Letters for April 2, 2020

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The Macon County News letters page is a public forum open to a wide variety of  opinions. Letters are neither accepted nor rejected on the basis of the opinions expressed. Writers are asked to refrain from personal attacks against individuals or businesses. Letters are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of the publisher, editor or staff of The Macon County News. 

Writer takes on new role

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

Throughout my nearly 10 years writing for the newspaper, I have had the pleasure of interacting with folks from all walks of life – from meeting President Barack Obama to talk about the unique needs of Western North Carolina, to writing stories of triumph and victories in our local communities, I have been afforded a unique perspective of our region over the last decade. I take great pride in being a voice for Western North Carolina and being an advocate for change – whether that be by researching injustices in state funding shortfalls to our education system or the disparities for our local businesses struggling to stay competitive without adequate infrastructure like broadband, as a journalist I have had the opportunity not only to shed light on issues facing our community, but be part of the solution to solve those problems. 

While I intend to continue my work as a journalist as long as time allows, I am excited to announce that I have transitioned into a new role to help the most vulnerable members of our communities. I am thrilled to be serving as the Community Engagement Officer for the non-profit organization, Pisgah Legal Services (PLS). For more than 40 years, Pisgah Legal has provided free civil legal aid to help low-income people meet their basic needs, such as protection from domestic violence, avoiding homelessness, and accessing health care and increasing income.  Because of the foresight of residents in the Cashiers and Highlands communities, PLS is expanding their service area to include Macon and Jackson counties – and I am grateful for the opportunity to help them become rooted in our community. 

PLS has 25 attorneys on staff and relies heavily on the pro bono legal services of 300-plus volunteer attorneys to meet the needs of low-income residents in our community. I am honored to be joining their team and being part of an organization that recognizes that sometimes circumstances are beyond our control and everyone deserves a fair and fighting chance. 

All too often my work as a journalist has led me down the path of telling stories of folks in WNC struggling in comparison to our counterparts across the state – often forgotten about by leaders in Raleigh. Resources and opportunity are devastatingly sparse for our friends and neighbors, or at least they have been in the past. I am happy to be part of an initiative to change that and make a difference right here at home. 

I look forward to the opportunity to work with state and local leaders, as well as community and civic powerhouses to help Pisgah Legal Services become an embedded part of our community and a resource we can all rely on to ensure justice for all – not just those who can afford it. 

If you want to learn more, feel free to contact me anytime at brittney@pisgahlegal.org. 

Writer objects to editorial’s assessment of Nantahala

RE: Bill McGouns’ OP/ED 2/8/20 [in the Asheville Citizen-Times – ACT] Nantahala Gives New Meaning to “Isolated”

Dear Ms. Wadington [editor of ACT],

I’d like to invite Bill McGoun to revisit, properly research, then rewrite “the rest of the story.”

Why your editorial staff permitted this sloppy, incomplete, inaccurate piece of shoddy researched article get inked is beyond reason.

Extreme isolation may be a negative to Mr. McGoun, but once the territorial boundary is penetrated by driving Wayah Road, a beautifully warm community lies within.

Were he to have done more than a cursory ride-through, he could have written an inspiring, uplifting article, rather than his absolutely insulting piece of rubbish.

It was a disgraceful representation of the residents, the Macon County School System, and the economic status of our Nantahala Community.

Would it not have been professionally correct for him to contact the County Manager, Derek Roland, for statistical information?

To touch the heart and soul of the Nantahala Community, Mr. McGoun can contact the following:

Daniel Lopp, a 2007 WCU graduate who chose to return to his community to raise his family and participate in teaching those “80” some students; Kristine Flaig, owner of the local real estate agency; Shawn and Kathy Bryant, owners/entrepreneurs of a multifaceted operation; John and Bonnie Gordon, owners of Lakes End Marina and Restaurant who moved their family from Florida’s entertainment center – Orlando – to enjoy “full-time” life in this comfortably warm community; Tom and Colleen Enmon, who brought Gulf-Coast ingenuity to establish Cherokee Cabins, their investment in this community; Kathy and Richard Smith, resident entrepreneurs who work daily in this community; John B. Mitchell, a proud veteran who returned home to establish a thriving business, raise his family, and join his parents who work here daily; Jennifer Solesbee and Kevin and Gay Moore, realtors who thrive in this so-called isolation; Jon Flaig, a developer who is following the tradition his father, Jack, brought to this lake community; Jeff and Martha Cohen, mainstays in boat repairs for the area residents; Jody and Stefan Hafey, hosts for a thriving destination wedding venue.

