While I was living in Elizabethtown in southeastern North Carolina in 1988, Walmart opened a brand-new store. Most everyone was excited, and how could you blame them? The retail giant hadn’t yet taken over the world, although it was already by then the largest retailer in the U.S. But how could you argue with the cheap prices all the one-stop variety, especially in an area that was poverty-stricken as textile mills were shuttering their operations?
So much going on locally and around the world that it’s just a tough week to bear down on a subject to write about. So let’s just run through the “column ideas” list and clean things out as we head toward December. It’s the beginning of the holidays and I’ll pretend I’m sitting with my chair pulled up close to the table. The Thanksgiving dinner is laid out banquet style with so much food it’s almost impossible to choose what to eat. I give up, and instead will try a little of everything. Here we go …
When terrorism strikes like it did this weekend in Paris, the first reaction to the horror is shock from the utter senselessness of intentional violence against innocent people. Most of us don’t understand how anyone could do something so innately evil.
But then, as the dozens of news reports and politicizing of the tragedy wash over me, I begin to worry. Not about further terrorist attacks — which we all know are coming and unfortunately are part of the world in which we live — but for the coming epidemic of ignorance, grandstanding and bellicose chest thumping.
Hindsight is indeed 20-20, and this time Haywood County commissioners very likely saw things exactly as they should have.
The plan to sell 55 acres in Haywood County’s industrial park to a start-up recycling sorting company has been scuttled. A press release sent out by the county Monday, Nov. 10, said that the company had withdrawn its offer. With the decision made, it’s way too easy to sit comfortably at my desk with my laptop and write with confidence about why this wasn’t a good idea.
Jackson County commissioners are going to pass a smart steep slope ordinance that will help as this region shakes off the devastating effects of the recent recession.
Commissioners are expected to pass a revised steep slope ordinance that will weaken the threshold from 30 to a 35 percent slope for the ordinance to kick in. While this change essentially does indeed weaken the ordinance, things could have been much worse, so Jackson is to be commended for the stance it’s taking.
I sincerely hope Waynesville citizens support Mayor Gavin Brown for reelection.
Municipal elections carry more import than most people realize. The decisions made by mayors and aldermen do not have as direct — and large — of a bearing on your pocketbook as the decisions made at the county, state and federal level, but they do matter. Down at the municipal level, it’s really more about impacting our quality of life and putting in place the amenities we enjoy in small towns.
“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Just a few more dollars, that’s all. When you get your car fixed or a new dishwasher installed, now you’ll have to pay the 7 percent sales tax on the labor provided by the mechanic or the repairman. As you pay, give a nod to the state legislature’s decision to tax a few more services as part of its ongoing reform that moves North Carolina further toward a reliance on consumption taxes versus income taxes.
A new ranking released this week by WalletHub pegs North Carolina as the 50th worst place in the country for public school teachers. We managed to beat out West Virginia but have been passed by economic powerhouses like Mississippi and Washington, D.C. (there were 51 spots, including D.C.) The ranking is based on median starting salary, pupil-to-teacher ratio and per pupil spending. Our 50th spot was — you guessed it — up one spot from last year.
This is one tradition that could just die and I don’t think many will care. I’m talking about the recently announced plan by Haywood County Schools to do away with the time-honored ritual of naming a valedictorian and salutatorian.
Haywood joins many school systems across the nation in going this route. Some want to argue that this is more evidence that we are dumbing down our schools and finding ways to tell all students that they are all fantastic and that everyone will succeed.
With the right leadership, it can happen. If the national and regional economy continues chugging along for another few years without a stumble, it can happen.
I’m talking about a rejuvenation of the small east Haywood County town of Canton, where elected leaders are saying they want business growth and new residents. That’s the town dominated by the giant paper mill that sits unabashedly in the town center, the mill that still occasionally emits a smell that envelops the town, the mill that still discolors the Pigeon River.