Tourists and their dollars 

don’t like to see trash


To the Editor:

I am writing because I am dismayed in my daily ride to work to see what seems to be a worsening trash situation on many of the roads in Jackson County.

There are two roads in particular that are troublesome with bags of trash and plastic hanging from the trees; they are U.S. 23/441 in Savannah and Greens Creek area and N.C. 107 from Cullowhee Valley School to Western Carolina University.

I understand that in today’s political climate worrying about trash on the side of the roads is often thought of as being maybe “elitist” or out of touch, which I don’t think I am, but I see it instead as more of a practical economic issue seeing that Jackson County depends on tourism and tourist dollars. Tourists don’t want to see trash.

As the owner of a successful Airbnb in the area, I am unfortunately on the front lines with conversations from visitors to the area who wonder aloud about how beautiful the area is if only there wasn’t trash everywhere they drive. U.S. 23/441 is one of the main roads into Jackson County and we all know how many tourists enter the county from this road. Aesthetically (which is important to tourists – how things look) it looks awful. Is there no way to use some of the tourist dollars that are coming into the county to rent a billboard (there is an available billboard for rent right now on U.S. 23/441) reminding people that trashing their county hurts economically? Tourists don’t spend money in areas that look like trash or visit a place a second time.

Or, maybe in some people’s minds an even crazier idea, using some of the tourism money coming into the county to hire crews to clean up these roads more regularly than DOT can? I know the answer is often “we don’t have the money for that” but thinking more long term economically, how can it not be a good return on investment if it lures more people to visit? I do what I can by stopping and picking up the trash when it is safe to do so, but there has to be a better way; especially if it negatively affects this county economically, which trash is definitely now doing.

Tim Holloran,




Time for Congress to step up


To the Editor:

Rachel Carson, legendary scientist and writer, made this profound statement in her 1962 classic environmental book, “Silent Spring”: “We are accustomed to look for the gross and immediate and to ignore all else. Unless this appears promptly and in such obvious form that it cannot be ignored, we deny the existence of hazard.” This statement is referring to the hazards of exposure to chemicals used unwisely in/on our environment.

To me, a U.S. Navy veteran, this scientific observation can certainly be applied to our current crisis with Russian election meddling. The least expensive phase of almost all crises is prevention (if prevention is at all possible). Since we did not prevent Russian meddling we have entered into the more expensive phase – minimization of damage that has already occurred. This phase is severely complicated by the fact that Donald Trump doesn’t just express doubt about the analyses of our intelligence agencies – he steadfastly denies the accuracy of them all. Sadly, he doesn’t even propose deterrence to Ukrainian meddling that he himself falsely alleges. Can you show us any patriotism in that?

Thus, Trump has failed to prevent anyone from meddling. And, he continues to refuse to spearhead an effort to minimize the Russian damage that has already occurred. We are, therefore, entering into the most difficult and expensive phase of our disaster-correction.

If our democracy is to survive, we must begin vigorous operations to secure our 2020 elections. We must prevent further erosion that Trump has ignored at our peril. This Congress must awaken to the danger that Trump has created by cooperating with Vladimir Putin.

Dave Waldrop, 


Empty buses a drag on taxpayers?


To the Editor:

Yes, I am complaining/whining yet again about taxes. Not about paying school taxes, but how they are spent.

We have had to make more trips to town the last few months due to medical problems. In doing so, one cannot help but see vehicles dropping off folks in the mornings and seemingly picking them up again in the afternoon. So many vehicles that they tie up traffic.

I do see school buses, plenty of them, but it seems no one is using them and have not for years. If, in fact, the majority of students do not use our school bus system, then why are we, the taxpayers, paying for a service that could be reduced in size and save money by using fewer large buses or smaller buses?

I have brought this up with some of our elected local state officials. We would have to reduce the schools budgets was the reply.

Very difficult to do, it was said.

I am going to ask our local media to do a study on this subject, more far-reaching than I can do, to include documenting daily ridership, addressing my concerns with our local state officials and perhaps our governor, to the extent of photographing the huge amount of private vehicles that actually transport our student population in Jackson County, several times a day, on a daily basis. Not just rainy days or such, but every day.

Thomas Fischel,




No reason for spike in 

pharmaceutical prices


To the Editor:

It is important for all citizens to be aware of prescription drug prices rising because it will greatly affect each individual.

On Oct. 18 the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review published a report on Unsupported Price Increases (UPI) of prescription drugs in the U.S. ICER is a nonprofit organization that relies on evidence-based calculations for drugs that could have the possibility of contributing to unaffordable short-term cost growth.

ICER conducted a 24-month study from 2017 to the end of 2018 configuring the top 10 drugs that correlate to the largest net increase of drug spending in the United States. One drug was dropped from the list of study because of unreliable information, leaving nine drugs for the study. Out of the nine drugs that were studied, seven of them showed no signs of evidence to support the price increase for an increase of clinical benefit.

It was found that the “net price increases for the seven drugs unsupported by new evidence were responsible for increasing the total U.S. drug spending by more than $5.1 billion within the 24-month period of the study.” The drug that took the greatest hit from price increases was Humira. Within the 24-month study Humira’s price increased about 20 percent, “ultimately costing American patients and insurers an estimated $1.86 billion more than what would have been spent if Humira’s price had not increased.”

There is undeniable evidence that these price increases will have a negative impact on our healthcare, economy and the lives of Americans. Fewer people will have the desire to see a physician due to fear of unaffordable medications, which hurts the patient and the healthcare system.

Sens. Wyden and Grassley have helped push the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA) of 2019, which would essentially lower pricing of prescription drugs for Americans. The act has not been passed by Congress yet, so in the meantime, it is important as a citizen to become educated on these matters, realizing that there are insurance companies pocketing some of the extra money that stands between the pharmaceutical company and patient. There is no reason to support new medicine innovation and production if the public cannot afford the prescription. It is important to stand up against prescription increases. On the other hand, it would be wise to create an emergency saving fund as a hedge against price increases for needed medication.

Abigail Franks,