Letters to the editor

Kennel Club still follows giant footprints

The Asheville Kennel Club is the oldest kennel club in this area, chartered in 1936. As a club, we feel need to get out the word that we are still working with animal owners as far as our influence can reach.

Our charter admonishes us to “promote, protect, teach and support” the breeding, housing and care of animals, specifically dogs. The founders, who were giants in their day, understood animal advocacy and wanted to make our area a benchmark for the proper, compassionate and humane care of animals.

Today, the Kennel Club assists many other animal organizations in the area, such as Critter Magazine, the Buncombe County Animal Shelter, Animal Haven of Asheville, and the Animal Compassion Network. The club underwrites spay/neuter programs for low-income people and offers educational talks in the community about pet ownership and care. It recently helped raise substantial contributions to send trained volunteers to aid the animal victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. It gives financial aid to local shelters, and supports Meals on Wheels and the pets of the people they serve.

The club’s two major fundraising activities are back-to-back dogs shows each June at the Agricultural Center in Fletcher. These attract entries of nearly 2,000 dogs, and surpass the income from a number of the large and popular horse shows held here.

We “put our money where our mouths are,” and receive much satisfaction from standing on the shoulders of our illustrious forebears. Progress, of course, is slow and deliberate, but we sincerely believe it’s progress in the right direction for all animals under our care.

— Marie C. Anderson
Mars Hill

Stereotypes do not promote “awareness”

In your recent article titled “Adoption Festival Targets Parents” [“Buzz Worm,” Nov. 9], Alli Marshall’s first-paragraph reference to adopted children from Third-World countries as “urchins” was insensitive and tasteless. Equally offensive was the comment: ” … there will be no kids milling about, hoping you’ll take them home like a puppy from the pound.”

I am not one for uptight, over-extending political correctness, and I always wear loose pants in anticipation of many daily belly laughs. However, I found Ms. Marshall’s humor abusive and inappropriate for an article that is supposedly about adoption “awareness.” Children in foster care are neither urchins nor animals.

I work and volunteer for a local nonprofit organization that provides programs for older kids in foster care, and personally know 29 teenagers across the state who currently have no permanent home or family. These are incredible kids, with brilliant minds and hearts, who want desperately to be adopted by a loving family. Many of these children are at risk of aging out of the foster-care system, with no family or community to support them with the transition into adulthood.

Rather than perpetuate fears and stereotypes about adoption and children in foster care, let us encourage the many ways we can offer our love and support to children without families or homes — through mentoring, fostering and/or adoption.

— Jennifer Brook

Ethical lapse in the fish department?

The truly “amazing” thing about the Chilean sea bass being served at Peking Garden [“The Straight Dish,” Nov. 9] is the fact that it is being served at all. There is good reason why the chefs of scores of five-star restaurants around the country are refusing to include sea bass on their menus: The species is in serious trouble.

While it is true that the Marine Stewardship Council recently certified one small fishery from the South Georgia Islands in the South Atlantic, the fact remains that the vast majority of Chilean sea bass on the market comes from illegal, unregulated or unreported fisheries, making restaurants that serve sea bass complicit in a crime against both nature and international law.

The average size of Chilean sea bass — or Patagonian toothfish, as it was known before marketing agents got involved — has fallen from more than 100 pounds to 20 since the world market discovered how easily its flesh is turned into a tasty meal. Catches have fallen to the point where every serious, ethical guide to seafood includes sea bass on its list of species to avoid. The only course of action open to patrons is to add Peking Garden to their lists of restaurants to avoid.

Only if more restaurateurs, diners — and responsible food critics — join the international “Take a pass on sea bass” campaign, can we look forward to the day when a sustainably managed sea-bass fishery allows for consumption of the sea bass with a clear conscience.

— James Hrynyshyn

[Editor’s note: Xpress spoke with a representative of Poseidon Enterprises of Charlotte, the distributor that supplies sea bass to Peking Garden, who told us that the Chilean sea bass provided to the restaurant was certified for import under current standards, and was purchased from “licensed, regulated, letter-carrying suppliers.”]

WNC helped make Med-1 a success

Be proud Carolina! During the weeks since the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, North Carolinians have given much to help those in need. North Carolina dispatched Carolina Med-1, the nation’s only self-contained mobile field hospital, to Waveland, Miss., where the local hospital and infrastructure had collapsed and left thousands without emergency and regular medical care. This one-of-a-kind operation is staffed by N.C. volunteers, and its expenses were absorbed by various agencies throughout the state, as well as private donations from people and businesses that will never get recognition for their selfless contributions.

