Proposed N.C. Constitutional amendments leave unanswered questions

Most years, voters head to the polls with a few candidates or a political party in mind, push some buttons, and go home. But this year’s ballot also contains six proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution.

Power-drunk GOP leaders try grabbing for more

By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist

A nonpartisan nominating commission can be the best method of appointing judges. Or it can be the worst. It’s all in the details.

The North Carolina General Assembly’s current scheme, which appears on the Nov. 6 ballot as Amendment 4, is one of the worst. Too much is wrong on its face and some all-important details are left to future decisions of that same legislature. That’s like putting ISIS in charge of airport security. Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore have shown that there’s no power they are reluctant to abuse. 

Symbol of connection: A decade of collaboration yields 300-mile MST trail section

From towering mountains to shimmering seas, North Carolina has a little bit of everything — and for the trail that ties it all together, a major milestone has just been marked. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, trail volunteers, government officials and natural resources workers from across the state gathered at Oconaluftee Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee to celebrate completion of a 300-mile section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, starting at Clingmans Dome and ending at Stone Mountain State Park in Allegheny and Wilkes counties. 

Clampitt faces Queen for fourth time

While not quite reaching the level of Hatfield and McCoy, Western North Carolina’s longest running feud — that of Mike Clampitt and Joe Sam Queen — is no less competitive; after losses in 2012 and 2014, the Bryson City Republican Clampitt finally defeated the Waynesville Democrat Queen in 2016, and will predictably face him again this year in the race for House district 119. 

Shame on Raleigh for making teachers buy classroom supplies

By Lori Wright • Guest Columnist

To all of my fellow teachers and parents, I only have one question: how much more do we have to endure? School has started again, and with that comes a yearly tradition. Once again, teachers like me are being forced to beg for basic school supplies. Some supplies I will be able to get from generous friends and families, but what will I do for the supplies I can’t get through donations? The same thing public school teachers are forced to do every year — pay for these basic classroom supplies out of our own pockets. 

Nine years yields new state forest: Headwaters State Forest will offer landowner education and primitive recreation

North Carolina got a new slice of public land last week when Headwaters State Forest was opened to the public Thursday, Sept. 6, the first large tract to be added to N.C. Forest Service lands since acquisition of DuPont State Forest began in 1996. 

Headwaters State Forest — so named because it contains the headwaters of the east fork of the French Broad River — encompasses 6,730 acres in Transylvania County south of Brevard abutting the South Carolina line and contiguous to the Jocasse Gorges Management Area, the Greenville Watershed and the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. It contains three named waterfalls and 25 waterfalls in total, as well as 9 miles of the 76-mile Foothills Trail. Until Headwaters was created, that was the only stretch of the path not in public ownership.

Funding the fight

With a net pickup of four seats in the House or six in the Senate, North Carolina Democrats could break the Republican Party’s veto-proof legislative lock on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper this November. 

Vehicle emissions testing goes up in smoke

A multi-year effort by Burnsville Republican Rep. Michele Presnell to scrap vehicle emissions testing requirements in more than two dozen North Carolina counties finally got the green light from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Statewide tour seeks answers for improving post-high school education rate

Educational leaders from across the mountain region convened at Cherokee Central Schools this month for an afternoon of conversation and collaboration around one central question — what can North Carolina communities do to better prepare their children for success against the unknown challenges of the future? 

November ballot referenda

Although legislators have been called back to Raleigh for a special session that may include modification of the descriptions of the six ballot referenda up for consideration by voters, the substance of the proposed constitutional amendments will not likely change. 

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