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To the Editor: HandMade in America fully supports Haywood Community College’s new Creative Arts Center to expand a program that contributes creatively, professionally and economically to our region. The Professional Crafts Program at HCC is recognized internationally for education and…
By Brent MartinI went down to the water but he left me in the mud; I wanted me some wine but he turned it into blood. — from the Dean Williams painting, “Jesus gave me the blues”. A little over…
A couple of stories we’ve covered in the last two weeks illustrate better than any data the new face of economic development here in the mountains. Community coordinators paid with tax dollars can help small businesses grow in our post-manufacturing…
To the Editor: Something is terribly wrong when the region has a “ready-made” audience of an estimated 18 million visitors and everyone is singing the blues about lack of business. Either the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge…
Tuesday, 03 August 2010 20:07

Some are stealing from animal shelter

To the Editor: First, I’d like to thank all the folks who support PAWS, Swain County’s privately run no-kill animal shelter. We so appreciate all the donations we receive, be they actual cash, donations of time at the shelter —…
By Chris Cox I did not expect to, but I feel sorry for Enka Middle School teacher Rex Roland, who made national news last week when WLOS aired a story that he had written the words, “-20 percent for being…
Tuesday, 03 August 2010 20:07

County pay raises gone afoul

To the Editor: In early 2008, Jackson County commissioners approved a study to be done of comparative public sector employees’ pay plans in southwestern North Carolina by a company called the Mercer Group Inc. out of Atlanta, Ga., at a…
To the Editor: The Waynesville Tailgate Market is celebrating 25 years of serving Haywood County. The longevity of the market is due to the growers, some who are first-time vendors while others have been a mainstay of 20-plus years. Main…
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 17:37

X marks the spot

I turned 35 years old on Tax Day. I’ve been stuck with that birth date from the beginning and have never tried to read into it much. April 15 is also the date Lincoln issued the call for troops that…
Tuesday, 03 August 2010 20:04

Health care in Swain is top notch

To the Editor: Your article “County health rankings yield mixed results” in the July 14 issue was well-researched, well-written and informative as one expects from your newspaper; still it left me uneasy.  Statistics tell a whole lot, but they leave…
By Mark Singleton • Guest Columnist Even in times of crisis, we’re called to take the long view to preserve our national heritage — because in doing so we fulfill one of the responsibilities that falls to all of us…
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 19:37

The most important thing to have

By Natalie Smith • Guest Columnist One of the most commonly asked questions in life is “Where are you from?” Nowadays when we ask this question to a stranger we get exotic and interesting answers. Home is a relationship. It gives…
Tuesday, 10 August 2010 20:25

A great place to run a bookstore

Editor’s note: Margaret Osondu’s bookstore was bought out by a competitor, Blue Ridge Books and News. Osondu remained on staff for a few months after the merger, but the bookstore was sold again and Osondu’s position was eliminated. She now…
To the Editor: We’ll start with the 1943 North Shore Road Agreement since that’s what is supposedly being settled. A park road is promised — adustless surface not less than 20 feet in width. Over $10 million has been spent…
It’s always a little embarrassing to look on another’s misfortune and discover that you may be the beneficiary of their problems, but it does happen. And so I read a story about Florida’s economic woes and couldn’t help but see…
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 14:53

If not now, then health care reform may never pass

This country must pass health care reform that accomplishes two major objectives: providing coverage for everyone and controlling skyrocketing costs. I believe that the bill must include a public option for those who are now uninsured. And just like automobile…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:59

Family time before deployment a mix of emotions

I do not much like having my photograph taken, but there is one picture of me I have always liked. In it, I am standing near the road between my old apartment and the park across the street. In the…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:05

Hard drive connects, but some data is lost

By Jon Beckman • Guest ColumnistThe human brain must have been the first computer, capable of capturing and storing data for future reference, helping us learn to get out of the rain and not to put our hands in the…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:31

‘John Muir’ makes a return visit to WNC

By Thomas Crowe “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful, not only as fountains of…
I have lived in a lot of places in my life — countless apartments, dorm rooms, and houses, some of them I can barely remember — but in nearly 48 years, I have only had two homes. I left one…
By Brent Martin • Guest Columnist With the long August recess now behind them, Senators have returned to Washington, D.C., with a heavy workload. In addition to the momentous responsibility they have to pass legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions,…
When Macon County economic development officials met last week and decided the aging workforce was among the county’s most pressing problems, that was news to our ears. An aging population — and workforce — presents many challenges, but we don’t…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:10

