Home Education Athens County Historical Society butts heads with Board of Trustees

Athens County Historical Society butts heads with Board of Trustees

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The room fell silent as Ron Luce stood from his front row seat at the Friday, Nov. 16 Board of Trustees meeting and asked for a few minutes to address the trustees.

Prior to the meeting, Ron Luce, director of the Athens County Historical Society (ACHS) had met with Peter Mather, secretary of the Board, to request a spot on the agenda to voice the public’s opinion on the planned demolition of the old TB Ward. However, Luce’s request was denied.

Before the trustees moved to approve the agenda at the Nov. 16 meeting, Luce made a final plea for consideration to the Board at large. According to Luce, Chairwoman Gene Harris’ reply was nothing short of frustrating.

“She said that I was totally out of line. She said that they had already given me a great deal of time. I guess they figured that was a generous amount of time,” he said, referring to the meeting with Mather.

After Harris told Luce to sit down, he returned to his seat only after expressing shame that the public could not voice its opinion at a public meeting.

“I find it very strange to have a public meeting, which is essentially a propaganda platform, to make sure the public only hears what you want them to hear and not deal with anything controversial or problematic,” he said.

Neither Mather nor Harris was available for comment. According to Luce, the Board wants to leave the TB Ward’s fate in the administration’s hands.

The administration considers the TB Ward a “detractive nuisance,” according to Harry Wyatt, associate vice president of facilities. “The university does not want to continue any situation in which a student or any other individual could end up harming themselves by entering that building,” he said in a previous New Political article.

Luce and the ACHS assert that alternatives to the demolition of a historically significant building that benefit both the university and the community exist. Luce said that he has had several people interested in the TB Ward contact him. One of them was looking to lease. “Seems like a good deal to me,” he said.

“I think the Board and the administration are missing an opportunity to work effectively with the community,” he said. “They conveyed the message that essentially they don’t want to hear from the public.”


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