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School neighbor complains of dust

COVINGTON - Salem Road resident Stacey Coady hopes he doesn't have to wash the dust off his cars and house later this month.

Already twice this summer Coady had to clean the exterior of his home and wash down his vehicles after lawn crews attempted to cut grass at South Salem Elementary and Liberty Middle schools.

"There's not a lot of grass to be cut, and they bring an army of lawn mowers, which creates a huge dust storm," said Coady, who lives across the street from the schools. "You can barely see two feet in front of you."

Earlier this week, he said about 9:30 a.m. he could barely see the school across the street and could not see the lawn mowers at all.

"It was completely blocked; you could barely see Salem Road," he said. "It looked like the dust bowls of the 1930s. It was unbelievable."

He also saw some vehicles on Salem Road slowing down as they approached the dust cloud.

"It's a bad problem when they get out here and do that," he said. "There's no reason for them to be out here doing that."

About 30 minutes after the mowers finished cutting, the air was clear.

"What little grass is on the ground (at the schools) is so thin ... so it creates all of this dust," he said. "They've already cut it twice in two weeks, and we haven't had a lot of rain for it to grow that fast."

When workers cut the grass a couple of weeks ago, Coady said the wind was blowing more toward his house than it was this week and he went on his back porch, which was covered in red dust. He said this is also a problem for his neighbors, who aren't there in the day when the dust starts, but arrive home to dusty homes.

"I'm tired of cleaning my cars and house up," he said. "And I don't want to breathe that dust in."

After the second time, Coady said he decided to call the school system to let them know what was going on in the area.

"I couldn't believe they would be required to do that," he said, adding that the heat and the dust are almost unbearable. "And the cars that park in (the school's) parking lot have to be loaded with dust."

Bill Rosser, director of maintenance for the Newton County School System, said Tuesday that the NCSS crews cut grass at South Salem Elementary and the contractor's crews cut the grass at Liberty for now, as it is not yet officially complete.

"When you're cutting grass and dirt, it seems to turn into dust, I'm afraid," Rosser said. "It probably needs some reseeding."

He said the crews will probably be out there again in a couple of weeks, but he will tell them to try to cut only the grassy areas.

"We're trying to address it ... and will do whatever needs to be done," Rosser said, adding that grass seeds don't grow well in the summer. "I guess we'll have to stay out of the dirt areas as much as we can until we can get it taken care of. We'll work on it, though."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.