Letters to the editor

Stop bulldozing Broadway’s history

It certainly wasn’t the Battle of Gettysburg, but Asheville did feel the taste of war — in the spring of 1865. Yes, there was a battle right here in Asheville, which was the mountain heart of Confederate sentiment.

On April 3, 1865, Col. Kirby of the 101st Ohio Infantry was ordered to “scout in the direction of Asheville.” The Union solders were aided by a “number of deserters who knew the terrain.”

Marching up the French Broad River with a force of 900 infantrymen, two cannon and a train of wagons, “Col. Kirby and his blueclads neared Asheville on April 6.”

Col. Kirby was planning to occupy Asheville, but the vigilant Col. Clayton of the 62nd N.C. Regiment had other ideas about the Yankees’ uninvited visit.

Col. Clayton’s men consisted of a company of the “Silver Greys,” which were senior and junior reserves serving as the home guard, and some Confederate soldiers that were home on leave. The place was the area now known as Broadway [Street]. Around 3 p.m., “the full Yankee regiment deployed.”

The Confederates commanded positions on the ridge, while the Federals, according to historian Foster A. Sondley, hastily confronted them at short range.

The fight commenced at once. It continued until 8 o’clock that night. Even though the Yankees outnumbered the Confederates four to one, they gave way and initiated a retreat “little different from a panic.”

A Confederate victory was gained on the day of the Battle of Asheville.

“For almost a century the site of the battle underwent little change.”

Today, the area around the battle site is under siege again. This time, the area is being disturbed by bulldozers and dump trucks. Vast amounts of dirt are being hauled away from the bank off Broadway [to the Campus Crest development], and it has scarred the historic area. It’s hard to visualize that a Civil War battle ever took place there.

I spoke to Jennifer Blevins at the Historic Resources Commission, who said the HRC had no jurisdiction and [that] “no laws or ordinances exist to prevent it from being disturbed.” This is due to the fact that the Campus Crest construction project falls on privately owned property.

Linda Hall at the N.C. Archives and History office said they have no say — they could act [only] if there was state or federal money involved.

Join together with me to bring about public awareness in an effort to preserve and protect what’s left of this piece of Asheville’s history for future generations.

— Jeff Lovelace
Member, Sons of Confederate Veterans

[Editor’s note: Unless otherwise credited, the quotations in this letter were taken from the pamphlet Battle of Asheville, edited by George W. McCoy.]

Bottom line — protect yourself

I am an otherwise healthy 31-year-old who had what is commonly referred to as a grand mal seizure on Nov. 7. After being rushed to the emergency room in an ambulance and examined, all my tests came back normal (i.e., CAT scan, EEG, blood work, etc.). My wife and I realized later that night that I had been having “absence seizures” for several months and just did not know what they were (strange mental lapses where my brain took an uncontrolled direction for 30 seconds or so).

My wife has done a great deal of research on the causes of seizures, and we believe that aspartame (the artificial sweetener in diet sodas, candies, and numerous other products) is implicated. I had a habit of popping Listerine Pocket Patch strips up to a dozen times a day if I did a lot of driving. Aspartame is the fourth ingredient in the patches, and dissolving such patches on your tongue puts the chemical directly into the bloodstream. Our concerns have been confirmed by an integrated-medicine doctor.

According to the information we have found, aspartame was invented by Searle Laboratories in the mid-1960s and denied FDA approval repeatedly until the mid-1980s, when Donald Rumsfeld (then CEO of Searle) was on President Reagan’s transition team. A day after taking office, a new FDA director was appointed, and aspartame was then approved despite a very long list of proven side effects, including brain seizures.

The first URL below will give you some background on aspartame, including lawsuits filed; the second and third present articles on the connection between seizures and aspartame; and the last lists alleged side effects of aspartame:





I have taken it upon myself to send this information to you because I care about the world in which I live, and I have been given the unique opportunity to prevent others from suffering unnecessarily. Protecting people from dangerous substances is supposed to be the FDA’s job, but in my opinion, they have failed. The bottom line is, we do not know how many other drugs there are like aspartame in the foods we eat and the pills we take; therefore, I would recommend eating more natural foods and trying to stay away from chemicals as much as possible.

I encourage you to pass along this information to everyone you know, or do your own research on the subject and see what you learn. Seizures are not pleasant, and I would not wish them on anyone.

— Trey Carland

Coming back to what counts

Again you have very clearly shown how important you are as an independent, caring, community-oriented local news source.

