News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Commission, council, library need to agree

I have read with considerable interest THE DAILY's Aug. 15 and 20 articles relating the irritation of the members of the Morgan County Commission and the Decatur City Council with Sandra Sherman-McCandless' efforts to build support for the Wheeler Basin Library.

While persons of goodwill may disagree in matters, both budgetary and political, it is clear that the major parties in this controversy are public servants. As the public servant in charge of the library, Ms. Sherman-McCandless has not only the right, but also the duty to inform and advise the public on matters involving the library's financial situation. Members of both of the governing bodies involved are also public servants, and it is their duty to listen to the public's concerns.

It is unfortunate that some of the letters the commission received contained rather inflammatory language. I suppose that is a sign of the times. The old aphorism concerning vinegar and honey is probably universally true, but it applies to elected officials as well as to librarians.

It is time for the commission and City Council to put their feelings aside, sit down with Ms. Sherman-McCandless and come to an agreement that will be in the best interests of the library, the city of Decatur and Morgan County.

Willis Bynum


Council should listen to public about library

Thank you for your Aug. 22 editorial regarding the library. It was not too long ago that I wrote to our City Council and County Commissioners asking for their support for the Wheeler Basin Library. Yes, I was one of those 50 million letter-writers. My letter was neither offensive nor abrasive, but I was not happy to read in your newspaper that our elected council members were offended at hearing from so many library supporters. Some letters might have been a "little hot," but shouldn't they look at the overall backing the library received from their constituents? The impression I've been given by some council members is they do not want to hear from the people who voted for them.

For those who think a 5 percent raise is too much for the library employees, the lowest salary for which is $7.71, let me ask the council this: Could you live on $8.10 an hour? That's what the requested increase comes to for that salary level. I've dealt with some of the library's employees and I have found them conscientious, knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. Believe me, what they bring to the workplace is well worth a 5 percent increase.

Allow me to make a suggestion. Everyone count to 10 and cool off. What we're talking about here is our library — and our library has received strong backing from us, the voters. Maybe our librarian could have approached the City Council differently about the budget increase, but what approach should she have taken that would have gotten their attention? No matter, for that is in the past. What I would like to know now is: What does the immediate future hold for the Wheeler Basin Library?

Patricia S. Brooke


Nursing homes seek to restrict competition

Having spent six years seeking decent care for my invalid (now deceased) mother, I have some insight into last week's article about Riverside Senior Living. The lobbyists for the big nursing home corporations have swayed our state officials to severely restrict competition, resulting in a shortage of nursing home beds. This reverses free-market incentives, causing patients to compete for beds instead of nursing homes competing for patients. Quality of care suffers significantly.

Secondly, the rules make it difficult for big corporate assisted-living facilities to maintain profitability due to high turnover caused by the state forcing them to evict anyone whose care requirements exceed a certain level. This happened to my mother. What can one do when one no longer qualifies for assisted living, but wants better care than nursing homes typically provide?

There is another option. Although the state has not yet interfered with in-home care, few can afford it. However, by joining with others and renting apartments close together, in-home care becomes more affordable. I and others moved our ailing parents into independent apartments at Riverside. The services provided by Riverside were strictly limited to those allowed by law: room, board, housekeeping and entertainment. Completely independent from Riverside, we contracted with separate agencies to provide in-home health care that was far superior to nursing homes.

I encourage anyone seeking better care to take full advantage of this alternative. I also encourage everyone to tell their representatives to stop meddling in the marketplace for the benefit of big corporate lobbyists. The real agenda behind Frank Holden's efforts to close "unlicensed" facilities is to increase the customer base for big corporate facilities. This is quite ironic since many of these residents either can't afford or don't qualify for assisted living.

J. Kennon Ledbetter


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