Archived News

They said it — 2005

Residents of Western North Carolina confronted many important issues in 2005, whether it was another chapter unfolding in an ongoing political feud or deep philosophical challenges like balancing growth and preservation. As we wrote about these events, the common thread was the human element, people trying to come to grips with change while holding onto what’s important. We searched our archives and retrieved some of the more interesting quotes from the stories of the past year.

January

“It’s dog eat dog.” Joe Shearer, a drink distributor, describing the fight for shelf space in convenient store coolers, one of the top challenges facing Cherokee Bottled Water.

“Blood is very thick in any community, especially here. But a lot of individuals are taking a different attitude of ‘what is best for my family?’” Cherokee Principal Chief Michell Hicks on the success of an anonymous tip hotline allowing people to report suspected methamphetamine drug use by neighbors, friends and even family.

“I visited in November and I couldn’t believe the number of people out on the streets at 9 o’clock at night at that time of year. It’s a small town, but it’s a small town with a life. There’s a heartbeat here.” Eric Mostrom on his decision to buy a three-story brick building on Church Street in downtown Waynesville for $825,000, and later purchase the mainstay downtown bar O’Malley’s. Mostrom is renovating the Church Street building with plans to relocate his medical billing business from Boca Rattan, Fla., to Waynesville.

“When essentially all the orthopedists left, the surgical case volume plummeted. Our incomes had dropped very, very substantially.” Mark Brown, a former anesthesiologist at Haywood Regional Medical Center, explaining the decision by five of the six anesthesiologists serving the hospital to resign en masse. The exodus followed a total break down in the orthopedic services in Haywood County.

“I don’t read my job description every morning before I go to work. I didn’t realize there was any problem with it.” Haywood County Manager Jack Horton rejecting the suggestion that his job description should be rewritten. Some commissioners felt Horton had too much autonomy and not enough oversight running the county.

“I’m not going to ask you to go stand on your head in front of the flagpole.” Haywood County Commissioner Mary Ann Enloe claiming more oversight of the county manager is reasonable, not heavy-handed as some commissioners claimed.

“Every time we get a call, I’m like ‘these durn tourists.’ We like to think it’s the tourists, but there’s a lot of locals, too.” Ryan Hyman chief deputy with the Transylvania County Rescue Squad, on backcountry rescue operations.

“You’ve got money going in circles.” Former Jackson County Commissioners Chairman Stacy Buchanan at the launch of a county-led investigation into the spending practices of the local Economic Development Commission. The EDC — funded primarily with county monies — was helping fund struggling textiles company QC Apparel through an arrangement in which the EDC purchased QC invoices for a reduced rate, giving QC cash to pay off revolving loans issued from the county.

“We see on the television ... ‘Oh my god, that’s a lot of bodies.’ When I called my parents I asked, ‘Is everything all right?’ They didn’t know yet.” Komang Budi Surya Dharma, a student from Indonesia working at High Hampton Inn in Cashiers while studying hospitality management at Southwestern Community College, upon learning of the tsunami that killed more than 200,000 on Dec. 26, 2004.

“The silver lining behind this cloud is the educational value for other citizens.” Chrissy Pearson, Director of Public Information with the N.C. Department of Insurance, speaking in regard to the landslide in Macon County’s Peeks Creek community that killed six and the subsequent discovery that homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover such events.

February

“He thought it was worth a lot more than we thought it was worth. He said it wouldn’t eat. Who wants a cow that won’t eat?” Haywood County Attorney Jeff Norris on a lawsuit filed against the county for euthanizing a man’s cow that was emaciated to the point of abuse. The man wanted $4,500 in damages.

“We’ve even had complaints about public nudity.” Joffrey Brooks with the N.C. Wildlife Commission explaining the need to curtail the virtual free-for-all of recreational uses on the 4,400-acre Needmore tract.

“Eight will do it if no one ever wants to take vacation or ever call in sick.” Haywood County Sheriff Tom Alexander on the need for more deputies to run the county’s big new justice center.

“If you’re going to take the glass, take them the good stuff too.” Bill Leonides, an FCR employee, encouraging residents from counties such as Haywood where the local government does not recycle glass to bring all their recyclables to Jackson County’s staffed recycling centers, as corrugated cardboard and plastic sell for more.

“I shall forever be grateful to the citizens of Jackson County for placing their trust in me over six years ago when they first elected me to serve. I thank you for your understanding and patience as we worked through the process. I look forward to future opportunities.” Jackson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Stacy Buchanan reading from a statement announcing his resignation.

“We are the first county to ever do anything like this in the state of North Carolina.” Haywood County Economic Development Director Mark Clasby on the mini grant program for flooded businesses willing to rebuild. About 60 businesses received $1,000 to $5,000 grants depending on the extent of damage.

