should help reduce that problem. The new Yancey County Library is located on School Circle in Burnsville.

Clean Water Revolving Fund


The Town of Burnsville received some good news last week when it was announced that its application to the North Carolina’s Clean Water Revolving Fund was approved. This means that the town of Burnsville will now have the money to replace its aging sewer infrastructure, something that has cost the town several fines and lots of money in the past for contaminating the Cane River with raw sewage. The loan from the Clean Water Revolving Fund will provide $1.6 million for the projects that will fix manholes and broken lines which have allowed infiltration of storm water runoff that has caused overflow of the sewer treatment plant into the river in the past.

Burnsville has new Public Works Director


Anthony Hensley has been hired to take over the position of Public Works Director for the town of Burnsville. He will replace outgoing director Shane Dale who stepped down after a short time as department head. The Public Works Department manages all phases of water, sewer and street operations in the town of Burnsville. The decision was made at the January meeting of the Burnsville Town Council.

Head-on Collision


The Highway Patrol is reporting that two people were seriously injured in a head-on collision Wednesday on I-26 near Mars Hill, A Charlottesville, Va. woman was driving a Honda Civic the wrong way in an eastbound lane of the interstate around 7:30 p.m. when her vehicle struck a Johnson City, Tenn. man driving an eastbound Kia minivan. The two vehicles collided head on. Both drivers were transported to the hospital. The interstate was closed for over an hour. A third vehicle sustained damage, probably caused by shrapnel from the collision, according to the Highway Patrol. The accident is under investigation. Names are being withheld until the full extents of the injuries are known.

Mitchell County Golden Leaf Projects


The list of Golden Leaf projects under consideration in Mitchell County has been set at eight it was announced this week by the Mitchell County Community Initiative Review Team. The 12-member board ranked the finalist in the following order--Wastewater Extension to Mitchell High School and the Ledger Community ($400,000 request--Mitchell County Public Library "Creating Digital Citizenship in Mitchell County ($111,700 request)--Toe River Arts Council "TRAC Community Arts Plan" ($283,000 request)--Mitchell Community Health Partnership :"Nurturing Our Own: Developing Rural Medical Providers In Our Community" ($297,500 request)-- Town of Bakersville :Restroom Facilities" ($40,000 request)--Mitchell County Schools "Mitchell County Schools One to One Laptop Initiative ($500,000 request), Mitchell County Department of Cooperative Extension "Mitchell Farm Fresh Initiative" ($183,850 request) and the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital which is asking for $500,000 for its "Physician Recruitment Program". The eight finalists will now make presentations to the Golden Leaf Board on February 15. The eight projects that are under consideration come in at a price tag of $2.3 million while Golden Leaf has said that it has $2 million to award to projects in Mitchell County. The Golden Leaf Foundation awards grants across North Carolina, focusing on three priorities: agriculture, job creation and retention, and workforce preparedness.

Unusual Littering Along Tennessee Highway


A Tennessee Department of Transportation crew found some unusual litter on the side of Hwy 107 near Unicoi recently. According to a report in the Avery Post, TDOT employees found a dead cow together with several bags of garbage along the shoulder of the highway, and after searching through the trash the names and address of Jerry and Leah Barnett of Bakersville were discovered. The two were cited for littering by the Unicoi County Sheriff's Department and have a court date in Tennessee on March 3.

Drug Charges


Yancey county Sheriff Deputies have arrested Frankie R. Wilson 47, of 20 Partner Lane, Burnsville, North Carolina and charged him with one count of Possession Schedule IV Controlled Substances, one count of Possessing Drug Paraphernalia, one count of Illegally Possessing Lorazepam and two counts of Illegal Possession of Alcohol. Wilson was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and released from the Yancey County Jail in lieu of posting a $ 1,500.00 bond. Wilson is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on February 7, 2011 

Obtaining Property by False Pretenses


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested Gaston Connor 29, of 981 Old Marshall Hwy, Asheville, North Carolina and charged him with one count of Felonious Obtaining Property by False Pretenses. Sgt. John D. Robinson of the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department was the investigating officer and filed charges against Connor after it was revealed that Connor had obtained goods, building materials and services from Summit Building Supply of Burnsville, North Carolina by uttering a check on a fictitious and closed account. Connor was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and released from custody after posting a $ 3,000.00 secured bond. Connor is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on January 21, 2011.  

