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Letter to the Editor: Future generations need the library

Last updated on April 3, 2023

Just over a year ago, I left Macon County to pursue a job out of state. This decision was one that I thought long and hard about, Macon County is my home, and the community is one that I love so deeply. The opportunity was just too good to pass up, and I knew that taking the job would ultimately help to develop my skills and knowledge, all of which I could bring back home. Much like my own parents did, I want to raise my future family in Macon County. I credit the place I grew up with many things, including the skills, opportunities for growth, and sense of belonging that I now hold; and these are values that I hope to foster in the next generation. However, looking from the outside in over the last year, I have been anxious that leadership in Macon County is more concerned with fighting nonsense culture war issues than taking care of our community; and that makes it difficult to maintain my desire to return home. 

Before I left Macon County, I was working a full-time county job. I made good money, but it was nearly impossible to find somewhere affordable to live. Like many Maconians, I found myself making too much money to qualify for government assistance and not enough money to buy a house, or even pay rent. Too many rental property owners would rather provide short-term, vacation rentals than to rent their property long-term to residents.  Even if someone is eligible for government assistance, the housing that qualifies can take months to get into as there are more people in need than there are available units. How can we attract young professionals and help our businesses grow, when there is nowhere for them to live? And what are the Commissioners doing to attract developers, property owners, and businesses to work together on this issue? 

Additionally, as someone who wants to have a family, I must factor in the loss of Angel Medical’s Women and Children’s unit into my decision to move back home. As anyone who has ever driven over Cowee Mountain in the winter knows, the road to the nearest delivery room can be dangerous at best and fatal at worst. With dwindling options for healthcare and childcare, what are Commissioners doing to hold healthcare leaders accountable? How are they working to improve a family’s options to receive care?

As a proud graduate of Macon County Schools, why are our county leaders not outspoken in support for the next generation of students, community members, and future leaders by making investments in those resources now? Instead, we have Commissioners who are opposed to new, well-resourced schools, and are even considering leaving the Fontana Regional Library system because of content that they personally do not like. 

We need community leaders who are willing to be stewards of our community for the next generation and that does not include leaving the Fontana Regional Library system. The future vitality and growth of our community is put in jeopardy with leaders who are too afraid of words written on paper and not of the growing problems that community members face. It’s high-time that these complaints be put to bed, so that the Commissioners get to the work they were elected to do: serving the people, not politics. 

 Emily Ritter


  1. Connie Macey Connie Macey March 27, 2023

    The Macon County Library & staff are exemplary ! Honor them, treasure them, recognize their professionalism .

    • Justin Justin March 28, 2023

      Amen to this comment and the letter to the editor. It’s refreshing to realize there are people from Macon County who haven’t fallen down the Qanon rabbit hole and turned into reactionary zealots. Fontana Regional clearly doest a better job managing library resources than a group of county commissioners who do not read, do not respect the first amendment, and can’t even provide a pre-k program for children. Anyone who thinks Danny Antoine, the man who chose his career after seeing a Ralph Macchio movie, would do a better job managing a library than actual librarians isn’t rational or informed. Paul Higdon is unfortunately my father and he hasn’t read a book in at least 40 years (other than a few books written by nazi memorabilia enthusiast Glenn Beck and other far-right idiots)

      • Justin Justin March 28, 2023

        Fontana Regional clearly does a better job*
        Pardon typos

        • Kristina Lynn Moe Kristina Lynn Moe March 29, 2023

          Justin!!! We’ve missed you!!! I’m so glad you commented here, and I hope you’ll get in touch with those of us who always wonder about you back here in Macon County. (The library is a good place to find us- I still work there!)
          And thank you Emily, and Connie, for your supportive words as well!

          • Justin Justin March 30, 2023

            Kristina! It’s so nice to hear from you! I actually just got an email from Angela but was waiting until I get a few minutes to give her a proper reply. I’ve missed y’all and I sure apologize for the vanishing act. I’m back for a bit though and you can count on seeing my smiling face asap. I wish we were reconnecting under nicer circumstances, but oh well haha.

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