Are county’s burned records casting a shadow of change?
By: Steve Trubilla
The destruction of Franklin County’s historical records, many dating back to the 1800s, seriously damaged my trust and confidence in many of our local elected officials and county executives.
It is the acceptance of this that I continue to struggle with.
You see if you/we just accept it, then we have given up, and deserve the consequences. We are not worthy of a champion.
Often I am asked why I question such things. I ask why others do not?
This reminds me of a story I heard of a man that for many years would go deep into a decaying city and preach and witness against the evil in the world.
He would stand for long hours in pouring rain and freezing weather. Routinely he was laughed at, cursed, and had even been robbed.
There came a day when thugs, for entertainment, overtook and beat him very badly. Upon recovering he returned to speak out yet again.
He was asked why he continued to return. He was told, open your eyes; do you really think you are going to change these people?
He smiled, and replied, that is not why I am here. I am not here to change anyone; I do this so these people do not change me.
When we accept things we know are wrong, it changes who we are. It also lowers the bar for those that come after we are gone. By example, we teach children they deserve to be victims.
The records were in the basement for many decades, officials knew this. It defies logic to think that they did not. If we entertain that they did not, we have to consider the epic injustice of other things that are going on that they simply have no knowledge of. Not a hundred or more years ago, but right now.
We are talking about a courthouse, not a social club or some type of fraternity. A place people’s lives are changed.
The records are but one of many stories that have surfaced. There is one of people losing their homes due to wrongdoing with foreclosures.
There is another of millions of dollars soon to be spent on the courthouse, much of it simply because it was not maintained properly.
There can be no question of integrity when it comes to a courthouse.
If we allow trust and confidence to be lost in our courthouses, there is very little hope for the future.
There are questions here that no one seems to want to ask?
Something else missing from this discussion is, what does our previous Clerk of Superior Court, Alice Faye Hunter, have to say about the records and other issues this controversy has surfaced?
I know she is no longer in office, but she was, and for decades. I am sure she worked very hard for many years; thank you for your service.
I feel it is appropriate that she comment on this.
The public deserves to hear from her.
It was not until Patricia Burnette Chastian was appointed that the condition of the records, and others were uncovered and addressed.
She did not hide anything, nor point fingers. She did what any competent leader should do, she took action. Prudent steps, one expects of public officials. Clearly she inherited a mess.
The words that come to mind on this are, “thank you and well done!”
I hope everyone remembers this during the 2014 election. Often judicial races and the one for Clerk of Superior Courts fall below many voters’ radar.
These people are not out grabbing headlines to garner name recognition; they are too busy with the meat and potatoes of their important jobs.
I wish other officials would embrace Chastian’s work ethic and sense of duty.
I have been following this story very closely. Not one word about accountability; not one, Why?
There are many public officials and county executives who would like to put the story of records being burned in the past.
Yes, they sure would. There is an upcoming election.
“Remember the Records in 2014.”
Some will say there is nothing that can be done about it now. As for the records, they were burned.
This is true. What was done is done. Now it is the story of why, and accountability. Until answered, that part of story is not going to go away.
We simply cannot allow these kinds of things to go on without consequences for those that do them.
In this there can be a silver lining. Let it be the “event” that cast such a shadow that meaningful change is born of it.
I wonder when, if ever, one of our officials will come forward and finally ask the hard questions?
I have not heard one of them take ownership for any of this, or for that matter, even apologize for it.
Three-day-old fish do not smell better on the fourth day.
The Franklin County Board of Commissioners will meet next at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 6, at 213 Market Street, Louisburg.
Please attend, ask questions about the burning of your records and the status of the V.E. Owens fishing hole/park.
Hunter's resignation is still shrouded in secrecy. Many questions remain.
Photo by Cary Johnson, Franklin Times