Yancey Vote Investigated


A criminal investigation into how some absentee and one stop ballots may have been mishandled in the recent Yancey County general election has been launched by the North Carolina Board of Elections. Yancey County Director of Elections Loretta Robinson confirmed on Tuesday that the state is doing an investigation but said that her office was not told what or who was being investigated. "They came in after the election and took the absentee ballots and envelopes and other materials related to the absentee vote," Robinson said. "But we were not told anything about what they were going to do with those items, she said. A state investigator was reported to have been in Burnsville on November 4 after complaints were filed prior to the election by voters in Yancey County. Officials later seized all Yancey County absentee envelopes, absentee ballots, one stop ballots and absentee request for their investigation. It appears that the investigation does not involve wrong doing by the local election board or the election staff but rather focuses on unauthorized individuals who may have mishandled the absentee ballots.

Passing Forged Checks


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested 22 year old James Ray Elliott, of 105 Satinwood Drive, Burnsville, and charged him with 17 counts of Felonious Forgery and 14 counts of Felonious Uttering Forged Checks. The charges stem from a criminal investigation that revealed that on numerous occasions between November 15th, and December 24th, last year, Elliott forged checks on the closed account of a family member without authorization or knowledge at several business locations in Yancey County.  Chief Deputy Tom Farmer stated that Elliott managed to obtain hundreds of dollars in the scheme that consisted of his forging and passing checks on an account that had been closed over two years.  Elliott was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and placed in the Yancey County Jail where he remains under a $ 62,000 secured bond. Elliott is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on January 21st.

Yancey County Drug Arrest 


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested 27 year old Jeremy Lee Edwards of NC 197 South Tooties Creek Road, Burnsville and charged him with one count of Possessing Marijuana and one count of Possessing Drug Paraphernalia. Edwards was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and released from the Yancey County Jail in lieu of posting a $500 bond. Edwards is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on February 22. In a separate incident, Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested 31 year old Taniese Eleanor Wallace, of Burnsville, and charged her with one count of Illegal Possession of Hydrocodone, a Schedule II Controlled Substance and one count of Possessing Drug Paraphernalia. The arrest was made after Deputies found Wallace to be at a residence located in the Pensacola Community of Yancey County in possession of illegal prescription drugs. Wallace was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and released from the Yancey County Jail in lieu of posting a $ 500 bond. Wallace is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on February 22.  

Pine Branch Church Fire Alarm


The Spruce Pine Fire Department stopped a potential fire in its tracks Friday morning after responding to a call at Pine Branch Church. According to Fire Chief David Hughes, upon arriving at the church, fire fighters found the building filled with smoke. After inspecting the structure it was determined that the smoke was coming from an interior heater that had shorted out. No fire was reported and damages were limited to that done by the smoke, according to Hughes.

News Bridges in Mitchell County


The NCDOT has plans to replace three aging bridges in northern Mitchell County within the next three years. The bridges, located on Hwy. 226 and Hwy. 197 crossing Big Rock Creek, are functional but obsolete compared to current design standards. Each bridge is estimated to take six to eight months to complete and cost between $1.2 and $1.5 million per bridge. Detours will add miles of extra driving for residents of the areas involved but officials say that it is the most practical and cost effective plan for replacing the deteriorating structures.

Yancey woman pulled from frigid Cane River


A 47-year-old Yancey County woman survived a plunge down a 40 foot embankment when a medical emergency caused her to drive off Hwy. 19E into the icy Cane River. Deborah Ruth Fox drove her 1999 Subaru off an embankment on Tuesday January 4th when her blood sugar level suddenly dropped, according to the Yancey Common Times. Able to keep her head above the water, Fox was rescued by brothers Willie and Jarrod Randolph, who live near the accident scene. They pulled her from the frigid water where after being examined by EMS personnel her injuries were limited to a broken nose and several bruises, cuts and scratches on her head and body.