The pains of summer vacation

There, swirling miserably in the bottom of my morning coffee mug, are the dregs of summer. I had such plans just a few months ago. There would be a beach trip. Several rounds of golf. About two dozen novels that…
Although I sometimes wish that the maps of my Jackson County had a more beguiling shape — perhaps a bear or a quarter moon — its outline is pretty prosaic (it seems to resemble a pork chop). But marvelous events…
“I can see test scores going down and higher dropout rates in high school,” he said. “These kids are struggling. They’re really not at the age that they need to be left home alone.” — Steve Claxton, Swain County Community…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:52

If not wind, then what?

To the Editor: Well, I am at a disadvantage in this discussion on wind energy development in North Carolina. My friend and, in this case, adversary, Don Hendershot has his weekly bully pulpit and he used it to quote me…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:36

Schools vs. prisons is an easy choice

Haywood County’s 1930’s-era minimum-security prison was kept open for another year by our ever-diligent legislative delegation in Raleigh. They saved about 45 jobs and cheap labor for roadside cleaning by keeping the relic open. Meanwhile, Haywood County school supporters were…
My daughter is 8 years old, which is one of the greatest ages a person will ever be. She has outgrown Dora the Explorer and “The Cat In the Hat.” She does her own exploring now, thank you, and writes…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:39

Sediment at Lake J part of larger problem

To the Editor: Sediment in our streams is our biggest water quality threat. Everyone takes notice when more than $150,000 of our tax dollars are spent (the other $150,000 comes from the Assembly) to dig out Lake Junaluska, but every…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:37

Jackson’s financial position has slipped

To the Editor: Last week, Mr. Ron Robinson of Jackson County quoted a statistic in support of re-electing our county commissioners; our property tax rate is one of the lowest at 28 cents per $100 of valuation (“Incumbents are best…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:32

Barnyard wisdom arrives, but at its own speed

I am learning to move at the speed each task demands. This is a lesson the barnyard teaches. It is a good lesson for me to remember out of the barnyard, too. The animals — seven goats, two sheep, 30…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 20:25

Obama’s stumbles open door for conservatives

By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist Two years ago, America’s newest political superstar, Barack Obama, walked across campaign stages to thunderous applause. Today he is the object of derision from fellow Democrats fighting for their political lives. “When you are…
There is a story about Katharine White — an editor and writer for The New Yorker magazine — that I enjoy recalling this time of year. This is good fodder for mulling over while you plant bulbs or move perennials.…
Wednesday, 06 October 2010 20:14

Give Obama more time to succeed

To the Editor: I am going to the dentist in the coming week. As a self-employed artist and educator, I have put it off. While I manage to pay for my own health insurance, I have no dental coverage. Luckily,…
Wednesday, 06 October 2010 20:13

What happened to driver courtesy?

By David Redman • Guest Columnist When did we, as a nation, transition from courteous and abiding by the ” laws of the highway” drivers to drivers who are aggressive and “to heck with speed limits and other laws and…
Wednesday, 06 October 2010 20:07

The truth still matters, even in politics

Just tell the truth. That’s what we teach our children, it’s what we need from our loved ones, and it’s what we have to have from friends and co-workers. Without it, life’s a house of cards that won’t stand up.…
There is only so much you can do to help a child recover from a broken heart, especially the first time it is broken. You can say, “Honey, I know it seems like you’ll never get over it, but someday…
“Cherokee has so much to offer, such as its beautiful mountains, museums, cultural and historical exhibits, Native American shops, friendly residents, and casino. The caged bears may have been a big attraction at one time but are now seen as…
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 20:00

A door opens and the light shines for Irene

Irene has been in this country for only four years. When she came, she could not speak a word of English. The smugglers became frustrated with her because she kept mispronouncing the one word she had to get right in…
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 20:02

Jackson Paper proud of its successes

By Tim Campbell • Guest Columnist Jackson Paper Manufacturing Company has been a proud part of Sylva and Jackson County since 1995. Our community’s highly-skilled and dedicated workforce, solid infrastructure, good business climate and quality of life all combine to…
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 20:29

