Reader letters July 2

Jul 01, 2014

Consider these facts on fracking

To the editor:

Since the know nothings have been sniping this week I plan to state as follows:

There has been a hullabaloo in the media lately plus a distorted false TV scare tactic about fracking.

This geological undertaking has been ongoing in Texas, Wyoming, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, the latter three states in the famous Marcellus Shale field.

This area has enough natural gas reserves to operate all gas burning devices in the US for 20 years.

Is fracking potentially dangerous? Yes, if not properly organized, supervised, and engineered. Pennsylania had one case in the past six years affecting 16 families; it was a failure to secure the gas in the ground and not a fracking issue.

In Pavillion, Wyoming, the EPA is reviewing the possible seeping of fracking fluid. Not a great many complaints considering the dangers of nuclear energy, underwater oil, drilling, etc.

The estimated supply of natural gas in the US is 2552 trillion cubic feet, 110 years of cheaper, cleaner power.

There is a loss of water from the process, no more than factories and Texas is the only state to show adverse affects from water diminution.

The few alarmists that misspeak the risks are holdovers from the auto protesters of the early 1900s. And the political jokes on TV reveal more money than brains.

KG Watson

Maggie Valley


Halfway house/shelter will meet a community need

To the editor,

My name is Shawn Owens. I am 33 years old and am currently an inmate in Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution. I am writing in regard to the article on the old prison project.

I have lived in Haywood County all my life and I have seen some homeless people throughout the years. In many cases people were homeless by choice, choosing to drink or do drugs instead of facing family, sobering up, and going home.

But in most recent years I have seen our county slowly being destroyed by meth and pills.

That is why I think a halfway house/emergency shelter and soup kitchen is a great idea. I think the widespread drug use of all ages of people in our county forces a lot of younger kids to be homeless, hungry and/or abandoned.

We all know that all across the world that a lot of grandparents are having to raise grandkids because of unemployment rates, loss of jobs and a poor economy.

A lot of the reason for this in small western counties is the impact that drugs have on families.

I think that a faith-based halfway house/emergency shelter and soup kitchen is a good place for any person suffering from a lack of a good nights sleep, or a good meal to find help, get something to eat, get some sleep, hear an encouraging word, and just maybe hear some awareness of the effects that drugs are having on us or someone we love or care about.

By being in prison I have a front row seat to see people who get released from here with no place to go and inevitably go back to what put them in prison to start with.

Haywood County is one of many small towns who do not have a halfway house or shelter to offer assistance to someone being released from prison. So while we have a chance for this amazing opportunity to become real I think it is very important for anyone who can and will vote for this to be approved to do so. It’s easy to think that homelessness or hunger will never come our way, or to see someone being released from prison to Haywood County without one option.

I know I am blessed with a good place to go home and a good support system of family, but until I read this article I guess you could say I took it for granted.

If Haywood County gets this approved than at least we all will know that this hungry person or homeless person will have somewhere to get a nights sleep and a hot meal, and some prayers. I think that we are lucky to still have citizens in our community who care and pray for the better of our county.

Shawn Owens

Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution


Prison project is impressive; will aid in recovery

To the editor:

I recently had the privilege of reading your May 26 article concerning the on going efforts to turn the old Hazelwood prison unit into a transitional center for newly released inmates.

As an inmate in the NC Prison system, I was impressed by the fact that both local citizens and community leaders are supportive of this initiative, and willing to address the needs of individuals who are sincerely ready to turn their lives around.

My personal encounters with the justice system have come about as the result of a chronic dependency on prescription pain medications, and it seems to me that Waynesville would offer a healthier, more “recovery-oriented” environment than where I was previously residing near downtown Asheville.

Additionally, when I was growing up in Atlanta, my family was closely affiliated with the local Methodist church and we spent a lot of time over the years at various functions and retreats held at Lake Junaluska.

I do not believe that there is a more beautiful place on the planet than Haywood County.

