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By Mary Jane Curry • Guest Columnist | This a reply to a letter by David Parker that appeared in the March 31 issue. The matters discussed are continually relevant.

From whom in our local schools did you hear about the “violations of common sense,” the assaults on national respect you mention? What courses in the state university curricula are you unhappy with? What are your sources, Mr. Parker? Have you asked to visit some university classrooms?

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By Kelli R. Brown • Guest Columnist | There are more than 242,000 students attending the 17 institutions of the University of North Carolina System. It is one of the larger and, arguably finest, systems dedicated to public higher education, research and community uplift in the country.  

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By Greg Caples • Guest Columnist | What is a hero? Maya Angelou famously said, “I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” 

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To the Editor:

In a recent letter to The Smoky Mountain News a retired military man stated, “Among all the other abhorrent and anti-American acts Comrade Beijing Biden and his cabal are perpetrating is endeavoring to take all firearms away from law-abiding Americans.” Later in his letter he refers to “… this unprecedented act.”

This is a reminder of how little legislation has been enacted to regulate guns in the last 25 years. Readers, look this information up for yourselves. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t believe the NRA’s propaganda either. Biden is not going to “take all firearms.”

The writer focuses only on the second part of the Second Amendment and omits the first part. The entire amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  Contrary to what the writer states the amendment does not provide absolute gun rights. If it did, why even include the first 13 words?

To those who want to protect gun rights as provided in the Constitution this ex-sailor will stand with you. Will you stand with those who want a “well-regulated militia?”

Dave Waldrop

Webster

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In an online public hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 13, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will take public comment on a proposed temporary rule for hunting on game lands. 

A pair of upcoming series will welcome scientists and experts to speak about climate change and how it may impact Western North Carolina in the future. 

Nantahala Outdoor Center has named a new company president, welcoming former Grand Canyon Resort Corporation CEO Colin McBeath to the top job. 

A Venezuelan man who had been living in Sevier County is dead following a traffic accident May 2 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

In a mountaintop signing ceremony on Wednesday, April 21, The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and The American Chestnut Foundation entered into a partnership to establish a demonstration orchard for restoration of the American chestnut tree. 

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A series of volunteer workdays will give Smokies lovers a chance to pitch in on trail maintenance this May and June. 

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Hike hard or easy next week with the Haywood County Recreation and Parks Department. 

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Enjoy a day on Lake Junaluska 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 15.

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Jackson County Americana/folk duo Bird in Hand will perform at 6 p.m. Friday, May 14, at Mountain Layers Brewing Company in Bryson City.

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Presented by Adamas Entertainment, the inaugural “Memorial Day Mashup” will be held from 3:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday, May 30, at Mad Anthony’s Taproom & Restaurant in Waynesville. 

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The CMA, Grammy winning, and six-time Vocal Group of the Year Diamond Rio will be headlining the 114th Canton Labor Day Festival presented by Champion Credit Union and sponsored by Ingles Markets. 

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“Faces,” an exhibit of drawings by the late Ron Hunnicutt, who passed away in February, will be held May 15 through the end of June at the Macon County Public Library in Franklin. The public is invited to an opening reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 15, at the library. 828.524.3600.

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Chief Justice Paul Newby launched a courthouse tour during which he will visit courthouses in all of North Carolina's 100 counties. 

Longtime Franklin Manager Summer Woodard will be leaving for a new job in June, but before she goes, she presented her final budget proposal to the town council. 

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Collections from this year’s N.C. Department of Transportation Spring Litter Sweep totaled more than 1.4 million pounds, far surpassing the record of 939,000 pounds set in 2019. In total, N.C. Department of Transportation crews, contractors and volunteers have collected 5.3 million pounds of roadside litter this year. 

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A series of beginning fly fishing lessons starts this week at Lake Junaluska, scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Fridays, May 7, 14 and 21, with a Saturday field trip to the West Fork of the Pigeon River May 22. 

A multi-phase restoration project is proposed for the historic Wilson Lick cabin in the Nantahala National Forest in Macon County. 

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A $4,400 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority will help Haywood Waterways Association support community stream cleanups and Haywood County’s Adopt-a-Stream program. Much of the money will go toward purchasing a collection boom to reduce trash in Lake Junaluska. 

Outdoor Mission Community, formerly known as Outdoor Mission Camp, has a stockpile of outdoor gear available at its resource center and a robust schedule of community events planned to get people outside over the coming months — and plenty of opportunities for volunteers too.

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Vehicle-free Wednesdays at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park begin this week, giving cyclists and pedestrians the chance to enjoy this popular area without battling cars and motorcycles. 

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To the Editor:

Attempts to explain or absolve any identity group of voters are subject to inaccuracy.

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Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers was selected as one of 19 leaders from across the country to join the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a selective national network of state and local elected officials with Honorary Co-Chairs U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland, and Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin. 

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A deep pipe failure under the eastbound lanes of U.S. 19/23 between Clyde and Canton near Crawford Memorial Gardens will have traffic down to one lane in each direction for about one month.

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Vaya Health is encouraging Western North Carolinians to check up on their own emotional wellbeing in May as the nation observes Mental Health Month.

If passed, legislation introduced by Western North Carolina Republican representatives would allow municipalities within Haywood County to levy their own occupancy tax to be spent on tourism marketing. While Bryson City was originally a part of the bill, the town has now been removed.

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The Haywood County town of Canton hasn’t always been a major tourist destination, but with downtown revitalization well underway and a major mountain biking park about to open, all that’s about to change, and a group of concerned citizens want to make sure the town takes full advantage of the interest soon to come. 

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The arrival of spring marks a new season of weekly festive gatherings at the Rickman Store in Macon County. 

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The exhibit: “Celebrating the Flora of the Smoky Mountains” will run May 7-31 at the HCAC Gallery & Gifts showroom on Main Street in Waynesville. 

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A Guatemalan man died following a motorcycle crash in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Sunday, April 18. 

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For the second year in a row, the Waynesville Parks and Recreation Department will cancel its popular summer camp series due to COVID-19. 

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Closure of the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been extended again, this time expected to last through May 15. 

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A record-setting land donation will conserve 7,500 acres in the Roan Highlands, a success that Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy Stewardship Director Marquette Crockett describes as a “conservationist’s dream come true.”

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A series of hikes exploring Haywood County’s many trails is in full swing, with the next one offered Monday, May 5, and traversing 4.8 miles in the Max Patch area. 

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The Shelton House will launch its 2021 season on Saturday, May 1, promising to bring more “History, Heritage and Crafts” to the residents and visitors of Western North Carolina. 

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Presented by the Sylva Art & Design Committee (SADC), the inaugural “Sylva Sandwich Competition” will take place during the month of May at participating restaurants around the community.

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While not a surprise to anyone in Western North Carolina walking around with their eyes open, new Census data released this week confirms that North Carolina and this region are gaining population. Net migration — how many people are moving in versus how many are moving out — was the primary engine of growth for the state, allowing it to pick up a 14th congressional seat. The U.S. population now stands at 331.5 million, and in North Carolina we have grown by 9.5 percent since 2010 to 10.45 million residents today.

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To the Editor:

Many of us in Jackson County volunteered to pick up litter recently as part of Jackson County’s Litter Sweep. I know I did in my neighborhood of Forest Hills in Cullowhee. These actions tied in well with the theme of Earth Day 2021 on April 22, which was “Restore Our Earth.” 

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To the Editor:

Whether or not you are a fan of TV anchor and journalist Don Lemon, his latest book This is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends about Racism is recommended to everyone trying to better understand the racism in our country and what we can do about it. Lemon grew up as a Black and gay man in Louisiana in the 1960s and 1970s. As an adult, Lemon has lived in the South and North and has experienced racism and homophobia much of his 55 years. 

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To the Editor:

A quote that will live in infamy! On April 8, 2021, Comrade Joe Biden laid bare the Socialist/Communist agenda that his party is working to implement in order to destroy the foundational freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights to all Americans.

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In recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month, ALE special agents concluded a statewide enforcement operation on Friday resulting in over 200 persons charged and seizures of alcoholic beverages, drugs, firearms and cash.

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Dr. Diana Messer, a forensic anthropology professor at Western Carolina University, is working on groundbreaking research that could drastically improve the methods used to estimate the timeframe of a child’s injury, which is essential evidence needed to identify and prosecute child abuse cases.

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The annual synchronous firefly viewing event will return to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this year, but with a more limited lottery than usual so that attendees can park their personal vehicles nearby rather than taking the shuttle bus.

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Vaccination rates slowed substantially across the four-county area over the past week, and the pace will likely continue to slacken as health departments across the area report a dearth of demand.

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