Schools Adjust Calendars


Snow has created problems for school calendars in many mountain school systems, causing school officials to get creative in coming up with ways to deal with the mounting number school days missed. Yancey County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Little said that Yancey County schools will use a combination of Spring Break days and school on Saturday to make sure that students are able to get out for summer break by June 3. “We will use two of our Spring Break days this week and hopefully be able to make up any other days we miss on Saturdays” Little said. He pointed out that students in Yancey County have already missed 15 school days this year while the system suffered through a total of 19 snow days all of last winter. By a vote of 3-1, Little and his advisory board, made up of principals, school staff and parents, decided this course of action to deal with the potential of future missed days from school due to the weather. Little said that Good Friday will still remain as a vacation day for students no matter what the weather does.

Road Report from NCDOT


RALEIGH – N.C. Department of Transportation crews continue to make good progress clearing roads across much of the state, where sun and winds are helping to melt ice and dry roads. Most roads should be clear with a few icy spots by this afternoon, with the exception of mountain counties, where snow continues to fall, and secondary roads in a few counties in the southeastern part of the state.

Falling snow in Haywood County is occasionally slowing travel along I-40 between the Tennessee border and Exit 15 (the Pigeon River Gorge). NCDOT crews are plowing the interstate, but snowfall is not expected to stop until Thursday. Other interstates are mostly clear with some icy patches. A total of 20 trucks and 40 drivers from Hertford, Bertie, Washington, Tyrrell, Martin, Northampton, Lenoir, Jones and Craven counties are assisting crews in clearing secondary roads in harder hit Sampson, Duplin, Onslow and Pender counties. Crews expect to have those roads mostly clear later today. Additionally, drivers with pieces of equipment from Harnett and Cumberland counties are assisting crews in clearing secondary roads in harder hit Robeson County. They plan to work overnight to get those roads cleared Thursday morning.

Ice is still the biggest challenge in the southeastern counties. Unlike with snow, the blade of a plow cannot get under ice to push it, and instead skims over the top. Crews use a mixture of salt and sand to provide traction and break down the ice into slush, which the plow can then push off the road.

Some mountain counties received up to a foot of additional snow overnight with high winds, resulting in high snow drifts in areas. These counties are forecasted to receive additional accumulations over the next couple days, and will bring in additional resources as needed. Motorists are reminded to allow plenty of room for NCDOT trucks to plow and spread salt and sand.

Local NCDOT divisions are coordinating with school systems to assist in opening schools as soon as possible.

NCDOT has budgeted $30 million for snow and ice removal this fiscal year. It has spent $26.2 million, as of Jan. 7. If extra money is required, it will be drawn from the general maintenance budget.

Citizens can obtain travel information in several ways. They can call 511, the state’s toll free information line. They can also visit the NCDOT Traveler Information Web Site at

NCDOT also offers travel information on Twitter, where citizens can get travel updates, or tweets, for 16 different routes or regions of the state by signing up at Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website. To access it, type “” into the browser of your smartphone. Then, bookmark it to save for future reference. NCDOT Mobile is compatible with the iPhone, Android, and some newer Blackberry phones.

Snow Plow Collision


An auto accident near East Yancey Middle School this morning involving a snow plow looked a lot worse than it turned out to be, according to investigating officer C.H. Crane of the NC Highway Patrol. Crane said that a car driven by a young Yancey County man drifted left of center on the snow covered 19E into the path of an oncoming NCDOT snow plow. The contact resulted in minor damage to the car and no injuries were reported from either the driver of the car or the driver of the snow plow. Most side roads in Yancey County remain snow covered and the NCHPD advises caution when traveling.

