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Chapman Named As Interim Superintendent


The Yancey County School Board has named former Superintendent Vernon Chapman to serve as interim Superintendent until June 30, 2005. Chapman, a superintendent from 1987-1999 will begin his duties January 1st. He was hired after the retirement of Superintendent Ivan Randolph. The board, at a meeting Thursday, December 23rd, voted 4-1 to hire Chapman, with member Van Thomas voting no to the motion. Randolph announced his retirement plans at the December School Board meeting, citing differences in educational philosophy with the newly elected board. Randolph negotiated with the board to buy out his contract for $100 thousand, $50 thousand to be paid December 30, 2004, and $50 thousand to be paid July 1, 2005.

New Child Passenger Safety Law


If you have a child who just turned five and you've tossed their car safety seat, get ready to buy a new one. State law changes January 1st, requiring kids to use booster seats for three years longer. The current law allows parents get rid of child safety seats at age five or when children weigh more than 40 pounds. In the New Year however, kids will have to use safety or booster seats until they turn eight, or weigh 80 pounds. The new law is designed to protect kids who are older, but still too short to properly wear belts. If you break the new law, it'll cost you; a $125 fine and two points on your license.

Bakersville Man Charged


Mitchell Deputies have arrested a Bakersville man on felony drug charges. On December 16th, Travis Lee Blevins, age 28, of Rebels Creek Road, was charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, maintaining a dwelling for controlled substances, and felony possession of stolen property. The arrest came after Mitchell and Yancey Deputies executed a search warrant of the Blevins residence attempting to locate a 4-wheeler stolen from Yancey County. The ATV was located near the Blevins residence. During the search, Deputies found a larg4e quantity of marijuana. A Search warrant for a controlled substance was issued and deputies found over 5 pounds of marijuana stored throughout the residence and 2 vehicles on the property. Blevins received a $10 thousand bond. Chris Gillespie was the charging officer.

Grant for Construction Trades Job Training


Yancey Commissioners have received a Golden Leaf grant of $100 thousand for the Construction Trades Job Training Collaborative. The grant is to help fund a new facility on the campus of Mountain Heritage High School in which students from Mountain Heritage and Mitchell High Schools and Mayland Community College will be trained in construction trades such as carpentry, masonry, electrical installation and plumbing. Students will use these skills to help construct 2 modular homes per year with Mitchell-Yancey Habitat for Humanity, which will oversee the project and materials management. Students will be equipped with marketable skills while helping provide housing for those who otherwise may not be able to afford it.

A Christmas Gift to Yancey


The Courtroom of the Yancey County Courthouse was filled to capacity Wednesday as the final pieces were put into place to bring an industry to the former OMC building and property, now owned by Yancey County. According to the agreement, Altec will lease the OMC Building and property (almost 62 acres) the rent payment will $1 per year for seven years. The agreement also provides a bargain sale of the building to the company at the end of the lease agreement. In return, the company will, over a period of time, create over 300 plus jobs. Altec VP of Operations Charlie Culp said the company will set out to address various site improvements and hopefully will be ready for business next summer. Altec, based in Birmingham Alabama, makes equipment for utility industries. Yancey County beat out some 300 communities in 10 or 11 states in landing Altec Industries!!

Altec Industries Coming To Yancey


It was a full house this morning as Yancey citizens gathered in the courthouse for a public hearing on a proposed incentive package the county was proposing to a prospective industry to locate in Yancey County, in the former OMC Building, now owned by the county. After hearing comments, the board voted to enter into an agreement with Altec Industries. According to the agreement, Altec will lease the OMC Building and property (almost 62 acres) the rent payment will $1 per year for seven years. The agreement also provides a bargain sale of the building to the company at the end of the lease agreement. In return, the company will agree to create a certain level of employment, currently estimated at 300 plus jobs. The proposed appropriations and expenditures to be made by the county include site improvements which will cost about $200 thousand. The County expects grant funds to cover these costs. Commissioners and many citizens said this is the greatest Christmas Gift this area could receive. Altec VP of Operations Charlie Culp said the company will set out to address various site improvements and hopefully will be ready for business next summer. As he said at the close of the Commissioners meeting, "we’re happy to be coming to Yancey County, let’s build things."  Altec, based out of Birmingham Alabama, supplies equipment related to utility Industries, such as French Broad Electric.

