Deena C. Bouknight –Contributing Writer
While Kyle Garner, John Bosio, Derek Roland, and Matthew Corbin all left Macon County at various times for various reasons, coming back to the area has been a boon to their careers and private lives.
Even though Kyle Garner, in business development at Wayah Insurance, chose a path that took him away from his hometown of Franklin for about 10 years, he pointed out, “People I know who didn’t leave have been successful as well.” Garner, who graduated from Franklin High School (FHS) in 2003, attended Western Carolina University (WCU) and then Lenoir-Rhyne in Hickory. A kicker on the football team at FHS, he coached the football team full-time at Lenoir-Rhyne for four years. Then, in 2011, he and his wife, Lauren, whom he met at WCU, decided to make Franklin their permanent home.
“My father, Jim Garner, at one time owned Wayah Insurance, so I grew up with insurance being the family business,” said Garner. “I begin to realize what a good opportunity the insurance business is.”
Garner became licensed, and soon after moving back to Franklin began volunteering on sundry boards to offer insight and new ideas so that the towns of Macon County “move forward.”
“And they are moving forward on the whole,” he observes. “People are asking the right questions. And it’s been good to see a mix on these boards of natives and people who have not lived here all their lives.”
Garner encourages young people to be attuned to the many job opportunities all over Macon County. His younger brother, Paul, who also left Franklin for a time period, has returned and is employed with Drake Enterprises.
Main Street is the one area with noticeable changes and improvements, pointed out Garner. “It’s come a long way from when I was growing up. A brewery, restaurants … places to eat and drink and be seen; and shops, Outdoor 76 and other stores.”
Garner has worked out of both the Franklin and Highlands’ Wayah Insurance offices. Currently, he works in Highlands. “I tell people I have the best commute in the country, passing Dry Falls and Cullasaja Falls and driving along Cullasaja River. There is such quality of life here, and we plan to stay.”
Within a two-hour drive, Garner said there are many recreational opportunities – even for individuals not involved in the outdoor hiking, fishing, camping, and climbing pursuits. Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, bowling at Harrah’s, Asheville, and more are available for families.
Even though Jeff Bosio was not born in Franklin, he said he claims it as his hometown. His family moved to Macon County just before his high school years. “I was very active in marching band, wrestling, and tennis during high school [at FHS] and even met the woman who eventually became my wife while on a church trip when I was a sophomore in high school.”
After graduating in 2010, however, Bosio left Franklin to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned his bachelor of science in biology in 2014 and then his doctorate of pharmacy.
“I first became interested in pharmacy after getting to know a local pharmacist who was the father of one of my friends from the tennis team. I was interested in having a profession in the medical field and it was a natural fit. While I enjoyed my time at Chapel Hill and interning at Duke Hospital in Durham, my wife, Andrea, (a native of Franklin) and I were excited when an opportunity to move back to Franklin opened up for us.”
The Bosios moved back last fall and had their first child, Arden. “We really enjoy being back,” said Bosio. “Something just feels so right about living in this town nestled between the mountains. We also love being around family and friends.”
Currently, Bosio is employed as pharmacist at the new Ingles pharmacy on Georgia Road. He and his wife are also finding time to give back to the Franklin community. “I am also an assistant men’s tennis coach. It’s very meaningful and rewarding to help give back to a high school team when I was so positively impacted by my own time on the team. My wife, who played tennis in college, is also helping out with the girls’ [FHS] team.
“Franklin is a special place and we’re proud to call it home.”
Derek Roland did not venture far from his hometown of Franklin after graduating from FHS in 2003. Roland, whose family in the area dates back five generations, attended WCU for business law and administration and lived in Cullowhee until graduation in 2007. He gained his real estate license and worked for Unique Properties for few years. However, the recession curtailed his real estate career and he took a job as county planner for Macon County in 2009. He served until 2013 and he worked as a land use administrator for the Town of Franklin while also obtaining a master’s degree by driving to Asheville three nights a week.
“I graduated on a Saturday in 2014, and on Monday I was working as county manager,” said Roland. “At the time I was the youngest in the state, at 28 years old, to hold the position.”
Roland said that although he stayed connected to Franklin while in college, making sure he “was never too far away from my grandmother’s cooking or a place to do my laundry,” he prayed that “God would give me a way to be close to my family.”
In 2017, Roland married Debbie, whom he knew in high school, and the couple’s family includes her three children and their 10-month-old son.
“I love what I do!” said Roland. “To live around and work with some of the people who taught, and coached, and mentored me growing up. I didn’t know I would be back, but I am glad to be here and don’t plan to go anywhere else.”
He said that although Franklin has changed somewhat since he was a boy, he believes that Macon County is “right where it needs to be.
“There are positive things on the horizon. We are just going to continue making this the great place that it is.”
To rising seniors at FHS, Roland had some encouraging words.
“Pray for direction. Listen to advisors, teachers, and family members. Make wise decisions about your future. It may seem like forever before you’re going to be an adult, but it isn’t. Think about Macon County as a place to work and live. There is no other place I want to be.”
Matthew Corbin was also born and raised in Franklin. His parents are Rep. Kevin Corbin, House Deputy Majority Whip, (R-District 120) and Beth Corbin. He has a sister named Maggie.
Corbin said that after graduating from FHS in 2005, he knew he wanted to return to Franklin. During his time away from Franklin, he acquired an undergraduate degree before attending dental school at UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall of 2011 – the same year in which he married his wife, Charissa, a native of Austin, Texas. As a dentist, he was able to provide services in Guatemala and Peru. After finishing dental school, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force and completed a one-year residency program, “where I furthered my knowledge and skills in many advanced specialty aspects of dentistry. We then took an assignment to serve a three-year tour at a remote Air Force location in Alaska. It was an adventure to move across the country with Charissa and we introduced two beautiful girls into the world during our time there, Sadie Ann and Josie Leeare.”
Corbin returned to Franklin in early July to work as a dentist, taking over the practice of retiring longtime Franklin dentist David Silverstein on July 15. In a letter to Silverstein’s patients Matthew Corbin shared a little about why he decided to return to Franklin.
“My family has served in this great community for nearly 200 years, dating back to the early 1800s. Franklin is more than my home, it is my heritage. This community has shaped me into who I am today …”
“Serving as an officer and dentist in the Air Force has been very fulfilling and rewarding, but no job on earth could surpass the joy of serving our local community.”