A Former Athletic Directors Thoughts on Consolidation

Team FYN Sports

As everyone in the community knows, the decision has been made to consolidate the 3 High Schools in Cherokee County. That means that Hiwassee Dam, Murphy, and Andrews High Schools will join under one roof, as one School. Many people have many differing opinions on whether this will be a good or bad thing for the kids and the community as a whole, but I stumbled across the best statement I have heard from either side while scrolling through Facebook the other night. Former Andrews High School Athletic Director Dane Rickett took to Facebook to share his thoughts on the matter, and after reading his post I knew it needed to be shared with the masses. Rickett is an upstanding member of the Andrews and Cherokee County community, and has always been known as a teacher/coach that put the kids first and always had their best interest in mind.

Please take a moment to read what he had to say.

Former Andrews High School Athletic Director Dane Rickett:

“Let me start by saying that I am a Wildcat through and through. I went to Andrews schools, I played as many sports as I could participate in while I was there, and I came back to teach, coach, and serve as an Athletic Director. I loved every second of it. Emotionally I will hate to see that school leave. But my emotions will never outweigh my love for our county but more importantly for doing what is right for our students. I know some people are not going like what I have to say, and I totally understand that. All I am asking is that you read this post in its entirety before you comment. And if you do comment, don’t make it personal, explain where the following points are incorrect and I will gladly consider your point of view.

One School vs Two

The whole premise behind consolidation is that the current state formula for funding teachers does not provide enough staff to needed classes. The state requires a base of core classes and credits for graduation. Once the available teachers for Cherokee County are divided three ways we have no teachers left for electives or vocational classes. This is the reason the county currently funds 24 teacher positions. Even divided into two the county still will not have enough staff to offer our students the opportunities they deserve. I know many have said, “my children have been able to take all of the college prep and AP classes they need.” Yes, that is probably true, but if your child is going to college to pursue a degree they are in the 15% of students. If they complete the degree and become employed in that field, they are now in a 5% category. Can we really set up our entire system for 15% of our students? No, of course not. We have to have vocational classes. The only way to provide this is to pool all of our resources into one school. In addition, two schools of 400 would still require two stadiums, two gyms, two cafeterias, and two facilities not much smaller than the one they are planning to build. This still would not solve the problem of the lack of vocational opportunities because we would still not have the staff without additional county support.


I realize that many of you have had questions about the location of the school and assume that much better places exist, and maybe they do. But consider that TCCC is right there as is Erlanger. They already have automotive, cosmetology, culinary science, welding, and many other trade classes established and locations and teachers for those classes. Erlanger can offer opportunities for our nursing and medical students to log clinical hours. Should the school be built in a different location these opportunities will not be available without much-inflated cost. Also, do you know that students currently get on our REGULAR bus routes, who are stopping on their REGULAR routes, and then ride a transfer bus to TCCC campus and are arriving before 8:00 am? So, yes, the time on a bus will increase, but the time the student has to board a bus will not change. Also, buses can easily be set up for WIFI access on the bus. This would provide great opportunities for students to complete work. Sports travel for practice would increase for students at each end of the county. But currently, there is a plan in place for those students to ride a bus back to their home school to be picked up after practices and games.


Many have pointed to school consolidation leading to less opportunity for participation. However, people saying this are only referring to the big three, football, basketball, and baseball. But when you consider this larger school would include many more sports and teams, opportunities actually will be increasing. The existing sports would have guaranteed JV teams providing students with not only more opportunities in their 9th and 10th-grade year, but would also provide developmentally appropriate opportunities. In addition, students could participate on full teams in cross county, golf, women’s soccer, and wrestling. Any sports parent, who really wants their child to excel, knows that the best way for that to happen is to have competition, not just on game day, but every day. In addition, if you want your child to have an opportunity to play at the next level, this only helps. I cannot tell you the number of college recruiters who I would call as a coach and they wouldn’t even hear me out because we were a 1A school in the mountains. Their assumption was always that our stats and accomplishments were due to a lack of competition, not a presence of talent. I know this point could be debated, but this was my experience as a coach and AD at Andrews High.


