Officials with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health today announced the first reported flu-related death of the 2020-21 flu season, which occurred the first week of October and involved an adult over 65 years of age in the central part of the state. NCDHHS staff and leadership extend their sympathies to the family and loved ones of this individual during this difficult time. To protect the privacy of the family, the person's hometown, county, age and gender will not be released.
“This is a sad reminder that flu can be a serious illness and can lead to complications and even death in some cases,” said State Epidemiologist Zack Moore, M.D., MPH. “With flu season starting during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for people to get a flu vaccine this year.”
During the 2019-20 flu season, 186 flu deaths were reported in North Carolina, down from 208 deaths during the 2018-19 flu season. Of those 186 deaths, 105 were people age 65 and older and five were under the age of 18.
The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu and its complications. It lowers your likelihood of getting sick. And if you do catch the flu, it’s likely to be milder than if you weren’t vaccinated. Each year, scientists and health experts develop seasonal flu shots to protect against the three or four flu strains that research suggests will be most common during the upcoming season. The vaccine works by triggering your body to produce protective antibodies that help prevent the flu.
The CDC recommends flu vaccination every year for everyone 6 months and older. Vaccination is the best way to prevent infection with the flu. It is especially important for those at higher risk of more serious outcomes, such as people over 65 years old, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Some of these same groups are also at high risk of complications from COVID-19.
Flu vaccinations are available at hospitals, pharmacies, private medical offices, some federally qualified health care centers and local health departments. To find a flu vaccine near you, visit vaccinefinder.org/find-vaccine.
In North Carolina, flu infections are most common from late fall to early spring with activity usually peaking in January or February. In addition to getting a flu vaccine, the following precautions should be taken to protect against the spread of flu, COVID-19 and other viruses:
DPH’s surveillance for the 2020-21 flu season began Sept. 27 and will continue through late May. A combined COVID-19 and influenza surveillance summary that includes information on flu-related deaths and activity is posted every Thursday at flu.nc.gov.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced all Census self-response and field data collection will conclude Thursday, October 15, 2020, following a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. To date, an estimated 30 percent of North Carolinians have yet to respond to the 2020 Census. This equates to a potential loss of $54 billion in funding over the next decade for communities across the state.
“With tomorrow’s deadline upon us, it’s critical that every North Carolinian fill out the Census,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Completing the Census is safe, easy and important. It takes less than 10 minutes to help shape our state’s future for the next 10 years.”
The Census will determine how much federal funding North Carolina gets for education, healthcare, transportation, disaster recovery, community service programs, economic planning and development and other critical services. A potential undercount could also determine whether North Carolina gains an additional congressional seat.
To respond to the 2020 Census visit my2020census.gov, call (844-330-2020 in English, 844-468-2020 in Spanish) or complete the Census form sent to your home and return it by mail.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau:
Complete Count Committees and Census community and state-wide partners are encouraged to visit census.nc.gov to download promotional and educational materials to help ensure a complete and accurate census count across the state.
Together, our state can build a brighter future for our communities and #MakeNCCount.
On Nov. 1, 2020, Young Harris College will welcome Andra Brantley to serve as the director of admissions. In this role, Brantley will work with the admissions team to implement new strategies to grow and further develop enrollment.
“Achieving success is never done by one person,” said Brantley. “It's done by a team committed to the goal.”
Andra Brantley began his career in higher education at West Georgia Technical College where he served as the high school coordinator. From there, he transitioned to Georgia State University to become the assistant director of recruitment and admissions and gained a Registered Enrollment Professional Certification through the Georgia Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Brantley comes to YHC from Clark Atlanta University, where he served as senior assistant director of transfer student services. His collective experience gained over the last 11 years has helped lead him to this opportunity at Young Harris College.
“Mr. Brantley is an accomplished and adept enrollment management professional with many years of experience recruiting Georgia high school students to in-state colleges and universities,” said Provost Dr. Jason A. Pierce. “The members of the search committee were particularly impressed by his evident leadership skills, his experience as a trainer of counselors and as a talent-developer, and his extensive familiarity with the Atlanta market. I look forward to working with him as we continue to grow Young Harris’s enrollment and expand awareness of the College among prospective students, particularly in North Georgia and the metro areas.”
