The News Courier
— The News Courier encourages letters to the editor. Submissions should be no more than 400 words and should include a name, address and telephone number for verification. Submissions that do not meet requirements are subject to editing. Send letters by noon on Thursdays to P.O. Box 670, Athens, AL, 35613, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officers showed compassion
I am writing this in response to the fine officers of the Athens Police Department.
On July 7, they had the unenviable task of being dispatched on a call to my brother’s address and subsequently finding him deceased. I was then notified by a friend’s spouse and proceeded to make my way there.
As I approached the house, Sgt. Lott let me know of the situation and after being shocked of the news, I proceeded to call family members who started arriving and, like me, were in disbelief. The officers told us that to make sure of no foul play, they were bringing in two detectives to check and make sure nothing criminal had taken place. After a thorough investigation, nothing was discovered unusual.
The three officers on the scene were total professionals and very compassionate. I was very proud of the way they did not let the area get disturbed until the detectives were through with their investigation. Thanks also goes out to Coroner Mike West and the way he tended to our loved one and the compassion he showed.
The two detectives sent to the scene were very respectful and compassionate in dealing with our situation. They also said if they could be of assistance, to just give them a call — total professionalism. Athens should be proud of the fine men and women they have on the force here because in time of crises like these, it is good to see some old fashioned compassion and consideration.
Pay deserving firefighters
I am a retired city of Athens firefighter. I served this city for 27 years and I am upset to see what is happening with our city’s fire department and most importantly its firefighters.
I have learned that the city plans to take money from the firefighters because of a payroll technicality. The new way of paying firefighters looks to take away overtime built into firefighters checks. This overtime will be lost to a firefighter if he/she takes leave during particular pay periods. So in essence if a firefighter takes leave time, he/she earned through service, in a particular pay period, he/she will lose money from that pay periods check.
The $26,000 salary mentioned in the article I read comes out to around $9 dollars an hour. That’s nine dollars an hour, to give 1/3 of your life to help others, to know that when you get on that truck you might burn to death to try and save a life.
I understand that numbers need to add up, and balances need to be met, but do we really want to take money from a person that may show up to give life to a dying child, spouse, or parent? Do we want to say that firefighters deserve vacation from a very stressful job, but that vacation is not worth as much as it used to be? Does policy take precedent over sacrifice?
I have walked in their shoes, shared their grief and stress, and they have shared mine. I respect their service to our city, and I am thankful they protect us. Let’s not take money from them.
Jerry D. Owens
Clarification on library
I am writing in response to a letter that appeared in the July 21 edition, “They wanted it, they should pay for it.”
Although the author of the letter is a bit difficult to follow, it appears that he is referring to the Athens-Limestone Public Library Board of Trustees. As a member of the Athens Limestone Public Library Foundation, I would like to provide some clarification.
The Library’s Board of Trustees created the foundation in 2005 to raise money for a new facility. Debbie Joyner was hired as a fundraising consultant in 2011 to help the Foundation meet the Dekko Challenge and with ongoing fundraising. At times, her job requires that she provide explanation of why building funds raised by the foundation are needed and how they might be spent. She is not involved in the library’s operating budget. She has made no “announcement,” as alleged by the aforementioned author, of a “cost increase.”
The author also alleges that in 2009, the “city librarian” said that Athens “should have a 25,000 square foot library to meet future needs.” A space analysis done in 2007 by Davis Architects of Birmingham using the Alabama Public Library Standards showed that based on the population of Limestone County at that time, the recommended square footage was 37,106 and the projected need for 2025 would be 45,167 square feet. The size of the new facility will be 42,000 square feet.
The author says, describing the Library Board, “they don’t care what it costs as long as they get their way.” To the contrary, the Board of Trustees care very much what the construction and operating expenses of the library are and to that end are very diligent stewards of taxpayer dollars and the Shelby Southard Trust.
He asks “What is the library’s board of trustees going to do if some of the donors fail to meet their donation pledges?” Apparently the author does not know his community very well as they are making good on their word: payments on pledges are coming in as scheduled and the foundation continues to receive new pledges and donations.
We still have work to do and money to raise, but the fact is that the majority of the citizens of Athens and Limestone County recognize the necessity of a 21st century facility and want to be a part of the legacy being created for their children and grandchildren.
Georgina H. Garth
Athens-Limestone Public Library Foundation
Library a symbol of community
A public building tells us what citizens of that place value. The grand British Museum conveys their sense of pride in their long and storied history.
The mighty Reichstag Parliament building in Berlin portrays the now solidly democratic German people, who overcame Nazi and Communist dictatorships. The imposing white stone obelisk of the Washington Monument states we value the memory of one who brought us to where we are today.
Likewise our new Athens-Limestone Library. It states to any visitor that we value public education. We place a manifest, concrete value on the free distribution of knowledge. For, by so doing, all members of our community can benefit. It states that all of us in this community are considered worthy of being an informed citizen. The collected sum of human knowledge in all its forms, in books, but also in newspapers, in journals and magazines, and in computer-generated information, is there for anyone with a library card. And this library worthy of our town shows that we are an open minded, educated community; that we want more than one channel or one point of view, and welcome new ideas.
Our Athens library is a ‘yes’ to public awareness. It is a center for public knowledge, but also salutes community. Visitors will see we aren’t afraid of cultural activities, for we will have the great auditorium and discussion rooms. They’ll see we aren’t afraid of an educated public, because such people are more open to reasonable public debate; they can make better-informed decisions on the public good. An educated people are also wary of, and less easily deceived by, one-note ideologues. To paraphrase that great conservative statesman Edmund Burke, a good education is the cheapest form of national defense.
Perhaps someone who wants to move his company here might be attracted by a town which states we are all in this together, and education is important enough to pay for it.
John W. Davis
D.C. leadership lacking
After watching TV, reading newspapers and talking to my friends, also others, they all seem to have the same opinion about “our” leadership in Washington, D.C.
Many of the people are saying they are afraid they are slowly losing their freedom and rights given under the Bill of Rights, and also think the Supreme Court has been systematically perverting it and the Constitution since the 1940s.
The consensus is that the leading members of Congress and some senators are creating most of the same situations that are causing all the protests taking place around the world. According to the news and other publications, these people are elected to represent the voting public citizens. But, they are indebted to lobbyists that represent banks (do not pay interest on our deposited money any more), corporations, oil companies, super rich persons, pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies.
One lobbyist was on TV many times bragging about having control of the members of Congress. This Congress has stonewalled every bill that would create jobs, health care, and anything that may help someone in distress (most of the time because of politics) created by outside influence.
I would like to know just how we can get rid of these politicians and elect someone that will do the will of the people, and truly represent the voting public. It is time that we get rid of the selfish, greedy and power hungry people that control the way of this country, as its citizens are being slowly destroyed.
Many of the politicians profess to be Christians, but have no idea what the word of God says about the penalties to be paid for many of the things they say and practice. The god of money or power will not keep them from paying the price that the true God says they will receive. If the politicians in Washington had to live by the same rules as everyone else, this country could once again become one nation under God, and in God we trust.
We need someone that knows how to get a petition started to make the supreme justices an elected position, not appointed for life. Have term limits for all politicians, with no outside gifts. We need to take our country back from special interests. Let’s really let freedom ring and worship God, not money!
Capt. F.E. “Jack” Morgan (retired)