At a consolidated high school, the students will have opportunities for chorus, bands, jazz bands, theater, dance, mock trials, debate teams, and opportunities to participate in well-organized and meaningful clubs and organizations. Students will also have the opportunity for lifelong sports such as tennis, golf, and fishing, which can be offered on the campus as electives. Currently, we provide no opportunities for students to explore other interests outside of core courses or online college courses. Again, this is not the fault of the current administration at the school or county level. It is because teachers are funded on a per-pupil basis, and we do not have enough to provide the core courses at three schools, much less provide additional courses. At AHS when I was the athletic director we had 22 sports teams and only 19 full-time employees. Without consolidation, we simply cannot offer things to our students.


Our lack of useful labor is a product of our lack of courses and preparation. Soon in Cherokee County business owners will be paying $15 for a minimum wage worker who likely will not be able to read a tape measure. Snap-On installed a lab in Union County because they had space, infrastructure, and personnel to offer it in hopes of creating employable youth in the area. The Casino is desperate for students trained in hospitality management. Nursing programs would thrive with close proximity to Erlanger. Cherokee County schools would be turning out students with ACS certification in mechanics and Safe Serve food certifications. Students with experience in carpentry, framing, and building would be available to those looking to hire. Students would have experience and knowledge in welding. This would all be in addition to taking advantage of offerings at TCCC. How powerful would it be as a business owner to be able to call the school and ask for the availability of qualified students who are looking to enter the workforce? Or to have a restaurant and be able to hire students with Safe Serve certifications right out of high school. Students could build portfolio’s of their work and accomplishments to present to potential employeers. Even for a private farm, a student could come out prepared after taking agricultural production, agronomy, animal science, horticulture, or soil science. Not only would they have this knowledge they could also market their own products more easily by having entrepreneurship classes, website design, and marketing classes.


The current drug problem in our communities is reaching the point of being an epidemic. However, these young people are a result of what we are putting out as a school system. The entire system is geared toward college prep students, which targets 15% of the students in Cherokee county. Students are leaving our schools with no job skills, knowledge of finances, or the ability to fit into a local job and be productive at $15 per hour. So how do we expect them to be more productive and fit into the local economy? They deserve a better chance at life through educational opportunities. We can do nothing, but we will continue to see this trend for our young people and will eventually begin to spend the same money to try and cure a problem we are currently creating.


Rising taxes are never popular. However, they are coming one way or another. No, we don’t have to build this school. We can continue on the path we are currently on and continue to put out students who are not ready for the workforce. We can continue to have manufacturing companies pass over our county for a lack of a viable workforce. We can continue to have businesses struggle because they cannot hire our local young people. Then we can wait a few years and raise taxes to increase law enforcement, try to maintain county infrastructure, and expand our new jail and social services to deal with the problems we have created. I personally would rather invest in an ounce of prevention than a pound of cure.

I totally understand the emotional connections to our current schools.No matter where you stand just consider what I have said. And if you are going to fight, fight to be sure this school offers everything our students need. Let’s fight for turf fields so all teams and the band can use them. Let’s ensure it has gyms and auxiliary gyms. Let’s demand baseball and softball fields we can be proud of. Let’s make sure we do not skip anything or cut any corners. Let’s get together and demand the very best we can give our students. That’s what they deserve.”

Cherokee County Schools on two-hour delay for December 1

Community, School Corner

Cherokee County Schools will operate on a two-hour delay tomorrow, Tuesday, December 1st. We will monitor the precipitation leaving open the option to call a remote day if freezing temps persist.

Zeta-related power outages cause Cherokee County NC Schools to close

tropical storm zeta
MURPHY, NC – Due to the widespread power outages from tropical storm Zeta, Cherokee County Schools are now closed for the day.
Originally, the school system was operating on a two-hour delay because of the tropical storm warning.
In a statement from the school, officials said:
“Cherokee County Schools is closed today, October 29th. This will be a remote learning day for students who have internet accessibility/power. Update: Optional Teacher Workday – Too many students with no power or internet.”
At 8 a.m., the Blue Ridge Mountain EMC (BRMEMC) “has recorded over 150 outages affecting over 15,000 members across most of our system.” More power outages are expected as tropical storm Zeta continues to pass through.
BRMEMC crews are out and working to quickly restore power. However, they do ask for patience.

BRMEMC power outage map

Cherokee County Schools following Cooper’s Plan B option

Plan B

CHEROKEE COUNTY, N.C. – Cherokee County Schools chose to operate under N.C. Governor Roy Cooper’s Plan B scenario for the 2020-2021 school year.

