Transylvania Records Another Big Year For News (January - March)


January 1, 2018

Earlier in the year, work was going on to build a new riding facility off U.S. 276 that would be used by Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls and the Free Rein Center.

Editor's Note: The following are some of the top news stories that appeared in The Transylvania Times during 2017.


•John Johnson would have to wait roughly 12 months to try and seek rezoning of property behind Egolf Motors in Brevard between the dealership he once ran and the Straus Park subdivision.

In a special Jan. 3 meeting, Brevard City Council denied Johnson's request to rezone property at 1259 Asheville Highway from General Residential 6 (GR-6), a zoning classification that allows for six noncommercial living units per acre, to Neighborhood Mixed Use (NMX), a classification that allows for the mixing of residential dwellings and commercial establishments within a specified area.

The meeting attracted a number of Straus Park residents, who appeared to oppose the rezoning.

•Roughly 5 to 8 inches of snow fell on parts of Transylvania County, beginning Friday afternoon, Jan. 6, and into the morning of Jan. 7.

No major accidents or power outages were reported as a result of the snow, but school and a number of events and meetings were cancelled at the start of the new work week.

•The Brevard College Cycling team took gold for the second time in the national collegiate cyclocross competition, with a Team Omnium win in Connecticut.

•Due to a water-line break at the Cedar Mountain House, residents at the assisted-living center were evacuated Jan. 9.

At the request of Transylvania Emergency Management officials, the Asheville – Mountain Area Chapter of the Western North Carolina Region of the American Red Cross opened a shelter at the Transylvania County Recreation Center.

Thirteen residents were taken to the shelter, but by the evening of Jan. 9 they had been placed in various other assisted-living facilities.

•A 76-year-old woman, Dorothy Drake, died Jan. 10 in a wreck on the Rosman Highway, according to the N.C. Highway Patrol.

The collision occurred at 3:16 p.m. at the intersection of the Rosman Highway and Green Road, forcing the highway to be blocked for an hour-and-a-half.

•Thomas Corban McCall, 68, faces a felony charge after a fatal accident on the Rosman Highway on Jan. 12 that left 61-year-old Mildred Elizabeth Norton dead.

McCall currently faces one felony count of aggravated death by motor vehicle.

After the incident, McCall's blood work was sent away to be analyzed.

McCall's son, Ricky, said his father was a disabled Vietnam veteran who was on prescribed medication -nerve pills.

"Any time (McCall) drives his blood is going to test positive for medication," he said. "The doctor told my mom that he was convinced that a seizure had caused the accident."

The case has still to be resolved.

•Cady Suddeth was crowned Miss Bengal during the annual pageant at Rosman High School. The first runner up was Emma Henderson.

Meredith Maiken was second runner-up, and Alicia Guinn was third runner-up.

•The Friends of DuPont Forest nonprofit volunteer group hired its first salaried employee.

Sara Landry stepped into the position coming from a background in marketing and administration. Her most recent role was at Lenoir Rhyne University in Asheville.

Visitation to DuPont State Recreational Forest was expected to be around a million people in 2017, so for the Friends the time for an office to set their budget, direct enquiries and assist the N.C. Forest Service was now.

•The Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce recognized members, volunteers and sponsors during its 94th annual gala.

Billy Higgins, senior vice president and market executive at First Citizens Bank, won the Business Person of the Year Award. Transylvania Vocational Services took the 2016 Business of the Year award. Rise & Shine won for Non-Profit of the Year, and Frank Porter, general manager of Comporium, won the Esther Wesley Award. Parker Platt received the Duke Energy Citizenship award.

•Automated Tool & Machine, an advanced manufacturing company, announced plans to acquire, relocate and transform an existing 50,000-square-foot industrial building located on the Old Rosman Highway.

"Our company is extremely excited to announce our purchase and expansion into the Blue Ridge Dynamics building," owner Duane Aiken said. "This development allows our company to increase investment, add several new jobs and creates the opportunity to add new service capabilities to our growing company."

•Transylvania County residents who attended President Donald Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20 said it was a positive experience.

"It was a peaceful transition of power, and it was amazing just to be a part of history," said Jason Chappell, who is on the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners.

Chappell said he had a great view standing in the orange section, which he said was directly in the middle, right behind the last row of seats.

He said it was a large crowd, but everyone was as nice as they are in Transylvania County.

"The crowd was breathtaking, with people from all over the world, and considering you are standing outside for hours waiting on it to start, everyone was just joking around and having a good time," Chappell said.

•Some other Transylvania County residents traveled to the capital on Jan. 21 to take part in the Women's March on Washington.

Madison Capps, a local massage therapist and a single mother of a 2-year-old daughter, knew she would attend the march as soon as she heard about it.

"When I heard that the main message driving the Women's March on Washington was 'women's rights are human rights,' I immediately started making arrangements for the trip to D.C.," she said.

