Finally, back to school for all

I’ve missed chaotic mornings fighting for the bathroom, looking for shoes under beds, packing lunches, slinging bagels in the toaster and yelling for kids to get in the car. After a year of strangeness, all students are back in school, and it’s offering a thirst-quenching sense of normalcy. 

A glimmer, and it sure feels nice

A year later. We’re still mourning the deaths and illnesses, the disruption of life as we knew it, the months of gut-wrenching unknowns causing unfamiliar anxiety. It was March 17, 2020, when Gov. Roy Cooper began shutting down businesses and most of us waited for the tsunami that we could see — or at least imagine — in the distance without having any idea how horrific its final toll, when the worst of it would come, when it would finally recede, and who or what would be left standing.

A modest proposal for reviving Ghost Town in the Sky

By Case Brown • Guest Columnist | The on-and-off again investment deals for the embattled Ghost Town amusement park are familiar to anyone who reads these pages. Multiple meandering deals and their abrupt course corrections feel remarkably like the Black Widow ride that used to jerkily sling mountain ilk around to the soothing sounds of raging death metal picked by the latest pimpled carnie operator.

A long overdue plan to cut childhood poverty

The Covid relief bill now working its way through Congress will mark a transformation in the way this country treats poor children. It’s about damn time.

First the numbers, which vary ever-so-slightly from year-to-year, but which should be appalling to the citizens of the world’s richest country: 24 percent in Swain County, 26.6 percent in Macon, 22.5 percent in Jackson and 22.5 percent in Haywood. That the number of children living in poverty every single day of their lives. Right at one-fourth of the youngsters we see around our community every day.

Getting my hands dirty and loving it

I moved from Maggie Valley to Waynesville last fall. My house in Maggie was on the side of Soco Road where there is little to no sun. While that was great for the summertime utility bill, it wasn’t conducive to gardening. I tried hard to make things grow in my shady yard, but photosynthesis is an important part of the growing process. Unfortunately, I had zero control over this life-sustaining force. 

How many visitors are too many?

The Smokies region is an outdoor mecca that attracts millions of people each year. For better or worse, that onslaught of visitors is increasing and likely to continue doing so. 

The ‘Sap is Risin’ and a life well lived

By Randy Siske • Contributing writer | Our “Breakfast Club” started eating together in 2006 just because we went to the same place, The Smoky Mountain Café, at the same time. That restaurant closed so we all decided to go to Duval’s. It closed so we started going to Clyde’s.

Who can you trust to tell the truth?

Another poll, another reality check for the media: Americans don’t trust us. The question that comes to mind, for me, is who does the public does trust for reporting the news? 

A Gallup poll released late last year revealed that 60 percent of Americans don’t think the media accurately and fairly reports the news, and 33 percent have absolutely no trust or confidence in the media. Finally, a whopping 27 percent have “not very much” trust in mass media (newspapers, television and radio).

Falling hard for pandemic puppy love

I’d always heard having a puppy was a little like having a baby. I’ve learned over the past two months that information is correct. 

Introducing triple-win climate solutions

By Mary Jane Curry • Guest Columnist

“Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.”

— William Wordsworth, 1798

Agreeing generates peace and optimism — emotions hard to come by over the past year. Fortunately, a growing majority of Americans do agree that we must do more to lessen the climate crisis and they want to be part of the solution. But how and what?

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