For those of us who are proud to call Bartow home and who treasure its rich history of traditional small town all-American values, the recent national attention on our town was both heartbreaking and embarrassing. And it did not have to happen. I (and I know my fellow commissioners feel the same way) have always welcomed citizens to call me at anytime on any issue with which they have concerns or do not fully understand. Over the years many residents have done just that and a number of matters have been resolved with a telephone call or two.
But in this recent incident involving our sign ordinance I did not receive one single phone call or a single email prior to this issue appearing in the national media. It is disappointing that at least one or more residents chose to embarrass our city and resort to social media postings and telephone calls to local and national media sources which resulted in misleading and inaccurate information being carried nationwide. Our current and former residents who love this community did not deserve this embarrassment. Our business owners did not deserve the threats of boycotts. Our city commissioners, five Christian men who are each active in their respective churches, and three of whom are military veterans, did not deserve the vicious and vulgar emails, nor the personal threats and attacks on our faith in God and Country; neither did any of our dedicated city employees.
Sadly, the damage is done. Bartow and this story, as inaccurately reported nationally as it was, will be forever embedded in the search engines of the Internet and in the minds of people everywhere. It could have all been avoided with just a few simple telephone calls. I realize social media is the world we live in and inaccurate information is a way of life, but sometimes in a community like Bartow more traditional methods of resolving an issue work best. Pick up your phone and talk to your elected officials as the first step. That’s why you elected us.