“If I ruffled some feathers trying to get the best possible care for my patients, then I did it for the right reason. I wanted us to be the best at orthopedics there was. It requires a high degree of self-reflection and self-criticism.” Dr. Tom McClure on his falling out with the hospital administration at Haywood Regional Medical Center.

March

“We presented our preliminary investigation to the district attorney and it did show some concerns.” Canton Police Chief Bill Guillett in the first public affirmation that Gail Guy, former director of Canton Papertown, had possibly embezzled money, nine months after a media probe uncovered discrepancies in the publicly-funded organization’s finances.

“A promise is a promise. The government has lost enough credibility.” Jesse Grant of Swain County demanding completion of the North Shore Road through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The government signed a pact to build back the road that led from Bryson City to Tennessee after flooding portions of it with the creation of Lake Fontana in the 1940s.

“What is the best alternative? Do we continue to wait for a road that will probably never be constructed? Or do we look to the future and settle the road issue for Swain County?” Claude Douthit of Swain County calling for the government to compensate Swain County for the road it flooded 60 years ago with a cash payment of $52 million.

“Retaining existing business is just as important as recruiting new business.” Mark Swanger, Haywood County commission chairman and co-chair of the economic development commission, on incentives offered to Plus Cleaners, a commercial linen service with 70 employees, to locate in the county’s industrial park in Canton.

“Even if we cook eggs, we cook on the tinfoil. We don’t even use a frying pan.” David Monteith, president of Fontana Lake-Users Association, offering tips for the 500 houseboat owners on the lake to reduce the amount of wastewater they use.

“They said ‘we’ll buy it.’” Wade Reece, a Maggie Valley hotel manager, reporting that Ghost Town had been sold. The deal never went through and the amusement park remains closed.

“There’s something wrong when land jumps that high.” Clarence Pilkington of Swain County who was shocked after receiving his property revaluation from the county. His property was appraised at 10 times what it was eight years ago.

“I realized his recipe for success is to make more and more noise and we’re in his shadow. So either he’s going to be successful and our quality of life suffers, or we’re going to make his business unsuccessful.” Earl Davis of Whittier on the formation of Save Our Skies, a coalition that wants to shut down Cherokee Helicopters flightseeing company.

“Right now, the future of Papertown is in question.” Jim Weatherman, chairman of the Canton Papertown Board after the organization’s second executive director in a row was charged with embezzlement.

“... There’s no way to make the road any more practical. You cannot force people to ride bicycles. You cannot force people to walk. And the concept of making people move into town — it’s all great ideas and on paper it looks wonderful, but in reality it doesn’t work.” Jackson County Commission Chairman Brian McMahan addressing the N.C. 107 issue in an interview following his appointment.

I’m here to give you guys, the town of Sylva, the opportunity to reduce the site costs.” Lowe’s consultant Jennings Gray lobbying Sylva town officials for incentives to help bring the home improvement store to town. Board members balked at the proposal.

“Anybody who has some self esteem to lose, just come help me.” Colin Martin, a Cullowhee Valley Elementary Odyssey of the Mind competitor and one of three sixth-graders on a team of mostly of seventh- and eighth-graders, while walking over to color in some rough spots on a large banner bearing the words “Public Arts Depreciation.”

“Having an authorial presence in a non-fiction piece can sometimes be viewed as a lesser type of journalism, but I wouldn’t ascribe to that.” Petroleum geologist turned nature writer Rick Bass, headliner at this year’s Western Carolina University Literary Festival. Bass spent nine years prospecting for new oil wells, an experience that formed the basis for his book Oil Notes, published in 1989.

“Maybe they should change their name from Smoke Rise to Spoke Lies.” Tilley Creek resident Perry Eury criticizing Cashiers-based gun club Smoke Rise’s honesty about member’s plans to relocate the shooting range.

“He’s full of mud.” Shooting range advocate and gunclub manager Randy Deitz’s response to Eury’s comments (see previous quote).

“More and more peopling are smiling and nodding. It feels like the tide is turning.” Trish Severin, one of the charter members of Franklin’s Voices for Peace coalition, while staging a stand-in alongside Main Street on March 18, the eve of the second anniversary of the U.S.’s war with Iraq

April

“I think my daughter ought to be able to go to school just like any other child without being threatened to be killed.” Evelyn Powell, mother of a black 7th-grader at Swain Middle School who allegedly received a note with a racially-charged death threat in her book bag on April Fool’s Day.

“We hate it that this happened but if we don’t have proof of who did it, there’s nothing we can do right now.” Roger Parsons, chairman of the Swain County school board, telling Powell the school board was at a loss of what to do.

“I really don’t see any discrimination to speak of. Now we do have some smart alecks that do things and we handle those situations the best we can.” Robert White, Swain County schools superintendent, responding to Powell’s allegations of racist comments made by some children at school.

