Letters to the editor

Beware the plant gestapo

Recently, another law-abiding citizen’s property was raided. Like so many other raids, it happened without warning or “due process of the law.” The [State Bureau of Investigation] and what the owner called “the county mounties” simply landed a helicopter in his back yard — much to the amusement of the neighbors — and proceeded to search the premises without a warrant. The search was, of course, fruitless. They found no contraband, but exposed and trampled the man’s ginseng beds.

It should be noted that this latest victim of law harassment is well into his seventies, his wife sick and homebound on oxygen. Likely drug runners? Evidently, he was suspected by the plant gestapo, due to the multitude of legal potted plants behind his house.

Beware, farmers, landscapers, plant enthusiasts and property owners in general: Big Brother is in the air scanning your land with his infrared binoculars — at your own expense. Better hope your neighbor didn’t slip his pot plants over on your side of the fence.

At what point in the War on Drugs did the Bill of Rights become null and void? Is the eradication of one plant — which has grown and been cultivated since the beginning of time — so important that we are willing to forfeit those rights? How many more millions of dollars will be flushed [away] on these preposterous air raids, which treat us all as if we were the enemy in this futile drug war? Most importantly, when will law enforcement learn to obey the basic laws set forth when this nation was founded — laws that were intended to protect its citizens from a tyrannical government and to uphold their freedom.

— Eva Scruggs

The view from Minnesota

My father, George, was so thrilled that you published my letter, “Thanks for the memories,” [Nov. 18, 1998] that he sent me copies of my letter and a copy of your magazine.

I guess everyone was coming up to him and saying what a nice person I was. All of you were nice; that’s why I wrote it.

Since then, I’ve been back to Asheville, March 12-April 12, 1999, and had the same experience.

Now, I will be coming again, and this time bringing my husband, Steve Johnson, to Asheville, over Labor Day weekend. I want Steve to see the city, its mountains, and meet the people who are now my new friends, and who correspond with me, too. I love the letters I get from Marti, the waitress (she now works at Asheville Pro-Bikes); the post cards from Clayton, who has an international art gallery on Patton Avenue. There’s my lady-friend Jana Weed of Sathia Sai Baba; this big Ukrainian lady called Natalka, who’s a Pentecostal [and] who taught me how to make Ukrainian sauerkraut soup (wonderful); this Ukrainian lady called Katia — she has a big old house downtown; me and my father met her at Kituah last year.

When I was down in March, [our Ukrainian friend Katia] had her mother down from Michigan, and they came over to my dad’s house, and I served them up cabbage rolls in mushroom-dill sauce, and [later], we met up at that Folk Art Center, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, that had beautiful art and great munchies, and then we went to the Riverside Cemetery with all these beautiful statues of angels and trees, and O. Henry’s memorial — great writer.

I’ve seen the beauty of Chimney Rock, Mount Pisgah, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Flat Rock and Carl Sandburg’s home, [and] Lake Toxaway — where my dad’s good friends, Steve and Winnie Kropelnicki, have a spread. I guess my father and Steve K. met at a VFW in Asheville. They’re both Korean War veterans. Winnie is a Southern belle, and that’s her family’s land in Lake Toxaway. It’s beautiful there, and Winnie is the epitome of a gracious Southern woman. I couldn’t talk her into making mint juleps, though — but I found a wonderful Southern cookbook up here at my library. I now can make ham hocks and collards, better BBQ, yellow squash about 10 ways, okra — all kinds of stuff we can’t get up here.

Now, I’m bringing my husband, Steve. I would love to move south, and possibly [to] Asheville. It’s a big enough city, decent climate, friendly people and the beautiful mountains. Steve is a certified tree trimmer — on the Internet, even. I was wondering if he could get a job in the tree business or logging industry.

But thanks, again, for your hospitality. You know, I thought it was just a fluke, or my infatuation. This last time, leaving Asheville on the Greyhound bus, going north, I met the nicest man called Robin Daniels, of Asheville. We rode the bus to Chicago. Robin then went on a bus west to Yellowstone National Park for summer work, where he’s a hotel manager. I took a different bus to Minneapolis and St. Paul. Robin writes me and sends postcards of Yellowstone, but he’s looking forward to coming home to Asheville. I told Robin of my awesome experience in Asheville, and he says it’s the “crystal in the mountains” and “Indian magic.” Well, whatever it is, it works!

I still remember when I was planning to come to Asheville: I had called the Chamber of Commerce and talked to the nicest woman — didn’t get her name, but she was young, came from Ohio, and was in Myrtle Beach for a while. She talked to me at length on the phone, [was] very informative, and said, “Oh, yes, Asheville is a city, and everywhere you look [are] mountains.”

