By Matt de Simone
The public comment period at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting in Daleville was met with remarks in response to last month’s comment period regarding library content and more comments in opposition of the proposed Rails to Trails project from Eagle Rock to Oriskany.
Several county residents expressed their concerns over comments during the March meeting asking for books to be removed from the Fincastle Public Library due to content that could be “confusing” to younger readers.
The collective expressed support for Botetourt County libraries. Many noted that it’s up to the parents to “parent” their children, not the library.
One Botetourt resident said, “As a parent, it is your responsibility to supervise your children and make sure they select reading materials according to your morals and values, not the library’s… Do not ever, for a minute, believe that you are allowed to dictate what anybody else’s children think, feel, or believe in.”
One resident recommended reading the book “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, a story set in a dystopian future where a “new world order” has control over the media, population, and censorship. The same citizen claimed the LGBTQ information found in the books in question are the reason citizens at the previous meeting were upset.
A Blue Ridge resident mentioned the “danger” in banning books. He claimed that an individual who asked for 12 books to be pulled from the Fincastle Library’s collection “suggested that changes are needed to the reconsideration process to include 50 percent professed Christians.” He commended Library Director Julie Phillips’ “judgements on how books are selected that is backed by a well-reasoned policy aimed at serving the diverse views of this county.”
He also noted that “censorship is not a liberal or conservative issue. This is about fundamental constitutional rights enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Fundamental rights like freedom of expression and the limits on government establishing religion are fundamental to our democracy. Trying to justify censorship using incorrectly applied and made up words… that provoke fear and hatred towards our citizens cannot be used to justify our fundamental rights.”
The proposed Rails to Trails project will parallel Craigs Creek and run 26 miles from New Castle in Craig County to Eagle Rock in Botetourt County. It is anticipated to be a gravel trail that utilizes existing railbeds and some shared roadways. Funding will go toward bridge repairs and preparing the trail surface; a multi-use trail for walking, running, biking, and horseback riding, that provides opportunities for residents and visitors to engage with the scenic beauty of Craig and Botetourt counties and Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Four citizens provided comments opposing the project with one woman calling the proposed project a “literal trainwreck.”
An Oriskany resident who asked the board to come out to the railbed the month prior, noted, “Still, none of you have taken me up on my offer to visit Oriskany and the issues of what the purposed Craig-Botetourt scenic trail will do to our area.” He said that the response from the board told him that they couldn’t do anything about the project because it was “coming down” from the state. He thinks that the state will ask the county to fund a portion of the project or handling maintenance work. The man said the press releases related to the project were “50% wrong.”
A group of county residents in opposition of the proposed project had pamphlets on-hand that expressed the citizens’ concerns about the project, noting in the brochure that the project is “unsafe for visitors and residents,” “financially irresponsible,” and “ecologically unfriendly.”
Finally, a Botetourt resident suggested that the Eldor Corporation “need more workers” and claimed Eldor doesn’t have much of a “workforce.” He suggested that Botetourt County Public Schools along with the Botetourt Technical Education Center (BTEC) should work on a simulator program to understand what goes on while working for Eldor so that may increase the awareness about the company and the technologies it provides.
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