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Editor's Note: We made the decision not to require a name in this forum because in a small community such as ours, in certain situations, people involved can not give their opinion due to fear of repercussions (job loss, etc.). We believe the advantage of anonymous comments outweighs the problems. We will continue to review all comments before they are posted to this site. We retain the right to post or not post at our discretion. 
Opinion Forum: Remember these letters are peoples’ opinions; they may or may not be actual facts. This is not a news forum, it is an opinion column. We also urge you to take into account whether the letter is signed. We do not correct spelling or grammatical errors.

Crime in Our Community

 I would like to thank the Yancey County Sheriff's Office and The Mitchell County Sheriff's Office for the recent arrests of people Breaking and Entering and associated drug arrests. The one on 19 W is a little too close for comfort. Thank you for your vigilance ! Also thank you to the citizen who reported the van. We live in a small community and should look out for each other. If you see something suspicious , please report it!

Nighttime Christmas Parade

Can anyone give me a good reason why we have the Christmas Parade at night? So many years the weather has been cold, wet and windy. Not to mention it's dark at 6:00 pm. If you want people to come in to town to shop or browse in the local shops why not have it during the day. I remember years ago it was a delight to come to Spruce Pine on Saturday during the daytime (12:00) shopping, lunch and then wait on the parade to come through. So many elderly cannot see to drive at night or its too cold for others. Don't you think we would rather be able to see everyone on the floats or marching during the day than at night? Come on Parade Organizers take a second and think about it!!! If you want downtown to be a tourist town and the locals to shop-then have it during the day!!! Bah Humbug!

Prevent Veteran Death by Suicide

Our veterans and their families have done so much for us. Let’s honor them this Veterans Day by learning how we can help prevent another veteran death by suicide.
We all need to be aware of suicide risk factors and warning signs. Go towww.afsp.org and click on “Understanding Suicide” to learn more. If you recognize someone is in immediate need, the Veterans Crisis Line connects you or them to qualified, caring U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their family members can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online atveteranscrisisline.net, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Jodie Rhymer, AFSP Field Advocate

Election Over

thank goodness the election is over. It did not go exactly as many had hoped it would the majority staying the same. I had hoped that it would swing and maybe the majority could right some of the made up jobs and hire qualified people instead of the favors for votes jobs we have now. way to go commissioners, maybe in the next two years you can get all of your family/friends jobs they are not qualified for. you've got to love American and yancey county

Destruction of Jeff Neill Campaign Signs

I will begin by saying I am A staunch supporter of Sheriff Gary Banks, but it is sad to see where someone has destroyed the large campaign signs of Mr. Neill. This is very childish and also criminal. I would highly recommend that Sheriff Banks try to locate the guilty and prosecute them. If you have anything against Mr. Neill why don't you be brave enough to confront him face to face? This my opinion : LARRY PRESNELL

Loves WTOE

Just moved to Spruce Pine from Banner Elk. Radio WTOE has been a great resource of information, I listen via streaming on the computer. As a newcomer to the area, it has been great. Not to mention the Oldies are awesome and sounds good on the computer!  

Celebrating Five Years of Success with the Yancey County Dream Home Tour

Dear Editor:
For the last five years, Yancey County has embraced and supported the Mayland Community College Foundation’s Yancey County Dream Home Tour. Since the “Home Tour’s” beginnings in 2010, this event has grown from an idea into an anticipated signature event. Community support as vibrant as our fall landscape made this year’s tour the most singularly successful to date.
This year, over 60 volunteers helped with the Home Tour, which welcomed 100 guests to five homes across Yancey County. The Home Tour not only connects visitors to Yancey County, it also connects the college and the community. Volunteers included community members as well as Mayland Community College staff, faculty, and students.  Proceeds from the Home Tour benefit Mountain Heritage High School’s recipient of Mayland’s Intelligent Choice Scholarship as well as deserving students in classes at Mayland’s Yancey Learning Center.
Foundation Board member Bill Baker continues to lead this event. His vision for the past five years has artfully blended his passion for education and his love for Yancey County.
Special thanks belong to Sam and Anne Sabri, Michael and Joan Pardy. Dr. Rita Meeks, David and Fran Strawn, and Mark Lombardo for opening their homes for this year’s tour. Once again, the Foundation is grateful for the gracious and ongoing support of the Yancey County Chamber of Commerce, WKYK/WTOE, The Yancey Common Times Journal, Ye Olde Country Store, Mountain Air Country Club, and A Touch of Cass. The Home Tour is not possible without incomparable assistance from the Yancey County Transportation Authority, which has faithfully and skillfully served the event since the Home Tour’s inception in 2010.
Through commitment and caring, Yancey County specializes in translating dreams into reality.
Laura R. Laughridge
Executive Director
Mayland Community College Foundation

Remove Scripture from Statue?

