Letters to the editor – July 19th, 2017

Published 5:03 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Kudos to McFarland

Editor, Smithfield Times
Thanks to Diana McFarland for the story on corn growing in Isle of Wight County. Other articles mentioned people being concerned about differences between rural and non-rural residents. Series like this new one give those of us who are “city folks” a look at what’s behind the scenes we see every day. And, I hope, will build some bridges of interest and understanding. (At least we’ll know when to pray for rain and when to pray for sunshine.)
I think the newspaper does a great job of balancing all the different interests and issues. I’m looking forward to the promised stories on cotton, soybeans and peanuts.
Lynne Hundley

Town actions self-serving

Editor, Smithfield Times
We appreciate Councilwoman Denise Tynes’ insistence last Tuesday in exacting an accurate explanation from the Town Attorney to the public. It is, in fact, true that the $409,000 of funds required to complete interior renovation of the Caretaker’s House at WCP, and to construct two additional barns, involves our taxpayer monies and liability in the event of SVAE default.
This will bring the total of Town investment at the Castle to nearly $2.8 million — $400,000 to complement Mr. Luter’s original purchase; $2 million to match the Smithfield Foods grant of $1 million for DHS-required renovation; and this latest sum to help incubate a recently accredited non-profit.
All of these funds, of course, have been voted in closed sessions of Council, without public approbation of a working business plan, and without appropriate financial disclosure of the beneficiary.
Together with the additional millions (also voted in closed session) that our elected officials have obligated for the Luter Sports Complex, we find ourselves pretty tapped out financially, and we have yet to be given serious consideration about our concerns as a Community. The fact that three Council members had to recuse themselves from the 4-0 vote last week bears testament to the multiple conflicts-of-interest at work. My belief is that there would be similar conflict for votes taken on ball field matters.
So there is little mystery about why the town cannot muster the $75-100,000 necessary to mothball the historic Thomas Pierce Home and outbuildings — as several hundred citizens have petitioned Council for more than two years to accomplish. In retrospect, it was naive, and foolish, of us to expect Council to work cooperatively with the Trust for Public Land to secure the preservation and conservation objectives we have urged. They are simply too consumed in looking after, and funding, one another’s pet projects.
Fortunately, we have a voice at the ballot box next spring when three Council members stand for re-election (another has stated his/her intent to end public service for now). We need fresh voices on Council with new ideas, and we need people with experienced judgment and true commitment to selfless service and participative democracy.
Mark Gay

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