Welcome to Shelbyville, please reset your watches to 1952….
SHELBYVILLE, TN, APRIL 14, 2015- After residing in Shelbyville for the past six years, I run across something new every day that just causes me to shake my head. Lately, it has been shaking so much, I am now dizzy. Now overall, many, many of the residents of Shelbyville that I have come in contact with are truly good people, in both professional environments as well as personal ones. But every single day, I run into “that one”.
A little background, I did not grow up in a small town, though Huntsville, Alabama is no major Metropolitan Behemoth, it is (or at least was in the 70’s and 80’s) a decent sized city, much larger than Shelbyville. After Huntsville I called Nashville, New Orleans, and Chicago home over the years, but my heart has always been in Tennessee. There is something about the beauty of the state and the friendliness and acceptance of its residents that has drawn me back after every move. Nashville mainly having that draw, only a career change drew me here.
Since birth, I have not been one to take anything lying down, if I see something being done wrong, I say something, that is the way we were brought up. Don’t cower, speak up and make your voice heard, years of private Christian Schools will do that to a youth. So I have never had an issue, with voicing my opinions or concerns, as many who are reading this are so aware.
With this here are a few of the items that have struck me as odd, or just plain wrong over the past several months.
This Misinterpretation of Preservation vs Progress
First and foremost, I consider myself a preservationist and an active Historian. I serve as Historian for the local Episcopal Church, I belong to numerous Historical Societies and Organizations both on the local and International levels. History is important to me, I am a Southerner, and it is spoon fed from birth. But as a businessman, development and progress is also important. What makes me shake my head, is that in Shelbyville, the term, Historic Preservation is immediately translated by our City Leaders, Council Persons, the Planning Director, the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, and many, many local residents immediately translate that term to mean Anti-Progress. This is simply not true.
In numerous studies, conducted by numerous prestigious universities across the country, it has been proven, that in order for a community to thrive and grow economically, that community must develop a plan to incorporate Historic Preservation, or it will not succeed.
Take for instance the current battle in town against the proposed Walmart Neighborhood Market on Madison Street between Deery and Alton (Yes, it is going to be a Walmart Neighborhood Market, the City and Realtors can huff and puff all they want, that is what it is going to be). I was approached by the residents of this neighborhood to help with their “Voice”, and that is what I did, I lent them my Voice. Yet, over and over again, I have been harassed and accused of trying to keep Shelbyville from growing, or creating new jobs, none of which is true. While I have no physical interest in this neighborhood, we live in another part of Shelbyville, I do care for what they are fighting for, to preserve their neighborhood, to protect their children and protect their investments. There is not a single member of this opposition group who is actually against Walmart building in Shelbyville, they are against the proposed location. They have actually suggest alternate locations that meet all off their requirements, if they were against the business, would they take the time to find them alternate locations? No, they would not. But has one member of the elected and appointed City Government addressed one of their questions or issues? Only one, Councilman Landers, though this is not even his Ward. The shaking my head comes from the lack of caring of their own councilwoman, Jean Pruitt.
21st Century Tech Phobic
Another “Shaking My Head” issue comes from the title of this Editorial, “Welcome to Shelbyville, please reset your watches to 1952”. In every city that I have ever called home, including some on par with the size of Shelbyville, every single one of them had embraced technology in every facet of their daily lives. City Government’s had current and updated websites, so that people and companies that were considering relocating could research everything they needed to know online and in minutes. Yet, the City of Shelbyville’s website is dated, and un-informative. Take a browse around Bing or Google and search for some of our neighboring cities and towns websites, you will find detailed information, including e-mail addresses for City Officials, including the City Councils. You will find Meeting Agendas posted no later than 24 hours prior to a meeting and meeting minutes posted within 24 hours. Our City’s website has the last meeting minutes of the City Council for February of 2014, and no email addresses for our council representatives. Apparently, according to City Recorder, Shanna Boyette, the City of Shelbyville has and Information Technology “person”, what do they do all day? And what are we, the taxpayers paying for? We own ShelbyvilleTN.org, why can it not be redone or at least updated on a daily or at least every few days basis? I know from experience in web management and design, that most sights can be totally built and updated in just a few hours, we do it all the time to our website. It is not hard. There have even been private citizens who have offered to volunteer their time to come to City Hall and simply scan and save Agendas, Minutes, and other documents just to get them up online faster, and this offer was declined.
To Be Continued…..
This “Shaking My Head” Series will continue in future installments.
Editorial Content Written By:
Rodney Thompson, Publisher/Editor
Shelbyville Free Press
All items contained in this article are the professional opinion of the Editor.
Opinions and comments can be sent to [email protected].