What’s new on the plateau

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Patrick Taylor – Highlands Mayor

Fall in Highlands is where more than leaves change. Late October a time where seasonal residents change locations. Our municipal election on Nov. 5 may portend change in some form or another.  

October is also the final Community Coffee with the Mayor for this year.  These public, community meetings will resume in March. I want to thank the Hudson Library for their ongoing support by providing a great venue, and all the nonprofits who have sponsored these events.  The coffee is tomorrow, Friday,  at the library meeting room at 11 a.m.

The coffee topic will be “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Broadband and the Highlands Fiber Network.”   Matt Shuler, our GIS Director, and the staff of Altitude Broadband will be there to discuss the new fiber optic network and its community impact.  It is a timely topic since when we resume our community coffee series in March, the fiber network will just about be completed and within weeks of being activated.

The Altitude crew will explain how the system will interface with homes and businesses in Highlands. For example, there will be a number of options for residents to access television through the network. Matt and the crew will have actual equipment for demonstrations.

At last Thursday’s Highlands Town Board meeting Justin McVey and Ashely Hobbs from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Department made a presentation on where Highlands stands on becoming a BearWise Community.  With the requirement of the bear resistant toters for residential garbage pickup going into effect Aug. 1, 2020, Highlands is positioned to become the first BearWise certified community in the state. 

We will also have to form a town committee in order to interface with the BearWise program and NC Wildlife Resources.  The goal of the committee will be to educate the public about best bear practices and to keep the town updated about the status of the program. Commissioner Brian Steihler will be working with the B.E.A.R. Task Force, the town board and staff in creating this new committee.

After the meeting I talked about our next steps with Justin, a biologist who specializes in bear habitats and related issues.  He told me someone had called him to complain that there were significantly fewer bears in Highlands this year, so, the Mayor of Highlands must be  operating a program to poison the bears.  I laughed, and asked Justin if he knew the details of how I had done such a horrible thing?  Justin told the caller that there may be a rival hypothesis to the proposition concerning the mayor poisoning the bears.  It could be that the town’s current initiatives to reduce the bears access to garbage might just be working.  Justin informed me that Highlands is way ahead of other communities in dealing with bears.

I get reports of people consciously feeding bears, which is a bad practice.  If anyone sees a person poisoning a bear, or any wildlife, please let NC Wildlife Resources or our police department know.

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