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Guest column by Marty Fulkerson

Issue: Japan trip.

The Real View: Editorial out of focus.

Yes, there are three Elizabethtown City Council members headed to Japan.

Yet the editorial by The News-Enterprise is what is out of focus. The trip has clear focus and is done to produce results.

This is the fourth such trip in 20 years. The three council members, including myself, will be part of a delegation making the journey to our sister city, Koori-machi, Japan. On the trip is a representative from the Industrial Foundation, members from ECTC, a representative from the Elizabethtown Independent Schools, two students and a representative from Akebono.

We will be meeting with officials from Akebono and touring the plant with the goal of enhancing and expanding our relationship with this important Elizabethtown industry. We also will seek firsthand how our city can help Akebono expand its current operations as well as expansions with current or new suppliers. 

Your city councilmen also will be visiting a food factory for possible economic development along with meeting school officials to ensure that we are securing the educational and training needs of Japanese members of our community.

This trip includes a visit to Koori-machi Town Hall. This appointment allows us to strengthen our ties that have proved beneficial for both Koori-machi and Elizabethtown. During our ice storm, it was our sister city that sent financial aid to assist the city residents in recovery efforts. Elizabethtown returned the favor when Koori-machi was devastated by a tsunami.

The facts are that for years the city of Elizabethtown has been fiscally responsible. The 2013-2014 budget includes the city using money from its checking account balance to fund necessary infrastructural projects. It was decided to use the money sitting in the bank verses borrowing money and paying interest to fund these projects. For the record, the budget passed with a unanimous vote. 

The issue with the city pool is that it is in need of great extensive and costly repairs. We are throwing good money after bad each year that cannot fix the problems. We feel confident that residents of the city will have a new and improved facility in the future which is why are currently taking proposals for the design of a new pool/sprinkle park. 

The editorial suggests that this trip was not thought out and just happened. This is far from the truth. This trip was planned since the beginning of the year and the agenda was finalized after the article ran in the paper. Originally, Mayor Walker was scheduled to make the trip along with Councilman Lewis and myself. Councilman Bennett asked to join the trip, but backed out only to criticize the trip now.

The editorial also alludes that the city will not be able to have services or to perform basic maintenance repairs. Really?

With a $60 million budget, we are realistic enough to know that there can be waste. As elected officials, it is our job to make sure we are accountable. We always are looking for ways to deliver services in a more efficient and economical way. This will continue.

The planned itinerary was carefully crafted with the goal of enhancing current economic relationships, developing new economic possibilities, expanding current economic relationships, supporting and sustaining our educational opportunities, and yes, building goodwill.   

Marty E. Fulkerson is a member of Elizabethtown City Council who will leave for Japan this week. He is responding to an editorial published Thursday in The News-Enterprise.