Letter: I deserved a call before news broke on library
Op-Ed · May 10, 2013

I would like to start by stating that I am in favor of the community of West Branch continuing to grow and prosper. I am a huge proponent of doing business locally and supporting local merchants.

As a member of the Radford family, who owned and operated a Ford Dealership in this community for 46 years, I honestly believe in helping support local business. The dedication and support by my family runs deeper than that. In the past, members of my immediate family served on the city council and fire department for many years.

This editorial is not written as a negative statement against the community nor the current city administration, but is definitely written out of disgust for the lack of professionalism by individuals who appear to be operating under the belief that they have free reign of proposals for city growth, with no regard for the individuals that may be impacted by their proposals and decisions.

The City of West Branch definitely needs to add attractions to keep the young people and the current residents in the community. I believe the City of Tipton is a fine example of a community that provides the ideal environment. An aquatics center, a large city park, numerous chain restaurants, a Theisen’s farm store, implement stores, auto dealerships, trailer sales, retail stores and family owned and operated businesses are a number of things that I believe make Tipton a great community.

West Branch, in my opinion, should focus on growing the city in this direction. Until the most recent unprofessional actions of the library committee, I would have said that I support the growth and expansion of an addition to the current library. “Addition” is the key word in that statement. The building is less than 20 years old, and with proper maintenance should last many more years. Look at the historical buildings that are the foundation of the community! Growth will be in electronic media, thus the statement in a portion of the reasons why a new larger building is needed referring to a published fact that more space for hard bound books is needed is a stretch, in my opinion.

The article on the front page of the West Branch Times on May 2, 2013, has drastically changed my opinion on supporting the men and women who are working toward acquiring property to build a new library. For people who are trying to support education and growth of individuals, I would strongly suggest that they look into some education for themselves on ethical business communications and fostering working relationships with others.

I would like to clearly provide my opinion that they did not use professionalism or courtesy to disseminate information related to their decisions. Announcing the top three locations that are of interest for building the new library was handled very poorly. This is especially true when the locations include private property at 344 West Main Street. A discussion should first have been conducted by contacting the land owners and the individual who leases and operates a business on the aforementioned property.

As the sole proprietor of Paint ‘n’ Place Horses, I can tell you that I was less than impressed to receive phone calls from concerned individuals wondering if I was “selling out to the City,” was my business relocating or closing, and also to receive email questions about if the city “really thought they could stoop to the level of using eminent domain as a way to obtain family-owned property.”

This property has been in our family for three generations. Perception becomes reality even if that was not the intent by the library committee, and anyone that has lived in this city knows that word of mouth spreads very quickly, whether it is factual or the facts have been stretched.

This was not good public relations or press for the city administration or for the library committee. Regardless if eminent domain is or is not being considered, people read into that and they jumped to that conclusion. Hence, phone calls and emails were directly sent to me on a subject of which I had no prior knowledge. I greatly appreciate the concern and the support from the community members and friends that contacted my family and me.

On a positive note, I would like to take this opportunity to share with each of you the fact that the mayor returned a phone call promptly and sounded as surprised as I was about the public announcement. Thank you very sincerely, Mark Worrell, for your professionalism and courtesy. I believe that you honestly care about the future of the community and are trying to foster a great working relationship between citizens of the community and committee members on local projects.

I just want to make sure that in the future no one else in this community has to be blindsided by the unprofessional and disrespectful way that the library committee is handling the current proposed project.

I can guarantee you that they have lost my support for their future growth plans and I am sure that they have put a negative view in the minds of many others. This is no way to build community support!

Julie Radford, West Branch

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