Mr. McGoun could talk to full time residents like Dutch and Amy Holland – Dutch commutes to Atlanta Regional where he is a Captain for Delta International Flights; Scotty and Barbara Cope – Scotty works for the USFS daily; Shirlon Haney, a most knowledgeable resident and retired Post Mistress for the Topton Classified Station. Or, he could speak with innumerable second home residents like John and Janice Shackleton or Dr. Joe and Wellyn Moore, who like others, chose the secluded beauty of this community to relax throughout the year.

There are far too many residents, both native Maconians and seasonal second homers, to enumerate, but I would hope you, now, get the picture.

His article denigrated a perfectly beautiful community nestled in the mountains of Macon; a community of lively, well informed Folk who love crossing the territorial bounds of so-called isolation to thrive in the beauty of Nantahala.

Shame on his ill-researched opinion editorial. His article could have been uplifting rather than semi-insulting.

I perceive his negativism may have resulted from the lack of cell service as he straight-lined his trip across Wayah Road.

Incidentally, he could assist this rural community by editorializing on the government “First Net Program.” It is funded to assist cell coverage in rural areas. AT&T holds the national contract. They need prodding!

Thank you, Mrs. Wadington if you elect to send him back to “lick his calf over”; we will gladly enlighten him.

Help us, Mr. McGoun; don’t perpetuate the myth of “yesteryear” as our prevailing status.

Respectfully,

 J. Emory Crawford – Mocksville, N.C.

This storm is a chance to rethink priorities

If you were caught in a storm the first thing you would do is seek shelter and then wait out the storm. Afterwards, you would assess the damage and rebuild.

We are still in the storm.

When the storm is finally passed, when we find we are still here, we will find our economy will still be here, too. But as we sift through the storm damage, we find severe flaws in our economy and society.

We find that over the last 50 years, everyday working Americans have become an expendable resource, ripped off for a profit. Pumped full of opioids for a profit. Communities have been destroyed by sending jobs off-shore for a profit. Ripped off with predatory lending, payday loans and onerous student loans for a profit. Fed cheap junk food for a profit. Forced to live in sub-standard housing for a profit. Now with the latest from our Federal government we’ve finally reached the ultimate expression of this profiteering – let us simply die if it will maximize profits.

We need to rethink our priorities, so we can live our lives without fear of coming storms. We need to do this if only to regain our humanity. Maybe then we can create a humane, caring community of storm survivors. Maybe then we loosen a bit on the “everyone for himself” attitude that many claim is the American way.

  

John Barry – Franklin, N.C.

Bless one another ‘from a distance’

A cure may be in the works! It is readily available, recently FDA approved for off label use, cheap, and 100 percent effective, despite any fake news to the contrary which you may have heard. Israel has donated free of charge six million doses of the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a board certified family practitioner in New York is using a mixture of drugs, including HCQ, azithromycin (an antibiotic), and a zinc supplement to treat patients with COVID-19. His results, according to his most recent update: 699 patients treated, 0 deaths, 0 ventilator requirements, and four hospitalizations (all recovering nicely). Dr Z only treats high risk patients (over 60, or immuno-compromised). He begins treatment when they show symptoms. Within hours, the patients feel better. In two days, they are much less contagious. And in five days, they are symptom free, and no longer spreading the virus. According to the Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2020, a placebo controlled study is being conducted in Kansas City by Drs. Jeff Colyer, Joe Brewer, and Dan Hinthorn. Results so far are promising.

I spoke with a local pastor of a church in Franklin. He said they have resorted to locking the door of the church building, because they are getting more requests for assistance than they have resources to help. Many people are hurting. If you saw this crisis coming, and prepared for it in advance, you are among the blessed. Please reach out to those in need. Random acts of kindness are needed now, more than ever.

There are many church buildings with locked doors, and no one inside. Where is the Church? The Church is not a building: it is an organism. It is made up of all true believers in Jesus, who have accepted the cure for the sin problem we all have. Our greatest need as humans is the love and forgiveness and healing offered by Jesus. If you are a Christian, you are blessed beyond comprehension. Please reach out and help people who are hurting.

Samaritan’s Purse is headed by Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham. They are setting up a 68 bed 14 tent hospital in New York City to help treat COVID-19 patients.

