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Newton Citizen Poll 10/25/2008

The Newton Citizen Poll is a compilation of opinions submitted by readers. This week's poll was an open line.

"I can't help but wonder when the time will come for the state of Georgia to reroute Ga. Highway 81 where it will bypass the city of Oxford, downtown Covington and the city of Porterdale. That will mean these municipalities will have to foot the entire cost for upkeep, patching and paving of the streets that once were a state highway. If Porterdale thinks it has budget woes now, wait until the bridge over the river has to be replaced - with no help from the state of Georgia. The state has already said the bridge is badly in need of repairs or needs to be replaced a few years back - but nothing positive ever materialized to offer a solution. Once upon a time Georgia Highway 20 meandered through the city of Conyers - then the state rerouted it to continue on Ga. 138 to Sigman Road, then Sigman Road to Milstead Road, then north to Loganville. Never underestimate what the state of Georgia deems necessary to trim costs from their budget."

"I have to tell someone about the NewRock Redskins Youth Football Team! No, we are no recreation! We are a travel team that is part of a faith-based travel organization, and they are fabulous! They have only been a team for going on two years now, but they really shine. The 10 and under team (the ones that have been together the longest) are undefeated and have been challenged by a team from Augusta, GA., that they shut out in only three quarters. They were also challenged by the Rockdale County Bulldogs 10 and under team and halfway through the tame the Redskins were winning so the Bulldogs put the 12-year-old team in and the Redskins still came out on top with four touchdowns to their one. What a great bunch of guys. We would like to see more of the county's support as the county's recreation leaders seem to be trying to shut us out as far as our practice and playing fields. That's OK, though. It does not seem to be stopping our teams from winning and staying together. We tend to forget it is about the boys, not what goes in our pockets. Besides, the boys' parents are taxpayers of Newton and Rockdale also. We would like to thank the Newton High coach for allowing us to have the times we do get to play at their school's practice field and also to Porterdale Elementary for their field as well. All I need to say is 'who rock ... NewRock.' Go get 'em guys. You're a fine group of players!"

"Bottom line, I think we, as a community, the Board of Education and Newton County School System need to help eliminate the image that has been created of Newton High School. Yes, it is a predominately black school; however, my daughter has assured me that she loves the school and has not seen any reason as to why her friends should have transferred from Newton High School other than the fact that the school has been allowed to become 80 percent black. I noticed that even the newspapers have a tendency to report negative news about Newton High School and positive stories about Eastside High School. I know that the crime statistics at the three high schools are pretty consistent."

Editor's note: This newspaper makes no distinction between high schools in our community. News is reported as it occurs. Some schools are better than others at making us aware of events taking place on their campuses.

"So Mr. Average Joe wants us to return to one of the most useless ... and abused ... nuisances ever foisted upon the driving public years ago known as the Georgia Vehicle Safety Inspections? First and foremost, I don't know what county you live in but here in Rockdale County sheriff's deputies routinely stop drivers observed driving unsafe vehicles with burnt-out, or missing headlamps/tail lamps, bald tires ... or cracked windshields. It is not uncommon for a driver stopped for unsafe vehicle conditions to respond by saying 'You stopped me because ... ,' the 'because' having nothing to do with the reason he or she was stopped. Are you aware of any accident caused by the unsafe conditions you describe? Ninety-nine percent of accidents are caused by violation of traffic laws such as failure to yield, running traffic lights or stop signs, crossing solid white lines, double yellow lines and excessive speed for conditions, just to name a few."

"To the reader who inquired in last week's poll about Sen. Obama's tax proposals: Obama would raise the capital gains rate to from 15 percent to 20 percent only for couples making more than $250,000 and single filers with incomes greater than $200,000 (http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/15/news/economy/capital_gains/). Obama would exempt estates valued at less than $3.5 million from estate taxes altogether (http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxtopics/election_issues_matrix.cfm). As for the sale of a primary residence, Sen. Obama proposes no changes to current law. Assuming you and your wife file jointly, the first $500,000 of capital gains from the sale of your home would continue to be exempt. If you made more than that from the sale, only the portion over $500,000 would be taxed (http://www.collegejournal.com/article/SB121833967550327455.html). I suspect you might have received or heard about an email that is circulating and includes various blatant falsehoods about the tax issues you raised. It is soundly debunked point-by-point at http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/taxes.asp. Hope this helps, and I hope we all turn out to vote."

"Kudos to Darrell Huckaby for his Sunday column viewpoints. I agreed with all of his viewpoints."

"I want thank Dave Spencer for his excellent rebuttal on this Sunday's editorial page. The rebuttal to Abe Roesel recent negative letter to the editor. We need people like Mr. Spencer to speak out and provide fair and factual information against the bias misguided rhetoric of people like Ab Roesel."

