Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
The Macon County Town Council met on Monday, Nov. 5, for its regular monthly meeting.
Project Wayah was on the agenda but was again tabled until the December meeting, due to the fact that the entity involved has not yet provided the documentation that the Town Council needs to move forward.
During the public comment session Jimbo Ledford, owner of Jimbo’s Plumbing on Carolina Drive, spoke about the issue of his not being allowed to have a segment of road closed off near Carolina Drive across from Drake Enterprises. He wants the road closed while he holds a venue that he puts on each year. He has petitioned the Town Council to get the proper permits but he feels they keep inflicting new rules or hoops for him to jump through and he feels slighted. Ledford has a signed petition with more than 500 names of folks who are in favor of this portion of the road being closed for his music event. He said that “the town’s leadership was killing the town.” He says it is affecting his business. Franklin residents Jay and Trish Powell were also present to support Ledford’s issue.
The Veterans Day parade took place in downtown Franklin on Monday, Nov. 12, beginning at the Gazebo on the Square. All veterans were invited to participate. Line up for the parade was at town hall.
The street closing for the Christmas Parade set for Sunday, Nov. 25 was approved, along with the time for the Ugly Sweater Dash just before the parade begins. Main Street will also close for the Ruby Drop, on New Year’s Eve, on Dec. 31, from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. to give time for setup and breakdown.
Re-appointments of Andrew Raby and Tom Harris to the Town planning Board were both approved for a three-year period starting on Nov. 5, 2018 ending on Nov. 5, 2021.
The Town Board’s travel policy was discussed keeping the travel expense for gas at 33 cents per mile, but raising the meal reimbursement by $1 for each meal to $7 for breakfast, $13 for lunch and $18 for dinner.
The Town of Highlands asked the Town of Franklin for a letter of support regarding the hazardous section of US 64 where trucks have gotten stuck in the gorge. The request stated that this road was not acceptable for certain size trucks and that the GPS systems such as Magellan, Garmin and TomTom, should be revamped to include such warnings. A short video of that section of highway was shown to the board, in which there was an 18 wheeler trying to navigate the sharp turns. The board concurred with Highlands granting the letter of support.
The board addressed a vacancy on ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) Board that occurred due to the resignation of a board member. The position was advertised and the Council now has two qualified candidates for that position. David Culpepper proposed expanding the ABC Board from three to five members. He feels that many residents would like to be more involved in the community and expanding the board by two more members would give more opportunity for residents. The two candidates who applied for this position are both highly qualified and they would both be able to serve. Currently only two ABC boards west of Asheville have five members. The issue was tabled until December.
A bridge lighting, at the end of December, for the newly completed section of the bridge. The street lights near the bridge are in place and they are waiting for Duke power to wire them up. The plan is to have the ceremony in December if Duke gets to it in time. The Bridge itself won’t be lit but the posts will. Duke is running behind due to the cleanup from the hurricane.
Also regarding the newly re-opened bridge is the fact that there is no walkway under the bridge and residents find it dangerous to ride bikes or walk along the unpaved path trying to make the connection to the bike path on the bridge. A request to the DOT (Department of Transportation) will be reconsidered but the board is not sure if they will oblige, as they did not approve it during the initial rebuilding project.
Public Works Director Nathanael Moore, will be initiating a “brush” pickup in the near future, for purposes of residential leaf removal. Residents are asked to push their leaves to the edge of the road, then call town hall and make an appointment to have them picked up. The leaves will be used for a compost pile. A discussion regarding allowing businesses to use the compost ensued. Moore said that it would be considered.
Finally, the Lazy Hiker Brewery is in the process of purchasing the town-owned property it currently leases. They had been given the option to purchase and they have received a commitment letter from a local lender and will be closing shortly. In a statement from Graham Norris, Head Brewer at the Lazy Hiker he said that, “when our co-founders presented to the Town in 2014, they said they looked forward to putting Franklin ‘on the map’ for craft beer. We are proud to have done that beginning in 2015. We have enjoyed working with the town and look forward to that in the future, albeit without the landlord/tenant relationship.
“Since we entered into our lease agreement with the Town, the number of breweries has more than doubled. Even with that stiff increase in competition, our sales at our taproom have steadily risen and are significantly above the projections we presented to the Town in 2014.
“Most importantly, our beer has continued to grow in popularity throughout WNC despite the increased competition from other breweries. For example, sales of our canned beer have increased by over 50% in our WNC distribution territory in the first three quarters of 2018 compared to that period in 2017.
“We are exceedingly grateful for the community support we have received to date. We’re in this for the long haul, and we can’t do it without the community’s continued support. More specifically, we want everyone of legal age to continue to ‘Get Lazy’ with us either at our place or yours.”
Before they adjourned, one last announcement was made by Mayor Bob Scott. He said that he was going to attend the HCA meeting on Friday, Nov. 9, because he felt the need to do so, and he will pay for the trip and expenses out of his own pocket due to his concern about the sale of Mission Health Care to HCA.