Yancey Public Hearing Wednesday


A public hearing has been set for this Wednesday, December 22, 2004, at 10:00 am, in the courtroom, of the Yancey County Courthouse to receive comment on proposed appropriations and expenditures for economic development. This meeting was originally scheduled for November 30, 2004, but was cancelled at the request of the prospective industry because certain state incentives were not in place.  The original notice indicated the county is ready to enter into a 7 year lease agreement with a metalworking business to locate at the former OMC building which is owned by the county. The rent payment will be $1 per year. The agreement may also provide a bargain sale of the building to the company at the end of the lease agreement. In return, the company will agree to create a certain level of employment, currently estimated at 300 plus jobs. The proposed appropriations and expenditures to be made by the county include site improvements which will cost about $200 thousand. The County expects grant funds to cover these costs. All Yancey County citizens are encouraged to attend this very important meeting, in the Yancey County Courthouse, that’s Wednesday, at 10:00 am. The Commissioners will meet in special session following the hearing to take whatever action is needed to move forward with economic development issues.

Power Outage in Mitchell


Some 12-hundred Progress Energy customers in the Altapass end of the Halltown Road area of Mitchell County were without power Thursday. Nancy Thompson, of Progress Energy, said the outage occurred when a bulldozer apparently hit a guide wire. Service was restored just after 1:00 pm

New Jail Contract with Rutherford County


Mitchell Commissioners have approved a new contract with Rutherford County to house non-violent inmates at the Rutherford County Detention Center. The cost will be $45 per day, per inmate & Mitchell County will reimburse Rutherford County for any medical expenses incurred by inmates while housed in the Rutherford facility.  Mitchell will also be responsible for transporting inmates to and from Rutherford County. The contact will run until July 2006. Mitchell County Manager Ryan Whitson says Rutherford County is housing Mitchell's inmates cheaper than Mitchell can, even if the county had a new jail built and paid for. He said it's costing Mitchell about half what it would cost the county to operate a jail.

Wind Blows Roof off South Toe Elementary


News from Yancey County Schools, Niles Howell, Director of Facility Services for Yancey County Schools, reports strong wind, December 1st ripped a 12 thousand square foot section of single-ply rubber roofing membrane off the roof of South Toe Elementary School.  Superintendent Ivan Randolph, maintenance staff, and officials from French Broad Electric determined the building and classrooms were safe to hold class.  Students were moved from classes that had windows covered with debris while cleanup efforts were in progress. Maintenance and custodial staff from throughout the school system worked to remove the debris from the parking area. Randolph thanked the maintenance employees and custodians for their assistance in the cleanup effort. Howell says all damage costs except the $5 thousand deductible will be covered by insurance.  


Looking at Goals


Mitchell Commissioners talked about goals Monday, short term and long term. Commissioner Mike Hensley said he would love to see the county look into vocational training of our workforce. He says we have to adaptable and train workers for areas such as plumbing, welding, masonry and machinist. Whatever a company wants, we should have training set up at the high school level and Mayland Community College. He said computers are very important, but skilled workers who can use their hands and minds are the most important. Commissioners are scheduled to get an update on economic development at their January 3rd meeting from Van Phillips, the County’s Economic Development Director.

Burnsville Man Killed in Wreck


A Burnsville man was killed Monday morning when the car he was driving was hit by a tractor trailer on Highway 19E, West of Burnsville. The victim is identified as Clyde Garland Cordell, age 91, of Riverside trailer park. According to Trooper R.M. Lancaster, Mr. Cordell failed to yield right-of-way, when he pulled out from Comet Ave in front of the truck. No other details are available.

Mitchell Adds $1.1 Million to General Fund


The Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell, Yancey Corporation, formed primarily to take care of money & property owned by the old Blue Ridge Mental Health Authority has been dissolved. Mitchell County Manager Ryan Whitson, says what that means to Mitchell County is the county owns the mental health facility, behind Spruce Pine Hospital, the value on the building is $590 thousand, the County owns a building in Bakersville that houses the Mountain Opportunity Center, the value on that building is about $190 thousand. The County will also receive some $360 thousand in cash. These assets are unrestricted, the money will go into the general fund and use of the buildings will be decided at a later date. Whitson said the disillusion of the corporation will no affect mental health services in the county. He said the county is required to spend maintenance of effort amount. Whitson said part of the amount will go to Mountain Opportunity Center and the County Home for Disabled Adults.


