Town considers leash law after dog owner jailed

Mayor Bob Scott at his office Tuesday addressed the need for a new town ordinance to keep dogs on a leash after the July 24 arrest and impounding of dogs at Wilkie Street in the Town of Franklin after more than a dozen police calls.

Abraham Mahshie – Contributing Writer

Police were called to the Wilkie Street, home of 31-year-old Sabrina Bates more than a dozen times before her pitbull-like dog was taken to the pound and she was hauled off to jail July 24.

“Are you going to wait until a child is mauled or killed before you do something?” a visibly upset Margaret McHan, 76, told the town council Monday night. The neighbor said she called the police each of the past two months when the dog was loose on her property.

“All we can do is give them back to the owners,” she told the council later in the meeting. “We need to do more, I’m worried about my grandchildren.”

Mayor Bob Scott promised that the town would look into a leash law, but later admitted that such a law would likely be ignored by irresponsible dog owners.

“It’s a different thing if you’ve got dogs running loose in an urban area than in a rural area,” the mayor said during an interview in his office Tuesday morning. “This particular situation is extremely sad.”

Asked about the county ordinance already in place, the mayor said the ordinance committee would consider adding more legislation for the town limits and noted the town did everything in its power to quickly address the problem.

“We did get involved. I think that it’s settled,” he said.

Franklin Police Chief David Adams said in a phone interview Tuesday that the town and county have a good system in place to enforce state and county laws about dogs and that cooperation with animal control is fluid.

“I don’t see an emergency situation,” he said regarding any new legislation. “The laws are already in place.”

Garden Club wins $5,000 to revamp town squares

Scott made a full-throated pitch for an additional $5,000 from the town’s economic development fund to revitalize the two town squares. The money was originally intended for town beautification and had been earmarked to support the Women’s History Trail.

The discourse led to an exchange between the mayor and town council member David Culpepper.

“It doesn’t seem like it was in such a shocking state of disrepair,” Culpepper told the mayor at one point.

“Those squares are the most important things downtown right now,” the mayor said back.

Scott outlined that the costs, which would be added to a $2,500 stipend already given to the all-volunteer club, would be used for new turf, refurbishing the existing base material, securing the edges and repairing the fountain. In all, the renovations would be expected to last eight years.

“The gardens are there, Mr. Culpepper,” the mayor said at another point.

“I don’t disagree that they’re beautiful,” Culpepper retorted.

In one of the more contentious discussions Monday night, Town Council member David Culpepper questioned Mayor Bob Scott’s urgency to approve $5,000 in economic development funds for the Franklin Garden Club to revitalize the two town squares.

Council members unanimously passed a motion to allocate the additional funds with the restriction that no mature trees would be cut without the town’s prior notification.

Vice Mayor Barbara McRae, who also serves as chair of the Women’s History Trail, later said she is not worried about the reallocation of funds meant to cover the cost of a statue whose sculpting recently began.

“I’m not sweating it yet,” she said, noting phase 1 had been paid for and the nonprofit had enough funds to cover phase 2. “We’ll probably come back and figure out how to get the remaining $5,000.”

JimBo Ledford gets nod in favor of Spring music festival

Local plumber and Altered Frequencies nightclub owner JimBo Ledford, 43, addressed town aldermen Monday in hopes of winning their support or at least getting their commitment not to stop him from promoting a Spring music festival involving multiple downtown venues in April 2020.
Photos by Abraham Mahshie

Local plumber and proprietor of the Altered Frequencies nightclub on Carolina Mountain Drive, JimBo Ledford, 43, addressed town council members for two consecutive agenda items Monday concerning his burgeoning music venue.

First, he retracted a street closure request for his Micro Wrestling event this Thursday, noting it was not necessary and unduly affected neighboring businesses. Then he launched into a PowerPoint presentation about the potential benefits of supporting a spring music festival.

“First, I’d like to thank you for the second best guardrail in town,” Ledford said of the newly installed guardrail on S. Patton Ave. He then offered to council members that local businesses The Gathering, Rathskeller, Lazy Hiker, Currahee and Mulligan’s were all interested in hosting live music if the town would permit him to organize a festival in April 2020.

“It would be live music on multiple stages, arts and crafts throughout the town,” he said, comparing his concept to Manchester, Tenn.’s Bonnaroo festival, where a town with a population similar to Macon County now generates $56 million a year for the regional economy.

“Franklin is steeped in music,” said council member Adam Kimsey. “Music is a big part of our culture and culture is a big part of Franklin.”

Council members McRae, Culpepper, Brandon McMahon and Joe Collins also expressed support for Ledford’s concept.

“I’m okay with that,” Collins said, in what was the most reluctant of the endorsements.

Property swap approved, alcohol permit discussed, HCA public hearing announced

In a 5-1 vote, with Culpepper in opposition, the Town Council approved a property exchange for town land on Phillips Street for equal valued land of $125,000 at U.S. 441 N. owned by Phil Drake.

The property exchange allows the town to move forward with an eventual fire and rescue substation. Culpepper’s descent was based on providing maximum value to town residents versus out of town residents.

The town’s ordinance review committee meeting August 26 is expected to receive guidance from the state’s alcohol review board concerning how town land can be leased to businesses who serve alcohol.

The discussion of what is called a “dining extension permit” in Raleigh would potentially give authority for businesses to use a portion of the sidewalk in front of their establishment to serve outdoor guests alcoholic beverages where the portion of the sidewalk used does not prevent safe passage.

The town also announced that a Public Hearing will take place Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 6:05 p.m. regarding the special use permit requested by Angel Medical Center.

The permit is required for construction of the new 82,500 square-foot hospital to begin because the building exceeds the 30,000 square-foot limit for construction without such a permit.