Congratulations to this Year’s Busse Award Recipient!

The Busse Award was established to recognize an individual or organization that has had a significant impact on enhancing the health status of older North Carolinians through efforts to direct health-related policies and/or to provide leadership in developing innovative solutions to health care problems. The award is named for Dr. Ewald W. Busse, who was president emeritus of the NC Institute of Medicine and a founding director of the Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development.

This year’s Busse Award is presented to the Macon County Community Paramedic Program. The Community Paramedic Program started as a way of bringing healthcare to people’s homes. The program now includes 60 patients and paramedics make weekly home visits, perform blood draws, manage medications, give flu shots and provide other procedures. When the program started, it began with no extra funds. Later, various grants helped the program expand. Because of the program, there has been a reduction in hospital readmissions, a reduction in 911 response to high utilizers of the service, improved quality of life for recipients and reduced transport for participants for both medical and behavioral health related issues. The Macon County Community Paramedic Program makes a significant impact on the health of Macon County’s seniors through direct health related services and is a shining example for other emergency medical services across the State.

Hank Bowers, Assistant Director for Aging and Adult Services, will present the award to Macon Community Paramedic Program at the monthly meeting of County Commissioners on Tuesday, February 13.

Congratulations to the Macon County Community Paramedic Program!  And thank you for all you do for your community!

NEA Announces Challenge America Grants

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is soliciting projects that will begin on or after Jan 1, 2019, under its Challenge America program. This category offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to under-served populations.

Grants are available for professional arts programming and for projects that emphasize the potential of the arts in community development.

Click HERE for application information and program details.

EDA Grant Opportunity

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) invites applicants to submit proposals and applications for construction and technical assistance projects that advance economic development activities.

Proposals and Applications are accepted throughout the year.

To discuss potential projects and learn more, please contact Hillary Sherman at404.730.3013 or

WIOA Plan Year 2018 Request for Proposals (RFPs) for the Regional WIOA Adult, Dislocated Workers, and Youth Programs

The Workforce Development Board of the Southwestern Workforce Development Consortium is seeking proposals for the operation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult, Dislocated Workers, and Youth Programs for program year 2018 in the Tri-County (Cherokee, Clay, and Graham), Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain Counties. Please note all bidders can bid for all counties but must bid with the intention of operating all the programs in the Tri-County Area verses just a single county. Request for Proposal (RFP) packages will be available for distribution at a Bidders Conference to be held at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, January 18, 2018 at the Southwestern Commission offices located at 125 Bonnie Lane, Sylva, NC  28779.  RFP’s may also be requested by emailing no later than 4:00 p.m. Thursday, January 18, 2018.  The completed bid packages must be returned to the above address no later than 4:00 p.m., Monday, February 12, 2018.  Late submittals will not be accepted.


Southwestern Commission is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  We do not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race, marital status, color, religion, national origin or disability.


Solicitation for WIOA Program Year 2018 Letter(s) of Intent for Operator of Southwestern Local Area NCWORKS Career Centers

The Workforce Development Board of the Southwestern Workforce Development Consortium is seeking letters of intent for the operation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) NCWorks Career Centers/NCWorks Center/NCWorks Information Site located in the following counties: Cherokee, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties for program year 2018. Letter of intent information may be requested by emailing The completed and signed letter of intent must be received at the Southwestern Commission, 125 Bonnie Lane, Sylva, NC 28779 address no later than 4:00 p.m., Monday, February 12, 2018. Late submittals will not be accepted. Please note total maximum cost reimbursement to the contractor(s) shall not exceed a maximum of $50,000.00 for this solicitation.

Southwestern Commission is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  We do not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race, marital status, color, religion, national origin or disability.

WIOA Success

Written by June Crawford, WIOA Participant

In July of 2013 my husband and I found ourselves having to make one of the hardest decisions we had faced. Our family business had recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. It had been started by my Dad and Grandpa and had become my husband’s and mine nine years earlier. Now due to the economy and my husband’s health we had to make the decision to close the store. This is when I found myself having to look at other career options.