You may not be able to do anything big like that. But we can all call people on the phone. Some can offer assistance. Others can think of appropriate random acts of kindness.

Times like this teach us what our real needs are. We may need to remain six feet apart for safety, but we can still smile, and love, and pray. And we can be creative, and come up with ways to bless one another “from a distance.”

Ed Hill – Franklin, N.C.

An open letter to Sheriff Holland

Dear Sheriff,

With the current hysteria over COVID-19, I want to kindly remind you of your sworn oath to uphold and protect the entire U.S. Constitution.  What we have seen in previous weeks concerning this virus issue is nothing short of un-American.  The government and media have influenced the citizenry to give up judgment, conscience, and common sense on a level never before seen.  The government who is announcing bans on public gatherings, demanding the closure of businesses, or limits to the number of people together are doing so under the superficial guise of emergency powers but in direct violation of civil liberties.  If civic leaders willingly violate the law, for whatever reason, then they cease to be governments and the rule of law means nothing. Without the law, there can be no freedom, and without justice, there can be no law.  Our constitutional rights are not just valid in good times, but even more so in times of crisis. The Constitution forbids forcing American citizens to remain prisoners in their homes without public debate and consent.  But the Constitution does state, several times, that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process. House arrest, blanket business closures destroying livelihoods, communist curfews, bans on public gatherings, etc., deny Americans that due process as protected by the 1st, 5th and 14th Amendments.  So now it is OK to go to Walmart where germs are always present, but illegal to go to church? Absolute BS.  That being said, by all means, if someone feels they must self-isolate, that is their choice. There is a very high survival rate of this virus and no reason to panic.  But if someone is afraid, they can take individual responsibility to stay home.   No one, esp. government bureaucrats, has the right to force us to abandon constitutional principles.  We will not permit any level of government to infringe on our civil rights without being challenged vigorously at every step. If governments infringe on our rights so easily now, they will do so again and again  until the freedoms we and our ancestors fought to secure become a long-lost memory.  Governments always use emotional times to grab more power and when the crisis is over, we don’t get our freedoms back.  History has proven this many times.  This current “crisis” is being exploited by criminals in government and you have a job to oppose it.  The Constitution as rule of law in our self governing republic is our Romans 13 authority,  not so-called “leaders.”

For anyone who falsely believes these drastic unconstitutional measures are necessary, it was Benjamin Franklin who wisely said, “Those who would sacrifice essential liberty to gain a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.” We the People can easily see through this charade by government and media.  It is obvious these measures are not lawful and there will be serious blowback once the smoke clears from this goat rodeo.

You, Sheriff Holland, are called upon to defend the citizens of Macon County from the over reach of state and federal governments in this chaotic time.  If you are willing to oppose government tyranny to protect the 2nd amendment in Macon County as so many other courageous sheriffs around the country have done, then we are counting on you to oppose the blatant destruction of the 1st, 5th, and 14th amendments, so help you God.  We expect you to ignore any draconian measures passed down from state or federal government.  These measures did not work in Italy and NYC, and they won’t work in our rural areas.  Common sense and trust in God’s sovereignty is the only cure.  County commissioners, you should also be encouraged to stand up for the rights guaranteed us as Americans no matter what the cost.  Thank you for affirming that commitment with your (ironically timed) recent resolution protecting the Constitution. Now, please put some teeth to it. We the People have your back as we all oppose this government tyranny together.

  

Jim Gaston – Franklin, NC

www.lewrockwell.com

Current crisis could change the way we do things

Are we relying too heavily on the government to pull our economy thru the coronavirus crisis?

While I applaud the federal government for the passage of their Coronavirus Stimulus Packages to ease the economic impact of the current crisis, I cannot help but wonder if we could not be helping each other a bit more.  As workers in many industries are forced out of work and will be relying on government support to feed and house their families I ask is there any sort of “pay it forward (or perhaps in this case backward)” that might help.

What if manufacturers large and small saw this an opportunity to do the morally correct and patriotic thing by manufacturing the medical supplies and equipment needed at minimal profit margins instead of hiking prices.

What if banks were willing to freeze mortgages for those out of work instead of relying on the government to drastically increase unemployment benefits so their profits continue unabated.

What if landlords would forgive rents for businesses forced to close their doors  – and banks would freeze mortgages on these commercial properties in the same manner as for unemployed workers so small businesses would not need to rely on government and/or government backed loans (to be turned into grants) to have a physical place of business to reopen when the need for virus mitigation closures has passed.

