Polk hears other side of bus trip

Published 4:34 pm Friday, February 5, 2021

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Commissioners hear 20 public comments regarding recent fears

COLUMBUS—Polk County Commissioners received 20 public comments this week following comments made at their last meeting regarding fears that local residents were on the bus that visited Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6. 

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and read the 20 comments into record. 

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The comments mainly expressed the local bus was a peaceful group and there is no reason to have fear in Polk County from local Trump supporters. The comments were in response to 9 comments made at the commissioners’ last meeting with some residents saying they feared that their neighbors may have been part of the violence in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6. 

Commissioner Myron Yoder said he appreciates the citizens of the county and how they have responded during these times of political tension. 

“We all have political opinions, and at times, I see this causes fear, anxiety, anger, disagreements, and etc.,” Yoder said. “As a Commissioner my biggest concern has been that there is no violence of any kind, and that each citizen is free to express their opinion without fear of repercussions. We have seen robust discussions, and rightly so, but no violence of any kind. Which we do not condone or tolerate. Sheriff (Tim) Wright and his Deputies have kept a watchful eye over Polk County and the Commissioners have also addressed the Public Safety side in putting forth a resolution. As a Commissioner I want to assure you that I am here to govern for all citizens regardless of what party you affiliate with. Our Sheriff is here to protect and serve. As County leaders we are here to serve and govern, and keep you abreast of current information concerning the state of affairs in Polk County.”

Yoder said he was very disappointed when I saw an article with

WLOS, News 13 which he felt incited more fear, more anxiety, more anger and disagreement and did nothing to calm the citizens of a situation that they had questions about. 

“I felt that the article could have had a positive affect if WLOS, News 13 would have come to Sheriff Wright, County Manager Pittman, or one of the Commissioners, who could have given them the information on the state of affairs which the county leaders were closely monitoring on political tension and violence,” Yoder said. “Our citizens always have the right to ask questions to any news media, or to us as county leaders about any given situation, and we will address it as honestly and completely as we can, but for the news media to put out biased articles, that only incite more fear, anxiety, and anger to our citizens, when all they needed to do was ask county leaders about the situation and truly get the answers that our citizens were seeking and would have had a positive calming effect. 

He asked the local news media to be responsible in their reporting, and to think about the effect that it has on our citizens and on the credibility of their news organization. 

“A good story brings hope and strength,” Yoder said. “A bad story is better left unsaid.”

Commissioner David Moore also made comments, some residents of the county are concerned that the resolution commissioners approved 2 weeks ago was because some residents were involved in the tragic events in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6. 

“That resolution in no way was saying that,” Moore said. “I have spoken to

a few that went to Washington, D.C. and none of those in attendance were involved. Any protest or events that have been held in this county has not produced any type of violence.”

Moore said he voted for the resolution as an elected official stating that he does not condone violence of any type. 

“In no way was this resolution saying that citizens from Polk County were involved. I’m here to serve all citizens of our great county and their well-being.”

Some of the public comments said there were false accusations made against republican members and their trip to Washington. 

“I don’t believe that any of the Democrat complainers are ‘afraid’ of any Trump supporter,” said Marsha Shannon. 

Shannon said everyone has the right to peacefully express their opinions and it is the leftist and their left wing, Marxists rule that demands everyone think their way or else. 

“We all watched these past months while they burned, murdered and destroyed city after city while their Democrat mayors stood by and watched,” Shannon said. “Antifa are no Republicans or Trump supporters! So who should be afraid? We are a peaceful group as you know, no trouble in Polk County.” 

Don Hofmann said the key to what makes Polk County what it is, is leadership, and not the board of commissioners, but the role each of us plays as leaders. 

He said we used to be able to discuss issues without attacking each other. 

“So come on Polk County,” Hofmann said. “Come on residents who are in positions of influence. Let’s lead by example. If there is any unrest in Polk County, it is because we set the example and encourage it. Remember, when you point your finger at someone else, you are simultaneously pointing 3 fingers at yourself. The bottom line, I love you all. The fact that we don’t always agree is what helps us grow as a group. Life would be pretty boring and stagnant if we all agreed on everything.” 

Janine Antonio said she was writing commissioners to calm the fears of fellow Polk residents who have expressed alarm because she was on the bus. She said she had never met any of the people on the bus prior to that night, but none of the are violent people. She said they collectively prayed for their driver and our nation. 

“As the bus rolled over the Potomac River, we began singing America the Beautiful and our National Anthem,” Antonio said. “It was for me a very special moment. We broke up into groups of 10 or so and made our way over the Washington Monument. I never experienced one second of fear or concern from the many folks assembled around me. We had been warned that Antifa might be mixing in the crowd but if they were, they were not near us.” 

Following are the full comments from the public from Monday’s meeting.