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An online series of agriculture workshops for kids ages 8 to 11 will soon launch for the fall, offering a one-hour class at 4 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. 


The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute in Transylvania County has been awarded the prestigious designation of International Dark Sky Park, recognizing the exceptional quality of the night sky over PARI and its commitment to education outreach. 


To the Editor:

First, we had to deal with Haywood County School Superintendent Bill Nolte’s ridiculous posting of white kids working on a farm to which he added: “Even white kids picked cotton.” This at a time when systemic racial inequalities have, yet again, come to the forefront of our supposed conscience as a nation. And he arrogantly mentioned that we should just read a book to understand his posted photo and for us not to be ignorant.

Now I read a quote from Nolte insulting and disparaging Gov. Roy Cooper for “... giving us two plans at once” regarding our childrens return to the classroom. No, Dr. Nolte, you are flat-out wrong and with an election this close I can only discern that you are slamming the governor. The governor gave our school board, the people who hired you, the option to do a full return for elementary kids but not the older kids. It is your employer, the Haywood County School Board, that voted 5 to 2 to give you the mixed plan that we will be operating under.

So first I suggest, if necessary, you look up the definition of option and compare that to a mandate. Secondly, if you still feel that it’s a crazy set-up you are facing, stand up and address your bosses, the school board. Tell them how disappointed and aggrieved you are about how they voted.  

But the last thing you should do is attack the governor because following the science, he and the Secretary of Health and Human Services decided it was fair to put the elementary school option out there for local officials to have more leeway. Read: more choice, not less as you infer.

Governor Cooper has been attacked, unfairly, by Trump for not opening up our state fast enough. Georgia and North Carolina have nearly the same population yet Georgia, an early opening state, has twice the deaths of our state. South Carolina, with only half our population, also opened early and has about the same number of fatalities that our state has. I feel that Gov. Cooper has done a good job in protecting us and you, Dr. Nolte, took a cheap, uneducated shot at him.

I have no grievance with the school board on this issue, but since you are mad about what has been placed upon you, just call your bosses up and do the right thing. Complain to them about their decision and how frustrated you are by their actions. Or are you not ready to prepare a new resume? Stop treating us, the people who voted your bosses in, like ignorant fools. Or are you deceptively telling us to vote all the school board members out of office and elect newcomers? Hmmmmmm .... 

Bob Clark 



To the Editor:

In the upcoming District 119 House of Representatives race between Rep. Joe Sam Queen and Mike Clampitt, I urge voters to consider what “mountain values” mean to you. The biggest issue facing our people is access to healthcare, particularly during the time of coronavirus. We need affordable access to medical care to test for and treat coronavirus, not to mention for a host of other medical issues. Our hospital needs Medicaid expansion to keep its doors open, both to keep jobs in Haywood County and to care for our people.

Republican members of the state legislature have willfully refused to expand Medicaid. There is no good reason for this, as our taxpayer dollars are already being put towards this expansion. The money that we pay into this system, around $10 million between Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties, is being exported to other states who have already expanded Medicaid. Our people are suffering, while other states are reaping the benefits of our taxpayer money. 

Rep. Joe Sam Queen understands this deeply. In fact, it is the main issue he speaks on, and it is near and dear to his heart. “Mountain values” should start first and foremost with taking care of our own people, and ensuring that our people have the opportunity to lead healthy lives. Whether you fall on the Democratic or Republican side of the aisle, I urge you to consider what truly affects the lives of you and your neighbors when you cast your ballot this fall. 

Abigail Ahlberg

Frog Level


To the Editor:

If you or any of your loved ones has a pre-existing medical condition and private medical insurance, you should be aware of a serious threat to your coverage. 

Before the Affordable Care Act (“Obama Care”), insurance corporations were  allowed to cancel insurance or deny your policy in the first place if they felt you had a pre-existing  condition. The ACA for the first time did away with this cruel practice that cut off thousands from treatment for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Over 120 million Americans were protected. 

So it is with anger — but not surprise — that I read Thom Tillis’ campaign materials bragging that he is 100 percent for protecting Americans’ health. 

