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Wednesday, 16 March 2011 19:22

Books are an end unto themselves

Books are one of the greatest delights of my life. I don’t need many excuses to buy new ones, frankly, but when I do feel the situation is spinning out of control (my third trip in a week, say, to…
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 19:20

Make open government a part of constitution

In this country, the people own the government. It’s ours. End of debate. That’s something we can all be thankful for. A bill in the North Carolina General Assembly is attempting to enshrine this simple fact in the state constitution.…
Wednesday, 23 March 2011 19:44

We don’t want motocross track

To the Editor: We turn on our televisions every day and witness to the devastation that neighbors inflict on neighbors. We live in a world today where “environmental consciousness and green” are the right paths to take, whether it is…
Wednesday, 23 March 2011 19:44

Voter ID bill a shopworn GOP idea

To the Editor: What happens when you fix something that ain’t broke? You’re sure to break something else. But the Republicans in Raleigh apparently don’t care about that fundamental truth, or anything else that stands athwart their path to perpetual…
The Jan. 10 death of 15-month-old Aubrey Kina Marie Littlejohn was an unspeakable tragedy, one compounded by the questions surrounding both the cause of death and the potential cover-up by employees of the Swain County Department of Social Services. At…
There have been times in my life I could rightly have been described as competitive. When I was in music, and later, as a young reporter, I took myself very, very seriously. I wanted first chair or no chair when…
Friends of mine in the Jackson County farming community have launched a joint CSA, which is short for Community Sustained Agriculture, under the name Living Earth Farm Shares CSA. Ron and Cathy Arps, Stephen Beltram and Becca Nestler, Laird and…
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 19:26

The attack of the killer jumping worms

It wiggles nicely on a hook at the end of a fishing line. It also has such a large appetite for decaying vegetation that it can eat its body weight every day, so it’s great for composting. It’s no wonder…
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 19:25

The real costs of energy consumption

To the Editor: Humans need to know that our lives have meaning. Our searches for meaning are labeled religion and philosophy. Often, unforeseen tragedies such as the recent Japan earthquake and tsunami check our progress in these disciplines. Our emotions…
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 19:25

Still no jobs from new GOP leaders

To the Editor: Where are the jobs? The new Republican majority in the North Carolina state legislature promised just that if elected. As of now there have been more than 420 bills introduced, and not a single job created or…
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 19:24

GOP takes hypocrisy to a new low

To the Editor: Hypocrisy is defined as the “condition of a person pretending to be something he is not, especially in the area of morals or religion; a false presentation of belief or feeling.” Mike Huckabee recently described an unmarried…
By Linda Seested-Stanford • Guest columnist In last week’s Smoky Mountain News, coverage of the reorganization of Western Carolina University’s College of Education and Allied Professions (“WCU budget cuts, reorganization trigger controversy,” March 23, Smoky Mountain News, www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/3562) left readers…
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 19:44

Take N.C. 107 bypass off priority list

To the Editor: Jackson County Commissioners are ranking road improvement projects in the County’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) at their meeting April 18. Here are some reasons why I feel commissioners should follow the example set by Sylva to leave the…
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 19:44

Haywood Chamber needs visitor center

To the Editor: The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority board has voted to cut funding to the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. This will seriously hinder – if not cripple – tourism events the H.C.C.C. sponsors each year. Any staff…
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 19:43

GOP legislators try to block federal money

To the Editor: The good news is the North Carolina Department of Transportation has received a $461 million federal grant to improve rail service between Raleigh and Charlotte, creating 4,800 jobs during the next two years. Many of the jobs…
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 19:43

Voter ID bill just a waste of good money

To the Editor: As an advocate for seniors and senior services, I find I am more and more concerned about the Voter ID bill that was introduced in the state Senate by Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Spruce Pine). I absolutely believe…
Maybe I’m just self-absorbed, but I swear that when I’m interested in something, it often seems as if the whole world suddenly has become interested in the very same thing. Given this, it didn’t seem terribly odd that the husband…
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 19:35

For better or worse, for normal or weird

One of the advantages of getting older is that you learn a few things if you pay attention. For example, when I was younger, I hid certain things about myself when I met someone I thought I might be interested…
To the Editor: If the Republican Congress were really serious about balancing the budget they would take a long hard look at the Pentagon, as that is where the lion’s share of discretionary spending is located. The cuts they are…
Wednesday, 13 April 2011 19:28

