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Wednesday, 12 March 2014 13:11

Elect Robinson to replace Sen. Davis

To the Editor: I’m writing as a citizen and resident of Jackson County to voice my support for Ron Robinson for North Carolina State Senate, District 50, the seat currently occupied by Tea Party extremist Jim Davis, R-Franklin.  As a…
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 13:10

Government is always less efficient

To the Editor: I was having an otherwise intelligent conversation with one of my more liberal acquaintances the other day when I was blown away by one of his radical statements. He told me how awful it was that medical…
By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist Even authoritarian regimes like Russia’s pretend to respect the right to vote. The contrast with authentic democracies is defined by these factors: the ease or difficulty of actually casting a vote, how honestly it is…
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 00:00

Robinson will support education, teachers

To the Editor: As I discuss the upcoming District 50 senatorial campaign with my neighbors, it is becoming clear to me that they are deeply troubled by the current senator from Franklin.  They are especially disappointed in his unwillingness to…
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 00:00

Politics does make strange bedfellows

To the Editor: Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. The recent edition of The Smoky Mountain news said this: “Carla Miller, the chair of the Macon County Republican Party, admits there is a right-wing faction of the party, but said…
By Doug Wingeier • Columnist Recently my wife and I attended the showing of a documentary film on animal rights. When the floor was opened for comments after the film, two members of the audience made the point that, while…
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 13:48

You often get the results that you plan for

To the Editor: Here is what I think about Jackson County’s revised steep slope ordinance: self-serving, self-serving and self-serving. But here’s the real question: what does one think the results will be when you elect or appoint builders, developers and…
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 13:48

What’s up with all the litter in Haywood?

To the Editor: Just an observation that I am sure others have made also, but what about all the trash along the roadside all over our beautiful Haywood County? People what is going on? What happened to all the volunteer…
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 13:47

Election laws target the wrong groups

To the Editor: I attended a political club meeting last night. I purchased tickets for a fundraiser — a dinner — to be held in a few weeks. I was asked to please provide user names, addresses and phone numbers…
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 13:47

The enduring myth of welfare cheats

To the Editor: Welfare cheats. It seems that every conservative has a favorite story about how someone on public assistance is cheating the system. Food stamp cards used for fancy food, having babies to get more money, living off unemployment,…
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 13:45

To shoot or not to shoot?

To the Editor: Every two or three years I read in the newspaper that a homeowner shot an intruder. Typically, the homeowner hears a noise during the night, gets his gun and flashlight and goes downstairs with his wife hanging…
Some teacher a long time ago explained to my class of intro to political science undergrads the difference between a statesman and a representative. The statesman, once elected, votes his conscience and does not necessarily bend with the whims of…
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 14:21

Vouchers won’t help low-income families

To the Editor: Recently, I became curious about the N.C. Opportunity Scholarships (a new name for vouchers) that are being billed as a way for families in poverty to have more choices for their child’s education by allowing them to…
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 14:20

Voting challenges may overwhelm system

To the Editor: It should be reassuring that so many groups are concerned about “voter integrity” on Election Day, making certain that a voter’s physical address squares with the voting rolls. No problem there. However, the opportunities for voter challenges…
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 14:19

Create Eden, drop animal products

To the Editor: TV host Glenn Beck and other stalwarts of the Christian right have attacked the recent blockbuster “Noah”as being “pro-animal” and unfaithful to the Bible. Well, yes and no. The film is pro-animal and faithful to the Bible,…
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 14:19

Rep. Presnell will get my vote again

To the Editor: We must speak out against this proposed room tax increase. The county leaders may want it, but the citizens of this county do not want another tax increase. Our tax-and-spend county commissioners and their band of socialists…
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 14:19

Has Rep. Presnell lost her memory?

To the Editor:  In a recent article about the sad state of North Carolina teacher salaries, Rep. Michele Presnell was quoted as follows: “We cannot help education until we get a handle on Medicaid. Obamacare has thrown all these additional…
To the Editor: I find it noteworthy that in the March 26 column on Rep. Michele Presnell’s opposition to the proposed 50 percent increase in the room tax there is no clear indication that the writer had attempted to go…
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 14:16

Support fair trade but beware free trade

By Doug Wingeier • Columnist For some years now I have been promoting fair trade products as a means of helping organic farmers and cooperatives in the Third World get just prices and living wages, improve living standards, educate their children,…
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 13:58