Really? He is 100 percent with President Trump in pledging to destroy the Affordable Care Act. He has in fact voted against it on the Senate floor where heroes like John McCain stopped this travesty. Now Tillis is eager to appoint a judge to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg and push the Supreme Court to wipe out the protections of the ACA once and for all. 

The  Republican plan to replace the ACA? Madison Cawthorn says it’s to have more corporate insurance companies get their share of the pie (16 to 20 percent of your dollars goes to their profit). 

Mike Clampitt also opposes the ACA and also refuses to expand Medicaid.  In Ohio, it was expanding Medicaid that brought down the opioid death toll by over 50 percent, according to the Republican governor. 

Tillis, like Trump, offers no plan to replace the ACA. Since 2016, Trump has stated at least 8 times that the “greatest health care ever” was just weeks away. There is no such plan. 

However, there is a plan to undermine Medicare and Medicaid, and 75 percent of WNC families have at least one member in those programs. Even the ultimate “socialist” program — Social Security — is under threat. As Trump said at the Davos Economic Forum on CNBC last year, it’s all “on the table — but only after the election.” Very sneaky, but at least the billionaires got their tax cut

Steve Wall



To the Editor:

President Trump issued an executive order that between September 1 and the end of this year, employees within a certain salary range are not required to pay the 6.2 percent of their salaries normally paid toward Social Security. 

This is a measure Trump has taken to alleviate economic stress during the pandemic, and theoretically, this tax will have to be repaid in 2021. However, many see Trump’s executive order as the first step in a process of ending Social Security. 

Republicans have wanted to get rid of Social Security for a long time, and Trump says that if he is re-elected, he will eliminate the Social Security payroll tax entirely. At a White House press conference in August, he said, “After the election … we will be terminating that tax.”

If Trump and the Republicans succeed in terminating the payroll tax, that will be the end of Social Security and Medicare — perhaps as early as 2023. 

For some people with large retirement savings, this might only cause a dent in the budget. For millions of others, it would mean poverty. 

Emily Wright



To the Editor:

There is a defiant child in the White House, and he is our President. 

He is not adhering to rules, or the rule of law and when he commits crimes he attempts to have the law adjusted to his ways and not charged as violations. 

When Trump screws up, he blames others, oh “Jimmy did it,” or covers it up with plots and hides the truth, like a child would. 

Or he is defiant and yells when he doesn’t get his way. He uses name calling, nicknames, he is the bully in chief, and  his temper fits are heard throughout the people’s house. 

He is never listening to his staff that could warn or correct him. And Donald doesn’t get his homework done, reading what he should so he doesn’t know how to direct the country’s security or protect its health. He lies to cover up what he can’t use to keep his empire or office going. Behind doors he says what he really thinks, lies in his press briefings and rallies, speaking with a “fork tongue” to the citizens of this country.  People died needlessly from COVID-19;  and children have been forever traumatized when they have been taken away from their parents with his directives in the past.

He spreads fear in the hearts of women like myself, or tries to make me fearful. And like a defiant child he takes no responsibility for his actions or inactions, even says that to the American people, as in the case of COVID. He gives states the task to deal with it and then bullies the blue states that attempt to follow scientific policies that save lives.

And like a bad behaving child goes off to pursue what he enjoys while people keep dying from the pandemic. He calls the people in the military names while they risk their lives to keep us safe.  While people mourn those lost to COVID, he continues to divide us by pitting one ethnic group against another.

From a suburban housewife.

Susan Norsworthy

Lake Junaluska


To the Editor:

I woke up the day after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a mix of fear, anger, and resolve. I’m afraid of the threat to the rights that Justice Ginsburg defended throughout her career, like LGBTQ+ equality and reproductive freedom. I’m angry that our democratic institutions seem to hang on the life of one woman, who held so much weight during her life, right to the end.

But I’m resolved, more than ever, to honor her legacy by organizing to defeat Donald Trump, flip the U.S. Senate, and ensure that no replacement justice is selected until the next presidential term begins.

As a youth organizer with NextGen North Carolina, I can attest to the incomparable youth voter enthusiasm this year. We know what is at stake. Progress on issues from affordable healthcare and climate action to immigrant rights and addressing systemic racism are on the ballot this fall, as is the fate of the Supreme Court.

