The Newton Citizen Poll is a compilation of opinions submitted by readers. This week's poll was an open line:
"Knowing that the county is facing a $5.5 million budget deficit, is it still a good idea to build the park in District 2? We have already received notification from our commissioner that they will be unable to install all the proposed equipment. Wouldn't that money be better served to keep county employees in their jobs? Let me see, do I want to go walk around a park while the police and fire departments are forced to cut back? Not to mention we are adding that much more congestion to an area of the county that can't handle it without road improvements! When did it become the responsibility of our local government to provide us a place to walk and play? Besides, couldn't our local children play on the playground at the school across the street from the proposed site? I sure hope our county employees that are about to be laid off or cut back get a lot of use out of the park that has taken their jobs away! I am quite positive this $5.5 million could be better served fixing the Ga. 20/ Brown Bridge Road intersection or Salem Road. How many times must your constituents ask for road improvements only to see that money used for a cheap man's park and a library!"
Editor's note: The park you mention is funded by impact fees which, by law, must be spent on designated projects and cannot be transferred to the general fund.
"Just wanted to ask if anyone else had the same problem with their 2008 property taxes I did. They raised my estimated value $40,000. With the property value at the time, I could not believe what they did. When I went to the Newton County Tax Office and questioned this, all they would tell me was, 'well at least it is not what you paid'? Big deal, it was $5,000 less than I paid. In Florida where I moved from, I sold my home after 14 years. The estimated value on taxes was over $300,000 less than I paid. What is going on here? The $40,000 increase was including my big Homestead Exemption of approximately $300-400. Sure they could afford this? I am a senior citizen, too. In Florida our Homestead Exemption was $25,000. I moved here because I thought it would be cheaper. Am I having my eyes open. The tag charge is ludicrous, the Georgia state tax and the property tax being raised this much when the values of homes are in the toilet. Give me a break! I should have stayed in Florida!"
"This is in response to the Citizen Poll on Saturday, Feb. 14th edition. One person said they voted for a Democrat and the mayor and the City Council is going to vote themselves a pay raise - shame on them. I would just like to tell that person to make sure what they are talking about because the mayor and the City Council are nonpartisan races that was voted on two years ago. The Democrats that swept Newton County this year are on the Commission chair and the County Commission, not on the City Council. So it is OK to be upset and OK to be offended by pay raises but make sure your facts are in order before you ran in the Citizen Poll."
"I was calling about the Newton County having a $5 million deficit. Well, I have a relative who works for Newton County and they actually received letters today talking about pay cuts for everybody and he is one of the lowest-paid employees, and come to find out the spending is unreal. Of course most people know that. The judges are having a $300,000 secure parking area built when why can't they use the parking garage, which is secure enough for the citizens but not for them. The sheriff just got a brand new Tahoe .... Why is it the people are having to take pay cuts because they are doing all this massive spending."
Editor's note: Spending for the secure parking lot is set at approximately $267,000.
"With the government giving bailouts to irresponsible and mismanaged businesses and home owners that borrowed more than they could afford, I think it would only be fair for the government to ... reset my 401k to its October 2008 level. This was done by no fault of my own and there are hundreds of thousands of people affected that are being penalized for doing the right thing. We are all trapped in our 401ks. Maybe we should also stop paying our mortgages so we can reap Obama's reward for failure. I guess with the new administration (change) only those that acted irresponsibly get rewarded and everyone else continues to get the shaft. If you watch the news at all you can see that this new administration is completely inept. At least Bush had values that we could look up to. What example does Obama set with all of the crooks he has surrounded himself with. He has no character. We will be lucky if our country ever recovers from this."
"This is for the (person) that wrote about the school system wasting money on the special needs children going to the bowling alley. Get a ... clue and do some research before you write something you know nothing about. Special Olympics of Newton County is who pays for the children to go bowling. We have loving people who donate to this very worthy cause. We have fund raisers to help build these funds so that each special needs child can be a part of these activities. How much money do we spend all the time for what you call your normal child. I am sure a heck of a lot more."
"I have to say excuse me! To the person that complained because they let a New Yorker out of the bank in traffic ... I am from NY - that has nothing to do with it. NYer's are very friendly. Maybe she had other things she was concentrating on. Would you rather her not and wreck ? I take it you never lived up there. My neighbors there were more friendly then the ones down here. People I didn't know were more apt to help than people here. I knew every single person in my neighborhood in NY, unlike down here where nobody comes to say hello, welcome to the neighborhood. If I could I would move back there in a heartbeat. Back to where people are not fake!"
