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[Opinion] Letter to the Editor: More on Smithville

April 18. [Opinion] On behalf of the Smithville Residents in support of Thurman Ross:

As indicated by our signatures and addresses [omitted for publication] below, we stand in solidarity with former Commissioner Thurman Ross. More than 30 residents of Smithville signed the Smithville Residents Coalition (SRC) petition in February however the self-appointed SCC Executive Director, Willie Jones, chose to single out one individual. Smithville is a family therefore you’ve attacked every resident who has sowed years of hard work into our neighborhood.

Our decision on these properties will have a generational impact. For clarity, no one on the signed document is against the revitalization plan for Smithville. Although it is the narrative presented by a few members of the SCC, every member of the community has publicly stated our position numerous times.

The document commends the SCC for its work several times. It’s in black & white.

However, it benefits Jones to continue this narrative as a distraction for any resident who questions him. Jones openly stated in his letter that anyone against his plan does not deserve to be on his board. How effective is a board that only embraces individuals who don’t present different views?

The residents have been consistent with telling the SCC that it doesn’t have to be either—or however the residents should be heard. The document confirms that residents do not feel that they are being heard and that our concerns are continuously dismissed at every meeting.

Here is what residents want:

• Transparency: promises have not been kept, treasure reports are not consistent, meetings are not recorded, we’ve been denied access to conference calls that were slated to be open to the public, salaries have been set for the executive team and are being kept secret.

• Education: residents have sowed their entire lives into this community. The SCC should gladly answer questions every single time instead of rudely cutting off the questions in lieu of “saving time” during meetings or met with contempt when asking questions. Jones is condescending and talks down to attendees at the meetings, which is why no residents chooses a person-to-person meeting with him.

• Infrastructure: all streets in our neighborhood are desperate for repairs, including North Ferry Street and Burton Lane.

• Housing repairs: residents are being forced to sign a 5-year deed restriction to receive repairs which was not part of the original plan. Fixing the homes of residents has taken a back seat.

• Fair compensation: we deserve market value for our homes. For two years, SCC promised the residents information on real estate, financial literacy, and estate planning…

The SCC’s only focus seems to be on buying up property. We should be focused on accomplishing the same goals. Jones’ language in his letter validates our concerns… We suggest a thorough background check of SCC board members as well as explain why you have board members whose only relationship with Smithville is that they have a seat on your board.

He reminds residents at every meeting that he is the most qualified for the job and how fortunate we are to have him. Yet, when residents asked town officials for Jones’ resume, no one could provide one.

Jones was not selected by Smithville residents, which is why he doesn’t feel like he must serve us. You attacked Ross’ character. As for alternate plans, the residents have tried to make suggestions to no avail.

Walk the streets of Smithville and speak to residents. Jones spoke of what Ross did for twenty years as a Town Commissioner. He wasn’t in our community 20 years ago. However, if he needs to know about Ross’ work, here are some of his accomplishments:

● Provided sidewalks for Smithville
● Secured grant funding to renovate homes in Smithville and other parts of Cornelius
● Contributed to securing Smithville Park
● Secured grant funding to rebuild homes in Cornelius
● Contributed to securing the development of Antiquity.

Mr. Jones, where is the lie? Just because you keep repeating statements does not make them the truth. … We embrace change and know that our beloved neighborhood needs revitalization. You have been saying that Smithville deserves better. We agree.

However, Willie Jones is not the one to complete the project. His disrespect towards our neighbor and towards residents certainly doesn’t represent the Cornelius way. We are not against the revitalization plan.


1. Sherman Burton Jr.
2. Defino Alpizar
3. Jacinto Henderson
4. Patrick Maldareli
5. Norma Harris
6. Lori A Houston
7. Ashley Dent
8. Tonya Rivens & Doug Rasheed
9. Amber Odom
10. Beth Torule
11. Aura Rojas
12. Larry Cunningham
13. John Anderson
14. Edith Summers
15. Phillip Afird
16. Sonya Shipp
17. Waddell Sherrill
18. Fiona Mobley
19. Carolena Forney
20. Gladys Henderson
21. Madeline Mobley
22. Dallas Cornelius
23. Tony Knox
24. Crystal Forney
25. Kyle Brown
26. James Sloan
27. Carolyn Jordan
28. Karen Monteith
29. Marius Black
30. Berthine Ross
31. Bernadette Anderson