I’m calling Sen. Thom Tillis’s office today and every day to demand he refuse a vote on the Supreme Court pick until our voices are heard, and I’m mailing in my ballot to vote for the representation we deserve. Join me.

Nicole Skinner

(Skinner lives in Asheville and is the WNC Regional Organizer Director for NextGen North Carolina)


To the Editor:

Madison Cawthorn says he is a “Washington outsider.” Who is he kidding? His campaign has worked with Washington D.C. lobbyist Fidelis Government Relations, whose corporate clients include AT&T and Big Pharma. Cawthorn’s vote is already owned by the very industries that are obstructing rural broadband and refusing to lower prescription drug costs.

Was Fidelis the lobbying firm that wrote the notes in his debate binder? You might remember, his handlers told him to accuse Col. Moe Davis — who was awarded a Legion of Merit, six Meritorious Service Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal — of freeing a convicted terrorist. It was hogwash. The man Cawthorn said was convicted was never even charged with a crime. His handlers also had him say Col. Davis opposed charging the Fort Hood killer as a terrorist. That’s because the man had already been tried, convicted and received the death sentence. Col Davis opposed adding further charges because justice would be delayed for years in appeals, allowing this killer to grow old in prison on the taxpayer’s dime. 

Cawthorn’s blind obedience to his handlers makes sense considering his complete lack of knowledge about the law. He doesn’t know that folks need a trial to get convicted, he doesn’t know how appeals can delay justice. He wants to go to Washington to make laws?

Cawthorn’s naiveté was demonstrated when he went to the border to promote an illegal scheme that raised funds for a border wall by using debunked QAnon conspiracy theories to scare people into giving money. Cawthorn gave a speech on camera promoting the conspiracy. Two weeks later his new buddy who ran the scam was indicted along with Steve Bannon. Is Cawthorn drawn to the criminal element or is he gullible and easily duped? Did you see him when he met the President, Giuliani, and Graham? He was giddy and starry eyed. This is the guy who will speak truth to power? I think not. 

Gullible, naïve, no knowledge base, and starstruck. Not ready for Congress. 

Doreen Carroll



To the Editor:

The Western North Carolina Climate Action Coalition (CAC), a Haywood County-based organization, supports efforts to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from fossil fuel drilling.  Citizen opposition had stopped pro-drilling legislation since the 1980s. Then in 2017 the U.S. Senate passed a taxation bill that allows for the ANWR to be opened for oil and gas extraction. 

Now the Trump Administration has given a green light to selling leases to drill in this irreplaceable area. Just down the coast, 1.9 million barrels of oil have already been spilled from the original Alaska Pipeline, the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill, and other environmental catastrophes. 

The ANWR includes 18 major rivers, hundreds of species of birds, land and marine mammals, and fish. 

The Gwich’in people live in the northernmost part of ANWR. For generations, they have depended on the animals who live there to sustain their lives and culture. They revere the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain as a sacred place because it provides breeding grounds for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, animals that are essential for food and cultural traditions.  They also believe ANWR is the place where the creation of the world began.

The Gwich’in, native wildlife, and the entire ecosystem are all under imminent threat if the refuge is opened for drilling. The Gwich’in Steering Committee, a voice for indigenous traditional hunting communities, is part of a lawsuit to challenge the oil and gas development plan. 

The Western NC Climate Action Coalition supports the Gwich’in people and the Indigenous Environmental Network, which are leading the campaign. We also support efforts here in North Carolina to confront the climate crisis. We applaud the work in our region to protect our waterways and other natural resources, including the successful opposition to construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  

Pulling more oil or gas out of the ground would prolong an energy system that is rapidly becoming obsolete and that threatens our immediate future on this planet. Banks such as JP Morgan Chase and companies including Shell Oil have already abandoned the destructive ANWR enterprise.

The money and resources for drilling in the ANWR should be put towards sustainable means of securing our future energy needs.

The Western North Carolina Climate Action Coalition is a group of citizens and organizations working to mitigate the destructive effects of climate change locally, nationally, and globally.