Drive by Shooting in Avery


Avery Deputies were called to what was described as a “drive by shooting,” of Friday, December 10th, at about 3:00 pm. Dwayne Mitchell Webb, age 43, of Roaring Creek Road, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, possession of a weapon of mass destruction, discharging a weapon into occupied property and assault by pointing a gun. The victim, Jerry Shad Helton, of Jerry’s Creek road, in the Roaring Creek Community, was shot in the face with a 22 caliber weapon. He was treated and released from Cannon Memorial Hospital. The incident is the result of an ongoing argument between the two. Webb was released under a $55 hundred secured bond. Meanwhile, the victim, Jerry Shad Helton, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, namely his car and with communicating threats against Webb. Helton was arrested Saturday, December 11th, and released under a $5 thousand secured. Both men have January 31st court dates.

Public Hearing Rescheduled


That public hearing recently postponed by Yancey County Officials that was to be a discussion of a possible industry coming to the former OMC property, now owned by the County, has been rescheduled. The new date and time for the meeting is Wednesday, December 22, 2004, at 10:00 am, in the courtroom of the Yancey County Courthouse. The company, whose name is not being released, requested the postponement of the earlier public hearing because all of the important details, such as state incentives, had not been finalized. Apparently, those details have been worked out. It’s hoped this economic initiative will bring 300 plus jobs to Yancey County.

Yancey Commissioners Fill Public Works and Planner Positions 


Yancey Commissioners met in emergency session this morning to discuss the resignation of Public Works Director Tom Tipton and his assistant David Thomas. Commissioner Nathan Bennett said Nick Rosseter has been hire as interim director. The board also hired Larry Howell as County Planner. Commissioner Dean Hicks addresses the rumors going around about wholesale firings, he says that not going to happen and he says the appointment of Howell as County Planner is needed. Hicks also addressed disturbing incidents of harassing phone calls received at the Courthouse. Commissioners say they will ask the Sheriff’s Department to look into these calls and do what is necessary to put a stop to it!!

Whitson’s Reserve Unit Has Been Mobilized


Mitchell’s Manager Mitchell County Manager Ryan Whitson has received notice that his reserve unit will be mobilized effective January 3rd and he will be at Ft Jackson for about a year. Whitson said he should have more definite orders by the next week, hopefully in time to brief commissioners at a special meeting which has been scheduled for Monday at 6:00 pm. By the way, Commissioners have changed their regular meeting time, the day stays the same, the first Monday of each month, but the time has been changed, commissioners will now meet at 6:00 pm. It’s hoped the new time will make it easier for citizens to attend meetings.

Seeking Grants for Riverside and Brad Ragan Parks


Spruce Pine will be submitting applications to the NC Parks & Recreation Trust Fund, for grant monies to support projects at Riverside and Brad Ragan Parks. Richard Canipe, Town Manager, says grant funds for Riverside Park would be used in conjunction with the Spruce Pine Rotary Club in the installation of a playground area. Also, funds would be used to repair areas affected by recent storms not covered by insurance or FEMA. At Brad Ragan, funds would be used to complete a ball field, install 2 horse shoe areas and possibly an area for volleyball. A public hearing on these projects will be held January 10, 2004, at 5:35 pm, in the council meeting room, at Town Hall.

Time is Running Out


If you’ve been affected by tropical Storm Frances and Hurricane Ivan, and have not registered for federal assistance, time is running out. Friday, December 17th, is the last date to file for most programs. Homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage from the storms are encouraged to apply. Call FEMA toll free, 1-800-621-3362, to register. Representatives are available 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

New Emergency Services Contract


Mitchell Commissioners have approved a new 4 year contract with Mission Hospital for emergency medical services. County Manager Ryan Whitson said the cost increase is about 14% over the 4 year period, but when the cost of diesel fuel, salary increases, medical supplies and inflation are factored in, this a good agreement.


A New Trial for Nebo Woman


It’s a new trial for Eva Barlowe, age 21, of Nebo. In 2001, she was sentenced to life for the beating death of her mother. Now an appellate court has ruled that she did not have adequate time to find a forensic expert who could counter the states interpretation of blood splatters on her clothes. And because the trial received a lot of media attention, her new trial will be held in Henderson County, and will begin January 24th in Hendersonville.

Hunting Age Proposal


A national group wants North Carolina to impose a minimum age for hunting. "The Fund for Animals" wants the state to require hunters to be at least 16 to carry a gun. The call comes after a hunting accident in Vance County where an 11-year-old shot his father. Local sportsmen say they don't agree with the proposal. They say as long as an adult is along to supervise, youngsters should be allowed to hunt. Any change in state hunting laws would have to go through the General Assembly.


Limited Flu Shots Available


Area health departments have received a limited supply of flu vaccine. About 300 flu shots will be given in Mitchell County beginning at 8:30 am Wednesday morning. The shots will be given on a first come, first served basis to those who meet the CDC guidelines. Flu shots are also available in Yancey County, no flu shots will be given 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, Monday through Friday or Tuesday and Friday from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm. For more information, call 682-6118.


