Widespread inequality in the rates Haywood County residents pay for fire protection is about to come to an end.
It was just a press release, one among the dozens a week that media outlets receive and that may or may not make it into the paper, on TV, on the radio or on a website. When it came across my computer screen, though, it seemed suddenly clear to me that it was symbolic of how our economic development priorities have to change.
“Gov. Cooper recommends eight Western North Carolina projects for ARC funding,” read the headline. Looking at the eight projects revealed that of the $3 million the Appalachian Regional Commission will most likely award, $1,374,714 was for an access road to a new development in Morganton and another $873,509 was to repave a road to an existing industrial site in Rutherford County.
The State of North Carolina has long had a conflicted relationship with alcohol; although largely unregulated during colonial times, it became an irritant to the agrarian, conservative majority of 19th-century voters who, like much of the nation, watched the ultimate administration thereof descend from federal to state to, finally, local authorities in the early 20th century.
Since then, cities and counties in North Carolina have come full circle, but continue to wrestle with a complex issue that includes social, economic, judicial and religious viewpoints overlaid by ever-present concerns about individualism, collectivism, traditionalism and progressivism.
Just after the secular American Revolution, many Americans also experienced a theological revolution; from the 1790s through the 1830s, a religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening saw Protestant denominations — especially Baptists and Methodists — rise to new levels of popularity.
The pungent aroma of morning dew was still in the air and Kelly Sutton had just opened the Big Creek Country Store for the day when the cowbell mounted on the outside of the screen door issued an assertive and punctual clank.
Finding a solution to the lack of high-speed internet in rural Western North Carolina has been on the minds of economic development officials for some time now.
It’s hard to believe there are still developed neighborhoods in Haywood County that can’t get internet access or even landline telephone service, but it is a major problem in certain areas.
Melanie Williams was fed up. She could no longer run her web design business from her Crabtree home with the slow DSL internet speed from a cable provider.
“I was working on an e-commerce website for a client and I needed to add 100 products with corresponding images but it was taking about an hour for each photo to upload,” she said. “It was becoming a huge expense because I’d have to go into town to be able to work, and I couldn’t haul all my equipment around with me.”
When the sun sets in rural Fines Creek, the little community library gets bumping.
It may be after-hours, but any given evening, a steady stream of cars comes from miles to sit in the parking lot. It’s the newest take on the long-standing tradition of parking, except this love affair is between man and his computer.
The gap between the haves and have nots in the world of high-speed Internet will get a little smaller this spring thanks to a start-up Internet company that will soon be beaming Internet service from towers in Jackson County.