NC House Bill 145 could effect Cherokee County Schools

BREAKING NEWS, Cherokee County Schools

The General Assembly Of North Carolina Session 2019 House Bill Primary Sponsors, Representatives Wesley Harris (Economic Consultant), John Autry (Freelance Media Production), Brandon Lofton (Lawyer), and Christy Clark (Paralegal), could have some impact on Cherokee County schools.

There has been no comment from the Cherokee County Board of Education at the time of publication.

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Cherokee County (NC) Board of Education meeting schedule for 2019

Cherokee County Schools, Community, News

The 2019 Cherokee County Board of Education meeting schedule is now available. For more information, please phone 828-837-2722 for times and school location addresses. You may also visit their website at https://www.cherokee.k12.nc.us/ for more details.

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Conley discusses school safety at Board of Education meeting

Business

MURPHY, N.C. – At the Thursday, March 8, Cherokee County Board of Education (BOE) meeting, Dr. Jeana Conley, school superintendent, delivered an update on current school safety guidelines and policies as well as plans for continued improvement in this area.

After the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 students and staff, many school systems across the region have reviewed safety measures and taken steps to enhance safety procedures at school campuses.

Cherokee County School Superintendent Dr. Jeana Conley, center, addresses school safety at the Cherokee County Board of Education meeting Thursday, March 8, with board members Paul Brown, left, and Jeff Tatham, right.

Conley told the board several local meetings have taken place with principals, school resource officers (SROs) and other law enforcement officials since the Florida tragedy in an effort to review safety procedures and priorities. Currently, a number of measures are in place or are being established to enhance the safety of Cherokee County Schools.

The superintendent explained comprehensive safety and emergency response plans are in place at each campus across the school system and all staff have been trained for emergency response. Additionally, the school board is currently reviewing a re-evaluation of the system’s safety preparedness policies and will recommend further actions at its April BOE meeting. Students will receive updated safety training and instructions Tuesday, March 13, which has been designated Student School Safety Awareness Day by Cherokee County Schools. Also, monthly emergency drills are being conducted at all county schools.

Conley also stated Cherokee County Schools has received a grant to help secure a fifth SRO to serve at its 12 campuses countywide. The school system also plans to ask for additional funding for enough SROs to serve at all 12 schools on a full-time basis, Conley added.

Other improvements include the installation of keyless-entry hardware at school entry access points and school security cameras at school sites.

“All of our school administrators and counselors will be receiving professional development in threat assessment protocol to better identify students who are in need of support and further attention,” Conley informed the board.

A new and improved Safe Schools Alert, which allows individuals to report safety and security concerns anonymously via email, phone or text message, is also in the works, according to Conley.

The superintendent also stated she would like to see veterans, retired law enforcement, and other willing volunteers take part in an overall safety plan for each school.

“Caring community members can make an impact, just with a physical presence. We are hosting meetings in each area to explain how to become a volunteer and receive the volunteer application packet,” Conley said.

Cherokee County Schools have also adopted the “Run, Hide, Fight” emergency protocol enacted by the state as a method to counter an active-shooter event. Conley stated this method is applicable not only for students at schools but also at any public place where an active-shooter event takes place.

In other business, a number of potential purchases were presented for approval by Winfield Clonts, board member and chairman of the board’s financial subcommittee. The board awarded a contract bid to Ben Hill Roofing & Siding in the amount of $343,900.00, which was the lowest among four received bids, to replace the roof of the Andrews High School gymnasium and cafeteria buildings. Though Conley admitted the project might come with a “sticker shock,” she added the roof replacement is a necessary project, stating games played in the gymnasium in the past have had to be stopped during heavy rains.

The purchase of a new scoreboard for the softball field at Murphy Recreational Park was approved. Clonts explained the Murphy High School girls softball team uses the field for its games, and the school board will split costs for the scoreboard with the recreation park. The cost to Cherokee County Schools will be $1,537.

The board also approved the purchase of 68 new stools for the Murphy Middle School cafeteria in the amount $2,485. Clonts further explained the table tops in the school’s cafeteria remain in good condition.

