Waynesville doesn’t need $1,000 apartments

To the editor:

I recently saw where the BI-LO plaza apartments will be renting one-bedroom apartments for roughly $1,000 a month.

While these amenities might be nice for those who can afford them, this sort of housing is not what Waynesville needs. With a very low average family income, Waynesville (and Haywood County more generally) needs more affordable housing projects and expanded HUD access, not out-of-reach high-rises.

Once some apartments begin charging $1,000 a month, what’s to keep other property owners from doing the same? And what will the impact on taxes be once rents begin to increase?

As rents keep climbing in this area, we’re going to see increased homelessness, people living in subpar conditions, or folks having to move even farther from employment opportunities just to afford rent, which may hurt them further if gas prices keep climbing.

At this point, it’s more affordable to buy a home than rent one in many cases. However, many low-income households find barriers to home ownership in down payments or credit history.

If people want to pay $1,000 in rent in Asheville, let them, but to bring it here is a mistake with potentially devastating results for the surrounding community.

Jessica Cory


End animal cruelty now

To the editor:

It’s time for Western North Carolina to end its support of cruel animal circuses.

Opposing this brutal industry is hardly a radical stance. Dozens of U.S. municipalities, including the city of Asheville, do not allow animal circuses within their borders.

Last year New Jersey, Hawaii and California legislators voted to prohibit the practice statewide. And more than 50 countries across the globe have some sort of exotic animal performance ban in place.

Traveling circuses simply cannot meet the physical or psychological needs of wild animals. Deprived of everything that is natural to them, elephants, tigers, lions and bears are separated from their families, trucked across the country in sweltering or freezing trailers, and subjected to violent training methods. They will spend about 90 percent of their lives in chains or small cages.

We might tell ourselves that children should see a ‘real’ circus, but we aren’t giving our kids enough credit. Most instinctively understand that the downtrodden elephant struggling to complete a trick, the camel trudging around and around in a circle, and the tiger wincing at the crack of the whip are in distress.

Aside from the depressing nature of these spectacles, they are astonishingly unsafe. The public should never be in close proximity to large wild animals suffering from the stress of constant intimidation, food and water withholding, and extreme confinement.

The temporary circus enclosures are laughably feeble, and would do nothing to contain an elephant who finally snapped or attempted to escape. Disease is another worry. Approximately 12 percent of Asian elephants in North America are infected with a form of tuberculosis that can be passed to humans.

But what about all those inspections circuses must pass? It’s difficult to enforce animal welfare laws due to the transient nature of traveling circuses. By the time evidence is gathered and prepared, they have moved on.

And the woefully understaffed USDA, which is tasked with enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, exists to protect the interests of business owners — not animals. Despite this obvious conflict of interest, circus trainers manage to rack up animal cruelty violations. But it’s rare that any action is taken on behalf of the victims.

Case in point: An Asian elephant named Betty who performed in Waynesville with the Garden Brothers circus last year, is chronically lame. One of her legs doesn’t bend anymore, and she drags her trunk on the ground when she walks – using it for balance. Organizations including mine have gathered proof and filed complaints to no avail. Betty is still on the road, still giving rides, and still performing tricks.

Let’s embrace family entertainment that aligns with our values – like the fantastic Venardos Circus currently presenting a sold out run in Asheville. Venardos offers a modern, yet Old World style show with a cast of talented all-human performers.

The animals who will balance on stools, carry people around on their backs, and jump through rings of fire for the Jordan World Circus this week never had a choice. But we do.

Rosemary Thompson

National Campaign Manager, CompassionWorks International


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