“I’d say there is still prejudice around here you just can’t see it. They try to hide it under their hat.” Stanley Rogers, a black resident of Jackson County, on what it is like being a minority in WNC.

“We’ve had a lot of blows, but I think we’ll come through.” Jim Weatherman, chairman of the Papertown Association, on the decision not to disband the organization after two executive directors in a row were caught embezzling money. The organization lost its public funding, has no money in reserve, is in danger of losing its non-profit status and owes fines after failing to file with the IRS for four years.

“I would like additional playground equipment.” Harry Massie, a fourth-grader at Riverbend Elementary school, on how he would like to see a portion of the $25 million school bond in Haywood County spent. It will spent building a new elementary school in Bethel, expanding three other elementary schools, building new sports facilities and installing air conditioning.

“If they like what they get here, they can come back here. This is the only place it’s sold.” Spring Ridge Dairy owner Jim Moore explaining how his small Macon County farm doesn’t sell its items in commercial grocers. Spring Ridge Dairy was the first farm in Western North Carolina to be permanently reserved as farmland through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program, also helping to protect the farm’s open fields that straddle the Little Tennessee River.

“Only by preserving farm land will we preserve our rural communities.” Paul Carlson, executive director of the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee.

“We’re way ahead of the rest of the state in terms of services and access to services.” 30th Judicial District Chief Court Counselor Lee Crites giving credit to the system for adopting his “Far West Model,” which has launched a transition to a system that focuses not only on intervention, but prevention. The system is shaping the future of the juvenile crime statewide.

“No voting is not a vote no.” Louis Spagna, a Tilley Creek resident and proponent of an ordinance to regulate shooting range operation, after commissioner Joe Cowan made a motion for a moratorium on shooting range construction but the motion died for lack of a second without any discussion.

May

“For some time Jackson County has said we know we aren’t getting a good enough deal. So what is a good deal?” Paul Nolan, a D.C. attorney hired by Jackson County, claiming Duke Power needs to offer more compensation in exchange for the privilege of harnessing the Tuckaseegee’s hydropower with a string of dams.

“When your number one horse dies, you better have another one to ride.” John Boaze, a biologist with Fish and Wildlife Associates, on Duke Power’s controversial proposal to remove the Dillsboro Dam as mitigation for it’s other dams on the Tuck. Jackson County wants the historic Dillsboro dam to stay and instead get a trust fund from Duke to fund projects like greenways along the river and erosion control.

“How is this a good use of taxpayer money if we haven’t done a traffic study and don’t even know if there is congestion?” Vicky Gribble, Waynesville resident, on DOT plans to widen the rural, two-lane Plott Creek Road after learning the DOT had no traffic data for the road.

“I don’t have an answer to that.” Joel Setzer, head of DOT in the region, responding to Gribble’s question.

“It seems to me you’re spending $700,000 on a problem that could be fixed with about $10,000.” Waynesville Alderman Gavin Brown on the DOT’s plans to add a middle turn-lane to Plott Creek Road in front of an elementary school where traffic backs-up during drop-off and pick-up times. An alternative pitched by opponents of the widening is building a second entrance into the school parking lot to relieve the bottleneck effect.

“We aren’t supposed to be dwelling in politics or preaching politics from the pulpit. We are there to do God’s will.” Thelma Morris, a member of East Waynesville Baptist, who complained about the pastor telling the congregation to vote for George Bush. The issue catapulted Waynesville into the national news.

“Separation of church and state was to keep government from influencing the church, not to keep the church from influencing the government.” Jason Ledford, pastor of Dellwood Baptist Church, defending the role of Christians in shaping national politics.

“You could preach your convictions about abortion that God upholds the sanctity of life without having to say, ‘Therefore vote for so and so and don’t vote for so and so.’” George Freeman, general secretary of the World Methodist Council at Lake Junaluska, on the fine line between preaching about morals versus preaching politics.

“I want to walk in there and think it’s 1932.” Haywood County Commissioner Mary Ann Enloe sharing her vision for restoration of the grand courtroom in the historic courthouse.

“A few very nice vacation homes that are probably not going to be occupied year round are reducing the enjoyment of many to increase the enjoyment of a few.” Cathy Kennedy, employee of Nantahala Outdoor Center, lamenting a proposed development along the Nantahala River unpopular with many of the outfitters and paddlers in the Gorge.

“Given the cost of the land, it is inevitable somebody is going to buy it and develop it. It is as plain as the day is long.” Ami Shinitzky, a developer converting a 35-acre campground along the Nantahala River to a high-end subdivision, claiming opponents to the project should have raised money to preserve the land if they didn’t want to see it developed.

