Scott McLeod

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

When the Haywood County School Board announced that it had chosen Trevor Putnam as the system’s new superintendent, I can’t think of a single person who follows education news in this region that was surprised. People were making that call even before Superintendent Bill Nolte announced his relatively sudden November retirement.

Comment

“Alternative facts” was a phrase used by U.S. Counselor to the PresidentKellyanne Conway, during a “Meet the Press” interview on January 22, 2017, in which she defended White House Press Secretary  Sean Spicer’s false statement about the attendance numbers of Donald Trump’s  inauguration as President of the United States. When pressed during the interview with Chuck Todd to explain why Spicer would “utter a provable falsehood,” Conway stated that Spicer was giving “alternative facts.” Todd responded, “Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.” - Wikipedia 

Comment

There’s a basic human longing for a sense of place, some part of the world that’s home, a place where you are a part of something that feeds your soul. Find it, feel it, and you’re one of the lucky ones.

Comment

Earlier this week, I had started writing a column about the progress made in the year since the flooding from Tropical Storm devastated parts of Haywood County. Then, as I started talking to our writers about the stories they were preparing for this week’s edition — one year after the flood — I could tell they had the recovery efforts well covered. 

Comment

“Not all opinion pieces have to be complaints or deal with issues. Sometimes it is enough to share old memories or new experiences with others. Sometimes, it is actually better as it brings us together rather than driving us apart.”

— SMN reader

Comment

I never did buy in to the “defund the police” movement that swept the country a few years ago. Yes, the spate of police shootings and beatings of innocent people or of people accused of minor crimes revealed serious problems in many law enforcement agencies. Those crimes captured on video ignited an important debate.

Comment

“… I hear Mariachi static on my radio / And the tubes they glow in the dark / And I’m there with her in Ensenada / And I’m here in Echo Park ….” —Warren Zevon, “Carmelita”

Comment

She was 70, or so she said, but looked 15 years younger. She was alone and sipping wine and eating “chips” in the pub at the Ceilidh Inn in Ullapool, Scotland. She was a child of the 60s who spoke of how crazy London had been at that time. Eventually, she had sold her house in the city and relocated to wilds of Scotland. For decades she has been scratching out a living as a painter.

Comment

As I was re-reading last week’s issue of The Smoky Mountain News and about the Juneteenth celebrations in the mountains, I started thinking about the upcoming July 4 holiday and of the freedoms Americans take for granted. As a white man I won’t presume to know what Juneteenth means to Black Americans, but there’s little doubt that their experience of being an American is much different from mine. 

Comment

“Arrogant.” “Out of control.” “Power hungry.”

I’ve heard all these words — and worse — used to describe Rep. Mark Pless, R-Haywood since he’s filed two bills in the state legislature that would drastically change local politics and municipal powers in Haywood County. 

Comment

The mantra since starting this newspaper has been straightforward: put out a high-quality newspaper and work like hell to make sure the business survives. If we can do both, I’ll be one of the lucky ones: doing what I love, making a living doing it and living in a place I’m fortunate to call home.

Comment

The affordable housing crisis looms as this region’s most pressing problem. And so far, no one has proposed any kind of sweeping proposal that will solve it. 

Comment

The proposed parking fee for visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has users — especially locals in the gateway communities whose family histories are intertwined with the Smokies — understandably upset. The identity of the Smokies and those who live near it are more closely aligned than at other national parks. Locals have roamed freely (save for some camping fees) for several generations on land that was taken with the promise that there would never be a charge for visiting.

Comment

It may sound like some kind of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, but trust me it’s not: the processes by which elected boards operate more often than not is a reflection of the wisdom of the decisions that emanate from that public body.

Comment

Gag orders regarding what can be taught in schools are becoming all the rage in many conservative states. Like the “don’t say gay” measure in Florida, these laws try to eliminate or sometimes guide discussions — mostly about about race and sexuality, but also politics — to the point that they are just bad for our schools and students.

Comment

Zoning. It’s one of those words— and concepts — that’s been cussed, spat upon and kicked unkindly to the curb for decades in the mountains. “Don’t anyone tell me what I can do with my own land, by God.”

Comment

Last night was one of those nights. That means today I’m running on caffeine instead of sleep. Normal bedtime, three or four hours of hard slumber, then wide awake, a stampede of thoughts, worries, ideas and plans racing around my head. Sometimes, like on this night, I give in to the insomnia and just roll over on my back and wait for the stream-of-consciousness parade to come to an end and hopefully get some more shut-eye. 

