Update on Lake Junaluska / Waynesville merger

Lake Junaluska residents and property owners (two overlapping groups) have circulated petitions demanding that the state House (specifically Rep. Michelle Presnell R-Yancey) vote on the local bill that has already passed the Senate to allow Lake Junaluska Assembly to be annexed into the Town of Waynesville.

The latest report from the Smoky Mountain News describes the petition process, led by Ed LaFountaine, president of the Lake Junaluska Property Owners Association. Ed grew up in Waynesville, went to the Air Force Academy (shit happens), and retired back to Lake Junaluska as a 3-star general in the Air Force. He also happens to be a personal friend, and recently our landlord as we built our new house in Haywood County. He's a straight-up guy, and has been particularly .... distressed by Ms. Presnell's obstruction of what should be a routine local matter.

Also of note is the way Becky Johnson, the chief political reporter for the usually outstanding Smoky Mountain News, reported on the players. She lavished praise on Pope-puppet Sen. Jim Davis (R-Macon) as a champion for the annexation legislation in the Senate. But Ms. Presnell is not even mentioned by name in the article, with the opposition in the House attributed to "some Republicans in the House" who had "some misgivings." And to top that off, Rep. Joe Sam Queen (D-Haywood), whose House district includes both the Lake Junaluska properties under consideration, and the entirety of the Town of Waynesville, was not even mentioned in the article. Joe Sam is an enthusiastic supporter of the annexation move.

Usually, the SMN pulls no punches in its political reporting. But in this case, it seems to me, the reporter and editor were either gun-shy, or have some other agenda....


The reason for the merger

Lake Junaluska wants the resources of the Town of Waynesville to repair their badly crumbling water and sewer systems. The Town wants the obvious benefits of revenue from relatively valuable property in the county.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Touched a nerve...

Email response from SMN reporter Becky Johnson to my comment on the SMN website about the article:

Thanks for your insightful comments on our stories on line. We really appreciate those.

I wanted to reply to this one and let you know that a) you are completely right about needing to include where each elected official stands and b) we plan to do that in plenty of time to make sure every voter in WNC knows that well before ballot time arrives.

This story was more about the current petition process from the Lake’s perspective, rather than the politicians in Raleigh. We will do a second story as the legislative season progresses.

Also, Davis is trying to change Presnell’s mind. If we quote her saying that she does not support it, would that make it more difficult for Davis to get her to change her mind?

While it is not our job to calculate such things when determining the structure of an article, there is some merit to doing an article right now on the petition, letting that get presented in Raleigh, and then depending on how legislators react, do the story on where they stand after they have had a chance to analyze their positions for the short session

Becky Johnson, reporter
Smoky Mountain News


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR