The News Stories That Shaped Transylvania In 2016 – Brevard NC

 

December 29, 2016

Anywhere from 9 to 15 inches of snow was reported, beginning Jan. 20, in different areas in Transylvania County, cancelling numerous events, closing schools and causing power outages.

Editor's Note: The following are some of the top news stories that appeared in The Transylvania Times during 2016.

JANUARY

•Rosman was the staging ground for roughly a week for the movie "The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter," starring Josh Brolin and Danny McBride.

Production trailers and crew members were parked at the county recreation fields off the Old Rosman Highway.

The production was shot all over Western North Carolina.

•The building on East Main Street in Brevard that used to house Dugan's Pub was heavily damaged Sunday, Jan. 10, after an electrical fire tore through an upstairs level.

Brevard firefighters responded to reports of smoke and fire about 5:30 a.m. to find heavy smoke coming from the building at 100 E. Main St.

•Transylvania County commissioners wanted more information before deciding whether they wanted to consider a third option for a new courthouse.

Essentially, the county was asked to join a study being spearheaded by Brevard College that would look, among other things, at the possibility of building a new courthouse off North Broad Street.

Commissioners were asked to fund $25,000 toward a $58,700 price tag for the study.

Commissioners had been working on two options for the courthouse: build a new $22.5 million facility beside the public safety complex on Morris Road or renovate the current courthouse and build an addition for roughly $12 million.

Officials estimated this option would also require the building of a $4 million parking deck on property the county currently doesn't own.

•The Underground Salvage Co./Architectural Antiques, located on East Main Street, announced it would move to a permanent home at the Brevard Lumberyard. It was also announced that Magpie, a meat-plus-three-style restaurant, would also open its doors in the Lumberyard.

•Elma Rae Greene was named Transylvania County's new Animal Services director, replacing Paul Vis, who took on another role at the shelter.

Greene brought more than 20 years of experience in animal services and shelter management.

Greene, who is from Mebane, N.C., had worked in public and private animal welfare agencies in the state.

•Abby Buchanan was crowned Miss Bengal during the annual pageant at Rosman High School.

Haley Parker was first runner up, Emma Henderson was second runner up and Kelsey Farmer was third runner up.

•Brevard City Council approved a design option for a sidewalk along Probart Street to the Brevard Music Center entrance.

The city decided to move forward with a plan that would reduce Probart Street from two 12-foot lanes to two 10-foot lanes and install a 6-foot wide sidewalk on one side of the street for pedestrian foot traffic.

•Rosman Mayor Brian Shelton said the condition of the Champion Park pool was not nearly as bad as had previously been discussed. He estimated the cost to fix the pool was about $91,000. During the Rosman Board of Aldermen's regular meeting, Shelton said he would apply for a $50,000 grant from the state to help with repairs.

Shelton said he was in discussion with county management concerning the pool's ownership and operation. He hoped the town could eventually take over both the pool's ownership and operation.

•The first in a series of new visitor "kiosk" signs commissioned by the Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority was installed on the south wall of O.P. Taylor's Toy Store at the intersection of Broad and Main streets in downtown Brevard.

The three kiosk panels, each 3 feet wide by 5 feet tall, provide downtown visitors with an overview of attractions and points of interest, a newly designed map of the entire county, and a downtown map, complete with a listing of local businesses.

•Consultants recommended to Brevard City Council that the city construct a second water intake at its existing water plant at Cathey's Creek as opposed to building a new water plant.

Engineering firm McGill and Associates, which also did a water study for Transylvania County, presented its findings in a study to council during its recent regularly scheduled meeting.

•Dean St. Marie, the owner of St. Marie Financial Advisors, was named "Business Person of the Year" during the annual Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce gala. Gaia Herbs was named "Business of the Year." Leigh Trapp, the co-publisher of The Transylvania Times, received the "Esther Wesley Award."

• Police Chief Phil Harris announced Jan. 29 that police officers had started wearing body cameras in an attempt to have better ties with the community and prioritize transparency.

"I think it's going to make a more civilized interaction," said Harris.

The city purchased 16 body cams for full-time patrol officers with the help of a grant from the Governor's Crime Commission, which is a part of the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

•The Rise & Shine program celebrated 20 years of afterschool academic enrichment programming this year.

The Rise & Shine program's founders, the late Fay Walker and Rev. Frederick Gordon, sought to dismantle racism through education.

For one, Walker managed to gather more than 1,200 signatures in formal protest of a planned Ku Klux Klan march through Brevard in 1992.

Bethel "A" Baptist Church has always housed the program - everything from the expansive library to a kitchen.

FEBRUARY

•County Commissioners Jason Chappell, Larry Chapman and Kelvin Phillips voted against funding a study that would have looked at the feasibility of building a new courthouse and an adjacent 1,500-2,000 seat multi-purpose athletic, performance and meeting facility off North Broad Street in Brevard.