What if everyone currently in possession of more than one month’s supply of toilet paper would return it to the store so those who need it could purchase it.  Or better yet, share it with their neighbors.

What if everyone with a yard put in a victory garden – sharing seeds with their neighbors as a pack of seeds for most vegetables is enough to supply several families.

What if everyone who is not thrown out of work by this crisis would donate a portion of their earnings to local food banks, shelters and or their local hospital’s “coronavirus supplies fund.”

I am sure each of you reading this can think of other small and large ideas of ways we can all help each other and share the burdens of this epidemic.  Resolve to put into play those within your power to do so.

I know some of my suggestions would require much communication between individuals, businesses and government.  One hundred years ago this might have been impossible, but with today’s technology I believe it would be relatively easy.

We need to recognize that this epidemic is going to cause hardships and temporarily, if not permanently, change the way we do some things in America. It is time for the American people to learn to share not only thoughts and prayers but also resources and hardships but most importantly, to share a resolve to get through hard times by working together and to share Hope.

 Mary Ann Ingram – Franklin, N.C.

Common sense is needed

Viruses have been around since the beginning of life itself.  They are not new to humanity and have not wiped us out.  In a world of about eight billion people you cannot tell me that we do not have the resources on this planet to stop this pandemic. Shutdowns will slow down its transmission but finding a cure should be the priority goal and we should by-pass the FDA who claim that it will take a year or so to find a vaccine (there are currently eight similar COVID-19 viruses traveling around the world each with a slight mutation).  To normally test a vaccine, a group of volunteers are selected with half getting the vaccine and half getting a placebo, then each will be exposed to the virus; neither group knows who is getting what.  Just skip this part of the test and give all of them the test vaccine to see how they respond. If it is statistically favorable after eight weeks (not all will survive and all those volunteers should be memorialized as heroes), then provide the vaccine to the public at cost by having everyone sigh a wavier not to sue if their results are not as positive.  It’s time we put a 100 percent humanitarian effort behind solving this crisis and stop the political grand standing, immature gestures, fake news and work together with our global brothers and sisters.  In 1952, Dr. Jonas Salk created a vaccine that cured the polio virus on a global basis.  He gave his discovery to humanity, not out of greed but out of a moral obligation to help humanity. Will this generation be so smart?

  

Larry Stenger – Franklin, N.C.

What to do until the Coronavirus passes?

This too will pass. While not originating from the Bible, this saying tells us that good times and bad times will always be with us.  What is important is how we react to changing times. In short, we need to live one day at a time and enjoy the moment. As the Chinese say: a crisis is also an opportunity in the making.  

My cat isn’t having any particular problem with the CV as long as she gets feed and gets a pet or two.  Maybe we should take notice from the world around us: all the animals and plants. The world goes on essentially unchanged, while we try to navigate our present crisis.  

Finding the good in the bad isn’t exactly easy: it takes effort.  But our choices may have lasting effects. For example, the extra time we spend with our families may strengthen our bonds together.  For those that have lost jobs or are staying home to take care of loved ones, this is an opportunity to reevaluate what is important to us and what changes we may want to make in our lives.  Are we spending our time and money on things that really matter to us?  

If nothing else, the Coronavirus may help us focus on our health, both physical and mental, so that we can increase our resiliency.  When 80 percent of diseases may be a direct result of our lifestyle choices, we might consider what changes we might want to make when hospitals are already overwhelmed and we may not want to visit a doctor’s office or emergency room.  Our health begins with the food we eat, the water and air we breathe, whether we exercise or not, and much more.  During these times, our mental health may be critical to weathering this storm.  

While we may think that a healthy immune system is important, worry, stress and anxiety can cause our immune system to over-react and increase inflammation. When people die from the Coronavirus it is because their immune system over-reacts and attacks healthy cells.  High levels of inflammation are associated with poor health and chronic conditions such as arthritis.  Positive moods have been found to lower levels of inflammation. So what things can support both our physical and mental health?   

This may be the time to consider planting a garden.  The exercise of gardening and getting outdoors can have a positive effect on our well-being, energy level and health.  Fresh vegetables from a garden can support a healthy immune system and we can avoid going into grocery stores where the virus may be present.  

