Letters to The Editor – December 6th, 2017

Published 8:42 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Foods isn’t an innkeeper

Editor, Smithfield Times
To the Smithfield community: At Smithfield Foods, we have grown from a small meat packer to a leading global food company that is also the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. Smithfield is a company that is steeped in its small-town heritage and proud to be headquartered in a community where neighbors still meet at their mailboxes to talk over local issues.
We believe that openness and transparency are key ingredients to maintaining trust. As such, I want to share with you that Smithfield Foods has secured a potential buyer to begin the next chapter of the community’s beloved historic restaurant, tavern and bed and breakfast, the Smithfield Inn.
The reason for this decision is quite simple: we are a global food company; we are not innkeepers. I want members of the community to know that the prospective buyer will honor this landmark and ensure that it continues to provide the southern hospitality that still defines the “Old Inn on Main Street.” The buyer has expertise in successfully managing similar types of businesses — someone who has local roots and recognizes the Inn’s role in our heritage.
As many of you know, the Inn was built in 1752 and is older than The Alamo or even Independence Hall. Notable guests include our country’s first president, President George Washington, and others looking to enjoy the charm of what is now known as the Smithfield Historic District. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Inn is steeped in tradition that dates back more than 250 years. In short, we want to see the Inn continue to flourish for another two and a half centuries.
As we advance down this path, we will continue to be open and transparent with you about the next phase of the Smithfield Inn.
Kenneth M. Sullivan
President, CEO
Smithfield Foods

It begins at the top

Editor, Smithfield Times
Last week the paper printed an article about the Supervisors’ plans to improve customer service from county employees. This brings up a number of concerns. First, citizens are not only customers but employers as well. County employees are public servants. Second, my experience with rank and file county employees has been positive and informative. Third, customer service should be exemplified from the top down.
We currently have one district supervisor who responds to inquiries with rude, abrupt, dismissive and insulting responses. He has stated that town residents don’t realize that he represents them so they don’t bother him with questions. He also provided his own Powerpoint presentation for certain applicants that he favored. This appears to be preferential treatment.
We have another district supervisor who responds to citizen comments by belittling the citizen or attempting to invalidate the comment.
Recently I attempted to meet with the County Administrator to discuss a matter I considered extremely important. He refused to meet with me and sent a very dismissive email treating my concerns as frivolous when I persisted with my request.
A recent review of the BOS bylaws reveals detailed instructions on how the members are to treat each other and where each member sits. There are no instructions about the respectful treatment of citizens. Maybe customer service should begin with requiring a public hearing when schools or commercial customers apply to deviate from architectural standards or allowing a second public hearing when items are tabled. There need to be instructions concerning conflicts of interest, recusals and acting as an applicant’s representative by members of the BOS.
Richard Gillerlain

Story was coldhearted

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Editor, Smithfield Times
I read the front page article “Begging comes to town” with dismay. It was coldhearted. Homelessness is a real problem in America and it is about to get worse when the criminals in Congress remove medical bills from the tax deductions of ordinary citizens so that the filthy rich can absorb billions of dollars in undeserved tax cuts. The article dwelled on the experiences of two people.
One person has experienced homelessness and the other asserted he was panhandling to help a sick wife. That is as far as the article dealt with a problem that is not too visible in Smithfield. But it is here. People are sleeping on couches and barely surviving.
Not everyone that is homeless is a drug abuser or a scam artist. I was homeless for a brief period. I was neither. For years I have worked in a homeless shelter. There is nothing good about watching a parent and sick child having to spend a night in a shelter. 
I wish I could say the article is a one off and we won’t see more homelessness in the future. America’s future may well involve more homelessness. Hopefully our citizens will be more compassionate than our politicians. Hopefully our media will help us understand the complexity of the issue and how we can help.
Jerry Tenney