In her “Potpourri” column last Sunday regarding “courthouses, jails and bonds...”, Mrs. Peterson promised herself to “not become involved in local politics or personal opinions.” Professionals in her position sincerely try not to break promises they make to themselves or others. In the instance of this article, though, I think she failed. She promised, rather than to become political or opinionated, to acquaint us with the “facts” concerning Certificates of Obligation (COs)” – bonds that don’t have to have voter approval to be “floated.” The remainder of her facts are merely explanations regarding the issuance of these COs, the needs required to meet jail standards, the costs of doing County business, acquiring bonds, and otherwise trying to explain, and explain away, a few of the myriad of questions concerning the county’s business that have arisen since the property for the new jail and Sheriff’s offices was purchased across from the WASP museum, just when the WASP were trying to purchase the same piece of land. One problem with facts is that they can obfuscate truth as well as clarify it.
In the defense of the Nolan County Commissioners Court, I believe that they have been doing their work diligently to accomplish the goal they set out to accomplish from the beginning – the construction of a large new jail, with elaborate Sheriff’s offices, probably across from the WASP Museum, definitely without the need for a Bond Election to generate the funds for the project. Mrs. Peterson has joined them in this pursuit. In her “facts,” Mrs. Peterson made a point to acquaint readers with the notion that there was “silence” when the Commissioners Court meetings were parading their facts, photos and figures across the PowerPoint screen in multiple venues. They interpreted the silence as a referendum that they were “on task and unopposed,” while I tend the think that those who might have had questions or wanted to present alternative opinions were just overwhelmed, not even knowing where to begin with their thoughts or their opposition. Rather than appear unprepared or foolish, they remained silent, assuming they were in the minority when, it appears, they may have been in the majority all along. I am only one among many who would like to see the detailed plans, studies and costs regarding the renovation of the current jail.
In letters and advertisements, I have disclosed my opinions – my truths – sharing them as openly and honestly as I can. My beliefs are born of research, study, contemplation and experience. My passion is reflected in my actions. I hope I am recognized as that which I perceive myself – the “honorable opposition” to the proposed county jail and new Sheriff’s offices. I continue to be unconvinced that a new jail and offices of this size and expense is the only way the jail problems can be solved. I believe the land purchased across from the WASP Museum should never have been considered. Most of all, I am certain that a bond issue of this magnitude should be brought before the citizens for a Bond Election. The cost will be incremental in relation to the entire project and the county’s citizens should be allowed the opportunity to accept or reject this proposed facility. Furthermore, I believe that the proposals: the courthouse renovation and the proposed new Sheriff’s offices and jail, should each be decided separately on its own merits.
If the Nolan County Commissioners Court had heralded their meetings with this proclamation:
Nolan County Commissioners Court Meeting Will Address Spending 14.3 Million Dollars on a New 36,000 sq ft Jail to be Built Across from the WASP Museum
and Also for Nolan Courthouse Renovation,
I suggest that the attendance to this meeting would have been over-whelming, the opposition would have been prepared, and I am certain that the audience would have been anything but silent. As Mark Twain reminded us: “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”
Petitions will be available to sign at the The Hall Law Firm, Dairy Queen, Gloria’s (formerly Doris’) Sweet Shop and the WASP Museum.
Loren E. Bryant, D.D.S., Ph.D., is a retired Associate Professor and Director of Behavioral Science, Dept. Of Family Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine, and a resident of Nolan County.