Ribbon Cutting on Dec. 17 for New North Carolina Addition to Hospice of Chattanooga Network
MURPHY, N.C. (Dec. 6, 2018) – Hospice of Chattanooga will celebrate the addition of the Good Shepherd Hospice Agency to its network of service providers with a ribbon cutting on Monday, Dec. 17.
The office located at 125 Medical Park Lane, Suite C, in Murphy, N.C., will host the ribbon cutting at 12:00 noon. The event marks not only a significant expansion of end-of-life services currently being offered in Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Macon counties, but also Hospice of Chattanooga’s network expansion into North Carolina. All members of the community and local officials are invited to attend.
As part of Hospice of Chattanooga’s network, Good Shepherd will now provide palliative care services, which offers relief to patients who suffer from symptoms and stress of serious illnesses. This type of care is administered by specially-trained medical professionals to improve the quality of life for both the patients and their families.
“We welcome Good Shepherd to our family of hospice and palliative care providers. We look forward to continuing their mission to give patients the opportunity to live the best lives they can, especially as they embark on their end-of-life journeys. All programs in Hospice of Chattanooga’s network are non profit organizations that are dedicated to providing life-affirming support for those in the community who face physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges that come at the end of life,” Tracy Wood, president and CEO of Hospice of Chattanooga, said.
Good Shepherd will continue its outstanding end-of-life care in the community as part of the Hospice of Chattanooga Network. The agency will continue to provide care teams of nurses, social workers, members of the faith community and volunteers to help patients and their families through the most difficult of times. These caregivers work with families to determine how best to comfortably manage their loved ones’ symptoms and pain, and offer grief support for a year after a patient’s passing and longer, if needed.
About Hospice of Chattanooga:
Founded in 1980, Hospice of Chattanooga offers a variety of family-focused services that seek to meet the medical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients during their end-of-life journey, and to support their loved ones through the process and beyond. Chattanooga’s first and longest-running hospice organization also offers palliative care services for the chronically ill who are not facing a terminal diagnosis and special programs for children facing life-limiting illnesses. Hospice of Chattanooga serves patients and families in Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. More information is available at www.hospiceofchattanooga.org or by calling (423) 892-1533.
We welcome Good Shepherd to our family of hospice and palliative care providers. We look forward to continuing their mission to give patients the opportunity to live the best lives they can, especially as they embark on their end-of-life journeys.
- Tracy Wood, president and CEO of Hospice of Chattanooga
The following press release has been issued by the District Attorney's Office.
Macon County Superior Court Administrative Term
Newman R. Sigman, 55, of Franklin, North Carolina pled guilty to First Degree Arson and Driving While
Impaired and was sentenced to a maximum term of 94 months in the Division of Adult Corrections. He
will serve at least 51 months before he is eligible for release. These convictions stem from an August 2017
incident on Bryson City Road responded to by the Franklin Fire Department, Franklin Police Department,
and Macon County EMS with mutual aid provided by Clark’s Chapel and Cowee Fire Departments as well
as the State Bureau of Investigation.
Catlin N. Davis, 30, of Franklin, North Carolina pled guilty to Voluntary Manslaughter and was sentenced
to a maximum term of 31 months in the Division of Adult Corrections. He will serve at least 18 months
before he is eligible for release. This conviction arises from an October 2016 vehicle collision at the
intersection of US 23 and Addington Bridge Road investigated by the North Carolina State Highway
Gerald W. Shope, 58, of Franklin, North Carolina pled guilty to Trafficking Methamphetamine and was
sentenced to a maximum term of 93 months in the Division of Adult Corrections. He will serve at least 70
months before he is eligible for release. This conviction is the result of a traffic stop initiated by the
Franklin Police Department with assistance from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.
Charles G. Spain, 43, of Franklin, North Carolina pled guilty to two counts of Possessing a Firearm as a
Convicted Felon, Breaking or Entering, Larceny, and Flee to Elude Arrest With a Motor Vehicle. He was
sentenced to a maximum term of 51 months and will serve at least 17 months before he is eligible for
release. These convictions arise from two separate incidents in Macon County; a July 2018 call to service
on Sloan Street responded to by the Franklin Police Department and an October 2018 high speed chase
involving the Dillard Police Department and Macon County Sheriff’s Office.
“A productive week of Superior Administrative Court produced over twenty guilty pleas highlighted by the
disposition of several high profile cases. This is a testament to not only the hard work of our law
enforcement officers but the court system as a whole; the Macon County Clerk’s Office, our Court
Reporters, and Bailiffs make this process work efficiently every session.”