By the end of my deployment, Carolina Med-1 had seen over 7,000 patients in a four-week period, surpassing some of the busiest facilities in the nation. The people in Waveland and surrounding communities welcomed us and our services, having absolutely no other resources to utilize.

The EMTs, paramedics, registered nurses, respiratory therapists and physicians that I was fortunate enough to work with were all selfless and compassionate. Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville and Mission Hospitals of Asheville deserve recognition for allowing staff the time away from work to serve, and for coordinating the staffing efforts. Hendrick Motor Sports of Charlotte flew us all on the Jeff Gordan team plane at no charge, fuel and pilots included. And Russ Keith of the Mountain Xpress helped with the relief efforts.

I am proud that WNC is my home.

— Derek Watson

Dance premier succeeds with the unexpected

Bravo to ACDT! I was recently privileged to attend the premier of Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre’s new modern ballet, The Obsession, at the Diana Wortham Theater. Once again, Susan Collard and Nelson Reyes have created a provocative and excellent piece, this one based on the life and art of the Surrealist artist Salvador Dali, his wife Gala and the playwright Frederico Garcia Lorca.

Collard is always delving into the unexpected, and this time, in an extremely successful collaboration with Reyes, we were treated to the unexpected and effective use of a bathtub filled with water, some great camera work and more. The use of a live camera with projections on the backdrop gave the audience an intimate and intriguing viewpoint while the dance was performed.

The dancing and acting was great as usual. Giles Collard played the role of Dali with sensitivity and skill. Nelson Reyes is a special dancer and gifted choreographer, and we are so lucky to have him in Asheville. It is a delight to see choreographers concerned not only with the specific movements of each dancer, but with the overall composition of a piece and the intelligent and wonderful use of the stage in its entirety, from top to bottom. The dancers were not just dancing, but bringing the characters alive.

I could tell you more, but go see future performances of ACDT, and you will see for yourself. We have a real art treasure here in Asheville.

— Fleta Monaghan

Carving away our integrity

Perambulating northward along Haywood Street between Patton Avenue and Battery Park this past Sunday afternoon, I gazed upward at the architectural skyline of our city and was appalled. The mammoth, raw-metal air-conditioning unit perched atop 21 Battery Park slapped my eye’s view.

A friend commented, “Doesn’t the building look like the watchtower of a prison from this angle?” I concurred. Not only does it look ominous, but the building’s lines are in no way congruent with the architectural scheme of the neighborhood. How is it possible that this monstrosity was not foreseen?

Real estate prices (not values) have skyrocketed since my arrival here from Florida in 2002. Many of my friends want to scarf up land and houses to get in on the big money boom. One, claiming to possess a progressive mindset, has commented that I should climb aboard the real estate gravy train before I’m left standing at the station.

I moved to Florida in 1980, and over 22 years, I witnessed developers and real estate prostitutes turn a pristine paradise into asphalt, concrete and cookie-cutter creations of retail establishments, condos and mansionizations.

The television ad campaign for Heritage Park in Brevard boasts, “We’re carving the perfect space out of these mountains.” The “carving” part is indeed accurate.

Asheville is a city of superb, diverse culture, history and architecture. People come from all over to visit our tremendous town for precisely these reasons (among many others). I can only hope that our citizens wake up and stop the bellicose bulldozers of “progress” long before it’s too late. And I call upon our newly elected City Council members and mayor to have the backbone to preserve the integrity of our beloved Paris of America!

— Jeffrey L. Ray

I-3 needed, but not where proposed

I have been reviewing the route of the proposed Interstate 3 corridor, currently being studied for feasibility by federal and state highway officials in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. I have listened to the arguments on both sides of the issue, applied my knowledge of the rough mountain terrain in Graham County and looked at it with more than 20 years of experience in the trucking industry. I tend to agree that it would not be feasible, nor would it be practical, to build this stretch of roadway through the mountains of Western North Carolina.

First, there would be the enormous expense of cutting through granite rock, and then dealing with the possibility of rock slides, as has been the case in the I-40 gorge over the years.

Second, there would be a certain amount of environmental impact on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and regional wilderness areas, with a major highway being constructed and maintained so close to them.

I do, however, believe that the I-3 corridor is very much needed, and that there is a more practical route to take with this roadway. I think that most will agree that WNC needs an alternate route to access I-40, I-75 and I-24. To reach I-40 west toward I-75 north from Graham County, one must currently travel U.S. 129 north through Blount County, Tenn., which has more than 300 curves in an 11-mile stretch of mountainous roadway. To reach I-75 south or I-24 west toward Nashville from the Chattanooga area, one must travel down a very narrow, dangerous stretch of U.S. 74 on the Ocoee River, which has numerous hairpin curves.

