Reader wants more answers

Published 9:31 pm Tuesday, August 3, 2004

By Staff
Congratulations Michelle on getting the job you were meant to do! Thank you for being willing to do it. I feel sure that the quality of writing and reporting in the Standard will be well served by your talent and enthusiasm. In your inaugural column you asked for changes we'd like to see. One thing I ask is that as reporters please begin to ask more questions than has been done in the past.
Here's one example of a recent story that left some glaring questions unasked: July 25, County looks into purchase of building. I note with dismay that the July 28 editorial called the proposed purchase of a $400,000 office building by the county "a wise investment." I don't see how the Brewton Standard can editorialize in favor of the $400,000 purchase without challenging the reality, the causes, and the relative importance of the "space crunch."
First, what is causing this "space crunch"? Are more people working in the courthouse? Recent stories in the Standard would lead us to assume the answer to that is "No." Aren't there fewer people working in the courthouse because of the budget crunch? So what then? Are the desks and chairs getting larger? Has there been an outbreak of animosity or BO requiring more space per person. Maybe that lousy air conditioning system is the real culprit. Could the current space be rearranged in some way to make it more functional? Could the causes of this awful "space crunch" be addressed in a more cost effective way than spending $400,000 on another building? Secondly, how does the need to relieve the courthouse "space crunch" stack up against other needs in the county? Would more people be served by improving the productivity of our road department, for example? I was told on May 27 by the county commission chair that the road department needed only ten good productive days to complete their part of the culvert replacement project on Foshee Road. I asked about possibly using overtime to speed the progress. Get those ten days in sooner. I was told "there's no money in the budget for that." Today, July 28, the county road department has still not been able to get in ten good days. There have been enough rain free weekends since May 27 to have completed that project weeks ago. That bridge being out is causing hardship in our community. This project is important to the people in my neighborhood. The courthouse "space crunch" frankly is not. My own informal poll indicates that among ordinary citizens and taxpayers concern about the "space crunch" is zero.
I really hope you start asking more questions of our county officials. I think our store would sell alot more of your papers if you did. Anna, Michelle and Lydia you are so polite and charming, I'm sure you can ask the questions in such a way as to not hurt feelings or embarrass anyone. But, if you do, oh well, you're doing your job.
Susan Graves

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