New Communities in Schools Site Coordinator at Mitchell High School


When the Student Support Program at Mitchell High School was awarded a North Carolina Dropout Prevention Committee Grant in 2008, it was praised as a model for the kind of collaboration that can make a difference in dropout prevention across the state.  Melissa Carter has been hired as Site Coordinator at MHS by Communities in Schools of Mitchell County to make sure the Student Support Program remains an effective part of the comprehensive dropout prevention efforts at Mitchell High School in 2011 and beyond.  “We are very pleased to have Melissa Carter working with us at Mitchell High School as part of our partnership with Communities in Schools of Mitchell County,” said Mitchell High School Principal Mark Woody. “Melissa has worked with us as a substitute and has assisted with our course recovery program during its first year at the Mitchell County Board of Education Office.  She will be a great asset to the Student Support Program at Mitchell High School.  Like all CIS staff and volunteers, Melissa has great concern for the education of our youth and for their future.  I’m pleased she is joining the CIS staff and will continue to serve Mitchell High School students.”  The Student Support Program is collaboration between Mitchell High School and Communities in Schools of Mitchell County.  Through the program the MHS Graduation Coach, an employee of Mitchell County Schools, works with Communities in Schools to provide case-managed, individual support services to students who are at risk of dropping out.  While the Graduation Coach is working directly with students, identifying and filling the students’ needs, Communities in Schools is locating the specific services in the school and community necessary to meet those needs, and bringing those services into the school to the students.  As Site Coordinator Melissa Carter will provide the administrative support, research assistance and community outreach that allows the MHS Graduation Coach to spend the bulk of her time working directly with students and their families.  “Melissa’s work as a CIS Site Coordinator will allow MHS graduation coach Jessica Ruegg to work closely with students each day to see they get what they need to stay in school and be successful academically,” explained CIS Executive Director Lori Gilcrist.  “In addition to her administrative and research responsibilities, Melissa will coordinate CIS volunteer activity at Mitchell High School and spearhead the pilot program to provide mentors to Mitchell High School students.”

Electronic Social Security Checks


A new rule issued late last month by the U.S. Department of the Treasury will affect Social Security, Veterans Affairs and other federal benefit payments. In a nutshell, the new rule will extend the safety and convenience of electronic payments to millions of Americans and phase out paper checks for federal benefits and nontax payments by March 1, 2013. By switching to electronic payments, more than $3,900,000 could be saved annually. Benefit recipients have the option of direct deposit into a bank or credit union account of their choice or into a Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card account. People newly applying for federal benefits on or after May 1, 2011, must choose an electronic payment option at the time they sign up for their benefits. To Switch from checks to direct, go to, call the U.S. Treasury Processing Center’s toll-free helpline at 1-800-333-1795, or speak with a bank or credit union representative.



Roads remain open, but icy conditions will make driving hazardous across the state. N.C. Department of Transportation crews have sprung into action in response to the winter storm that is dumping snow, sleet and freezing rain across the state. Interstates and primary roads remain passable, but motorists should expect trouble spots. Travel has been affected in large swaths of North Carolina, especially the western mountains and the southern half of the state. The storm is expected to begin affecting other regions this afternoon. Where necessary, state and contractor crews will work 12-hour shifts around-the-clock, spreading salt and plowing roads in affected areas. They are now in the first phase of the clean-up, focusing on interstates and primary roads. Once those roads are clear, they will turn their attention to secondary roads. Most secondary roads have not been plowed. Other crews are poised to respond in regions not yet hit by the wintry mix. Forecasts call for freezing temperatures across the state this evening, which will complicate clean-up efforts and create hazardous driving conditions over the next few days. Ice and freezing snow often make a tighter bond with a road surface than powdery snow, so they are harder for plows to remove. In advance of the storm, crews sprayed salt brine on interstates and primary roads to make it harder for the snow and ice to bond with the road in the first few hours of the storm. Nevertheless, as the snow freezes, nearly-invisible black ice is likely to form on roads and bridges. NCDOT is urging motorists in hard hit areas to stay off the roads for their own safety. In addition, crews can more efficiently clear the roads when there are fewer cars. Cars pack down snow, making it harder to remove from the roadway. If you must drive, slow down, keep a safe distance behind other vehicles and watch for slow moving vehicles. Motorists are also asked to leave room for snow plows and salt spreaders clearing and treating interstates, primary and secondary roads. North Carolina’s ferries are operating on normal schedules. The Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach route, however, will suspend operations at 3:15 p.m. NCDOT has budgeted $30 million for snow and ice removal this fiscal year. It has spent $26.2, so far. If extra money is required, it will be drawn from the general maintenance budget. Citizens can obtain travel information in several ways. They can call 511, the state’s toll free information line. They can also visit the NCDOT Traveler Information Web Site at

Tax Time Again


Many taxpayers would be surprised to hear that a qualified tax preparer should prevent them from receiving a big refund. Refunds are good, right? Not necessarily.  Tax refunds are only good if your goal is to give Uncle Sam a tax-free loan.  The average refund last year was roughly $3,000. Taxpayers with a refund of that size could instead be seeing an increase of over $100 in their paychecks – which could be a welcome boost in these tight economic times. The 2010 filing season statistics recently released by the IRS show that the total amount of refunds paid in 2010 was close to $316 billion, a 4.2 percent increase over the 2009 total. Tax season is just around the corner. Maybe you should reconsider how you list your deductions and who helps you file your taxes. Although many taxpayers don’t turn to a licensed tax professional unless they’re in trouble with the IRS, those who hire an enrolled agent for annual tax preparation usually find that the money saved by receiving and acting on cutting-edge tax advice more than pays the preparer’s fee.  

