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Newton Citizen Poll - 01/24/2009

"I am writing concerning the budget of the NCSS. As a parent of three children in schools, I am very concerned. The school system is considering cutting personnel to solve this budget crisis. This is cause for great concern. What better way to educate a child than a low teacher/student ratio? The state is allowing classrooms to have two more children in each class, and then the county wants to cut personnel? Are we asking for chaos in the classroom? Is the school board not concerned with the proper education of our children? When was the last time the board members stepped in a classroom? See what these teachers face, the personal time and money that the Newton County school personnel put forth for these children, and their thanks is a job cut? I do not think for a minute that the job of budget cuts is an easy one, but the superintendent and board need to think long and hard (lose some sleep over their decisions), what is best for the future of education in Newton County. What about pay cuts for central office personnel or administration? What about not hiring back retired teachers in part-time positions (some places call that double dipping)? What about stopping all of this unnecessary testing of our children? Have they considered just plain out great teaching? Not teaching for testing! We get report cards to monitor and assess our children, do we really need DIBELS, ITBS, CRCT, MCLASS, etc. Cut down on the testing, put personnel back into the classroom, let them do their jobs ... Teach the children of Newton County!"

"This is to the person that wrote 'Why is it people think government is supposed to provide everything to everyone? Doesn't matter what it is or how much it costs, it should be provided and should be free. Doesn't make any sense. Like the heated indoor swimming pool complex. Since when would that be considered a proper government function? If there's such a demand for a heated indoor pool, wouldn't the private sector build one and charge an admission or membership fee? Oh my, someone already did that, didn't they. Actually there's two in the Covington/Conyers area.' Hello ... Because people like to swim maybe! There are a lot of competitive swimmers in Newton County. They are now part of the Rockdale County Riptides. There are several up-and-coming high schoolers that would benefit from a pool so they can have a team. Eastside has a small team now. Not to mention how about the physical aspect of swimming. No one thinks that government should pay for everything, but isn't our local government supposed to give us a great place to live and is recreation not a good healthy thing? Would it not be a good idea to have a good place in your community to teach children how to swim so they don't drown? A great indoor competitive 50-meter pool would benefit a lot of people in the area. And could host several swim meets a year that could generate bed and breakfast tax for the county as many would spend the night for a two- or three-day meet ... Learn the facts before you complain about what people are asking for."

"What is wrong with this picture? My wife and I are both 81 years old. We raised five children on a very low teacher's and nurse's income. We sent them to college and they are now all out working and helping the economy. We did this by budgeting our money. We are now living on our Social Security and a small pension. We have been conserving our water supply by making rain barrels, collecting water from the shower in buckets until the water gets hot and all of those things we are told to do to conserve water. Since not much water is being used our water bill went up. We turn off lights that are not being used, and we have replaced all the bulbs with the new low wattage bulbs. Since not as much electricity is being used and since fuel costs have gone up, our electricity bill has gone up. Last year our property tax was increased. We have not received anything from the county to warrant the raise. They did lower it a little. Here is what is wrong with this picture. As the politicians seem to be working closely for themselves (automatic raises) and since they are working real hard to bail out the greedy companies that lined their pockets, what are they doing for the poor guy who has lost his home, his job and his pride? These are the people who in some way now have to support these greedy people. Georgia now has its hand out. Police may be laid off in Atlanta, teachers will have to take on more duties if they are not laid off. But the governor will have his fish pond. Is this what is wrong with this picture?"

"I am writing to find out if there are any laws in Newton County to penalize people who leave their dogs out in this freezing weather we are having. Today, 1-19-09, I took my dog out at 7 a.m. The thermometer read 29 degrees and I saw the golden retriever that I previously mentioned in my e-mail on 12-6-08, standing next to the fence staring out. This poor dog had to be freezing. I know I was and I had on a heavy coat. If there is a law against this, as there should be, I will contact the agency and complain about these people. They can afford to put in an in-ground pool last year but the dog house in the fenced-in area is dilapidated and too small for a dog this size. I wish these people were outside without a coat or shoes and maybe they would understand what they are putting this dog through. There is no way this dog could have any water in this weather. It would definitely be frozen. All the windows on my car were. Please, people, if you have an animal - dog or cat - bring it inside when the weather gets below 40 degrees. These are man's best friend. Please treat them as such. They have hearts, too."

"My comment is I am an outside salesman and I am on the road quite often. The worst drivers I see have a little tell-tale sign on their license plate - it said 'Educator.'"