Sen. Hagan is for the people, not big money

To the Editor: Sen. Kay Hagan’s path to Washington began in high school when she helped elect her uncle Lawton Chiles to the Senate. It was a low-budget campaign which he won by walking from the Florida Panhandle to the Florida Keys,…
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 13:57

County oversteps its authority

To the Editor: The Haywood County Emergency Management Ordinance was signed into effect Nov. 16, 2009, by J.W. “Kirk” Kirkpatrick, then chairman of the board of county commissioners, from a motion made by Mark Swanger (the present chairman) and seconded…
Wednesday, 09 April 2014 13:57

Kids can endure a little stress

To the Editor: Wondering what all the fuss is over the use of Common Core standards in school, I looked up what information I could find. Frankly, it gets pretty weird. One expert said that requiring kids to meet certain…
Words sometimes change meaning. It may take a few years, but it happens, and it especially happens in politics. A comment was recently posted on www.smokymountainnews.com in response to a column I wrote two weeks ago about the Haywood County…
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 13:58

GOP’s simple truths just aren’t true

To the Editor: Bob Wilson’s most recent published letter (www.smokymountainnews.com/opinion/item/12729-kids-can-endure-a-little-stress) typifies the callous oversimplification and blanket insults typical of today’s Republican Party fed by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc. To quote Mr. Wilson, “One must dismiss opinions that teachers come…
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 13:57

Jackson commissioners doing some good

To the Editor: There are several people running in Jackson County for public office this year and many are claiming to do one thing — raise the pay for school teachers in Jackson County. Who could be against that issue?…
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 13:56

Don’t penalize prosperous industry

To the Editor: As the economy sputters along, members of Congress and the Obama Administration are singling out one of the most productive economic sectors in America. By proposing increased taxes on the oil and natural gas industry, President Obama…
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 13:56

Haywood GOP is out of control

To the Editor: Wow, I’ve seen a lot of small-town politics in this area but the Haywood County Republicans are out of control. A bully stands up and takes over an official meeting. What was he thinking? Who does he…
By Mark Swanger • Guest Columnist Regardless of their magnitude, all disasters — natural or man-made — are local events and require an immediate, coordinated response from local government to protect public health, safety and welfare. This function is called Emergency…
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 13:48

Pigs in a Poke

To the editor: The election season is here. Several candidates are promising to cut government costs or taxes, but they won’t say what services will be cut. These people either don’t know enough about the job they’re trying to get,…
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 13:47

Make your vote count this election

To the editor: Children are our future and as a former educator, I’ve been concerned about the cutbacks in spending for our schools. Teachers need to make a living wage and class size needs to be reduced so students can…
By Doug Wingeier • Columnist Good news! General Mills has recently announced that — in response to consumer pressure — it has removed GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) from its original Cheerios cereal. And Post has done the same with Grape Nuts.…
By Don Livingston • Guest Columnist Congress is not our most popular branch of government, not by a long shot. Its lowest job approval rating, according to one respectable polling organization, was 9 percent late last year. Earlier this year,…
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 00:00

Same-old, same-old just won’t work

To the Editor: I read with interest the article regarding Western Carolina University and the regional tourism conference with hopes of learning something new in the industry. Disappointment set in knowing that the same-old, same-old hadn’t changed over the years.…
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 00:00

The Republicans are right

To the Editor: This may be liberal heresy, but it is true. Republicans are right about many things: “Family Values,” education and jobs. Republicans clearly saw the serious social damage caused by ignoring these issues. Republicans correctly argue that the…
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 00:00

Don’t let anyone buy your vote

To the Editor: Rumor has it that once again vote buying may be taking place in Swain County and on The Cherokee Reservation. These vote buyers will use cash, liquor or fear to get your vote, because your vote is…
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 00:00

Making adjustments for mom’s new job

Friday afternoon on the deck. The kids are home from school, and the three of us are enjoying another beautiful spring day, watching the squirrels and chickadees compete for the bird seed strewn all over the deck, thanks to the…
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 14:17

Court rules in favor of clean air, water

To the Editor: Human health, wildlife resources and sportsmen had a big win recently in the Federal Appeals Court. The court reaffirmed the EPA’s authority to set limits on mercury, arsenic, and other pollutants from power plants under the Mercury…
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 14:17

Raising minimum wage is a mistake

To the Editor: On the way to Wilmington using the smaller roads off the interstate, I found it depressing to note so many of what appeared to have been small manufacturing businesses shut down. Empty parking lots told the story…
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 14:15

