Community should be worried about roadwork plan

I have attended Sylva town board meetings, mostly evening ones, since September 2017. I am allowed to speak five minutes on the proposed N.C. 107 project. During these meetings I receive no answers. In fact, I am met with a determined pre-mindset on doing this project by the Sylva Town Board. I have brought in speakers to plead with the board not to continue this devastating project and there is no reaction from the board. Carl Queen brought an alternative plan, and the board and NCDOT quickly shot it down. They had Asheville Design Center present reasons why it could not be done.

Keep in mind that Mayor Linda Sossoman and the five town commissioners are making decisions that will have immediate and long-term consequences for our community. The last commission election saw winners garnering fewer than 200 votes each, and one seat was decided by a coin toss, which is hardly a mandate on such an important matter. Recently the board voted to go to the expense of appointing a consultant for merchants on the 107 project. My personal opinion is that Dan Schaeffer was really hired to console merchants and property owners about the inevitable approaching disaster. I believe this was done to send the message that this is a “done deal,’’ a message that started when the plans were only 25 percent complete.

I have asked many questions, but with no answers, including has there been coercion, conflicts of interests and plain old greed involved in this project.

Sylva commissioners have a rotating board, so they can blame actions on previous boards. I believe if this project takes place, this board will own it. We are a close, tight-knit community that cares about our faith, family and community. Does the Sylva town board want this to be their legacy?

We need the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to weigh in on this project. Does their silence mean approval? Former county commissioner Jack Debnam is now a NCDOT highway commissioner. We have not had a meeting to let us question Mr. Debnam or the DOT. The public opinion and will of the people matters.

I feel my freedom of speech was violated when the town and county came up with a vague sign ordinance talking mainly about “special sales.’’ I am doing a peaceful protest.

NCDOT is using safety as a reason to use eminent domains. I believe the majority of the people are against this project. Can it be called for a vote? I need help in fighting this matter. 

The 55 businesses listed for being “taken out’’ are only the beginning. 

Others will fail as construction begins, and still others will be left with buildings that can’t be used for current business. I believe that is the only way the Kel-Save corner will be left, as many others.

Jeanie Kelley,



Panthertown issue well reported

To the Editor:

Re: “Controlled burns in Panthertown get a green light,” Sylva Herald June 6: Thanks to reporter Tanner Hall for this article. It was well reported and accurate from where I sit as a friend of conservation of Panthertown Valley since 1970 when I first visited this upper elevation valley of the east fork of the Tuckseigee River. The twists and turns from foreign investors, logging, to recovery for hunting grounds, to potential for private development or a Blue Ridge Parkway extension, to conservationists’ interest, utility purchase and sale to the USDA Forest Service as a recreation management has been interesting. I think many of our citizens, hikers, bikers, horse riders, naturalists and others are happy to have seen this area become Jackson County´s primary number one natural area.

Most of the conservationists have hoped it would not be a point of contention for controlled fire burns. This is related to our hikers and visitor use of the two primary areas of the valley, Little Green Mountain and Blackrock Mountain. And this has been evident as sometimes it is “overloved” by visitors in larger groups. That suggests the impact is beginning to concern those thinking of a place of solitude.

The one thing about the article that struck me as erroneous was the title of the photo, “...looking toward Little Green Mountain” that actually is a view of Big Green Mountain. Someone mislabeled this mountain that was first control burned on Nov. 14, 1914. There was some top kill of evergreen plants such as rhododendron or great laurel and mountain laurel (or “ivy”), red maples and others. This will be expected in the current proposed prescribed burns.

Dan Pittillo,