Yancey’s New Commission


Yancey County’s new commission took office Monday as Danny Hensley was sworn in as Board Chairman, Nathan Bennett and Dean Hicks as board members. Commissioner Hicks says their plans are to complete the projects that are still on going, such as water and sewer and the comprehensive recreational grounds.


Mitchell’s New Commission


Mitchell County’s New Commission took office Monday. The new board is made up of Ken Hollifield, Jim Saylor, Phil Byrd, Mike Hensley and new chairman Keith Masters. Masters says their top priority over the next 2 years will be economic development, hopefully bringing in some manufacturing jobs. He said developing tourism is a large part of their economic development goals. Others projects include addressing the county’s jail needs and ambulance service.


Yancey School Superintendent Randolph Retiring


Yancey County School Superintendent Dr. Ivan Randolph is retiring at the end of this year. Citing significant differences in education philosophies with the current school board, and the fact he has enough time in the state school system to retire, Randolph and the school board have agreed on a buyout of his contract (which is scheduled for renewal in 2008). The agreement calls for Randolph to receive $50 thousand by December 30, 2004 (his retirement date) and $50 thousand by July 30, 2005. The board voted 3-2, Monday night, to accept Randolph’s contract buyout proposal. School Board Chairman Gary Grindstaff said an interim Superintendent will be named in the next few weeks and a search committee will be named to look for a new Superintendent, possibly in early January. Board Members Gary Grindstaff, Dr. Iva Nell Buckner and Elaine Boone voted to accept Randolph’s proposal, board members Van Thomas and Randy Banks voted against his proposal. To see a copy of Randolph's letter, click here.


Creating Homegrown Jobs


Spruce Pine is the “Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree!!” That designation comes through an agreement with Gloria Houston, author of the best selling children’s book, “The Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree.” The agreement allows Spruce Pine to market & promote the town with products which creates jobs and that boosts the region’s economy. Last week, a reception was held highlighting some the products that are being considered for licensing. Houston said she hopes jobs and homegrown businesses can be created here, using the talents of the crafters and artisans of the region.

Yancey E911 on Line


It’s been a long time in coming; Yancey County’s E911 System is now on line. Yancey E911 Director Bill Davis says this new system will reduce response time and hopefully saves lives.

Gillespie Named to Select Committee


State Representative Mitch Gillespie has been appointed to the state’s newly created Joint Select Committee on Hurricane Relief. This past year was an active hurricane year in the Tar Heel State, and the Western counties were hit especially hard. Gillespie represents McDowell and parts of Burke and Caldwell Counties. Gillespie said progress has been made in cleaning up from the storms, but there are still some unresolved issues and he looks forward to addressing them in this committee.

A Perfect Christmas Tree Day


It was the day of the “Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree,” in Spruce Pine Wednesday. That was the theme of the Town’s Christmas Parade and it was a day to spotlight potential licensed products of the “Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree.” Van Phillips, Executive Director of the Mitchell County Economic Development Commission, said it’s good to see the “perfect” project getting off the ground and it’s hoped this is the start of “home grown” businesses in Spruce Pine & Mitchell County!!

Micaville Man Arrested in Mitchell


Mitchell Deputies have charged Adam Ray Mathis, age 20, Double Island Road, in Micaville, with 10 counts of breaking and entering of a motor vehicle, 9 counts felony larceny, 9 counts misdemeanor larceny plus 6 counts of possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule 2 drug. Mathis remains in jail under a $94 thousand bond. He is scheduled to appear in court December 13th.

Hearing Postponed


Yancey County postponed a public hearing Tuesday night that was supposed to be a discussion of a possible industry coming to the former OMC building, now owned by the county. Does this mean the company is no coming to Yancey? Michele Lawhern, Yancey County Manager, says the postponement should not be interpreted as the deal is off. She said the company, whose name is not being released, requested the public hearing be postponed because all of the important details, such as state incentives, have not been finalized. It’s hoped that when all the details can be worked out, this economic initiative will bring 300 plus jobs for Yancey County.

Meth Arrests in Mitchell


Mitchell Deputies have charged three men with possession of chemicals with intent to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine. James Robert Lee Hughes, age 21, & James Bordette Hughes, age 23, both of a Crawley Dale Road address, in Morganton, were released after posting bond. And, charged with similar offenses, but a different case, Randall Homer Ballard, age 45, of Highway 221, in Marion remains in jail. He was also charged with being a habitual felon.



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