Neither of these roadways is recognized by the Surface Transportation Act and, as such, are not designated for commercial traffic. They will handle our local transportation needs, but were simply not designed for heavy commercial traffic. This continually hinders opportunity for economic growth in WNC.

Having traveled and hauled extensively throughout the Southeast, and particularly in this area, I would propose that the I-3 corridor, once reaching Gainesville, Ga., take the following route:

• North out of Gainesville on Route 53, to Route 52 west to Ellijay, to intersect with Route 515, an existing four-lane highway.

• North on Route 515 to Blue Ridge, then on Route 5 to Copper Hill, Tenn.

• From Copper Hill, take Route 68 through Tellico to Sweetwater, where the road would intersect with I-75 just south of Knoxville and just north of Chattanooga.

This would be a much simpler, more cost-effective route to build, and would give the residents of WNC, as well as potential businesses, optional routes to access major interstate highways systems that would take them in any direction!

Study this route and its potential benefits to the residents of WNC. While none of the roadway would actually pass through our state, I believe its close proximity would greatly benefit our area, especially once the Corridor-K project is complete and we have unrestricted, four-lane access from the Tennessee state line to Asheville.

If, after review, you agree with my proposal, contact your U.S. representative and senators and ask them to pursue this matter. Their addresses are: Sen. Elizabeth Dole, 555 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; Sen. Richard Burr, 217 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; Rep. Charles H. Taylor, 339 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515.

— Steven B. Odom

Freeborn is the democratic choice

Asheville City Council has the responsibility to appoint the fourth-highest vote-getter, Bryan Freeborn, for the vacant City Council seat. Asheville voters have expressed their support for Freeborn, and City Council should honor their wishes.

While Council reserves the right to appoint whomever they want, the most democratic thing for them to do would be to listen to the voters. We elected them to represent us, and I hope they get off on the right foot by listening to us on this very first issue.

— Katie Morris

Take your manners on the road

Anyone who commutes on a bicycle should be commended, but some of these cyclists need to dig themselves. Cyclists are encouraged to follow the rules of the road, not only because there are laws, but also because of safety and — what this letter attempts to focus on — courtesy.

Do you remember how in, let’s see, I think it was kindergarten, you were taught that if you get in line behind somebody, your place is behind that person and it is considered rude to skip ahead? Well, guess what? It’s the same on the road, especially if there is a line of cars on a skinny road and you skip in front of them all, and no one can pass you on your bike.

As cyclists, we have the right to take up a whole lane if we want, and I often do [in order] to feel safe, but I never skip ahead of a bunch of cars that arrived before I did at the light. If you are concerned about being behind cars and [their] spewing exhaust, then take a side street, which would be safer anyway.

Like the bumper sticker says: “Courtesy is contagious.”

— Austin Hill

Deck would violate authenticity

The proposed parking deck for downtown (around Battery Park) looks like it will violate quality of life, not only for individuals, but also for the authenticity of the area.

The proposed cost — $32,000 per space — looks suspect.

— Emily McCulley

Announcing the theory of stupid design

I’ve been following the evolution vs. “intelligent design” science-curriculum debates closely.

On the one hand, Darwinists argue that new species evolve through the natural selection of populations that possess advantageous genetic mutations.

Alternatively, creationists claim that some species could only have arisen through intelligent design. This is also known as the “God Is a Practical Joker Theory,” since she/he left so much evidence supporting the idea of natural evolution.

I fully agree with those who believe that any opinion, no matter how lacking in evidence, should be presented in American science classes. So, I demand that my own “Theory of Stupid Design” be taught in our schools.

It’s obvious that evolution would never have led to the arrival of a species that destroys not only its own habitat, but also the habitat of most other species, and then goes on to wreck the climate and threaten mass extinction through nuclear irradiation. [Such a] result clearly contradicts evolution’s tendency towards survival and would have led to all species’ elimination long ago.

Further, no process called intelligent design could possibly have resulted in humanity selecting George Bush, Pat Robertson and some of the nation’s school boards as representatives of our species. Nor could intelligent design have led to the most powerful nation on Earth believing that — after 1,000 years of failure — a white, Christian occupation of Iraq would work this time.

It’s just common sense to realize that our planetary situation could only arise if someone really dumb were calling the shots. It’s too far-fetched to be an accident.

— Lawrence Turk

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