“Taxpayer alert. Your property taxes are higher than necessary. Macon County taxpayers need and deserve a tax cut. The County has more than twice as much cash — $22,000,000 — than is needed to provide all necessary services and more!! Contact Allan Bryson, County Commission Chairman 526-4925, and tell him you want some of you money back through a tax cut.” Ads placed in local newspapers by the Macon County chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy denouncing the county’s fund balance amount.

“I wish to thank the citizens of this community for their support and concern for local affairs; it is through this public participation that communities are sustained and managed effectively, and it is clear that the Sylva community is actively engaged in continually working for the betterment of its people....” Sylva Town Manager Richard McHargue reading from a prepared statement announcing his resignation. McHargue left the job to return to his hometown of Hickory.

“We are not now and have no plans to look for other property in Jackson County. We are currently looking out of state. We just want to you drop the proposed ordinance.” A letter written by Barry Moore, president of Cashiers-based gun club Smoke Rise. In response to the letter, Jackson County commissioners promptly passed a 90-day moratorium on all new shooting ranges to give the planning board time to write an ordinance regulating their operation.

June

“That’s what’s killing us. We don’t have empirical data we can lay out in front of the developers and say, ‘Here’s how the second home market affects Haywood County.’” John Howell, member of the Haywood County Economic Development Commission, on one of the challenges in attracting commercial enterprises.

“Instead of a smoking room, you could have a Nicorette room.” Tom Sithers, an emergency room doctor, chief of staff at Haywood Regional Medical Center, when the hospital decided to go tobacco-free within one year.

“Seventy-seven million baby boomers will be retiring in the next 10 years that are projected to be the most active and affluent retirees ever. Understanding the attractions and amenities that attract them is very important.” Tom O’Donnell, new general manager at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, sharing his vision for tourism in Cherokee.

“I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done, but if these are marginally stable slopes and something does go wrong, it could have some pretty serious impacts.” N.C. Geologist Rick Wooten on whether landslide-prone slopes should be developed.

“I’ve sent four couples to Sylva that wanted a beer with dinner just this week.” JoeFrank McKee, owner of Treehouse Pottery in Dillsboro, speaking as to the town’s dry status. Voters passed a beer and wine sales referendum in November.

“Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us, happy birthday dear Voters, happy birthday to us.” Members of the Macon County League of Women Voters celebrating their 15th anniversary. The Macon League is a division of a national, nonpartisan political organization, which encourages citizens to be informed and actively participate in government whether it be through discussion, voting, contacting representatives or perhaps even running for office.

“I think you’re very astute in saying ‘we need to show action’.” Planning consultant David Quinn speaking to Sylva Partners in Renewal members at their annual retreat. The group lamented how merchants and town leaders don’t take them seriously, as group projects have been slow to produce results.

July

“We need to kill it fast and kill it early. I don’t think it is a fait de complis yet, but it is getting very close.” Joe Gatins, a leader in the fight against Interstate 3, which if approved would cut through North Georgia and Western North Carolina in the vicinity of Macon, Clay, Cherokee and Graham counties.

“We are afraid that this thing is going to take the path of least resistance — whoever makes the most noise doesn’t get it.” Buzz Williams, director of the Chattooga Conservancy, urging opponents of Interstate 3 to stick together and not succumb to the Not in My Backyard syndrome, which would only slough the route off onto neighboring counties.

“If the water pipe had not leaked, the landslide would not have happened and Mrs. Jones would not have been killed and the house would not have been destroyed.” Attorney Mark Melrose preparing a wrongful death lawsuit against the Maggie Valley Sanitary District. A woman was killed when the hillside behind her home collapsed in December 2003 due to a waterline break that saturated the soil.

“I can’t comment and I’m sure that no one else is either.” Randy Deitz, member of Smoke Rise Gun Club, on whether the club was still pursuing a shooing range in Jackson County or not.

“There’s just not that many examples of historic Appalachia that are still in one piece. To have the house and spring house, and hog pens and barns and outbuildings all there together, it shows that whole picture.” Cindy Anthony on the preservation of a 194-acre historic farmstead in the Cullowhee area. A group of residents pooled their resources and bought the tract to stop a gun club from putting a shooting range on it.

“We are here on this planet, it is the only one we have, and we have a responsibility to protect and keep it beautiful and think about the generations that come after us.” Bill Denton, president of the fellowship of Universalist Unitarian Church in Franklin, explaining a Christian mandate for environmental stewardship. The church is an accredited “Green Sanctuary.”

“If you want my input, fine. If you don’t, fine. I have people coming through to my museum and I’m to the point where I don’t care if they stay in Haywood County or not.” Dale Walkser, owner of Wheels Through Time transportation museum and member of the Haywood County Tourism Development Association, claiming the solution to tourism lies with motorcycle riders, before walking out on the tourism meeting.

“There’s too many of them. I hear them at night going vroom, vroom.” Roscoe Smith, who vacations six months of the year in Maggie Valley, maintaining too many motorcycles will drive the other tourists away.

