On Wednesday, January 19th, Wayne Wynkoop of Norwood Township passed away. While I never got to meet him or his family, his heart of gold is well known, and my heart goes out to all of those who knew him.
Wayne Wynkoop spent the last years of his life, and most of his final dollars fighting for his rights. Battling for the right to mine gravel on his personal property, Wynkoop found opposition from neighbors, from fellow citizens, but most of all, from the local government whom he served for several years of his life.
Commissioner Gillespie spoke true to my sentiments when he said “I hope and pray that no one in county or local government has any guilt on their conscience over this matter, but if they do, I hope it weighs on their conscience to their dying day!”
It weighs heavily on my heart because I see so many people that could be the next Wayne Wynkoop. How many people have been harassed, shot down, and picked at until hitting their breaking point?
I will say this once, twice, and continue to shout it from the highest hilltop: We can never allow one of our citizens to be trodden on in this manner – not once, and never again. Every time we watch and stand by as the governmental entities – from the smallest Village to the White House – tread on our citizens, we further endanger ourselves.
Where does it start? It starts with simple things. It may not have seemed like a big deal when the Village of Boyne Falls started charging me a dollar per page for simple agendas, but when it deterred me from requesting further information, I instantly knew why it had been done. For a while, I gave up, citing the financial cost of the bill, the time it would take to sue them (and win), and the little to gain – I was wrong. I never should have given up, because it wasn’t just about me.
It was about every other citizen who had been denied information, picked on, looked down at, or made to feel unimportant. It was about a restaurant owner who was damaged as she attempted to dispute her water bill, a fellow council member told not to talk about what happens at meetings, and yes – the newspaper reporter charged outrageous amounts for information to be provided to the citizens. Right or wrong, the right of the citizens to stand up is paramount.
Wayne Wynkoop made a statement when he stood up to Norwood Township.
Right or wrong, Mr. Wynkoop made clear that he was not to be stepped on.
His fight – literally to the death – is a shining example of citizens reminding the government that they work for the people. I urge you one more time – never again allow one of our citizens to be “that guy.” Never again watch and say “It’s not my problem.”
First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.
The message is clear. Stand up. Never again will I stand by and watch the government in any form step on one of its citizens. Never again will I step back and give up.
Wayne Wynkoop, right or wrong, stood for something. He stood for liberty, he stood for the rights of the citizens, and most of all, he stood for our individual freedoms. What do you and I stand for?
Chris Faulknor is the Editor of The Boyne City Gazette, and a long-time Boyne City native. His editorial column can be seen in The Boyne City Gazette each week.