Letters to the editor

Beware the small print

On behalf of the older adults in this area, I want to thank you for enlarging the crossword puzzle. We enjoy your paper very much. Keep up the good work!

— Murray Asch, volunteer
Land-of-Sky Regional Council Area Agency on Aging

Time to end predatory annexations

Recall that the original Royal Colonial Grants annexed corridors from coast to coast without consulting the Native American Indian inhabitants. True, with casino gambling, soon the Native American Indians will be able to afford to buy it all back. Like when the Godfather bought Nevada and made that state virtually tax-free — ideally, an ever-expanding reservation eventually would make all of us tax-free.

May we observe a moment of silence for the defeated victims of the Whiskey Rebellion. Recently, Landrum, S.C., reached down Highway 14 to grab Ingles’ revenues (but not so far as to include the former mayor’s restaurant), while simultaneously turning over its failing sewer management to Spartanburg County. Now Tryon plans to annex businesses down Highway 176, possibly to prevent a South Morristown from emerging. Next, perhaps, we can expect peremptory strikes by Saluda to grab the Highway 176 corridor between Hendersonville and Tryon, and a future Mill Spring municipality to grab Highway 108 between Columbus and Rutherfordton, [as well as] Highway 9 between Sunny View and Green Creek, while Columbus and Tryon battle over Lynn, et seq.

Soon, all our towns will look like unconstitutionally gerrymandered U.S. congressional districts.

Time to end such predatory revenue enhancements and sign a mutual nonaggression pact. Consider Jacksonville, Fla., which swallowed up its entire county to become the city with the largest geographical area, and Charlotte/Mecklenburg, which forever has been debating the merger of city and county services. Read about the current annexation wars in Duncan, S.C., and Asheville … as well as the North Carolina legislative debate and lobbying on this issue in Raleigh. Then, let us agree to end all such ensuing political and legal maneuvering and duplication of services, and consolidate together now — under Polk County government.

— J. Geer

Still pondering those napkins

I applaud H.K. Edgerton’s efforts to foster racial harmony — but like at least a few others, I, too, was confused by the Citizen-Times photo, if only for its ambiguity.

I’m still not sure what message the photo presented. Perhaps it presented no message at all, just a photo of three guys having fun. But the white napkins were richly symbolic to me, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who read “hooded Klansmen” into the gesture.

In the end, I think it may have been that symbolism, and not Edgerton’s horseplay, that stirred such a ruckus.

— Ralph Grizzle

Twice as nice, when it’s cold as ice

Damn nice to be able to read Xpress here on the ice [via the Internet]. Once you get tired of looking at icebergs, calving glaciers, leopard seals, penguins and the other beautiful oddities here, news from home is a welcome thing, indeed.

— Dean Klein, network administrator,
Palmer Station, Antarctica

Klein is currently the network administrator and computer support person at Palmer Station. He and 21 other souls will be spending the winter there (while we experience summer here). Klein lives part-time in western North Carolina, where he operates Parkway-Motorcycle Tours. He says, “I’ll return sometime in October … whenever the ice melts.”

What every cyclist knows …

They were upon us so quickly, the two of them, squeezed inside a fancy black sports car, its windows down and music blaring. They whizzed by me and a fellow cyclist, after initially having to slow down as approaching cars passed from the opposite direction. Still, from our unobtrusive vantage point several feet away, you could see that the two teenage girls were probably just out for a ride, same as we were, on the Parkway one recent Sunday afternoon.

Only thing I couldn’t understand is what I’d done to warrant the passenger’s raised middle finger as the two sped by.

“Just something you’ll have to get used to,” my friend said. Perhaps the confined quarters of their speeding vehicle necessitated the girl’s inimical gesture.

I had barely been on the roads in this area a week, back in January, when I encountered similar episodes of road rage from other local yokels. “You shouldn’t be on that thing on the road,” a man yelled after running me into a curb north of Hendersonville. That was the day before another man — this one in a small pickup — swerved across my path on Hwy. 25 in Arden, coming within inches of my front wheel. It was as if he were rehearsing for a show, like the rodeo or something. I hear they’re big around here.

You’d think that someone who was once a bicycle messenger in New York City would be used to such a thing.

I’m not.

It seems that just about everyone has an opinion about cyclists’ rights on the Parkway — or on any road, for that matter. There’s a segment of the population in every city that believes the road is no place for a person with a bicycle.

