And the 2015 award winners are ...

op frThe idea to start handing out annual spoof awards instead of the traditional year-in-review that most newspapers do was the brainchild, as I recall, of staff writer Becky Johnson. Those who know Becky and have read our paper for a while know she’s been both an editor and reporter here at SMN, and has written many award-winning pieces.  She’s always looking for different and better ways to do things, and this idea has stuck.

Haywood just not prepared for growth

op frIf there was ever a time in recent memory when Haywood County leaders and its citizens need reminding that they live in a county too large and too populous and too beautiful to be without land-use planning, it’s right now.

Just last week at a county board meeting, we learned that Jule Morrow wants to put an indoor shooting range and gun store on his property in the Francis Farm area of Haywood County. Some neighbors (who plan to attend the 9 a.m., Jan. 4, Haywood County Board meeting to voice their objections) say the range and gun store will be a blight in what for generations has been a cove of farm fields and pastures. As someone who travels that area frequently since my own home is not far away, I personally agree with those neighbors.

I swear, it’s really much ado about nothing

op frSometimes in the world of journalism, the story becomes more about the reaction than the original news event. By my estimation, that’s what’s going on right with Franklin Mayor Bob Scott and his decision to put his hand on the Constitution instead of the Bible when getting sworn in for his second term.

Scott is one of those small-town politicians who seems to come to public service naturally. He is a former alderman, has led the local chamber of commerce and the Rotary Club. He’s been a journalist and a public affairs officer who believes passionately in open government. He’s retired, but from what I’ve seen he works nearly all the time as chief cheerleader and advocate for his adopted hometown.

Let’s play pretend politician: what issues would you own?

op frI’m not running for office and never will, but as a citizen of Haywood County and Western North Carolina and the U.S., it’s somewhat sporting to imagine what positions I would campaign on if I was running for election in one our towns or counties, hell even at the state or federal level.

It’s interesting to find out just what motivates people to put themselves out their and run for office. Today’s media — and I’m not talking about local newspapers — creates a challenging, frenzied political arena.

Investing in what’s best about WNC

op frWhile I was living in Elizabethtown in southeastern North Carolina in 1988, Walmart opened a brand-new store. Most everyone was excited, and how could you blame them? The retail giant hadn’t yet taken over the world, although it was already by then the largest retailer in the U.S. But how could you argue with the cheap prices all the one-stop variety, especially in an area that was poverty-stricken as textile mills were shuttering their operations?

A banquet table of issues, one bite at a time

op frSo much going on locally and around the world that it’s just a tough week to bear down on a subject to write about. So let’s just run through the “column ideas” list and clean things out as we head toward December. It’s the beginning of the holidays and I’ll pretend I’m sitting with my chair pulled up close to the table. The Thanksgiving dinner is laid out banquet style with so much food it’s almost impossible to choose what to eat. I give up, and instead will try a little of everything. Here we go …

If it’s good vs. evil, only one outcome is tenable

op frWhen terrorism strikes like it did this weekend in Paris, the first reaction to the horror is shock from the utter senselessness of intentional violence against innocent people. Most of us don’t understand how anyone could do something so innately evil.

But then, as the dozens of news reports and politicizing of the tragedy wash over me, I begin to worry. Not about further terrorist attacks — which we all know are coming and unfortunately are part of the world in which we live — but for the coming epidemic of ignorance, grandstanding and bellicose chest thumping.

In the end, Haywood leaders make the right call

op frHindsight is indeed 20-20, and this time Haywood County commissioners very likely saw things exactly as they should have.

The plan to sell 55 acres in Haywood County’s industrial park to a start-up recycling sorting company has been scuttled. A press release sent out by the county Monday, Nov. 10, said that the company had withdrawn its offer. With the decision made, it’s way too easy to sit comfortably at my desk with my laptop and write with confidence about why this wasn’t a good idea.

Steep slope protections a very real economic incentive

op frJackson County commissioners are going to pass a smart steep slope ordinance that will help as this region shakes off the devastating effects of the recent recession.

Commissioners are expected to pass a revised steep slope ordinance that will weaken the threshold from 30 to a 35 percent slope for the ordinance to kick in. While this change essentially does indeed weaken the ordinance, things could have been much worse, so Jackson is to be commended for the stance it’s taking.

Waynesville needs Mayor Gavin Brown back in office

op frI sincerely hope Waynesville citizens support Mayor Gavin Brown for reelection.

Municipal elections carry more import than most people realize. The decisions made by mayors and aldermen do not have as direct — and large — of a bearing on your pocketbook as the decisions made at the county, state and federal level, but they do matter. Down at the municipal level, it’s really more about impacting our quality of life and putting in place the amenities we enjoy in small towns.

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