Haywood County Superior Court Trial Term
Drug Trafficking Conviction – Over 37 Years and a Million Dollar Fine Imposed
On November 28, 2018, Matthew William Ray, 25, of Waynesville, was found guilty of trafficking in
opiates by possessing and transporting illicit hydrocodone pills after a two-day trial in Haywood County
On April 30, 2018, members of the Unified Narcotics Investigative Team observed a Century Appliance
work truck speeding, driving left of the center line, and driving with a broken tail light as it left the Allens
Creek area and travelled to Riverbend Street in Waynesville. Detectives approached the vehicle as it came
to a stop back at the business.
Matthew Ray was behind the wheel. Officers immediately noticed a .38 caliber handgun in plain view and
were granted consent to search the vehicle where they recovered a modified plastic straw with a powder
residue, a small cooler containing a brown bag containing a plastic bag which in turn contained ninety
hydrocodone pills. Hydrocodone is an opiate derivative and a Schedule II controlled substance under the
North Carolina Controlled Substances Act.
“Opiate abuse is rampant in our communities throughout Western North Carolina,” said District Attorney
Ashley Hornsby Welch. “My office aggressively prosecutes defendants who possess and peddle these
drugs in our mountains. These cases can be difficult to detect due to the clandestine nature of the drug
trade, and I commend the officers for their vigilance and hard work.”
Assistant District Attorney Kaleb Wingate tried the case for the State. “I’m so proud of Kaleb,” Welch
continued. “He’s out there doing his best for Haywood County and I want the community to know it.”
Ray received two consecutive sentences in the total amount of 450 to 564 months in prison and a one
million dollar fine, as dictated by law. “The penalty is stiff, and I’m sending the message to other dealers.
If we catch you, you are going to prison,” said Welch. “If we can save one addict from an overdose, then
we’ve done our jobs. Making a profit on people who struggle with addiction is perverse and our officers
and prosecutors are making cases and getting convictions to the best of our abilities.”
MURPHY, NC - Shortly after 4:00 pm this afternoon, the Cherokee County 911 Dispatch Center received a call regarding one of the Cherokee County school buses being struck by a projectile and shattering one of the windows. This incident occurred while the bus was traveling on Sunrise Street and Fain Street inside the Murphy town limits. When this occurred, law enforcement officers with the Cherokee County Schools Company Police and the Murphy Police Department, as well as Deputies with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the area.
During this time, there were four Cherokee County students on board the bus ranging from different age groups. No injuries were reported from either the students or the bus driver. These students were then taken home after the incident occurred. Initially it was thought that a small caliber rifle or handgun round struck the window, but upon further investigation, a small pellet fired from a pellet gun was located.
“The Murphy Police Department would like to thank all of the assisting agencies and the Cherokee County 911 Dispatch Center for their assistance in this matter. We are fortunate that no one was injured in this incident. To the school bus driver, the students and their parents, please rest assured that we are doing everything within our power to locate the suspects responsible for this. This investigation is still ongoing and we will keep the public aware of any changes as it continues.”
Thank You, Chief Justin J. Jacobs
Justin J. Jacobs
Chief of Police
Murphy Police Department
The federally funded Low-Income Energy Assistance Program provides eligible households with a one-time payment to their heating vendor to offset the high cost of heating during the cold-weather months. Depending on the household’s primary heating source, the payment will be $200, $300 or $400.
Last year, the program provided approximately $32 million to help 128,160 households pay their heating bills from December 2017 through March 2018.
To be eligible, a person must:
Cherokee County households who want to apply for energy assistance can only do so in person at the Cherokee County Department of Social Services office:
4800 W US Highway 64 Murphy, NC 28906
The office will be accepting applications from households with a person aged 60 or more, or someone receiving benefits from the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services from Monday, Dec. 3, through Monday, Dec. 31, with the exception of Dec 24-26th, when the Cherokee County Department of Social Services will be closed. Office hours are Monday-Friday 8 am - 5 pm.
All households may apply from Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019 through Friday, March 29, 2019.
Households that include an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) living in the five-county service area of Cherokee, Graham, Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties, wishing to apply for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program must do so through the EBCI at https://ebci.com/. This includes enrolled EBCI members on and off the Qualla Boundary in the five counties.