Jackson commissioners responsive to veterans

To the Editor: In a few days, Jackson County voters will be choosing the leadership of the county for the next four years. As a U.S. Army veteran (1961-64, Ft. Bragg and West Germany), I commend the current board of…
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 20:29

Jackson challengers don’t have good ideas

To the Editor: Over the course of the past year or so our Jackson County commissioner have been faced with a number of difficult decisions including salary raises for county employees, the Dillsboro dam and new mountain ordinances while keeping…
I’ve been thinking recently about what makes Sylva so cool. In my view, it has only been in the last 10 years or so that Sylva has hit the bull’s eye. Previously, it was no more cool, than, say, Robbinsville,…
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 20:06

Ellis is worthy of judgeship

To the Editor: Some of us may be confused about the many judicial contests. However, the name of one candidate is important to remember — Steve Ellis is running for the Davis seat in the 30th Judicial District, which comprises Cherokee,…
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 20:06

Very disturbing trends beset this country

To the Editor: Here are some disturbing trends. The top 20 percent of the wealthiest individuals own 93 percent of America’s private wealth. The top 1 percent own 43 percent of the money. The bottom 40 percent own less than…
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 20:05

Ron Robinson must just know it all

To the Editor: Who is Ron Robinson? He must be someone who has powers beyond those of the mortals he wants to “educate.” He has never been to a meet the candidate’s event, forum, or any other event where he could really…
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 20:04

Spending your money where it helps the most

I was sorry to hear that Spring Street Café in Sylva had closed. Emily Elders opened the restaurant about a year ago. It was downstairs from City Lights bookstore, a happy marriage of good books and fine dining. Eat and…
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 20:02

Sometimes public comment just muddies the water

When Haywood county commissioners decided a few weeks ago to adopt new rules guiding public comment at their meetings, some cried foul. I wondered what took them so long. The Smoky Mountain News and most of our brethren in the…
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 20:22

Evil cat proves you get what you pay for

Every column should have a point, and here’s mine, right in the first paragraph (this to save you from having to read through to the end if you are in a hurry, or if you are a dog person and…
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 20:22

Groups need to work together for wildlife

To the Editor: In my conversations with responsible hunters, wildlife advocates, employees of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and organizations who value wild lives and wild places, it is generally agreed there is a need to build bridges and work together in addressing a host of issues…
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 20:21

We need independent political leaders

To the Editor: If ever there was a need for common sense and independent thinking among our nation’s leaders, that time is now. One can hardly blame voters for being angry with both political parties (indeed, annoyed at just about…
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 20:15

Thirty years later, partying like it’s 1979

James looks at me, briefly averts his eyes, then looks at me again, this time with a purpose and a certain intensity, as if I am an algebra problem he’s about to solve. There is a flicker of recognition, a…
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 18:41

Can Duke supporters sleep at night?

By Carl Iobst • Guest Columnist Over the past few weeks several individuals and one media outlet have provided Jackson County citizens with a comedic Greek Chorus concerning the Jackson County commissioners and their decision to condemn the Dillsboro Dam…
Sounds like Waynesville’s leaders heard just what they expected last week regarding South Main Street — many people feel many different ways, and so no matter what the outcome many are going to be unhappy. Waynesville’s leaders and residents have…
The end of this year’s Folkmoot USA, some of the acquaintances I made during the festival, and my own ongoing interest in all things political has led me along one of those idealistic wanderings that I’ve often tried to swear…
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 18:32

You can’t stash true wealth in a bank

By John Beckman • Guest Columnist The concept of wealth has been sideswiped over the last few decades. It seems that the former notion of amassing assets through hard work and sacrifice, and using them to do philanthropic community good,…
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 18:46

Time to go all in at Harrah’s

It’s time for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino to offer alcohol to patrons, especially since the Tribe is counting on receipts from the thriving gambling operation to pay for everything from health care to education, and enrolled members can certainly make use…
Wednesday, 10 June 2009 18:56

Doing the public’s business in the open

By Avram Friedman Receiving public input is not a discretionary part of the decision-making process for elected public officials in North Carolina. It is mandated by law that local elected officials provide the opportunity for public input before making decisions…
When people say that Jim Carrey can’t act and that his movies are terrible, I always point to “The Truman Show,” which is not only a great movie, but has a great theme, a warning of the pernicious influence of…
By John Sanderson • Guest Columnist It was great to learn recently about the effort the Haywood County Schools Foundation (HCSF) is making to support our school system in these difficult economic times. I applaud HCSF for donating $30,000 to…
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 15:59