Under Plan B, schools must follow social distancing and safety protocols as well as a limited number of people allowed within the building. Originally, the government only permitted 50 percent capacity, but the plan has since been modified to ensure six feet of separation.

Parents and guardians can choose between returning to in-person instruction or remote online learning.

Students who return to in-person must wear a mask except for breaks and meals. Face coverings will be provided by the state.  A physician’s prescription will also be accepted if a child can’t wear a mask. Daily temperature checks and symptom questions will be conducted daily.

Students will sit one to a seat on buses with masks unless they are siblings. The limited number of seating might require buses to run late or make more trips. Parents are encouraged to pick-up and drop-off their children because of limited capacity. Bus riders must have a form attesting to their health and lack of COVID-19 symptoms.

On Monday and Tuesday, students with the last name beginning with A-L will attend school. M-Z will attend on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is a remote learning day for everyone, and the school will be sanitized.

Students who have siblings with different last names will have their schedules adjusted so they can be in school on the same days.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are remote learning days.

Social distancing will always be maintained. Stickers will be placed on the floors, sign installed, along with social distancing procedures in place.

Intense sanitizing will take place on the campus and on buses. Students will be encouraged to regularly wash their hands and hand sanitizing stations will be prominently available. Water bottle stations will replace water fountains, and water bottles will be provided.

No visitors, including parents and guardians allowed inside the school without the express permission of administration because of an emergency or other situation deemed necessary by the administration. No large group assemblies, gatherings or congregating will be allowed.

Remote Learning Option

Students in remote only classes will be accountable for participation, attendance remotely and partake in an organized, rigorous curriculum. All assignments will count as a final grade.

Those in remote learning must commit to the option for an entire semester.

Face to face assessments will be conducted with remote students on days that other students aren’t in attendance.

Parents can complete a decision form to participate in online or in-person school before Monday, August 10. It can also be completed over the phone. Once submitted, this form will be used to reserve a student’s space in one of the options and cannot be changed until the end of the first semester in December.

After August 10, school staff will begin calling or making home visits to obtain an answer from parents and guardians.

Plans could change at any time as more information about COVID-19 becomes available, the infection rate increases, or the governor’s orders.

Watch the video about Cherokee Jumpstart to see how Cherokee County Schools might operate once students return to school.

Special announcements from Cherokee County Schools

Cherokee County Schools, News
Cherokee County Schools
ACE At-Home Curriculum Extension for Cherokee County Schools Students

Cherokee County Schools, Program Announcement

ACE At-home Curriculum Extension and Digital Learning Day

Governor Cooper announced an executive order affecting all K-12 public schools. As such, Cherokee County Schools will be closed for students beginning Monday, March 16, for at least two weeks. This closure affects all programming, including all after-school activities, all athletic and extracurricular practices, and competitions, and weekend events.

The week of Monday, March 16, will be regular workdays for employees, including teacher’s assistants unless you are ill and wish to take sick leave. Please note that school nutrition employees will be reporting to assigned meal sites. School Nutrition will be operating 6 pick up sites:  AES, PES, MCEMS, MES, HD, and Ranger. Students and parents of students may pick up two meals at once and pickup times at these schools are between 8 am and 1 pm.

In consultation with state and local leaders, we will determine a schedule to re-open school at a later date.

CCS ACE Packets and Digital Learning Plans

Our school system has prepared for closure. As such, Cherokee County ACE and Digital Learning Days will be in effect starting this week. Please check for information that was sent home on Friday, March 13. Resource links and information will also be posted on our website. If your child did not bring their device or an ACE packet home on Friday, we will formulate a plan to get those devices and resources to students. We will share those details with you soon.

For additional information on the ACE At-Home Curriculum Extension packets please contact your student’s principal.  Principals will be monitoring their email and will respond to your questions as soon as possible.  Principals may be reached at the following email addresses:

AES: [email protected]

AHS: [email protected]

AMS: [email protected]

HDEMS:  [email protected]

HDHS: [email protected]

MCEMS:  [email protected]

MES:  [email protected]

MHS:  [email protected]

MMS:  [email protected]

PES:  [email protected]

REMS: [email protected]

TCEC:  [email protected]

The Oaks:  [email protected]

Board of Education Public Hearing for Consolidation

With the State ordered the closure of public schools and in an effort to limit the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Public Hearing scheduled for Saturday, March 21, 2020, is postponed until further notice.

Vaping concern at Cherokee County Schools – Epidemic of youth use nationwide

Cherokee County Schools

Vaping is becoming a major concern for educators to handle use by Cherokee County students during school hours.

PRIDE released its study for 2017-18. “Pride Surveys was created in 1982 by professors at Georgia State University in Atlanta and Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY. Their purpose was to help local schools measure student alcohol, tobacco and other drug use through the use of student surveys,” PRIDE website states.

Cherokee County Board of Education was informed of the survey results by Ms. Jenni Irwin at a recent meeting.

Irwin explained the study polled 752 fifth, seventh, ninth, and 11th grade students with all answers anonymous.

The survey showed an increase of tobacco use among fifth graders while there was a decrease in use in other class groups. However, the prevalence of e-cigarette use within a 30-day period showed decrease in usage by all grade levels surveyed.

Irwin cautioned that although the numbers have lowered, the threat of unknown, harmful substances are finding their way into the JUUL (pronounced jewel) e-cigarette containers students are using. These products are sold by online merchants as well as “in vaping, convenience, and tobacco stores.”

JUUL is an e-cigarette with many scented vapors like “fruit medley” which students find appealing. There is no lingering “smell” after each puff of the battery operated device. E-cigarettes are finding an underage tobacco use market as students of all ages are beginning to use them. It is illegal to sell to minors.

The amount of nicotine one JUUL contains is the same amount as a pack of 20 cigarettes. Each pod will give the user approximately 200 puffs. Herein lies the concerns of many: some JUULs have been tested to find in addition to nicotine to contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oils and other harmful chemicals or illegal substances.

Looking like a USB flash drive, it can be charged by using a USB port on a computer or adapter without teachers or parents realizing what it is. JUUL also quickly fits in the palm of person’s hand or pocket.

Many JUUL’s are being sold illegally to minors by outlets who sell this type of product. The dangers are within plain sight and everyone needs to be diligent in keeping our youth safe from harmful activities and merchants trying to sell illicit items to them.

If a citizen in Cherokee County suspects any wrongful doing by merchants selling tobacco or e-cigarette related products, please contact Local Law Enforcement Authorities.

FetchYourNews.com attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month for ad server. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 to 60,000 per week Facebook page reach. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or visit [email protected]

Cherokee County NC schools closed Tuesday, February 19 due to flu

BREAKING NEWS, Cherokee County Schools

 The Cherokee County (NC) school system has sent word all its schools will be closed on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, “due to the high number of flu cases and illness being reported throughout the school system.”

All able and available staff are requested to “report and assist with cleaning and disinfecting buses and classrooms.”

The symptoms of the flu children may have been experiencing were body or muscle aches, chills, cough, fever, headache, and a sore throat.

Cherokee County NC’s Facebook followers comments from their page include:

  • Jeana Conley explained, “Just some info: the CDC has no firm guidelines regarding closing schools but the general rule of thumb has been when schools hit 20 percent. Today for the first time we had 3 schools hit or come close to 20 percent. The CDC research indicates that a day of sanitizing is effective and closing for extended days does not have a greater impact than a day of sanitation. It is not a subjective or easily justifiable decision. We will always maximize what we are allowed to do. As of now only AMS, Peachtree Elementary, and the Early College hit 20% absenteeism with HDEMS following at 16%. All other schools fell in to normal parameters but since schools share buses in our district we were able to justify closing all the schools. I hope this helps everyone understand.”
  • Tami Jenkins added “I do not think one day is going to be enough as bad as it is. The school needs to be closed the whole week and cleaned and give people time to get better. There are people like me with lupus and have other low immune diseases and we don’t need this brought home to us, so one day is not gonna be enough to get this sickness cleared up.


For more information or closings, please contact the School Board at 828-837-2722 or visit their FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/Cherokee-County-Schools-NC-118104508239699/.

FetchYourNews.com attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month for ad server. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 to 60,000 per week Facebook page reach. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or visit [email protected]

Early release for Cherokee County Schools

News, School Corner

MURPHY, N.C. – Cherokee County Schools announced on its Facebook page earlier today (Jan. 16) the early release of schools due to incoming winter weather:

Schools closing at 11:30 a.m.

