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Opinion Letters

This week the North Carolina Legislature passed, and Governor McCrory signed, a bill requiring a photo ID in order to vote. This bill will disenfranchise a large number of voters in our state, especially the elderly (which includes the Greatest Generation, who saved our country for democracy), and the first-time voters. In addition, the bill eliminates one week of early voting, which has been extremely popular with older folks.

Some real examples: a friend is 94 years old. She served as a nurse in WWll, has always been very active in her church and community, her husband was a state senator for several terms. She has voted in every election since she was old enough, but now she can’t vote, because she has no “valid” ID. Another friend is 87, has never driven because she is blind, she and her family have worked tirelessly for their church and community, but now she can’t vote.

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On June 19, 2013, USA-Today revealed to the nation a program utilized by federal agencies and the U.S. House and Senate whereby student loans are paid, with public funds, for federal employees and congressional staff.

Since that time both the House and Senate have passed bills (both by wide margins) and sent them to the president for signing. It is noteworthy that these bills lower the interest rate on student loans to the pre-July rate of 3.4 percent for the coming school year but will increase beginning with the 2014-15 school year.

The interest rate will be linked to financial markets next year and will not be higher than 8.25 percent for undergraduates, 9.5 percent for graduate students and for parents who take out loans for their children, the rate will top out at 10.5 percent.

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This was the message that our state Republicans and Senator Davis ran on last November. I ask you now, how much legislation did we see come out of Raleigh to bring jobs back to North Carolina? Friends, there was no legislation passed through the General Assembly. In fact, while the national unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent last month, 44 counties in North Carolina saw unemployment rise above 10 percent, 8 of those being in Western North Carolina. Instead, the State Legislator spent their entire session pushing radical legislation through the General Assembly. The biggest blow to our state was found in the new budget, where education saw a cut of almost half a billion dollars.

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Dear Friends of the Theatre,

We write this letter to the community as an expression of appreciation and gratitude for your support of our creative efforts while working at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts.

In the last four and a half years, we have had the wonderful opportunity to create and perform over 35 musicals and plays, dozens of special events and served as a production crew for hundreds of traveling concerts and road shows. During that time we have met and made life-long friends and have had experiences and opportunities that will never be forgotten. As with all things, however, things progress and change and each of us employed at the theatre knew we were coming to a crossroads in our lives and felt it was time for each of us to examine which path we should each take towards our own futures.

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