Loves local news

To the editor:

As a resident of beautiful Haywood County since 2002, I have come to rely on the local news from several sources. The Mountaineer is where I turn for the latest in local school sports, views and issues by political candidates for Waynesville, Maggie and Canton and Clyde.

This reporting done by real people who have a real interest in the news for you if you live here is not free to gather, produce and distribute. We would like it to be, but Becky, Vicki, and other reporters and editors make a living providing you with this news, if the newspaper were to close it will never return and you won’t know what’s going on around here.

It is sad to say that the small local newspapers are closing. According to a report by the North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism one in five small papers have closed in recent years.

These papers, like the Mountaineer, are the only place you can find stories about local government corruption (when it happens), school sports, school board decisions, neighborhood businesses opening (or closing), articles of interest about waterways, health issues, opinion pieces relating to local and state issues, the list is nearly endless.

If you want to have local news, real news about really important (and interesting!) things, please join me in supporting The Mountaineer by subscription and donations — and indeed, all the sources of news in the area.

Allan Zacher, MD

Lake Junaluska

Mobile dental care is available

To the editor:

Since 1963, Blue Ridge Health (BRH) has provided essential healthcare to residents with the greatest need in Western North Carolina (WNC).

This care includes dental services for our youngest community members.

Since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, I want to highlight an important partnership between BRH and the Dogwood Health Trust. BRH recently received a grant from Dogwood to restart our mobile dental clinic after a temporary COVID-19 grounding. The grant will be used to provide dental services in the rural counties we serve throughout Western North Carolina.

As a region, WNC has a rate of childhood caries that is 10% higher than the state average of similar aged children. By no fault of their own, children with dental caries are more likely to fall behind their peers when reaching academic and social milestones. We have to do better. To this end, our mobile dental clinic is equipped to effectively educate and treat pediatric patients throughout the region. Our goal is to help WNC children achieve oral health that all children deserve.

We accept Medicaid and private insurance as well as patients without insurance who pay on a sliding scale based on their income. No patient is turned away for inability to pay. In addition to adults, the grant we received will help us further our mission to expand these dental services to more children in our service area. We are enormously grateful to the Dogwood Health Trust for their support of our important work.

Ben Cozart, DDS

Dental Director at Blue Ridge Health

Sources, please

To the editor:

I enjoy reading many of the articles featured in The Mountaineer. In particular, the local historical articles are interesting to me.

I appreciate the content of the articles and the ways the writers (Kathy Ross, Carroll Jones, and others) give credit to the sources for the information presented. Unless it is an opinion piece that presents the writer’s perspectives, it is important that the sources of the materials —particularly when it includes statistics, direct quotations, historical facts and figures, photographs, and so forth.

This information should be properly credited and the readers directed to the sources if they desire additional information related to the events being sited.

If sources are not credited, one is to assume the writer was present when the events occurred, personally interviewed those who are quoted in the article, took the photographs themselves, and can provide supportive documentation to validate the reasoning of the author of the article and the conclusions drawn by that author.

Therefore, having stated my personal opinion, I found the article from the Feb. 7, edition of The Mountaineer titled “Life Some of the Deadliest Disasters in America” to be disturbing.

What sources did the author use to glean the information that made up the contents of the article? There are statistics sited in several sections of the piece. Where did the statistics originate? There are several quotations given by various people. Did the author personally interview those quoted? Or, were the quotations found in some publication? If so, where? There are four photographs included. Who took the pictures?

Should not there have been a disclaimer attached to the article stating that the article was written by the author and is really is an opinion piece expressing the author’s opinions? Or, at least, credit given where credit is due?

Failure to properly site sources is, in my opinion, deceptive and borders on publication dishonesty. I am not sure that is what is desired by publishing this article. Hopefully, the next article in the series will include references to the sources that will be used.

Larry Reeves


(Editor’s note: Good points. In earlier articles researched by Joanna Swanson, the issues were made clearer. We will revert back to that format in the future.)