About Young Harris College
Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires and empowers students through an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science and Technology; and Professional Studies. More than 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the prestigious Peach Belt Conference. For more information, visit yhc.edu.
Seven N.C. Counties, One Local 911 Center to Receive Grants for 911 Technology Upgrades and Projects
The North Carolina 911 Board announced it has approved a total of $9.9 million in grants from the state’s 911 Fund for seven counties and one municipality, and $2.14 million for statewide projects. The grants will support enhancements to 911 centers and emergency management equipment, such as radio and dispatch upgrades and new 911 centers (public service answering points, or PSAPs).
“Our board is excited to have the opportunity to improve the state’s 911 technology and support these projects across North Carolina,” said L. V. Pokey Harris, executive director of the North Carolina 911 Board. “The resources provided through this grant program are essential to our localities and necessary to help our state’s residents and visitors receive the best possible 911 service delivery.”
The grant recipients include:
The statewide projects include:
The N.C. General Assembly created the 911 Board in 1998 that now manages both landline and wireless 911 services in North Carolina, as well as related policies and procedures, and to administer the state’s 911 Fund. The fund is used to support equipment purchases for all 911 centers in the state. The board is housed with the N.C. Department of Information Technology.
The UNC Asheville and Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos have established the Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise Scholarship Endowment to award undergraduate scholarships to students from Western North Carolina.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos’ first endowed scholarship with UNC Asheville will exist in perpetuity and provide an annual award of over $1,000 each year to qualified students. The first scholarship will be awarded to a student in the UNC Asheville Class of 2025. First-year students and transfer students are eligible to apply.
“UNC Asheville’s commitment to providing students with access to a high quality education that is affordable, adaptive, and endlessly relevant is central to our mission,” said Sarah Humphries Nazionale, interim dean of Admission and Financial Aid, UNC Asheville. “This endowed scholarship with Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos will allow us to expand access to even more future entrepreneurs, innovators, engaged citizens, and successful leaders right here in Western North Carolina.”
Scholarship recipients must have a GPA of 3.0 or better and live within Harrah’s service region of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Swain, Jackson, Macon, or Haywood counties. Priority will be given to Harrah’s employees and their children or grandchildren with preference for students demonstrating financial need. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years, and recipients are encouraged to serve as interns and staff at Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos while enrolled at UNC Asheville. Students must complete their application for admission to UNC Asheville no later than February 1 to be eligible for the scholarship.
To learn more about scholarships at UNC Asheville, visit https://www.unca.edu/admission/financial-aid/types-of-aid/scholarships/. Complete your application at https://www.unca.edu/admission/apply/.
Information courtesy of UNC Asheville.
Several years of research, compilation and collaboration by two writers from Western Carolina University have resulted in a scholarly book about Horace Kephart, a pivotal and sometimes controversial figure in the region from the early 20th century.
The University of Tennessee Press recently published “Horace Kephart: Writings,” a collection of magazine articles, unpublished manuscripts and correspondence, edited by Mae Miller Claxton, professor of English, and George Frizzell, retired archivist of Special Collections at Hunter Library.
Kephart, an outdoorsman, writer and advocate for establishing Great Smoky Mountains National Park who lived from 1862 to 1931, is best known for “Camping and Woodcraft” and “Our Southern Highlanders.” Both books are still in publication, more than 100 years after first printings. Kephart lived the latter part of his life in Bryson City.
“We felt that more of Kephart’s diverse writings should be available to the general public,” said Claxton. “Most people think he wrote just a few things - important though they were. Also, the Kephart family, especially Libby Kephart Hargrave, has donated so much important archival material that needed to be part of a more complete Kephart portrait.”
A collection of Kephart belongings, including camping and fishing gear, photographs and documents, is held by WCU through Hunter Library and the Mountain Heritage Center, with a digital exhibit available online. Kephart has been criticized as exaggerating and stereotyping native mountain peoples in his works.