Sounds like a good idea to me. We must stop being complacent and start standing up for our religious freedom. Christians are being denied the right to express their beliefs. This country was founded on religious freedom. It is starting to be religious freedom for everyone EXCEPT Christians!
After pressure from atheists, the board of Madison County High School in Georgia elected to remove scripture from the statue placed at the schools stadium entrance. The statue was donated by a private citizen. Instead of defacing an honored symbol of the school's pride, I called several school staff members over the weekend leaving a message suggesting the school sell the land the statue sits on to the private donor and make it private property. 
Anyone else think this is a better idea? 
Prayers to the MCHS.
Kirk Hill


parking at d- section fairground st no parking there 2 parking spots for each family we have 3 and 4 cars parked in other peoples parking spots night and day we you leave come home no place to park this needs to be taking care of police dept needs to keep a check on this people are tired of getting blocked in late for work and school

Mitchell Animal Rescue

Staci Holtsclaw and her family had their family pet Sadie for 3 years. Sadie is a Pitbull Mix that is 4 years old. Sadie was more than a pet, Sadie was a member of their family. Sadie loved Staci's two children Kasen & Maggie. On Sept. 10th 2014,Staci's home encountered a power outage causing the underground fencing to not function properly and Sadie wandered off. At the time Sadie wandered off she was wearing her collar for the fencing that was registered to Staci's address of 1908 Carter's Ridge Drive, Spruce Pine, N.C. 28777. On Sept.10th Staci contacted the local animal rescue. She gave them a description of Sadie as well as her telephone number pleading with them to contact her if anyone turned in her family's pet. Staci heard nothing from them. Again on Sept.18 2014 Staci contact them and ask if they had a dog matching Sadie's description turned in and once again she was told no. Staci left her telephone number and begged them to call her if anyone turned Sadie in. Staci's children have been heart broken over Sadie. A few weeks went by and the family assumed something terrible must of happened to Sadie or surely they would have heard something. Then on Oct. 8, 2014 the Rescue posted a picture of "Willow" a.k.a. "Sadie". She was adopted out as Willow. Staci immediately called them asking when they got the dog "Willow" and was told on Sept. 12 (? remember she called on Sept. 18 and they had no dog matching Sadie s description). The person she spoke with told her someone would have to call her back. The person called her back and told her there was nothing they could do. They also took down "Willow" a.k.a. "Sadie"'s picture. Staci contacted the magistrate's office and was told that in order to file a Civil Suit it will cost $160.00. We are a group of people just like you are. We are just trying to help this family with getting their family member back. Contact stacy.bailey13@live.com

Abandoning Animals

While we all agree that it is sad that animals are abandoned in Yancey County, the answer is not in empowering the local shelter with enforcing animal control laws. They are woefully incapable of that responsibility. The county leaders should step up and take responsibility for animal control issues in the county. Putting this responsibility under the direction of the Yancey County Sheriff's Department would be a step in the right direction. The local shelter gets county funding to operate. They should be operating under county budget control and oversight.

§ 14-361.1. Abandonment of animals Any person being the owner or possessor, or having charge or custody of an animal, who willfully and without justifiable excuse abandons the animal is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. Added by Laws 1979, c. 687. Amended by Laws 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 967, § 2; Laws 1989, c. 670, § 3; Laws 1993, c. 539, § 241, eff. Oct. 1, 1994; Laws 1994 (1st Ex. Sess.), c. 24, § 14(c), eff. March 26, 1994. I have live in this area for about 13 years off and on. I have personally witnessed one person dumping a dog, the dog being caught up in a nasty divorce, being used as a pawn. I have reunited 2 dogs with their owner, again the result of an ex stealing the dogs and dumping them. In the past 3-4 weeks I have rescued 2 more separate dumpees. Both have been adopted. And today it looks like i will be going back out to the same area to rescue yet another. Do I take it upon myself to do this , YES. Why, because the shelter, who does an amazing job, doesn't have the resources or manpower, no fault of their own. And i have been told the Sheriff's Department won't come out unless said animal is destroying livestock or property. I can't in good conscious leave a dog that i know doesn't live in the area , that i have never seen before just fend for itself. I don't know how the people that do this sleep at night. (before anyone starts on the bandwagon of abortions and starving people, etc...yes, i care about those things too... separate issues) IT IS ILLEGAL! just because you usually don't get caught doesn't make it right. IF you don't want the animal.. .take it to the shelter. They have great success at re-homing animals! Maybe it is time to implement an Animal Control Officer.

