YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — Blue Ridge Mountain EMC’s General Manager Jeremy Nelms announced on June 25 that he will resign his position as General Manager in September 2020.
Nelms began his career at Blue Ridge Mountain EMC in August 2016. He was hired as the seventh general manager since the inception of BRMEMC in 1938. During Nelms’ four-year tenure, the EMC has seen a growth in its Membership that now exceeds 54,000 meters, 46,791 members and 6,200 miles of electric lines.
Board of Directors President Ray Cook said, “The Board is very grateful for Jeremy’s leadership over the last four years. He and the employees have done an outstanding job serving our Membership and we know without a doubt this exceptional service will continue. Jeremy leaves the EMC in very good fiscal health and a great position for growth. We wish Jeremy and his family the best in this next phase of their lives and we sincerely thank him for his service and dedication to BRMEMC.”
Under the Board’s leadership, BRMEMC will begin a search for a new general manager later this summer.
“Having the opportunity to work alongside some of the finest co-workers I’ve ever met has been both rewarding and gratifying,” said Nelms. “I have made wonderful friendships over the last four years and I know the EMC, its Board, and employees will continue to succeed and prosper for the benefit of the Membership. I thank the Board for allowing me the opportunity to pursue and grow my career at BRMEMC over these last four years.”
The U.S. Forest Service has acquired a 49-acre inholding at the headwaters of Laurel Creek, a tributary to Fires Creek, in a popular recreation area on the Tusquitee Ranger District. Funding for the purchase comes from the North Carolina Threatened Treasures FY 2020 Land and Water Conservation Fund Appropriations.
The tract, which is completely surrounded by national forest, had been privately owned until it was purchased by Mainspring Conservation Trust in 2017.
In closing on the sale to the U.S. Forest Service, Jordan Smith, Executive Director for Mainspring said, "We are thrilled that the Laurel Creek inholding is forever part of the National Forest, after more than a decade of uncertainty. Mainspring is grateful to the landowners, who were willing to seek a conservation solution for this incredibly significant property, the organizations and supporters who helped donate to this project so the property could become public land, and for our partners at the U.S. Forest Service, who recognized what this inholding means to hikers, hunters, and people who love the Fires Creek Area. This project exemplifies what can happen when everyone works together for permanent conservation."
The parcel includes a section of the Rim Trail, a 25-mile foot and horse path that traverses the rim of the Tusquitee Mountains and Valley River Mountains that form the Fires Creek watershed. The Rim Trail loop starts at the Fires Creek Recreation Area and connects to other trails including the Shinbone, Sassafras, Phillips Ridge, and Bristol Horse Trails.
"This property is an important wildlife area used by sportsmen for bear, deer, turkey, and grouse hunting and ensures recreation access to the Rim Trail," said District Ranger Andy Gaston. "Mainspring Conservation Trust has been a great partner in adding public lands to this well-loved part of the Nantahala National Forest."
Acquisition of the property also helps provide for abundant clean water through protection of the headwaters of Fires Creek, Laurel Creek, and Phillips Creek that flow into the Hiwassee River Basin, the primary source of drinking water for residents in North Carolina and Georgia.
Today, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) released improved online applications for Medicaid and Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) that will help both North Carolina families and county Departments of Social Services (DSS) during the COVID-19 pandemic. These new applications will reduce administrative burden for county DSS and help applicants maintain social distancing when applying for these programs.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of people who need these programs, while also creating new challenges for our county partners,” said NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for NC Medicaid Dave Richard. “Improving the online application process helps everyone.”
North Carolina’s online application portal for Medicaid and FNS is called ePASS. New and updated features in ePASS include:
To learn more about the new features of NC FAST’s ePASS upgrade, visit the Medicaid/NC Health Choice webpage or the NCDHHS Food and Nutrition Service webpage.
June 23, 2020 - The USDA Forest Service has awarded grants to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, from the Community Forest Program, which supports working forests that provide benefits like clean water, wildlife habitat, educational opportunities, and public access for recreation.
The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI) will use their grant to expand and connect the Hall Mountain Community Forest to the Little Tennessee River. The community's goal is to allow use of the Hall Mountain property for recreation and education with hiking trails, interpretative materials about natural features, forest restoration efforts, and descriptions of historical and cultural relevance. It will also be a site for hosting educational events and trainings and coordinating with the nearby Cowee Mound.
"The Hall Mountain Community Forest has returned a key resource to the tribe-a working forest that is also a cultural landscape which has been shaped by thousands of years of use. The continuation of traditional use and forest management fits the values of Cherokee land stewardship," said Tommy Cabe, Forest Resource Specialist for EBCI.
The forests at Hall Mountain reflect thousands of years of human shaping through fire and low impact harvesting, mainly of non-timber forest products including artisan materials, nuts and other foods, and wood. Prescribed burning, invasive species removal, and tree planting may be used to help restore the health and diversity of the forest while preserving the cultural history of the property. The conservation and restoration of these lands also protects soils and streams that drain into the Little Tennessee River.