Mitchell High Seeks Grant for Laptops


Mitchell High School’s career and technical education director Kim Hodshon laid out a future plan to put an Apple laptop computer in the hands of every student at the school in Ledger in a presentation at the county commissioner’s first meeting of the New Year on Monday night. The school system is asking for the project to be funded through a grant from Golden Leaf. The $902,000 grant would fund the project for three years, according to Hodshon who said that if the laptop initiative fails to gain the support of Golden Leaf, the school system would seek other grants to make sure that the project happens. Hodshon pointed out to the commissioners that Greene County Schools in NC began the one-to-one laptop initiative three years ago and their rate of students going to college jumped from 26% to 84% in that short period of time, a good sign that the project works,. Hodshon and Mitchell County Schools Superintendent Brock Womble expect to hear something from Golden Leaf after January 12. If the plan makes the first cut, a formal application will be made in February.


Yancey Commissioners first Meeting


The Toe River Campground, owned and operated by Yancey County, will have a new manager when it opens to the public this year. That decision was made by the Yancey County Commissioners at their first meeting of the New Year held on Tuesday night. Randy Hall, a retired school system employee who had been working at the campground during the open season, will replace Parks and Recreation Department head Jeff Howell, who has been in charge of the campground since the county took over the operation from an independent contractor. Howell has been called up for another tour of duty with the Army Reserves. Serving in Iraq on his last tour, Jeff will be a little closer to home this time. He will be at Fort Jackson as a  First Sergeant for a Basic Training Company . At the meeting, Howell gave the board a report on the state of the counties' recreation facilities and programs including recommendations for improvements at the campground. Most pressing is the need for the replacement of a portion of the campground septic system, which the health department estimates will cost around $25,000. The board agreed to move forward with the replacement of the affected system and County Manager Nathan Bennett said that the upgrade would be put out for bids.

South Carolina man arrested in Yancey County


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested 40 year old Dennis James Allison, Jr. of 444 Ballenger Road, Gaffney, South Carolina and charged him with one count of Felonious Worthless Check writing.  Allison was apprehended in Gaffney, South Carolina on Monday January 3, and held in custody until he appeared before a Cherokee County South Carolina Judge on January 4, for an Extradition Hearing. At the proceeding, Allison waived Extradition and was taken into custody by Yancey County Sheriff Deputies and transported to the Yancey County, North Carolina Magistrate’s Office where he was served with the warrant alleging that he passed a worthless check in excess of $4,000.00 to a Yancey County Christmas Tree Farmer in December 2010. It is alleged that Allison traveled to Yancey County in late November and early December 2010 and purchased hundreds of Christmas Trees from a local grower and paid for the trees with a worthless check.  After appearing before a Magistrate, Allison posted a $2,000.00 secured bond and was released from the Yancey County Jail. Allison is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on January 21, 2010.  

Burnsville One of Fifteen Traffic Safe Cities


Burnsville was recognized recently as part of fifteen communities in North Carolina who were mentioned by the AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety for their contribution to traffic safety in their jurisdiction.  Grand winners were the cities of Highlands, Laurinburg and Chapel Hill.  Also recognized were Burnsville, Grantie Quarry, Surf City, Indian Beach, New Bern, Cornelius, Reidsville, Pinehurst, High Point, Cary, Apex and Charlotte.

Unemployment Rises in North Carolina


Recent North Carolina statewide figures show that the overall unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in November. This was a 0.7 of a percentage point increase from October’s revised rate of 9.2 percent, as well as a 0.7 percentage point drop over the year. From October through November the unemployment rate increased in 99 of the state’s 100 counties, while remaining the same in Davie County. Graham County recorded November’s highest unemployment rate at 18.6 percent while Orange County had the lowest unemployment rate at 5.9 percent. Locally in Western North Carolina, Watauga County recorded the lowest unemployment rate for the period of 7.3%, while McDowell Counties’ 11.9% was the highest. Madison County’s unemployment rate rose to 8.2% while Mitchell and Avery Counties also saw their unemployment rates rise. Mitchell’s 10.2% rate is up from October’s 9.3% while Avery saw its unemployment rate jump from 8.3% to 9.8% from October to November. Out of the estimated 7,519 people who make up the Yancey County labor force, 10.8% of those people are unemployed, according to the NC Employment Security Commission’s figures. The unemployment rate in Yancey County rose a full percentage point from October to November. These figures have not been adjusted for seasonal employment.


