Letters to the editor for October 31, 2007:
I felt compelled to write to you today to share with you and this community one of the most ridiculous injustices I have ever seen. I have lived in this community, on and off for close to 30 years and have always been proud to call Columbiana my home.
But today I must say, I am completely and utterly ashamed and embarrassed to tell anyone where I come from.
My grandmother, Margaret Edmondson, has been a part of this community for over 50 years. She and my grandfather have always been considered pillars of this community.
My grandmother has taken in sewing for close to 50 years now. She has never tried to hide it, and made no effort to advertise. She just takes in what she can, here and there to help support her invalid sister, who is in a nursing home, unable to support herself.
She does charge mere pennies for her work, but does not charge half as much as other businesses. She makes so little for her work that she isn’t required by the IRS to file income taxes.
Yet today, my grandmother gets a letter in the mail from our fair city, saying that she is in violation of the law. The letter from the city said she is now required to have county, and state licenses and be approved by the city departments.
I understand laws are laws, but my questions are many. If she makes so little money that she isn’t required to file income taxes, has no employees, and no set hours, how can this be considered a business?
Its an absolute outrage to me that when this city is rampant with drug dealers and real criminals that somehow go unnoticed, the city would choose to pick on a 73-year-old woman who tries to make what little extra money she can to support her sister.
It will be a long time before I will be proud to tell anyone where my hometown is.
Who would want to be known as being from a town that picks on little old ladies and lets criminals go free?
The people of Westover need to be aware of a potentially dangerous situation arising. Mayor Mark McLaughlin and his town council have been at odds for the last several years with the Westover Volunteer Fire Department.
The volunteer department is ready and willing to provide 24-hour, seven-day coverage and have made numerous attempts to come to an agreement with the city.
This matter has come to a head in the past several months over the unwillingness of the mayor to accept a reasonable contract and pay for these services.
The ostensible reason is the Westover Fire and Rescue Volunteer Service is not under the control of McLaughlin or the council. In fact, the mayor refuses to pay the fire department for any services it renders to Westover and has directed 911 calls for fires to the Harpersville fire department.
The consequence of his action has reduced the effective ISO rating of homes to near 10, equivalent to no fire or rescue service at all.
Despite this lack of support, the volunteer department is responding to emergency calls within the city. Clearly the mayor seeks to strangle the Westover Volunteer Fire Department by withdrawing funds.
A recent fire in Westover makes this point very clear. A home on Shelby County 51 caught fire on Thursday, Oct. 19, triggering a 911 call that, by the mayor’s edict, was directed to the Harpersville Fire Department. Despite the Harpersville Fire Departments best efforts, the home burned to the ground, with the loss of a pet dog.
This, despite the fact that the Westover Volunteer Fire Department, was about 1-1/2 miles away from the house, but had never been notified. I did not think such obstinacy was a requirement to be mayor.
The Westover Fire and Rescue Volunteer Department is willing and able to provide this service at a reasonable cost to the city, but the mayor chooses to create a separate fire department, which he alone can control.
This turns out to be at the cost of $140,000 to be paid to the Fire and Rescue Department who is awarded the contract. This contract, and its recipient, has not been approved yet, leaving Westover in the unenviable position of having no reliable services available.
It turns out McLaughlin would much rather pay out your money, rather than provide the same service at a substantially lower amount.
At the same town council meeting a motion was approved to let Mayor McLaughlin finalize any contract, without the approval of the town council. Hence, $140,000 dollars will be spent at the his discretion alone. By this maneuver the town council is relinquishing its responsibility to the townspeople.
This is merely a continuation of the saga of how one man, the mayor, and his town council seeks to impose their will upon the people of Westover and shape the town according to their own vision, not those of the people who live there.
Roswell R. Pfister