•County commissioners approved setting a $10 fee to transport privately owned pets to and from Asheville for spay/neuter services.

The move was part of an effort to address the impact of the local spay/neuter clinic on Ecusta Road closing in December.

Commissioners were told there are about 14,000 cats and dogs in the county, with about 25 percent of them not sterilized.

•A mechanical failure with a heat pump in the utility room was the likely cause of the fire to a mobile home at 295 Illahee Road on Jan. 29.

"From our investigation, it appears the emergency strip heat came on, and did not cycle off, thus igniting, most likely, an ordinary combustible close by, then spreading throughout the trailer," said Transylvania County Fire Marshall Gerald Grose.

More than half of the home received heavy fire damage, with smoke damage to the rest.


•Since 1999, the rate of drug overdose deaths in Transylvania County has more than doubled.

Vaya Health and community partners announced the formation of the Western North Carolina Substance Use Alliance, a collaboration to reduce the prevalence of alcohol and drug misuse, as well as the number of fatal overdoses, in 23 Western North Carolina counties, including Transylvania.

•As part of the Pisgah/Nantahala National Forest revision plan, both national forests were broken into several geographic areas.

While this mapping was just a draft, for the U.S. Forest Service it was another piece of information, including public comments and stakeholder input, that will help form the finished management plan for the public lands sometime in 2018.

For the Pisgah Ranger district, acreage east of N.C. 215 is now considered the Pisgah Ledge, which extends all the way through Henderson and a small portion of Buncombe counties.

•Officials asked the public to remain vigilant after a wildfire broke out Feb. 4 off King Road in Pisgah Forest.

Firefighters were called out to the fire, which eventually burned roughly 2 acres, after neighbors to the property noticed it.

A person was burning some debris earlier in the day and believed the fire was out, according to Frank Rogers, Transylvania County's Forest Service ranger.

•Joan VanOrman was presented with the President's Award at the Heart of Brevard's (HOB) annual meeting held at the DFR Room on Feb. 13.

VanOrman owns Joan VanOrman Focused Marketing.

"Since I joined the Heart of Brevard, Joan has been a part of the design committee, and her energy and enthusiasm has been an inspiration to me," said Melanie Spreen, vice president of the HOB. "She has so many great ideas."

Rick Bridges was presented with the Volunteer of the Year award.

•Rosman High School announced Feb. 16 that a search had begun for a head football coach for the 2017 season, as Freddie Whitman was ending his coaching tenure with the team.

Alan Justice, athletic director for Transylvania County Schools, announced the decision.

"This was a tough decision, knowing how devoted Freddie was in his seven years as the head football coach," said Justice. "He is a man of the highest character and integrity that I have developed a close personal relationship with. In evaluating the program, however, it's apparent a change had to be made."

Whitman began coaching Rosman football in 1997. After working as an assistant under four different coaches, he assumed the head coaching role in 2010.

Whitman compiled an overall record of 34-54, including a 5-7 playoff record and a third-round playoff bid in 2012.

•The Free Rein Center got a new executive center and soon would have access to a new covered riding facility.

Cecily Timmons took over as executive director at the Free Rein Center, which provides therapeutic riding services to individuals facing a wide variety of disabilities and challenges.

The position hadn't been filled in more than six years.

•N.C. Rep. Cody Henson filed a bill Feb. 16 that, if approved, would return Transylvania County Board of Education elections to non-partisan status.

In 2016, Henson's predecessor in District 113, Chris Whitmire, introduced a bill that changed the school board's elections from non-partisan to partisan.

At the time, candidate Henson, a fellow Republican, spoke out against the move.

"As I stated during the campaign, I don't feel partisan politics should have any place in our schools," Henson said. "The school board's number one priority should always be what is best for the students."

•Annette Raines, the county's former tax administrator, was indicted for felony embezzlement.

A grand jury handed down the indictment, which is a class H felony and carries a maximum penalty of 30 months in jail.

Raines is accused of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the Transylvania County Rescue Squad's bank accounts.

•More than 200 community members and Brevard College took part in a "anti-hate" march on the campus on Feb. 20, President's Day.

Participants marched from the Bell Tower to the Porter Center for Performing Arts.

A poster advertising the event urged participants to "Take a stand for yourself, your family, your community and your planet."


The Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority awarded a $20,000 grant to Mountain Song Productions, LLC, as part of its new Festival and Event Grant Program.

Mountain Song Productions, led by John Felty and Woody Platt, was awarded the grant to help produce an inaugural Songsmith Festival in spring of 2018. Focusing on the aspect of songwriting, as well as singers and songwriters, Songsmith will serve as a companion to the popular Mountain Song Festival.

•A fog of fear and uncertainty loomed over members of the local Hispanic community who attended a talk on immigrant rights at Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church.

