To the Editor:
It is with astonishment that I have been following the flurry of recent articles in the newspapers detailing Jackson County commissioner chair Jack Debnam’s one-man crusade against building an access road on the Southwestern Community College campus.
Mr. Debnam is new to county government, but should he be reminded that his first duty is to serve and represent ALL the constituents of Jackson County, and this includes SCC? For more than 40 years the college has provided a valuable educational opportunity to the people in Jackson County and the surrounding area. As both an educational institution and one of the largest employers in the county, the college has had a positive impact on many lives.
Several weeks ago in an informal discussion regarding safety issues on the SCC campus, Mr. Debnam made a statement to me that, “If a disaster happens at SCC, you folks could just run through the woods.” What a callous and hurtful statement from someone elected (and paid) to serve all the people of Jackson County, including those who because of various handicaps or infirmities cannot “run through the woods.”
For the past 15 years I have been responsible for taking and transcribing the minutes at SCC Board of Trustee meetings. I can assure you that safety has been the primary concern with the connector/loop road and has been discussed frequently. The primary purpose of the minutes is to record actions and resolutions, not a word-by-word narrative discussion. Narrative is used only for clarification purposes. Safety was not mentioned because it is such an integral part of the road that I did not feel it necessary to include in the record.
The road is also not a recent concern for Southwestern. The need for an additional access road on the Jackson campus has been an issue for most of my 33 years at the college. In 1994 (17 years ago), the college officially made it part of its master plan, citing safety concerns. It was also detailed in subsequent college planning documents and correspondence.
One cannot help but wonder — what are Mr. Debnam’s true motivations? Is there a personal vendetta involved here? Is he using his position as an elected official to represent other interests besides those of the taxpayers of Jackson County? Perhaps these are some of the questions that should be asked.
My feelings about this one-man crusade against a community college whose only purpose is to serve and educate the community — well, to borrow a quote from Mr. Debnam, “This stinks so bad, I can hardly stay in the room.”