Opinion: Why does Bill Ketron want to treat the Square like my granny's living room?

Feb 04, 2019 at 11:00 am by Michelle Willard

Rutherford County Historic Courthouse

My grandmother had a beautifully decorated living room.

It had a definite Asian feel with gifts from my uncles who served in Vietnam festooning the walls. The white carpet stayed pristine because, when we were allowed to go in it, we had to take our shoes off.

There was furniture. I don't quite remember what it looked like. I'm sure it was beautiful too.

I don't remember it because I was only allowed in a handful of times before she moved out of state. And I was never allowed to actually sit on the plastic-wrapped pieces.

In the 12 years, I was allowed in the room maybe five times.

Much like my grandmother invested in her living room to make it a beautiful place, Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron wants to beautify the Historic Courthouse.

"We’re just trying to make the Courthouse what she should be, the beautiful place that everybody respects and kind of one of the gems of our community," Ketron said in an interview with The Daily News Journal.

He plans to spend an initial $37,000 on landscaping, which will be used to remove holly bushes that have grown into trees and trim four star magnolias.

The mayor plans to ask the County Commission at its Feb. 14 meeting to appropriate another $525,958 for improvements. This use of development fee funds include replacing brick patios on the east and west sides, repointing the bricks, laying new sod, and exterior painting.

Once all the work is done, Ketron told The DNJ "future music events such as JazzFest will also set up the stage on the outer circle of the Square."

Much like my grandmother, Ketron doesn't want anyone smudging his white carpet.

I'm not against upkeep on the Courthouse. It's one of four antebellum courthouses left in Tennessee. It's a symbol of our community. It's worth saving.

What I don't like is cutting off access because Ketron doesn't want those darn kids on his lawn.

There are events held on the Square on a weekly basis during warmer months, which begs more than a few questions.

If the Saturday Farmer's Market is forced to the outer circle, then traffic will have to be closed on Main Street every Saturday. Same goes for Friday Night Live, which is held on the first Friday of every month from June until August.

That's a lot of disrupted traffic.

And what about other events that bring foot traffic to our historic downtown? There's the Art Crawl, Boro Pride, Downtown on the Farm, FolkFest and Wine Around the Square. How will being denied access to the inner circle impact these events that not only promote downtown, but raise money and awareness for various good causes?

FolkFest already had the inner circle reserved for June 15. What happens to that reservation? 

Is everyone going to be cut off from using the Courthouse?

Just like my grandmother had a beautiful living room that no one could use, Rutherford County will have a Historic Courthouse that no one enjoys because Bill Ketron wants to save his carpet. 

Michelle Willard is a freelance journalist who fills her days with social media marketing, politics, her blog Middle Tennessee Mysteries, and taking complaints. You can complain to her on Twitter @MichWillard or by email michelle(at)murfreesborovoice.com.

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