Not Right to Ignore Citizens' Votes

Doesn't anyone remember what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? Read your Bibles

Homosexuality is not hereditary, therefore it is a choice. Everyone is born with certain desires that we should not act on. We are all born with the desire to behave badly, it’s called depravity. The worst thing we can do is take a desire that we know is destructive and act on it and then put it into law and then have government promote it. Desires do not excuse behaviors, if so, our prisons would be empty. Homosexual marriage is a special right because under the 2012 marriage amendment, all individuals had equal rights to marry someone of the opposite gender. When you step outside the bounds of one man and one woman, you must include all marriages as so not to “discriminate”. This would include family members, multi husbands/wives, pets, etc. If “love” is all that’s required, you must include all types of “love”. I don’t recall the court asking if we really “loved” each other when we went to get a marriage certificate.

Who knows what God is up to?It obviously serves some evolutionarily adaptive purpose or the trait would have extinguished itself by now, whatever the cause. 

And you seem to forget, straight parents have gay children. Gay people who do have children are no more likely to have gay offspring than straight people are. 

While the consensus is that being gay is INNATE, there is no evidence that it is GENETIC. A subtle but important difference. There is no 'left-handed gene' either, and no obvious evolutionary purpose for left-handedness to perpetuate as a trait. The exact mechanism that causes it is unknown. In the past, left-handed people were forced to use their right hands in order to conform to societal - often religious - expectations. Sound familiar? 
Marriage is not a special right.

We are all human and we do have the same rights. However, some groups think that just because they choose a certain lifestyle they deserve special rights. It makes it much less controversial for people to say they were born a certain way rather than to say they choose a certain behavior. God created male and female, not hetero and homosexual. He would not have given someone the desires of one gender without the anatomy to match, there is no "gay" gene. If there was, it would be disappearing rather than multiplying because homosexuals can't reproduce. Why is it that our government is promoting such a dangerous lifestyle? According to the CDC, 2% of Americans are gay and of that 2%, 61% of those account for HIV in this country.

A reminder for those who feel they have the right to approve or deny marriage. We do not vote on civil rights in this country. If a vote was allowed to stand women would not have the right to vote and slaves would still be owned. Only white males could make the decisions that affect us all. We are all human and have the same rights.

Since one judge made the decision to overturn what the majority of people in NC voted against (same sex marriage), does that mean we, the people of the US, can change the vote and get rid of Obama? Something to think about!!!!!!
Does voting mean anything anymore? The citizens of North Carolina voted not to allow gay marriage and now the Supreme Court, one little group of people, throw out how we voted and say it's okay. Ignoring how citizens vote is NOT okay. We're supposed to still be a democracy and our vote is supposed to be the law. Wake up people. If they can do this and we accept it they can rule anything. 


 If pet owners love their animals (they are animals let's not forget that) as much as they say they do. If they feel like part of the family and you take them riding around in your vehicle then put them in a seat belt. You don't ride around with the children sitting in your lap so get the dog out.

Mission Health

 If Mission health system doesn't care about their employees how do they expect the employees to care for the patients. The moral at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital is at a all low due to the way the employees are being treated.

Yard Sales Close TOO Early

Please think about keeping your yard sale or estate sale open to 5 p.m.Every yard sale in this county always closes at noon. Don't you want to make lots more money at your yard sales? After you go to all the trouble of setting up your things to sell, you close down at noon. There are so many people who either work, have to go to the grocery store or like to sleep in on Saturdays, but would love to come to your yard sale. So many other towns keep their sales open until 5 p.m.and folks say that they usually sell out everything by staying open later. Thanks!

Mitchell County Economy

I know why Mitchell county is in the sad shape it is in. Its simple, we a trying to be like other surrounding counties that have a progressive work force within that county to sustain that type of growth. We are bypassing that critical need. Just ask yourself how many neighbors you know work outside of Mitchell county. This simply boils down to living beyond your means. The surrounding "tourist towns" have the growth to be "tourist towns". We simply do not. This is why citizens in Mitchell county are expected to carry this burden.

