Looking back: Vote for the Bond Issue

Published 10:04 am Friday, November 4, 2016

by Clyde Parker

Oct. 28, 1916

Our townspeople are approaching the upcoming bond issue election on Tuesday with very little apparent interest although the question is a vital one to our town’s welfare. There is danger of defeat, through lack of interest and indifference, rather than actual opposition.” 

So says Paul Scarborough, Editor of “The Tidewater News   

The bond issue is to be divided into three separate propositions, with a distinct ballot for each, as follows:

$17,000 for a water filtration plant and certain extensions to the water and sewerage system.

$10,000 for improvements to the electric light plant, including changing the system from direct to alternating current.

$13,000 for street improvements.

Although, Town Council members do not seem to be speaking out strongly in regard to the issue, consensus of that group indicates that they believe the bond issue should carry in total, as all  three propositions would, if approved, fill critical NEEDS of the town — NEEDS, without which our citizens could not expect and enjoy a healthy and safe community. If the above needs are met, we would have dependable service from the Town Light Plant and streets would be upgraded commensurate with the town’s growth and traffic demands.

In regard to the water and sewerage issue, Scarborough said just before press-time, “If we had to prioritize, we hardly see how anyone could oppose the first proposition, water and sewerage systems improvement, although there will, of course, be some votes against it. It has been pointed out, in these columns previously and, indeed, as a matter of common knowledge, that our water supply is inferior in quality — if not dangerous. The Town of Franklin municipal water is taken from the Blackwater River unfiltered; unwholesome conditions exist above the intake point. This is a matter so vitally important that no voter and taxpayer can afford to vote against it.” 

That filtration does purify water and render it free of bacteria was amply shown by expert testimony from the State Board of Health in a communication published in the Sept. 22, 1916, issue of “The Tidewater News.” For voters who have not read it, copies are available at the newspaper office at 221 North Main Street. 

Sewerage extensions, which are also provided for under the provisions of the first proposition, are urgently needed and constitute an additional argument for passage of the measure.     

The reasons for changing the municipal light plant system, established in 1892, from direct to alternating current are of a technical nature and will, doubtless, be satisfactorily explained to our people during Monday’s public meeting, previously  arranged and announced. An expert electrical engineer will discuss the advantages of this change. It is a fact, as we understand it, that the present plant, located on Mechanic Street across from the Virginia Buggy Company, is much overloaded and will have to be enlarged. 

Since larger wires are required in the transmission of direct current than of alternating, and since copper wire is one of the most expensive requisites of an electric plant, it stands to reason that the cheapest and best thing for the town to do is to change to the alternating system, now. If done, there probably will be no need to change the system again. Further upgrades may not be necessary on account of the town’s growth. It is true that the copper wire now strung along our streets will be worth enough to rewire the town, if necessary. So, the second proposition is merely one of business economy and efficiency and should be treated as such, just as an individual or corporation would do if confronted with similar conditions in the conduct of a business enterprise.

We understand that there is more active opposition to the third proposition, that of street improvement, than to the other two, although it would be difficult to conceive of anything needing improvement more than Franklin’s streets, especially our principal business thoroughfare — Main Street. Franklin’s streets do not compare favorably with Franklin’s residences, business houses, or general surroundings, or even with the public highways leading into our town. 

Main Street should be paved with some permanent material. The $13,000 allotted for street improvement will scarcely do more than that. It should be understood that the plan as originally proposed for street improvement, to pave Main Street first and then Fourth and Second Avenues and Clay Street in the order named, has been abandoned. Now, it is the purpose of the Council, in the event of the passage of the bond issue, to pave Main Street and to use the remainder for putting in concrete curbing. Then, grading and improving other streets, with sand-clay or other material, would be done where most needed, as far as the allocated money will permit. 

Main Street is an eyesore and an obstruction to an attractive progressive town. Laying aside the primary disadvantages of deep and abundant mud in the winter, with clouds of dust in the summer, the very appearance of Main Street is enough to roll up a big majority for the upcoming proposition.

Ending up his recent editorializing in regard to the bond issue, Scarborough said, “Again, we appeal to the voters of Franklin to vote for the proposed bond issue on Nov. 1, 1916, supporting all three of the propositions to be submitted to the people as being of equal importance. These measures are necessary to the health and progress of our town, our citizens, our businesses, and our civic interests.”

Nov. 4, 1916

Franklin gives large majority for bond issue

The municipal bond issue election passed quietly this past Tuesday; all three of the propositions were carried by large majorities and with less opposition than was expected. There were 155 votes cast out of about 215 qualified voters.

A meeting held on Monday, arranged for by the Town Council, was instrumental in giving the public necessary information so that they could be guided in their thinking. They could, then, make more intelligent decisions in regard to the measures on the ballots.

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 magnolia101@charter.net