Religion and public schools a volatile mix

When a high school biology teacher in Macon County asked students to compare evolution and creation from a scientific perspective, he was treading too close to the Supreme Court’s long-held directive that mandates the separation of church and state. It’s an assignment the teacher, the school system and anyone who follows this issue needs to take a close look at.

Looking in on the iPod cocoon

It is now official. I am not young anymore. I guess I should have paid more attention to the signs, and perhaps it wouldn’t come as such a shock, but I didn’t and it does. My youth has expired, gone out of date like a carton of milk forgotten in the back of the fridge. When I reach for my youth to get a refreshing drink of it, the stench is unbearable. I play one game of pick-up basketball with the kids at school — these are college students and here I am calling them “kids” — and the next morning my legs feel like a mob guy tied me to a chair and beat my thighs all night with a laundry bag full of navel oranges until I finally admitted I was middle-aged.

The difference between precaution and fear

By Lee Shelton

I found Scott McLeod’s column, “Living in Fear....” , in theJan. 18 issue of the Smoky Mountain News very thought provoking. Following are some other thoughts on the subject from a contra-view point.

We live — and have lived — in a dangerous world, but we take much, including our safety, for granted. Civil wars are waged, diseases inflict, and anarchy grows across the globe, but these events are somewhere else. There are millions of people living in refugee camps, where they have been for years. Ethnic cleansing has taken place recently, and arguably continues.

The vicarious lives of parents

I wasn’t very good at sports when I was a kid. I wanted to be good — the star of the team, the captain, the leading scorer, the clutch player — but I was barely good enough to make the team in football and baseball, and not much better in basketball. I worked hard and attended practice faithfully, and I could execute a bounce pass or finger roll lay-up with considerable verve, but what looks good in practice doesn’t always translate into real games, and I seldom made much of a splash once the buzzer sounded and the fans were seated. I seldom even made a plop. Most of the time, my role was to join the other benchwarmers during timeouts in a huddle around the starters, our arms wrapped supportively around their sweaty torsos, or to yell encouragement from our seats, which were, after all, the best in the house. Once in a while, if our team was up — or down — by 30 or 40 points with a minute or two to play, we were sent in to finish the game, peeling off our warm-ups like banana skins and hustling to the scorer’s table with great earnestness, as if something important were about to happen.

Celebrating culture and the need for a library

There are many worthwhile upshots from The Sounds of Jackson County recording project, but two stand out among them: one, that something special can indeed happen when a community comes together; and two, the support for a new Sylva library is strong, and county commissioners need to sharpen their pencils in the upcoming budget year and find a way to find a way to pay for it.

There were valid reasons for Horton’s departure

(Editor’s note: Haywood County Manager Jack Horton tendered his resignation to the board of commissioners on Jan. 3. The three commissioners who wrote this letter supported his resignation.)

This letter to the citizens of Haywood County sets forth our views of events that led to the resignation of former county manager Jack Horton.

Storytime just didn’t work out for me

By Stephanie Wampler

One day last year, I had high hopes for a glorious time at the library. I envisioned smiling children listening attentively to the librarian, singing the innocent songs of childhood, learning all about the world around them. A whole morning would pass so sweetly by. My reality, however, was quite different. There were smiling children with glowing faces and sweet voices, and there was a librarian with a stack of engaging books. But when those children raised their voices in song, my son was not among them. He was curled in a fetal position on the floor, crying.

Living in fear of ... everything

It started over a discussion about the merits of that sanitizing gel that is now so often found in restrooms, grocery stores, gyms and elsewhere, the stuff that’s supposed to kill germs and stem the spread of colds and other minor illnesses. After a huge bottle showed up in our workplace, one of my co-workers kind of snickered when we were discussing its merits. His comment went something like this: “God, people work too hard to try and protect themselves against everything. It’s like living life in fear.”

A long history culminates in one tumultuous day

When Haywood County Manager Jack Horton was asked to resign or be fired last week, it was, potentially, a watershed political event for Haywood County. This upheaval probably won’t have a long-term impact on the prosperity of Haywood County, but it will help shape the political landscape in the near future.

The goose won’t keep laying golden eggs without proper care

By Lee Shelton

The town limits of Maggie Valley encompass only 1.8 square miles, and there is only one commercial strip, which also serves as the sole access road for many of the residents in the area. It is also a U.S. highway. Even with adding in the Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) together with the incorporated limits, 83 percent of what is identified as Maggie Valley falls outside that area. Thus, there are a lot of folks affected by actions taking place in the very small incorporated area of Maggie Valley.

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