A trail of broken promises


To the Editor:

In her letter to the editor, a Glenville writer claimed “behind the Trump negativisms is the truth that Trump kept his promises to find solutions to our country’s problems.” Trump says the same thing. But there are many promises he made that he did not keep.

A sampling: to build a wall paid for by Mexico; to deport all the illegal immigrants (even deporting fewer than Obama); to repeal and replace the ACA (he is still trying in court to eliminate ACA and its protections); to provide “great health care at a much lower price;” to bring down the price of prescription drugs; to eliminate violence (after 30 years of decline, rates of violence have increased during his term); to protect the lives of U.S. citizens (he didn’t want to yell “fire” even though he knew there was a fire); to build “the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways of the future;” to drain the swamp; to hire “only the best people;” to enact term limits; to become the “greatest jobs president that God ever created;” to increase the wages of the average American $4,000 through the effects of trickle-down from the tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations; to get China to pay for tariffs (American consumers paid the tariffs); to make companies keep jobs in the U.S.; to boost economic growth by 4 percent per year (2.2 percent the year before the virus); to retire the $19 trillion debt “rather quickly;” “to bring back manufacturing;” “to bring back coal;” “to end Chinese trade deficits” (they are higher than ever); “to ensure the benefits [of tax cuts] are focused on the middle class, the working men and women, not the highest income earners;” to enact 6-week-paid leave for parents; to end Kim Jong Un’s nuclear program; to stay off the golf course to work full-time for the American people; to disclose his tax returns; to sue the 20-plus women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.

Perhaps most important, he did not “honor the American people with the truth and nothing else.” The truth is, he did not keep his promises. The truth is, his lack of leadership skills prevents him from solving problems, uniting the country, or even making deals.

Bruce Henderson, Cullowhee


A critical choice in NC-119 House race


To the Editor:

Folks, we have a big decision to make. House District 119 covering Swain, Jackson and Haywood counties is up for grabs. Mike Clampitt’s record makes it clear he is not the right person to represent Western North Carolina’s values.

In the middle of a pandemic and record unemployment, Clampitt is against expanding Medicaid. That puts our rural hospitals at risk of bankruptcy and closure. Our local hospitals desperately need the influx of federal aid. This money is your federal tax dollars paid into the system coming back to our communities. This is not some form of welfare.

Furthermore, although he has given lip service to education funding, he has supported policies that would prevent schools from reopening safely and our students being able to learn.

Clampitt has repeatedly touted his stances on guns and abortion. I think we would all love to live in a world in which abortion was not necessary. However, in this world we should never accept government interference in health care decisions. That is sacred between you, your family, your doctors and God.

As for guns, Democrats or anyone else will never come for your guns. That would require repealing the Second Amendment as ratified by 38 of our 50 states. This simply will not happen.

Republicans are, however, gunning for your Social Security and coverage for pre-existing conditions.

A vote for Joe Sam Queen is a vote for individual freedom, economic security, education and health care. Your vote is very important in this very competitive race.

Christine Taber, Sylva



The fate of our planet is at stake


To the Editor:

An alarming article was recently published in the most recent edition of Science. The article concludes that plastic waste exceeds the efforts to mitigate plastic pollution.

In 2016, as much as 23 metric tons of plastic waste entered aquatic ecosystems. Up to 53 metric tons annually are predicted by the year 2030.

Recently, Newsweek and PBS have reported on the fact that we have been gaslighted, by the plastic industry, into believing that recycling is a viable solution to managing plastic waste. The plastic industry, knowing very well that processes do not exist for recycling the majority of types of plastic, continues to offer recycling as a solution. Plastic is their cash cow and they care more about the cash than our planet or about us.

Our government protects the corporations gushing metric tons annually of plastic and chemical waste into our environment. They are killing us and our miraculous planet on a daily basis. This is not pro-life.

The fact is that the party claiming to be pro-life routinely implements environmental and other policies that are actually quite devastating and not at all pro-life. I oppose abortion for any reason. But the destruction of our entire planet will result in more loss of life than all abortions ever committed.

When Democrats are in office, abortion rates go down because social protections increase. When Democrats are elected, environmental protections increase.

I do understand the passion of the pro-life, conservatives, the values voters, as they like to call themselves. But please consider the reality that averting the destruction of our planet is a worthy, pro-life cause to get behind. This election is the most important election of our lifetime. We must vote in leaders willing to protect our environment. Clearly, we must vote for the lesser of two evils. Please consider these facts when you vote. The destruction of our planet results in the destruction of all life forms, born and unborn.

Julia Simmons, Sylva


On monuments and honoring ancestors


To the Editor:

Several have stated publicly that the statue in Sylva is important to them because it is the only monument they have to an ancestor who was killed in the Civil War, but whose body was not returned home for burial. This is a specious argument.

To quote from https://www.cem.va.gov/hmm: “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible Veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death.”