Commissioners Mike Hawkins and Page Lemel voted in favor.

•The Board of Commissioners was divided Feb. 1 over an appointment to the county's Planning Board, with a majority choosing former commissioner Daryle Hogsed over Mark Tooley.

Commissioners Larry Chapman, Jason Chappell and Kelvin Phillips sided with Hogsed, while Commission Chairman Mike Hawkins and Commissioner Page Lemel backed Tooley.

Tooley, who ran unsuccessfully in 2014 in the Republican primary for commissioner and was beaten out by Chapman and Phillips, served a partial term and a full term on the Planning Board and was open to being reappointed.

•Heavy rains Feb. 3 closed numerous roads in the county and caused significant flooding in areas.

In the Rosman area, for example, the North Fork spilled over its banks at Headwaters Outfitters. •The possibility of Pisgah National Forest becoming a National Recreation Area (NRA) spurred a large group of people to attend the Board of Commissioners' Feb. 1 meeting and voice their opposition to such a move.

A group of 37 local environmental and outdoor recreation stakeholders has called on the federal government to create two NRAs in Western North Carolina, including a roughly 115,000 acre tract in Pisgah National Forest, with the bulk in Transylvania County.

The group had asked Transylvania commissioners to back the proposal, with federal lawmakers ultimately making the decision.

Others worried, including those who attended the commissioners' meeting, that hunting, for one, could be prohibited in an NRA, though that had not been specifically proposed at that time.

The Board of Commissioners had not taken a position, as of the meeting, on the NRA.

•Transylvania County commissioners Feb. 8 authorized a letter of intent to be written that would deed ownership of Champion Park, including the pool and softball field, to the town of Rosman.

The deeding of the county property was a requirement for a grant the town was seeking to try and get the ailing pool open that summer.

•The Rosman Board of Alderman voted unanimously Feb. 9 to adopt a resolution against the creation of a National Recreation Area for Pisgah National Forest.

•The Hub at Backcountry Outdoors celebrated Feb. 12 with a soft opening of its new location.

Owners Sam and Jordan Salman bought the property next to Dolly's at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest and began construction in the summer of 2015.

Their new location is an expansion of the shop that was named in the top 50 best shops by Bicycling Magazine in 2011, while The Active Times named it number eight in the ranks of the top 10 best shops in the country in 2015.

•Brevard High School's Noah Graham took first place in the 3,200-meter race at the 2A indoor track and field state championship meet, while BHS's Andrew Robinson finished in second place.

•Owners of the longtime downtown Brevard retail stores, D.D. Bullwinkel's General Store and Moosetracks Footwear, announce they will move to a new shared location.

The new location is the former Belk's building at 60 E. Main St., which at the time housed Underground Salvage, a retail store selling architectural finds.

The owners, Dee Dee and Jimmy Perkins, announced they were re-branding D.D. Bullwinkel's from a general store to a full-service outdoor outfitter specializing in Hiking, camping and backpacking.

It was later announced the Perkins family was in line to receive $375,000 from the state for the project.

Gov. Pat McCrory's office announced the City of Brevard received a $500,000 loan through the state's Community Development Block Grant Program.

The loan would be used to make repairs and renovations to roofing, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, fire protection systems and accessibility features at the building, which was constructed in 1940.

•The Transylvania Natural Resources Council passed a resolution opposing the creation of a National Recreation Area for Pisgah National Forest and the creation of more wilderness area.

•It's revealed FBI officials were looking into a racially motivated incident in Brevard that allegedly occurred in November in which four males, including high school students, have been charged.

According to Transylvania County Sheriff David Mahoney and local NAACP officials, the federal agency had been in Brevard making inquiries.

Mahoney did not know if it was an active investigation but did confirm FBI officials had been asking about the incident. An FBI spokesperson confirmed on Feb. 22 that an investigation was underway.

On Nov. 17 of last year, Transylvania County Sheriff's deputies charged a 15-year-old Brevard High School student with ethnic intimidation, a misdemeanor, after an alleged incident at the school.

Additionally, Brevard police charged three males in connection to an incident on the night of Nov. 17, where the three allegedly took knives and sticks to a neighborhood and made ethnic threats.

•Norris Barger, director of Business Services for Transylvania County Schools, told the Board of Education that the school system would need a 6.9 percent increase in local funding to avoid cutting operational expenditures for the new school year.

Barger said projected increases in health insurance and retirement, as well as increased payments to Brevard Academy, were contributing factors to seek the increased funding.

And if the state gave teachers a 3 percent pay increase, the county would have to match that with an additional $121,595. In total, the school system would need an additional $333,657 to maintain current operational expenses.

•When talking about the Charles O'Shields murder trial, there was no longer a need to use the word "alleged" when referring to the crime.

