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.

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.

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.

Developers haven’t earned a break from the rules

They didn’t show up. That alone signals, or maybe “symbolizes” is the proper word, a shift in citizen attitudes that would have seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago.

Oh, the irony of it all

“Sausage is good!?”

My 7-year-old son was looking out the window of the van when he blurted the words out of his mouth. We were taking the normal route home, and the cattle herd we pass every day was huddled lazily under one of the few shade trees.

Media freedom could easily slip away

When Federal Communications Commission officials came to Asheville last week to discuss media ownership regulations, they got an earful from a crowd that was mostly against media consolidation of any kind. We hope FCC officials get this reaction everywhere they go, because the decisions they make in the next few years could have a profound and, perhaps, chilling effect on the media as we know it today.

Saving farms is not about nostalgia

If you think taking tangible steps to protect farmland is more about nostalgia than anything else, guess again. As change continues at its rapidly accelerating pace, having protected private land on which to grow crops could become an important part of the American economy.

So how far have we come?

Each year as summer dawns, when children begin counting the days until shoes become something they just have to keep track of and not wear, I continue a tradition started on June 2, 1999. That was the date the first issue of The Smoky Mountain News was published.

The test, and nothing but the test

I don’t bash public schools. My wife’s a teacher, my children have gotten a great education at these schools, and we’ve been able to solve every major problem that ever arose with a teacher.

Leadership is all about good ideas

Ideas. Those who have them become leaders and gravitate to places where they can implement them. All of the counties of Western North Carolina, including Haywood, need leaders with fresh ideas if we are to confront a future that is bringing untold changes. That was Mark Swanger’s strength, and it will be missed.

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