No we aren’t becoming socialists

Don’t you just love how words and labels take on a life of their own in the ideological debate that helps shape public policy. The give-and-take of real debate is important — as it helps us find a middle ground…
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 16:02

Lawmakers veer way off path

By Bob Scott • Guest Columnist North Carolina Legislators have declared war on tube roses. Tube roses are little roses and pens in glass tubes. Also on the legislator’s list of evil products are cigar splitters. Splitters are plastic tubes…
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 16:13

Ode to the Sylva Coffee Shop

Most small southern towns have a place like The Coffee Shop in Sylva — a cafe that has become a local landmark. I hopped curb here in 1950 when it had a wooden frame exterior and the jukebox had both…
“When I first came into the Smokies the whole region was one of superb primeval forest. My sylvan studio spread over mountain after mountain, seemingly without end, and it was always clean and fragrant, always vital, growing new shapes of…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:17

Miss California takes on gay marriage

I cannot remember the last time I watched a minute of a beauty pageant. I never had much of an interest in the first place, even when watching them with my family as a kid. The contestants were sparkly and…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:52

The new frugality is an old idea

There’s talk all over about America’s newfound love affair with frugality. What Time magazine has dubbed the Great Recession is threatening the American consumer culture, pundits and writers say, forcing us to re-think whether we need the biggest plasma screen…
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 17:16

The many rewards of home improvement

Lately, the days whiz by faster than usual. Now that we have finally decided to put our house up for sale after months of agonizing reflection, we have been trying to squeeze various projects into every available minute of the…
By Dawn Gilchrist-Young This is an Appalachian story because it is about resourceful people taking care of their own with little trust in institutions or reference to societal expectations. It is also an Appalachian story because it is about people…
An unhappy reader this week took me to task for writing harsh words about my 17-year-old cat, Edgar, after the little jerk sank his one remaining fang in my wrist and I wrote about the experience. That love bite —…
Thursday, 04 November 2010 00:05

Finding the right seat to sit on

In a short while our weather will be a tad chilly for frequent riding of motorcycles. Ah, a sad time indeed for those who love the brushing of wind against our face and the expression of freedom afforded to bikers…
It’s Election Day (or very early morning, actually) as I sit to finish this, and the theme of the day was uttered a few weeks ago by a guy running for a local office: “I don’t care if I win…
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 15:21

Mountain beauty is an asset we all own

To the Editor: We appreciate The Smoky Mountain News coverage on the steep slope issues in Macon County and would like to clarify and expand on some of the comments attributed to me, the vice chair of the Macon County…
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 15:23

Pondering the future of newspapers

Much as I dislike posing the question, here it is: can you imagine a future without newspapers? Would it be a dark day or good riddance to a biased blight upon the information landscape? Well, if you’re reading this you’ve…
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 15:34

Shuler proving his independence

Openly conservative Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, is blazing his own path in Congress. That characteristic is easy to admire, especially in these days of strident bickering and blind party allegiance. Last week The Smoky Mountain News interviewed both Republicans…
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 15:49

Get ready for life in the fast lane

It seems impossible that my niece is going to have a baby. She is 20 years old, which is about the same age as my favorite pair of Levis. I remember when she was born. We all crowded around the…
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:13

Nuisance debate both crass and credible

Every now and then a government proposal takes on such a vigorous life of its own that its intent gets clouded, those supporting it — or just discussing it even-handedly — get tarred and feathered and what started as an…
The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce’s Green Initiative is one of those projects that is good on many different levels, not the least of which is the admirable goal of reducing the impact the business community has on the environment.…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:53

Fighting the fear that comes at night

I don’t really know when nightmares begin. I guess it is possible that babies have nightmares, shaken awake in the night by dreams of stuffed giraffes turned suddenly sinister or a nipple that you chase and chase and never quite…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 16:56

Perdue’s no-show was a missed opportunity

“Gov. Beverly Perdue probably didn’t set out to give Western North Carolina a slap in the face Wednesday. “But we know a slap in the face when we see one, and this sure qualifies.” — Asheville Citizen-Times editorial, April 23…
Once upon a time, in a previous incarnation as a musician, I developed a routine that allowed me to focus and settle my nerves before performances. I was a brass player — I played the euphonium. This is a lovely…
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 20:48