I walked into the NC Works office hoping to find help with unemployment, having no idea what to expect and feeling hopeless. What I found were people who cared and had answers for my dilemma. I was introduced to several programs that could assist me, from creating a resumé to how to pay my home mortgage. The WIOA program assisted me in finding what career opportunities could open for me and to find what my new interests might be. They helped me to see that a woman who has assisted her husband in the family business and aided her children to choose the colleges that best fit their dreams, can also start a new path of her own. I found it is not to late begin again.

I was enrolled in Southwestern Community College for the Human Services degree. The classes were interesting but sometimes hard. There were times I wanted to “throw in the towel” so I would call Susan, my WIOA advisor and she would assure me I could do it. It was weeks and months of that assurance that kept me going. Not only that, but the WIOA program had my back when it came to purchasing my books and helping me to choose the right supplies. They assisted me to remember to keep my car in good running order and aided in choosing the proper attire for interviews.

On May 10, 2016 after English, math, psychology, public speaking, and many human service classes, I graduated! I not only graduated, but I graduated with honors, Magna Cum Laude. I have been inducted into the National Technical Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success (Sigma Alpha Pi). I was asked to give the student perspective speech at the Human Service pinning ceremony alongside my instructor Sarah Altman and before my peers, dean, and family. I also took extra classes so I graduated with my Human Service degree and certificate in substance abuse. I did an internship with Project Challenge, which allowed me to network with several organizations in the seven western counties of North Carolina.

After the many opportunities granted me, through the encouragement and guidance of the WIOA program and advisor, Susan Waldorf, I finished the program and landed an interview with Children’s Hope Alliance, Hawthorn Heights emergency youth shelter. I was in my last weeks of school, preparing for finals, trying to get in all my hours of internship, and taking care of my family when I was called for the interview that many students dream about. It was full time, salary, day work, within the field of study I had been preparing for. I was chosen for the job and was to begin after graduation! As I walked to get my diploma (wearing the cap and gown the WIOA program purchased for me) I knew through hard work and encouragement I had reached my goal. I had made new friends, fulfilled the demands of SCC, and landed a wonderful job all because I walked into Susan’s office. I began my journey feeling hopeless, with no clue what I should do with my future and was presented the opportunity to further my education. Thus my journey continues with hope for the future and for my family.

Stakeholders Forum Represents You in National Forest Plans Revision

Recreation groups, hunters and anglers, local forest products businesses, and advocates for wildlife and wilderness have reached a major milestone in their efforts to help the U.S. Forest Service develop a new management plan for the over 1 million acres of mountain forest in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.

They are members of the Stakeholder’s Forum (Forum) offering input to the Forest Service as they revise the management plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in a process that requires public input. The Forum has been working diligently together over the past two and a half years to represent the public, understand each other’s perspectives, and build agreement around recommendations to the U.S. Forest Service for how the National Forests will be managed for the next 10 – 15 years. The Forum consists of members from organizations representing wildlife advocates, local forest products companies, wilderness advocates, NC state agencies, environmental advocates and recreationists (hiking, biking, horseback riding, paddling, hunting, climbing, fishing). The Forum is facilitated by the National Forest Foundation via funding through the U.S. Forest Service.

This month, the Forum submitted a collection of proposals to the Forest Service identifying areas of agreement. While different topics received varying levels of consensus, Forum members all signaled a willingness to build from the areas of strongest agreement and work as ambassadors for each other’s interests. The Forum believes that if the new management plan is going to meet its goals–to provide clean & abundant water, restore resiliency to the forest, and connect people to the land–it will need the support of everyone involved.

There are many passionate interests in our Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. The Forum is made up of representatives from many interest groups – AND, they cover MANY sides of the issues. There have been some spirited debates, and we have not had unanimous agreement on all proposals to the Forest Service, but we can still work together on the items where we do agree. The Stakeholders Forum’s proposals reflect diverse interests, but the final National Forests plan decision will be made by the Forest Service after they consider all the input from the public, including the Forum and other groups.

