Election integrity is fundamental to our freedoms

As I was re-reading last week’s issue of The Smoky Mountain News and about the Juneteenth celebrations in the mountains, I started thinking about the upcoming July 4 holiday and of the freedoms Americans take for granted. As a white man I won’t presume to know what Juneteenth means to Black Americans, but there’s little doubt that their experience of being an American is much different from mine. 

Rep. Pless bullies his way over local leaders

“Arrogant.” “Out of control.” “Power hungry.”

I’ve heard all these words — and worse — used to describe Rep. Mark Pless, R-Haywood since he’s filed two bills in the state legislature that would drastically change local politics and municipal powers in Haywood County. 

There’s still a market for good journalism

The mantra since starting this newspaper has been straightforward: put out a high-quality newspaper and work like hell to make sure the business survives. If we can do both, I’ll be one of the lucky ones: doing what I love, making a living doing it and living in a place I’m fortunate to call home.

Living in WNC is getting harder for workers

The affordable housing crisis looms as this region’s most pressing problem. And so far, no one has proposed any kind of sweeping proposal that will solve it. 

Paying to play may be the new reality

The proposed parking fee for visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has users — especially locals in the gateway communities whose family histories are intertwined with the Smokies — understandably upset. The identity of the Smokies and those who live near it are more closely aligned than at other national parks. Locals have roamed freely (save for some camping fees) for several generations on land that was taken with the promise that there would never be a charge for visiting.

Maggie Valley taxpayers deserve better

It may sound like some kind of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, but trust me it’s not: the processes by which elected boards operate more often than not is a reflection of the wisdom of the decisions that emanate from that public body.

Knee-jerk patriotism, sadly, is gaining ground

Gag orders regarding what can be taught in schools are becoming all the rage in many conservative states. Like the “don’t say gay” measure in Florida, these laws try to eliminate or sometimes guide discussions — mostly about about race and sexuality, but also politics — to the point that they are just bad for our schools and students.

Managing growth has never been easy

Zoning. It’s one of those words— and concepts — that’s been cussed, spat upon and kicked unkindly to the curb for decades in the mountains. “Don’t anyone tell me what I can do with my own land, by God.”

A long night, lots to think about

Last night was one of those nights. That means today I’m running on caffeine instead of sleep. Normal bedtime, three or four hours of hard slumber, then wide awake, a stampede of thoughts, worries, ideas and plans racing around my head. Sometimes, like on this night, I give in to the insomnia and just roll over on my back and wait for the stream-of-consciousness parade to come to an end and hopefully get some more shut-eye. 

New leadership a plus for downtown Waynesville

I have not attended any of the meetings of the new Downtown Waynesville Advisory Committee, but I sense an energy, a commitment, and optimism from those I’ve discussed it with and from the stories we’ve reported. That’s quite the turnaround from the final years of the Downtown Waynesville Association.

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