General Store

A would-be customer of Caney Fork General Store reads a sign Tuesday posted on the door. It states the business is closed until a dispute is settled between Commissioner Mickey Luker, who owns the store, and the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Usually a hub of activity, Caney Fork General Store, along N.C. 107 in the Tuckasegee community, has closed.

Monday, notices on the store’s doors stated the popular local hangout would remain shuttered until after the New Year and until owner Mickey Luker and the N.C. Department of Transportation settle an ongoing dispute.

An elected member of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, Luker did not return a call Tuesday or respond to an email request for comment.

DOT Division Engineer Brian Burch said his understanding is that a settlement has been reached between transportation authorities and the county commissioner.

“I do know that the Attorney General’s office has a meeting in Raleigh this month to present that settlement to our secretary,” he said. “Due to the amount, it has to be approved at that level.”

Burch did not specify the amount Luker is set to receive.

In legal documents, contractors claim the elected government official has failed to pay them for their work on the now-closed store. Caney Fork General Store relocated from its previous home across the highway as part of an N.C. 107 widening project.

In turn, the commissioner has blamed his failures on DOT, for, he said, not paying him – or, in one situation, Luker said equipment a contractor provided proved defective.

Luker claims DOT did not pay fair market value for his previous building. The state paid the county elected leader $757,800, public documents show.