To the Editor;
Watoga State Park was recently declared an International Dark Sky Park. The low levels of light pollution allow breathtaking views of the night skies that the poor city dweller will never experience. The one major source of light pollution that exists in our area is the prison located at Denmar. At night, for miles around, its bright lights destroy this pristine dark sky.
Nighttime lighting is required for security, but the current level is overkill with much of it directed skyward where it provides no benefit. It might be time for the prison officials to reconsider their lighting set up to reduce the light pollution they generate in a way that does not impact security and might even result in electric cost savings.
A potential win for all parties.
As a former Pocahontas County Commissioner (2009-2014), I am writing to express my concern regarding recent meetings of the Pocahontas County Commission as it pertains to Hotel/Motel tax distribution.
It’s been quite a while since I tuned into happenings at the Commission. My last meeting as a commissioner was in December 2014. Since then, I’ve been making a living doing computer services, and have been passing the time keeping our small farm going in Bartow. I’m keeping busy, and am quite happy with where my life is. While I’m not interested in running again, I must say that being a commissioner was a great experience, and indeed it was an honor to serve. Over six memorable years, I got to know a lot of good people, and I learned how so many do so much to make life better in Pocahontas County each day.
Being a commissioner is a humbling job. Or at least it’s supposed to be. I’d say there are two essential responsibilities a commissioner has: to oversee the county’s finances, and to listen and be nice to everyone they interact with. The second is harder than the first, because it goes beyond mere numbers. It means working with people, even when you disagree with them. Nevertheless, I always strived to hear people out, to not shut them down, to treat them with respect, and to thank them for their work making Pocahontas County a better place as they see it.
In recent Commission meetings, leaders of seven organizations that receive H/M tax allotments have discussed this year’s H/M tax distribution, and have presented a plan to the commissioners to decrease their organizations’ allotments in order to increase funding for EMS. In response, one of the commissioners has called them “greedy,” and has intimidated them with language such as “there’s going to be a shockwave” and “just stop the BS.” These organizations’ leaders are good, honest, hard-working community members who don’t deserve this kind of disrespect and hostility. It is perfectly reasonable for a commissioner to disagree on the particulars of H/M tax allotments; such decisions are their primary job. But it is out of line for a commissioner to be openly hostile. A commissioner must be kind, and show respect to, and gratitude for, the work done by others in the community, whether or not they agree with the value of that work. Reduce their funding if you feel you must, but don’t be mean to those who for years have worked and volunteered day-in and day-out to improve Pocahontas County for all.
It is important as H/M tax discussions go forward that the Commission adopt a respectful tone toward the leaders of the recipient organizations. Those leaders are grateful to our EMS and have made it clear they support increased funding for EMS. Those leaders have presented a plan to the Commission for reduction of their H/M tax revenues in order to further fund EMS. Those leaders have been respectful to the commissioners throughout. In return, those leaders deserve the respect and gratitude of the Commission, if not financial assistance from H/M tax.
In closing, I ask that the Commission apologize for the manner in which they have spoken to these organizations thus far. I am confident that the Commission will fund a County EMS Authority, work out the H/M tax distribution in a satisfactory manner for all, and will do so with mutual respect, gratitude, and kindness.