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op frWhen National Newspaper Week (Oct. 5-11) was started 74 years ago, there wasn’t much competition for newspapers. If you didn’t read the paper, you just didn’t know what was going on around the world or in your hometown.

Now that’s not the case. Internet search engines have put thousands of news sites at our fingertips. Social media helps us keep up with friends and family and whole communities of like-minded people.

op educationBy Jim Hunt • Guest Columnist

Earlier this year, I called for a state commitment to raise teacher pay to the national average in the next four years. It was a bold proposal, but that’s what leaders do. Since that time, teachers got a raise, but what they didn’t get was a commitment. State lawmakers need to go back to the drawing board if they are going to show teachers that they are valued.

op frTammy is out in the yard burning the couch. There is no telling where this will end. All by herself, she somehow managed to push and pull an overstuffed sofa out of our guest bedroom, through the downstairs den, and out the backdoor into the yard, where she proceeded to push it end over end from one side of the yard to the other to our burn pile. Then she set it aflame. Perhaps next year, they can add this as an event in the Highland Games along with the caber toss and the Scottish hammer throw — the sofa roll and burn. She is so gratified to see the couch reduced to its blackened metal frame — the charred bones of some prehistoric beast — that she soon adds a faded maroon recliner to the pile.

I have no idea. I’m in the bedroom watching the Panthers playing the Ravens when my son drops in to check the score and watch the game for a series or two.

op granvilleTo the Editor:

I have read with interest the original article by George Ellison questioning the account that Granville Calhoun has provided about the trip of Horace Kephart to Hazel Creek in 1904 and the response made to that article by Granville’s great niece Gwen Franks Breese and Mr. Ellison’s response to her letter. Quite frankly I am appalled by Mr. Ellison’s largely unsupported position that the story related by Mr. Calhoun was false.

op kephartTo the Editor:

Readers may well be approaching exhaustion with this ongoing exchange regarding circumstances surrounding Horace Kephart’s arrival at Hazel Creek, but since his death the Kephart saga has been misrepresented to a degree rivaling the pervasive stereotyping and inaccuracies found in Our Southern Highlanders (OSH). We feel it important to delineate some factual verities.

op frTo the Editor:

The letter from Mark Jamison of Webster that’s published in your most recent edition (“What does Webster hope to achieve with planning initiative,” Sept. 17) leaves readers with the impression that the town board refused to act to continue the lease of the post office, when that is clearly not the case.

Mr. Jamison’s letter is mostly about planning, but also discusses the post office situation. While he’s certainly entitled to his opinion about planning, he’s not entitled to his own set of facts regarding the town’s post office.

op jamisonTo the Editor:

I read the news that Webster had obtained a planning grant with mixed emotions. Local planning is a good thing. Having served a number of terms on the Jackson County Planning Board I’ve developed a strong appreciation of the value of an ongoing planning process.

On the other hand, local planning initiatives come with some caveats. Small local jurisdictions often suffer from an echo chamber effect born of insularity. In many cases a small cadre of people are the ones most interested in the administration of a small town and project their attitudes and desires on the greater population. Webster, in particular, has suffered from this sort of defect.

op frHer name was Glenda. She was a senior and one of the more popular girls in school, a volleyball star and a member of assorted clubs, the kind of girl who shows up in a lot of photos in the yearbook. Her younger sister, a very sweet and charming girl that everybody just naturally liked, was in my freshman biology class and had, over the summer, undergone a radical bodily transformation that was thrilling and perplexing in equal portions. She wore her flannel shirts looser in a mostly futile attempt to deflect this sudden new attention, but one day she accidentally nudged a pencil off the edge of her desk with the bulky biology text, and when she bent over to pick it up, her loose shirt betrayed her. I knew then my life would never be the same.

I heard about this story from the Facebook crowd, so I imagine some of you have already read it. There was a story in this past Sunday’s Raleigh News and Observer that had this to say about Waynesville and Sylva:

To find the most beer-soaked town in North Carolina, look past the much-acclaimed Asheville. Thirty miles to the west sits Waynesville, a small town of 10,000 nestled between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. It’s here where you’ll find four craft breweries – one of the highest brewery-per-capita ratios in the state (

A possible rival is nearby Sylva, a smaller outpost in Western North Carolina where 2,700 people share two breweries.

op heritageAnyone who reads The Smoky Mountain News regularly knows we emphasize in-depth, investigative stories when that’s what is called for to get to the bottom of something. Everyone at our company takes great pride in that aspect of our identity.

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