What’s new on the plateau


Patrick Taylor – Highlands Mayor

The May meeting of the Highlands Town Board will be held tonight [Thursday] at 7 p.m. by way of ZOOM.

The information for accessing the meeting is on the town website.

As always, the meeting will begin with public comment.  Also, we will hold a long delayed public hearing concerning three changes to the UDO [Unified Developoment Ordinace].  Anyone wishing to make comments concerning these items can raise their hand, and the session moderator will recognize that person and open their microphone.  To make sure all comments are made, please feel free to email me and indicate you want to make a public comment.  My email is: mayor@highlandsnc.org.  Written comments can also be sent, and I will read them to the other commissioners. The only requirements for written comments is that the writer has to be identified. The ZOOM meeting will also have a chat option where an attendee can make comments that commissioners can see during the meeting.  

As I have stated several times now, the best way to get all the information about the meeting is to request to be placed on the town’s Sunshine list.  Simply call town hall at 526-2118 and ask to be added to the list. Name and email address are required.

Small businesses across the state are struggling during this state of emergency.  The state legislature recently approved COVID 19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program for small businesses and municipalities. The governor signed the bill, and now the distribution of these funds are underway.  The funds will be prorated and sent to the counties. County boards have the task of distributing the money to businesses and municipalities.

Jackson and several surrounding counties have partnered with the regional nonprofit, Mountain BizWorks, to administer and distribute the loans to qualified businesses. I hope Macon County will follow suit and establish a similar plan through the Macon County Economic Development Commission or Mountain BizWorks.

As for the Town of Highlands receiving support, I believe the funds should be directed to our business community.  The town has the ability to adjust our budget to get through this difficult economic situation.  Many small businesses need support immediately.

On a sad note, Dr. Don Mullen, a former Highlands mayor, passed away this week.  On behalf of the Town of Highlands let me express our condolences to his wife Patsy and his family.  On a personal note, Don was a great mentor to me.  On numerous occasions, including last month, I would have discussions with Mayor Mullen about the issues and situation in Highlands.  Under his leadership the process for reorganizing the structure of town government to the current town manager and board system was begun.  Dr. Mullen loved and served this community as an elected official, physician and as a minister.

As a minister and physician Don helped many people throughout the world on his numerous mission trips.  He embodied the great Christian ideal of love and service to his fellow human beings. He was a great Highlander.