Cherokee County

Photo courtesy of Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital

The Cherokee, Clay, Graham (CCG) Health Foundation has donated $40,000 to Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital(EWCH).

“The CCG Foundation has donated funds to help support this facility for many years,” said Andrew Reichman, chairman of the CCG board, in a statement. 

EWCH says it will use the funds to purchase five automated external defibrillators (AED), a flexible fiber-optic ureteral scope for surgical procedures, a urine analyzer for the lab, a treadmill for the cardiac rehab department and a mobile computer workstation.

Courtesy of U.S. Census

Right now only about 30 percent of Jackson and Swain Counties have responded to the U.S. Census. Statewide almost 60 percent of North Carolians have already responded to the census. 

“Western North Carolina has historically been undercounted in the Census and 2020 is no exception,” said Jackie Simms, chair of the programs and grants committee at Dogwood Health Trust in a press release. 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The town of Andrews has transferred their police department over to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s leadership.

 

Andrews Police Chief Michael Hobgood resigned at the beginning of July. This week, Andrews' Mayor James Reid says that instead of searching for a new police chief the town board decided it should transfer its three police officers to the leadership of the Cherokee County Sheriff Derrick Palmer. 

 

Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners have changed the location of its monthly meeting because of the new requirement that persons entering court facilities must wear a mask.

The board’s meetings usually take place at the Cherokee County Courthouse.

The July 20 meeting will be held at the Penland Senior Center in Murphy, located at 69 Alpine Street. The board says all future meetings will take place at the senior center while court facilities are under COVID-19 pandemic requirements. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. 

Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital in Murphy has announced that it will allow visitors starting June 11.

 

Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Anti-racist and Black Lives Matter marches haven’t being occurring in just large cities.  Small towns in the most rural parts of North Carolina have seen them too.  BPR was at one in the westernmost end of North Carolina Thursday night: 

 

Hundreds gathered in Murphy to support Black Lives Matter and remember the life of George Floyd.

 

“No Justice, No Peace. No Justice, No Peace...” 

 

Courtesy of IOI

Several manufacturers in Western North Carolina have converted their operations to make personal protective equipment (PPE) but one is uniquely qualified to help during the pandemic. 

 Industrial Opportunities Inc - known as IOI - has been in Andrews since the 1970’s. It manufactures military and medical products while also working with disabled and disadvantaged adults from Cherokee, Clay and Graham Counties. The company has a unique non-profit mission, explains CEO Tom O’Brien.

Lilly Knoepp

FIND THE LATEST COVID-19 CASE COUNT IN NORTH CAROLINA HERE.  FOR ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS CLICK HERE.

Lilly Knoepp

FIND THE LATEST COVID-19 CASE COUNT IN NORTH CAROLINA HERE.  FOR ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS CLICK HERE.

The North Carolina General Assembly is heading back to Raleigh on Tuesday to take up emergency legislation dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Blue Ridge Public Radio talked with one member of the Western North Carolina delegation: 

N.C. Geological Survey

Today some businesses in Georgia are now open after Governor Brian Kemp gave an executive order. Blue Ridge Public Radio talks to a Cherokee County official what this means for Western North Carolina. 

Courtesy of James Reid

FIND THE LATEST COVID-19 CASE COUNT IN NORTH CAROLINA HERE.  FOR ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS CLICK HERE.

(Update 4/24) The town of Andrews has terminated all state of emergency declarations including the removal of the barriers to nonresidents into town. 

Courtesy of Cherokee County Health Department

FIND THE LATEST COVID-19 CASE COUNT IN NORTH CAROLINA HERE.  FOR ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS CLICK HERE.

 

Cherokee County Health Department says there is community spread in the county. 

 

FIND THE LATEST COVID-19 CASE COUNT IN NORTH CAROLINA HERE.  FOR ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS CLICK HERE.

A North Georgia resident who works in Clay County has tested positive for COVID-19.

Courtesy of the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority

FIND THE LATEST COVID-19 CASE COUNT IN NORTH CAROLINA HERE.  FOR ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS CLICK HERE.

On Sunday, it was announced that two Cherokee County residents tested positive for COVID-19 through The Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority(CIHA). 

Courtesy of Lowes

FIND THE LATEST COVID-19 CASE COUNT IN NORTH CAROLINA HERE.  FOR ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS CLICK HERE.

 

Cherokee County Health Department has announced that an employee at the Lowe’s in Murphy has tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Photo courtesy of John C. Campbell Folk School

  At the western end of North Carolina, Cherokee County saw one of the state’s first confirmed cases of COVID-19. Here’s how local officials responded to the case: 

When the first diagnosis of COVID-19 in Cherokee County was announced only a few facts were shared. It was a woman visiting from New York. She didn’t have any symptoms until after she came to North Carolina. And she had been to a contra dance at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown.  

