Haywood School Board misses an opportunity

When the Haywood County School Board announced that it had chosen Trevor Putnam as the system’s new superintendent, I can’t think of a single person who follows education news in this region that was surprised. People were making that call even before Superintendent Bill Nolte announced his relatively sudden November retirement.

Reporting just the facts is getting harder

“Alternative facts” was a phrase used by U.S. Counselor to the PresidentKellyanne Conway, during a “Meet the Press” interview on January 22, 2017, in which she defended White House Press Secretary  Sean Spicer’s false statement about the attendance numbers of Donald Trump’s  inauguration as President of the United States. When pressed during the interview with Chuck Todd to explain why Spicer would “utter a provable falsehood,” Conway stated that Spicer was giving “alternative facts.” Todd responded, “Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.” - Wikipedia 

No coincidence: good local newspapers = good place to live

There’s a basic human longing for a sense of place, some part of the world that’s home, a place where you are a part of something that feeds your soul. Find it, feel it, and you’re one of the lucky ones.

A year later, there is still much to be done

Earlier this week, I had started writing a column about the progress made in the year since the flooding from Tropical Storm devastated parts of Haywood County. Then, as I started talking to our writers about the stories they were preparing for this week’s edition — one year after the flood — I could tell they had the recovery efforts well covered. 

Do opinions still belong in newspapers?

“Not all opinion pieces have to be complaints or deal with issues. Sometimes it is enough to share old memories or new experiences with others. Sometimes, it is actually better as it brings us together rather than driving us apart.”

— SMN reader

Better cops make for better communities

I never did buy in to the “defund the police” movement that swept the country a few years ago. Yes, the spate of police shootings and beatings of innocent people or of people accused of minor crimes revealed serious problems in many law enforcement agencies. Those crimes captured on video ignited an important debate.

Breaking down walls and sharing some magic

“… I hear Mariachi static on my radio / And the tubes they glow in the dark / And I’m there with her in Ensenada / And I’m here in Echo Park ….” —Warren Zevon, “Carmelita”

‘You’re OK,’ and more notes from the road

She was 70, or so she said, but looked 15 years younger. She was alone and sipping wine and eating “chips” in the pub at the Ceilidh Inn in Ullapool, Scotland. She was a child of the 60s who spoke of how crazy London had been at that time. Eventually, she had sold her house in the city and relocated to wilds of Scotland. For decades she has been scratching out a living as a painter.

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. 

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