Mary J. Curry, Mary Thomas, and Steve Wall


To the Editor:

We have a lot to decide this November on the 2020 ballot, but one thing I hope all Jackson County voters can agree on is support for the indoor aquatics center. 

As a mother of three boys, I traveled frequently to the Waynesville Recreation Center to enjoy their indoor pool and hosted or attended quite a few birthday parties in their facility. I would have loved to have stayed within my own community and kept the money spent during each of those many outings in Jackson County. Also, as a summer day camp director, I frequently took our campers to the Waynesville facility. Finally, as an avid aqua fitness attendee, I rely upon an aging Reid Pool facility subject to the university calendar for my aqua fitness. I would love to have year-round access to these classes and for my participation fees to support Jackson County directly. 

The benefits of an indoor aquatics center far outweigh the costs. The bond referendum on the ballot may look scary, but when broken down the actual impact on tax burden is relatively small. Our commitment to the health and well-being of our community is an investment in ourselves, our community, and in future generations. This facility will allow people of all ages the opportunity to engage in exercise and recreation. The swim team will have access to a superior competition pool for practice and will have the ability to host official competitions. People young and old will have greater access to life-saving swim lessons. Families with young children will have a fun indoor facility to take their children for a play date or birthday parties. People in need of low-impact exercise or rehabilitation can do so in the vortex pool or participate in aqua fitness classes. This facility will be an invaluable addition to our community. 

The vision for an indoor aquatics center has been a dream since the 1960s. Let’s help make this a reality right now in 2020 so we can start realizing our dream as soon as possible. Please vote yes to the indoor aquatics center. 

Larissa Miller



To the Editor:

Folks we have a big decision to make. House District 119 — covering Swain, Jackson and Haywood counties — is up for grabs. Mike Clampitt’s record makes it clear he is not the right person to represent Western Carolina’s values.

In the middle of a pandemic and record unemployment,  Mike is against expanding Medicaid. That puts our rural hospitals at risk of bankruptcy and closure. Our local hospitals desperately need the influx of federal aid. This money is your federal tax dollars paid into the system coming back to our communities. This is not some form of welfare.

Furthermore, although he has given lip service to education funding,  he has supported policies that would prevent schools from reopening safely and our students being able to learn. 

Mike has repeatedly touted his stances on guns and abortion. I think we would all love to live in a world in which abortion was not necessary. However, in this world we should never accept government interference in health care decisions. That is sacred between you, your family, your doctors and God. 

As for guns, Democrats or anyone else will never come for you guns. That would require repealing the Second Amendment as ratified by 38 of our 50 states. This simply will not happen.

Republicans are, however, gunning for your Social Security and coverage for pre-existing conditions.

A vote for Joe Sam Queen is a vote for individual freedom, economic security, education and health care. Your vote is very important in this very competitive race.

Christine Taber 



To the Editor:

“Trump lied, people died.” I can’t even begin to describe the range of emotion I felt when I heard those four words spoken on a news show this morning (Sept. 10). So much for “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Death is going to be Trump’s legacy.

His claims of being the “law and order” president are meaningless because he has failed in one of his basic duties: keeping America safe.

My outrage is magnified by the fact that he’s trying to justify his lack of action by saying he didn’t want to panic the American people; however, he never hesitates to incite panic when it serves his interest. 

Remember the violent, disease-infested migrant caravans he repeatedly said were coming toward the Mexican border prior to the 2018 election? Now he’s trying to frighten suburbanites into voting for him because “they want safety.”

Instilling the fear of violence and racial unrest is the only campaign strategy Trump has for this election. There wasn’t even a platform for the 2020 Republican National Convention! It’s all about him.

If you are a Trump supporter, I hope you are doing some serious soul searching since the release of the Bob Woodward/Trump tapes. Can you really, in good conscience, cast your vote for a man who symbolizes death and destruction?

Myrna Campbell

Democratic Party Chairperson

Haywood County


To the Editor:

Madison Cawthon’s website states: “Send a fighter to Congress.” In fact, the term “fight” is referenced several times throughout his “pitch,” fighting against liberals, conservationists, “left-wing socialists,” AOC and “the Squad,” the AHCA, the nebulous “left,” and one infers, anyone who holds opinions contrary to Mr. Cawthorn. 