Comment

I have not attended any of the meetings of the new Downtown Waynesville Advisory Committee, but I sense an energy, a commitment, and optimism from those I’ve discussed it with and from the stories we’ve reported. That’s quite the turnaround from the final years of the Downtown Waynesville Association.

Comment

Removing the book “Dear Martin” from a 10th-grade English class at Tuscola High School likely didn’t prevent students in that class from having a deep, meaningful discussion about race in America and their own attitudes about this issue. Hopefully the teacher found some other book that inspired students to have this kind of discussion, because it’s one today’s young Americans need.

Comment

Make no mistake, it would be a stretch to say a partnership between Western Carolina University and the town of Sylva’s Police Department  is the model for the future of policing in small-town America.

Comment

Three tests, two shots, but just let me know if more is needed.

That’s a short and very superficial synopsis of my personal Covid story, but in truth the story goes much deeper. I suspect that’s the truth for most of us.

Comment

“A democracy ceases to be a democracy if its citizens do not participate in its governance. To participate intelligently, they must know what their government has done, is doing and plans to do in their name. Whenever any hindrance, no matter what its name, is placed in the way of this information, a democracy is weakened, and its future endangered. This is the meaning of freedom of press. It is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.” — Walter Cronkite

Comment

It was a tight space, but that’s often the deal with parallel parking. There were three bicycles in the bed of my truck, and the blanket I had the front wheels slung over blacked out the backup camera that had always seemed a huge extravagance.

Comment

The recent revelations regarding Mark Meadows and his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the events that led up to it are eye-opening. The man who went from Jackson County restauranteur to White House chief of staff has fallen hard, his ethics and patriotism in question due to his blind support for Donald Trump and his stolen-election lies. He may even find himself in court.

Comment

“Both the median sales price ($325,000) and the average sales price ($379,003) rose 26.5 percent and 20.3 percent year-over-year respectively [in Haywood County], while the average list price rose 21.4 percent compared to last year, to $429,042.”

Comment

Let’s face it, most people either can’t wait to begin their holiday shopping for loved ones or they just dread the whole spectacle. Put me in the camp of those who has found a way to enjoy it.

I’ve had mixed feelings about the “COVID police” since the beginning of the pandemic’s lockdowns.

Comment

I know Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Swain, and he’s a likeable, personable guy whom I disagree with on a lot of issues concerning how best to govern North Carolina. Political and ideological differences, though, are healthy and make for good debate and are the cornerstone of our representative democracy. Finding common ground amid those differences is how good government works.

Comment

Travel is one of my favorite soul foods, but it’s also cool to really get to know the place you live. I’ve spent most of my life in North Carolina and I know the state well. I’ve stowed my bicycles and parked my cars at addresses in nine different towns and cities in every compass quadrant of the state since moving here in 1970.

Comment

The socket wrench felt comfortable in my hands, which was a good thing: a quick look in a nearby box revealed dozens of large bolts with washers awaiting the attention of our crew. I’ve always enjoyed tools, working with my hands, building or putting things together.

Comment

It was tough to witness the demise of the Downtown Waynesville Association. The DWA has a long, proud history, one of dedicated volunteers who through hard work and smarts filled empty storefronts and changed Waynesville forever.

Comment

So here’s a reality of the explosion of information that we all live with today: it is now more difficult than ever — not easier — to discern the truth.

Comment

“It’s the new normal.”

It was the husband who had spoken. The couple we had encountered were lean, fit and tanned, obviously spending a lot of time outdoors.

Comment

In the middle of the tourism season, is there any way to politely state the obvious: this region is being overrun by visitors.

Comment

The Waynesville town attorney serves at the pleasure of the board. Elected officials can fire or terminate him for any reason they see fit.

Comment

Think Facebook’s ban of Donald Trump is justified? It’s a fascinating issue, one that gets to the heart of the differences between the internet and more traditional news sources like television, radio and newspapers.

Comment

Early morning, June 2, 1999. I remember exactly where I was at and what I was doing. More on that later.

Comment

Last July, The Smoky Mountain News produced a series of stories looking into police reform following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and other incidents of violence by law enforcement officers. One of the takeaways from that reporting was that good law enforcement officers are, perhaps, more critical of bad cops than the general public.