I am presently housed at Pamlico Correction Center in Bayboro, 20 miles east of New Bern, and can personally attest that this is quite possibly the hottest location in the state.

I will never again take for granted the cool mountain climate. I will be eligible for promotion to minimum custody and relocating to WNC later this year.

I’m very much looking forward to working out in the community, establishing contacts there and learning more about Haywood County.

Thank you for your article and the encouragement it has given me toward a productive successful return to society.

Alan Hall

Pamlico Correction Center

Bayboro, NC

Comments (10)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 01, 2014 17:18

I very much appreciate the diverse opinions found here -- two people in prison even.  How did two people in prison long out of The Mountaineer's "local distribution" come to know the articles written in our paper?  It reads as if someone sent articles to these prison facilities and perhaps solicited support of the prison project from inmates.  (I wouldn't want to speak against the halfway house idea for locals -- just that it's likely a good idea without drumming up support outside of our community... for whatever purpose that serves.)

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 02, 2014 07:49

Expressed a different way, ought we be concerned that the halfway house seems to be attracting attention from people in prisons all over the state?  If this project is done, would we suddenly have a larger population of people who seek a halfway house -- not only the "locals" those as far as New Bern?

Posted by: Ron Rookstool | Jul 02, 2014 08:36

Mr. Lilly, it is most difficult to judge until you have walked in their shoes.  It does not matter to me how these two prisoners knew about the article, but more importantly they know first hand, not second hand. I am blessed that I have never been homeless. How about you? I support and believe turning the old prison into a halfway house, etc to help the less fortunate.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 02, 2014 09:53

Mr. Rookstool, I have had a few up-close-and-personal experiences relating with those that might appreciate a halfway house.  But nobody in my immediate family has ever had the misfortune to need such a thing.


If Haywood is advertising the halfway house state-wide, I would suggest that is not in the best interest of the community.  I don't think our small community has the resources to accommodate a large population of people who might need a halfway house.  It's my opinion that we first need to better accommodate those that are local before advertising the halfway house to prisons as far as New Bern.  (Unless the idea is to create such a demand locally that there would be increased pressure on the community and government to do "more" for the increased need.)


Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jul 02, 2014 10:02

         If the area churches were living up to the lessons of Jesus of Nazareth, there would be no need for OUR tax dollars/assets being wasted on such a project that would put US at risk.  

          Keep the preachers out of it. Keep it completely secular. The N.C. Religious clause prohibits any proselytizing whatsoever. Involve the community college.

           I have employed and worked with people with a record and had no problems whatsoever.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 02, 2014 12:10

There are others that are "more qualified" than I to speak on the matter, but...


"If the area churches were living up to the lessons of Jesus of Nazareth.."

That's a 2-way street and to be effective, both parties of "charity" need to play their role.  The "giver" must be generous with time/money and patient.  The "receiver" must be humbled, thankful, and have just enough shame to want to improve their situation so that they no longer need charity.  That is how charity works best.  In my experience, churches do their part.  And they always can do "more".  If those receiving charity from a church were to become active with a church, I would suggest their lives would improve at a very high percentage.  I know some that won't attend church because they feel they would not be welcomed as they might not have any "Sunday Best" attire, they might not be well-groomed, or they might have piercings and tattoos where they get looks they interpret to mean they are judged to be an outcast.  Would love to see a church market to those types.


I also would say that when government dispenses what can be considered "charity", that's an impersonal "system" that is much less effective.  Many times those taking from public funds trick themselves into thinking it's an "entitlement" and therefore is missing the feelings of humbleness, thankfulness, and shamefulness that is required in a heart to motivate change.  As an example, I've never been thanked as a taxpayer for proving for someone's food stamps or Section 8 housing.  If we are to continue with these government assistance programs, someone needs to inject a sense of "you're taking public money from public funds" to those that are being assisted.  Most lack a feeling of indebtedness to the public for the assistance they get.


