It’s difficult for me to believe that the new leadership in Raleigh would purposely sacrifice development in the state’s rural areas at the altar of political ideology. On purpose or not, however, that’s the way it looks to many of us who live in places not named Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro or Winston-Salem.
Everyone braced for change when Gov. Pat McCrory and Republicans in both the House and Senate were duly elected to govern North Carolina. That’s the natural order of politics — to the winner goes the spoils. However, even many long-time observers were caught unawares by the speed, the ideological bent, and the reliance on unproven economic principals that infused the legislation passed during the first session in which the GOP had total control of the state.
The General Assembly’s renewal of the specialty license plates for North Carolina drivers surprised many only because it seemed such a no-brainer that it was curious there was even a debate. Thank goodness lawmakers saw the light.
Let’s take a look at what was almost undone by our state legislators: a program that produces — without any extra public spending — millions of dollars for some of North Carolina’s most prominent nonprofits, providing them with money to invest in some of the of the state’s treasures. That list includes coastal estuaries and sea turtles along with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail.
Ever know you are in a good place at the right time? Every now and then that sentiment — about living Western North Carolina right now — overwhelms me.
I’ve been messing around with newspapers and journalism in some form or another since I was 13. It’s a vocation that puts one in contact with all kinds of people and takes one to all kinds of places. So I’m mostly beyond those “gee whiz” moments that are often part of the job.
By John Beckman • Columnist
I’ve had quite a few cars on the road in the past 40 years, and I’ve noticed that they all start to fall apart when the odometer begins showing nervously higher figures. The breakdowns that happen depend largely on how hard the operator has been on the pedals and buttons and how diligent they have been in preventative maintenance and regular upkeep.
I’m not sure it represents a new philosophy or perhaps is just an acknowledgement of reality, but the decision by the state Department of Transportation to hold off on any further planning for the massive Southern Loop project in Jackson County was certainly welcome news.
It was September 2001 when the controversy over this proposed bypass erupted in Jackson County and made its first appearance in the pages of The Smoky Mountain News. Malcom MacNeil, the former owner of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, was circulating a petition from the very outset that garnered more than 500 signatures to get the state to back off the project.
By Doug Wingeier • Guest Columnist
In a previous letter, I described how devastating to human beings our current immigration system is. The flaws are many and obvious. But disagreement arises as to how to correct them. I believe that a just system can only come about through legalizing the status of all immigrant workers and their families, and providing a smooth, transparent road to citizenship. This reform should include:
The Lake Junaluska Assembly is marking its 100th anniversary this year, and a plethora of activities will take place at the Methodist conference center during the July 4 week. I’m not Methodist, but because of my job as a journalist in this region, I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact the Lake has had on Haywood County and the surrounding area. And I’m not talking about economics and tourism and dollars, though it has a positive impact in that area as well.
Editor’s note: Marie Cochran attended the production of the “Liar’s Bench” on June 20 at the Mountain Heritage Center on the WCU campus and wrote this review for The Smoky Mountain News.
I am very familiar with the term “the Liars Bench” in its practice of casual storytelling among Southern men sitting in the courthouse square and at barbershops; yet I was skeptical to hear this lighthearted phrase associated with the account of 19 Black men who drowned on a chain gang only decades after the Civil War.
As a disclaimer, for the last month I’ve been a witness to the assemblage of information and a participant in debates that raged about the proper way to engage a diverse audience. Yet, I waited like every other audience member wondering whether “Tears in the Rain” would be told as a gruesome ghost story, a sorrowful tale of faceless men who perished in an unfortunate accident, or an insightful portrayal of a human tragedy.
There’s just not much exciting about turning 14, but that’s what The Smoky Mountain News turned a couple of weeks ago. I can keep up with our age because of the volume number on the front of this edition and because I track it by my son’s birthday. He was just shy of a year old when we started, and this summer he’ll turn 15 and take driver’s ed.
It’s a middling anniversary, not like 10 or 15, and it seems a long way yet to 20. Still, I sometimes pinch myself or throw cold water on my face and wonder if I’m dreaming. When we hatched the idea for this newspaper more than 14 years ago, and when the first edition of The Smoky Mountain News rolled off the presses on June 5, 1999, I had no idea whether we would survive. Way back then, it was more a dream than a well-planned business venture.
By Doug Woodward • Guest Columnist
What entity in our community serves the needs of every one of our citizens, whether that person is 3 years old or has been around for 90 years? And what place is this which can offer the same level of service to the wealthy and disadvantaged alike? Some organizations or businesses can offer services to a small segment of our population, but only one — our Fontana Regional Library System — can claim to open its doors to everyone.
Many who aren’t familiar with our library may say, “Oh yeah, they lend out books and old movies.” That limited viewpoint usually means that the speaker hasn’t set foot in the library in recent years, and sometimes we even find a commissioner or state representative who falls into that category.