For those with a porch or deck or stoop, many plants have been adapted for container gardening.  Our county extension provides garden spaces in the community garden or you can help out on local farms in return for some fresh produce. If you can’t or are unable to garden, you can visit your local farmer’s market or produce stand to get the best of local fresh produce while staying out in the fresh air and sun. Your local farmers are working hard to bring you fresh, healthy produce. Buying local supports your local economy and could be important in case there are disruptions in transportation.

While gyms are closed, we have the whole world outside to explore and enjoy. Western North Carolina has many trails, nature centers, parks and greenways that provide ample opportunity to be active outside.  The Stay At Home Order allows for outside exercising as long as you stay six feet from someone else.

If this isn’t possible, and we have to stay home, yoga or aerobics can provide the necessary physical exercise we may need to stay fit, healthy and relaxed.  

Learning to slow down for some of us may be our biggest challenge, as we are used to being constantly engaged by everything around us.  My cat again can be my best teacher, as she has no problem just laying around.  We can practice meditation or pick up a book to read to relax.  

We can engage in creative outlets that divert our attention from the latest alert that constantly keeps us in a state of panic.  Knit a sweater, paint a picture, sing a song, work on a project, garden, or take a walk.  

Not worrying may boost our immune system so if we do catch a virus we may just shrug it off.  

Helping others can also reduce our anxiety and stress.  When we act to meet the needs of others, we often forget about our own problems which benefits ourselves.  

All of these things will help build our confidence, health, well-being, and resilience, so when the next virus or crisis comes knocking on our door, we’ll be better prepared.

Paul Chew – Otto, N.C.

Reasons for confusion are few in number

It is nothing short of bewildering that so many Americans continue to champion Trump’s irrational statements regarding the coronavirus despite over-whelming evidence of the president’s unconscionable behavior viewed around the clock, around the world and coast to coast in our own country.  This president is a pathological liar and no amount of spin, denial, or subterfuge can ever alter that fact one iota.

In any crisis Americans have always turned to our president for guidance as have many western world leaders, at least up until the present time.  We cannot do that now because we are burdened with a bumbling incompetent leader whose behavior and routine lifestyle is best described as a combination soap opera and comic strip.

I remember a time most Americans gave a considerable measure of thought and reason before electing or appointing someone to a high position.  Granted, for a solid half century now people have been appointed to key positions based almost solely on color or gender so it’s not surprising that over time words like “expertise” and “proficiency” and fundamental “know-how” have loss their original and intended meaning.

Assigning positions on any basis other than knowledge, competence and “the right stuff,” basically undermines a society by compromising its institutions and endangering its national security as we have watched happen for the last five decades. To do so in the face of a deadly pandemic directly and indirectly costs lives.

President Trump dropped the ball early on by shamelessly claiming we were over-reacting to the coronavirus, inferring it was a “hoax” concocted by the Democrats and broadcast by the media to make him look bad.  That hogwash is still widely circulated daily by Trump loyalists and apologists.

What we really need to do is listen to and follow the directions of people who really know the facts, the experts and scientists who have devoted the larger portion of their lives to this discipline. Once such person is Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 2009-2017, and who now advises other nations on how to organize against epidemics.

“The CDC,” Frieden said, “has 700 professionals specifically focused on infectious lung diseases and respiratory viral infections.”  He finds it disconcerting that for the first time in 75 years the CDC is not in charge of the coronavirus pandemic that has engulfed the world.  “We’ve heard that FEMA’s in charge,” Frieden said, “we’ve heard the vice president’s in charge, we’ve heard Dr. Deborah Birx (U.S. Ambassador-at-Large) is in charge, and we’ve heard the Health and Human Service Secretary (Alex Azar) is in charge.  Who’s on first here, it definitely isn’t the CDC.”

The reasons for the confusion are few in number and just as obvious.  President Trump is far more concerned about his poll numbers and being re-elected than he is about the health and well-being of Americans.  Trump’s ineptness and lack of understanding of his responsibilities is as  conspicuous as it is colossal, no more need be said.

What worries Dr. Frieden (and what should be of grave concern to all Americans) is that the CDC is relegated to the sidelines during this crisis and not centrally involved in making decisions at the table.  “It’s not that the CDC is the only group that makes decisions,” Dr. Frieden says, “but it’s got unique expertise in communicating those decisions, and frankly I feel less safe because of that.”

We are less safe, sir, thank you for pointing that out.  Americans need to hear the truth from someone who knows the truth rather than from the Trumps, the Limbaughs and other fools who think they’re smarter and know more than the experts.

  

David Snell – Franklin, N.C.

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