Turn that around.  The proposed halfway house is proposed with the requirement that all who live there must volunteer if they don't have a job.  Beautiful!  So in return for assistance they get, they will pay off their indebtedness with some kind of service that benefits the public in some way.  I'm a right-wing, conservative, Republican who LOVES that kind of help.  It's not a hand-out -- it's an opportunity made for those that feel they don't have any opportunities.  And once they get into that opportunity, they will naturally find better opportunities to grow into and better their lives.

Posted by: John C Sanderson | Jul 02, 2014 18:33

"How did two people in prison long out of The Mountaineer's 'local distribution' come to know the articles written in our paper?"


Gee, maybe because one of them has "lived in Haywood County all of [his] life," and the other one has very clear connections to Haywood County (I gleaned that information from actually reading the letters) - and maybe they like keeping up with what's happening in Haywood County. I don't know that all that's true, but my suppositions are certainly as reasonable as (if not more reasonable than) the supposition that someone is soliciting support among inmates for prison projects or that "Haywood is advertising the halfway house state-wide.” Is it really appropriate, anyway, for a non-resident, living far from Haywood County, to question the motivations of others writing from afar (and Mitchell County isn’t really all that far away), simply because they are writing from afar? I don’t think so.

You seem to be reading not only between the lines, but reading the fine print between the lines of these letters to come up with all of the criticisms and “what ifs” you have regarding this halfway house effort, Mr. Lilly. Homelessness, substance abuse, hunger, and lack of emergency shelter are all legitimate issues in Haywood County, and these are some of the points made by the first letter writer. I also have strong doubts that Haywood County is going to see a huge influx of homeless ex-cons from all over the state because we have a halfway house available for those in need. This halfway house would help primarily those who reside in Haywood County, and believe me, we have plenty of people who would be helped by a facility like this.

I really have difficulty understanding your criticisms and questions about this effort. It would be a good thing, and I don’t think it will harm anyone’s property values, just in case that’s what you’re worried about.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jul 02, 2014 19:02

              Paying one's obligations to OUR govt. requires no thanks whatsoever. It is a responsibility.

              If the area churches did their job as proscribed by Jesus of Nazareth there would be no need for confiscating OUR publicly owned facility. There are more than enough churches that stand as empty buildings too often.

               The N.C. Religious clause is explicit: " All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship almighty god according to the dictates of their own conscience, and no human authority, shall in any case whatsoever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience".

                Training to obtain a certain and particular job can be beneficial. Religious proselytizing is ill-liberal and un-American and anti-God.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 03, 2014 11:17

Mr. Sanderson, I pay for an online subscription and for The Mountaineer to be delivered to my home.  For two prisoners from two different prisons to have an online subscription and access to a computer or a hard copy delivered to the jail -- well, that seems like a stretch.  And those folks being inspired to write to The Mountaineer from however they were made aware of the story -- again kind of a stretch.  I am suggesting it's possible someone or something promoted our proposed project to prison systems.


I think we agree that the project would be a good thing.  But I do think too much of a good thing would cause problems.  There would be increased load on our law enforcement that would cause even more property tax increases, increased demands for funding the halfway house -- thereby reducing whatever limited resources there are for other charitable organization, and a higher population of at-risk people in the community that would have a social character impact on schools.  And since you mention it, it could impact nearby property values and might be contrary to a direction I'd like to see the community take of "improving quality over quantity."


I like the idea of the project.  I don't like the idea of advertising it to try to get more people that need a halfway house to move to Waynesville.  (Maybe that's going to occur as a "benefit" of getting publicity from the TV show.)


(I own my house outright in Hazelwood.  I have no plans to sell it.  Reducing my property value would only help me as I would not have to pay as much property taxes on it.)

Posted by: Joe Vescovi | Jul 10, 2014 08:39

Fracking - can't seem to write comment under article but having been from NY state I  know there has been a lot of controversy about fracking and at this time there is still a moratorium on issuing any new permits till probably 2015.

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