The book has nine chapters, each accompanied by an introductory essay by a notable Appalachian scholar providing context and background. The book is organized by seven distinct themes to tackle biographical information, as well as his frequent writing topics, such as the outdoors, firearms, Southern Appalachian culture, fiction, the Cherokee, the Boy Scouts, and formation of the Smokies national park and the Appalachian Trail.
“This was an incredibly long project. It began with a conversation with Richard Starnes, editor of the Appalachian Echoes series (a recognized historian and WCU interim provost) about whether I had any interesting projects going,” Claxton said. “I said I was interested in doing a collection of Kephart writings. He said to send a proposal to the folks at UT Press, who were enthusiastic about the idea.
“Then I contacted George Frizzell, who has been doing Kephart work for most of his career and knows more than anybody,” she said. “George’s bibliography of Kephart’s works is probably the most valuable part of the book. And so many people contributed to the project, including WCU students like Michael Redman, plus librarians and our wonderful contributors who wrote introductions for each section. We also want to acknowledge the support and encouragement of George Ellison and Janet McCue, who were finishing up their Kephart biography (the award-winning “Back of Beyond: A Horace Kephart Biography”), and they contributed the intro to chapter one. We think the two books make nice companion pieces.”
Frizzell has been working with Kephart materials for almost 40 years. During his tenure with the university’s Special Collections, Frizzell proved a reliable resource for authors, historians and archivists working on projects that required utilizing Kephart materials.
“We wanted to take readers beyond Kephart’s best known works – “Camping and Woodcraft” and “Our Southern Highlanders” – and allow them to experience the full range of his interests,” said Frizzell. “The sheer breadth of his pursuits is astounding, and he often was known as an authority, or at least knowledgeable, in many of his endeavors. These included his often-forgotten expertise in matters such as librarianship, outdoor cooking and firearms to extensive time spent in writing fiction.
“We also wanted to capture the entirety of Kephart’s career. For instance, Kephart had a reputation for his writings on outdoor life before he moved to Western North Carolina,” he said. “He was a perennial topic during my years in Hunter Library’s Special Collections, both for the research materials he assembled and for those wanting to know about his life and career.”
Due to his popularity, Special Collections and the Mountain Heritage Center collaborated on a Kephart website, Frizzell said. “Eventually, I started to assemble programs and PowerPoint presentations based on Kephart’s life and times to try and provide some additional perspective. One of the things that inspired me was working with Mae’s Appalachian Literature classes and trying to address their questions,” he said.
The Kephart Collection is a premier source of information for scholars of history and culture of Southern Appalachia and it remains the most heavily used manuscript collection in Hunter Library's Special Collections, said Jason Brady, interim chief of Special and Digital Collections.
“This publication is another big happening in the Kephart world,” Brady said. “The release of ‘Horace Kephart: Writings’ represents a valuable opportunity for fans of his two well-known works to dramatically expand their knowledge of Kephart and his writing. Until the publication of this book, the only opportunities for those seeking to read more of Kephart's numerous articles, essays and correspondence were to obtain copies of uncommon or rare magazines and journals, or to visit the repositories where original copies of his writings are held. ‘Writings’ is a thematically arranged, thoroughly researched volume that showcases the diversity of Kephart's interests and writing topics, and makes easily accessible, finally, many of his lesser known writings.”
For more information on Hunter Library’s Special and Digital Collections, visit digitalcollections.wcu.edu or email firstname.lastname@example.org. “Horace Kephart: Writings” is available online and at local bookstores.
Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital welcomes Dr. Vicente J. Hill as Emergency Medicine Medical Director
Murphy, N.C. – Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital (EWCH) is pleased to welcome board-certified emergency medicine physician Dr. Vicente J. Hill as Emergency Medicine Medical Director.
Dr. Hill joined the EWCH emergency department (ED) team in December 2019. In his new leadership role, Dr. Hill will work closely with the medical staff and will be responsible for every aspect of the ED, including helping to establish procedures that will further develop the consistency and quality of services provided.
