New shelter wouldn’t be a ‘Taj Mahal’


To the Editor:

This letter is in response to a Sylva Herald article of Sept. 10, headlined “Deitz supports animal shelter, but says price tag doesn’t match needs.” This article expresses Commissioner Boyce Deitz’s concern that someone told him that for “the last few weeks (the shelter) hadn’t had but five or six dogs.”

This concern is in spite of the results of two paid, contracted firms’ studies based on needs assessments. The firms went to the shelter, inspected the facility, and confirmed the numbers used for the assessments and gave Jackson County their estimates of the square footage needed to fulfill these needs. There are reasons for the lower occupancy numbers told to Commissioner Deitz.

The needs assessments given to the firms conducting the studies were based on averages of occupancy over time, not “just the last few weeks.” There are many times when the shelter is at capacity and potentially above. Local humane groups have helped at these times by pulling animals, taking them into their care, thus saving many from euthanization, and opening up space for additional animals. The article also said, “there may be a downturn in the numbers right now due to COVID.”

ARF, the Humane Society of Jackson County, has for years pulled animals from the present Jackson County Animal Shelter and the community, fostered them in members’ homes, and then either adopted them out locally or sent them to partner shelters out of state, thus lessening the occupancy at our shelter. Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, late March 2020, ARF has sent 63 dogs on four transports to Florida. This is in addition to ARF’s local adoptions. On Sept. 10, ARF had 18 dogs in foster care pulled from the shelter and community plus two dogs being fostered by ARF while they recover from heartworms. ARF pulls heartworm positive dogs from the shelter for treatment (which takes five months and costs ARF about $600 per dog.) ARF also pays for vet care for dogs that are sick or injured residing in the shelter and also paid for a number of shelter dogs to be spayed or neutered during the COVID pandemic.

If a new shelter can have an expanded occupancy capability, it is hoped that it will be able to respond to present and future needs. This would mean that this adequate shelter could handle the number of animals needing services without having to rely on euthanization, local humane organizations’ foster programs, and the help of out-of-state partner shelters. It would not be a “Taj Mahal.”

Jean Lewis, Cullowhee

Lewis is ARF secretary


Kudos to USPS, Board of Elections


To the Editor:

In this time of paranoid fear driven by the traitor in the White House who is attempting to make everyone distrust the other, I want to send a huge thanks to the employees of the Board of Elections and the Post Office. Dona and I received our mail-in ballots one day after the start date for sending them out. These two agencies are so vitally important. Please vote for decency and not allow his mantra of fear to prevail.

Tom West,



Proposing a new monument


To the Editor:

The all wars memorial in Jackson County, that is also a Confederate monument, has garnered a lot of attention as of late. A small group of people, mostly not generational residents, have tried to have the monument removed, but the Jackson County commissioners, in a historic 4 to 1 vote, voted to keep the Sylva Sentinel in the spot where he has guarded the town for 106 years.

In all of the historic discovery uncovered in the monument battle, I found out that there were nearly 300 African-American slaves in Jackson County as per the 1860 census. I did not know that. Most people did not know that.

I am proposing a memorial be placed at the top of the old courthouse hill that remembers these forgotten members of our mountain family. It is not an exercise in shame or apology, but an effort to unite our fractured community around a project that acknowledges and honors the contributions of residents who were not here by choice, but were still part of our community. Their bones are buried in our soil, and their contributions to early infrastructure and daily life should be remembered.

I hope the local African-American residents will design the monument and decide its verbiage, and the county will cede a spot of land for the monument to rest for future generations to appreciate.

We all have a history. Some of it is good, some of it is probably bad. But it is a shared history. My Confederate heritage does not need to be demonized and my ancestors made into villains. The Sylva Sentinel does not need to be removed. This is America. We are builders, creators, and there should be tolerance for the heritages of all. Build new monuments. Build new memorials. Remember the forgotten. But you do not need to hurt and marginalize others and what they believe to do it.

I hope the residents of Jackson County will get behind this idea and unite to make it a reality.

Frank Huguelet,



Let’s talk about a ‘real’ university


To the Editor:

In response to the letter “Speak out to preserve free speech” (Sylva Herald Sept. 3): A true university provides a positive learning environment for all of its students, which means that a true university does not tolerate racism among its students, faculty or staff. A true university does encourage the expression of ideas that are open to debate, which WCU has a record of encouraging. With regard to racism, however, it is high time that this nation and its institutions begin practicing the ideals they have long professed to believe in and support.