Some of my friends and acquaintances think I’m crazy to be riding again, that I should somehow have an aversion to this healthy form of recreation, because of an accident in 1993. The four years I spent out of the saddle only intensified my resolve that we cyclists, who were here long before the automobile was invented, have just as much right to the road as the next guy.

“I hope you learned your lesson,” a woman once lectured me. This after I told her how I was hit by a truck from behind while cycling in Shreveport, La., one September afternoon. Never mind that the driver told police he took his eyes off the road and never saw me, or that the injuries I’d sustained were life-threatening. That I’m alive today is proof that God is still in the miracle business.

As every cyclist knows, it’s always going to be our fault. Whether we obey traffic laws or ignore red lights, we’ll be the ones to blame for somehow “holding up traffic” or encroaching on other people’s recreational use of the Parkway. The scornful looks come with the territory.

— Scott La Point

Keep pushing for a better cable-TV agreement

Those of us interested in our community can be grateful to Wally Bowen and Citizens for Media Literacy for encouraging the mayor and City Council to delay the city’s negotiation of the cable-TV franchise agreement.

There is no reason why the current provider, Intermedia, should not pay its delinquent fees before a new contract is negotiated. Intermedia’s offer last November to pay one-tenth of the amount owed in delinquent fees is ridiculous. Subscribers are expected to pay their fees on time; so should Intermedia.

Those of us interested in the arts should do as other communities have done and urge the city to press for public-access channels. This would be a constructive way to bring our community together — by providing a local outlet for the many creative people who grace our community, and allowing every segment of our city a better chance to know each other.

— James Laird

Inbred Rednecks wins award

Thank you for publishing the wonderful article by Ashely Siegel on my new film, Inbred Rednecks [April 15]. Her fantastic writing truly captured the satirical atmosphere of the outrageous comedy.

I’m proud to announce I’ve just received word that the film has won an award. It was submitted to the sixth annual international 1998 Smoky Mountain/Nantahala Media Festival. Out of nearly 30 multimillion-dollar films submitted from around the world, only five were chosen for awards (one first place, and four honorable mentions). Inbred Rednecks received an honorable mention. The judges especially praised the boldness of the film.

This honor is a great credit to the people of western North Carolina. Without their support and talent, the film would have never been created. The Mountain Xpress did a wonderful job of presenting the film to the general public. I speak on behalf of the more than 1,000 WNC residents involved when I thank you for your generous coverage.

The film is currently playing at Two Moons Brew ‘n’ View, receiving rave reviews and explosive cheers. As we proceed with tackling the rest of the country, I will certainly keep your staff updated on our progress. With your help, the people of our region are shining brightly, for Hollywood and the rest of the world to see. Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

— Joshua Warren,
producer/director, Inbred Rednecks

Background on the Great Smokies road wars

Like many people in western North Carolina, we in Jackson County have followed with some interest the recent dialogue concerning improvements to U.S. 19, between Maggie Valley and Cherokee — a dialogue that intensified after the arrival of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.

And while we certainly have no objection to limited improvements to the two-lane mountain road over Soco Gap, we believe that overall [media] coverage of the issue has been less than comprehensive.

Maggie Valley residents and business owners who seek extensive work on the road cite the safety of motorists as their foremost concern and Maggie Valley’s economic viability a close second.

The Asheville Citizen-Times editorialized (April 1) in favor of rapid improvements to U.S. 19, and Congressman Charles Taylor has included funding for the project in the huge transportation bill that has passed the House and is now before the Senate.

What has not been highlighted, though, is this: A safe route from Haywood County to Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park already exists.

U.S. 23/74/441, an attractive and viable four-lane highway, was built to move motorists safely from the I-40 corridor in Haywood County to Cherokee and the park. It’s a few miles longer than the U.S. 19 route, but easily makes up for that difference in speed and safety.

Several years ago, the state considered rerouting U.S. 19 along the current path of U.S. 23/74/441, but Maggie Valley business owners were vocal about the business that they’d lose. As a compromise, U.S. 19 stayed in place, and the express route, U.S. 23/74/441, was renamed the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway.

Since then, however, the signage at the junction of U.S. 19 and the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway has been changed more than once, and has remained confusing and misleading, giving motorists the impression that the main route to Cherokee and the park is over narrow U.S. 19.

