I was once again pleased to hear from a classmate at Wood Junior College. Patricia Womack May sent an e-mail from her home in Starkville. Patricia married David May from Calhoun County.
David retired from the United States Department of Agriculture in 2000 but like a number of retirees has not quit work. He has started a lawn care business and if the lawns in that are growing like mine he should stay busy. Patricia stays busy volunteering through the Kiwanis Club of which she is a member. Thank you Patricia for letting me hear from you. Again I feel good knowing the papers for which I write are widely read. I always appreciate hearing from the readers.
Some will remember the column I wrote only a few weeks ago concerning the ice purchased by FEMA to send to the victims of Katrina on the coast. It is true that people were in dire need of ice since all water systems were not working or contaminated. The sad truth is that much of the ice purchased by FEMA never arrived on the coast. Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee has sent FEMA a letter that was so hot it would surely melt the ice.
Congressman Cohen wrote, “It’s appalling to learn of the waste of $67 million of taxpayer money for the purchase, transportation and storage of ice. That an additional $3.5 million is being paid to melt the ice is unconscionable. To consider such waste a part of doing business is a slap in the face of hardworking Americans whose taxes pay our salaries.” The Congressman said that FEMA should have donated the ice to homeless shelters or schools before it was too late.
The truth of the matter is that the ice should have gone to the Mississippi and Louisiana coast exactly as intended. I personally knew of truckers who begged for the job of transporting the ice at a rate less than FEMA was paying. Yet they elected to store the ice rather than get it to the people who needed it so desperately. According to Congressman Cohen the breakdown on cost, using rounded off figures is as follows: Original purchase of 2,122 trailer loads of ice-$24 million, cost to transport ice to cold storage $31 million, cold storage cost from Sept. 2005-Sept. 2006 $8 million and cost of storage from Oct. 2006 through May 2007 $5 million. There are 23 locations where ice is being disposed and include cities like Birmingham, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Boston. (The facts I used in this column were posted on the web site of WREG, Channel 3 in Memphis by Tom Powell).
As I have stated many times we live in the greatest country in the world but some changes need to be made. Waste in spending tax money is one change. I applaud Congressman Cohen for putting these facts together and investigating.
(Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and an Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is Pastor of the Shady Grove UM Church in Calhoun County and a member of the Calhoun County School Board. Contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org)