Haywood revaluation will kill jobs

To the Editor: The commercial property owners, the merchants who rent property for their small, medium and large businesses, deserve to understand how the county has decided that commercial property has increased 35 percent, 42 percent, and even 67 percent…
Raspberries, like any fruit we plant, represent an act of faith. As others are doing this time of year, this past weekend I dutifully dug little holes, added amendments and planted a long row of sad little sticks, carefully watering…
By Mark Jamison • Guest Columnist A fellow once asked me, about a car I was selling, “What’s the least you would take for that car?” I thought for a second and replied, “What’s the most you’d give for it?”…
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 20:31

GOP Medicare plan is totally off-base

To the Editor: The Republican design on Medicare comes straight from that dubious chapter of the Vietnam War in which “it became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” Rep. Paul Ryan’s voucher scheme would destroy Medicare as surely,…
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 20:31

Macon County needs to clean up litter

To the Editor: Circumstances have prevented the organization of the annual county-wide litter pick-up/recycling event to celebrate Earth Day here in Macon County.   Because there has been no one able to fill this breach for a spring-time effort, let…
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 20:30

Accepting federal rail money a bad idea

To the Editor: In the April 6-12 issue of The Smoky Mountain News, Carole Larivee wrote a letter to the editor that was headlined “GOP legislators try to block federal money.” Larivee referenced House Bill 422 sponsored by three Republican…
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 20:30

Will McCoy Bridge become a memory?

Once more the Department of Transpor-tation will come to Macon County, in the name of listening to community input, when they hold a hearing on the fate of McCoy Bridge Monday evening, April 25, at 6 p.m. at Cowee School.…
Governments at all levels and all across the nation are broke. At every county courthouse and state house, money taken in from taxes and fees can’t match the spending elected officials have become accustomed to. As they say in literature,…
Tonight’s menu calls for salad from the garden, which reminded me to jot down a method for growing lettuce that, being very lazy busy lately, I’ve grown quite fond of doing. Lettuce doesn’t need coddling, or careful spacing of the…
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 20:15

Revaluation now was just a bad idea

To the Editor: Now that you have received the re-evaluations of your Haywood County property, are you pleased county commissioners chose to re-evaluate your home? Are you getting the runaround when you try to get inflated values reviewed? These commissioners…
The next time you are standing about the yard scratching your head in confusion about which tree climber in Jackson County to call because there’s a swarm of bees in the tippy-toppy portion of a tree, let me please recommend…
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 20:07

Government-education complex is self-serving

To the Editor: What if you knew that your state senator or state representative knew there were proven ways to improve a broken public education system that is graduating less than two-thirds of our high school students and yet did…
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 20:06

Our representatives forget who is boss

To the Editor: Here we go again. Our two state representatives, both of whom are Democrats, fail to see the reality of the primary cause of the state’s budget woes. They fail to grasp the reality that it is the…
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 20:06

Those who protect children deserve thanks

To the Editor: For almost 20 years I have found myself involved in the concern of child abuse either professionally or in some volunteer capacity. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and though it’s almost over it provides an opportunity…
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 20:05

With care, many hemlocks can survive

To the Editor: With all due respect to Mr. Ellison — who wrote in his “Back Then” column a few issues back about the inevitable demise of the hemlock — I would have to enjoin him and other like minds…
The crane games are beautiful beasts, shiny and brightly lit, with a glass belly full of forlorn and lonely stuffed animals waiting to be rescued by obsessive 9-year-old girls with a pocketful of quarters and reasonably good aim. My daughter…
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 20:15

Weedeaters teach lesson in overkill

Just a few minutes into weedeating and I feel lobotomized. Perhaps the heady roar of the little engine that can obliterates my ability to discern what’s being whacked until I’m in full, lethal motion. Maybe it’s the power of wielding…
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 20:14

Where are the GOP-promised jobs?

To the Editor: Where are the real jobs? During the 2010 election season, an organization named Real Jobs NC targeted Democratic incumbents in the North Carolina legislature with attack TV ads and mailers. This organization, a 527 group created May…
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 20:14

Make Haywood whole in redistricting

To the Editor: On Saturday, April 30, the Republican Party of Haywood County submitted a resolution to the Redistricting Committee of the North Carolina General Assembly. That resolution requested that they comply with the Whole County Provision of the North…
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 20:13

Is Great Smoky Mountain Railroad serious?