“We’ve had just about enough of Charles Taylor’s ethical lapses, his catering to special interests, and his pandering to wealthy cronies.” Jerry Meek, North Carolina Democratic Party Chair, at a press conference in Haywood County announcing the national Democratic Party has made defeating U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor, R-Brevard, one of its top priorities in the 2006 congressional elections.

“So why do the Washington liberals attack Charles Taylor? Because they support gay marriage; he does not. They support partial-birth abortion; he does not.” U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor, R-Brevard, claiming attacks on his character by the national Democratic Party are fueled by liberal agendas.

“We think he will be a very formidable candidate against Charles Taylor.” Schorr Johnson, communication director for the N.C. Democratic Party, on news that Heath Shuler, a well-known football player, native of Bryson City and resident of Waynesville, will challenge U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor, R-Brevard, in 2006.

“We are starting to ignore our little people out there. I hope people realize that this could be their constituents one day we’re trying to get a helicopter off the top of.” N.C. Sen. John Snow, D-Murphy, arguing for a state law that would ban landing pads for flightseeing helicopters within 10 miles of national parks, areas particularly vulnerable to over-zealous tourism enterprises.

“They’re going to do it as they say ‘come hell or high water.’” Swain County resident Donny Dixon’s take on county commissioners move to build a new $10.4 million jail across from Ingle’s grocery store in Bryson City despite some public opposition to the location.

“We typically don’t have people change sites after a loan is approved. I’ve never had anybody do that.” Pam Hysong, loan officer with the USDA Rural Development Center, clarifying the loan application process for Swain County’s jail. Swain County Manager Kevin King told residents at a public hearing that the location for the jail hadn’t been decided, despite one being listed on the loan application, but that the county could change the location later.

“It’s one of those things where you wake up in the morning and cross your fingers and say a prayer that everything will go OK.” Jackie Fortner, chief of the Swain County sheriff’s office, on the accidents waiting to happen in the old, decrepit Swain County jail.

“If you think Macon County won’t change, I can assure you it will.” Developer Robert Ullmann speaking to a group of 200 residents mostly opposed to Ullmann’s 1,500-acre subdivision on Cowee Mountain.

“If somebody comes in here and does something we don’t like, every one of us in this room is to blame. I have 30 years worth of subdivision regulations that have been written and proposed but never enacted. The public will wasn’t there.” Macon County Planner Stacey Guffey telling residents if they don’t like the 1,500-acre development on Cowee Mountain they should have supported land-use planning before it was too late.

August

“When you say the word logging, people immediately get the picture of great big skidders coming in and hauling out monstrous trees and destroying the top soil and destroying streams and that is not at all what we have in mind.” Waynesville Alderwoman Libba Feichter clarifying the idea behind forest management in Waynesville’s 8,000-acre protected watershed.

“They say they do it in stages to create a quote ‘healthy forest.’ It is not a healthy forest. It is a forest that is on life support.” Garrett Smathers, a Waynesville resident and professional ecologist, claiming the idea of forest management is a decoy to justify logging.

“What’s the use mucking with it?” Charles Miller, Waynesville resident, arguing that nature knows better than man when it comes to managing the forest in Waynesville’s watershed.

“When you see a town and see it has not been well-maintained, when you leave, one of the big questions you are going to ask is ‘do I need to come back? Is this town really investing in me?’” Cherokee Principal Chief Michell Hicks on the need for a major revitalization push in the aging Cherokee commercial district.

“I read in one of my books they didn’t even have tee-pees and headdresses.” Cody Saults, a 14-year-old tourist from Florida, disappointed in the depiction of Cherokee culture throughout the commercial district, where many souvenirs are not authentic representations.

“I’m not interested in writing a whole bunch of laws and putting them on the books for something we don’t even have.” Jackson County Commissioner Chairman Brian McMahan questioning the need for proactive land-use regulations during debate about whether to enact a shooting range ordinance.

“For bibliophiles, this is heaven.” Michael Beadle, poet and creative writing instructor, on the success of Haywood County’s first author and book fair.

“It’s not to say it won’t be a challenge and it won’t take some time. It certainly won’t happen overnight, but it can happen.” Lynn Collins, the new director for Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce, on whether Maggie Valley can redefine its tourism image.

“We are not trying to put anybody out of a job. We don’t have any desire to do that. But we do want a clean river downstream.” Gordon Ball, a Knoxville attorney who won a $2 million class-action lawsuit against Blue Ridge Paper Products for pollution of the Pigeon River.

“I don’t know. I know something needs to be done but I think it needs to be ironed out by people who know more about it than me.” Sylva Alderman Harold Hensley before he was elected sharing his thoughts on traffic on N.C. 107 in Sylva, the subject of a controversial road plan by the Department of Transportation.

