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Newton Phone Poll - 04/25/09

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

"I've read published reports of health inspection notices made at various restaurants in Newton and Rockdale counties on a regular basis in the newspapers. This is very important for citizens to know, and I greatly appreciate it. This lets me know where I wish to avoid eating and the places that have consistently bad scores, I scratch off my list to avoid permanently. However, I don't recall seeing any inspection notices of our hospitals that have cafeterias and also feed all the patients - nor have I seen reports on supermarket chains that sell hot food to customers at their delis. These places are just as important to consider as any restaurant in the county."

Editor's note: According to the rules and regulations governing restaurant inspections, as established by the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, food service establishments covered under the regulations include: "restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, short order cafes, luncheonettes, taverns, lunchrooms, places which retail sandwiches or salads; soda fountains, institutions both public and private, food carts, itinerant restaurants, industrial cafeterias, catering establishments and similar facilities by whatever name called." The frequency of inspections is based on the type of food service establishment and its previous food safety grades. In general, establishments that "cook and/or hold and reheat foods that are prepared onsite" are inspected twice a year.

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"What agency enforces trash pick up out by the road of a vacant house? A house in our neighborhood was vacated the beginning of April and a few days later a couple of men showed up and piled trash out by the road and then mowed the yard. These folks never had trash picked up. Trash keeps blowing onto the road. There is a notice in the front window for Emergency, Vandalism or Code Violations to contact Cyprexx Services, but the area code is 813. I called once but found no option to talk to a person so left a message. The trash is still there. Is this a code violation?"

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"To the person blaming our loss of business on the recession, just go next door to Walton County and tell their leaders it's a recession because they are getting plenty of commercial development in Monroe, Loganville and Social Circle. Even Barrow County is opening national chain store developments, and all we did was upgrade from a regular to a Super Wal-Mart and blame our low income levels on our leaders approving so many starter home subdivisions which attract lower income people."

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"This is my first time to comment in your Poll, but I wanted to say "keep up the good work.' I say this for one main reason: I'm recent to this area and my previous small town paper never reported informative news, but rather chamber of commerce-appropriate news. So when there were major events, we'd find out about it through state news. However, with the Citizen, I believe your investigative reporting on news such as the Gresham issue helped cultivate state legislation discussion on whether or not convicted child molesters should be appointed to a local school board. You are to be commended for that. Stories like these may not make us want to all get together, hold hands, sing Kumbaya or praise our community, but your stories have definitely kept us safer as a community. Always keep reporting to and for us; and remember all those chamber, community activist, commissioner and new competition-types are praying for that 4-year old boy who was mauled by a dog because they read it in your paper. Thank you and I'll be praying for him, too."

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"Regarding the "gem' we have in Olde Town. The problem is that everybody who says that doesn't seem to want to invest their money in it, but wants taxpayer money in the form of grants, tax relief, etc. If it's so darn great, why aren't people flocking to it? If something must be so promoted at public expense, it is questionable whether or not it truly is marketable. Olde Town died when the interstate came through. If they move the courthouse, then it's finished. People keep trying to recreate Conyers in an image that never existed. Private money can do what they wish with Olde Town, but this spending and spending of taxpayer money really only relieves the property owners from carrying their fair share of the load, and uses public money for private good. That's the real problem. After all, not everyone gets taxpayer money to promote their businesses, dress up their yards, etc."

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"With all the foreclosures, lay-offs and shortages of revenue for the city and county, you would think the city of Covington Planning Commission and the City Council would have shown evidence of having been awake during Finance 101. They have taken a tract of land that was zoned for R-2, which would allow over 100 homes on this land, which would bring in over $200,000 in tax revenue per year, and replaced it with a business that is tax-free ($0 taxes). This passed the council in February 2009 with a 3-3 tie, with the mayor voting in favor of the permit to break the tie. At least three of the council members were awake during Finance 101. This business will pay no taxes, ever. Every 10 years from now the city and county would have lost over $2 million in taxes, not to mention the loss of revenue from gas, water and electricity. Now the business is coming back to the Planning Commission and asking them to change some of the original conditions and asking for financial help from the city. How will the council respond this time? Be sure to read what the Newton Citizen reports about this matter. They did a fair and balanced article on the February meeting. "

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"Comment: Walking trail ... Cobb County. "The sheriff's department patrols 20.4 miles of the Silver Comet Trail from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, Henson said. In the last 20 months, the sheriff's department has received 23 calls about the trail. Those calls include reports of trespassing and vandalism as well as crimes against people. The Cobb County Police Department patrols 12 miles of the trail. Two incidents have been reported this year, said Sgt. Dana Pierce. A man riding a bike was assaulted and in the other reported incident, a cyclist approached some men, sensed danger and rode away from them. Both incidents were solved with the arrest of two teenagers, Pierce said. The most high profile crime associated with the trail was the July 2006 murder of 54-year-old Jennifer Ewing of Sandy Springs, a regular cyclist on the trail. Ewing's body was found just before the 17.38-mile marker, about four miles into Paulding County. The man accused of her murder, convicted rapist Michael William Ledford, is scheduled to go on trial in April.' This is a quote from the Atlanta newspaper about the trail as it traverses Cobb County. Of special note: One murder is too many; the county has had to hire additional deputies who do nothing but patrol the trail, full time. So what are we doing? Adding to the cost of our already stretched budget and creating dangerous circumstances for people whose homes are along the trail as well as those who will use it. And more significantly, our elitist citizens pressure our public officials to use money for nonessentials while other communities are using their grants and funding for things like renovating their schools and other useful, necessary, projects."