Comment

I got home from work yesterday after running a couple of errands. It was approaching 6 p.m. My wife, a teacher, was scrunched over her computer at our kitchen island, still working, still all in, too busy to even chat. OK. I changed from my work clothes, did a couple yard chores, tinkered around with my motorcycle. At 6:45 I came back and was just closing her laptop as I walked in, finally ready to relax. 

Comment

They didn’t know where they were going, their only waypoint the “S” on the compass rose.

They were both from Minnesota. For a laugh they could turn on the accent that became the humorous aside of the Coen brothers’ film “Fargo,” with the “yaah” and “geez” and “you betcha.” In their 50s, both had been able to retire early, she a landscape architect and he an Air National Guard pilot.

Comment

We who live in Western North Carolina are fortunate in many ways. We know that. It’s a beautiful place with a vibrant economy populated by interesting people from all over. It’s easy to commune with friends at a brewery or restaurant (adhering to covid restrictions) or slip away to the woods in the East Coast’s largest wilderness area.

Comment

A year later. We’re still mourning the deaths and illnesses, the disruption of life as we knew it, the months of gut-wrenching unknowns causing unfamiliar anxiety. It was March 17, 2020, when Gov. Roy Cooper began shutting down businesses and most of us waited for the tsunami that we could see — or at least imagine — in the distance without having any idea how horrific its final toll, when the worst of it would come, when it would finally recede, and who or what would be left standing.

Comment

The Covid relief bill now working its way through Congress will mark a transformation in the way this country treats poor children. It’s about damn time.

First the numbers, which vary ever-so-slightly from year-to-year, but which should be appalling to the citizens of the world’s richest country: 24 percent in Swain County, 26.6 percent in Macon, 22.5 percent in Jackson and 22.5 percent in Haywood. That the number of children living in poverty every single day of their lives. Right at one-fourth of the youngsters we see around our community every day.

Comment

The Smokies region is an outdoor mecca that attracts millions of people each year. For better or worse, that onslaught of visitors is increasing and likely to continue doing so. 

Comment

Another poll, another reality check for the media: Americans don’t trust us. The question that comes to mind, for me, is who does the public does trust for reporting the news? 

A Gallup poll released late last year revealed that 60 percent of Americans don’t think the media accurately and fairly reports the news, and 33 percent have absolutely no trust or confidence in the media. Finally, a whopping 27 percent have “not very much” trust in mass media (newspapers, television and radio).

Comment

When I read that Annie McCord-Wilson was among those leading the charge to have the rebel removed as the mascot of her daughter’s elementary school — Cullowhee Valley — I almost couldn’t believe it. 

In 2002 when The Smoky Mountain News was only three years old and trying to establish itself as an information source for the region, I read a fantastic letter to the editor in the Sylva Herald. It was written by then-eighth-grader Annie McCord, and I was astonished at her maturity. Here’s an excerpt from that letter discussing the use of the rebel as a mascot:

Comment

Short escapes from all of the noise coming from everywhere are so refreshing, so worthwhile. 

The holidays were a fantastic time at our home. Lori and I and our children and their partners had been spending time together since the pandemic started, had been tested, and so we felt safe getting together. My birthday is Dec. 18, a week before Christmas, so from then until New Year’s Day we had children visiting, excursions out and about, long dinners and a relatively busy holiday. Great times, especially in this year when so much was not normal.

Comment

How does one best express gratitude?

That thought kept coming up as I sat down to write a column for this week’s paper. After the rush of a holiday season that was so different, I found myself in our quiet mountain house on an unseasonably warm and sunny day pondering the year to come with more than a little excitement. This is going to be another memorable year, and I can’t wait to push forward.

Comment

This year has prompted a reckoning unlike any in memory, so we’re all looking to put a bow on 2020 and call it done, right? 

Comment

 “… one of the most significant facts about us may finally be that we all begin with the natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life but end in the end having lived only one.” — The Interpretation of Cultures, by Clifford Geertz

How do we get from here to there, from youthful idealism, optimism and boundless energy where the whole world is your oyster to a rewarding life? Some people  know right from the start where they want to go and what they want to be, but for lot of others, me included, it was a process, a step forward and one backward, but always moving. Do you adventure or buckle down, go back to school or learn life lessons? Stay in a relationship or move on?

Comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.