The room tax hike being sought by Haywood leaders needs to pass and deserves the support of the legislative delegation in Raleigh, and we hope that Sen. Jim Davis in particular will get on board and shepherd this bill through the Senate.
The hike, an additional 2 cents on each dollar spent on overnight lodging, would bring the room tax up to 6 cents. It would net about $450,000 each year in additional revenue that could be spent on attracting tourists.
Cigar smoke swirled around my face as the eardrum splitting street preacher invaded the festive mood of the thousands meandering around the entrance to the old market in downtown Charleston. A few minutes earlier, we had finished off a meal with an old friend, and afterward, my wife had departed for a spring break trip with her father. That left me, one of my daughters and my son to enjoy a couple of days in this great Southern city.
When the city of Asheville decided that this year’s Bele Chere street festival would be the last it funded, little more than a whisper of protest was reported in the local media. The monstrous festival had become a victim of its own success. The largest street party in the Southeast cost nearly half a million dollars of taxpayer money each year, took just as much time to plan, and then during the summer buildup needed weeks of preparation. Many long ago decided it had become too big to enjoy.
Bele Chere may survive under the auspices of some other entity other than the city government, a move that would be helpful to the nonprofits that depend on it for a significant portion of their fundraising. The downtown association is a likely candidate, while the city could still help with security and garbage, writes Jason Sandford, the creator and writer of the blog Ashvegas.
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
For years I had ascribed those words to Thomas Paine, the fiery British-American writer who fanned the flames of America’s revolutionary spirit with his pamphlet “Common Sense.” A quick search, though, reveals it was penned by a little-known (to me) British playwright in 1839, though several writers of greater fame danced around that particular wording of the phrase before Edward Bulwer-Lytton found the syntax that helped it gain a level of immortality.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory is trying to temper disparaging remarks he made early last week about the value of a liberal arts education. He certainly needs to, and while he’s at it he should assure this state’s citizens that he understands the value of our university system.
In an interview with Bill Bennett — the education secretary under Ronald Reagan who has become a conservative pundit on political and social issues (and who has a degree in philosophy, by the way) — McCrory said the university system should be funded “not based on butts in seats but on how many of those butts can get jobs.” He also said we only need so many philosophy majors, and that the state should not continue to subsidize arcane courses that don’t lead to employment: “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it,” McCrory told Bennett during the interview. “But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”
The swearing in of new Gov. Pat McCrory this past weekend brought to mind a conversation at a recent holiday party. I was sequestered with a few political types and several issues came up that had been covered in The Smoky Mountain News and other media outlets. Several of these discussion points are going to fall into the lap of the new governor and the General Assembly.
The recently announced plans for a Blueways Trail focusing on the recreational uses of Western North Carolina’s waterways is one of the better recent ideas for promoting our region. Its focus on the unique natural wonders of our mountains will make for a broad appeal that will speak directly to those who love the outdoors.
Officially dubbed the N.C. Smokies Blueways Trail, the concept is to develop tools that will help locals and tourists make better use of our rivers, creeks and lakes. That includes just getting to waterways to picnic or swim, improved access for canoeing and kayaking, and more information on fishing.
My father is retired Navy, and I lived on military bases until I was 10. My stepfather is retired Army Special Forces with several tours of Vietnam under his belt. My wife’s dad served in the Army and did duty in Vietnam and elsewhere. My brother served and has spent his career working as a civilian on a military base. I have a nephew in the Navy and my own son, 14 years old, right now says he wants to go into one of the military academies.
The U.S. military has been a part of my life since I can remember. Every Veteran’s Day and every Memorial Day that passes drags up some strong emotions, especially since my father passed away a few years ago.
I’m a late-blooming entrepreneur from a lower middle-class upbringing. My parents came from farming and mill-town childhoods, and they bought wholesale into the part of the American dream that told them their children, through education and hard work, will do better. But their faith in my ability to move up in the world stands in stark contrast to what many Americans can expect for their own children today. In fact, since the 1970s real income for the bottom 80 percent of American families has declined. Eighty percent. That sounds preposterous, but it’s the sad truth.
I’ve always believed in the adage that success builds success. It’s one of life’s truisms that anyone with eyes wide open sees very plainly, and it holds true in business, education, politics and the arts. That’s why Haywood Arts Regional Theater’s State II project will succeed, and I can’t wait until it’s up and running.
The plan for HART — which has called its Performing Arts Center on Pigeon Street home since 1997 — is to construct another building that will house a second full theater, a full kitchen, apartments for visiting performers, dressing rooms and storage areas. The theater will be smaller than the 250-seat main stage venue but larger than the intimate Feichter Studio Theater that houses up to 75 spectators. HART supporters have embarked on a $1 million fund-raising campaign.