Any student made to feel less valued and supported in her pursuit of education simply because of her skin color, sex or nationality is not afforded the same opportunities to learn as that student who is valued and supported by her university. I, therefore, commend Chancellor Kelli Brown for making clear recently that racism will not be tolerated on the campus of Western Carolina University.

As an alumnus of Western, I would certainly be ashamed and disappointed if a significant number of its graduates were out in their communities expressing racist and other views not in keeping with the ideals embedded in our Founding Documents. Those attitudes and behaviors should legitimately lead one to conclude that WCU is not a true university.

Gurney Chambers,



Wildfires underscore climate change urgency


To the Editor:

The fall fire season hasn’t even started, and already we’ve seen an astonishing amount of destruction. In California, 2.6 million acres have gone up in smoke, exceeding the 2 million acres burned in 2018. That year, the damage and economic loss from wildfires, according to AccuWeather, came to $400 billion. At the end of August, nearly 4,000 homes and other structures had been consumed by wildfires this year in California.

The explanation for the increasing intensity and frequency of wildfires is straightforward: Climate change is making forests drier and weather hotter, conditions in which a lightning strike can ignite a fire that quickly destroys thousands of acres. Climate scientist Park Williams of Columbia University told the New York Times, “Behind the scenes of all of this, you’ve got temperatures that are about two to three degrees Fahrenheit warmer now than they would have been without global warming.”

On our current trajectory, temperatures will continue to climb, bringing more fires and greater destruction. These wildfires also create a feedback loop that exacerbates climate change by releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

With the impact of climate change being felt here and now, we find ourselves running out of time to bring down the heat-trapping pollution that is warming our world. We must therefore use all the tools at our disposal to curtail those emissions.

One of the most effective tools is an ambitious price on carbon that will speed up the transition to a low- or zero-carbon economy. A tax or fee on carbon can have a positive impact on low- and middle-income families, too. How? Take the revenue from a carbon fee and distribute it to all households.

Legislation to implement an effective carbon price while protecting the economic well-being of people has been introduced in the U.S. House as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763). The carbon fee is expected to drive down carbon emissions 40 percent in the first 12 years and 90 percent by 2050. A household impact study released in August found that among households in the lowest fifth economically, 96 percent would receive “carbon dividends” that exceed their carbon costs.

The Town of Sylva Board of Commissioners has endorsed HR 763, recognizing that climate change must be acted upon quickly. We hope that our future District 11 House Representative (Moe Davis or Madison Cawthorn) will join the 82 House members who are currently co-sponsors.

Our smoke-filled skies should serve as a warning that our climate could one day be unbearable if we fail to take the actions necessary to rein in climate change. An effective price on carbon with money given to households can put us on the path to preserving a livable world.

Erin McCully,


McCully is the chapter leader of the WNC Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. This letter was also signed by Mark Reynolds, executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.


Backs indoor acquatics center


To the Editor:

We have a lot to decide this November on the 2020 ballot, but one thing I hope we can all agree on is support for the indoor aquatics center.

As a mother of three boys, I traveled frequently to the Waynesville Recreation Center to enjoy their indoor aquatics center and hosted or attended quite a few birthday parties in their facility. I would have loved to have stayed within my own community and kept the money spent during each of those many outings in Jackson County. Also as a summer day camp director, I frequently took our campers to the Waynesville facility. Finally, as an avid aqua fitness attendee, I rely upon an aging Reid pool facility subject to the university calendar for my aqua fitness. I would love to have year-round access to these classes and for my participation fees to support Jackson County directly.

The benefits of an Indoor Aquatics Center far outweigh the costs. The bond referendum on the ballot may look scary, but when broken down the actual impact on tax burden is relatively small. Our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our community is an investment in ourselves, our community and in future generations.

This facility will allow people of all ages the opportunity to engage in exercise and recreation. The swim team will have access to a superior competition pool for practice and will have the ability to host official competitions. People young and old will have greater access to life-saving swim lessons. Families with young children will have a fun indoor facility to take their children for a play date or birthday parties. People in need of low impact exercise or rehabilitation can do so in the vortex pool or participate in aqua fitness classes. This facility will be an invaluable addition to our community.

The vision for an Indoor Aquatics Center has been a dream since the 1960s. Let’s help make this a reality right now in 2020 so we can start realizing our dream as soon as possible. Please vote “yes” to the Indoor Aquatics Center.

Larissa Miller,