‘Friendly fire’ dooms Winton

Published 10:35 am Monday, January 9, 2012

In roughly six weeks, the townspeople of Winton will endure an anniversary they perhaps would rather not celebrate.

Feb. 19, 1862 stands as a historic date in Winton’s long history. It was then, during the Civil War, where Commander Stephen C. Rowan’s gunboat flotilla bombarded the seat of Hertford County government from the Chowan River. After the cannon fire ceased, Yankee militia came onshore and set fire to the town, including the courthouse and all its valuable historical documents.

Now, nearly 150 years later, the town is about to lose its courthouse once again….this time coming at the hands of “friendly fire.”

As we all know by now, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners voted on Tuesday to move the site of the new courthouse from Winton to Murfreesboro. That move came on the heels of nearly five months of debate by the board of where to build the $7.86 million facility after their request for a parking variance during the originally planned construction process in Winton was denied by the elected leaders of that town.

It’s a sad day in Hertford County when adult men behave like children, refusing, on both sides, to reach a compromise. Respectively, the citizens of Winton and those residing in Hertford County elected these men to represent their best interests. Instead, what we received in return for that election day favor was a bad case of self interest and petty politics.

While Murfreesboro officials and townspeople celebrated a victory on Tuesday, we all lost on the heels of that vote. A key piece of our storied history will leave the county seat after 246 years.

Winton was rebuilt after that dreadful day in 1862. Without a major drawing card such as the county’s courthouse, a small town with limited commercial/retail properties faces an uphill battle to somehow re-invent itself….a fact that could have been prevented with just a small dose of political courtesy.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald