Columbia County Florida
- Celebrating Black History Month by driving the
children to drugs
Columbia County, FL (posted
February 11, 2010, at 03:30am)
Columbia County, long known for its cronyism, "good
ole boy" mentality, and failure to value both secondary
and higher education, proved once again at their
February 4, 2010 County Commission meeting, that common
sense and the ability to reason have no place on the
Columbia County Commission, when they shuttered the
downtown library two nights a week, a decision which was
most likely made the Columbia County way, behind closed
Civil rights activist, teacher, and human being Glynell
Presley, holding plaque, has been fighting for civil
rights for over 50 years in Columbia County.
Civil rights activist and life time NAACP member,
Glynell Presley told the Observer, "They are driving the
children to drugs."
Last year, while discussing the deplorable run down
and filthy conditions at the downtown library with a
highly placed member of County Government, your reporter
mentioned that the library fund had over a million
dollars and maybe the county could use some of that
money for paint and carpet. Your reporter was told,
"You know who uses that library."
In Columbia County, everybody knows who uses the
downtown library. It is the poor, the elderly, and of
course the black population of the downtown and
When presenting the reduced hour issue to the County
Commission, County Manager Williams said, "We have
received a number of calls about this particular item. A
lot of kids do not have computers at home and they do
depend on our libraries to provide that need. Some of
those parents have called to express concern."
Mr. Presley told the Observer, "It’s Black History
Month and closing down the library -- it is a slap in
the face of the African American community to take their
local library away from them. Closing down the
library -- you have to be out of your mind."
Mr. Presley explained that before the meeting he
called Commissioner Williams regarding the reduced hours
of the library and asked him what was going on.
According to Mr. Presley, Commissioner Williams claimed
he hadn't read the agenda.
Mr. Presley said that after his conversation with
Commissioner Williams, County Manager Dale Williams
called him. Mr. Presley said that at that time he told
County Manager Williams that children were in school at
nine o'clock and suggested that the library open at
County Manager Williams told the Board, "Some people
have called to suggest instead of taking the hours in
the evening, you could take the hours in the morning, in
other words, open later."
Before the Board meeting, the library director, Ms.
Debbie Paulson, sent a memo the County Manager
explaining that the library's slowest times were
Wednesday and Thursday evenings. In the typical Columbia
County flying by the seat of their pants, making it up
as they go along way, the library director supplied not
one shred of evidence, not one statistical analysis, not
one chart or graph to support her position that the
library had to be shuttered two nights a week. Nor did
the uninspiring Ms. Paulson come up with different
scenarios and a cost analysis for each, making it
obvious that the deal was cut and decided well before
her memo ever went out.
Commissioner DuPree addressed the County Manager, "I
have a question. It don't tell me here... Have the hours
of the West Branch been reduced at all? What's the hours
of the West Branch?" (The West Branch is on the white
side of town, three miles as the crow flies from the
County Manager Williams, who for years has shown his
disdain for any kind of renovation or expansion of the
downtown library, answered predictably, "I could not
tell you the number of hours the West Branch is open."
None of the Commissioner's asked why not.
Board's only African American member, Ronald Williams, a
man who has for years watched rampant drug dealing in
the hood and a declining school system, told the Board,
"The Chair also agree with staff recommendation. It’s
one of those things that we’re damned if we do and
dammed if we don’t... Unless somebody got a golden goose
to lay a golden egg and give that gold to the County, I
don’t see any silver lining in the clouds so far, so we
have to do what we got to do. The library is the least
thing that we have to worry about right now."
Dooming its children to failure is nothing new in
Columbia County, Florida.