Real local news about happenings that have real impact on real local people is precious, and you are there. Stories like “Nothing But the Truth” [Xpress, Jan. 19] on tree-cutting in Montford (where some Asheville personalities seem to be frequently in situations of confusion in which some “somebodies” are possibly making big money, and our could-be-strong community is being weakened), and “Homeward Bound” [Jan. 19] on trying something probably practical about helping the local homeless situation (and several old Council members continuing to fight the building of a strong community that can work for all, not just a privileged few).

Sometimes I get the feeling that much of print and broadcast media try to hide what is really going [on] of importance to us in our local lives, under fluff on “news” of the latest event in the lives of Hollywood stars and sports personalities, or what is the latest twist on a hot “reality” TV show.

But then next week, I can pick up the Mountain Xpress and come back to the Earth that really counts.

— James Sheeler

USDA protects profit, not people

The callous reaction by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. meat industry to the discovery of a third case of Canadian mad cow disease clearly places profits before public health.

The USDA announced that the United States still intends to lift the suspension on import of Canadian cattle imposed two years ago. The American Meat Institute, which finds Canadian beef more profitable than the domestic product, declared that the discovery is “no cause for concern.”

Mad cow disease is a degeneration of brain tissue leading to erratic behavior and death. It is transmitted through feeding of infected brain and spinal tissues to other cows. Human consumption of infected beef may lead to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a deadly dementia that may be confused with Alzheimer’s disease.

Measures taken by U.S. authorities to protect public health have been grossly inadequate. Only a tiny fraction of cattle slaughtered are tested, whereas Japanese and European authorities test every animal and find many more cases. The 1997 FDA ban on feeding infected body parts to other cows has lacked adequate enforcement. During slaughter, muscle tissue used in steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs and beef fillings is sprayed with bits of brain and spinal column tissues, traditional carriers of the disease.

Folks in the beef industry should seek a more secure and socially redeeming career. For the rest of us, it’s not too late for a New Year’s resolution to replace beef in our diet with vegetables, fruits and grains.

— Albert Bowers

It’s our turn to take voting seriously

Our N.C. legislature has appointed the N.C. Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting and will soon vote on updating the N.C. voting system. The recent commissioner of agriculture election exemplified the problem. But at this time we are in danger of ending up with a system which does not assure an accurate and accountable vote count. Many prefer half-measures. We must insist on full vote security.

Electronic voting can assist fully valid voting. It also presents new problems of reliability and tampering. Equipment fails without warning. It is vulnerable to tampering, both on-site and by “hacking.” Experts warn that voting mishaps are highly probable with large numbers, that tampering (vote fraud) is always possible, and that both accidental and deliberate miscounts can be almost impossible to detect.

Generations have paid and are still paying to secure our democratic right to vote: Our American Revolution, our Civil War, the suffrage movement of our grandmothers and great aunts, and the civil rights movement were struggles which cost blood, sweat, tears and lives. Others died that we may vote.

Today we are spending over $200 billion dollars [on war in Iraq]. Thirteen hundred young women and men (and counting) are no longer with us. Over 10,000 will return to us wounded, many withered in body or mind. Our leaders explain these sacrifices as justified so that Iraq may have a credible, voting democracy.

In light of the above, are we credible when we remain content with inadequate voting equipment? Adequate equipment and processes are available. We need to light a fire under ourselves and our elected officials and make the sacrifices necessary to assure a valid, accurate, accountable vote count.

On only one occasional day are we Americans truly equal, on voting day! Let’s not weaken that.

What we need from our legislators and their Joint Select Committee is:

(1) Expert, unbiased technical advice to secure an excellent electronic voting system.

(2) A paper copy, checked by the voter [and] placed in a secure ballot box, available for future re-counting.

(3) Nonproprietary equipment and programs open to public, expert monitoring. (No private group should have any “ownership” of any part of our exercise of our vote.)

(4) Sufficient audits of machines and programs to assure proper functioning for election time.

Contact your own elected officials, and also the N.C. Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting. The co-chairs are listed here, along with the director of the N.C. State Board of Elections (also on the committee):

• Sen. Austin Allran, (919) 733-5876 or (828) 322-1410; Austina@ncleg.net

• Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, (919) 733-5804 or (919) 929-1607; Elliek@ncleg.net

• Rep. Verla Insko, (919) 733-7208 or (919) 929-6115; Verlai@ncleg.net

• Susan T. Adams, (910) 295-2535; susanadams@remax.net

• Gary Bartlett (Board of Elections), (919) 733-7173; garybartlett@ncmail.neth

— John Waldo

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