I’ve read so many Southern novels and had a romanticized view of the South, but so much is true! Thank you, for all of you and everything. You should advertise [yourselves] more. I, myself — even though I think of myself as enlightened — still pictured hillbillies and moonshine stills, and it’s not true. You are cosmopolitan and wonderful.

— Natalie Rebucha
Fridley, Minn.

Possible mall-access solution

It seems that everyone has absolutely given up on any other possible access solutions to the Asheville Mall, besides Brackettown Road, the sadly remodeled Sears entrance, and the three Tunnel Road entrances.

There is one other possible access that may be the answer to everyone’s prayers (including the construction-traffic woes soon to come to the immediate area surrounding the mall): the piece of property located directly down the hill from the now-closed Mall Twin Theaters; it lies directly behind the construction of the new Lowe’s.

It doesn’t appear to me that there is any kind of construction going on in what is the “back yard” of the new Lowe’s, currently occupied by a beautiful, but abandoned old home. A Swannanoa River Road entrance to Asheville Mall through this seemingly idle piece of property seems like an excellent opportunity being ignored.

Albeit, I have no idea who owns this property. I’m guessing Lowe’s still does. Wonder if they’d be willing to sell it to accommodate traffic into their new digs, as well as to de-congest some of this already horrible Mall traffic.

Just a thought.

— Jennifer Karrer

The politics of slowing speeders

Re Hamish Ziegler’s commentary on speeding enforcement, etc. [“For our children’s sake,” Aug. 11]: If you have a speeding problem in your neighborhood, and your mayor, who is sympathetic, tells you that little can be done because of budget and funding constraints, you are being conned by a slick politician who is not going to do much for you. “Cannot afford” a traffic officer is pure bulls**t!

If there is a speed problem in any city, anywhere, one traffic officer can write enough citations in one week to pay his monthly salary and [purchase] the radar gun. During the rest of the [month, he’ll write] enough citations to enrich the coffers of the municipality.

For a municipal official to claim lack of funding as an excuse for refusing or failing to take action is malfeasance of office, an insult to any thinking person’s intelligence — and you do not have to take it. Vote her out of office, and get someone in who is not afraid to rock boats, and stop the threat on your street.

— Earl Gale,
currently visiting family in Malaysia

Kudos for Woodfin crews

@text; Jobs well and faithfully done often go overlooked in the humdrum of everyday living — so faithful employees will say: “What am I here for? John Public never seems to notice me. Why should I continue?”

Praise for jobs well done is often lacking today, in day-to-day jobs. Though some will not admit it, praise oils the gears of daily life. And it makes for real joy in day-to-day living.

Before Y2K rolls around ([less than] five months away), I wish to honor the crews of the town of Woodfin. This includes the road-maintenance crew under Mr. Gene Wills of Lookout Road, and the Sanitation Department under Mr. Buster Honeycutt of Woodfin, and the rest of the crews, including Mr. DeWayne Orr, Mr. Charles Hewitt, Mr. Sterling Taylor, Mr. Tom Wolson and others.

And also, Mr. Coy Rice, mayor; Cheryl Mears, secretary; Ron Nalley, town administrator; Jerry Wood, Planning and Zoning administrator; the aldermen; and the Police Department, with Chief Faye.

From my little quarter-acre lot, I have lots of veggie vines and brush trimmings to be removed, and I get them to Mulberry Street, where they are removed regular. Also, garbage containers are emptied onto a garbage truck, regular. And other special trash, including blue bags, cardboard and batteries are picked up on Special Days (for which we are notified in advance by a special colored-sheet flier, The Talk of the Town).

— George Lynch

Love thy neighbor

Trinity Baptist Church and Senior Pastor Ralph Sexton’s attack upon Buncombe County zoning are revealing. In their zeal to fulfill the First Commandment, of loving God, they totally ignore the Second Commandment, of loving thy neighbor.

The main reason the First Commandment is so consuming is that these Christians perceive it as the key to heaven. Heaven can wait. What can’t wait is the need for good neighbors who care about their effect on other people, Buncombe County and the world. We need to control growth, population and consumption — or the quality of life on earth is doomed.

If all the magnificent moral energy of mainstream and far-right churches were shifted more toward the Second Commandment and less towards the First, then civilization’s future would be bright. If this doesn’t occur, I suggest that churches such as Trinity Baptist drop the Second Commandment — for they sure aren’t good neighbors, much less loving ones.

— Bill Branyon

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