“Dillsboro should have been Jackson County’s best partner in this and for the town administration not to be on the same page with Jackson County for the preservation of a historical icon and monument is ludicrous.” Dillsboro Inn owner TJ Walker lambasting Dillsboro leadership for agreeing to the removal of the Dillsboro Dam by Duke Power while Jackson County leaders continue to fight it. Walker ran for mayor of Dillsboro but lost.

“David could not fight Goliath.” Dillsboro Mayor Jean Hartbarger responding to Walker’s accusations that Dillsboro did not do enough to oppose Duke Power’s proposal to tear down the Dillsboro Dam.

“We are growing so quickly and so fast if we don’t reach some type of consensus, we are going to be sitting there and it will pass right by us and we will wonder what happened.” Sissy Pattillo, a new Franklin alderwoman, who won a seat on the town board following a campaign platform based on better land-use planning.

“I am concerned about some of the growth aspects of Highlands being too rapid and too fast.” Don Mullen, the new mayor of Highlands, who won out over two opponents after campaigning on smart-growth issues.

“It would totally destroy our community. I really like the idea of smart roads and using it wisely rather than building more roads. Everywhere that has those outlying roads, you get lots of growth and then you have to build another outlying road.” Webster Alderwoman Jean Davenport advocating for a redesign of N.C. 107, a five-lane commercial strip, instead of building a bypass around it that would cut through their rural community.

“I want to say very bluntly I definitely see it as a first step toward zoning.” Macon County Planning Board member Susan Ervin at a public hearing clarifying that while the county’s proposed high-impact use ordinance was fairly benign, it’s intent shouldn’t be a mystery.

September

“I never thought I would be in the position where I needed food stamps.” Ruth Sass of Clyde recalling the struggles she’d faced over the past year after losing everything to the floods caused by the Hurricanes Frances and Ivan.

“I’ve heard a lot of people have had to go through counseling and I can imagine. It is depressing, One day you have everything and the next day you have nothing.” Jessie Mae Brown of Clyde reflecting a year later on the psychological impacts of the floods.

“Before you say whether we should build anything, you have to figure out what we are building.” John Stone, aide to Georgia Congressman Charlie Norwood, the leading champion of the proposed Interstate 3, on why a $1.3 million study charting a route should go forward despite opposition.

“To think they want to put a road through our area because it is a little congested in Atlanta kind of makes me ill.” N.C. Sen. John Snow, D-Murphy, opposing the idea of Interstate 3 intended to give thru-travelers in Georgia a second option other than funneling through 1-85 in Atlanta.

“They just haven’t got any respect for the community. You can’t even sit there and watch television they make so much noise.” Charles Miller, a resident of Allens Creek in Waynesville, about the constant convoy of trucks speeding and using noisy jake brakes on their way to and from the gravel quarry at the end of his road.

“There’s a window of opportunity now that may not exist in one to two years.” Paul Carlson, executive director of the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, encouraging Sylva town leaders to go ahead and apply for funds to preserve their watershed, as state funding to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund is at its highest in years.

“We really haven’t funded an acquisition where they reserved timber rights. We haven’t done that anywhere.” Clean Water Management Trust Fund representative Tom Massie speaking about Sylva town leader’s considerations in preserving their watershed. In the end, the town submitted its $3.5 million application for funds without asking to preserve timber rights.

“I don’t go. I don’t go back. It’s very depressing.” Marilyn Jones, a resident of Macon County’s Peeks Creek community whose home was one of those taken by the landslide that killed six, reflecting on the tragedy a year later.

“For me it was as much a moral journey as anything else.” Timm Muth speaking about his career’s transition from working with nuclear power fuel systems to being a renewable energy researcher and consultant. Muth was selected to be the director Jackson County’s landfill gas recovery project, which will use methane generated by decomposing trash to power an artists co-op and greenhouses.

“It is an attempt to enforce religious beliefs on those who don’t necessarily believe in it. I can’t think of a reason why anyone would want to do anything that violates the Constitution in principle, whether we have to abide by it or not.” Hugh Lambert, a Cherokee tribal member, opposing the move by tribal council to post the Ten Commandments in the council house..

“We aren’t saying you have to abide by the Ten Commandments. We are simply displaying God’s Ten Commandments. That’s what He expects from each and every individual. If you break that, it is not between you and the tribal council, it is between you and God.” Angela Kephart, tribal council member who proposed posting the Ten Commandments in the Cherokee council house.

“We know money didn’t go where it was supposed to go, which is the Canton Papertown Association bank account. But we would have a difficult time proving where the money did go.” District Attorney Mike Bonfoey on why he accepted a plea bargain from Gail Guy, the former director of Canton Papertown Association, for embezzling $14,000 in public money. Guy simply had to repay the money.

