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.