The race is on to Election Day

As the front page of this week’s paper illustrates, it’s election season. Trouble is, it’s just not feeling much like it yet. U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor, R-Brevard, and Heath Shuler, this Democratic challenger from Waynesville, are still mostly preaching to their respective choirs at local party events.

Workers need help to secure their future

The month-long celebration of Canton’s centennial Labor Day festival, which had much to offer, wasn’t really about organized labor. Now that the feel-good readings, concerts and historical affairs have passed, though, it’s a good time consider the history of organized labor in this country, ponder its pending demise and try to figure out how workers will fare in the future as U.S. industry undergoes a tidal wave of changing responsibilities.

Who’s the wimp now?

Just in the past couple of months, I have been forced to confront a prejudice I didn’t really know I had. For years, as it turns out, I have secretly harbored a suspicion that most people who claim to suffer from debilitating back pain are either hypochondriacs — who complain about everything from chronic migraine headaches to an unbearable sensitivity of the eyelashes — or simply freeloaders looking to get out of work and/or draw disability, the sort of people who show up to court hearings in wheelchairs and neck braces and are seen the next day playing racquetball or doing workout routines on the uneven parallel bars.

Maggie re-invents itself – again

People are saying the new Ghost Town will be a shot in the arm for Maggie Valley. That’s probably an understatement, but the new development and its cash infusion into this tourist town will also provide an important opportunity to talk about the future of Western North Carolina, especially as it pertains to the number of visitors and the changing tourism industry.

Canary Coalition is leading in the right direction

Too often people tend to write off efforts by the most hard-core social activists as excessive or simply impossible to achieve. These people and their movements are out of the mainstream, many say, their ideas worthy yet impractical, or that their time has not come.

Jim Black’s enablers carry on

The scandals around N.C. House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, multiply like mushrooms on the forest floor. Yet a casual reader of the news might be inclined to think that Mr. Black was a politician in some other state.

Quarry plan showcases planning shortfalls

Citizens in Jackson County’s Tuckasegee community should consider themselves lucky. The problem, however, is that luck doesn’t always hold.

It appears very likely now that a proposal to construct a rock quarry in this rural community is not going to fly. Jackson County enacted a high-impact industry ordinance in May 2002 that placed relatively tight regulations on quarries and mines. According to that law, the proposed rock crusher would have to be 1,320 linear feet from the nearest home.

Immigration and a complicit, angry America

On July 13, the Buncombe County Republican Action Club posted two billboards in Asheville featuring a photograph of a Mexican flag flying over an American flag, the latter of which was also turned upside down. The accompanying message read, simply, “Had Enough?” I’m not sure, but I believe the original photograph was taken when some high school students in California hoisted the flags in this configuration, a stunt that was quickly shut down, but not before the photograph was taken and transformed into a rallying cry for the Action Club and its supporters. The topic, of course, is illegal immigration, a complex problem that the Action Club would like you to believe is not complex at all, but the result of bleeding heart liberalism, pure and simple.

Unified voices calling for a better big box

When Waynesville leaders met earlier this month to discuss the site plan and variance requests for the proposed big-box development at the old Dayco site, it seems they spoke with a unanimous voice, urging construction of something other than an off-the-shelf retail center.

A little surer, a little more lost

I can’t help feeling, just slightly, like we cheated. You be the judge.

The table had been set on our recent family vacation for a trip unlike any I’d ever experienced. We had planned a four-night sailing trip on my father-in-law’s 32-foot sloop “Tranquilo.” My wife Lori and I may joke around at home about who wears the pants, but on the boat there’s no doubt — she dons the captain’s hat. She has sailed for years with her father in the waters around the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound, so he trusts her to get his beloved boat back to its slip safely while we — the kids and I — are the benefactors of a great time.

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