The candidate had pledged 100 percent fealty to the divider in chief in the White House, who for the past four years has provoked chaos, mistrust and hatred among the people of this country. Mr. Cawthorn seems ready to fall in line. I suggest we don’t need yet another representative from the 11th District with a chip on his shoulder.

Send a fighter to Congress? No thanks. We have enough there already.

Mike Jones



To the Editor:

I am a native Western North Carolinian and a member of Generation Z. I understand that my association with the latter group may come as a surprise to some readers, as we are not known to venture far from our Tik Tok sanctuaries. However, as a matter of conscience, I feel compelled to speak out on the congressional race that is brewing between Madison Cawthorn and Moe Davis. 

Regardless of whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or someone who just couldn’t give a hoot about politics, in Western North Carolina, we are raised to value certain qualities in each other — honesty, experience, and compassion for thy fellow man. Mountain values like these are what make our region such an extraordinary place to explore, work, and settle down.

After watching the congressional race between Cawthorn and Davis play out over the past several months, it is clear to me that Cawthorn, despite his ties to the area, is both morally and intellectually bankrupt. When he is not misrepresenting his rejection from the Naval Academy, trivializing his inappropriate advances on women, and exaggerating the success of his real estate investment company, he is parroting partisan talking points that offer half-baked solutions to the issues plaguing our area, like broadband expansion or healthcare accessibility.

As such, it is critical that we send someone to Congress that embodies our values and won’t require hand-holding on their first day. That someone, I respectfully implore readers to consider, is Moe Davis, a man whose dedication to decency and altruism will serve us well in Washington. Davis served our country for 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, distinguishing himself by earning the Legion of Merit, one of the highest honors our military bestows, and finishing his illustrious career at the rank of colonel. Furthermore, under the Bush Administration, when ordered to use evidence obtained through torture, Davis nobly resigned his post as chief prosecutor of Guantanamo Bay, believing his compliance would have been both immoral and illegal under international law.

There can be no denying our country is at a pivotal point in its history. As such, when it comes to whom we wish to represent us in Congress, there can be no room for someone who has never worked a nine-to-five job in their life. There can be no time wasted on someone that would litigate the credibility of several Christian women accusing them of sexual misconduct. There can be no ballot cast for someone that would look into your eyes and lie about their qualifications, and their supposed regard for people that do not look or think like they do. Western North Carolina cannot afford to send Madison Cawthorn to Congress.

You see, unlike Madison Cawthorn, I trust Moe Davis. I think you can, too.

Matthew Wilson 



To the Editor:

I’m not a Republican, but I know a party in crisis when I see one. The “Party of Lincoln” has been bullied by President Trump into giving up its principles in fear of his wrath. For the first time, the current leadership of the Republican Party didn’t produce a policy platform at its convention, only a statement of fealty to Trump. It’s time for a major reboot and a return to relevance. 

Historically, the Republican and Democratic parties have shared in common a set of bipartisan core American values: respect for the rule of law; a belief in our democratic system of government; support for democracy around the world; respect for science and fact-based discussion; respect for armed service members; loyalty to country over party. Donald Trump is an outlier. He is running roughshod over these foundational American values as he sows chaos, conflict, vulgarity, racism and disrespect, even insulting armed service members who have given their lives; and the country is coming apart under his dysfunctional and damaging administration with the acquiescence of the Republican leadership. 

A stunning number of prominent Republican officials who have served inside the Trump administration or for other Republican officeholders have declared their support for Joe Biden, citing Trump as “unfit to serve” and “a threat to national security.” They understand that whatever policy differences they have with Biden can be hashed out later, but first we must secure our country from the existential threat posed by Trump.  

Joe Biden is uniquely qualified to bring dignity and competence back to the presidency and to bring honor back to the soul of our nation. His proven ability to put partisan bitterness aside and work across the aisle have earned him the respect of Democrats and Republicans alike. Moe Davis, Cal Cunningham and Roy Cooper also are respected public servants who are well qualified to work to bring us out of the hyper-partisanship of Trumpism and back on track. 