The Cherokee County School System is closely monitoring today’s weather. The National Weather Service webinar held this morning at 4:00 a.m. indicated the winter weather is expected to arrive in our area between 1 and 5 p.m. We are grateful to have been able to get most of our kids in after the long weekend in order to give some of them the first breakfast and lunch they have had in several days, however in the interest of safety of travel all Cherokee County Schools will release today at 11:30. This will give all bus drivers a chance to complete their routes and get safely home before the risk of winter weather becomes a factor.

In addition, all after school activities are cancelled today- including 21st Century After School, and Community Night at Rib Country (Tuesday), January 16.

We realize this is a serious inconvenience to working parents and families and appreciate your support and patience. Thank you and travel safely.

Please continue to follow FetchYourNews for updated coverage of Winter Storm Inga.


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 [email protected]


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.

Winter Storm Warning for Cherokee and Clay Counties, North Carolina


Winter Storm Warning for Cherokee and Clay counties, North Carolina


Posted at 3:15 pm from the National Weather Service:

Accumulating snowfall expected on Friday across Southwest North Carolina and the mountains of Eastern Tennessee…



Light to moderate snow occurring. Plan on difficult travel conditions, including during the evening commute.

Additional snow accumulations of one to three inches are expected.


Additional Details

Be prepared for significant reductions in visibility at times.



A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions are occurring. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. The latest road conditions for the state you are calling from can be obtained by calling 511.


Ways to prepare and stay safe:

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
    Prolonged exposure to cold can cause hypothermia.
  • Walk and drive carefully on icy sidewalks and roads.                                                                                           Many injuries and accidents are caused by slippery conditions.
  •  Before driving, let someone know your destination, route and expected time of arrival.
     If your car gets stuck, it’ll be easier to find you. 
  •  If you lose feeling and color in your nose, ears, hands or feet, cover the exposed area, avoid         rubbing your skin and seek medical help immediately.                                                                                             You may have frostbite.                                                                                                                                                         
  • When shoveling snow, take breaks and lift lighter loads.                                                                                 Working too hard can lead to heart attacks.                                                                                                                      
  •  Stay Dry.                                                                                                                                                                       Wet clothes makes you lose body heat, increasing your risk for hypothermia.                                                            

Superintendent Conley thanks Hiwassee Dam Principal Daniel McNabb for memorializing former lifetime teacher William Grady Anderson

Hiwassee Dam High School

CHEROKEE COUNTY, N.C.- Superintendent Dr. Jeana Conley publicly thanked Hiwassee Dam Schools, Hiwassee Dam High School, and specifically Hiwassee Dam High School Principal Daniel McNabb, Monday July 31st 2017, during the Cherokee County School Board meeting.

Dr. Conley thanked McNabb, who, in cooperation with alumni memorialized Mr. William Grady Anderson by installing a plaque naming the pavilion in front of the Hiwassee Dam School in his honor.

Anderson’s teaching career began in 1949 where he continued to teach until his retirement in 1995. Dr. Conley also mentioned the gathering as being a really nice event. Anderson passed at the age of 86 in 2014. His obituary, written by Ivie Funeral Home, states, “Grady lived a life of honesty and integrity and taught the same to his students.”


Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

Two-hour delay for Cherokee County Schools Wednesday

Cherokee County Schools, News

MURPHY, N.C. – Due to the threat of inclement weather this morning, all Cherokee County Schools will operate on a two-hour delay today (Wednesday, March 21), according to a post issued on the school system’s website.

The school system will continue to monitor and access the weather situation and stated a possibility of closure is possible if snow continues.

Please continue to follow FetchYourNews for updates on the impacts of this winter storm.




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.

Cherokee County Schools 2018-2019 Calendar


Commissioners hear road name dispute, tell of DC visit

News, Politics

MURPHY, N.C. – A dispute over the name of a road was presented to the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners during their Monday, March 19, meeting.

On the agenda was Anthony McCray, who is a 25-year resident of Lambert Road in Marble. McCray told the commissioners the road had formerly been known as Lower Vengeance Creek Road until the change to Lambert Road during a 911 addressing process in 2014 and he would like to see it restored to its previous name.

