Letters to The Editor – August 28th, 2019

Published 4:12 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Decisions without input

Editor, Smithfield Times
On Aug. 1, the Board of Supervisors and School Board had a joint work session to “discuss” the matter of replacing Hardy Elementary School. The presentation was preceded by Mr. McCarty informing the public that they would not be allowed to speak but there would be a later public hearing. What followed was the latest taxpayer-funded sales presentation with very little discussion and few questions. The next week, The Smithfield times reported that the supervisors had decided to build a new school. Before Mr. McCarty cries “fake news,” or “I’ve been hacked,” it should be noted that Mr. Grice was overheard making this same conclusive statement at the August civic league meeting.
I have concluded that Mr. McCarty’s definition of the word “transparency” is that he can see through the public and knows what they think and need without receiving their input. This explains public apathy concerning public hearings. Why speak when you are not listened to? This is not a commentary on the decision, only on the lack of public input before making such an important decision. Mr. McCarty and Mr. Grice have also placed themselves on their newly formed Capital Improvement Plan team. I guess their clairvoyance will be necessary to guide all county ventures.
Several local elections, including the seats currently occupied by Mr. McCarty and Mr. Grice, are being contested. I believe it is time to remove these men and take a good look at the other candidates and how they will consider public input.
Lynn Roberts

The agreement was reasonable

Editor, Smithfield Times
Recently, there was an article in the Times, which referred to the $11 million paid to the city of Franklin since 2006 as a part of the revenue sharing agreement of 1986. Last week, Albert Burckard wrote what I think is a rather harsh criticism that the article did not include the money paid the previous 20 years and somehow came to the conclusion that the “real scandal was our county appears to have no record of the multi-millions paid to Franklin between 1986 and 2006.” I am confident the county has those records, but they were not needed in the presentation using the 2006 to the present information.

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I do not know where he got his information about the “reprehensible legal extortion scheme” and “under the threat of an unconscionable land grab,” but it wasn’t quite like that. The city of Franklin had some justification for its position in that most of the business and especially the Airway Shopping Center, which was prosperous at that time, were successful because of the customer base from Franklin. However, the county received all of the tax revenue, and in an annexation suit, the court would recognize this.
The revenue sharing agreement was signed after an extensive study had been conducted by the Virginia General Assembly. While annexation efforts could have taken place by the city of Franklin, the law now provided revenue sharing as an alternative.
Annexation suits are expensive and create all kinds of bad relationships between jurisdictions that can benefit from more harmonious relationship. It serves as a good alternative to an “all out war” between jurisdictions.
With a choice between a likely “all or nothing” annexation suit and a negotiated agreement, the county and city chose the latter. When negotiations were complete, the agreement was sent to a three-judge court, which gave its ruling confirming the agreement.
As to Mr. Burckard’s suggestion of suing the city of Franklin and recovering enough money to build a school, I say, good luck.
In my previous 30 years of involvement in Isle of Wight County government, including over seven years as county administrator during the time of this agreement, I have given and received my share of criticism. However, criticism should be based on fact. Otherwise it is damaging to our system of government and affects one’s credibility.
W.B. Owen

A welcome announcement

Editor, Smithfield Times
The police citizen academy is coming to Smithfield; it was marvelous reading that in the Times this week. I had the opportunity to participle and graduate from the police citizen academy when I lived in Atlanta. I encourage all citizens to enroll in the class. The weekly hands-on training allows one to really see how important the work our police do in serving and protecting, and the astute decisions they have to make on the job.
I remember we had to do the ride along to graduate. When I did mine, the suspect said to me, “Don’t I know you,” and I was so scared. I remember going to the police academy, going into the simulator with the weapon in hand and having to determine if the citizen was committing a crime or not.
I killed all them all. I took no chances. Shame on me, of course, the police are professional and are not supposed to kill us citizens like that, although they do. Watching the films, the police dogs and drug finds, and the lasting friendships during the academy was valuable. I still have my badge. I am so happy to see my hometown moving on up, and hopefully the Fire Citizen Academy is next.
Wanda Jones