Up to now, the mood at many of the Cullowhee planning meetings and public forums was upbeat and positive — full of rah-rah and optimism.
Occasionally a naysayer would need to be hushed — Cullowhee property owner Mike Clark has been a consistent and vocal critic — but in general the consensus seemed to be that Cullowhee needs development standards.
A panel of Western Carolina University faculty members, including an environmental health professor who has studied the spread and control of infectious agents such as Ebola for more than two decades, will take part in a discussion about the virus on Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Part of WCU’s Global Spotlight Series, the event will be held in the auditorium of the Forsyth Building from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Waynesville Middle School is set to get a new roof, following a vote by Haywood County Commissioners to approve a project that the Haywood County School Board OK’d Sept. 8. The project will finish off a campaign against leaky roofs that Tracy Hartgrove, the school system’s maintenance director, has been championing since he arrived eight years ago.
“This is probably the last one that is in really bad shape. We’ve put a lot of effort into it for the last eight years,” Hartgrove told commissioners about the roof replacement effort. “Every time it rains I’m not dreading to answer my phone because we don’t get those calls like we used to.”
The hurt is coming. All the candidates agree, it won’t be pretty. In 2016, Jackson County will preform a property revaluation, in which the values of properties on the tax role — currently listed with values tethered to the high times of the housing boom — will be squared up with the values actually reflected in the current real estate market.
State issues are trickling down to the election debate surrounding the Macon County commissioners’ races. Three of the five seats are open, bringing out a total of six candidates looking for a place on the board. Chief among the topics of discussion surrounding the race are education funding, how to prioritize spending in the wake of the real estate bust and what stand, if any, the county should take on fracking.
With shrinking budgets, cries for higher teacher salaries and the struggle to keep test scores high while working with limited funds for resources such as textbooks and technology, local school districts have had their share of challenges this year. Four seats are open in this year’s race for Haywood County School Board, and those opportunities brought out a field of six challengers to face the four incumbents running for re-election.
Three challengers running for Haywood County commissioner are touting lower property taxes, a smaller budget, limited government, less regulation and personal freedom — the core tenets of conservatism with a Libertarian twist.
“The government needs to live within its means,” said Philip Wight, a Republican challenger. “It doesn’t seem like we are moving toward lower spending in the government. We keep looking at what more can the government provide. That is an unsustainable path.”
Criticism over taxes and spending from the conservative arm of the local Republican Party is nothing new for Haywood County commissioners.
So this election year, the three Democrats running for re-election came armed with talking points: only 29 counties have a lower tax rate, the county budget is smaller than it was five years ago and there are fewer employees now than five years ago.