In Democratic convention’s wake, 44 owes 42 – big time

op frBy Savannah Bell and Don Livingston

In his re-election campaign, President Barack Obama cannot count on the support of many of those who voted for him with enthusiasm in 2008. The condition and mood of the country do not favor his chances of serving another four years in the White House.

The economy has not yet recovered from the Great Recession that spawned so much hardship, anxiety and misfortune across the land. Far too many Americans remain out of work and many have even abandoned their efforts to find jobs. People are struggling to pay their mortgages, pay their bills, and even put food on the table. For far too many Americans it is getting harder to make ends meet. The American dream appears out of reach for too many families. And President Obama, as most presidents do, is receiving more blame than he deserves for the pain and uncertainty gripping the nation.

What a difference a word makes

At first blush, an obscure change to state law stipulating how many days students have to go to school each year seems like semantics.

But in fact, it could give local school districts flexibility to cut the number of school days in a year and instead go for longer hours — a schedule that could help cash-strapped school systems save money.

N.C. lawmakers micromanage school calendars from afar

fr schoolcalState legislators have once again tinkered with school calendars, reining in when early school districts — even those prone to excessive snow days — can start back in August.

State law mandates that school can’t start back sooner than the last week in August. However, counties with lots of missed school due to snow have been exempt in the past.

Where state candidates stand on preschool for low-income children

The fate of state-subsidized preschool for at-risk, low-income 4-year-olds rests in the hands of the next General Assembly. The state currently does not provide enough funding to serve the estimated 67,000 children who meet the definition of at-risk.

This year, a 20 percent budget cut to NC Pre-K (formerly known as More at Four) further reduced capacity of the program — which currently serves only 26,000 children — and has lengthened waiting lists.

Fate of early childhood programs could rest with next legislature

coverArmed with a stack of folded construction paper, Charlotte Rogers ushered a four-year-old child to sit down at a pint-sized writing desk, take up a pencil and scratch out the words “I love you” in crooked letters on the inside.

WCU could benefit from more equitable state funding formula

Western Carolina University leaders hope to benefit from a philosophical switch in state funding for higher education — one that would clamp down on universities gaming the system, whether on purpose or unintentionally, when it comes to funding student growth.

Every year, colleges and universities in North Carolina send the state their predictions for the following year’s enrollment. The state then allocates funding for each school based on the number of students it expects to attend.

State senate candidates stake out positions

fr candidatesVerbal sparring over key campaign issues in this fall’s state senate race was lively and pointed between N.C. Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, and former Democratic state Sen. John Snow at an Aug. 9 forum the Macon County League of Women Voters hosted in Franklin.

Controversial billboard clearcutting gets fuller viewing

By Paul Clark • Contributor

Implementation of a new state law that increases the amount of land that can be clear-cut in front of highway billboards will get final tweaking and a public audience this month.

The N.C. Department of Transportation will take public input before finalizing rules for how the controversial tree-cutting will be performed. A law clearing the way for more clear-cutting passed the General Assmebly in July 2011. The law itself is not up for discussion, said Jamille Robbins, a DOT transportation engineer associated with the public hearing. But, commenters can have a say in the permanent rules that will be used to put the law in effect.

GOP leaders push unfunded mandate to counties

op frNorth Carolina’s General Assembly — under the leadership of Republicans for the first time in more than a century— will hopefully refrain in the future from pushing unfunded mandates onto the backs of counties and their taxpayers.

The U.S. Congress approved the Help America Vote Act so that counties could keep electronic voting machines updated and election workers properly trained. After the Bush-Gore debacle in 2000 that ended up in the Supreme Court, that seemed a wise decision. Electronic machines could have prevented the problems that occurred in Florida, problems that left Americans in limbo as to who won the presidential election.

HCC’s electric vehicle charging station part of a growing network

By Peggy Manning • Correspondent

North Carolina is in the process of “paving” the electric vehicle highway and Western North Carolina is well on its way to being an important spoke in that wheel.

Haywood Community College has the only electric vehicle charging station west of Asheville, but several are popping up in Asheville and around the region.

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.