At Oak Hill Community Park and Forest, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina (FCNC) will use their grant to help purchase the remaining 321 acres of the project property in Burke County. The conservancy is raising additional funds to complete the purchase. The forest will eventually offer public trails, environmental education and archaeology programs, ecological study, and forest restoration. Forest management activities include prescribed fire, loblolly pine and sustainable hardwood management, invasive species removal, wildlife management, and sustainable agriculture.
"Foothills Conservancy's expectation is that the Oak Hill Community Park and Forest land will energize the community by connecting people with place, nature, and each other through unique environmental education and outdoor recreation opportunities that we anticipate developing with partners such as Burke County, City of Morganton, Burke County Public Schools, Warren Wilson College, Exploring Joara Foundation, and NC FarmLink, among others. There are so many other community benefits derived from the conservation of this forest including enhanced air and water quality, wildlife habitat, and public health improvement and enjoyment," said Andrew Kota, Executive Director of FCNC.
In total this year, the USDA Forest Service awarded $4 million to 10 community forest projects across seven states. For more information about the Community Forest Program, visit www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/private-land/community-forest.
North Carolina Creates Nation’s First Statewide Infrastructure Connecting Healthcare and Human Services
NCCARE360 Now in All 100 Counties to Help North Carolina Respond to and Recover from COVID-19
Through a public-private partnership, North Carolina has created the nation’s first statewide technology platform, NCCARE360, to coordinate whole-person care uniting traditional healthcare settings and organizations that address non-medical drivers of health, such as food, housing, transportation, employment and interpersonal safety. NCCARE360 is now available in all 100 counties.
“All kinds of factors can affect people’s health, and our groundbreaking and innovative NCCARE360 brings government together with the private sector to help people deal with the all the challenges of being sick with COVID-19 or any other health problem,” said Governor Roy Cooper.
Now, anyone in North Carolina can request services and be connected to an accountable organization to support their immediate and long-term needs. NCCARE360 enables health and community-based organizations to make electronic referrals, communicate in real time, securely share client information, and track outcomes together. North Carolinians who need assistance can search NCCARE360’s repository of more than 10,000 local services at nccare360.org/resources, access resources by calling 2-1-1, or complete an online form at nccare360.org/request-assistance.
“Having this critical infrastructure in place puts our state in a stronger position to address the devastating impact COVID-19 is having on so many of our residents and to help us recover. NCCARE360 brings to life the state’s vision that all North Carolinians have the opportunity for health and well-being,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
NCCARE360 completed its statewide rollout six months ahead of schedule as the team fast-tracked the statewide expansion in response to COVID-19. Since the network launched in 2019, more than 1,000 organizations across the state have joined the network to connect the people they serve to the resources they need to stay healthy and well, while also ensuring accountability and tracking outcomes
“NCCARE360 is a model for the nation. It breaks down silos that create barriers to needed care and services – particularly in rural communities - and exacerbate health disparities. It was critical before COVID-19, and it is even more so now,” said Georgina Dukes, Unite Us Network Director.
Research has established that having an unmet resource need — including experiencing food insecurity, housing instability, unmet transportation needs and interpersonal violence or toxic stress — can negatively impact health while also increasing health care utilization and costs. These non-medical drivers have the greatest impact on health, yet historically the human services and healthcare systems have been fragmented and siloed. NCCARE360 breaks down those siloes, putting people at the center of service delivery.
“In order to improve the health of individuals we must have the ability to understand their unique needs and connect them to resources in their local community. NCCARE360 is playing a fundamental role in making those connections happen and the Duke Endowment is proud to support its development,” said Lin B. Hollowell III , Director of Health Care for The Duke Endowment.
Organizations that are interested in joining the network should connect at uniteus.com/join. “NCCARE360’s coordinated and comprehensive shared technology platform saves time and money for community action agencies and families served,” said Sharon C. Goodson, Executive Director of the NC Community Action Association. “It’s a long-awaited game-changer for human service delivery organizations.”
NCCARE360 is the result of a public-private partnership between the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) and the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation (FHLI). The NCCARE360 implementation team includes United Way of NC, NC 2-1-1, Expound Decision Systems, and Unite Us.
(Hayesville, NC) Clay County amateur radio operators (commonly referred to as “hams”) who are members of Clay County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (“Clay County ARES”) and the Clay County chapter of North Carolina Auxiliary Emergency Communications (NC AUXCOMM), will demonstrate the latest technology in emergency communications (“EMCOMM”) on Saturday, June 27, 2020, between 12:00 noon and 5:00 PM, at the Clay County Rec Park Pavilion near the Spikebuck Cherokee Burial Mound, 333 Ball Park Drive, Hayesville, NC.
Children of all ages are invited to drop by and will be given an opportunity to “get on the air" through amateur radio.
June 27-28 is National Field Day for Amateur Radio operators nationwide. Throughout the US (and many foreign countries), ham radio operators will be setting up radio stations in unusual locations and making contact with others as a display of their emergency communications capabilities.