On November 29, 2018, Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced that after conferring with District Attorney Ashley Welch, a joint request to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was made to investigate any and all allegations of impropriety at the Cherokee County Detention Center since Dec 1, 2014. A previous request was made by Sheriff Palmer in early November 2018 concerning allegations of inmate assaults.
As a new administration takes office in the detention center December 3, 2018, Sheriff Palmer wants to ensure that all allegations have been thoroughly investigated by an independent law enforcement agency and reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office for appropriate action if it is required. Sheriff Palmer has spoken with the agent that is conducting the investigation and encouraged the agent to interview any and all current or former employees of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and offered to make available any and all Sheriff’s Office records for review and inspection.
Sheriff Palmer hopes that this investigation will clear up any allegations of improprieties that may have occurred in the past and hopes that this investigation will restore public trust and confidence in the detention center and the employees who serve there on a daily basis.
This press release by Cherokee County Sheriff's Office is in response to several newspaper articles and radio interviews. Carolina Public Press has spent months investigating allegations.
Previous reports by Carolina Public Press on the Cherokee County Detention Center
The Career Technical Education (CTE) Department of Cherokee County Schools will be sharing CTE student spotlights throughout the 2018-2019 school year. Each grading period, a student currently enrolled in a CTE course, will be chosen for the CTE student spotlight. We are delighted to introduce the students chosen from our first grading period.
Andrews High School – SPENCER HYDAS
Nominated by our CTE teacher, Griffin Anderson. Spencer is a 11th grade student at AHS and currently enrolled in the CTE class, FOUNDATIONS OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY. Spencer plans to utilize the College and Career Promise program to take mechanics classes at Tri-County Community College. Ultimately, he would like to pursue a career as an aircraft mechanic.
Hiwassee Dam High School – KRISTIAN ROMESBERG
Nominated by our CTE teacher, Rhonda Leblanc. Kristian is a 9th grade student at HDHS and currently enrolled in the CTE class, FOODS I. Kristian plans to graduate as a Restaurant & Food/Beverage Service Pathway Completer. She also plans to utilize the College and Career Promise program to take cosmetology classes at Tri-County Community College.
Murphy High School – JADEN MINARY
Nominated by our CTE teacher, Dana Anderson. Jaden is a 12th grade student at MHS and currently enrolled in DIGITAL MEDIA II. Jaden has learned a lot about digital editing and recommends other students should enroll in DIGITAL MEDIA I.
To learn more about these CTE classes and programs please contact the Career Development Coordinator, Meridith Jorgensen at firstname.lastname@example.org
The following press release has been issued by Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Murphy, NC— Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the November 09th, 2018 arrest of 31 year old Matthew Wondra of Andrews, North Carolina and 20 year old Katelyn Helmick of Sylvania, Georgia for controlled substance violations and being fugitives from justice.
During the evening hours of November 09th, 2018, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office received information that a female was selling controlled substances at a local convenience store. Deputies went to the area and were able to locate the vehicle that Helmick and Wondra were occupying at the time. During the investigation, a search of the vehicle and persons of Helmick and Wondra recovered controlled substances, paraphernalia and US currency. Additionally, a wants and warrant check of both Helmick and Wondra revealed they were wanted in Georgia in connection with a major theft investigation.
Matthew Wondra was arrested and taken to the Cherokee County Detention Center where he was incarcerated for PWIMSD METHAMPHETAMINE, MAINTAIN PLACE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, POSSESS SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, EXTRADITION/FUGITIVE OTHER STATE, POSSESS MARIJUANA UP TO 1/2 OZ, SIMPLE POSSESSION SCHEDULE IV CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, POSSESS DRUG PARAPHERNALIA. Wondra is currently free after posting a $30,000.00 secure bond and has a November 29th, 2018 court date.
Katelyn Helmick was arrested and taken to the Cherokee County Detention Center where she was incarcerated for PWIMSD METHAMPHETAMINE, MAINTAIN PLACE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, POSSESS SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, EXTRADITION/FUGITIVE OTHER STATE, POSSESS MARIJUANA UP TO 1/2 OZ, SIMPLE POSSESSION SCHEDULE IV CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, POSSESS DRUG PARAPHERNALIA. Helmick is currently being held on a $30,000.00 secure bond and has a November 29th, 2018 court date.
Sheriff Derrick Palmer stated, “I want to commend the deputies on this arrest. They were diligent and pursued the investigation and not only took dangerous drugs off the street, but also located wanted fugitives. I would like to add that from this investigation we feel we can follow leads that will further our fight against the distribution of illegal substances in Cherokee County.”