Other purchases approved at the BOE meeting included:

  • A $6,500 purchase for a 12-by-24 storage unit for Hiwassee Dam School;
  • A $9,973 upgrade for the sprinkler system on the Murphy High School football field; and
  • A $3,312 project to resurface the infield of the Hiwassee Dam High School baseball field.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Board of Elections preparing for May primary

Election 2018, News

MURPHY, N.C. – At their monthly meeting Wednesday, March 7, the Board of Elections discussed a number of items in preparation for the May 8 primary election in Cherokee County.

Director of Elections Leighsa Jones presented the board with the option of moving the polling center in the Marble precinct from the Marble Community Center to the Marble campus of Tri-County Community College (TCCC). Jones explained that to use the TCCC location, the Board of Elections would need to submit an application to the college, and typically, the college charges an event rental fee for use of the facility. However, Jones added those fees would likely be waived by the college. To this, board Chairman Eddie Adams stated by law, the college must waive any fees.

After board member Gary Kilpatrick inquired of the number of anticipated voters for May primary in the Marble precinct, Jones stated the presidential general election of 2016 saw around 500 voters, and she expected between 350 to 400 for the upcoming primary.

“I need to get (the application) submitted … as soon as possible because we do have to make any changes at least 45 days prior (to the primary) because we have to notify each voter in writing if we’re going to do that,” Jones explained.

The board approved the application and for Jones to submit the application to Judy Owenby, assistant to the president of TCCC.

Testing and training was also discussed during the meeting. Jones stated the Board of Elections office was still waiting to receive ballot proofs from the state to approve. After this, she said the office could begin coding and testing machines.

“We have to be partially, if not fully, tested before we start training because got to have some machines that are set up and ready for training,” Jones said, adding the mock election is April 5.

The board tentatively set six training days for its precinct officials: April 2 through 5 and April 16 and 17.

Also discussed and approved were the number of officials for each precinct at five. Jones told the board she felt the primary, on the county level, will likely be heavier in turn out during the primary election rather than the November general. “What you can figure is most of the elections will be decided in the primary,” Jones said but stated she was still comfortable with five officials at each precinct.

Hours for early voting were also approved and set by the board for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Early voting begins Thursday, April 19, and ends Saturday, May 5, at the Board of Elections office in the courthouse annex at 40 Peachtree Street in Murphy.

Also, Jones informed the board there are currently two petitions in the works for Steve Coleman and Allen Denny to be added to the general election ballot for the at-large post on the Board of Education. According to Jones, the prospective candidates must receive 4 percent of registered voters countywide, which equates to approximately 1,000 voters, to be added to the ballot. The deadline for the petitions, Jones said, was the day of the primary election (May 8).

Coleman and Denny would join Democrat incumbent Tim Coffey and Republican candidates Tylor Dockery and Keesha Curtis on the general election ballot for the at-large school board seat.

Voter registration deadlines for the May primary and the November general elections are April 13 and October 12, respectively.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Courthouse dome lantern plans discussed at commissioners meeting

News

MURPHY, N.C. – Restoration plans for the Cherokee County Courthouse lantern were discussed at length by the Board of Commissioners during their Tuesday, Feb. 19 meeting.

Specific action was approved by the board to move the lantern from the Western Carolina Regional Airport to the former Cherokee Well Drilling property located off of U.S. 64.

Of the restoration plans, Commissioner C.B. McKinnon stated, “In the quotes we got, there’s a lot of elaborate work on (the lantern) which is never seen. Nobody knows it’s there. The only people that’s seen it is if you’re brave enough to go up in a basket on the crane … Those decorative items, in my opinion, is what drives the cost up … So, I think this is a nice compromise to get the lantern back on the courthouse and aesthetically looking like it’s always looked.”

McKinnon later described the decorative items in question as a “drapery” base that is nearly flat after Commissioner Cal Stiles expressed concerns over replicating the original design.

“There’s no physical way to see it from the ground,” McKinnon added.

Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum pointed out that welding students from Tri-County Community College (TCCC) would be  assisting with the project, and Vice Chairman Gary Westmoreland stated Charles Carry, welding instructor at TCCC would be overseeing the copper work restoration. Westmoreland further explained that Carry is “one of the best coppermen in western North Carolina.”

Currently, the estimated cost of the restoration work is projected to be around $50,000.