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"This is outrageous! They spend our money and then refuse to answer any questions. I do not understand how they can ignore your reporter's requests. What about a Freedom of Information Request? Is there anything a citizen/taxpayer of Newton County can do to get the details? Who authorized the trip, who went, how much was spent and who is held accountable ... I guess the school board is just hoping this will disappear! Do the citizens need to rally or protest at the next meeting?"

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"To the person in the April 18 Citizen Poll questioning the legality of a Rockdale County student using the Newton County library ... both the Newton County (Covington) and the Rockdale County (Conyers) libraries (as well as countless others) are on the PINES system, which means that if the student holds a PINES library card he has the right to use either of these locations as well as many others. Personally I do not like the Conyers library, way too dark. The last time I was in that area they did seem to be doing some work so maybe it will get better. I still think it was a very bad decision to close the Covington branch on Saturday. It seems to me it would have made a lot more sense to close one or even two weekdays and stay open on Saturday."

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"Sadly, you are the one proving your own ignorance (not to mention heartless arrogance) in this open forum. I'd put my "completely ignorant' education and IQ of 150-plus up against yours any day. You must be yet another person in need of a reading comprehension class, since you apparently failed to read when I "started this' that the only truly fair tax program would be one based on a set percentage of income. I find it funny that you'd call me "completely ignorant' and then practically recite and support something that I already mentioned. Also, if you're "not a wealthy person', I'm puzzled as to why you're so offended by my comments concerning the truly "rich' (which I equate to very wealthy). I take offense that you assume that those of us that aren't rich are not successful, have made poor decisions in life, aren't hard workers, and are vengefully envious! How dare you! More times than not, the "rich' are not smarter, more educated, or better decision makers than the average middle-class person, nor do they work any harder; they probably either got lucky and happened to be at the right place at the right time, or they brown-nosed, something I consider far from commendable. As for anyone striving to be like you, don't count on it."

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"What in the heck was Newton County thinking when they wasted taxpayers dollars by placing a light at Turner Lake and Washington Street? Hello. Have they never traveled 212 and Brown Bridge. Traffic 24/7 is backed up there, but all we have is a four-way and 50-plus cars each way! What a way to use our money!"

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"I enjoyed seeing today's photo of the wildflowers."

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"Does anyone know the name of the tree with purple flowers like wisteria? It is not wisteria, but has purple flowers in grape-like formation and they leave behind dark brown shells or seed pods that stay all year."

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"I see things are continually going backwards in Newton County. I see we are not going to get a Cracker Barrel family-type restaurant. Only type of restaurants we can get in Newton County it seems like that have watering holes for our local drunks. I predict probably in 10 years that people will be going to Social Circle to do their shopping and restaurants."

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"I am very disturbed. I read Saturday's paper about the Cracker Barrel on hold. What is going on in Newton County? We have lost Goodys, we are losing Wolf Camera and finally we will probably lose everything in Newton Plaza. Please someone step ahead and we need more restaurants, we need more shops here. This will help pay the taxes in Newton County if we could just get more local shops."

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"I was calling about the 71-year-old about to lose his home and they cut back his property tax. Now I am 72 years old and I have never got a discount on tax for anything except 5 percent on Wednesdays. I don't think that is fair. I live in a house that is about 50 years old and it is a small house but we can barely afford it, and he lived in a big fine house out there and they are paying part of his tax. I don't think that is fair. He is no better to live with his daughter than countless other people. They call that living beyond your means. You should stay within your means."

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"I would like to know if Chief Cotton would like to comment on why his personnel will not return phone calls. I have left three messages for an officer, two messages for a sergeant and one message for a captain and none of them have returned my calls. They don't even know me or what it is about so I am not sure why they won't return my calls. With taxpayers paying them, you would think they would be willing to assist the public."

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"Talk about fingernails scratching on a blackboard sending chills up and down your spine. How about the pronunciation of the word "congratulate' or should I say mispronunciation. It is spelled with a "T' but what you hear spoken is congratulate with a "D.' English teachers where are you? An example of the wrong pronunciation is heard many times a day and evening on television, Lottery talk, news, etc. People need to know there is a difference. Graduate has a "D' and congratulate has a "T'. Let's hear it pronounced right."

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"My fellow citizens, please park correctly when at the Covington Post Office and be considerate of others. I have seen vehicles take up two parking spaces, leave their doors wide open while reading mail or talking on the phone and today, a young man was parked near the door with his music too loud."

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"I would like to give a big thumbs down to Newton County School System! Once again they are showing where their priorities lie. Instead of cutting (frivolous positions), they decided to cut the school nurse program. With the amount of medically fragile children in the Newton County School System, they have definitely shown their priorities are in the wrong place! The lawyers are going to be like wolves knocking down Newton County School System's doors!"