As The Smoky Mountain News wraps up an ongoing series on the state of mental health in North Carolina, state lawmakers were asked to weigh in on funding cuts and their thoughts on what the General Assembly can do to improve the flailing system.

Drawing more than 300 million visitors each year, the National Park Service is both a reservoir of natural beauty and an economic anchor for the communities surrounding its lands — and many of those communities are now banding together to demand that Congress address the parks’ $11.3 billion maintenance backlog.

“To know what this means to us — the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — and for us to have to ask them for some sustainable revenue to keep these parks going, it’s almost like asking somebody to take care of their baby,” Jackson County Commissioner Boyce Dietz said before the board unanimously passed a resolution in favor of sustained funding Dec. 18, 2017.

Development in Cashiers will soon reach the end of a longstanding stalemate following the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority Board’s unanimous vote Jan. 16 to accept a federal funding offer for a new sewage treatment plant.

The shortcomings of America’s mental health system have once again been brought to the forefront as national news outlets report the shooters responsible for recent mass killings in Las Vegas and Texas were mentally ill.

SEE ALSO: Waynesville treatment center expands mental health services

Medical experts say there’s no real connection between individuals with mental illness and mass shootings, but the presumed link between the two reveals the real reason why the mental health system is in such dire straits — we still don’t understand enough about mental illness.

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