WNC News Roundup

The news is all over the place this week, so let’s dive right in:

A judge this week dismissed drug charges against a Polk County advocate of medicinal marijuana. Steve Marlowe was arrested in November 2007 and charged with growing marijuana. On Wednesday, Marlowe’s former wife, Jean Marlowe, joined former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders and Saluda resident Ray Pague in Raleigh. The group urged state House members to pass Rep. Earl Jones’ (D-Guildford) bill

calling for a study of the benefits of medicinal marijuana.

• ArvinMeritor makes parts for commercial trucks in Fletcher and says it will invest $32.3 million in its plant there over the next four years.

• In other manufacturing news, the Mitchell News-Journal reports that PRC Industries is just cranking up its new manufacturing facility in Spruce Pine.  The company recycles household appliances and plans to create 110 jobs in the county.

• The emotional issue of allowing alcohol sales in McDowell County came to a head Tuesday with a referendum in which residents voted to approve beer and liquor sales. Here’s the top of the McDowell News story the day after the big vote: “Some laughed as the news came in and some cried. Some drank a toast and some bowed their heads in prayer and praise. Many danced and sang while others dreamed of what might have been.”

• Also in McDowell County, health officials have confirmed that 11 people have been sickened by salmonella.

The Smoky Mountain News cleverly asked people for their thoughts on how Swain County officials should spend the millions expected from the North Shore Road settlement. The newspaper set up a booth in front of the Bryson City post office and gave anyone who stopped by 10 pennies to drop into jars tagged with how the money should be spent. “Teacher salaries” got 203 pennies, the most of any jar, with “lower property taxes” coming in second with 159 and “law enforcement” at third with 117. (A penny for your thoughts?)

The Black Mountain Town Board plans to build a new town hall.

• The owner of the Happy Valley RV Park in Maggie Valley complained to the town board about a business across the street: “It is not uncommon to find empty beer cans scattered about the premises, to hear car and motorcycle engines screaming down the road, or presumably drunk individuals yelling, sometimes fighting, in and around the establishment,” Besty Freeman said. “On one occasion, people were seen having sex in that parking lot,” she added.

• Watauga County commissioners enacted a six-month moratorium on digital signs on Monday. “The issue arose after people had complained about a digital billboard near the intersection of Old U.S. 421 and U.S. 421, which is a designated a scenic byway,” the Watauga Democrat reported.

• Popular Asheville jazz singer Kat Williams hit the news with a splash when the Asheville Citizen-Times reported that she would appear on Tuesday’s episode of America’s Got Talent. Only the newspaper got it wrong. Williams is set to appear next week. (Reset that TIVO.)

— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor

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