County Manager Randy Wiggins explained he was told that the road never had an official name according to 911 addressing records prior to the name of Lambert Road, which was named after one of the four property owners on the road, Ronald Lambert. Wiggins also stated no file of the name change petition from the four property owners could be found on record with the county.

In his complaint, McCray stated, “I just don’t think a road name should be in a surname when there’s different families living on the same road.” McCray also spoke directly to Lambert, who was in attendance at the meeting, and said he always considered him to be “a good neighbor” and whatever the outcome of the issue, his opinion of Lambert would remain the same.

Marble resident Ronald Lambert addresses the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners about a dispute over the name change of Lambert Road where he resides.

Lambert spoke after McCray saying, “The reason the road needed a name is because I’m a North Carolina licensed foster parent (and) once a year, the fire marshal comes out to my house to inspect my house. He said since there’s more than three residences on the road, the road must have a name. He looked at me and said, ‘You own two of residences, the other one is up for sale, I going to name it Lambert Road.'”

Lambert also said he did not know whether or not there was ever a petition among the residents to change the road. He further explained McCray does not receive his mail on Lambert Road but rather on Pisgah Road in Andrews. Ultimately, Lambert stated he wished for the road to remain Lambert Road, citing that changing his foster licensing to reflect a new address through the state would be troublesome and costly to him. Lambert also stated McCray is the only resident on the road that has an issue with the name.

Commissioner C.B. McKinnon stated that because no paperwork of the name change seems to exist on record, the road could rightfully revert back to Lower Vengeance Creek Road. However, he also said changing the name back to this would be pointless since a majority of the residents are content with its current name: “It looks to me like (the other residents) are going to change it right back to Lambert Road.”

McKinnon asked McCray and Lambert to try to settle the dispute themselves and the item was tabled by the board.

Earlier in the meeeting, John Higdon, executive director of facilities for Cherokee County Schools, presented the board with a budget amendment to use the half-cent school sales tax fund for a lump sum purchase in the amount of $367,707 for a number of maintenance expenditures at various schools throughout the system. The expenditures are a result of the findings of a finance subcommittee of the Board of Education organized to address needs of the school system. 

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners hears a budget amendment request from John Hidgon, not pictured, to use the half-cent school sales tax fund. Pictured are, from left to right, Commissioner Gary Westmoreland, Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum, Commissioner C.B. McKinnon, Commissioner Cal Stiles and County Manager Randy Wiggins.

The amount will cover six maintenance and repair projects, including a $343,900 project to replace the roof of Andrews High School gymnasium and cafeteria, a $1,537 expenditure to cover half the cost for a new scoreboard at the softball field at the recreation park, a $2,485 purchase for new stools at the Murphy Middle School cafeteria, a $6,500 storage building for Hiwassee Dam School, a $9,973 sprinkler system upgrade for the Murphy High School football field, and a $3,312 infield upgrade at the baseball field at Hiwassee Dam High School.

The budget amendment was approved unanimously.

A ground lease for a Med-Trans air medical transport modular office unit at Western Carolina Regional Airport was discussed by the commissioners. The commissioners reviewed a draft of the lease and Commissioner McKinnon pointed out three issues with which he noted concerns with the lease draft. It was also mentioned that the price of the lease, which would exist through Nov. 30, 2022, should be set at a fair market value instead of $1 per year.

Approval of the lease was tabled until changes to the draft could be made.

A pro-rated contract for legal services from Smith Rodgers, PLLC to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office was approved. The contract in the amount of $3,645 provides legal consultation services from Feb. 26 through June 30, 2018. At the Feb. 19 commissioners meeting, the board approved for the Sheriff’s Office to enter into a one-year agreement with Smith Rodgers beginning July 1 and approach the legal service with the prospect of establishing a pro-rated contract with Smith Rodgers until the lease takes effect this summer.

Two purchase requests from the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) were approved for the total amount of $6,225. The requests included a purchase of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rescue trailer that would transport a patient and a rescuer from a remote location to a waiting ambulance and a purchase of further equipment for the trailer that would allow for better immobilization of a patient placed in the trailer.

Commissioners Gary Westmoreland, pictured, and C.B. McKinnon recently took a trip to Washington D.C. and met with officials at the White House concerning rural infrastructure. (Photo courtesy of Gary Westmoreland)

Commissioners Gary Westmoreland and McKinnon told of their recent trip to Washington D.C. and the White House. Westmoreland said he and McKinnon met Vice President Mike Pence, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson. The commissioners also participated in a meeting involving other North Carolina commissioners concerning infrastructure.