"Enough about the Cruikshanks already. They made a mistake. ... Haven't we all made mistakes? I know I have made big ones. ... I learned from it ... "

"This commentary is in response to the government-provided pool comment in last week's Citizen Poll. As a taxpaying citizen I agree with the writer that government, i.e., Newton County, should not provide everything for its citizens. It is, however, a function of government to provide recreation and fitness facilities for community health, wellness and education. The private sector builds Wendy's, and Wal-Mart's. Not exactly what we need for healthy recreation unless you feel super sizing is a healthy activity. Private pools like the two mentioned in last week's commentary are not competition length or width. They are essentially back yard pools at private clubs not designed for high volume recreation swimming or swim teams. If last week's writer feels there is no need for a indoor recreation aquatics facility in Newton, they need to spend some time at Johnson Park Pool and see the scheduling challenges for 400 summer league swimmers, 150 high school swimmers, 100 USA Riptide swimmers, Arthritis Foundation swimmers, water aerobics, swim lessons, and community swimmers in eight lanes of a 25-yard pool. All the above groups pay money to swim. Johnson Park Pool is not a free service as stated by last week's ill-informed writer. If Newton wants to retain and attract taxpaying residents, it must provide more quality recreation facilities. It is time to join Rockdale, Clarke, Cobb, Hall, Habersham, Troup, Carroll, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton, Clayton and soon to be Morgan counties who all have indoor recreation aquatics centers. This is tax money well spent."

"Help me to understand. I am not a prejudiced person. I have never been. I consider myself not to be this way because I do not look at the color or race to tell me who a person is. Then why is it such an exhibit of nationality when someone of African American race achieves a milestone. I have a hard time even seeing Mr. Obama as black because both of his parents are not. Would that not make him just as much white, since his mother is white? I do not intend on arguing this matter because of the touchiness and defense 'people' take to it. But I have two sons that are biracial, they have the best of two worlds. But never would I tell them they were to be celebrated as all one race only. It is not fair to others or themselves. I think it is just another way to cause more confusion. Fact is, now what will be the excuse, who is stopping you from getting better jobs and such now? If you say he has really achieved something big, then this shows that there are no limits to what your opportunities really are as a people and no one can be used as your excuse anymore. Do your job Obama. Do it good! Let's see if you are more than just a color!"

"Tim, Tim, Tim. You knocked on my door this fall promising change in the county. Your first two meetings you have shown that you are right there in the good old boy network ... Where is this new leadership that you promised? I hope that these first two meetings are 'first time jitters' and that you will help this county for all the citizens and not just the 'old club.'"

"On Nov. 4, 22,173 Newton residents (56 percent) voted for change in our county by electing a new County Commission chair. Unfortunately, it seems someone is bound and determined to stop that change at all costs. And, they have some county commissioners gladly doing their dirty work. In their first January meeting, Commissioners Fleming, Ewing and Henderson overruled Chairman Morgan and rushed to reappoint the county attorney with no review of any scope of work, budget, or contractual agreement. Now, in their second meeting, Commissioners Fleming, Henderson, and Simmons (put) through a hiring freeze and spending freeze that curiously applies largely to those departments managed by the chairman, but excludes spending on legal fees. Hmmm. How convenient. Something smells really bad right now around our courthouse! Maybe it's time the Citizen gave us a report on what's really going on?"

"During these economically challenging times, the mayor's office is getting new furniture. Wow! On his first day as president, President Obama froze all White House aides' salaries. Good show of leadership! Control and limit spending. Hopefully, in about two years, we will get a new mayor to go with the new furniture. Let's all hope that the newly elected mayor will focus his/her attention on the crime problems facing our city and not the decor of his/her office. We need new leadership to tackle our city's crime and growth problems. Who cares what someone's office looks like when they get shot, robbed or killed going to it! We need solutions to crime problems and not new furniture for the city."

"Surprise, surprise. Mayor Kim Carter throws a temper tantrum and finally gets her way, but thank goodness for the Citizen articles that brought public criticism, and the price went down quite a bit. Ms. Daria was asking for $32,000 and now we will get the same merchandise for $12,000. Why didn't she give her friend, the mayor, the lower price to begin with? Makes you wonder ... "

"You think you have a voice in this backwoods swamp of conceited wanna-bes. Think again. Citizens of Covington and Newton County are taxpayers that truly have no real voice in the way things are run and the decisions that are made. All is lost the moment we cast our ballots. Case in point - the reappointment of the present and seemingly perpetual county attorney. Our new chairwomen did try to stick to the agenda and keep things from happening without adequate information. I applaud that effort. Also, I also understand it's full speed ahead with office furniture and etc. from our new mayor and with the same Atlanta designer. You know, I do not ever want to hear again 'shop locally.'"

"The new mayor of the city of Covington needs to realize that Newton County doesn't have lots of money. The president of the United States only had $100,000 with which to redo anything he wants to in the living quarters of the White House. We are not near in that league. She should come down on what she is wanting to do in her office."

"I want to comment on the governor's proposal to cut funds for the school nurses at our schools. This would be a tragic mistake. These ladies are highly qualified - or gentlemen - are highly qualified. They do more than give out Band-Aids and Tylenol. There are children with special needs that have to have medication. There are children with life-threatening diseases, such as lupus, sickle cell and many more that have to have medicine dispensed that only a qualified nurse can do. The children have the right to go to school and parents have to have the right to go to work and not have to come to give out medication. We need these nurses. Parents, please call the governor's office and protest this cut. There has to be somewhere else in the budget that money can be cut instead of getting rid of our nurses. Also, I want to comment and ask a question as to why there are no flashing lights on Salem Road near South Salem Elementary? This is a heavily traveled road. There is another school to open in the fall for middle school students. Traffic will increase even more. I have been up and down through there and just noticed people flying up and down the road during school time."