Wild South is no friend to mountain hunters

To the Editor: I was surprised to see the letter from John Edwards of Wild South proposing the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, hunters, and his organization work together for wildlife habitat. Wild South is primarily responsible for the current lack…
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 20:47

Remember to honor the veterans

To the Editor: Veteran’s Day may just seem to be any other day to some, or maybe an extra day off work for others. However, as I think about Veteran’s Day, I feel an overwhelming sense of heartfelt gratitude for…
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 20:47

Thankful for support during sheriff election

To the Editor: First, let me say that it has been an honor and privilege to meet, inform, and represent nearly half of the voting population in Haywood County.   I would like to extend congratulations to Sheriff Bobby Suttles…
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 20:46

Good job, but real work has just started

To the Editor: Thank you to the candidates, the many volunteers and the voters in the mid-term elections. Macon County voters turned out in record numbers and Republicans did well here and across Western North Carolina. Well done. But, we…
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 20:45

Sorry to see Sen. Snow lose in this way

To the Editor: Sen. Snow, I am so sorry that people voted based on advertisements rather than on a candidate’s positions. I was appalled to learn of the very misleading mailing saying that you “wanted to give convicted rapists a…
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 20:43

Davis sold his soul to get to Raleigh

To the Editor: Jim Davis, who beat Sen. John Snow in the election, ran one of the filthiest campaigns I’ve ever witnessed in my 40 years of voting. He, or people and organizations working on his behalf, sent several deceptive…
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 20:42

Logging watershed is just a bad idea

To the Editor: In the early 20th century, the Waynesville Town Board purchased the Allens Creek Watershed to assure that the town would have a high quality drinking water supply for future growth and development. Unfortunately, the people considered the…
It was a perfect day for baseball: blue sky, a crisp breeze, the sun still hanging like a pop fly above the horizon. There were ducks on the pond. Runners on first and second, and just one away. Two runs…
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 15:21

Tough year for HRMC teaches hard lessons

It’s a cultural tradition in nearly every society, the firm belief that people and institutions become stronger once they’ve been tested. Whether that test comes about due to one’s own shortcomings or to circumstances outside one’s control is important, but…
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 15:24

Flood Relief Funds: What really happened

By Denise A. Mathis • Guest Column One of the most publicized criminal cases in Haywood County history centered around me, Denise Mathis, and the whereabouts of flood relief funds. I will never forget that day in August, 2006, when…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:46

Mr. February, me and my wife make happy

I love dogs. Except during that period in my life when I lived in a seemingly endless series of shoebox apartments that did not allow pets larger or furrier than goldfish, I have always had at least one dog, and…
By Marsha Crites • Guest Columnist It occurred to me as I was hiking up my mountain today that one of the reasons Obama’s “Yes, We Can” slogan may have resonated with so many is that it sounds a bit…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 20:02

A tax break for one business is not a plan

Before Haywood County commissioners approve a request to cut property taxes on a business that plans to build an $8 million solar farm near Canton, they need to get serious about developing a long-term green collar industry incentive package. One…
Another landslide occurred a little over a week ago, this one leaving a home teetering on the edge of a precipice and in a position to potentially slide down the mountain when more rains come. And once again homeowners and…
By Linda McFarland • Guest Columnist Imagine you are an eighth-grade student intent on learning all you can about social justice issues, and you have the opportunity to meet and study with a Nobel Peace Laureate. This dream came true…
Wednesday, 25 March 2009 20:29

Around here, March madness is a religion

March Madness is upon us, and if you or anyone in your house has ever played basketball or perhaps even seen a basketball, chances are that you spent a long weekend feasting on the first two rounds of the NCAA…
Sometimes what at first seems utterly ridiculous turns out to be a foreshadowing. It’s happening with water use in this country, and we expect in the not-too-distant future this resource won’t be taken for granted as it is today. The…
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 16:14

A duty to protect Swain’s citizens

By Curtis Cochran • Guest Columnist As sheriff of Swain County, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to your editorial dated Jan. 28 (“Questions for the high sheriff”) and, in so doing, make reference to your article…
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 16:24

Electing sheriffs leaves too much to chance

By Bob Scott • Guest Columnist A municipality would never think of electing a chief of police. But in North Carolina, sheriffs are elected like a high school popularity contest. When I tell people there are no qualifications required to…