“President (Donald) Trump is going to have – I think – $260 billion in infrastructure money and $50 billion that’s dedicated to rural infrastructure,” Westmoreland said.

In that meeting, the commissioners were told to have a countywide plan for local infrastructure improvements in place by May.

“And this is something that’s new,” Westmoreland said of the meeting. “(Previously) the president’s office would never work with local government. This is something that (Trump) wants to do.”

McKinnon stated he was appreciative of the opportunity saying, “It was a once in a lifetime trip.”

Two upcoming commissioners meeting dates were changed during this week’s meeting. The April 16 meeting was changed to April 23 and the May 7 meeting was rescheduled to May 10 in an effort to accommodate the May 8 primary election and to allow for an evenly balanced meeting schedule, according County Manager Wiggins.



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.

Murphy High principal arrested, suspended amid allegations of misconduct


MURPHY, N.C. – According to a statement from Cherokee County (N.C.) Schools (CCS) issued Saturday morning, Feb. 10, Thomas Graham, principal of Murphy High School, has been suspended with pay from school duties in response to allegations of misconduct and Graham’s subsequent arrest Thursday, Feb. 8.

In the statement, Graham’s suspension came from CCS Jan. 26. “Mr. Jason Forrister has been acting principal during this time and will continue in that role as long as necessary,” CCS stated.

The statement from the school system continued to say:

“Cherokee County Schools has been working with local and state law enforcement agencies and has fully cooperated with their investigation. Because personnel matters are considered confidential under state law, CCS cannot make any further comment regarding Mr. Graham. Further it is imperative that CCS strive alongside law enforcement agencies to seek the truth and impart fairness to all parties involved … Student safety is the first priority of Cherokee County Schools and CCS takes the appropriate measures necessary to provide a welcoming and safe atmosphere for all students, staff, parents and volunteers. Cherokee County Schools would like to thank the state and local law enforcement officials for the professionalism they have demonstrated thus far. CCS will continue to work with law enforcement throughout the entire process.”

According to CCS, the law requires any suspension taking place during an investigation to be paid.

Graham, 45, was arrested by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Thursday afternoon, Feb. 8, and later released from the Cherokee County Detention Center on a $2,500 bond.

According the booking report from CCSO, Graham is charged with two counts of indecent liberties with a student stemming from incidents occurring in January and February of 2016. Graham is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Murphy March 5, at 9 a.m.



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 [email protected]


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.

School closings and traffic reports


UPDATE: All Cherokee County Schools’ athletic events scheduled for this evening are cancelled.

The Murphy versus Hiawassee Dam high school basketball game will be played Monday. The Andrews versus Robbinsville high school game will be rescheduled for a later time.

All wrestling matches are cancelled as well.

We are now under a winter weather warning, so please use caution and judgement when traveling.


MURPHY, N.C.- A winter weather advisory for Cherokee County, North Carolina, is in effect until Saturday, December 8. One to three inches of snow accumulation in the lower elevations with more in the higher elevations are expected, and roads will be treacherous, so please use caution.

Road Reports
North Carolina: 877-511-4662
Tennessee: 877-244-0065
Georgia: 888-635-8287
You can also dial 511 from your phone or visit the state link here: NC DOT GA DOT TN DOT

Closing and Delays

Below are a list of schools that are closed today, Dec. 8, 2017:

​Fannin County Schools     CLOSED
​Murphy Adventist Christian School   CLOSED (YARD SALE ALSO CANCELLED)
North Georgia Technical College    Monitor www.northgatech.edu for updates
Southwestern Community College    Monitor www.southwesterncc.edu for updates or on


The Learning Center Charter School    Follows Cherokee County Schools closings/delays
TCCC: Peachtree/Marble     CLOSED
TCCC: Graham County    CLOSED
Towns County Schools     CLOSED
Tri-County Early College    CLOSED
Union County Schools    CLOSED

Expect occasional snow to continue for the next several hours. Continue to check back with us for possible updates.

If you have any traffic reports, please email us at [email protected]

Have a great day and stay safe if you venture out today.


Conley discusses school safety at Board of Education meeting


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 [email protected]


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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