“You are just out on a limb and feel like the whole town is against you.” Byron Hickox, Waynesville town planning officer, on what it was like enforcing ordinances in other towns where he worked. He likes working in Waynesville, where he feels like the public largely supports the town’s pedestrian-friendly regulations.

“How would you do that and not piss everybody off?” Wade Reece, member of the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority, on why the nine-member tourism board has not invited others in the tourism industry to help chart a direction or develop a brand image for the county.

October

“It is not flood relief money. It is business redevelopment money. I don’t make the rules. If someone says there is a grant available to help redevelop your downtown and we can take advantage of it, that’s what we did.” Peter O’Leary, the mayor of Chimney Rock, on why his town applied for and got $150,000 in flood money set aside for flooded business districts in the state Flood Recovery Act even though the town did not flood.

“It didn’t get up in the buildings, but it was in the streets.” Bryson City Town Manager Larry Callicutt describing the 2004 flooding in his town. Bryson City got $400,000 in flood money intended to revitalize flooded business districts.

“It’s tough to think somebody else is getting money this town could have really used.” Rita King, an optometric assistant at Mountain Eye Associates in Canton, whose business was shut down for months and still has not returned to normal after part of the town was submerged by the floods in 2004.

“I sure wish we had known about it. We could have done some more and helped distribute it.” Mike Clinton, a long-term disaster recovery coordinator for United Way, after learning of a backlog of donations for Haywood County flood victims being held by the Haywood Baptist Association. Some donations, including brand-new Hanes merchandise still in its wrappers, went undistributed and eventually were sent to other disaster areas.

“We just have to put them on the floor and everywhere else.” Chief Jackie Fortner of the Swain County Sheriff’s Office on how the jail is dealing with too many inmates as overcrowding is exacerbated by the spike in methamphetamine drug use.

“I’ll say that when I was in library school I didn’t pay much attention to the marketing component.” Jackson County Librarian Michael Cartwright, who runs the downtown Sylva branch, noting his own shortcomings in terms of publicizing library services to the public. The Sylva library was the only library in the Fontana Regional Library System, which services Jackson, Macon and Swain counties, to see a decrease in use over the last two fiscal years.

“My wife’s more excited than I am. I didn’t figure Anne would back out, but that’s her prerogative.” Sylva town board candidate Harold Hensley upon being notified that incumbent alderwoman Anne Cabe had withdrawn from the election leaving Hensley and fellow candidate Stacy Knotts uncontested and thereby automatically town board members. Cabe is now under investigation by the SBI.

“Basically the WestCare brand name would be toast.” David Hill, newly elected chairman of Franklin’s Angel Medical Center board and board member since 1991, commenting on a name change that could accompany a proposed merger between Angel and WestCare Health System.

“So if you eat soil every day for 30 years, you may have a 1 in 10,000 greater risk of cancer?” Judy Meyers, a homeowner in Barbers Orchard, repeating comments made by EPA representatives during an update on contaminants in the soil that led the subdivision to be designated a superfund site.

“We would like them to stand on their principals and make a decision but they are just reacting to the political situation, which in some ways is understandable. Charles Taylor is in charge of their purse strings and that’s hard for them to ignore.” Leonard Winchester of Bryson City, an opponent of the North Shore Road, responding to news that the National Park Service would not render an opinion on whether to build the road, an opinion that would typically accompany the park’s environmental assessment. U.S. Rep, Charles Taylor, R-Brevard, a vocal advocate of the road, controls the park service budget.

“The men play golf and the women shop and talk and eat and solve all the world’s problems.” Sandra Crowe, a tourist from Florida, participating in a poll on how she spends her vacation time.

“We have very naïve and very uneducated moms coming in here.” Kim DeLozier, wildlife biologist with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, explaining why female elk don’t do a better job hiding their newborns from predators. Around 50 percent of newborn elk were eaten by black bears this year, a predator the elk were not accustommed to before being released in the park.

November

“White Oak has survived without a cell phone tower for 150 years. I don’t know why they can’t survive another 150 or forever.” Suzanne Phillips, who lives in a rural part of Haywood County, opposing a new cell tower that would be next door to her home.

“Look at any mountain and show me where there’s not a house. Look at any mountain and show me where there’s not a road.” Chris Burnette, a supporter of a new cell tower in the rural Panther Creek area of Haywood County, denouncing opponents who claimed the cell tower would mar views.

“It’ll be impossible to find out who has the money. The people who run these scams are very hard to track.” Waynesville Detective Crystal Shuler on the likelihood of recovering $15,000 embezzled from the Pigeon Community Development Club by Ed Moore, who sent the money to an Internet scam that promised big returns. The money was a grant from the Waynesville Kiwanis Club for playground equipment at the Pigeon Center.

