Looking back: Franklin officials to meet with library board

Published 9:44 am Friday, September 21, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking Back features past articles from The Tidewater News with commentary by local historian Clyde Parker.

by Clyde Parker


Another attempt may be made this week to get Franklin officials and the Walter Cecil Rawls Library Board together on an agreement for bookmobile visitations in Franklin.

Currently, the bookmobile provides service to residents of Southampton, Isle of Wight and Surry counties.

Walter Cecil Rawls of Smithfield, a native of Ivor, donated the library to Southampton County in 1958. Located in Courtland, the library houses a vast array of books and reading and research materials, and operates a bookmobile for the outlying communities in an effort to get books to people.

Rawls contacted Franklin Mayor Darden Jones and Councilman John C. Parker by telephone this week to invite them to a special meeting of the Library Board of Trustees. John Camp of Franklin, chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Southampton County, was also invited as an observer.

A few weeks ago, the Library Board asked Franklin to pay 29.7 percent of the library’s operating expenses, the percent of county taxes that Franklin residents were paying before Franklin became a city.

Applying this percentage to the library’s operating expenses would result in a Franklin payment of about $4,500.

In response, the Franklin Council offered to pay 30 cents per capita, the same amount that Isle of Wight and Surry counties are paying for bookmobile service. This would come to about $2,200 per year. Council agreed to pay an extra $500, but just for the first year.


“The American taste in pre-packaged sandwiches hasn’t changed much in the last 15 years,” so says L.P. Clary Jr. of White Way Foods Inc. He and his father own the Boykins-based business.

White Way Foods makes and wholesales about 50,000 packaged sandwiches a week. Fifteen trucks distribute products from Washington, D.C., to Charlottesville to Rocky Mount, N.C.

“The same sandwiches have remained the best sellers over the years,” said Clary. “Chicken salad is our biggest seller, followed by ham salad, and ham and cheese.”

Service stations handle about 75 percent of White Way’s retail business. Other retail outlets include grocery stores, drug stores and schools.


The Franklin City Council on Monday hosted a delegation requesting street improvement and sidewalk construction. This was the second time this month that delegations have appeared before Council with such concerns. This time a group of three women asked that sidewalks be constructed on Davis Street.

The delegation presented a petition stating, in part, that property owners are willing to pay their share for constructing the sidewalks. The petition also referred to community concerns over an open ditch and poor drainage.

Martha C. Spencer was spokeswoman for the group. Accompanying her were Elizabeth Vinson and Jessie Nichols.

City Manager Harold Atkinson said sidewalks could be installed on Davis Street if property owners on each side would deed 5 feet of their yards to the city.

“But this year’s construction program has already been mapped out,” Atkinson said. “We will consider street improvement and sidewalk construction on Davis Street next year.”

He noted that the matter was complicated by the pending study on the need for housing and redevelopment starting in about 10 days. The Berkley area between Franklin High School on Clay Street and the General Vaughan Armory has been mentioned as a possible site for redevelopment when Franklin establishes its redevelopment and housing authority.

Spencer was referring to the proposed redevelopment when she told the Council that “everything is up in the air”.

“We hear so much about slums in Berkley,” she said. “We don’t want to be called slums and pushed out.”


With school under way in all area school districts, PTA groups are becoming active for another year. The Virginia PTA bulletin recently published membership numbers for Virginia school districts. For our area the numbers are Franklin 513, Southampton County 619 and Isle of Wight County 660.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is ParkerC@seva-redcross.org.