Reader: There’s time and place to save structures

On Jan. 16, 2008, The Tribune ran an article regarding the Floyd County Historical Society’s move to prevent demolition of the North Annex on Grant Line Road. This building is currently housing the Floyd County Youth Shelter and the Juvenile Probation office. It has also been the Floyd County Poor Farm, a home for the aged and a jail. The Floyd County Youth Shelter provides housing and counseling services to children placed there by the courts. Some of the children have been removed from their homes by the welfare department. Others have committed status offenses and are on probation.

I applaud Mr. Megenity’s devotion to preserving historic buildings. I love those buildings myself, and seek them out everywhere we visit or vacation. However, preserving the Culbertson Mansion or Division Street School is a far cry from restoring the North Annex. Those buildings are not used as a residental home for children and do not have to meet the state and local requirements for a residential facility. The Floyd County Council, the Floyd County Youth Services Bureau, and countless others have worked diligently to make the new shelter a reality. They have been meticulous in the process to assure a smooth and seamless project. A feasibilty study was done before the plans were ever drawn.

If Mr. Megenity had such a burning desire to save this building, why has he waited until the project is finally underway to start talking with the newspapers and scheduling media events to further his cause? If successful, this attempt to derail the shelter project will waste thousands of hour of labor and thousands of dollars of taxpayer money. The shelter itself will be paid for by a bond, but the cost analysis study and architechtural drawings were paid with county tax dollars.

His suggestion that the building be renovated and used for county offices will result in the county bearing the cost of renovating and maintaining the building. Use as a county office would require the building to be ADA compliant. Renovating a building of this age and design to be disabilty compliant will be extremely costly. Does Mr. Megenity have funding available to cover those requirements? If not, the taxpayers will again be writing the check.

We have a new shelter in our sights. Floyd County will have a facility of which we can all be proud, and our children will be the biggest winners. These children deserve a place where the roof doesn’t leak and the ceilings are not held up by reinforcing rods. Built as planned, the new shelter will have a classroom, recreational facilities, and transitional apartments for children who age out of foster care. With a better facility, the shelter staff will be able to expand services and provide more programs to make these children’s lives stable and productive. It is amazing to see what they do now with their limited resources and failing facility. I am inspired all over again every time I walk through their doors and see the dedication and determination they exhibit.

Please don’t allow a small group of people intent on preserving a building to prevent us from moving ahead with the shelter project as soon as possible. The children we serve have waited far too long for the new shelter already, and it is up to all of us to insist that their best interests come first. I realize that North Annex building is part of our past, but the children we serve there are part of our future.

— Pam Prince, President of Floyd County Youth Services Advisory Board

Matthews: It’s time to help

“Calling all citizens. Your county needs you. Your community needs your help.”

I’ve wondered many times whether a call like this might work to bring out the citizen spirit in my friends and neighbors in Floyd County. In our current culture, the tendency is for us to complain about the poor leadership and lack of choice in our political leaders. Yet when the opportunity presents itself for us to actually do something about it, we are far too hesitant to take that step. You can do something about it now!

This past week marked the beginning of just such an opportunity for every citizen of Floyd County. Jan. 23 marked the first day any interested and concerned individual can register to become a Precinct Committeeman. I write as the Floyd County Republican Party Chairman expressing an urgent need that I am sure is not unique to our party. I’m sure my counterpart in the Democrat Party would echo my sentiment when I say that we need good people, willing to volunteer to become part of the solution to the problem.

We tend to think, especially in a presidential election year, that the higher offices are the only ones that are important enough for us to consider. I actually look forward to this November’s election, realizing that more than 29 percent of the registered voters will turn out this year to make their voices heard. Yet at the very basic level of our political party system, right now, every registered voter has the opportunity to improve the political environment we all like to criticize. In every precinct in Floyd County, any involved, caring citizen can register to become a Precinct Committeeman. And, as I have said before, your county needs you.

The work isn’t hard. You actually represent your party’s voters in your precinct. You get to participate in finding qualified individuals who staff the polls during the primary and general elections. You participate in selecting replacements when elected posts are vacated. And best of all, you get to, for once, be part of the solution instead of the problem. The most rewarding work I have done in my adult life has always involved being able to see that I had contributed to making something around me better. You can do that as a Precinct Committeeman. And I’m sure I speak for both of our parties when I say you will meet some of the finest people in our community.

So, if you are reading this letter, you can’t say you didn’t know the opportunity existed. Until February 22nd, you can walk into the County Clerk’s office on the second floor of the county building in New Albany and register your name to become a Precinct Committeeman in your precinct. Those fine folks in the Clerk’s office will even help you identify which precinct you live in and where its boundaries are. It will be an educational process, which is always good. And, being involved can actually help you see that you can make a difference. We need you. Your county needs you. Please consider making a difference in your community by registering to be a Precinct Committeeman now.

— Dave Matthews, Chairman, Floyd County Republican Party

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