Early leaders altered Haywood's history

Jan 06, 2013

Decisions made in the late 1950s and early ‘60s in Haywood County forever altered its position in history. Whether that was for the better can be debated, but not the facts.

The most transforming event was construction of Interstate 40 through Haywood, a feat that was rather remarkable in retrospect. Early leaders were in a hard-fought competition with Buncombe and Madison counties for the lifeline that was guaranteed to bring economic prosperity initially and for years to come.

Just think of how different Haywood would be if the French Braod route through Marshall and Hot Springs had been chosen. Back then, and still today, commerce depended on a good transportation route, something the U.S. interstate highway system was built to accomplish.

Early Haywood leaders recognized the importance of pulling together. East joined west, business groups merged and differences were set aside as all worked toward a unifed goal.

The education system in Haywood is one that was set in motion decades ago, as well. County residents agreed the seven community high schools, none of which were accredited, were not providing the best education possible for their children. County residents voted to unify under a single school district and approved a sizeable property tax hike to construct two new high schools in the county. The top-notch education system in the county today undoubtedly dates back to that time.

North Carolina is again at a pivotal time in history as Republicans take over the reins to state government. Let’s hope their decisions are as forward-looking as those of our forefathers in Haywood.

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