"Several beauty shops and/or style shops have suddenly decided to do away with senior citizen discounts for services rendered. All prices are now the same. Well, I will drive out of my way to avail myself of services from a shop that does honor senior discounts - or - go to a beauty college to have my hair done under the supervision of qualified instructors for much less than a Beauty/Style shop charges. If someone owns/operates a beauty/style shop, they need to advertise senior citizen Discounts - or they will surely lose business they formerly took for granted."

"The school board has now voted to open a 'theme' school for the 2009 academic year. While this sounds positive, it is very interesting that they did not vote for a 'charter' school instead.

The theme of the school will be 'parental involvement.' To me, if the other schools in Newton County would open their doors to parents being involved (we were told by the principal at our local elementary school that they do not allow parents to walk their children to class or to come into the classrooms), wouldn't we have parent involvement schools? We came from another county, which had an open door policy on parents. After you signed in, you were welcome to come help out anytime you wanted. I don't understand why we have to create a new school to ALLOW parents into the classrooms. Also, a theme school is no different than any other school in the county - the superintendent chooses the principal, teachers, curriculum, etc. That is the same at all schools in the county. For a charter school, the parent board has input in curriculum, teachers, and even the director. Our schools are failing. If we are not going to consider real change, more parents are going to pull their children out to attend private school or homeschool. I attended the school board meeting discussing the new theme school. It just sounds like any other county school, but this one will allow parents to be involved in their child's education. Very disappointing that this is our solution."

"The idea of golf carts running on the city streets of Covington is the most ridiculous and dangerous idea ever to come out the city council. I am sure that the carts would be given the right of way at the expense of normal traffic and someone would surely be killed. If Mr. Dalton wants to run his family golf cart on the street he should move to Peachtree City."

"Anyone doubting Porterdale, Ga., does not operate a speed trap - go to CopSpy.com - when page pops up, scroll down to Porterdale and read comments. The city of Porterdale is going to make up their $200,000 budget shortfall one way or another. The city manager and the City Council and the mayor can squabble all they want - but the driving public will end up on the short end of the stick. You betcha!"

"I heard today that Obama was up by 9 points! Guess what else I heard ... the stock market is down about 500! What do you know!"

"Every day we hear about more and more families losing their homes to foreclosure and even today (10/23) there's an article about the city and county applying for bailout grants to buy whats called 'distressed properties.' I guess the days of capitalism are coming to an end; and in the end, the government will actually own everything. Kind of scary isn't it? At least two of our commissioners are paying attention."

"How to increase property taxes without a tax increase? Earlier this week I read an article concerning home values and property taxes. According to the Housing Opportunity Index compiled for the National Association of Home Builders, our homes lost more than 25 percent of their value last year. Projections are that we will lose up to another 20 percent over the next year. However, property tax assessments continue to increase in some areas by as much as 20 percent, which was exactly what happened to our home this year. Then on Thursday House Speaker Glenn Richardson said; 'The rate of property taxes people are paying is rising at a rate greater than inflation, greater than the ability of property owners to pay.' In the same breath he said, 'lawmakers will probably also eliminate or phase out property tax relief grants that save homeowners about $200-$300 annually.' Richardson said House Republicans will push a proposed constitutional amendment to essentially tie maximum property assessment increases to inflation. The Georgia Senate passed a similar proposal during the 2008 session. That did a lot of good didn't it? Even if that bill passes, here's the catch. Even when cities, counties and school districts don't raise tax rates, the assessed value of property can be increased by county officials. That can mean higher tax bills for homeowners. Are you paying attention to this? I expect the Tax Assessors Offices across the state will be working overtime very soon. And the elected officials will be claiming they didn't raise taxes ... again. Looking ahead to 2009, Bruce Hahn, president of the American Homeowners Foundation, a non-partisan consumer advocacy group said, 'I think you're going to see a lot more taxpayer protest.' Let's hope he's right, but with local governments headed towards the red and the state already there, don't expect any relief."

"Thanks for the info about two of the organizations that have promoted events in this county. The same year the function at the Salem Campground was discontinued, some function was held at the Covington Square. My husband and I were charged a dollar to enter the Square and there was nothing there but one vendor and a group of kids singing. I have not been back there for any event since. I'm distressed that the end of any disagreement so often descends to 'why don't you go somewhere else?'. We're fine where we are. The Cherry Blossom Festival in Conyers is nearby and Porterdale seems to be gearing up, as is Social Circle. Forgive me for giving my opinion; it has always been our intention to support our community by patronizing offered events (spending money) not by planning them. Everyone serves in their own way."