"I see where the hotel/conference center made the front page once again along with the proposed sales tax increase on hotels and motels. I hope someone has come up with some good factual projected income figures. Presently the county has six hotels /motels. If they average approximately 75 rooms each - 450 rooms - with an average 70 percent occupancy rate, this means that the increased income would be based on 315 rooms. How many would average 75 percent? Now, the project would only realize 50 percent of the increase. Our leaders say this will not be a cost to the taxpayers, so please, would someone tell us where the $28 million is coming from when the county does not have anything to offer as an attraction to warrant a five-star complex. Seems as though we are planning to have on our hands another project that the locals will have to bail out. There is a lot better ways to spend $28 million than on the dead horse our leaders want."
"It's kind of sad to see Newton County employees face pay cuts, furloughs and possible lay-offs while just this week, a new construction project began. The employees have to walk past the area being built for 'secure parking' for the judges on their way in to work each day. Perhaps that is a project that could have been delayed until a more appropriate time."
Editor's note: Due to further non-personnel budget cuts, the Board of Commissioners determined Wednesday that there will be no need for pay cuts or furloughs in the current budget year.
"To the individuals that complained: 1) about the bus on Jack Neely Road running for an hour and 2) the Special Needs field trips ... let me attempt to help you understand. 1) Idling buses: bus drivers have been told not to idle their buses more than 10 minutes or so, for a reason you indicated. It saves fuel. Of course, when the weather is frigid out, buses will be started just a little earlier so that your children get on a vehicle with heat, instead of one that is ice cold. 2) Special Needs field trips: are these children 'who can barely walk' to be denied anything that a 'normal' child isn't? The Special Olympics encourages these children with special needs to work at something and be good at it. The joy that comes from the praise of a teacher, a parapro ... yes, even a bus driver sometimes, makes a world of difference to these kids. If you feel the special needs field trips are a waste of fuel and time, then maybe during this hard financial time that we are all experiencing, we should cut out all field trips, including athletic field trips that your child may participate in. I mean, it would only be fair, wouldn't it? All children should be treated equally, whether they be 'normal' or special needs children ... they all deserve the same shot at what our county can give them!"
"In response to the reader complaining about special ed students going bowling. I have a special ed student and I used to think like you - that it was wasteful, a 'time-filler.' That is until I visited my son during a bowling alley field trip (actually it's Special Olympics). You would be amazed at what the staff and many volunteers are actually able to do with these children. They have equipment that allows them to bowl (and do many other things) regardless of their physical or mental abilities. It's great exercise and a conducive environment for following directions and working on goals that many of us take for granted. And they enjoy it. For many of these kids, there is so little that brings them joy - and not for a lack of trying. Just because a child is in a wheelchair or seems clueless, don't dismiss them. Special Olympics is always looking for volunteers, especially those available on weekdays as you seem to be. Check it out, you might be surprised."
"In response to two comments regarding the Eastside football article on signing day from community members ... First off, before citizens spout off about things they don't know or young men they do not know, it's important to know the facts behind the picture. There were hundreds of pictures taken that day. Every Eastside football player in those pictures was respectful and proud of their moment. When it came to the last couple pictures taken, it was the photographer who said 'have fun' guys and let loose. It was the Newton Citizen's decision to place that picture on the front page. Do we as parents agree with that? Absolutely not. This does 'portray' that moment as disrespectful and therefore I don't fault community members for voicing their opinion. I do, however, believe their points are misled due to the choices made by the editor of the Newton Citizen. If these community members knew these fine young men and how hard they worked to obtain these scholarships, they'd rethink their statements. Also, what Coach Hurst and the rest of the staff has done at Eastside speaks volumes to their character, integrity and discipline involved in the program. What they've done in four years is remarkable. And gang signs? Please."
"I would like to make a comment to the reader that was complaining about the special needs students at the bowling alley. First, they were there for Special Olympic activities. They have every right to participate in those activities. Second, Special Olympics is paying for the busing for those activities. That money comes from donations from businesses and individuals that support that wonderful program for those special needs children. I would personally like to thank all the businesses and individuals that support the Special Olympics in our county."
"Anyone who claims that tax cuts create jobs is trying to fool you or themselves."