It’s time to put partisan divisions to the side and vote for a future we can be proud of. 

Fred Schmidt 



By Kirk Stephens • Guest Columnist | Our nation will hold an election this November, as it has always done, without regard of war or peace, prosperity or uncertainty. The Covid-19 pandemic will present a unique set of challenges, but as much as possible, the election will be conducted as normally as possible. As Chairman of the Jackson County Board of Elections, I would like to share some specifics of what you should expect when voting this year.


By Boyd Allsbrook • SMN Contributor | What do To Kill A Mockingbird, Harry Potter, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and 1984 all have in common? Apart the obvious fact of their bookhood, you’d struggle to find anything thematically similar between them. But this assortment of classics, modern novels, and fantasies are all related in an important way. All have, at some point, been banned from schools or libraries. 


This is the season of “winter squash.” Winter Squash like acorn, spaghetti squash, hubbard, kabocha, delicata, butternut and pumpkin are the hard skinned cousins to summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash).  Winter squash come in a variety of colors and sizes and make a beautiful fall display — but are also nutritious and delicious to eat. 

Every industry, including the supermarket world, has their own lingo. How many of these supermarket terms and abbreviations do you know or have you heard when you are in your local Ingles store? 


Pink Regalia, located in Waynesville and Asheville, is the second retailer in the nation to carry the newest technology for breast cancer surgery recovery.

The census deadline is Sept. 30, and response rates are low in WNC counties, meaning that the region could miss out on millions of dollars in federal funding over the next 10 years if citizens don’t submit their responses in the next week.


The transition from summer to fall brings with it a sense of excitement for favorite pastimes, favorite foods and of course, favorite beers. The breweries throughout Western North Carolina never disappoint when it comes to offering up new seasonal brews — some that encourage us to hold on to late summer as long as we can and others that fully embrace the cooler weather coming our way. Here are just a few of our favorites right now.

To the Editor:

Whatever categories are on a home-schooled student’s report card, “works well with others” is probably not one of them.

That’s something for families to consider if a long-range goal is to be admitted to one of the nation’s armed services academies. Leadership potential is their most important criterion. 

Madison Cawthorn’s experience is a cautionary tale. 

Until he was called on it, Cawthorn, the Republican nominee for Congress in District 11, had voters believe he was bound for the U.S. Naval Academy before an automobile accident, in which he was a passenger, disabled him.

In fact, the Academy had already rejected his application. Cawthorn admitted that under oath in 2017 during unsuccessful litigation against the driver’s insurance company. His failure to be as candid with voters three years later raises a question about his integrity.

Cawthorn had no explanation when the Asheville Watchdog, an on-line news site, first asked about it.

But he says now that then-Rep. Mark Meadows, who was sponsoring him for the Academy, told him that “there must have been something wrong with my nomination and he would work on it.”

“So I was still awaiting my acceptance at the time of my accident.”

Meadows probably did say that. It’s what many a congressman might do if he wanted to let a disappointed constituent down lightly. But the problem was not likely the nomination itself. After all, the Academy would hesitate to cross a congressman over some technicality.

However, Meadows knew, or should have known, that Annapolis is highly selective. Barely 8 of every 100 applicants were offered admission this year. Home-schooled applicants like Cawthorn have it harder no matter who nominates them, even if their SAT scores are better than his were. 

According to data provided by the Naval Academy’s Public Affairs office, only 12 of the 269 home-schooled students who applied for the present plebe class of 2023 received letters of acceptance. Three of them were to the Academy’s prep school rather than to Annapolis itself.

That’s an admission rate of 4 percent, less than half the 8.3 percent of applicants who were offered admission overall. 

“Although many home-schoolers are able to qualify academically for admission, many find their overall records relatively weak in the area of extracurricular activities,” the Annapolis web site explains. “This is the portion of the application process we use to predict leadership potential.”

