Action taken by the Comanche County commissioners last week raises more questions than answers.
Last week the commissioners unanimously voted to rescind a decision made last summer to designate $1 million from Comanche County’s share of American Rescue Plan Act funding to rebuild the American Legion Building at the Medicine Park exit on Interstate 44 that burned in 2019. Commissioners gave no reason for their action, even when asked by members of the media.
The decision to fund rebuilding of the center was made by a previous board of commissioners. Two of those commissioners lost elections last year and were replaced by John O’Brien and Josh Powers. O’Brien made the motion last week to rescind the previous action and not fund rebuilding of the center with ARPA funds. Neither O’Brien nor either of the other two commissioners gave a reason for the action, other than to say they were not abandoning the senior citizens group that used the American Legion building.
O’Brien and Powers said they will work with the group to find them another home in Elgin.
Nor did commissioners say how they plan to spend the $1 million, other than to say, “whatever you want to use it for.”
The Wichita Mountains Area Senior Citizens have been meeting in another location since the fire displaced them in 2019. Because of limited space, the seniors have had to cut back on some activities. The American Legion building was heavily used, not only by the senior citizens but also by American Legion members; dances were a popular event and drew large crowds.
The public deserves an explanation from the commissioners as to why the funding was rescinded. And the senior citizens, who use the meeting space for daily meals and other get-togethers, certainly are due an explanation. Commissioners also need to explain how they plan to use the $1 million in ARPA funds that were earmarked for the project. “Whatever you want to use it for” is not a plan, nor is it a valid reason to yank funding from the senior citizens.
The senior citizens have been waiting for more than three years for a resolution to this situation. They deserve to be treated better.
One has to wonder why the commissioners rescinded the funds and what they intend to use the $1 million for. So far, no good answers have been forthcoming. The public, especially those who have been immediately affected by their decision, deserve answers.