To report suspicious activity and suspect violations of the law please call 828-837-1344 or submit a tip at email@example.com.
In August, Blairsville resident Arena Hall-Miller, Housekeeping Supervisor at Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel, was a winner of the Caesars' 2018 Clean the World Employee Contest. Clean the World is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose goal is to reduce hotel waste and at the same time provide life-saving hygiene products to those in need around the world.
The highlight of Arena's award was an all-expense paid service trip to Zambia to assist Clean the World in distributing recycled hygiene products to those in need. Arena was accompanied by 2 other employee award recipients from Caesars casinos as well as Executive Director & CEO Sam Stephens, members of Children International and The Caesars Foundation.
During her trip, Arena had the opportunity to visit three community centers, the homes of children sponsored by Clean the World and the Children International office to learn about their everyday operations and how they make a difference within the communities. Arena, along with other volunteers, distributed an estimated 2,500 pounds of soap, serving 14,000 kids.
“The most memorable part of the trip was when we would arrive at all of the centers and could see the excitement in all of the children's faces,” said Arena. “They appreciated what we had done for them, and having them sing and dance for us was truly amazing!”
To Arena, being a Clean the World recipient for 2018 has been an honor. “I am grateful and honored to have been part of this global service trip,” said Arena. “I would like to thank my team for always going above and beyond, Caesars Entertainment for the opportunity to see how we can make a difference in other people’s lives, and Sam Stephens, Melanie Schwartz, and Jessica Pederson from Clean the World and Children International for a great experience.”
Murphy, N.C. – On November 5, Erlanger Murphy Medical Center and the Nurse Professional Practice Council honored a nine outstanding nurses through the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses ceremony.
The DAISY Award is a national award to honor nurses who define patient and family centered care. Audrey Hedden, BSN, won the 2018 DAISY Award for her dedication to providing comprehensive care extending beyond medical needs to her patients. The eight other nominees were Stephanie Forbess, BSN; Dana Hill, RN; Linda Hoefsmit, RN; Vickie Martin, RN; Melissa Myers, RN; Katie Moore, RN, FNP; Dawn Roper, RN; and Brandi Welch, RN. All of the nurses were recognized with stories detailing their outstanding patient-centered care they continuously provide.
Hedden was honored for her extraordinary effort to ensure that a homeless patient was well taken care of after discharge. She gathered supplies, food and even a new backpack for the patient so that his needs could still be met even after his discharge. Her compassion and serving heart earned her this year’s DAISY Award.
The DAISY Foundation was created in 1999 after Patrick Barnes passed away from Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. His family wanted a way to honor him and show appreciation for the nurses’ compassion and kindness they extended to the whole family during his eight-week stay in the hospital. DAISY was born from his wife, Tena’s, imagination standing for Diseases Attacking the Immune System and through this the award for Extraordinary Nurses was created.
For more information about the DAISY Foundation or the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, please visitwww.DAISYfoundation.org.
On Thursday, November 8, Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, NC hosted a forum on drug and human trafficking with local law enforcement and social service organizations. Seventy attendees representing 17 organizations from across Western North Carolina gathered for the event. The intertwined issues of drug and human trafficking effect the entire country as well as our rural and seemingly isolated communities.
The meeting was led by Dr. Halleh Seddighzadeh, an international counter-trafficking advisor and Forensic Traumatologist. She has worked in refugee settings, war torn and crisis-affected communities with child and adult survivors of trafficking and torture in the Middle East doing psychological first aid and investigative research. Dr. Seddighzadeh frequently provides consultation and training to law enforcement agencies, service providers, faith-based organizations, prosecutors, investigators, medical practitioners as well as international and domestic businesses on trauma-sensitive best practices.
It was the first forum of this nature in Western North Carolina. Attendees included the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Family Safety Program, EBCI District Attorney’s Office, REACH of Haywood, Macon, Clay & Cherokee Counties, Cherokee Indian Police Department, Andrews Police Department, as well as Haywood and Macon county Sheriff offices. The different organizations discussed their individual, local needs and shared their thoughts on how to work together to combat drug and human trafficking more effectively.
Jo Ray, Regional Vice President of Community Relations and Employee Wellness at Harrah's Cherokee said of the event, “It is important for Harrah’s Cherokee to be involved as we are dedicated to ensuring the communities in which we live and work are thriving and safe.”