What’s right….what’s wrong?

Published 9:11 am Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Get it right….among other darts thrown my way, that’s what this newsman was encouraged to do last week.

Based on a few comments that filtered through the capacity crowd at the Winton Town Hall and were logged on my trusty digital voice recorder, it was alleged that I am failing to do my job.

Let’s set the scene for those perhaps hiding under a rock or fail to pay attention to the local news.

At last week’s meeting of the Winton Town Commissioners, that governing board heard two variance requests from Hertford County government officials in regards to the impending construction of the county’s new courthouse. One variance was for a side yard setback….the county requested the town lower that requirement from 40 feet to 20 feet. The Winton Commissioners obliged.

The other was a parking plan introduced by the county that would hopefully address Winton’s concerns about a lack of vehicular spaces, especially on days when court is in session. With the county using the land that currently is the largest parking lot they own to build its new courthouse, there’s no doubt that parking problems will exist during the construction period.

Those parking problems will be eased once the new courthouse opens and the old one is demolished. In its spot, the county plans to build a parking lot capable of handling as many as 75 vehicles.

This newspaper has reported the parking issues that will exist in Winton during the construction phase. The majority of the printed information resulted from comments made by the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, a public body covered by this newspaper.

In a story published Aug. 18 (“County seat to move?”), this reporter, knowing I was hearing only the commissioners’ side of the story, called and received published comments from Wesley Liverman, the senior member of the Winton Town Commissioners. Prior to my coverage of the Sept. 12 Winton Commissioners meeting, Mr. Liverman’s comments were the only ones published “on the record” by a Winton official in regards this ongoing issue of parking.

So, with that all said, imagine my surprise when, upon covering the Sept. 12 meeting, I was blindsided by a few comments. “Get it right.” “Stop telling lies and half-truths.” “I hope Cal Bryant tells the whole story this time.”

There was another comment made at the meeting that sets the table for my response to my apparent lack of reporting skills. Mr. Liverman made it a point to say that the Aug. 1 meeting of the Winton Town Commissioners was the first time that Hertford County officially presented it variance requests.

My presence at the Sept. 12 meeting of the Winton Commissioners was my first time there. It’s kind of hard to write a story unless you are part of the action…not only to hear all comments, but to get a general feeling and understanding of how people, including town citizens, feel about an issue.

I heard and felt that for 90-plus minutes on the evening of Sept. 12. Hopefully, the story I penned from that meeting “got it right”….although the material used to write previous stories on this same issue were reported as they were presented to me. In other words, I wasn’t making things up.

Now I would encourage both the Winton Commissioners and Hertford County Commissioners to bury the proverbial hatchet, not necessarily in each other’s heads. Act like professionals, stop all the unnecessary back-stabbing and make each and every attempt to reach a compromise.

Your lack of trust for one another is embarrassing and is likely to cause potential new citizens and businesses to take their presence elsewhere.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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