"Here is the basic equation: increase in sales causes increase in production, which eventually leads to hiring employees. Sales of products cause job creation. No business that uses good, honest judgment will create a job that doesn't lead directly to increase in profits. Yes, decreasing taxes on businesses will decrease business expenses and increase profit margins but not product sales. However, any decrease in a businesses' overhead will have no effect on sales unless the product's quality or features increase or price decreases. Even so, the market, not the cost of business, determines a product's price."
"I have never heard any business person say 'I've just got a tax cut so I think I'll hire some employees.' I have heard 'my sales are growing so we will be hiring to increase our production,' just not recently."
"Boy the city of Covington messed up when they sold out to Charter. This new format with all those pictures and everything - enough is enough after you have seen one time. Another comment: This big page advertisement the hospital has. We all know where the hospital is, and if they might exchange that cost for the reduction of the cost Band Aids and aspirins in the emergency room. Those two things really irritate me."
"I am a citizen of Newton County and I have lived here all my life. This is the first time I have ever known Newton County being in such hardship. ... the county workers are worried about their jobs and going to get laid off or time cut. It's bad enough cutting back on their time, but to cut their wages that they have worked for all their life is definitely wrong. How are people going to expect to live and keep their homes? There is just no way that people can really say I am a taxpayer and I enjoy this county."
Editor's note: See note above.
"The last eight years they have made a shambles of the county's road system. They tried to do something but now they gutted the treasury, have no money to pay the employees, and some of the county commissioners didn't even run again, they bowed out and just took off. Aaron Varner didn't make it back in. Kathy Morgan did; that is fine. We need better leadership; we got it I think, but now we don't have the money to pay the employees. The roads are going to get in bad shape, paving is going to get behind, grass cutting, every department is going to get behind. We have got to come up with some solution to solve this problem instead of laying off county workers, furloughing them, cutting their pay. They should have saved enough money to keep the county running. I think it has been handled very bad, and I work for Newton County public works."
"This is for the Porterdale City Council candidates up for re-election this year. I was wondering if Mr. Grimes and Mr. Chambers would be having a face-to-face debate? If so, when and where. And also I would like to know their opinions on the dog ordinance. If y'all could possibly do a story in the paper about that."
"I think Mayor Carter should only get a raise if she can do something to improve the looks of those buildings that are so visible when you come into town on Pace Street, and they are very visible from the new Judicial Center and the new administration building. ... let's give her that assignment."
"I am calling in regards to all the jabs being made about the New Yorkers in Covington. Our neighbors are from New York and you couldn't ask for better neighbors. They keep up their property beautifully and they are always there in time of need. There is nothing unusual about them inviting you to go to dinner or go to a movie and they are that way to everybody in the subdivision. That is more than I can say for a lot of the other people who live here."
"I was calling about President Obama - based on the theory on whoever you worship as your God, he is God to a lot of people, and as far as him with the theory 'Yes we can,' 'Yes we can,' it may happen but it ain't happened yet, so far it has been 'No I can't.'"
"I am calling about Wednesday night's severe weather. I live in Mansfield and we never heard the sirens go off, and I am concerned because this morning on the front page of the Newton Citizen they are showing a tree was in someone's house on High Point Forest Road I believe. I am just appalled that we never heard sirens go off in Mansfield. At one point, even after our second warning that we saw from the TV, we called the nonemergency dispatch number and they said they were about to send the sirens off, and they never went off, and I am just appalled to think that why didn't they go off so if someone could check in to that they should."
"I would like to say to the 'Republicans' if they would quit downing Obama when he is trying to fix the country and get in there and help him and pray for him he might do better than all the Republicans with their negative attitude. And Sonny Purdue needs to take the money for the unemployed people - what is he thinking? Is it because he can't get money for his fish pond down there? He should have used the money he used on the fish pond to fix the roads and all the things that are tore up, and another thing, Shirley Franklin up there, she needs to get her house in order too and get things right."
"I've been reading the Citizen Poll now that I moved to Covington. I really enjoy reading what these characters write in the paper, especially about the buses running for hours while warming up. After reading these letters you become more aware of the things that your tax dollars are being spent on. So I would like to comment: Where I live, across the street there is a white Newton County van that throughout all hours of the day seems to drop by and stay half an hour or more. I would like to know if this is the worker's house or a mistress's house or what. I'm sure that tax dollars are being wrongfully spent here."
"After all the money spent on the courthouse to get it to look where it's at today, when you drive by you see stacked boxes in the window behind a flag pole that has no flag on it."