Reader takes issue with county employee on archives

10:04 am | August 23, 2012

Editor:

I read the article in the Elizabethton STAR on August 17, reference, “Records Commission Delays Vote on Formation of Public Archives.” I couldn’t help but notice Ms. Patsy Lewis’s statement, “that it would be unfair to impose an additional fee on county residents when many are struggling financially.”

Ms. Patsy Lewis, I do agree with you that many county residents are struggling financially, but where were all your concerns about the citizens’ financial burden when it came to our budget process? Ms. Lewis surely didn’t have a problem taking her raise or Christmas bonus this year, which if I’m not mistaken the taxpayers paid for. The raises and the Christmas bonuses cost the taxpayers countless dollars. It’s amazing when it comes to personal gain…..the taxpayers don’t come into play.

Our officeholders would not even cut 1% off their budget when the mayor made an appeal. The only cuts that were made were 2-1/2 percent from the mayor’s office and 3.7 percent in Building and Grounds which was approximately $34,000. There were no cuts or lay-offs, even when it had been pointed out that our school enrollment has been declining for the last five years. In fact, the school system hired over 300 people in 2011-2012. What’s wrong with this picture?

Why is it that our elected and appointed officials are always delaying any kind of progress? Is it because they are so afraid of losing control…of what…it doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to the people. Why would we jeopardize losing grant money from the state and federal sources along with additional funding from the state legislature to finance the proposed formation of public archives?

Let’s call it like it is, the mayor and like-minded citizens would like to have our valuables put in a safe place. We must archive and protect our county’s past and future history. Can someone tell me what’s so wrong with this? According to the Tennessee State Library and Archives, 73 Tennessee local governments have an archive. Carter County is the ONLY county in Northeast Tennessee that does not have a records management and archives department. We need to preserve what heritage we have. Carter County’s appointed and elected officials have to come into the 21st Century. A lot of history is here…let’s preserve it.

This is not a tax; it is a user fee that would add money to the county coffers as well as self fund the archives. Local businesses as well as tourism will also benefit from priceless county records that can basically be accessed from one central location. Keep in mind that Tennessee mandates these records be preserved.

Why is it when new ideas are forthcoming; there is so much resistance? I can only hope that the County Commission will take this opportunity to protect and preserve the heritage and history of Carter County without further delay.

-Kristi Smith, Hampton

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