We all have our opinions on the issue of the boulevard cut-through that was made by state permit on Main Street to provide access to Acadian Lane and Fairfax House Historic Inn.

Opinions are what we do have an abundance of. What we are sadly lacking within all the chatter are facts.

Let me offer the caveat up front that Iím not dismissing or disapproving of the Historic District Commissionís efforts to garner public support for preservation of the boulevard, nor for their push to have protection of the boulevard.

Neither am I disapproving the property owner that properly applied for and received the permit from the state. Nor am I chastising the state or City Hall.

What I am railing against at the moment is the lack of facts.

Weíve been bandying this about since October, and with very, very few facts. Those few facts we possess have been insufficient to support final conclusions, and have really only served to muddle up an already contentious issue and inspire unsubstantiated opinions.

At the heart of the issue is this: Does the City of Franklin and/or the Historic District Commission have authority over that boulevard, or is it the sole proprietorship of the State of Louisiana?

No, no, no, stop right there! Donít shake your heads or nod your heads vigorously and start stating, "Yes, yes," or "No, no," because you donít know. Nobody knows. And thatís what we need to accept, and resolve to find out.

The only option, to my mind, is this:

The Historic District Commission is now charged with defining this issue. Their obligation now is to request in-depth research and legal opinion from the city attorney or the state attorney general. The city council is now obligated, to the owners of property in the district, to the commission, to the citizens of the city as a whole, and to generations to come, to spare no effort to have a legal answer to the question of jurisdiction once and for all.

We all have these off-the-cuff answers. I have mine. You have yours. The commissioners have theirs. None of them agree much.

Off-the-cuff answers will no longer suffice. The issue needs to be researched by attorneys on the level of the local ordinance, state statute and federal law regarding historic preservation. All of those layers need to be considered and when the answer comes down, it needs to be final.

Commissioners, mayor and councilÖthe ballís in your court. Letís quit speculating and bandying about opinions without a clear understanding of the facts. Letís get this settled, once and for all.

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Well, needless to say, I am dee-lighted.

Donít get me wrong. We have a long, long way to go. But every flower begins with a single seed, no?

Many of you have taken the initiative and started decorating your Main Street storefronts, and the boulevard. Itís looking great. Iím grateful for your dedication to this fine city and to our heritage and our future.

Thursday was the food and wine thing at the Teche Theater, an event that has grown into itself nicely. The "November to Remember" thing is all through today.

What, you didnít think we had it in us? Of course we do. Weíre good people here. We sometimes just lose sight of that when we feel overwhelmed or we pay too much attention to the gripers and the whiners in their little circles of coffee clutches. Nattering nabobs of negativism, as Spiro Agnew dubbed them.

Hereís a news item from Shreveport.

Cindy Pulliam has been pulling out her color-coded decorating boxes and filling her Oak Alley house with the look of Christmas since summer.

"I started in August, but I didnít work on it every day," Pulliam said.

Even two weeks ago, it wasnít finished. She still had things to do. But by Sunday, the last bow should be tied, the last wreath attached, the last piece of greenery straightened.

The home of Pulliam and her family will be open to the public for the Quota Christmas Tour of Homes. The fundraiser is presented by Quota International of Bossier City.

Proceeds go to the groupís local and international service work. Among the projects: scholarships for graduate students majoring in speech and hearing pathology; assisted listening equipment in public places; Bossier Parish Food Bank; Bossier City Rescue Mission; and teddy bears for children transported by rural ambulance companies.

Quota official Marlene Harner thinks ticket holders enjoy seeing the homes and get ideas for their own decorating.

When she walked into the Pulliam home the first time, Harner said, "Oh wow!"

"Oh, wow." I remember a sense of "Oh, wow" when we had our own Christmas Tour of Homes in Franklin. Iím sure there were reasons, probably some good ones to folks personally involved, why that faded away.

But you know, I bet we could "Oh, wow" some visitors with a revived tour of homes. Maybe just a couple weekends in December? We did it before, we can do it again.

Back in the day, when this town was bursting at the seams with oil money, we were at the top of the world. The oil bust of 1986 took a lot of the wind out of our sails, and the subsequent invasion of chain-sized businesses just made matters worse. Entire families were forced out of business and out of Franklin.

Oh, you all remember when things were good around here. When we could grocery shop at Shop Rite on Willow, A&P, Richardís IGA, Lombardoís, Gusís, National or Ledetís. You all remember when we could get our menís wear at Scelfoís and Wormserís and Chad Adamsí place, I think it was called Collections? When Panache and Diana shops were there for the ladies, and you could buy a Ford right here in town and you could listen to your local radio station.

Heck, yeah, we had it going on, here, folks. But times change, and all that went away practically overnight, when you look at it in the whole grand scheme of things. The problem is, we kept waiting for the oil industry to come back. When it didnít we started dreaming of major industries dropping from the sky right into our laps. That didnít happen either. Over time, I think weíve become jaded and a little cynical about ourselves and the outside world.

We are starting, at last, to get over it. About time. We have begun to realize, at some level, anyway, that the GM plant probably wonít fall out of the sky, and even if it does, we canít keep putting all our eggs in one basket. Weíve got a proverbial "diamond in the rough" here, and I think we may finally Ė finally! Ė be taking out the jewelerís tools to begin to cut it into a fine gem.

Itís hard, sometimes, not to get frustrated. When the ones who should be working hardest just shrug their shoulderís as in, "Whatís the use?" and walk off. When the nattering nabobs of negativism get louder and louder.

Ignore it. We can make this community a role model of national caliber despite the naysayers and the doom-reapers.

Letís roll.