Shoshana Fried, an immigration lawyer at Pisgah Legal Services, a non-profit organization covering 17 counties that provides legal services to low-income people, gave the talk.

She is also a board member on El Centro, a Transylvania County nonprofit that assists in improving the lives of Hispanics by integrating them into the community.

Fried said the talk's purpose was to educate the community about changes in immigration laws and to try to "dispel rumors and myths."

•A crowd of about 50 people attended the Transylvania County Board of Education's first community input session on March 6 regarding the school system's capital needs and a possible bond referendum at the Brevard High School Media Center.

"We've done a lot of work trying to prepare for this," said Superintendent Dr. Jeff McDaris, adding that the staff had looked at several construction possibilities and financial costs.

McDaris framed the presentation of the session in terms of "where we've been, where we are and where we need to be."

•In order to meet a current state requirement to reduce class size next year in kindergarten through third grade, the Transylvania County Board of Education decided that it would add another line item of $250,000 to its request for county funding for 2017-18.

In 2016, the state legislature passed a bill that would reduce the maximum class size from 24 students to a range of 21 to 19 students in grades K-3. Although the bill was passed last year, it would not be implemented until the fall of 2017.

•A proposed low-income housing development off Tinsley Road in Brevard was met with an unfavorable response during a neighborhood compatibility meeting March 16 held by the city's Planning Department.

The development called for 80 apartments, ranging from one to three bedrooms.

The 14.76 acres of land is owned by Mars Hill University and is currently zoned General Residential 6. The area would need to be rezoned to a higher density for the current project to go ahead.

In addition, for the developer to build on the land, the city would need to amend its steep slope protection ordinance.

•Brevard business owners on South Caldwell Street in Brevard said, overall, they hadn't been disturbed by the widening project currently.

"It hasn't affected my business too much," said Duke Parrish, owner of Norma Clayton Realty. "There was one guy from New York who went somewhere else because he couldn't get to my office, but I'm OK with the construction, and the workers have been nice."

Parrish said he'd been given adequate notice when his water or electricity would be cut off because of the construction. The N.C. Department of Transportation hired Watson Contracting, Inc., to do the actual work.

•Leslie Logemann, the manager of the Transylvania Farmers' Market, was named as a Main Street Champion.

Main Street Champions are individuals who work and advocate for downtown revitalization across the state.

Thirty-six individuals, including Logemann, received honors for their contributions in 2016 during a ceremony March 16 in Shelby.

•Twenty flu deaths were reported in North Carolina for the week ending March 11, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

•Audrey Reneau was named the new principal for T.C. Henderson School of Science and Technology for the 2017-18 school year.

•Matthew Stack was announced as the new head football coach for Rosman High School.

Stack had been a football coach, baseball coach and teacher for nine years in physical education and English. Graduating from Clemson University with a degree in sports management, he played both football and baseball during a collegiate career that included years at Erskine College and Gardner-Webb University.

•Amber Dalton was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison after pleading guilty to the 2009 murder of Richard Holden in Brevard.

Dalton appeared before Superior Court Judge Alan Thornburg and received a sentence of 261 months on charges of second-degree murder, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon causing serious injury. She also received 2,763 days for time served.

In the early hours of Aug. 21, 2009, Dalton awakened Holden and his long-time companion Naomi Barker at their Unity Drive apartment. Dalton resided in the same building.

Once inside, Dalton attacked Holden and Barker, leaving Holden dead and Barker seriously injured.

•Brevard City Council approved short-terms rentals in three of the city's zoning districts: general residential, neighborhood mixed use and downtown mixed use.

The council approved the move during its regular meeting March 20. The approval included the amendment that instead of presenting an application to have a short-term rental the property owner must present their tax records.

•Despite appearing generally supportive of the proposed plan to build a resort on the former Glen Cannon golf course property, the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners and Glen Cannon residents wanted more details.

Calls for more specifics were heard repeatedly March 27 during a public hearing at the commissioners' regular meeting.

The hearing before a packed, standing-room only crowd was specifically about a performance-based incentive grant the county may give to Blue Ridge Falls - Le Parc, as the proposed development is being called.

Sean Trapp

The facility's roof collapsed, however, because of the weight from snow that fell beginning Dec. 8.

After the hearing, commissioners approved staff to craft a letter to be sent to the developers that would detail the county's expectations to qualify and receive any incentives.

•After more than two years of work, Transylvania County commissioners unanimously approved the 2025 Comprehensive Plan during its regular meeting.

The 42-page document will guide policy and development issues in the county for the next several years.

The county's Planning Board and the Planning and Community Development Department did much of the leg work on the plan, holding numerous meetings, including 33 community events either hosted or attended by the board and staff, a comprehensive survey, door-to-door visits and one-on-one discussions with the public.


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