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Opinion Letters

I’m writing to thank the residents of Franklin and Macon County for their generosity in helping needy children worldwide this Christmas season. Together we were able to collect 5,949 in Macon County and 17,972 shoeboxes in Western North Carolina – which includes Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties — filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items — for Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. We also want to share our U.S. total of almost eight million and worldwide total of over 10.4 million. For many children, these shoeboxes will be the first gifts they have ever received.

Although our local drop-off locations here in Macon County are closed until November 2015, shoebox gifts can be packed any time. Operation Christmas Child is a project of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, and gifts are received year-round at its North Carolina headquarters (801 Bamboo Road, Boone, North Carolina, 28607).

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Vic Drummond in a recent letter suggested he does not believe in economic projections. He may not realize "estimates" of future economic outcomes is a vital part of planning that any organization whether private businesses or governments would have to do to make wise decisions. Or it may just be that he is not happy that overwhelming data support the basic tenant that any state that expands Medicaid under the present Affordable Care Act is going to reap huge economic benefits for the citizens of that state.

Not only do both of the studies that he wrote about (REMI and George Washington University study) show huge economic benefits for N.C., but there have been 32 other studies in 26 states that have analyzed the anticipated impact of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion on state and local economies. These studies used at least six different economic impact models all of which have been examined by experts in the field for accuracy.

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Would you like to learn about Scottish influence in the mountains? Would you like to try some Scottish dances, food, trivia? How about researching your own Scottish heritage and finding your clan’s or district’s tartan? Franklin, North Carolina has the only Scottish Tartans museum dedicated to Highland wear and history in the United States.

I invite you to join the Friends of the Scottish Tartans Museum. The museum serves as an educational resource for all those interested in the continuing tradition of Scottish Highland dress and Scottish heritage in the U.S. Some Friends members attend the Highland games in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The purpose is to promote the museum and help with family history research. Two members work in the gift shop. Many Friends members participate in community events like Burns Night, Tartan Day, Taste of Scotland and the nights of Winter Wonderland. We also have fundraisers.

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This Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, when many Christians abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert before launching his ministry.

But meat-free Lent is much more than a symbol of religious devotion to Christ. It helps reduce the risk of chronic disease, environmental degradation, and animal abuse. Dozens of medical reports have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer, and other killer diseases. A 2007 U.N. report named meat production as the largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented farm animals being beaten, caged, crowded, deprived, mutilated, and shocked.

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