“The Sky Has Fallen”

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015

To the editor:

The sky has fallen, and it has obviously landed on our commissioners’ heads, with the exception of Ray Gasperson, who still seems to maintain his sanity and support of the people of this region. I speak for many.

We do not want Duke Energy’s transmission lines desecrating our Blue Ridge Mountains and the Carolina Foothills. I think this is pretty obvious when you look at the public’s response both in North Carolina and South Carolina.

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I am a resident of Tryon and live in The Valley, as they call it here. The Valley is Route 176 between Saluda and Tryon. I retired nine years ago from Penn State University to come down here and live in this beautiful, pristine, rural environment. I live next to a waterfall and the Pacolet River is across the street.

I did not go to the meeting scheduled by the Tryon Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at the Tryon Fire Department. Why? Because I am ashamed that the Town of Tryon has not passed a resolution against the transmission lines when all other towns have. This list includes Saluda, Landrum, and Columbus. Hendersonville County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution concerning Duke Energy’s proposed transmission lines asking the N.C. Utility Commission to appoint an independent consultant to determine whether the lines are even necessary.

On Aug. 31, a letter sent by mail to Ms. Lynn Good and Mr. Clark Gillespy, presidents of Duke Energy in Charlotte N.C. and Greenville, S.C. by executive directors of Upstate Forever and Natural and Trust petitioning Duke Energy to scrap the transmission lines.

South Carolina representatives N. Douglas Brannon, Mike Burns, Tommy Stringer, and Senators Shane Martin and Tom Corbin opposed the transmission lines.

The Pacolet Area Conservancy adopted a resolution opposing the construction of transmission lines and towers across the Foothills region.

Hello Town of Tryon! Hello Commissioners! We have heard Duke already! I have been to all the meetings except yours! All meetings, except yours, packed in record numbers of folks opposing Duke.

On Aug. 25, the Saluda Fire Department hosted a crowd nearly half the size of the town’s population of approximately 700. On Aug. 27, in Campobello, S.C., the auditorium was at full capacity, 650 folks, and more waiting outside. Citizens spoke about the negative impacts of this project for four hours. On Sept. 3, the N.C. Utilities Commission Public Staff conducted an informal meeting at Blue Ridge Community College. This meeting packed in 850 folks.

Tryon Commissioners listen up! At this meeting we heard a panel of Duke Energy project officials speak for almost two hours; the public got one hour to comment. They answered 18 specific questions which were printed word for word in the Tryon Bulletin. Why would we want to hear them again! This may be why your attendance was low.

Wake up Town of Tryon! We need to officially oppose this Modernization Project and these transmission lines NOW! Our elected commissioners should not have this much power! To “not oppose the transmission lines,” to go ahead with the ICWD water project….another story!

So if I am rambling here, forgive me. I am passionate about this issue. I love these mountains. I care deeply. I continue to write letters in opposition to Duke. Please, all of you who care about this area and quality of life, all life, continue to write. There are many online and Facebook sites where you can find the contacts you need. On Facebook, “like” Saluda Community Against Duke. Online see the websites carolinalandcoalition.org, mountaintrue.org and foothillspreservationalliance.org.  We need to continue to write, protest, march, get T-shirts, signs, bumper stickers. I am sure I will run into you at the next rally.

Jo Rytter
Tryon, N.C.