By Craig Pendergrast • Guest Columnist
I am writing to applaud the Jackson County commissioners for recently completing a difficult re-write of the county’s cell tower code. Along with other interested property owners, I was an active participant in that process, having gained much experience and information about the way cell tower companies and their contractors operate.
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.
“So, you’re a band parent, huh? Boy, is your life about to change.”
My wife and I heard that a lot a few months ago after our daughter, a rising freshman at Tuscola High School, made the Color Guard. I had only the vaguest notion of what the Color Guard was, and no recollection at all of whether there was such a thing when I pounded the bass drum in the marching band for Alleghany High back in the 1970s. I was a freshman myself once upon a time, adapting as fast and as well as I could to this intense new world around me. Now it is my daughter’s turn.
By John Beckman • Guest Columnist
Forty-two years ago a very interesting man moved into the broken, haunted brick mansion two doors up from my parents’ house.
Dave had just retired from 33 years in the U.S. Army as a machinist, welder, mechanic, builder, inventor and general problem-solver in charge of keeping America’s troops and machinery moving. He had set his new sights on restoring the old place singlehandedly as a retirement project. His personal passions and areas of expertise included photography, systems design, the arts, public service, governance and sharing his skills and knowledge with many.
Recently released figures on the impact of tourism in Western North Carolina are encouraging. More visitors are spending more money, and that means new jobs and increased sales tax revenue.
But there’s even more relevant news for those of us who believe that tourism should be viewed as a long-term, viable industry for the region. A study conducted in Buncombe County found that successful tourism marketing leads to direct increases in more traditional manufacturing jobs. Those jobs are increasingly difficult to attract in this era of cheap overseas labor.
Some of them arrive four or five days early, packed up and just sitting there on the Haywood County Fairgrounds like gigantic metal suitcases that won’t quite close all the way. The rest come later. The Scrambler, the Flying Bumblebees, the Pirate Boat, the rickety little coaster that somebody has to snap together like Legos. The booths that house impossible games, rows of cheaply sewn stuffed animals, the biggest the size of couch cushions. Overinflated basketballs and rims the size of pie tins that are never quite level. Five thousand plastic toys made in China, none of them bigger than a candy bar. Three throws, five bucks, everyone’s a winner.
I was watching my son’s soccer game last night and the old Al Stewart tune, “Time Passages,” kept running through my head:
Well I’m not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on, are the things that don’t last
Well it’s just now and then, my line gets cast into these
And so it started last night. It continues this week, and will keep coming around until August 2016. It’s what I’ve been calling the “year of lasts.”
I would wager that I despise politics just about as much as you do. Whatever your political affiliation, we would probably agree that the system is broken, that politicians on both sides of the aisle are too beholden to special interests, and that all too often, we end up voting against someone far more passionately than we ever vote for someone. Maybe that is just a different way of saying that we usually vote for the lesser of two evils.
Another thing that we might agree on is that politics is much too often the Theater of the Absurd, in which candidates — many of whom are extravagantly wealthy — are rebranded as “common folk” to appeal to the electorate. Without question, the vast majority of political ads we see these days are attack ads, ad hominem attacks on the character of the opponent, but on those occasions when we do get a glimpse of the candidate, the staging will be very studied and precise, calculated in such a way to convey the same message: he or she is just one of us.
I’m sure the founders of Haywood County’s new charter school — Shining Rock Classical Academy — never imagined a week like the one they just had.
Not only was our newspaper challenging them on what we feel sure were violations of the N.C. Open Meetings Law, other media were giving ink and air time to problems at what may become the new location for their school. Seems surveys done at the property damaged the corn crop of the farmer currently leasing the site. Lawyers have gotten involved, meaning the site acquisition process just got more complicated.
It looked so good on paper, the way terrible ideas always do. Instead of boarding our miniature dachshund as we usually do when we go to the beach each summer, we were going to take him with us this year.