It’s time to bury old city-versus-county grudges

Published 8:54 am Friday, March 25, 2011

To the Editor:

Congratulations to Steve Stewart for his important commentary in The Tidewater News (“Still waiting on consolidation,” March 20) regarding consolidation of Franklin and Southampton County.

In retrospect, this was an ill-fated divorce for both political subdivisions. Since none of us can even estimate its cost to taxpayers over the last half century, it is imperative that we get the best possible answer when considering this matter in order to make a rational decision.

I am sure there are many young people, particularly those who are not natives of this area, who wonder how this could have happened in the first place. However, having been here 86 years, I can remember the mutual hate Franklin and Courtland held for each other, primarily stemming from loyalty to sports teams and schools beginning with the first grade.

There was enough hate and jealousy to supply the state of Virginia, and being a country boy who attended Franklin schools, I could never understand it. Most of my friends never understood it either, yet it always seemed a part of the grown-up psyche.

Of course, there was enough snobbery from some of those who felt their station in life was and should be superior to many of their less wealthy or less educated neighbors.

I believe that these and other similar factors have been largely responsible for our present attitudes about consolidation, for so much of this has been handed down from one generation to the next. I know there may have been some of these attitudes in other towns and villages in Southampton, though it was much less evident in those areas.

There is no question in my mind that both Franklin and Courtland share equal responsibility throughout this entire history.

Now, in this terrible economic environment, I can think of nothing better than for all of us to sit down together and determine the right strategy for both the city and county. If there are serious savings by consolidation, let’s use that money to better educate our children, create new jobs and be a force that stands for progress and growth throughout the area.

Once again, let’s make this a place where people want to live and raise their families.

Dr. Robert T. Edwards