To the Editor: At first the shakedown to the county was over $817,000 in grants and loans. Then, seeing that was a totally ridiculous sum, the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad slashed their ‘request’ to $95,176 in cash and $322,000 in…
We’ve written before about how important the downtown business districts in our mountain towns are to their communities, but it needs to be said again in light of the debate now going on in Sylva. Town leaders in the Jackson…
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 20:42

TDA picks bad time to open visitor center

To the Editor: Regarding the monument to the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority, these two headlines are just too much to take on the same page of the April 27 eidtion of The Smoky Mountain News: • “Folkmoot Funding Gets…
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 20:41

Don’t jump on the nuclear bandwagon

To the editor: With the recent rapid rise in gas prices, the hype about nuclear as an alternative source of energy has resumed — if it ever let up. Notwithstanding the Fukushima disaster and the consequent spread of dangerous radioactive…
To the editor: Oh yeah, then there are the children. How many bureaucrats does it take to educate a child? It must take more than seems to make sense. In Raleigh, we have 800 that are on the payroll of…
Some years ago, confined to an office through work obligations but dreaming of farming, I spent more time than I should have surfing the Internet in search of agriculture and back-to-the-land related sites. Amazingly, many of the same ones I…
For both teachers in the classroom and local administrators, this is shaping up to be the most challenging budget year in North Carolina history. At times like these, those of us who value a quality education system will be left…
I traveled over the Balsams this past weekend from Sylva to Lake Junaluska for a native plant sale, and I’m very glad that I set time aside to make the trip. Not only were there some nice specimens to be…
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 20:28

Leadership Institute can solve problems

To the Editor: The  Natural Resources Leadership Institute is a multi-faceted instructional and community service program of North Carolina Cooperative Extension at North Carolina State University. North Carolina is facing tremendous growth and development pressures in some of the most…
To the Editor: The House in Raleigh recently passed a budget with deep spending cuts. According to Forbes.com, House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) said “… retirements, vacancies, turnover and flexibility for local school districts … would reduce actual job losses…
Wednesday, 18 May 2011 20:24

US policy on killing is confusing

With its unending contradictions, life is at best confusing and at worst inexplicable. The U.S. is in the minority of nations today that embraces the death penalty. Since I endeavor to avoid self righteous mobs known as majorities, I like…
North Carolina is facing a budget crisis. I get that. What I don’t get is the proposed slashing of so many worthwhile programs when a relatively simple answer – not a panacea, mind you, but a stopgap way to provide…
Maybe it’s the fear of snakes, mountain lions, or Bigfoot. Or the perceived boredom of time spent unplugged. Perhaps it’s basic opposition to exertion and sweat. Whatever the reasons, fewer people nationwide are spending time in the great outdoors. If…
Wednesday, 25 May 2011 22:43

A thank you to our elected officials

To the Editor: I’d like to thank the state House of Representatives for putting rich white kids first in North Carolina with your vote on May 3. It’s about time! I am so tired of these hard working, poor and…
To the Editor: Do you think more of your car than you do of your children? If something is wrong with your car, you take it to a dealer to be fixed. When you get it back and it still…
Wednesday, 25 May 2011 22:41

Transportation plan won’t help economy

To The Editor: I attended the recent public hearing on the Comprehensive Transportation Plan and came away confused.  First, according to the Division Engineer who manages Division 14 of the N.C. Department of Transportation, of which Macon is a part,…
To the Editor: I’d like to thank Quintin Ellison and The Smoky Mountain News for Ms. Ellison’s excellent article about the Corneille Bryan Native Garden at Lake Junaluska (www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/3978-don’t-rush-by-this-little-lake-junaluska-treasure). She gave a succinct history and an accurate and appealing description…
To the Editor: Having served for more than a decade as president of Southwestern Community College, I was dismayed by what was reported in The Smoky Mountain News and the Sylva Herald as  opposition by some Jackson County commissioners to…
Last night, lying in bed on the screened porch reading before darkness fell, I looked up from my book and noticed a wasp crawling on the inside of a window screen. I was reading “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by…
A planned new access road that will provide an exit and entrance into Southwestern Community College in Webster should not be a controversial project. The college’s growth, the entire country’s renewed emphasis on public safety in the post-9/11 era, and…
When Congress passed the Wilderness Act back in 1964, it immediately became one of the most important pieces of conservation legislation in United States history. Worked on for years, with bi-partisan support, the act protected nine million of acres of…
To the Editor: The fact that Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, refers to the radical budget being proposed down in Raleigh as the state “living within its means” is a joke. The farce of this proposal is the false notion that…
To the Editor: It appears that the radical Republicans in control of the N.C. legislature are starving funding for public education to make public schools fail. Then they will ballyhoo privatization as the silver bullet to “fix” education.   North…
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 19:49

Education cuts will harm student, schools

To the Editor: Republicans are cutting off education from beginning to end in North Carolina. The new cuts will take away a significant amount of funding from the Smart Start pre-kindergarten program and also from the UNC school system, where…
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 19:48

Junaluska garden is indeed a gem

To the Editor: This letter is further comment on Quintin Ellison’s column about the Corneille Bryan Native Garden at Lake Junaluska (The Smoky Mountain News, May 18-24). After reading about the garden, my husband and I set out to find…
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 19:47

Just where are all the promised jobs?