These headstones are white marble and identical to those at Arlington or at any other national cemetery. If you’ve visited the site of a Civil War prison camp, whether Union or Confederate, you have seen row after row of these headstones. You only have to present supporting documents verifying active duty service. Civil War era muster rolls are generally easy to find online and list the date and place where a soldier was wounded, killed, captured or deserted.

My great-great-grandfather was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness. We placed one of these VA provided headstones next to his wife’s grave in their church cemetery. The stone has eight lines of inscription, reading in all caps: 1st Serg, Isaiah Hembree, CO E, 35 Regt, GA Vol Inf, CSA, Jan 29 1825, May 8 1864. I believe you can add a personal comment, but I urge you to avoid the trending “A Sucker and a Loser” and stick with something with class, such as “Devoted Husband and Father.” Be prepared. The headstone will be delivered to your home and the thing weighs more than 300 pounds.

If you feel that you need a memorial to a Civil War ancestor, then get one that actually has some connection to you and your family. Place it near other ancestors in a family graveyard or church cemetery. It’s your memorial. Put it in your front yard and build a shrine. Turn it into a coffee table or parade it around in the back of your truck. Then we can take down that silly statue.

Dennis Hembree, Sylva


Heartening words from 

Basham and Ashley


To the Editor:

My husband and I read The Sylva Herald every week, and its pages accurately reflect the entrenched divisions we see in our community and our country.

However, when one arrives at the pages with Brannen Basham and Katie Ashley, it is like re-entering the world of hope and possibility. Through these two young writers, through their facts and clear-eyed observations about nature and gardening, I am reminded of the pleasures still within reach of us all, especially in our region. From their columns, I have learned about where I grew up as well as increased my understanding of how to better combine my love of native plants with my aspirations to one day call myself a real gardener.

Perhaps the refreshing quality of Basham’s and Ashley’s columns is best explained by this conversation between the philosopher, Pangloss, and a farmer in Voltaire’s Candide:

“Pangloss, who was as inquisitive as he was disputative, asked him what was the name of the mufti who was lately strangled.

‘I cannot tell,’ answered the good old man; ‘I never knew the name of any mufti, or vizier breathing. I am entirely ignorant of the event you speak of; I presume that in general such as are concerned in public affairs sometimes come to a miserable end; and that they deserve it: but I never inquire what is doing at Constantinople; I am contented with sending thither the produce of my garden, which I cultivate with my own hands.’”

Although I do not agree with the farmer that public figures “deserve a miserable end,” I do believe that the human need to learn about digging in the soil and observing the natural world has not changed a whit from one century to the next, and, as Henry David Thoreau observed, neither has the news.

I’m grateful to The Sylva Herald. It provides both.

Dawn Gilchrist, Sylva


Thank our volunteers


To the Editor:

You may have noticed how wonderful Sylva’s downtown looks this week.

On Sept. 15 members of the Sylva Rotary Satellite Club, the Sylva Rotary Club, and other community volunteers converged on downtown, tools in hand, and fanned out across the downtown to spread mulch, pull weeds, saw brush, shovel gravel, and clean up the heart of Sylva. Working with the town, our community members helped make Sylva a better place to visit, and a better place to live.

This is not the first time (nor the last) that volunteers from our community have given of their time, talent and money to improve our town and county. Years ago the Rotary Club organized 1,700 volunteers to build the wonderful Rotary Playground at Poteet Park from the ground up. You’ve probably also seen Rotarians planting and maintaining the beautiful traffic islands near Bogarts. A volunteer group saved the Hooper House (the last Victorian home on Main Street) from demolition and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the historic structure, which is now the Jackson County Visitors Center and the shining gem of our downtown. Volunteers placed Sylva in the North Carolina Main Street program and planned, designed, and supervised the streetscape that added the trees, lamps, traffic mast arms, brick pavers, benches, and the iron planters and trash receptacles that now grace the downtown. And other volunteers keep the planters on the bridges filled with flowers and beauty.

Other individuals and groups have given their time and energy to plan and install the lovely mural downtown, to help with planning and zoning issues, to serve on boards and committees at WCU, SCC and our local schools, to create and design the Jackson County Greenway, to help design the traffic bridge and a proposed river park in Cullowhee, to create a greenspace in Cashiers, and to raise money and furnish the Jackson County Public Library. Caring volunteers read to our kids, build handicap ramps, cut and deliver firewood, and transport food to people in need. Even our fire departments are all volunteer. And the list goes on. All without pay. All without personal gain. And often without acknowledgment.

So many wonderful things about the place we call home we too often take for granted. But without the hard work of individuals who are willing to help make it happen... it wouldn’t. So to all the selfless volunteers out there that quietly answer the call of their neighbors and community, we say thank you! And remember, when you next hear a complaint that “someone should...” you should immediately say “ Yes.....YOU should!”

Jay Spiro, Sylva