Remembrances from the blizzard of 1886

To the editor:

It was interesting to read of the experience people in Haywood County had with the snow and blizzard of 1993.

At age 94, I still remember the story my grandad Yor Howell (1867-1952) told of his experience with the snow and blizzard of Dec. 5-6, 1886. He rode horseback to see his girlfriend. Snow had covered the ground and when he started home to Howell Mill on Francis Farm Road, the snow was to the horses knees and the blizzard was so bad a neighbor took him home for the night.

He said the next morning the snow was up to the horse’s chest and when he got home, the horse looked like one that had been plowing in 80-degree weather. The top rails on the fences were all that could be seen. On the following Sunday,, Dec. 12, 1886, he and my grandmother were married. (Mary Liner, 1869-1952.)

I guess my story had a happy ending. My mother, Ruth Howell, was born between the railroad, Richland Creek and the Howell Mill where my grandad was the miller in 1903.

One think I observed is that snow and blizzards don’t stop births or romance.

Gene Gibson


Woman was lucky

To the editor:

Cheez! Using perhaps the most tasteless and insulting imagery his not overly large mind could come up with, a man from Canton wrote to the editor expressing his sadness.

He is sad because a woman he has the hots for is a Trump supporter. For that reason, he explains to the community, there is probably no chance the two will ever become lovers. The unnamed woman probably has no idea how lucky she is.

Scott Muirhead


Not so fast

To the editor:

In the Feb. 7 issue, County Medical Director Dr. Mark Jaben sought to address concerns expressed by a reader’s letter in the previous week’s paper. That letter thoughtfully and respectfully stated some serious concerns about the vaccine.

Dr. Jaben’s lengthy column, full of numbers and anecdotal observations, did nothing to allay those concerns. He gave statistics without proper foundation and used faulty logic. For example, Dr. Jaben stated that although it is possible that this vaccine could burrow more deeply into tissues, there is no evidence that this would pose a problem.

A fundamental truth of logic is that absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence.

There are good reasons that the approval of new pharmaceuticals takes years. We can only speculate about long-term effects, which is why this vaccine has not yet been approved, a fact that is rarely mentioned in media coverage.

It is being given based on an emergency authorization, and on an unprecedented scale. I believe we actually know very little about its safety or its efficacy, yet Dr. Jaben describes it as being as dependable as a paycheck. Really?

Sarah Szymanski


Where to place blame

To the editor:

On Feb. 3 there was yet another right-wing letter full of hate, unsubstantiated claims, lies and malicious characterization of those who do not subscribe to the writer’s dogma.

Such letters add nothing to any discussion.

Let’s look at some facts. Democrats in Washington are trying to pass legislation that would help millions of Americans suffering from the economic effects of the pandemic.

Instead Republicans are preoccupied with supporting a representative who has advocated assassinating Democrats and punishing a representative who has the integrity to call out Trump for his part in the seditious riot to overturn a fair election. So much for the “law and order” party and the lip service Republicans and other so-called conservatives give to the Constitution.

You cannot blame Trump for the lack of moral fiber among Republican elected officials. That blame should be placed on the multitude of those who accept the Trump principles of fear and hate in supporting white supremacy at the expense of moral and ethical principles.

The blind support of bigotry, voter suppression, and any effort to retain power and self-importance is the real cancer in our society.

Many Republicans and so-called conservatives have decided that power is the ultimate virtue. Human dignity and Judeo-Christian values be damned. Lying is OK so long as it achieves power. Cheating is fine and easier than being open to the opinions and needs of others.

The examples of the lust for power are too numerous for a letter, but here are a few. Putting kids in cages is OK if it scares asylum seekers away. This was the intent of a Trump administration policy. Labeling Latinos who seek to come to this country as rapists and murders is bigotry. The answer to losing an election is to institute additional strategies for voter suppression in the next election.

We cannot expect to agree on everything, but we should be willing to weigh arguments based on facts and reality. We need to ignore the lies and unglued fantasies of Q Anon and other prevaricators and have frank discussions about the important issues of our time.

Norman Hoffmann


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