That's because after a nine-day trial 12 jurors found the 49-year-old O'Shields guilty of first-degree murder on Feb. 25 in Transylvania County Superior Court.

O'Shields, who had been behind bars for almost five years, was stoic when the verdict was read.

Transylvania County Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson sentenced O'Shields to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, which was essentially how the state painted the crime, stating O'Shields gave 27-year-old Toby Mathis, of Rosman, a death sentence when O'Shields shot him five times in the Rosman Dollar General store on April 6, 2011.

•As a part of the North Carolina Main Street program, the Heart of Brevard nominates a Main Street Champion every year.

This year's recipient was Mike Domokur of Domokur Architects for his significant contributions to the City of Brevard.

MARCH

•N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper came to Transylvania County March 4 to raise support for his bid to unseat incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory in the 2016 election.

"I love coming to Transylvania County, the land of waterfalls," said Cooper at the crowded breakfast reception hosted at Platt Architecture.

•Brevard filmmaker Philip Henry was awarded an Emmy for his editing work on the short documentary program "Roy Williams' Game Day Security Blanket" during the regional Emmy Awards hosted in Nashville, Tenn.

•Kenneth Franklin, the former band teacher at Brevard High School, pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent liberties with a student, a class 1 felony.

During the fall of 2014, an investigation into Franklin began when the administration of Brevard High School and the Transylvania County Sheriff's Office received an anonymous tip alleging misconduct between Franklin and his students.

The investigation revealed that Franklin was having an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of his female students.

Franklin was sentenced to five consecutive sentences of 24 months supervised probation.

Franklin cannot have any contact with the victim, cannot possess a firearm and must register as a sex offender for a period of 30 years.

•Barring a successful write-in or unaffiliated candidate campaign in November, incumbent Transylvania County Commissioners Jason Chappell, Mike Hawkins and Page Lemel would return for four-year terms on the board.

No Democrats filed for the three opens seats on the board, meaning the March 15 GOP primary practically guaranteed the winners a pass in November.

Chappell received the most votes, with 3,328 votes, or 25.26 percent. Lemel received 3,302 votes, or 25.07 percent; and Hawkins received 3,256 votes, or 24.72 percent.

In fourth place was Danny Hein, with 1,824 votes, or 13.85 percent; followed by James Lorenz, with 1,463 votes, or 11.11 percent.

Chuck Edwards won the GOP primary for the N.C. Senate District 48 seat and would square off against Democrat Norm Bosser in November.

Republican Cody Henson won the primary for the N.C. House District 113 seat and would face Democrat Maureen Copelof.

•On March 14, Transylvania County commissioners added their opposition to the possibility of Wilderness Area and National Recreation Area designations for Pisgah National Forest.

•On March 18, a dead body was found on the Brevard College campus at about 6:30 p.m.

According to Brevard Police Chief Phil Harris, two college students were walking near campus when they discovered what appeared to be a decomposed body.

Harris said the body was located behind a maintenance building on campus and appeared to have been there for some time.

The body was found on campus behind private property on Hilt Street, which is a residential area.

Harris said there was no indication of foul play.

The body was later identified as that of 24-year-old Matthew Kyle Jenkins, who had been reported missing since February. Harris said Jenkins had a mixture of drugs in his system but that more tests would be necessary to determine the cause of death.

•Having available sites and buildings in Transylvania County for existing local businesses to expand and new businesses to move into is crucial to improve the economy and to bring in more jobs.

That fact has been voiced repeatedly the past few years, and for the past few months the Transylvania Economic Alliance, the public/private organization largely funded by the county, has been working on identifying those potential locations.

Josh Hallingse, the Alliance's executive director, told county commissioners during one of their regular meetings that a report on these available sites was a starting point," a "strategic plan that guides our activities on product development sites."

Identifying and getting these buildings and/or sites ready can be expensive and time consuming. It requires a strategic and targeted approach, Hallingse said.

•Cascade Lake Recreation Area remained closed much to the disappointment of those who had enjoyed its facilities in the past. The private campground, which was managed by the Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association, closed late last year with no plans to reopen.

The Cascade Power Co. currently owns the 1,400 acres of land surrounding Cascade Lake on the North side of DuPont State Recreational Forest. Phone calls to the company were not returned.

In January, Elma Rae Greene was named Transylvania County's new Animal Services director.

The late Charles Pickelsimer Jr. had shares in the company, and the property was part of the recent civil case involving Pickelsimer's estate.

Two members of the Pickelsimer family were reportedly in "negotiations" with the executor of the Pickelsimer estate, David Albertson.

•Transylvania County ranked 12th out of North Carolina's 100 counties for overall health, but the county had higher than average deaths from suicides and drug abuse.

The findings of the 2015 Community Health Assessment were presented to county commissioners on March 28

The report found the county's mortality rate for drug overdose was 35 percent higher than the region and 1.8 times higher than the state rate.

 
 

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