“Staffing our emergency department with a full-time emergency medical director has been a goal for some time. Dr. Hill is already familiar with our community, and his 20 years of experience in emergency medicine will be a great asset, especially when working closely with our EMS partners,” said EWCH CEO Stephanie Boynton. “These local relationships are critical to effectively serve our community when responding to medical emergencies.”
Dr. Hill received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. and completed his pre-medical studies at the University of New Hampshire and the University of New England. He attended medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, N.Y., after which he completed an internal medicine internship at the University of California San Francisco Mount Zion campus in San Francisco, Calif. He completed emergency medicine residency training at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas.
“As I’m already familiar with EWCH and the excellent staff here, I am inspired by the teamwork between our emergency department and western North Carolina’s EMS partners,” said Dr. Hill. “My new role allows me to advance the strong emergency care service EWCH already provides to the region, and I look forward to continue building the relationships we have with our community partners.”
For more information about EWCH’s emergency care, please visit erlanger.org/westerncarolina.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended essential flexibilities for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to ensure participants continue to receive the food and health support they need throughout the COVID-19 national public health emergency. Extending these waivers allows nutritionally at-risk mothers, babies and children to use their benefits in a safe manner and enables the WIC program to operate based on local conditions throughout the pandemic.
WIC remains open to serve eligible families, with some modifications in how services are provided in response to COVID-19. USDA’s The WIC waivers allow for:
Anyone who has questions, needs to update certification or who is seeking WIC services for the first time can call a local WIC office for specific guidance on how services are being provided.
The North Carolina WIC program is administered through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and provides supplemental foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and health care referrals to more than 250,000 participants each month, including low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children under five who are determined to be at nutritional risk. Program services are provided by county health departments, community and rural health centers and community action agencies. WIC is an equal opportunity provider.
To learn more about the WIC program or to find a local WIC clinic, visit www.nutritionnc.com/mywic.
New COVID-19 Toolkit Available for Faith Leaders; Guidance for Places of Worship Updated for Phase 3
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services updated its COVID-19 guidance for places of worship and shared a toolkit to support faith leaders in slowing the spread of the virus.
The updated guidance recommends that places of worship continue to meet online or outside if possible. If in-person services are held, NCDHHS recommends limiting gatherings to 30 percent of occupancy or 100 people, whichever is less.
“While the pandemic is global, the way we slow the spread of this virus is local, through on-the-ground action and shared responsibility. This new toolkit helps clergy of all faiths to double down on their efforts to protect our communities as we navigate this unprecedented time,” said Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.
A new online toolkit is available to help faith leaders slow the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. It includes 10 actions faith leaders can take with supporting materials and templates. Actions include:
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 announces the October 1, 2020 arrest of 39-year-old Robin Farmer Stalcup, of Murphy, North Carolina for charges of sexually assaulting a minor child.
In June 2020, a complaint was made with the Cherokee County Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office of an allegation of a sexual assault of a minor child. Pursuant to this allegation, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation which identified Stalcup as suspect in the case. As the case was being investigated, assistance was provided by HAVEN Child Advocacy Center.
The case was presented to the Cherokee County Grand Jury on 9/28/2020 and a true bill of indictment for the arrest of Stalcup was issued.
Stalcup surrendered himself to the Cherokee County Detention Center and the indictment for Indecent Liberties with a Child was served on him. The North Carolina Magistrate set a $5,000.00 unsecured bond and Stalcup was released. Stalcup is to be in Cherokee County Superior Court on December 14, 2020.
Stalcup was served with 2012 misdemeanor warrants for Breaking and Entering and Assault and Battery and bond was set at $1,000.00 unsecured. The court date on the misdemeanor charges is set for October 15, 2020.
Sheriff Derrick Palmer stated, “Due to the age of the victim and nature of the crime we will not be making any further press releases in this case.”
To report suspicious activity and suspect violations of the law please call 828-837-1344 or submit a tip at email@example.com.