Shooting the messenger isn’t getting you anywhere

Published 12:03 am Saturday, October 25, 2008

If there is one thing I have learned from answering our main telephone line here at the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald office, it’s the fact that shouting gets you nowhere.

Each time I come across an ornery customer who has not received their paper and insists on taking their frustration out on the first person who picks up the phone, there’s a part of me who doesn’t want to deal or even assist them.

Though I sympathize with these customers because they should receive what they’re paying for, there’s a part of me that would like to ask, “What did I ever do to you?”

It’s a simple lesson learned in childhood: you treat people how you want to be treated.

That lesson was obviously on the back burner, during the Northampton County Courthouse Facility and Security Committee.

After sitting in the Northampton County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Monday, it was obvious to me the county government is feeling the squeeze from the anaconda this national economic crisis has become.

In her report to the commissioners, Finance Officer Dot Vick used words like “cutting” and “freezing” in regards to the county’s budget. It seems like a dismal projection; however, it’s the reality that not only the county is facing, but the nation as a whole.

After hearing Mrs. Vick’s report I knew the commissioners hands were tied when it came to a decision regarding two of the Facility and Security Committee’s recommendations—contracting with TrueTech to solve the bat problem and the hiring of two additional deputies for security.

Earlier in the month, County Manager Wayne Jenkins had informed them there was no funding source he could recommend, and with the knowledge of the county’s current economic situation it was clear there still was not.

So instead of blowing off the recommendations, the commissioners agreed to do the most diplomatic thing: table the decisions until they received the county’s audit next month.

And for Northampton County citizens that is good news. This means county officials have stepped up to the plate on this issue to protect your money and community.

However, at the Facility and Security Committee meeting, this decision didn’t go over so well…especially with Clerk of Court Venus M. Spruill who displayed her unhappiness with sensational emotion all of which she directed to Mr. Jenkins.

I will be the first to admit, I don’t want bats, mold, roofing leaks, security concerns and all the other ailments that a 150 year old building can bring in my work place. If I worked at the Northampton County Courthouse; I’d probably quit.

But then again thinking of the bills I have to pay in order to survive, I’d find a way to muddle through some how. It’s definitely a pickle courthouse employees are put in…just like the commissioners and the county manager.

Yes, all of these aliments didn’t pop up over night and the solutions are not going to either. There is a process to county government.

While I sympathize with Mrs. Spruill, I hope she takes the time to understand where the commissioners and the county manager stand.

County officials are responsible for a whole county, not just a courthouse.

And I hope at the next Facility and Security Committee meeting treating people how you would like to be treated will become status quo.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.