The Forum asks you to consider that we are dealing with over 1 million acres of mountain forests, to keep an open mind, to consider other needs and interests, and to consider that the long term health of our forests and the communities around them depends on protection, restoration, and sustainable use of forest resources. Restoration will be a focus of the new plan, which will involve cutting trees in some areas and allowing natural processes to dominate in other areas.

The Forum asks you to stay informed, understand the needs and understand all sides of the issues. This fall, the U.S. Forest Service will take all the input from the Forum, the public, the counties and from the best science available to create a range of alternatives that will represent the possible approaches to managing the land. This winter, the Forest Service Plan Revision Team will complete an environmental analysis that compares and contrasts the effects of the proposed alternatives on resources such as wildlife habitat, recreation, soils, timber, rare habitats, wilderness, and water quality. The analysis will be released in the spring or summer of 2018 as the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The public will have the opportunity to review and comment on these alternatives when the DEIS is released.

About the Stakeholders Forum for the Nantahala & Pisgah Plan Revision: The Stakeholders Forum’s purpose is to support a collaborative dialogue amongst stakeholders representing diverse interests and identify zones of agreement to form recommendations around critical resource issues related to the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests’ plan revision. The group is facilitated by the National Forest Foundation. For more information about who serves on the Stakeholders Forum and background documents, please visit:

Broadband Survey is Open!

The Southwestern Commission, in conjunction with MountainWest Partnership, is asking local citizens and businesses to participate in a broadband assessment for the region (CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE ONLINE SURVEY).

Paper versions of the survey can be mailed to:
Broadband Survey
Southwestern Commission
125 Bonnie Lane
Sylva, NC 28779

This survey will verify availability of services in our counties, identify actual speeds available, and collect information on demand for services from respondents. While some counties have conducted individual broadband surveys already, this regional effort gives all counties the chance to participate. We hope residents in all seven counties will participate in this effort so the entire region will have uniform data. Data from the county-specific demand surveys (such as Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain) will still be considered in our overall broadband planning.

Initial data collected will provide valuable information to the Southwestern Commission and MountainWest Partnership, as well as state and local partners working towards broadband and Economic Development planning for the region. Anonymized data may be shared with broadband providers or planning partners with the goal of improving Internet services throughout the region.

The Southwestern Commission is one of the 16 regional councils of government for North Carolina and represents Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties. MountainWest Partnership is the Economic Development Partnership for the seven counties in the southwestern region and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

For questions on the survey, please contact Sarah Thompson at

Survey Link

New NC Mayors Association

From Mayor Bob Scott, Vice-Chair of the Association

By now, you are probably aware that mayors from around the state have come togheter to create an association open to all of the state mayors to further the interests of our cities and towns, and to serve as a platform for all to learn from one another. One asset we will have is to work with new mayors and to mentor them if they need advice or information.

The Association has approved its by laws and a constituency agreement with the NCLM, and in so organizing as an affiliate, we have positioned the group to be an effective force moving forward. There is an 11-member Board of Directors. The Chairman of the group is Vivian Jones, Mayor of Wake Forest, and I serve as the Vice-Chair.

We currently have about 50 members and a dues structure. Costs are minimal as we have a promotional rate until October 31. For populations up to 1,000 residents, the fee is $75, population of 1001 to 5,000 is $150, and population of 5,001 to 25,000 is $225. Over 25,000 is $300.

We also have a logo, which was chosen unanimously at the Association’s first meeting in Greenville at the Leagues’ annual conference. Now that we are organized and recognized, I want to urge all mayors to join us in this new association. Through the Association, I feel we will be able to work together to address the goals and challenges of municipalities.

The recent Region A Mayors Association had a great dinner in Franklin and one-on-one talk with Dr. Todd Colls about what the Western Carolina University Public Policy Institute has to offer towns and counties. I believe we will be going back to a noon meeting and Franklin will again host these meetings at the town hall; although if any other towns are interested in hosting, please let us know!