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Petition presented

GATESVILLE – At least 600 Gates County citizens have stated their feelings over the construction of a new public library.

Last week, Gilbert Cherry of Eure presented the Gates County Board of Commissioners with copies of a petition bearing over 600 signatures that calls for local government officials to conduct a voter referendum on whether or not the county needs to proceed with this planned project.

Before laying the petition in the hands of Commission Chairman Graham Twine, Cherry posed a few questions to the board – to include inquiring of their job description and listening to their constituents with an open ear.

“Why don’t the citizens of Gates County have a voice of how much of our money is spent,” Cherry asked, obviously referencing the $1.5 million library project.

“I have an open ear; I hear everything you’re saying,” Twine answered. “I may not agree with everything I hear, but I do listen. What I want to ask is do you agree with everything you hear.”

“No,” Cherry replied, “but most of the time the majority rules. The first (commissioners) meeting I attended when the library was voted on there were a whole lot more people in this courtroom hollering no when it was pushed down our throats. That’s a deaf ear as far as I’m concerned.”

It was shortly after attending that Oct. 4 meeting that Cherry launched his petition drive. That document reads as follows:

“We the concerned citizens of Gates County, North Carolina petition against the needless spending of taxpayer money on a new library. The citizens are not against improving the library system in the county. However, we the taxpayers of Gates County are against the reckless spending of taxpayer money when the citizens do not have any input and without allowing the citizens to decide the amount and/or the financing mechanism.”

In an earlier interview with this newspaper, Cherry said the Gates County Voter Referendum is based upon North Carolina General Statute 153A-149. Subsection C of that statute reads, “Each county may levy property taxes for one or more of the purposes listed in this subsection up to a combined rate of one dollar and fifty cents ($1.50) on the one hundred dollars ($100.00) appraised value of property subject to taxation. Authorized purposes subject to the rate limitation are…..to include to establish and maintain public libraries (one of the 48 stated purposes covered by this statute).

“We’re asking that the county citizens be entitled to a vote on this library and the money spent on it,” Cherry said at last week’s meeting. “Will you, our commissioners, entertain our petition?”

Twine accepted the copies, saying each signature needs to be verified and the document will then be turned over an attorney.

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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