To the Editor:
I thoroughly agree that it is past time to wake up, get Jackson County moving.” For too long we have relied upon the national and state governments to provide leadership and direction for us in Jackson County and Western North Carolina. It is past time that we came together and charted our own economic future. One of the leaders in this economic renaissance is Timm Muth, the director of Jackson County’s Green Energy Park (JCGEP).
Commissioners, I appreciate your taking a look at various county departments for efficiency, effectiveness, and fiscal responsibility. It is important for our county representatives to promote open, honest, accountable, and fiscally responsible government at all levels. Otherwise, we might as well hold out a tin cup to Washington, D.C., and Raleigh and be grateful for the pennies that we do get back from the dollars that we send them.
Muth appeared before you on Jan. 3 of this year asking for a replacement to his departing assistant. You asked him some pointed questions and made the excellent suggestion that he produce a cost-benefit analysis study so as to better show you how the JCGEP benefits all of Jackson County.
I went to the JCGEP a few days before your Jan. 18 meeting and had Muth show me what he has done, what he is doing, and what he wants to do with his operation. Frankly gentlemen, the benefits of the JCGEP for the county are impressive. Capturing methane gas from the old Dillsboro landfill and using it to create viable, tax-paying, private-sector jobs is no small feat.
According to a study just recently released by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (www.p2pays.org/ref/-53.52107.pdf), there are currently over 15,000 private sector jobs that have been created to recycle valuable materials here in North Carolina. These private sector jobs, which have been promoted by operations such as the JCGEP, have increased by 4.8% since 2008. The total annual payroll for these recycling jobs in North Carolina is $395 million. There are numerous other benefits created from these public-private partnerships.
What Muth has done at the JCGEP not only is currently paying economic dividends for the investment that our county is contributing, it also has the strong probability of promoting many more private-sector jobs, tourism dollars, and tax monies to return to the citizens of Jackson County.
In the coming weeks and months we’ll be talking more about the JCGEP and the unique, positive benefits that it creates for Jackson County. In the meantime I would urge all of you commissioners to call Timm Muth, invest a little of your time going to the JCGEP, and find out the many positive benefits generated there. Remember, gentlemen, that these benefits that you will see are not in the future, but they are occurring right here and now in Jackson County.