To the Editor: Republican Sens. Ralph Hise, R-Spruce Pine, and Jim Davis, R-Franklin, promised “jobs, jobs, jobs” and “better times” for Haywood County during their campaigns. Did you hear them promise to make the largest budget cuts to education ever…
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 19:47

Commissioner right to question SCC road

To the Editor: Jackson County Commissioner Jack Debnam’s recent comments on the proposed SCC spur road are valid and show that he is willing to go to bat for Jackson County’s citizens despite opposition from DOT and other commissioners. He has…
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 19:43

Life lessons learned in the barnyard

Goats view a gate left open as a passageway to excitement. And it is exciting, too, for the goat keeper, when the entire herd escapes the barnyard. Lesson: When you open a closed gate, shut it behind you. This isn’t…
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 19:39

Six pints of Guinness and a glass of milk

What do Barack Obama and my son have in common? They both visited Ireland in May. Obama, though, was proud to partake of a pint of the national drink, Guinness Stout, and was shown on dozens of television stations imbibing.…
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 20:15

SMN showed great support for library

To the Editor: As the opening of the new Jackson County Library Complex draws near, it brings to mind the many contributions The Smoky Mountain News made during difficult as well as good times. From timely editorials, feature articles, and…
To the Editor: Jeff Minick has always provided informative and insightful book reviews. His review of Till We Have Faces reads like a college presentation. His contributions are a valuable addition to your fine newspaper. Bill Sullivan Raliegh
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 20:14

Article was like those found in tabloids

To the Editor: It was shocking to read the article entitled “Crossing the Line” published June 1 in The Smoky Mountain News. This was classic tabloid reporting with more drama than fact reporting, filled with innuendos and hypotheticals. It is…
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 20:12

Of mice, Ming and my seed stash

When planting season is upon us, gardeners and farmers of all stripes are making plans and counting seeds. As long-time gardeners and seed savers know, the winter months make for great opportunities to do both easily from the comfort of…
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 20:09

Rooster 1, Farmer 1 – a first-round draw

There are two puncture wounds decorating my left leg, courtesy of a rooster who has taken an inexplicable but pronounced dislike of me. This rooster is a white leghorn. He has a twin, another white leghorn rooster, who also escaped…
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 20:06

Really, we just have to get out more often

(Atlanta, GA) — We don’t get out much. Unless “getting out” means running out to Taco Bell because the fish we were going to cook has gone bad and there’s nothing left to eat in the house except half of…
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 19:59

Appreciating good stories, civic engagement

A week before this week’s dedication of the new Jackson County Library complex, this newspaper’s 12th birthday passed almost unnoticed by those of us who work to put it out each week. Where there used to be celebrations, we just…
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 13:12

Voter ID bill is needed

“The American people are losing confidence in the system and they want electoral reform ....” What American political leader, a veteran of high office, made this statement then put his name in support of voter photo ID. Was it Ronald…
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 13:11

Life lessons from the world of beekeeping

The blossoms on the sourwood trees are opening. This is exciting for mountain beekeepers, though in their enthusiasm for the light, fine honey that bees produce from this flower, they sometimes dismiss as paltry and unacceptable to their delicate palates…
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 13:11

Haywood needs to hold line on taxes

To the Editor: The past few months have been filled with letters to the editors, editorials and presentations to the Haywood County Board of Commissioners. All of this has been over property re-evaluations and raised property taxes. In our depressed…
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 13:10

Tsunami sweeps over North Carolina

To the Editor: The State of North Carolina has been blessed in many ways.  One of her blessings, in spite of her rugged, dangerous coastline, is that she has never had to attempt to survive a tsunami sweeping in from…
“Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows, we shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheets.” — (slight adaptation from Knowles Shaw beautiful hymn) Standing on the banks of the Pigeon River in the early 1960s on a hot summer…
Most of the business being done at Perry’s Water Garden these days is selling plants through the wholesale market. But if you are interested in aquatic plants even the tiniest bit whatsoever, it’s well worth a trip over the Cowee…
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 19:54