Obama’s socialist agenda has failed

To the Editor: It appears that Bob Wilson, a frequent letter writer, is stuck in a 1950’s time warp. He’s still fighting the Red Menace and the Cold War, and thinks the enemy is still communism and its little brother…
I think Jack Debnam was wise to delay action on the rewrite of the Jackson County steep slope rules until after the November election, but I don’t believe that will take politics out of the final decision on this issue.…
To the Editor: A friend of mine just bitterly complained that the new pope is a communist. It seems that representative of Christ on earth had the audacity to suggest that the very wealthy should share some of their vast…
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 13:55

PCs for GED grads a grand success

To the Editor: Seventeen. Seventeen, as a number, doesn't normally mean much when compared to other numbers, does it? But, seventeen was a very significant number May 2 as 17 Haywood Community College (HCC) GED graduates were awarded refurbished computers…
For school systems in relatively poor, rural areas where resources are scarce and student achievement is low, there’s no magic bullet that will suddenly transform the public education system. No, it’s mostly just roll-up-your-sleeves hard work by teachers and administrators…
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 14:17

Don’t leave dogs in hot cars

To the Editor: It’s that time of year again when the cool mountain air can rise rapidly by noon. I would like to remind others that it is very dangerous to take your dog anywhere that you have to leave…
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 14:17

GOP has done much to help state

To the Editor: Asheville is a town full of smart, aggressive people and a town with a lot more winners than losers. Anytime a city has an unemployment rate below 5 percent, it is obviously doing something right.  However, there…
The rapid pace of change these days often leaves many of us feeling helpless in its wake. Things change, then change some more, and finally a transformation so complete has taken place that very little of what we started with…
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 14:00

Medicaid expansion was a no-brainer

To the Editor: Thank you for your recent very informative article about the status of Medicaid expansion In North Carolina. I would like to make a case for Medicaid expansion. As you stated, the Affordable Care Act provides for the…
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 14:00

We just didn’t see it coming

To the Editor: “A date which will live in infamy.”  I was just 6 years old and vividly recall the day, puzzling at my parents’ reactions to these words as they were broadcast nationwide. I don’t recall understanding the words,…
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 13:59

Wishful thinking about needed changes

To the Editor: It’s probably always been that way. People tend to forget lessons of the past and focus only on the present leaving out anything that may disagree with their views. Politics has always been about money and is…
The kids and I are in this strange new bonding phase of our relationship. For years, they displayed not the slightest interest in my personal history, even shrugging in absolute indifference when relatives pulled out old Polaroids to demonstrate the…
I woke up this morning with the echo of Johnson Catolster’ gentle laughter in my head. I had been dreaming that I was riding through the Great Smoky Mountains Park with Johnson, and as we came down U.S. 441 past…
Wednesday, 20 September 2006 00:00

The end, perhaps, of the Bush tyranny

In the five years since the terrorists attacked us on 9/11, it has seemed that President Bush could get away with virtually anything, from falsely connecting the attack on 9/11 to our pre-emptive war on Iraq to completely ignoring the…
Wednesday, 20 September 2006 00:00

Isn’t anyone going to defend the pope?

By Marshall Frank They’re at it again. Once again, the world is held hostage as Christians pray for their lives and nations shutter at the prospect of chaos everywhere, all at the whim of the religion of peace.
Wednesday, 20 September 2006 00:00

Flood money decisions important for taxpayers

The media coverage the last three weeks about goings-on inside the Haywood County School System involve very complicated spending matters. The controversy about flood rebuilding decisions, FEMA reimbursements and accusations about motives, however, come down to a very important matter…
Wednesday, 13 September 2006 00:00

Unaffiliated voters are an emerging force

By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist Political change may arrive with the speed of a tsunami transforming all before it. The GOP takeover of Congress in 1994 was such an event. Another change may move more slowly like a steadily…
It’s a chicken or egg argument, but in this case it doesn’t really matter which is right. Either way the whole region benefits.
Wednesday, 13 September 2006 00:00

The race is on to Election Day

As the front page of this week’s paper illustrates, it’s election season. Trouble is, it’s just not feeling much like it yet. U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor, R-Brevard, and Heath Shuler, this Democratic challenger from Waynesville, are still mostly preaching to…
Wednesday, 13 September 2006 00:00

Certain medicines can be a killer combination

By Dr. Allan Zacher & JC Walkup Editor’s note: A recent overdose by a patient inspired Dr. Allan Zacher of Hywood County to work with a free-lance writer on the following article. “I hope that my story will prevent at…
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 00:00

