Letters to the Editor for March 2, 2017

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Macon collects nearly 2,000 shoeboxes for OCC

I am writing to thank and celebrate the residents of Franklin/Highlands and Macon County for spreading joy to children around the world this Christmas season. The generosity of Macon County volunteers, families and groups contributed a total of 4,766 shoebox gifts, paved the way for us to collect a total 18,719 shoebox gifts from all of our Western North Carolina area (which includes Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties) for the Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child (OCC) — the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind.  Our International Total for 2016 is 11,485,662 shoeboxes!

In October, we had the privilege of hearing the personal story of shoebox recipient Dania Yadago, who received a shoebox when she was five years old. She now lives and attends college in North Carolina, serving Operation Christmas Child as much as her busy schedule allows.  In November, the Western North Carolina Collection Center at Holly Springs Baptist Church celebrated the Grand Opening of the 2016 Collection Week with a special ‘ribbon cutting’ and time of prayer. It was attended by county commissioners Ronnie Beale, and Gary Shields, school board member, Fred Goldsmith, and Pastor Donnie Seagle, volunteers and guests. Area Coordinator June Trull shared some of the history of Holly Springs Baptist Church’s journey from becoming a Relay Center in 2008, to a Relay-Relay Center, to a Collection Center for Western North Carolina. Callie Barnett, 11, from Windy Gap Baptist Church, cut the ribbon to open the WNC Collection Center.  Macon County’s other drop-off location First Baptist Church of Highlands, celebrated it’s first year as a drop-off location.  Long time volunteers Sergio Barranco and Angelica Garcia did a great job as coordinators.

The gift-filled shoeboxes are tangible expressions of God’s love for children around the world suffering from poverty, natural disaster, war, disease and famine. These children, many of whom have never received a gift before, learn they are loved and not forgotten. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 135 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories.

It’s not too late for people to make a difference. Though the Macon County drop-off locations are closed until November 2017, filled shoeboxes are collected year-round at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C. Additionally, anyone can conveniently pack a personalized Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift at samaritanspurse.org/occ. Information about year-round volunteer opportunities can also be found on the website or e-mail us at wncocc@yahoo.com.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in this project and for those who do so year after year. These simple gifts, packed with love, send a message of hope and continue to transform the lives of children worldwide.

 

June Trull, Area Coordinator

Western North Carolina Area Team

Operation Christmas Child

Traffic and parking suggestions for Town of Franklin

Consider the northbound tourists that are headed for the quaint North Carolina towns in and around the Smoky Mountains.  On the advice of the directional signs directing them to “Historic Downtown Franklin,” they come to town from the Georgia Rd, then Porter Street Street.  So far, Franklin looks pretty good with stately old homes, churches, the Senior Center, the Chamber of Commerce and Franklin High School.  Next they head up the hill on Palmer Street and down the funnel to the Depot St. industrial area and back to the 441/23 Franklin By-Pass (Franklin didn’t show them its best side). Next stop Sylva, with another one way downtown, but this time a vibrant Main Street in the northbound direction. It has lots of appeal and encourages a stop to shop and get to know their town, only if they’re northbound.

Both Franklin and Sylva could learn from the next town north; Waynesville with its picture book Norman Rockwell type downtown that is welcoming in both directions. The second street is also bi-directional for locals who don’t need to go down Main Street just to get through town.

Franklin is really the hub community of western North Carolina and we’re missing our opportunity to capitalize on our location.  People come to our area looking for their place in the mountains to live or retire in an active and picturesque community. We already have the active part working well with activities like Pickin’ on the Square, The Pumpkin Roll, The Heritage Festival, Parker Meadows and the Performing Arts Center.  Our downtown is filling up and restaurants and shops are in place, all we need now is for the tourists to stop and visit and shop awhile in Franklin.

