When democracy works, it’s a beautiful thing.
This past week, the Grantville City Council made a decision on how to honor Barbara Tucker. Barbara Tucker was one of those people who make themselves the glue that holds their town together.
I think of Bill and Miriam Miller and Lamar and Sara Haynes from Moreland who were involved in so many projects there over the years. Many positive aspects of life in Moreland today are – at least in part – their legacy.
I also think of my friend, Eric Spencer, in Haralson. Eric’s not an elected official, but he puts together parades, public gatherings and other events that make living in Haralson a nice place. He called me recently about the upcoming Christmas tree lighting.
When Barbara Tucker lost her life in an automobile accident last year, many Grantville residents articulated the idea that she should be honored in some lasting, significant way.
That is all well and good, but as the old adage puts it so well: “The devil is in the details.”
There is a tendency in American political life today to see political positions as set in stone – right or wrong, good or bad. This is rarely the case. The arc of history tells us that real political function is centered on a fulcrum of compromise. Rarely does anyone get everything they want – at least at one time – but progress gets made and good things happen.
The problem with honoring Barbara Tucker was that there were advocates for one plan – renaming Lagrange Street as Barbara Tucker Drive. Then there were people who wanted to honor Mrs. Tucker, but wanted to do anything other than rename one of the town’s most populated streets for her. Opponents cited expenses and difficulties with deliveries if the street were renamed.
Councilwoman Ruby Hines did a survey that showed most Lagrange Street residents were for renaming the streets. Jim Sells, a businessman and former mayor who owns property on the street, did a poll that found only two people in favor of the change.
Then the lines were drawn. The council refused to take up the issue at one meeting, and a subsequent council session did not have a quorum – possibly because the issue was on the agenda again.
Then on Monday, democracy worked. City Manager Al Grieshaber came up with idea of designating Lagrange Street as “Barbara Tucker Memorial Drive” but without officially renaming the street.
Highways in the county have been named in honor of Medal of Honor recipients Joe Jackson and Steven Pless and in memory of humorist and writer Lewis Grizzard and Gov. Ellis Arnall. The addresses on the highways were not changed, but signage pays tribute to those honored.
There will be signs at each end of Lagrange Street remembering Mrs. Tucker.
The fact that Al Grieshaber came up with the compromise is a tribute to the council’s collective wisdom in hiring a good city manager. Ruby Hines made the motion to place the signs, and her motion was seconded by Mark King, who has been opposed to actually renaming the street.
That’s how government is supposed to work. A compromise has been made, a goal achieved, a beloved citizen memorialized.
The Newnan Times-Herald did its own poll prior to the council’s vote. Our poll showed 49 people wanted to name a park or garden for Mrs. Tucker, 29 to rename the Grantville Senior Center for her and 24 to create a scholarship in her name. There were only three votes for renaming Lagrange Street and two for renaming a smaller street.
I didn’t know Barbara Tucker well. She was born in Lone Oak, where I go to church. I had covered her husband, Billy, during his tenure as mayor. I consider her son, Scott, a friend. I depend on him when dealing with septic tank issues and can get a key copied – that will work – from him and his crew at Tucker Hardware.
I remember Barbara Tucker speaking a couple of times at public meetings in Grantville. She always had the best interests of the overall community at heart. I feel sure she would be pleased with the peaceful compromise that was reached by people of good will who thought she was a person worth remembering.
For myself, I’m looking forward to seeing those signs soon.
Winston Skinner is the news editor of The Newnan Times-Herald.