“They expect us to take care of whatever they want to dump. It is frustrating for people standing on the other side of the fence with that dog or cat and no place to bring them.” Ellen Kilgannon with PAWS, a non-profit no-kill animal shelter in Bryson City, on the lack of a county-operated pound in Swain County.

“I think it’s healthy enough.” Smoky Mountain High School sophomore Sandy Mavvitt commenting on school lunch nutrition. The day’s selection was chili dogs and fries.

“I don’t want to be a part of anything that would prevent a local man from working.” Jackson County Commissioner Eddie Madden, a representative of the Cashiers area, regarding requests to revisit a noise ordinance to limit construction hours to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, with no work done on weekends or holidays. Commissioners voted 3-2 against a motion to refer the matter to the planning board.

“You just miss the good old days when you just had somebody that was growing pot.” Jackie Fortner, Swain County Sheriff’s Deputy and 26-year veteran of the force, reflecting on law enforcement in the era before widespread methamphetamine abuse.

“As far as the benefits, I can’t say that we see anything. We get a bill from each one. I’d love for them to join. They could only send me one bill.” Chuck Cummings, owner of Countrytime Swings, on the benefits of being a member of both the Haywood County and Maggie Valley chambers of commerce.

“When it dies, there are going to be some big changes. One of the things we are doing is trying to figure out what to do next.” Jim Vose, a USFS biologist, on the demise of hemlock trees within the next few years due to the woolly adelgid.

“We still do not have a deal consummated with Mr. Coburn, but we are confident at the end of the day we will have a deal.” David Huskins with Smoky Mountain Host, a regional tourism arm, on efforts to broker a deal to buy Ghost Town on behalf of Al Harper, owner of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, and two other investors. Three previous buyers over the past two years have been unable to close a deal with the owner of the shut down amusement park.

“We need to tell him thanks, but no thanks.” Bryson City Alderman Tom Reidmiller summing up the town’s position on an offer from a private developer to buy the town’s old watershed for $2.5 million. The town got $2 million in grants to place the watershed in a conservation easement.

“We could fill this courtroom with money and it is not going to bring Mrs. Jones back. Don’t make an award out of pity, out of sympathy.” Attorney Andy Santaniello imploring a jury not to find the Maggie Valley Sanitary District responsible for the death of Patricia Jones, who was killed in 2003 when the hillside behind her home collapsed. The hill collapsed because a waterline broke and saturated the soil.

“It is unfortunate the way the system is set up the jury has to worry about whether the public’s water rates would go up as a result of their verdict. That’s just not true.” Attorney Mark Melrose alleging the hung jury in the landslide trial would have a different outcome if the jury knew the Maggie Valley Sanitary District’s insurance company would be the one paying the first $1 million of any settlement.

December

“I think once people find out we aren’t getting the money, people will say ‘Why? That doesn’t make any sense.’” Suzanne Vincent, president of the Mountain Discovery Charter School board in Bryson City, hoping that charter schools will get a share of state lottery money designated for school construction. Charter schools are public schools but are excluded from capital outlay funding.

“Probably would do it.” Denver Blaylock, owner of Blaylock junkyard, responding to Haywood County commissioners when asked whether trees planted outside his junkyard would be cut down again. The county planted the trees after a seven-year struggle with Blaylock to meet the county’s junkyard ordinance, but they were cut down in the middle of the night.

“You reach a point when it would be foolish to plant more trees if there is speculation they could be cut down again.” Mark Swanger, chairman of the Haywood County commissioners, discussing what to do about the on-going saga over Blaylock’s junkyard.

“You can put pink lipstick and blue eye shadow on a goat, but it still looks like goat.” Steve Sorrells of Bethel questioning whether the planting of trees around Denver’s junkyard actually improved its appearance.

“I don’t think it’s right the town did not get any monies. It doesn’t sound quite equitable.” Jackie Angel, a merchant in Dillsboro, questioning why Dillsboro didn’t get a fair share of flood revitalization money.

“I think it will encourage everyone to evaluate their business and what they can do to help their business grow. We have to be open to change and growth and not just do things the way we have year after year.” Carla Blakely, business owner in Cherokee, on the creation of a new Cherokee Chamber of Commerce.

“We need an engine to promote Cherokee as a destination. The more members we have, the more powerful our engine is,” said Darrell Pyle, owner of three retail shops in Cherokee. Pyle also is on the founding committee for the chamber.

“The big jobs all go to McGill. We get the table scraps.” Kevin Alford, owner of Alford Engineering, speaking out on what small engineering firms consider an unfair system of awarding all the government contracts to one large company in Asheville.

“If we base these decisions on McGill’s qualifications, they would get every job, every place, every time with all probability, and that makes it doubly hard for a local company to break into the business.” Mark Swanger, chairman of the Haywood County commissioners, explaining why the county chose a local engineering firm over the Asheville engineering firm usually awarded government contracts.

Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.