Mr. Kent is back in the Bryan County News again. This week stating he “remains vigilant in his quest to get the city of Richmond Hill to alter or remove the line on their welcome signs that read ‘A Henry Ford City’”. He states he is willing to pay for the alterations to make this happen.
The mayor is equally adamant in his position saying, “We don’t want him paying for anything. He can just take his money and buy some more plywood for more of his sorry-looking billboards.”
Mr. Kent states he is opposed to what he calls egregious wording on the Richmond Hill signs referring to “A Henry Ford City”; alluding to Henry Ford as an “anti-Semitic, anti-labor, pro Nazi bigot.” This attitude apparently did not stop Mr. Kent from donating money to put a statue of Henry Ford in the City Hall lobby.
Mr. Kent’s intent is to deter visitors from coming to Richmond Hill until he achieves his goal. Economic extortion would be the proper name for his tactics. In order to achieve his quixotic goal, he is willing to sacrifice the economic well being of our town.
Isn’t it about time Mr. Kent takes a more mature and responsible approach to resolving his petty feud with the city of Richmond Hill? He is a retired Army Colonel and ex Chairman of the School Board. Presumably he knows how to resolve differences without resorting to childish tactics that border on economic extortion.
Dedicating the town to Henry Ford has less to do with honoring a man who at one time held despicable attitudes and recanted them later in life and more to do with a man that conducted many philanthropic acts and created the beginnings of a prosperous town.
The simple fact is Henry Ford took a little town called Ways Station, developed it and gave it a vision. Prior to his first visit, Ways Station was a little town still devastated after General Sherman’s March to the Sea, with moonshine and malaria dominating peoples’ lives and 80% of the county residents living at the poverty level.
According to the History of Richmond Hill, “…Ford’s philanthropic initiative saved Fort McAllister and enabled the fort to be reconstructed, and preserved for all to enjoy.
Eventually, Ford bought 85,000 acres, drained the swamps, constructed a sawmill, subsidized health care, built schools, a church, commissary, trade school, community house, and homes for his 600 employees. Ways Station was one of the most impoverished areas of Georgia. Ford sought to improve the quality of life and ultimately built 272 buildings on his property. With friends Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone, Ford formed the Edison Botanic Society and conducted laboratory experiments, attempting to turn agricultural products into goods useful to the auto industry.
Ford Farms transformed former rice fields into fields of fine iceberg lettuce and grew 365 varieties of soybeans, testing their properties for extracting rubber…”
But for the vision provided by Henry Ford, Ways Station would be just another of the couple of hundred little towns in Georgia with populations under a thousand and no significant claim to fame or would be annexed into Savannah.