In recent years, Amateur Radio operators have made headlines with their work in the earthquakes, floods, hurricanes (e.g., Katrina), ice and snow storms, tornadoes, wildfires, and other crises that disrupt commercial and local emergency communications. These hams have provided emergency communications for many government and civic organizations during declared emergencies and national disasters. In addition, they provide supplemental communications when normal systems are rendered inoperable or overloaded. Amateur Radio has been correctly called the communications medium that works “When all else fails.”
Like most communities, Clay County doesn’t expect a major emergency. But such events do happen, and losing communications quickly can turn an emergency into a real disaster. The members of Clay County ARES/AUXCOMM work diligently in partnership with North Carolina Emergency Management and the federal Department of Homeland Security/FEMA to be prepared to provide back-up emergency communications if an emergency strikes here.
Brochures and other information about Amateur Radio and EMCOMM will be available through the Amateur Radio Relay League (“ARRL”), the national association for Amateur Radio.
For more information, please contact Larry J. Ford, Emergency Coordinator for Clay County ARES/AUXCOMM, at (828) 421-5721 or 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 June 18, 2020 arrest of 19-year-old Dru Jordan Baine, who provided a Fannin County, Georgia address, for sexual assault.
In mid-October 2019, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a report of a sexual assault involving a minor child. The report alleged that Dru Baine was suspect in the reported assault.
Detectives with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation into the allegations which included the assistance of HAVEN Child Advocacy Center in Murphy NC, The Cherokee County Department of Social Services, Appalachian Children’s Center Inc, McCaysville Police Department. At the conclusion of the investigation, the case was presented to the grand jury who met May 18, 2020, which issued the bills of indictment.
Dru Baine was located in Fannin County, Georgia where he had established residence after leaving Cherokee County, NC sometime during the investigation. He was arrested and later waived extradition and was brought to the Cherokee County Detention Center where he is currently being held.
Dru Jordan Baine was arrested for Statutory Rape of a Child by an Adult and Taking Indecent Liberties with Children. The North Carolina Magistrate set a $250,000.00 secure bond. Baine is scheduled to be in Cherokee County Superior Court on August 03, 2020 for his initial hearing.
Sheriff Derrick Palmer stated, “As you can see these cases are not solved overnight as we see on television. We are grateful for the assistance of McCaysville Police Department, HAVEN CAC and Appalachian Children’s Center for their invaluable assistance. Because of the age of the victim and the nature of the assault we do not anticipate any future press releases concerning this matter.”
To report suspicious activity and suspect violations of the law please call 828-837-1344 or submit a tip at email@example.com.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is allocating $35 million in federal funding to local health departments to support the COVID-19 response. Per federal guidelines, counties will be able to use these funds to support COVID-19 staffing, infection controls, testing and tracing, IT infrastructure and data sharing and visualization.
“Our local health departments are critical partners with the state as we fight this virus, and this funding will help them continue and expand their important work,” said Governor Roy Cooper.
“Since the start of the pandemic our local health departments have been working around the clock to protect their communities and slow the spread of the virus. These funds continue to support their ability to address the overwhelming demands they are facing,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.
North Carolina’s local health departments are on the frontlines supporting people in getting tested for COVID-19 and knowing if they have been exposed. Testing and contact tracing are core public health activities and key components of North Carolina’s strategy to responsibly ease restrictions, while continuing to slow the spread COVID-19. These responsibilities are in addition to their ongoing work to promote health and prevent disease.
Local health departments will receive a base allocation of $90,000 per county with additional funding based on population size and their cumulative positive COVID-19 caseload. Some local health departments represent multiple counties. CLICK HERE to see how much each health department will receive.
This one-time, non-recurring funding is part of NCDHHS’ cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC), which awards annual funding to state, local and territorial health departments to support vector-borne disease surveillance and response. The coverage period runs from the beginning of the 2020 calendar year through the end of FY 2021-22.
Visit covid19.ncdhhs.gov to learn more about testing and contact tracing in North Carolina. For more information about the state’s response to COVID-19, go to nc.gov/covid19.
Erlanger officials announced today that Stephanie Boynton, currently CEO of Erlanger Bledsoe Hospital and Sequatchie Valley, will also assume the role of CEO of Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital (EWCH). Ms. Boynton previously served as Interim CEO of EWCH following Erlanger’s acquisition of Murphy Medical Center in 2018, and has been with the Erlanger Health System for the past 19 years.
In this new role, Ms. Boynton will be overseeing Erlanger’s critical access hospitals, with leadership responsibilities for EWCH, in addition to Erlanger Bledsoe Hospital and Sequatchie Valley. “We will continue to recruit new physicians to this area, and work closely with employees and the current medical staff to provide much-needed services to this community, Ms. Boynton said. “As with our healthcare facilities in Bledsoe and Sequatchie Counties, it is important to those living in this area that they can be treated within their community, remaining close to their homes, families, friends and support groups,” she added.
Matt Thomas will continue to serve as Chief Financial Officer and Teresa Bowleg as Chief Nursing Officer at Erlanger’s North Carolina-based hospital.