Smoke and mirrors: the death of tobacco in WNC

h786-8-1100x823(Mountain XPress) Few crops have been as central to North Carolina’s economy and culture — or as controversial — as tobacco. Historically, its high market value and the relative ease of growing it made tobacco a staple for many Western North Carolina farmers. As late as 2002, 1,995 mountain farms grew tobacco. The crop’s prevalence, however, was closely tied to the long-standing quota system, which regulated where it could be grown and set a guaranteed price range each year.

Significant government involvement with the industry began during the Great Depression, but changing times and social attitudes eventually caught up with the program. Increasing health concerns and lawsuits ultimately led to the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, which restricted tobacco advertising and gave states substantial payments to offset Medicare expenses and fund anti-smoking programs. In conjunction with other changes, this accelerated a continuing decline in sales of American-grown tobacco.

Read the full report, including a history of the crop in NC, HERE>

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Famous waving granny gets huge Valentine’s surprise

5-waving-valentine(CHEK News) “It’s just a lovely thing to do and I think it brings a strong sense of community that’s really needed,” says Highland Secondary student Jessica Baldwin.

The Comox Valley students — armed with heart bouquets made from milk jugs — decided to embark on a very special Valentine’s surprise for Tinney Davidson.

The 86-year-old Comox woman is best known as the waving granny, for her waves and warm smiles at kids walking by her house on the way to school.

“I think now everyone does it out of habit — it’s weird not to,” says Highland student Benjamin Coats.

Watch a video report HERE>

Cam defends Super Bowl media walkout: ‘I’m a sore loser’

635906155055833701-usp-nfl-super-bowl-50-carolina-panthers-vs-denver-79503686(USA Today) A defiant Cam Newton addressed reporters for the first time since the Carolina Panthers’ MVP quarterback walked out of news conference minutes after his team fell to the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl 50 on Sunday. “I’ve been on the record saying that I’m a sore loser,”  Newton told reporters at the team’s practice facility in Charlotte on Tuesday. “Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser. It’s not a popularity contest. I am here to win football games.”

Added Newton: “I have said it since Day 1. I am who I am. I know what I’m capable of and I know where I am going. If you want me to conform, I’m not that guy. If you want me to be that type of person, I’m not that. I am happy to say that. This league is a great league with or without me. I understand that. I am my own person. I take pride in that.”

Read the full story HERE>