Elissa Yount: Are we mushrooms?

Do you ever feel like a mushroom – kept in the dark and fed manure?

A lot of us felt like this before Home In Henderson came along. It was hard to get out the facts about how our local governments were operating. There were a few lights shone into the dark corners, they were very, very low wattage, very dim, and on a short timer.

Let me give you just one personal example of dealing with local government from the many that I witnessed:

Some years back there was a public hearing before the Zoning Board for a special permit to allow a car wash in our neighborhood. I attended and spoke against issuing the permit. There were already three car washes almost within two blocks of where this one was to be located — one near the corner of Nicholas Street, one at the Shell Station on Raleigh Road and Dorsey Avenue, and a third at the gas station near Food Lion.

At the hearing, I read from the city’s 1973 Land Use Plan about preserving the integrity and quality of life in residential neighborhoods was supposed to be a prime goal of zoning. In my arguments I listed various problems that had occurred and were occurring around car washes in the city of Henderson. It was these issues that we wanted to avoid in our historic residential neighborhood. They were all quality of life issues.

I will never forget that a Zoning Board member making the motion to approve the special use permit for the car wash because, and I quote: “There are already problems over there and it will not matter if we add another one.” I wrote these words down because I was so shocked at the total disregard that the member had for the quality of life in our neighborhood.

The attorney at the meeting turned to me and said that unless I hired an attorney, the board’s action was final. Hiring an attorney does not come cheap in my experience. At the time, my husband and I had one child in college, another in graduate school, and we were public school teachers who never had money to spare. In addition, we always expected our government to do the right thing and look after us. I was unpleasantly surprised at the attitude and contempt I felt from the officials in that meeting. This was when I first got the bug to do something about the way our municipal government was being run, and that bug still has not been cured.

Home In Henderson
has helped in a quest to change some of the bad government practices, and I know it has helped you in becoming more informed about our city and county business. Education is always good.

This BLOG has helped shine a light into many a dark and shadowy corner of the decision-makers: those in government and those who come to government for decisions. The BLOG has shown you reality — everything from raw sewage spewing in the street, to the horrors at Beacon Lights, to actual copies of letters and documents and correspondences on issues that directly affect our lives. HiH has uncovered the under-belly of many schemes. No wonder this BLOG is considered a threat to those who love to operate in the shadowy corners. They have had their way for a long time, and they are fighting to win this one. And could win this one. If they do, it may be lights out for the free exchange of information about your government business.

We cannot afford to let this happen.

is under attack. This is not the first time, but this is the first time you have been asked to help. A legal defense fund is needed. Can you give up a little every month for the next five months to build this fund? If 100 of us were to contribute $20 per month for the next five months, that would provide an effective cushion. If you can give more, do it. Look at it as if you are buying insurance for your city. If this BLOG dies, then it will be Henderson and Vance County that will suffer the most.

To finish the earlier story, I researched the zoning issue and filed the papers to appeal the decision. Eventually I did hire an attorney, and the special use permit was not granted. Our neighborhood was protected.

These were the days before the BLOG. I wonder what the public opinion would have been if that zoning request had been exposed when it was happening? Are there still people who do not care what happens in parts of our city because adding one more bad thing should not matter?

Help keep the information about your government business in your hands. Help protect the future of our entire community. Do your part to keep the BLOG in operation by committing your dollars to a legal defense fund. Do it today. Send a pledge and let HiH know how much this BLOG is helping our home in Henderson. You almost can’t afford not to do it.

If we work together, we can keep the lights on and not be mushrooms anymore.