Appearance and parking availability are both critical for any small town to survive and thrive.  These four suggestions are offered in an effort to help “Make Franklin Great Again.” While parts A thru C are not expensive to do, I have funding solutions to make D.  happen, after A thru C are implemented.

To make Franklin more attractive and functional, I suggest the following:

A.  Make Main Street two directional from Porter St. to Depot St. and designate it as Business US 441/23.

B.  Make Palmer Street two directional from Porter St. to Depot St, designated as “Downtown by-pass.”

C. Parallel parking on both Main St. and Palmer St. (both directions). Result is wider traffic lanes, much safer for cars and pedestrians. Limit Main St. parking to two hours. Off street parking signs to Palmer St. and Church St. for those who can’t parallel park and merchants employees.

D.  Consider a land swap with Frontier in the GTE building (prior post office) to acquire that land for additional parking and festival place next to the Town Hall.  Also swap some of property behind Town Hall with Angel Hospital allowing the city to have the top and the hospital the bottom of the hill.

I know some folks don’t welcome change, but these suggestions are actually a way of going back to the way Franklin traffic worked before chain stores and “by-passes,” when we had a more vibrant All American downtown.  Re-paint the road lines and revive our downtown with an old traffic pattern.

 

Paul Dobbin — Franklin, N.C.

Remembering old friends

Like medical students wanting to become doctors, politicians should take an oath to “first, do no harm.” The recent actions of the administration suggest a less than careful approach to change. Some, many Democrats, Independents and a few Republicans, have called this behavior reckless, and are seriously throwing out the threat of impeachment.

With the sweep of a pen, much hard work by both Republicans and Democrats may be wiped away for less than assured results. Just one example is the Trump administration’s effort to dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act along with the Consumer Protection Agency it created.  If you are like me, you may not even remember who or what Dodd Frank was.

The Dodd-Frank Act was a lengthy bipartisan effort to reel in the banks to prevent another catastrophe such as occurred after the 2008 economic collapse when Americans lost their jobs, houses and savings, and was the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.  The purpose of Dodd was to redirect banks to do their job (stated mission) of promoting businesses and the economy by loaning money (from investors) to businesses, rather than using their (our) money to speculate (gamble) on risky investments (hedge funds and the like).  Now, under the guise of reducing unnecessary regulations on the banks, the Trump admin once again wants to set the banks free to do as they please, much like letting a child free in a candy store.  The administration is counting on Americans having short memories in regard to the past.

While no legislation is perfect, Dodd-Frank has safeguarded our economy and limited the risky behaviors of banks.  Trump stated that he had friends who couldn’t get loans because of the stranglehold (my word) of regulations on banks, and his Press Secretary Sean Spicer echoed this sentiment by saying that the Dodd-Frank Act is “a disastrous policy that’s hindering our markets, reducing the availability of credit and crippling our economy’s ability to grow and create jobs…”, while “not adequately protecting consumers.” But according to testimony before the Senate,  “Commercial and consumer lending is robust. Bank profits are at record levels. And our banks are blowing away their global competitors.”

Could Trump and Spicer be wrong about Dodd-Frank?  It is alarming that the determined work of Republicans, Democrats and Independents to protect what Americans cherish most, their families’ security, could be unraveled in a few words, questionable statements (alternative facts?), and the stroke of a pen by this administration.  Once the champion of the people during his campaign, Trump has now turned to a handful of former bank executives, to guide the policies of his admin.  It is unlikely these advisors have our, the people’s interest, at heart.

Whether you are Republican, Democrat or Independent, we need to consider the health of our nation foremost, before party allegiance. We are all in this together, for better or worse.  Like an old friend, let’s get to know Dodd-Frank again and let our legislators know that we remember what Dodd Frank really means to Americans in protecting the American Dream.

 

Paul Chew — Otto, N.C.

No one can make a moral decision for another

My comments here are in response to Daniel Bolick’s letter published in the Feb. 23, edition of the Macon County News. First and foremost, Mr. Bolick, I agree with most everything you say. Unfortunately, abortion has been in existence throughout history. It happens in every country and will most likely continue.