The Academy’ Class of 2023 “snapshot” shows that 92 percent of the new midshipmen were varsity athletes. 72 percent were captains or co-captains of their teams, 67 percent were student body leaders, 66 percent took part in dramatics, public speaking or debating, 65 percent were in the National Honor Society, and 48 percent reported church group activities. Those statistics obviously overlap.

The site lists various ways for home schoolers to get equivalent experience. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and local club sports are among them. 

“There are no additional requirements for home schoolers,” the Academy explains, but goes on to note that “it is sometimes more challenging to review non-traditional records.” 

The site details basic requirements for admission, among them “four years of math courses, including a strong foundation in geometry, algebra, and trigonometry.” It adds that “experience in pre-calculus is also very valuable, if it does not interfere with the aforementioned courses.” It goes on to stipulate “one year of chemistry, with lab if possible, and four years of course work in English “with special attention to the study and practice of effective writing.”

To “further enhance” the home schooler’s chances for admission, the Academy also recommends “at least two years” of foreign language including “regular use of the spoken language” and a one-year course in physics, “with lab if possible.”

Those are exacting standards but most public schools are able to meet them because their faculties comprise multiple talents. On the other hand, there can’t be many home schools where a parent is so versatile.

Considering how few are admitted, it’s no disgrace to be rejected by the Naval Academy. Cawthorn should stop implying that it was Meadows’s fault. 

Martin Dyckman




To the Editor:

I recently hiked to the top of Wayah Bald. Stunning views, and sobering to see the remnants of the massive fire that ran up the mountain and destroyed the fire tower. It’s been beautifully restored thanks to the Forest Service and volunteers. One of my companions recalled how her home was destroyed in the Gatlinburg fire a few years ago. And I remembered the severe drought and the smoke over Haywood county from Jackson County fires a few years ago.

Fast forward to 2020 and the fires engulfing the West Coast after 114 degrees in L.A. Then think about the massive crop destruction in the Midwest from unheard-of hurricane force winds. Think  about the seven named tropical storms that hit the continental U.S. before the end of August — first time ever.

Now recall 2004. Seven feet of water in downtown Canton after two hurricanes stalled over our mountains and dumped 22 inches of rain. Not long ago I visited my old medical school in Houston. Hurricane Harvey dumped 55 inches of rain and broke all records — in 48 hours — and wreaked havoc in East Texas. By the way, this happened exactly 10 days after the Trump administration disbanded the Flood Control Task force that had been established under the Obama Administration.

Climate change is not a “Chinese hoax to steal our jobs,” as Donald Trump stated. Just as the 190,000-plus deaths from Covid-19 are not a hoax or just “a bad  cold” that will go away by itself, “like a miracle.” 

Climate change is here and will affect every county in the U.S.  Our local supporters of President Trump — Sen. Thom Tillis, Mike Clampitt, and Madison Cawthorn — insult our intelligence with their endless chatter about “big government,” “socialism,” and “the science isn’t proven yet,” whether referring to the climate crisis or dealing with the pandemic. Our response to both is urgent and must be based on science and trust. 

Science and the decency to care for our neighbors — be they in Haywood County, Iowa, Texas or Oregon. Vote as if the Earth depends on it— it does!

Stephen Wall, MD

Haywood County


As the sweltering heat is nearing an end, the fall season provides many enjoyable outdoor activities. Utilizing the beauty of East Tennessee with a picnic can encourage locals and travelers to stay closer to home.  

Haywood County Emergency Services issued an alert at 6:15 a.m. Monday morning reporting a large commercial structure fire at Evergreen Packaging in Canton.


On. Sept. 17, Gov. Roy Cooper authorized Plan A in-person opening of schools for all elementary students in Kindergarten through fifth grade.


The Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency, in consultation with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has identified a COVID-19 cluster connected to Enchanting Hair Fashions in Canton. 


Western North Carolina voters are invited to participate in the first-ever online candidate forum featuring two candidates who are running to represent House District 120 in the North Carolina General Assembly:  Karl Gillespie (R) of Franklin and Susan Landis (D) of Murphy.


As a means to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide order this week to temporarily halt evictions for millions of renters who meet certain criteria. The order went into effect Friday, Sept. 4 and lasts through Dec. 31, 2020.


