Councilman responds to letter to the editor

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

By Karen Hall

Editor

A letter to the editor, published in last Wednesday's Tribune, drew an immediate response from Councilman Steve Thomas, who was the subject of the letter's criticism.

"He's welcome to say what he wants to say, but it needs to be truthful," said Thomas, during a visit to the Tribune office.

"I'm a man of honor," he exclaimed, denying that he received service from Lewisburg Electric System for free that other citizens would have to pay for. LES cut down a tree in Thomas' backyard on East Commerce Street in February 2013.

"It was a walnut tree, all up in the wire," Thomas explained. "They took it to the ground. It's something they do routinely for trees that interfere with the lines in their right of way."

Unfortunately, repeated efforts to contact LES Director Richard Turner for comment were unsuccessful.

"He's the only one who can speak officially for the electric system," said LES department head Doug Fagan, so the Tribune was unable to verify that the work in Thomas' yard was done as it would have been for any LES customer, and not as a favor.

The Tribune's letter to the editor, which was signed by Charles M. Murphy Jr., turned out to be just one of many identical letters. A copy was sent to all the councilmen, the mayor, the city attorney, and the city recorder. All of the other letters, however, were signed by Billy W. Callahan and Patricia Callahan.

When we interviewed her at her store on East Commerce Street Tuesday morning, Patricia Callahan said she and her husband did not write the letter, they just signed it when someone, whom she did not know, brought it to them.

Murphy is unable to speak on the telephone, and Elizabeth, who helps him at home, and declined to give her last name, could not say if he had written the letter or not.

Patricia Callahan said she did not know Murphy, but admitted she was one of the people who would like to see Thomas removed from office. The ill feeling between them allegedly dates back to problems with yard sales the Callahans used to hold at their home near Thomas on East Commerce Street.

Editor's note:

Our apology to our readers and to Councilman Thomas for not getting all the information about the letter before publishing it.

The Tribune will be changing its policy on accepting letters to the editor.