The interests of Highway 19 business owners, though, are not necessarily in the best interest of the traveling public, the taxpayer or our environment. The safest route across the Balsam Range to Cherokee and the Smokies is the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway — a road for which the taxpayers have already paid, and a road which shouldn’t be duplicated.

Do the people of Jackson County have an economic interest in which way traffic flows to Cherokee and the park? Of course we do.

By all means, let’s continue with plans to make sensible safety upgrades to the winding Highway 19. But it’s in everyone’s interest on the south side of the park to pursue two goals: to give our visitors a safe and memorable trip to the area, and to maintain our area’s image — and advantage — as the unspoiled side of the Smokies.

To maintain that advantage in tourism — and to encourage the quality of life that those of us who live here enjoy — we should be careful each time we consider destruction of our mountain environment in the name of so-called progress.

In order to give our guests a memorable and safe experience in the mountains, we should see that they have accurate information about the roads that they’ll travel while they’re here.

— Laura Currie Chase, executive director
Jackson County Chamber of Commerce

Learn to compromise in Asheville

I read with bemusement and sympathy Eileen Duignan-Woods’ letter in the April 8 issue. After living in San Francisco for 24 years, I moved to Charlotte, then to Asheville two years later.

I must agree that I’ve found some of the same difficulties in Asheville. The natives often resent outsiders moving here. However, if Ms. Duignan-Woods doesn’t get along in Asheville, I must heartily advise against moving to Charlotte. I quickly learned the difference between a Yankee and a damned Yankee. Charlotte is a soul-less city: After the Civil War, opportunists were called carpetbaggers; today, they are called “developers,” and the city is lying on its back, cooing, “Rape me.” The only art they appreciate is crayon drawings of Jesus.

I guess everything is a compromise. In Asheville, we bought a house for about $80,000 that would easily be $350,000 in San Francisco, where yards the size of ours are rare. Asheville has a nice community of artists (even though supplies and support services are pretty thin), and roads for motorcycle riding are great.

I wish someone would publish a book on how to do business in the South. Before moving here, I heard a lot about the economic opportunities, but I find that they are narrowly focused. We had to become self-employed to survive, but I’d rather have a regular job. Oh well. …

— Paul Saint Clair

Society should drop antiquated laws

Antiquated laws should be ancient history. American government is putting the blame on the wrong citizens. Americans are rapidly losing their self-respect; they already lost their jobs to Mexico. It’s time we should all unite and work together to try and regain our sense of pride.

My father’s medical [and] work records were destroyed in a fire aboard his ship — so the government told him! My mother tried, after his death, to get the benefits she deserved … and never got them. My father never got the right treatment [befitting] a World War II vet. I’ve got those papers now — my parents are dead now. Put me in touch with the right people, and I’ll show you how to get justice done. I can do it, too!

Selling Memorial Stadium isn’t a good idea, nor a solution to the problem. A handful of witches hold an event, and suddenly, it’s tainted land — let’s get rid of it fast. Well, these money hounds wanting to sell it [and] build a new field at Richmond Hill are either hard up for attention and business, or they just want to make a name for themselves. We’re already known for recycled toilet water — what else do we need?

My father played ball– [he] had a game the same day he married my mother, July 4, 1947. I came along July 14, 1948. I don’t care too much for [baseball]; I prefer fencing. Let the people of Asheville have Memorial Stadium for their sports, and stop acting like snotty-nosed crybabies that lost their pacifiers — and give our kids a break.

Next, let’s talk about tax abuse. The local taxpayer, earning under $20,000, didn’t get a tax break. …

Antiquated laws — change it or revise it, or just throw it out! I don’t mind paying taxes I owe. However, paying a penalty with interest until all back taxes are paid is stupid. This state/federal law should be ancient history, or something needs to be done within the law to permanently close the IRS. … When I see what I pay to them out of my check each payday … Hey, baby, I can use it too! I’ll pay higher food tax. I’d rather do it than pay the other way. …

History repeats itself every 10 to 20 years. Bad times are headed our way, folks. It’s time, and we need to take a long, hard look at what’s coming down. We all have problems, but remember this: United we stand, divided we fall. God’s coming soon, but before he gets here — all those things quoted in the Bible are true. You can see what destruction we’re having with the weather. I’m ready — are you?

— Marlene Gore

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