Roads all about money, power and ethics

To the Editor: The patronage politics of roads, money, power, and ethics in North Carolina is a strange creature. Individual North Carolina Department of Transportation board members may not receive direct compensation (nor anyone related to them to the first…
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 19:53

Safety is primary concern for SCC

To the Editor: It is with astonishment that I have been following the flurry of recent articles in the newspapers detailing Jackson County commissioner chair Jack Debnam’s one-man crusade against building an access road on the Southwestern Community College campus.…
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 19:52

GOP-led legislature did some good work

To the Editor, We North Carolinians are very fortunate people. Our Republican majority state legislature had the courage to make the necessary cuts in the state budget to close a $2.5 billion deficit. By reducing spending by more than $1…
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 19:51

What does Harvard know about milk, anyway?

You’ve probably seen the ads. Some famous face sports a white “milk mustache” and encourages you to drink more milk. Everyone from Shaquille O’Neal to Taylor Swift to Martha Stewart. Celebrity endorsements might be enough to convince some people to…
To the Editor: American students still aren’t learning their country’s history. In the latest National Assessment of Educational Programs, only 12 percent of high school seniors knew what they should. Even with the text before them, barely 2 percent understood…
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 21:50

Taking Asheville out of 11th makes no sense

To carve Asheville out of the 11th Congressional District is completely irrational. My campaign will work with all Western North Carolina Democrats to fight this gerrymandering. We’ll oppose it on every level. We look forward to supporting a united legal…
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 21:48

Date change caused absence at forum

To the Editor: A question has been asked as to why I was not at the Cherokee County “Meet the Candidates” forum. I would like to make it clear my absence was not meant as a slight to the community.…
There is much myth and lore connected with beekeeping, such as telling the bees when the master has died so they won’t abscond after his or her death, and a method of swarm control called “tanging.” Research studies have debunked…
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 21:45

Lorenzo dunk makes HOZE Squad history

For most people, Lorenzo Charles, who died last week in a bus accident at the age of 47, is little more than a footnote in sports history. If you are under the age of 35 or do not follow sports,…
Today, in Macon County and throughout America, debate is under way regarding two basic principles:  (1) the size, shape and responsibilities of our federal government; and, (2) the composition of our shared responsibilities in financing governmental operations. While most of…
With the weather so hot and sticky, it’s hard to grasp that now is the time to start preparing the fall garden. I, for one, am glad. I’ve always hated summer gardening, which for organic gardeners poses particular difficulties. Heat…
Wednesday, 13 July 2011 12:21

Social Security is a great success

To the Editor: As the saying goes, “if you repeat a lie often enough people will begin to believe it.” Such is the case with the fears being raised about Social Security going bankrupt because the boomer generation (born 1946-1964)…
Wednesday, 13 July 2011 12:18

Article on pastor was clearly biased

To the Editor: Some contrarian commentary is in order about Colby Dunn’s news and opinion piece (and it was both) in the July 6 issue of The Smoky Mountain News concerning Pastor Daniel “Cowboy” Stewart’s graduation speech at the Nantahala…
To the Editor: Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) ignited a firestorm over its request to the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to raise electric rates an average of 15 percent in order to collect an additional $646 million from customers to…
To the Editor: In response to “Strange at best – tacky at worst” (Smoky Mountain News, June 22 edition), I was confused by the statement that read “When it was done, Democrats William Shelton, Tom Massie and Brian McMahan were…
Redistricting is always political, and voters on both sides have to accept that. The party with a majority will get districts that it hopes will advance its ideology. But the recently released map for our 11th Congressional District has ripped…
Wednesday, 15 June 2011 20:46

Reid Brown is nothing less than a saint

To the Editor: My name is Brian Strum and I live in Clyde. Just prior to my move to Haywood County six years ago, I had put myself into a situation where I had to seek legal advice. After speaking with…
Wednesday, 15 June 2011 20:46

Republicans run roughshod in Raleigh

To the Editor: A new federal study confirms what many people have sensed — news coverage of state and local government is shrinking at a frightful rate. Politicians who used to fear the press no longer have to worry about…
Wednesday, 15 June 2011 20:45

Hahn’s criticism of story missed the mark

To the Editor: Carrie Hahn’s June 8 letter to the editor criticizing The Smoky Mountain News and Reporter Quintin Ellison for the article “Crossing the Line” fails to note that it is not the role of a newspaper to be…