NC DOT Addresses Mitchell County Commissioners


In their first meeting of 2011 the Mitchell County Commissioners heard an update from the North Carolina Department of Transportation concerning the progress being made on the road widening project on Highway 19 E.  Division 13 Construction Engineer Rick Tipton told the Commissioners that the first leg of the project is well ahead of schedule and that he feels very comfortable with the five year plan that is in place to complete the entire four lane road from Madison County to Spruce Pine. “Unless something catastrophic budget wise happens, we see no problems with the funding for the completion of the project,” Tipton told the Commissioners.  All road projects in North Carolina are funded through the gas tax and new car tax. Tipton told the group that if the new legislature decides to balance the budget by taking a lot of the highway funds into the general funds, then all bets are off for all road projects in the state. He told the Commissioners that if the funds are left alone there should be no problems because the entire project is currently fully funded. Commissioner Bill Slagle told the engineers that the development of the road project is the future lifeline of the economic development of Mitchell County. “Once we can recruit plants and jobs back to this area it is very important that they can get in and out with their products and we as commissioners want to do everything possible to make sure that this road project stays on track,” he said. With the section of the road from Madison County to Jacks Creeks in Yancey County well ahead of schedule, preliminary work on the portion from Jacks Creek to Micaville is slated to begin in May, with construction set to start some time this summer. All of the right of way for that part of the road has already been acquired, according to Tipton. The right of way acquisition for the portion of the project from Micaville to Spruce Pine is set to begin in January 2012 and is expected to take from 18 months to two years to complete. The start date for the final leg of the project is tentatively scheduled for February 2014.


One Struck by car in Micaville


The Highway Patrol has confirmed that one person was struck by a car and injured Sunday evening near Micaville. The accident occurred around 8:30 p.m. on U.S. 19 at the Micaville Loop.  Highway Patrol Sgt. C.M. Goodson said the investigation is continuing. More details as they become available.


Spruce Pine Woman Arrested After Mail Theft


A Mitchell County woman was arrested last week on several charges related to the theft of mail from a mailbox at a residence on Emerald Avenue in Spruce Pine. 31-year-old Laura Lee Watson was arrested after it was discovered that she had taken a notice from the post office to pick up a package from the VA Hospital which contained two different Schedule IV controlled substances.  Watson was identified by detectives after the clerk at the post office provided them with a description and a signature sheet of the transaction. Watson later admitted her wrong doing and returned the package to the rightful owner. She was charged with obtaining a controlled substance by forgery, misdemeanor larceny, and obtaining property by false pretenses. After being released under a $11,000.00 secured bond, she was scheduled to appear in Mitchell County Court on January 28th.

Two Yancey County men were arrested on drug charges


Two Yancey County men were arrested on December 18 after a citizen’s call alerted Mitchell County authorities of possible illegal drug activity near McHone Road and Swiss Lake Road in Spruce Pine. Upon arrival at the scene the Sheriff’s Department found Ronlesley Smith, and his passenger Adam Ray Mathis, traveling towards NC 226 in a Ford Tarsus. After stopping the vehicle, a search of the occupants and the car revealed the presence of several Oxycodone pills along with used and ready to be used syringes as well as a large hunting knife. Arrest warrants were obtained on Smith for carrying a concealed weapon, possession of drug paraphernalia, and simple possession of Schedule II controlled substance. Mathis was charged for felony possession of Schedule II controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both men were released after posting secured bonds. They are scheduled to appear in Mitchell County Court on January 7.