Mitchell County Schools Budget Shortfall

The following article was posted on WTOE's news website: Enrollment at Mitchell County Schools Contributes to Budget Shortfall The Mitchell County School system has been seeing a drop in enrollment for quite some time now and recent Average Daily Membership numbers show only 1976 students on the rolls in the entire school system. This is the first time that that number has dropped below 2,000. Mitchell, like most public school systems in NC, is largely funded by state and federal aid which is determined by the ADM numbers in each county. Although the ADM numbers are down the state budget is up over $106,000 from the previous year. These numbers include a raise in teachers’ salaries as well as a $500 raise for all non-certified positions such as teacher’s assistants. Local funding saw an increase of over $94,000 over last year with most of that going to teacher’s salaries and transportation cost. Last year the school system received an additional $83,566 in Low Wealth Funds to help with operations but will not be eligible for the money this year due to the drop in ADM and the fact that the county was forced to pass an increase in property taxes on its citizens. The school system faces some difficult decisions in the future with the Average Daily Membership expected to decline even further, projected to be at around 1,668 by 2021 I may not have a degree in economics but there just seems to be a few red flags here in my estimation. Basically, to summarize briefly school system enrollment is down, the state is not giving up as much funding, transportation costs are breaking the bank. OK, so we have a budget shortfall due to lack of funds and high costs. In recent years we have shut down Tipton Hill and Buladean schools. Gouge Elementary school and Bowman Middle school have sense absorbed the student body from both of these closed schools. Many of the teachers and other faculty were reabsorbed within the school system. With the economy as bad as it is in Mitchell county I am thankful for the reabsorbtion of staff, every job in our county is a precious commodity. The part that puzzles me is that the school system had a budget which allowed for the operating costs of Tipton Hill and Buladean. So where has that money been utilized? Shouldn't we have a surplus? I was under the impression that the school closings would ease the counties financial burden. Here's another thought to embrace. 24 years ago I am certain that the counties student enrollment was much higher than it is today. Back then Doug Greene was the superintendent of schools and there was a few positions at the board of education. Since then student enrollment is down drastically and it seems like in addition to the superintendent he has an assistant and that one has assistant and so on. Why do we need so many superintendents and their support staff for so few students? Our county sees budget shortfalls and continuously passes on the burdens to taxpayers, rather than tightening the belt on the budget for a solution. In my household when the funds are tight we tighten up our budget and yes it is squeezed tight right now. One would think that with all these "highly educated" elected officials they would think like we do, but who am I kidding. The county manager is a career politician, Spruce Pines town manager is just as well. Spruce Pine just cried about a budget shortfall and got a tax increase to make up the difference. Looks to me like that new money pit of a town hall on Burleson Hill just might have something to do with the budget shortfall. Apparently according to USA today Spruce Pine is one of the top ten places to visit along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I guess if Parkway tourists like seeing good hearted, hard working people financially strapped for cash due their local governments mismanagement of funds, then they are coming to the right place.

Media Coverage for Cane River Athletic Events

The comment about Times Journal's coverage of middle school football fails to mention that the Cane River team received one-half page of coverage the week before. At the beginning of the season, we ran team photos of East Yancey and Cane River. Because we have one very part time sports reporter who cannot be in two locations at the same time to cover the games, he alternates covering the middle school football games and has done so since the the season started. The Times Journal provides coverage of school sports to a much greater extent than any of the small newspapers in surrounding counties, which provide little if any coverage of middle school sports. We go out of our way to give the players recognition and do the best we can with the resources we have and can afford. We work closely with the schools and coaches -- and some are more cooperative than others -- but in the end we do it for the kids.
--Jody Higgins
Yancey Common Times Journal

I think it is very sad that the Cane River Middle School sporting events do not receive the same coverage as East Yancey School events. I have noticed this "unequal representation" for several years. However, it was very evident in today's Yancey Journal when EY football received a half page of coverage and the recent CR game was not even featured at all. I think this is very unfair to CR students, staff and parents.

Editor's Note: In our coverage we try to get pictures from all the teams however we have to balance out where we are at with other events too. We welcome any and all photos sent in to us and are happy to publish them!


I agree with Mr. Presnell that anyone who destroys another's property should be punished. There is never an excuse for this. However, now that the election is over I believe all of the candidates-winners or losers-should respect our county enough to make sure all of their campaign signs are taken down and properly disposed of instead of leaving them to add to our overwhelming litter problem. There is nothing less attractive than any litter anywhere so please be leaders by example.

I have watched the news and newspapers here lately. So many people or groups are taking credit for things being done or not done in our county and State. It makes me mad! For one thing it has taken a lot of years and a lot of people from both parties and individuals to get our new Yancey County Senior Center to the stage it is today. But according to the Democrats they alone were the ones that got the new senior center to the stage it is today. . Then there are claims by some running for office, who are distancing themselves from our President on issues. Yet they have been voting with him all this time. But the people are suppose to believe all of this without saying a word? There have been to many people that have worked very hard to get the new Senior Center to the point it is today. I do not mention any names for fear that I leave anyone off like has been done for months now by certain people. As I said earlier it was not just one group of political people are one group that made this new center possible. But they are real quick to take credit for this. Why do they not take credit for things like the skate park at the Ray Cort Park? Maybe it is because it has brought nothing but problems and a drug problem to that area. They only want to take credit for something positive while not wanting to share credit with everyone who helped get the things done.

Road Patching

Would someone tell me why that the road crew paints the road then comes by two weeks later and patches the same road and destroys the new lines.Wouldn't it make more sense to do the road work then paint the lines.this is on 80 south and isn't the first time it has happend.it is like painting a car and then doing the body work it makes no sense and is wasteful of our tax dollars.