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Not happy with Highland Farms' expansion

While perusing back issues of “Highlights,” I came upon an article written by a good friend of mine. It was a plea to residents to give to our Highland Farms appreciation fund.

My friend shared how deliberately, how conscientiously, he and his wife, both retired teachers, had searched for just the right place to retire. They finally found their dream: a perfect home in the mountains of North Carolina on a farm with green grass, trees, and a perfect view of the mountains we love here at Highland Farms.

Soon, their home, which they purchased in good faith, is to be destroyed by Givens Highland Farms, a Methodist “not for profit.”  

Givens Highland Farms is altering the promises made to potential residents in the act of “redoing” Givens Highland Farms, tailoring this community to more affluent soon-to-be retirees, wealthier than we who came to build community and to live out our “golden years” in peace and harmony.

In short, we are being gentrified.

What we now face is a “takeover” laced with broken promises. Our “golden years” will now be spent, instead of waltzing to the music of birds, cicadas and harmony, we’ll be shuffling to the cadence of backhoes, construction, buzz saws and disruption.

Until we “flutter up,” we will spend our remaining years in a war zone, trying to live out our days in occupied territory!

Of course, what our “leader” does not talk about is our working staff (our real working staff) - waitstaff, housekeepers, grounds crew - way underpaid, understaffed but expected to work for minimum wage to keep us functioning.

Annie Hall

Black Mountain

A possible use for the dilapidated garage

Here's a great idea - let the owner or the town take down the building at the corner of Grovestone Road and U.S. 70 and have the owner donate the corner to veterans organizations or to the town to put a monument on the land honoring veterans past, present and future. 

It is a perfect spot to show directions to the Veterans Cemetery just up the road.  It would be in line with the Veterans Highway designation that is a short distance down U.S. 70 toward Swannanoa.

Ponder the thought. We can do this. 

Joan Brown

Black Mountain

Ministry thanks all for help with wood yard

What a blessing the Swannanoa Valley Christina Ministry Wood Yard has been to our clients! 

A special thank you to Mr. Bill Alexander for the land used for the wood yard, to Mr. Bill Hamby for coordinating the workdays, and the team of volunteers who kept many in our community warm this winter. 

Since October, volunteers have split, chopped and delivered wood to SVCM clients who use wood as their primary or secondary source of heating for their homes.  They delivered 60 full loads of wood to 29 clients, saving the ministry $9,000! This savings was much needed this winter. 

This team of volunteers also filled many emergency orders for wood in between their regular monthly gatherings.  Towards the end they worked every other week, to cut and haul new wood from donors, and they cleaned the wood yard.  They also began to cut wood for next winter. 

This wonderful new ministry is so beneficial to our clients and SVCM.  A huge thank you to all who have participated by volunteering to help keep their neighbors warm this winter.  SVCM continues to be blessed by this caring community in which we live and which continues to come together to find meaningful ways to help those we serve.

Cheryl Wilson

SVCM executive director

Candid comments shed light on interchange project

It is always refreshing to hear decision-makers making candid, honest statements, and on that account I offer grateful praise for our town manager and our planning board chair for their comments at the April board of alderman meeting.

Thanks to town manager Matt Settlemyer for stating that night that the Blue Ridge Road-Interstate 40 interchange will not funnel large trucks away from downtown Black Mountain. Since that is the public’s general perception, I appreciate Mr. Settlemyer attempting to set the record straight and keep our citizens' expectations realistic.

I took notes at the meeting, and I heard him say that night, “You can’t restrict trucks from downtown, because it is a state road.”

Appreciation also goes to planning board chair Lisa Milton, who spoke that night to raise the question, “who are the stakeholders?” in the Blue Ridge Road-Interstate 40 interchange project. Milton noted that she specifically asked NC DOT officials whether residents of Blue Ridge Road area are considered stakeholders in the planning of the highway interchange, and the answer she got was, “No.”

Stakeholders at the initial planning phases, it was explained, are the largest entities involved, such as the NCDOT, Black Mountain town staff, and the seven members of our planning board: Milton, Peter Vazquez, Doug Brock, Mike Raines, John Schaff, Jesse Gardner, and Lynn Telford.

Sheridan Hill

Black Mountain

Easter baskets made possible by these people

On March 20, 40 Easter baskets were delivered to Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministries for distribution to children in this community. These baskets, containing age-appropriate educational toys and books from Discovery Toys, along with special Easter treats, were made possible through the generous donations of area individuals and businesses.

I am tremendously grateful to my wonderful  Black Mountain friends and neighbors (you know who you are!), to Carol Patchett who volunteered to gather donations from her friends and neighbors, and to the following community-minded businesses who gave so generously to this project:  Black Mountain Savings Bank, Greybeard Realty, Symmetry Financial Group, Penland's Furniture, Sassafras on Sutton and Traditions Bakery.

I have been so impressed by the generosity of this very special community that is our part-time home!

Junith Koon

Black Mountain and Atlanta

Seniors can ill afford another Duke rate increase

Duke Carolinas has requested a 13.4 percent increase in residential rates. This will increase the basic customer charge from $11.13 to $19.50!

When so many of us seniors got a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment of just 2 percent in 2017, and zero in 2016, this is going to hit seniors especially hard. Duke can find other sources of revenue, such as their CEO compensation or some of the federal tax cut windfalls.

We should all be working to conserve our electricity use, yet the monthly electric bill gets paid before we ever turn on a light. The North Carolina Utilities Commission should reject their proposal, which is one we cannot afford. 

Margie Sigman

Black Mountain

AARP NC Volunteer 

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