Mitchell County - Drug Charges
(Mitchell Sheriff's Department News Release)


On December 18, 2010, Mitchell County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a call of illegal drug activity in the area of McHone Road. The caller advised they had observed two people in a maroon Ford Tarsus injecting drugs with a syringe.  Detective J.D. Holmes located the vehicle near the intersection of McHone Road and Swiss Pine Lake Road. When the operator of the vehicle observed Detective Holmes, he started traveling towards NC 226. Detective Holmes stopped the vehicle in the parking lot of Mitchell Veterinary Clinic. Captain R.V. Wiseman, Lieutenant J.D. English, and Deputy S.E. DAVIS arrived to assist Detective Holmes. The operator of the vehicle was identified as Ronlesley Smith, age 26, of 285 Lincoln Park Road, Burnsville, N.C. The passenger was identified as Adam Ray Mathis, age 26, of 426 Meadowood Lane, Burnsville, N.C. Detective Holmes observed Smith getting out of the car and lifting up the floor mat. Detective Holmes ordered Smith to stop and place his hands on the car. Smith kept on placing his hand in his right front pants pocket. Detective Holmes grabbed Smith’s hand and pulled it from his pocket. As Smith’s hand came out of his pocket, he dropped a five dollar on the ground. Wrapped up in the five dollar were one and half 30-milligram Oxycodone pills. Deputy Davis removed Mathis from the car and during the pat down of Mathis; he located two syringes in Mathis right sock. Both of the syringes were loaded with a crusted up Oxycodone pill and water according to Mathis. Captain Wiseman and Detective Holmes located more syringes in the vehicle. These syringes had blood in them, which proved they had just been used. Under the front drivers floor mat the officers located another 30-milligram Oxycodone pill and a large Bowie type knife. Lt. English and Deputy Davis took Smith and Mathis into custody and transported to the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office to be processed. Captain Wiseman obtained arrest warrants on Smith for carrying a concealed weapon, possession of drug paraphernalia, and simple possession of Schedule II controlled substance. Smith posted a $3000.00 secured bond and was released. Smith is scheduled to appear in Mitchell County Court on January 7, 2011. Captain Wiseman obtained arrest warrants on Mathis for felony possession of Schedule II controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Mathis was released on a $1000.00 secured bond. Mathis is scheduled to appear in Mitchell County Court on January 7, 2011. Sheriff Street praised the citizen who called this drug activity into the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Street said it takes both the citizens and law enforcement to fight these illegal drugs. Sheriff Street went on to praise the quick response of his deputies in locating these two individuals and taking these illegal substances off of the streets. Sheriff Street advised anyone with illegal drug information could contact the Sheriff’s Office at 828/688-1364. All information is kept confidential.


Yancey County woman charged with Breaking and Entering
(Yancey Sheriff's Department News Release)


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested Nicole Leanne Robinson 29, of Burnsville, North Carolina and charged her with two counts of Felonious Breaking & Entering, three counts of Felonious Larceny, three counts of Felonious Possession of Stolen Property and two counts of Obtaining Property By False Pretenses. Robinson was taken before a Yancey County Jail and remains in the Yancey County Detention Center under a $ 33,000.00 secured bond.  Yancey County Chief Deputy Thomas Farmer stated that charges were  filed against  Robinson are a result of three separate investigations conducted by the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department in regard to residential homes being unlawfully entered during the daytime hours in December 2010 at separate locations in the Greenmountain and Jacks Creek Communities of Yancey County. Farmer stated that jewelry, electronics, firearms, television and various hand tools were taken from the locations where entry was made. Farmer stated many of the stolen items have been recovered and returned to the owners. Robinson is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on January 20, 2011.     

Yancey County man charged with Breaking and Entering
(Yancey Sheriff's Department News Release)


Yancey County Sheriff Deputies have arrested Jeremiah Ray Teal 19, of 477 Westridge Drive, Burnsville, North Carolina and charged him with one count of Felonious Breaking & Entering, one count of Felonious Larceny After Breaking & Entering and two counts of Felonious Possession of Stolen Property.  Charges against Teal were filed after it was revealed that he had entered a residence and separate garage building between December 3 and December 17, 2010 and removed various hand and power tools. The two locations entered were located in the Green Mountain Community of Yancey County. Sgt. L.R. Higgins and Sgt. John D. Robinson of the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department were able to recover most of the stolen property and return it to the lawful owner. Teal was taken before a Yancey County Magistrate and remains in the Yancey County Jail under a $ 15,000.00 secured bond. Teal is scheduled to appear in Yancey County District Court on January 20, 2011.






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