‘Group’ is hurting Haywood GOP

To the Editor: My name is Mitchell E. Powell and I was elected vice chairman to the Haywood GOP on the same day Pat Carr was elected chairman. I resigned from this position only a few months into my term…
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 00:00

Meat industry pollutes too much

To the Editor: I am delighted that EPA has finally moved to abate the disastrous impacts of climate change by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But, given the adverse reaction from the coal industry, the EPA should have…
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 00:00

GOP has done real harm to state

To the Editor: Look past the claims and misleading “facts” that the Republicans are putting out to see the reality. The net result from four years of Republican rule is a weaker middle class and a starved education system. There…
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 00:00

While you were looking the other way

To the Editor: With the business of making a living that each of us has to address in any given day, we would expect those who represent us in the North Carolina Legislature — whose salaries are paid by our…
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 00:00

Why not moment of silence, not prayer?

To the Editor: We live in a country where we are free to pray wherever, whenever and within whatever religion we prefer. We are also free to not pray. If one wants a religious blessing on local governmental business decisions,…
By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist Occasions such as Memorial Day and the D-Day anniversary remind us of the fallen and the freedoms they died to protect. Speeches and commentaries extol the rights specified in the Constitution, religion, speech, assembly…
Wednesday, 06 September 2006 00:00

Workers need help to secure their future

The month-long celebration of Canton’s centennial Labor Day festival, which had much to offer, wasn’t really about organized labor. Now that the feel-good readings, concerts and historical affairs have passed, though, it’s a good time consider the history of organized…
By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist As the final weeks of summer fade into the cooler days of autumn, we are reminded that voters will soon be confronted with another election – theirs to embrace or ignore.
Wednesday, 06 September 2006 00:00

Who’s the wimp now?

Just in the past couple of months, I have been forced to confront a prejudice I didn’t really know I had. For years, as it turns out, I have secretly harbored a suspicion that most people who claim to suffer…
Wednesday, 30 August 2006 00:00

Maggie re-invents itself – again

People are saying the new Ghost Town will be a shot in the arm for Maggie Valley. That’s probably an understatement, but the new development and its cash infusion into this tourist town will also provide an important opportunity to…
Too often people tend to write off efforts by the most hard-core social activists as excessive or simply impossible to achieve. These people and their movements are out of the mainstream, many say, their ideas worthy yet impractical, or that…
Wednesday, 30 August 2006 00:00

Jim Black’s enablers carry on

The scandals around N.C. House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, multiply like mushrooms on the forest floor. Yet a casual reader of the news might be inclined to think that Mr. Black was a politician in some other state.
Wednesday, 23 August 2006 00:00

Quarry plan showcases planning shortfalls

Citizens in Jackson County’s Tuckasegee community should consider themselves lucky. The problem, however, is that luck doesn’t always hold. It appears very likely now that a proposal to construct a rock quarry in this rural community is not going to…
Wednesday, 23 August 2006 00:00

Immigration and a complicit, angry America

On July 13, the Buncombe County Republican Action Club posted two billboards in Asheville featuring a photograph of a Mexican flag flying over an American flag, the latter of which was also turned upside down. The accompanying message read, simply,…
Wednesday, 16 August 2006 00:00

Unified voices calling for a better big box

When Waynesville leaders met earlier this month to discuss the site plan and variance requests for the proposed big-box development at the old Dayco site, it seems they spoke with a unanimous voice, urging construction of something other than an…
Wednesday, 16 August 2006 00:00

A little surer, a little more lost

I can’t help feeling, just slightly, like we cheated. You be the judge. The table had been set on our recent family vacation for a trip unlike any I’d ever experienced. We had planned a four-night sailing trip on my…
Wednesday, 16 August 2006 00:00

The time has come to lift Cuban embargo

This is about political ignorance, ignorance highlighted by the recent news about Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s apparently serious illness.
Wednesday, 09 August 2006 00:00

Meds vs Medicare

Louis Garnett • Guest Columnist This wasn’t my doctor’s office; it was the vendor exhibit hall at a symposium on pharmaceutical promotion. The clerk behind the window stuck a form into an Effexor clipboard and handed me a Gentiva pen.…
Wednesday, 09 August 2006 00:00

Somebody get that cow a pizza

Driving down Russ Avenue on yet another scorching day, I saw a couple of girls out in front of the Pizza Hut waving at people as we drove by. Behind them, there was a big sign promoting a sale on…
Ho-hum. Franklin voters approved the sale of mixed drinks and beer in a vote held last week. Few were surprised the measure passed. In truth, few seem to care too much.
They didn’t show up. That alone signals, or maybe “symbolizes” is the proper word, a shift in citizen attitudes that would have seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago.
Wednesday, 26 July 2006 00:00

