By John Peters
August 8, 2013
Last week, on July 31 to be exact, The Mount Airy News published a letter to the editor by city resident Jake Haynes.
In that letter he expressed disappointment upon going downtown in Mount Airy to enjoy the mild summer weather only to find the Jack A. Loftis Plaza cordoned off with a no trespassing sign on the chain.
In that letter, he questioned why a public park, built with public money, was not available for city residents on weekend evenings.
His letter caught the attention of Mayor Deborah Cochran, and she asked city staff about the situation at the rest area. Although city officials said the closing had been because of vandalism at the site, they felt it would be OK to have it opened again for public use, even on weekends.
In the midst of national concern over health care, an intrusive national spy network, and a recently renewed concern over terrorism; among concerns of state funding for schools, job growth and help for the poor, a letter about the inaccessibility of a public park might seem insignificant.
However, we believe this is a good illustration of a private citizen seeing something he felt was wrong, and instead of quietly complaining to his friends — or posting on that rumor media known as Facebook — he made the issue public.
And in so doing, Haynes caught the eye of responsive public officials who realized he had a legitimate question that deserved action.
Admittedly about a relatively minor issue in the scope of the larger world, this is another example of how individuals can have an effect on public issues, and how responsive government should act.