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‘We are not at liberty to discuss that’
By: Steve Trubilla
Another chapter is written in the ongoing story of our local leaders’ inability to understand the importance of history.
I am referring to the removal of the bell from the courthouse in Louisburg. It is not so much the removal of the bell; it is the way it was done that is most troubling.
There is evidence this bell’s origin may predate the Civil War. Research by accomplished genealogist and local author Mrs. Diane Taylor Torrent, and other members of the Heritage Society of Franklin County, as well as the writings of T.H. Pearce, indicate a true window into the past may have been opened, only to be slammed closed.
Those present when the bell was removed report it was as if a moment in time has been preserved and frozen when the bell had been enclosed.
Workers reported finding items that spoke to a time long since passed. Were they all recovered, trashed, or simply taken? I have learned a contractor offered to simply haul the bell off.
It was most unceremoniously dismantled and removed. Were all the parts accounted for and inventoried? Was there a video made to capture how to reestablish it?
Will the bell now be placed in some warehouse only to be one day discarded or scrapped because years from now no one will know of its history and significance?
One would have thought lessons had been learned by the overwhelming negative publicity Franklin County received from the destruction of the historical records.
It is not too late to do something about this. There are people in our community willing to assist our leaders in an effort to preserve our history for future generations. I am asking humbly for our leaders to reach out to them.
I am confident the president of the Franklin County Heritage Society, Mrs. Patricia Crosby Leonard, would welcome the gesture. She can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and by phone at (919) 853-3293
There are many historical sites here in Franklin County at risk. I offer the cup may be half full if we take a different approach to them. If they were perceived as holding value, then possible value could be realized.
Reviewing this and other similar issues, I found a common thread. While there are many organizations interested in preserving local history, on the county level there is no office so designated. It appears no one is actually in charge of it.
This would explain the disconnect with things like the records, a boat/raft that was found many years ago; a whole other story, other things, and now the bell.
It occurred to me that what we may be seeing is more a matter of omission, than that of commission.
A short term fix to this may be to assign someone the collateral duty of, “Keeper of the History,” and then explore the possibility of establishing an actual position, or adding it to an existing job description.
Right now, when these things come up, plain and simple, it is no one’s designated job to do anything about them. It is easy to see why it then turns into what it does.
This week, I planned on picking up where I left off with the not-so-clear purchase of a golf course for the Owens Park.
Given the event with the removal of the bell I felt it would be better to address it now rather than later. Once it is out of sight, it will be out of mind, then too soon forgotten.
Many are hopeful someone will now ask the questions not asked. I may visit this again in the future.
As for the golf course, numerous questions still remain, and others continue to surface.
They include, why did the county attorney say, when asked, why there was no appraisal done, the board was not at liberty to discuss it?
This was not an unreasonable question; to the contrary it was most reasonable. In fact I would say the question was academic. Who would purchase something without first having a basic understanding of the value?
Then there is the question of having an actual plan for the property. Commissioner Shane Mitchell is quoted as saying the property would be turned over to the parks and recreation advisory committee to come up with a plan for the property.
Again, who would make such a purchase before first having a well thought out plan? If you were going into a business, would you go into debt for well over a million dollars, and by the time you allow for maintenance, that is what this will be, before having a clear and well thought out plan?
To date, none of the questions being asked on this have been answered. If the past is any indication of the future, they will not be. Is, “we are not at liberty to discuss that,” acceptable to you? It will be as long as you accept it.
So why do you keep voting the same people into office? Remember in November.
The Heritage Society of Franklin Count is planning to deploy a time capsule in November that will be opened in 100 years. Will your family or organization be remembered? Contact Mrs. Annette Goyette (252) 492-3820 for details The deadline is Nov. 1.