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Column: Courthouse grand opening should have been open to all

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Guest columnist Terry M. Bolsey is a concerned Lancaster resident.

As I was driving down Main Street on Thursday (May 12) afternoon, I was marveling at the beautiful new courthouse we, the people of Lancaster County, are having built. It is truly a sight, compared to our previous courthouse, but as I looked at the building and its surroundings, something suddenly drew my attention.
There is already controversy surrounding the new courthouse. Due to this poor economy, our local city, county and state government lacked the funds for such a project. About $30 million, I believe, was the projected cost. But county and city politicians said we needed a more modern and secure facility. I agreed, as did many others.
Local politicians also said that by building this courthouse, it would create jobs for Lancaster County because someone has to build it, wire it, plumb it, etc. But then I recall reading an article in The Lancaster News from another hard-working Lancaster resident who drove by a lot where all the workers on the project parked and all they could see were out-of-state license plates. So a project that was supposed to create jobs for the people paying for the project was bid out to people whom didn’t even reside in our state. Not just our county, but not even from our state.
Well, it appears that the good tax-paying citizens of this county have been taken again.
As I mentioned earlier, something caught my attention while driving past the courthouse. That something was all the law enforcement personnel all dressed in their Class A dress uniforms and all the suits standing around, some recognizable as captains with the sheriff’s office, lawyers and other court officers, local politicians and administrators. But what really caught my eye was the large tent set up for all the guests to congregate under and a large van with men and women wearing very fancy clothing unloading food and supplies. They had to be the catering company.
I then saw a guy taking pictures. I assumed he was a reporter or photographer with The Lancaster News. He wasn’t. He was a hired photographer, employed by the architect firm that designed the new courthouse.
I asked him what all those people and food were for and he said it was a grand opening party for the new courthouse. I asked about the general public and he replied that, “Only bigwigs were invited.” Wow. The very people whom are being taxed to death to pay for such a project and the party aren’t even invited to the party. Yes, we taxpayers paid for the party as well (except for the drinks).
I have since learned that a grand opening event is scheduled or being scheduled for the general public. I guess we are not good enough to rub elbows with Lancaster’s elite. And while they were served champagne and other fancy beverages with a feast, when the public gets to have their party, we’ll be lucky to get bread and water.
I also feel strongly that if County Council was determined to hold two separate grand openings (a waste of money – one would have done it), the people who paid for everything should’ve been first.
I happen to know that some or many of the judges, lawyers and other esteemed guests do not even reside in Lancaster County. One gentleman I saw lives in Columbia. Another I saw lives in Lake Wylie. So now we’ve got people who pay no local taxes here being able to enjoy themselves off the sweaty backs of hard-working Lancaster residents and their children and their children.
So I say to County Council: I sincerely hope the grand opening party, all the expensive food and drink was worth taking advantage of hard-working, tax-paying Lancaster residents and once again destroying the trust and faith we had in our elected leaders. Just as many Lancaster residents felt we needed a new courthouse and more modern updates, which we really did, I hope after reading this, Lancaster citizens feel that we need a new more trustworthy and accountable County Council. Admit you did the people wrong. Correct the wrongdoing. Treat the people with the same class and respect as you gave all those guests at the grand opening.