Unless a new agreement is signed, patients with Blue Cross, Blue Shield Medicare Advantage Plans will have to pay out-of-network prices for services at Duke LifePoint hospitals beginning Jan. 1, 2021.


By Whitney White

Living abroad with my family is simultaneously good, weird, and freeing. As I sit down to pen these thoughts, I‘ve just kissed my eldest goodbye and sent him off to school. On a bus? Nope. He's walking, and he's only 6. Culturally, this behavior is expected in Germany.

Two parcels totaling 219 acres will eventually be added to the Nantahala National Forest thanks to a recently completed conservation project from the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. 

One of the tracts contains Big Creek, a headwater tributary of the Chattooga National Wild and Scenic River. The other is located on Tanasee Ridge and can potentially provide an alternate gateway to Panthertown Valley, a popular area for outdoor recreation. Both have long been priorities for addition to the Nantahala National Forest.


Clay Jordan will soon leave the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after landing a job as superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California, beginning Nov. 8. 


On Sept. 2, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and WNC Communities Executive Director Jennifer Ferre cosigned a pledge to continue support for the Hemlock Restoration Initiative. 


To the Editor:

Consider this case study in trust: A meteorologist reports the track of a category 2 hurricane, explaining that it will not come close to the U.S. mainland. It will, she says with confidence, curve to the north Atlantic without making landfall and “disappear.”


To the Editor:

If you were hanging around outside one of the NC-11 Congressional debates at WCU’s main campus in Cullowhee or its satellite classrooms at Biltmore Park, on Sept 4 or 5, it would have been hard to miss a lively crowd of Madison Cawthorn supporters honking car horns and waving flags. You might even wonder, where were Moe Davis’s cheering supporters? Doesn’t he have any?


To the Editor:

As the campaign for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District enters its final months, I’d like to draw attention to Madison Cawthorn’s position on health care reform. 


To the Editor:

As another Election day approaches, I feel compelled to express my thoughts and opinions to my community. I am very concerned about how the future will be impacted by the results of our upcoming November 2020 election. This election feels much more consequential to me than any other in my lifetime.


By Mike Leatherwood • Guest Columnist | When I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers in 1963, I took this oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”


HIGHTS (Helping Inspire Gifts of Hope, Trust and Service) works with communities’ most at-risk youth to provide meaningful service opportunities, adventure activities, job training and essential mental health services in Jackson, Haywood, Macon and Swain counties. HIGHTS goal is to develop essential life skills and instill feelings of community belongingness in our clients.


Republican Mike Clampitt and Democrat Rep. Joe Sam Queen, candidates for the North Carolina House of Representative District 119, will appear at a virtual town hall hosted by The Smoky Mountain News and Blue Ridge Public Radio.


Students in Haywood County will return to in-person learning Monday, Sept. 28, after being fully remote since the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic in mid-March. 


Many of us have had significant changes in our lives and schedules due to the Pandemic and we are cooking at home more than ever before. With many restaurants closed to inside dining or only open at partial capacity we may also be eating out less. 

Haywood Regional Medical Center, a Duke LifePoint Hospital, announced that Greg Caples has been named its new chief executive officer, effective Sept. 30. 


Congressional candidates’ claims rated for truthfulness

By Sally Kestin and Peter H. Lewis
AVL Watchdog

In their first public face-off, the candidates vying for the increasingly competitive 11th district congressional seat, Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Moe Davis, touted their differences on just about all issues and hurled accusations, with each calling the other “fast and loose” with the facts. Who was telling the truth? AVL Watchdog fact-checked some of the claims made at the Sept. 4-5 debates at Western Carolina University and rated them as true, false or misleading.


 Waynesville native and Tuscola High School graduate Samuel Lalemand is serving aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), which is continuing to conduct operations in the Indo-Pacific region. Petty Officer 2nd Class Lalemand, an aviation machinist’s mate, tests F/A-18 Super Hornet engines.


The Southwestern Commission Council of Governments is pleased to announce the availability of low interest loans for small businesses and entrepreneurs adversely affected by COVID-19. Loans are available to qualifying applicants in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties.


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