Letter to the Editor: Stop secrecy and pettiness in jail planning and work together

Letter to the Editor

I was among the citizens categorized as “worse than pond scum” by Chairman Thompson prior to public comments at an open BOC meeting. I attended as a taxpayer of Walton County to voice my concerns regarding the process of designing and locating a new jail. The lack of competent strategic planning in this matter is dismal: site study eight years old, feasibility study six, city data from 2010 census. Lack of transparency has created distrust and feelings of being disenfranchised. The Chair has made isolated decisions, ignoring funding realities and community impact. 

I cannot explain Mr. Thompson’s hostile verbal attack or the ensuing silence from Commissioners Warren, Banks, Shelnutt, Bradford, Adams, and Dixon. I had not, individually or as part of a group, slandered anyone. What I recognized in the group of citizens  that Thompson was “ashamed of” were mentors, coaches, teachers, scout leaders, grant writers, etc. Not millionaires, but folks donating their time and expertise to this county. I did not know everyone, nor had my path ever crossed with the Chair, despite my years in public service in our county, but he was secure in his broad brush attack on all of us. I wonder if Mr. Thompson values only contributions preceded by $$$? 

Today, I am asking our Chair and Commissioners to participate in valid strategic planning, involving all stakeholders, experts and current reports, and to stop the secrecy and pettiness so we can work together to build a new, safer jail. 

Melinda Quinn

Walton County resident

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