The U.S. Forest Service says is arson is the suspected cause of a wildfire reported Sunday night near the Lake Appalachia Dam in Cherokee County.  It’s estimated at 80 acres in size on land owned by the Forest Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority.  

Courtesy of James Reid

  Across Western North Carolina, towns and counties are closing ranks to slow the spread of COVID-19. But is it legal to shut down local borders in a state of emergency?

 

Every morning for the last two weeks Mayor James Reid of Andrews goes live on Facebook with updates for town residents.  

 

“Good morning Andrews. I hope everyone had a good night's rest last night,” says Reid on his personal Facebook page. 

 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The small town of Andrews in Cherokee County has put in place some of the most restrictive travel regulations in Western North Carolina due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Only locals - defined as residents of Cherokee County and two of its neighboring counties - will be allowed to enter the town of less than 2-thousand people.  It comes as many rural communities and counties in Western North Carolina are increasingly concerned about people who own second homes in the region traveling to them from larger cities with higher numbers and concentrations of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Lilly Knoepp

(Update 3/20 )  

The Cherokee County Health Department is alerting residents of a potential exposure to COVID-19 in the Brasstown, NC area, after it was announced Wednesday that an individual  who tested positive for COVID-19 was isolating in the county. The health department has not confirmed that this is the same individual. 

The individual attended a Contra Dance at the John C. Campbell Folk School located in Brasstown, NC on Tuesday, March 10th, 2020. 

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Public schools in North Carolina will be closed for the next two weeks.  Here’s how systems in the westernmost part of the state are handling it: 

Lilly Knoepp

  The number of North Carolina counties becoming ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuaries’ continues to grow.  The first county to pass the resolution sits at the very western end of the state. Let’s take a look to see what, if any, impact the resolution has had there. 

In March of 2019, Cherokee County Commissioners passed a resolution to become a second amendment sanctuary. 

 “Yeah we’re one of the first counties East of the Mississippi and the Eastern United States,” says McKinnon. 

Lilly Knoepp

Today is the Nantahala National Forest’s 100th birthday! The forest was established on January 29, 1920 by President Woodrow Wilson. 

Nantahala is the largest of North Carolina’s four national forests with 531,148 acres. It includes the Appalachian Trail and the Bartram Trail, which follows the path of early naturalist William Bartram.  The highest peak in the forest is Lone Bald in Jackson County at 5,800 feet and the lowest elevation is 1,200 feet in Cherokee County along Hiwassee River.

Lilly Knoepp

 The North Carolina Main Street and Rural Planning Center has selected six cities to receive help to revitalize their downtown areas.  Those selected literally span the entire state. 

Murphy and Manteo made the list says Director Liz Parham.  

“We’ve just never had any applications for quite that far west or quite that far east until now,” says Parham. 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Democrats have seen a sharp drop in voter registration in North Carolina's seven westernmost counties over the past four years.  Republicans have seen a similar increase during the same timeframe, as well as those registering as unaffiliated in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain Counties.

Lilly Knoepp

Resolutions calling for individual counties to become 2nd Amendment sanctuaries are sweeping the South due to gun control legislation moving through the Virginia Legislature. In Macon County, one such resolution was discussed Tuesday night: 

The crowd at the Macon County Courthouse was so big that the meeting was moved to a larger room. 

Lilly Knoepp

Few issues have dominated the news in Western North Carolina as much as healthcare in 2019.  BPR spoke with North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein about the year’s events: 

Stein has been working with attorneys general from across the country to build a single framework for a $48 billion dollar financial settlement from pharmaceutical companies and distributors to pay for the effects of opioid crisis, which has hit Western North Carolina especially hard. 

Courtesy of Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital

  Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital in Murphy will close its labor and delivery unit next month. BPR spoke with hospital CEO Mark Kimball about how the decision was reached: 

Erlanger, a nonprofit-Chattanooga based health system purchased Murphy Medical Center in 2018. When the hospital was purchased it was in trouble says CEO Mark Kimball.  He adds decisions like closing the labor and delivery will hopefully keep the hospital profitable.

Courtesy of Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital

Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital in Murphy has announced that it will be closing its Labor and Delivery services the first week of December. The OB/GYN practice will then close on December 31.  

Lilly Knoepp

 For the first time ever, North Carolina’s seven westernmost counties met to discuss how to solve the opioid crisis.  BPR was at the summit in Bryson City.

For Graham County Commissioner Connie Orr, the issue is personal. Her son has been battling addiction since he was prescribed Vicodin at 15 years old. He’s now 51. 

“From that time until now my son has been fighting the addiction of opiates which has moved not only to opiates but to heroin, meth or any drug that is available right now,” says Orr. 

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