Lottery’s proceeds unfairly flowing east

The effort to change the lottery funding formula so that counties in Western North Carolina get their fair share of proceeds is, for all intents and purposes, dead for this year. That’s too bad, but it also leaves voters with…
Wednesday, 26 July 2006 00:00

I hear the mountains calling

Even though she’s an Indiana girl who had only seen the ocean once before we met, there is something about the beach that feels like home to Tammy. She especially likes Sunset Beach, where we go every summer. When I…
Wednesday, 19 July 2006 00:00

Congressmen should weigh in on relicensing

When a room full of elected officials pleaded with a U.S. senator and a congressman last week to step into the fray over Duke Power’s plan to manage waterways in three western North Carolina counties, they were arguing for the…
Wednesday, 19 July 2006 00:00

Oh, the irony of it all

“Sausage is good!?” My 7-year-old son was looking out the window of the van when he blurted the words out of his mouth. We were taking the normal route home, and the cattle herd we pass every day was huddled…
When Louis and Talitha Mes put up a 100-foot windmill two weeks ago in the Crabtree community of Haywood County to generate electricity, which will go along with the solar panels that heat their home and water, their plan was…
Wednesday, 12 July 2006 00:00

Someone who understands me

In every town I’ve ever lived in — and I have lived in several — I have made a Sports Friend. In case you don’t know what a Sports Friend is, perhaps a brief definition is in order: a Sports…
Wednesday, 05 July 2006 00:00

N.C. counties have gotten more democratic

By Lee Shelton After the primary election results were in, I offered a commentary on county government and the implications of the election’s outcome. That column elicited several responses, and led me to explore the history and role of county…
Wednesday, 05 July 2006 00:00

Media freedom could easily slip away

When Federal Communications Commission officials came to Asheville last week to discuss media ownership regulations, they got an earful from a crowd that was mostly against media consolidation of any kind. We hope FCC officials get this reaction everywhere they…
For most people who live and work in Western North Carolina, the inner workings of our citizen legislature in Raleigh are just about as arcane as the inner workings of the federal Congress in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, it also suffers…
Wednesday, 28 June 2006 00:00

Truth about kids and synchronicity

Before our son was born almost a year and a half ago, Tammy and I made an important decision. She would stop working and stay home with our two kids until they were both in school. We weighed the advantages…
Back in 1952, when I was one of a dozen Western North Carolina high school students who wrote winning essays on the Trail of Tears, I sat with a transfixed audience in Cherokee’s Mountainside Theatre and watched T’sali die.
Sylva town officials have OK’d a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that has just about eliminated funding for the Downtown Sylva Association (formerly SPIR). That’s a mistake the citizens of Sylva and the downtown business community should not tolerate.
Wednesday, 21 June 2006 00:00

Saving farms is not about nostalgia

If you think taking tangible steps to protect farmland is more about nostalgia than anything else, guess again. As change continues at its rapidly accelerating pace, having protected private land on which to grow crops could become an important part…
By Avram Friedman In January of 2006, Jim Hansen, a climatologist advising the Bush Administration, said that we have “at most 10 years” to make the drastic cuts in emissions that might head off climatic catastrophe. Hansen was speaking to…
After last week’s surprising meeting of the Haywood County Council of Governments regarding the tourism board, perhaps there is finally an end in sight to the controversy regarding this board.
Wednesday, 14 June 2006 00:00

Scared of the Dark?

By Stephanie Wampler • Columnist The dark is a strange creature. It has so many faces. “Dark” is how we have always described our worst times. Thousands of years ago, the phrase “the valley of the shadow of death” was…
By Eric Larson Where I grew up, you had to choose sides early: You were either a University of Alabama football fan or you pulled for the Auburn “War Eagles.” I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but some…
Wednesday, 14 June 2006 00:00

Finding a father while keeping a Dad

By Marshall Frank Imagine having a fathers of all varieties. Step, biological and adopted? Here’s a story about such a person. Not everyone’s life is utopia, complete with white picket fence, family barbeques and one set of happy parents. No…
Wednesday, 14 June 2006 00:00

The principle is always important

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly…
Wednesday, 07 June 2006 00:00

So how far have we come?

Each year as summer dawns, when children begin counting the days until shoes become something they just have to keep track of and not wear, I continue a tradition started on June 2, 1999. That was the date the first…