Any human being with a compassionate and loving heart isn’t FOR abortion. I believe most people, like myself, prefer it not happen. I’ve known only one woman in my lifetime who has had an abortion. I knew what happened and I knew her circumstances. No matter the advice, no matter the counseling, she alone made the decision. I believe that God gave each of us free will to make our own decisions. He wants us to make good choices, but sometimes we choose wrong. No human being has the right to make a moral decision on behalf of another. I certainly don’t believe a government institution has the right to make such an intimate and personal decision for a woman.

No offense, Mr. Bolick, but I believe men lack the ability to understand and share the feelings of a woman who is experiencing a traumatic and horrific situation…. when her pregnancy is the result of rape by sexual assault or incest. You think of the child, and rightly so, but the woman is important, too. We may not know her circumstances, but we hope that she gets the support and guidance she needs. We must be empathetic. No matter what, the decision is hers and hers alone. Democrats are pro-choice, but that doesn’t mean we are FOR abortion.

I’m going to take this topic a bit further by saying this: Republican candidates, during elections, have “used” abortion as a way to garner votes for themselves. It works amazingly well. They know there are people who vote solely on that issue. They have grossly overstated the number of abortions that actually take place in Planned Parenthood facilities, another tactic to garner votes. Republicans protect the child in the womb, yet they are against government programs that feed, clothe and house the children who grow up in horrible conditions. That is a travesty in itself.

 

Annette Bell — Otto, N.C.

‘Poligion’ needs to come to terms with science

Poligion: the merger of politics and religion.  Sometimes used to describe someone who has abandoned religion and replaced it with politics.  It can also mean just the opposite.

However the word is used, it illustrates a major flaw in our thinking because it leaves out science.  Religion doesn’t like science because science probes the logic of religious thought and politics doesn’t like it because politics is all about what people want to believe, not reality. None of it is good and in fact both are dangerous for humanity.

Our young went wild with Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that she somehow could spread the wealth without destroying our industrial base.

Needless to say, the drug cartels were thrilled to hear about her open borders and some contend they are currently financing the open borders movement.

Harking back to the days when many of our young hippies smoking LSD and other drugs while searching for Nirvana.

Hippies rejected the idea that we should work for a living and had hoped drugs would bring them Nirvana.

Hillary and Bernie knew how susceptible young minds can be and played into this weakness.

On top of this we have people who were part of the hippie movement 40 years ago and never outgrew the idea of Nirvana.

Never mind that Socialism has brought stagnation and high unemployment to nations like Italy, France and Greece.

Nature and science tell us that there can never be a Nirvana or Utopia and we ignore that fact at our own peril.

Science says that humans must struggle to progress.

Many would like to believe that Socialism could bring equality for all but history tells us that it never works and results in a power hungry political elite who rule over others. Politicians  can’t resist the natural urge for power and control.

It used to be that Liberalism implied freedom of thought and action but in recent years we’ve come to realize that Liberalism means just the opposite. Liberals require more laws and regulations and college kids can’t even engage in civil debate without being shouted down. Don’t dare disagree with a Liberal because they see themselves as superior beings and look down on the working classs.

As caring humans, we must also recognize that we must help those who cannot help themselves, but for the rest of humanity we do them great harm when we make them dependent.

Religion suffers from some of the same problems as politics. We are bombarded by preachments about God returning any day now and destroying non-believers.  This is a common dogma among most religions. The danger here is it limits our preparation for the future as we continue to breed like rabbits and use up our earthly resources at a faster and faster rate.

Somewhere in the future, religion and politics are going to have to come to terms with the reality of science.

God is not going to save us from the mess we have made and in spite of what we’d like to believe, no government is going to bring us Nirvana.

Without science humans may never understand God nor will politics be able to solve problems.

 

Bob Wilson — Franklin, N.C.

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