Letters to the Editor, Aug. 31, 2011

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Kidwell: This is personal

Re: The My Word article written by Mr. Clint Silver (“Collins High School….,” Aug. 24):

First and foremost, let me state that it has never been my practice to respond to such letters. I have always believed that taking such criticism is part of the package with such public jobs. However, I feel I must reply this time as the attack was more personal than professional and involves one of my children.

The idea that an adult would submit a public article critical of a private issue involving a particular teenager and that a newspaper editor would allow that to be printed, concerns me greatly. I doubt that any of us, including the author and the editor, would want their children treated in such a manner.

I will not glorify Mr. Silver by attempting to respond to his statements in the media. I have tried to contact him to extend an invitation to meet with me for a face-to-face discussion but have been unsuccessful. If he is reading this article, that invitation is still open. I will extend the same invitation to The Sentinel-Newseditor. However, I will state that school choice for my children is not the business of Mr. Silver, The Sentinel-Newsor anyone else.

Where I choose to send my children to school is a family decision and should be the concern of no one. I am employed to work in Shelby County Public Schools and have been since 1988. Decisions concerning my children are not part of my job description.

I understand the perception issues, but I cannot make family decisions based upon perceptions. I have my reasons for choice of schools and those reasons concern no one else other than my family.

We have a great community and wonderful school system in Shelby County. I have been very fortunate and proud to have been a part of Shelby County Public Schools for 23 years and have always respected everyone’s opinion, even when they disagree with or criticize me. That goes with the job and I understand that. However, criticism and publication of that criticism involving family decisions and teenage family members crosses the line of integrity, character and professionalism.

In closing, I do want to thank those people who have offered supportive comments to me in recent days. Those fine people are much more representative of the many good people of Shelby County who I have known and respected throughout my years here.

Gary Kidwell, Collins High School



Neihof: Door is open

Shelby County Public Schools has broad shoulders and an open mind...We accept constructive criticism by your readers and by the public in general because we do not claim to be perfect, and we realize not everyone is going to agree with our decisions or like our schools. However, we believe the majority of parents and citizens are proud of the school district, the hard work performed by our employees, and the school facilities.

Not every site is manicured as you would find in a country club or subdivision setting. We have a regular schedule to mow the 300 acres of property we own. Plus, we pay the two high school FFA departments to maintain their landscaping sites during the school year. However, obviously some areas throughout the district do not receive the same attention over the summer months. In addition, some plantings are under warranty and are replaced on an as-needed basis. For the most part, I believe you will find bushes, flowers and mulch maintained.

The athletic facilities made available to community leagues and to our students for athletic events as well as physical education instruction are some of the best in the state. We work diligently with architects, engineers and contractors with reputable backgrounds. We build what funding will allow.

We don’t cut corners, but we follow compliance guidelines on what is required. When a problem is discovered or brought to our attention, we work toward a solution.

The solution may be immediate or it may take time to uncover the root of the problem and the responsible party for correcting it.

We hold high expectations for our students because our number-one mission is education. Overseeing buildings and grounds is a necessity coupled with that initial responsibility. Our administrative staff wears many hats in performing their roles and together we can offer the expertise needed to see that quality instruction is offered, that capable employees are put in the right positions, and that the jobs of running a school district are undertaken with professionalism, compassion and dedication.

I support each employee and appreciate their commitment to our school system while granting them the privilege to make personal, family decisions.

Certainly, we all answer to the Shelby County Board of Education as the key players in managing what tax dollars are spent for what purposes. They spend countless hours giving input and asking questions to ensure they fulfill their obligation to the citizens of this county.

My door is always open for discussions where conversations can occur to correct wrong information or to override perceptions that are seen as personal attacks on individuals for whom I have great respect.

James Neihof, Superintendent

Shelby County Public Schools


Opposes zoning change


I was surprised and dismayed to learn that the Triple S Planning Commission has voted to approve a zoning change that would allow the construction of a recycling center near Clarence Miller’s old farm, now Red Orchard Park. Mr. Miller, whom I came to know well, donated his farm to the city in an act of generosity unmatched in Shelbyville’s history. The Shelby County Parks Board has reacted with vigor and foresight in establishing a park here on historic ground, within blocks of the Shelbyville Historic District. It is readily available and accessible to our residents, particularly our children. Already, it has been put to good use and a myriad of activities are being planned for the immediate future.

Since the creation of Red Orchard Park, The Painted Stone Settlers have held here their dramatic reenactment of a significant event in our early history, the Long Run Massacre. This brings many hundreds of our residents, particularly young people, to the Park each September.

Others have described the problems of traffic congestion created by the movement of heavy trucks on a small town rural road. This would bring a dramatic change to an area so near to Main Street that remarkably is still rural.

My plea to the Shelby County Fiscal Court is that this Zoning change be overruled so that our community can retain the full benefit of Mr. Miller’s legacy, created in the last years of his long life, as a tribute to the community he loved.

Ron Van Stockum Sr.