Flaunting the law, consequence-free?


To the Editor:

A couple of weeks ago I attempted to contact the Western Carolina University Police Department about Rep. Madison Cawthorn carrying a weapon (knife), onto the property of the university. This action is clearly against both university policy and state law.

My outreach was by means of telephone calls and leaving messages on voice mail to both Chief Steve Lillard and his vice-chief, none of which were ever returned. On Sunday, I tried a different method. I emailed Chief Lillard with the following three questions: 1: Was there an investigation started into this event? 2: If so, why is it not listed on the WCU Daily Activity Report (public record) on the WCU Police website? 3: If not, why has an investigation not begun? I did receive an email response from Chief Lillard’s office.

The response from Chief Lillard was the statement released to the media. It is: “The Western Carolina University Police Department reviewed the information provided and determined it to be inconclusive. University officials will communicate with the Turning Point USA-WCU Chapter to remind them that any future invited speakers must comply with university policy.”

I see several discrepancies in this statement, the first of which is that if the WCU Police Department reviewed the information and found it to be inconclusive, then an investigation was started. Why is it not listed in the Daily Activity Report? Secondly, if university officials have to remind the Turning Point USA-WCU Chapter that future invited speakers cannot carry weapons onto the university campus, then this is tacit admission that the incident took place.

If there is a recognition that the incident took place, why is not the state law being enforced in this matter and again, why is there no mention of the incident in the Daily Activity Report? I fail to understand how the information provided could be inconclusive in that a photograph published in the Smoky Mountain News clearly shows the knife in the possession of Rep. Cawthorn.

Obviously, Rep. Cawthorn is receiving special consideration in this case. I am pretty sure that in similar circumstances a student would be expelled, faculty member terminated or a staff member fired, and possibly charged with a violation of state law.

Lastly, I noticed in the statement released by the WCU Police Department, nowhere is mentioned the state statute that forbids weapons on an educational campus. It mentions only university policy. So, is the WCU Police Department to have the option of which state laws that they wish to enforce, or to ignore and for whom these laws should be ignored? There seems to be some inconsistencies that should be viewed by the chancellor and the Board of Trustees and corrections made within the WCU Police. 

Luther Jones, Sylva


Appreciates a community 

backing its veterans


To the Editor:

The Jackson County Veterans Office extends thanks to the businesses and individuals who volunteered and made donations for the 2021 Veterans Appreciation Dinner held Nov. 9 in the Heritage Room at the Jackson Senior Center. A large crowd of veterans and family members attended to enjoy a meal, fellowship, entertainment and a raffle.

Businesses making raffle donations included: Ingles; Baxley’s Chocolates; Jackson’s General Store; B&B Gifts; PJ’s BP Gas Station; Lucy in the Rye; Melissa’s Backstreet; Country Road Farms; Bryson’s Farm Supply; and Krystal Clean LLC.

Thanks also to the businesses and organizations that gave us so much support: The Sylva Herald; WRGC Radio; All American Awards; Smoky Mountain News; WCU Sign Shop; Sound of Music; American Legion Post 104 and Women’s Auxiliary; American Legion Steve Youngdeer Post Cherokee; Jackson County Commissioners; Sylva Police Department; Jackson County Sheriff’s Office; and individual volunteers.

Sheila Setzer, 

Director, Jackson County Veterans Office