Sheriff Derrick Palmer presented the board with a proposal for legal services for the sheriff’s office. According to Palmer, the legal consultation service, Smith Rodgers PLLC, would be hired at a flat rate of $10,642 a year and the one-year contract would be begin July 1.

County Manager Randy Wiggins explained the service would be used as an enhancement to the county’s own attorney, giving the sheriff’s office 24/7 legal consultation.

“This group does not come out and represent the sheriff’s office in legal suits and things of that nature,” Palmer stated. “That’s for the county attorney. What they do is give that expert consultation when we need an answer right then and we’re calling, writing a search warrant or getting ready to go into someone’s home, we can call and say, ‘This is what we’ve got. What’s your expert opinion on this?'”

Commissioner Stiles explained he believed the service will save the county money in the long run stating, “In all probability, it’s going to cost us $10,000 if we’re having to pay our county attorney, at that point,to give you advice. That would eat into this cost.”

Of the expert consultation, Eichenbaum said, “Any consultation with them is much more efficient because they’ve dealt with it over and over and over again.”

The commissioners unanimously approved Palmer’s proposal with the caveat that Palmer approach Smith Rodgers about a pro-rated contract to take effect immediately until the July 1 contract begins. According to Maria Hass, BOC clerk and assistant county manager, after Palmer contacted Smith Rodgers later in the week, an arrangement was made for legal consultation services to begin Monday, Feb. 26, under a pro-rated contract for the amount of $3,645.

A new Caterpillar D6N dozer tractor for use at the Cherokee County Landfill was purchased by the board for the amount of $323,391.78 from Carolina Caterpillar of Charlotte. Commissioner McKinnon explained plans were previously made to repair the landfill’s existing dozer tractor for an estimated cost of $60,000. After agreements with the repair company fell through, however, the county studied the possibility of purchasing of a used tractor.

“That used tractor had 2,000 hours and it was (around $290,000),” McKinnon said, “and it didn’t have the landfill package on it. So, the used tractor was going to be a lot more than the new tractor by the time you put the landfill package (on it) that keeps the sprockets clear of the garbage and the safety things that go on it. So, that’s how we ended up at a new dozer tractor.”

McKinnon stated the new tractor comes with a five-year warranty. The board unanimously approved the purchase and agreed a future discussion would come as to what to do with the old dozer tractor.

The board approved an agreement for Ralph Robinson, lessee of the Hiwassee Valley Pool and Wellness Center LLC, to reimburse the county for electric and propane costs until the end of the fiscal year (June 30). After that, Robinson will have to negotiate his own contract for these utility services. Currently, the contracts for electric and propane remain with the county for the center.

Commissioners also approved a budget revision for use of the school Half-Cent Sales Tax in the amount of $41,672. The amount, approved by the Board of Education at their Feb. 8 meeting, will fund maintenance and repair costs at Hiwassee Dam, Murphy and Martin’s Creek elementary schools, The Oaks Academy, Andrews Middle School and Murphy High School.

The purchase of a 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe was approved by the board for the sheriff’s office after the department lost the use of a patrol car due to engine failure. The cost of the Tahoe is $31,500 and the funds will be drawn from Sheriff’s Designated Fund balance.

The board approved a budget revision in the amount of $2,619 to purchase 10 animal waste receptacles and supplies for use at the Connahetta Park and Riverwalk area as well as the Andrews Recreation Park. The expenditure is funded from revenue from a North Carolina Community Conservation Assistance Program grant.

A proclamation declaring the 11th Annual Cherokee County Senior Games and Silver Arts Program to take place in Cherokee County April 28 through May 19 was issued by the Board of Commissioners. According to the proclamation, over one-third of the county’s full-time residents are 50 years of age or older, which puts Cherokee as one of the leading counties in the state in this category. The Senior Games and Silver Arts Program are “designed to inspire, motivate, and educate all citizens about their potential for good health and involvement throughout their lives.”

 

[Featured image:  Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum, left, and Commissioners C.B. McKinnon and Cal Stiles vote to accept the agenda for the Monday, Feb. 19, Cherokee County Board of Commissioners meeting as County Manager Randy Wiggins looks on. Not pictured: Commissioners Ray Dickey and Gary Westmoreland.]

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

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