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Newton Poll - 04/24/2010

The Newton Citizen Poll is a compilation of opinions submitted by readers. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Citizen newspapers. If you agree or disagree with something you read here, you may respond by e-mailing poll@newtoncitizen.com.

"I was in court recently and was embarrassed of our chief judge. The way Judge Ott treats court officials is uncalled for ... . Whatever happened to 'gentleman' judges? It is clear that he is a very knowledgeable person, but his temperament shows that he is lacking in patience and courteousness. I hope our other judges don't look to him as an example to follow."

"I tried to call Mr. Simmons one time about a home next to me. I wanted to know why the home sold at little over $119,000 in 2000 and today it has a total tax valve by the county of $28,000. The house is still there, same owner, in good shape. I'm still waiting for that returned phone call. I have checked the voice mail and caller ID -- no Earnest. Well, after several phone calls to our county government, I hope they got it right this time because I am protesting mine and telling everyone on our street to do the same. Thanks, Mr. Simmons, I think you may have given me a tax cut this year. By the way, we do not need a tax office on the west side of the county. We have one just 8 miles away and a little thing called the Internet. Save the money. Hire more police. We have got a great sheriff. Let's help him up, Mr. Simmons."

Editor's note: The Newton County Tax Assessors Office sets property values.

"Everyone we talk with loves having fall and winter break. I guess that is the reason Newton County is taking them away? No cost savings when you still have 180 days of school."

"When the county has been looking for ways to save money within the school system, have they thought about having one principal over the theme school and not paying for two principals' salaries? There are less than 800 children K-8 in the theme school, so why not have one principal and one assistant? Private schools do it all of the time. Why do we need two separate principals, two assistant principals, two counselors, two libraries, etc., etc. Let's think outside of the box."

"Just was reading the Newton County School System FY11 budget and all the cuts that have to be made to keep the schools open. Among the most alarming cuts are our teaching staff. How can anyone have schools open and not enough teachers is beyond me. They are going to increase class size to 35 to 40 students, what teacher can control and try to teach that many students ? It is a shame that our educational system is going to be turned into a babysitting service. Where is Mr. Obama's plan for a quality educational system he keeps running his mouth about. Stop wasting all these billions of dollars to the people that just keep getting richer and give it to our school systems across this great nation. What happened to kids' education comes first in this country because they are the future? Time for all of America to wake up. .... "

"Quote from NCSS spokesperson: 'This is a competitive grant, and we won't be applying for it ... The district is in a position to adhere to the grant requirements; therefore, not eligible to qualify for the grant.' Huh? What? Is this ... double speak at its finest?"

"I am writing this in response to Mr. Simmons' (accomplishments) on the western side of Newton County. I have resided in western Newton County for over 22 years, and my neighbors and I are well aware that these accomplishments were in the works long before Mr. Simmons was elected. Our previous commissioner always kept us informed and never missed returning our phone calls, was always willing to meet with the concerned citizens of his district and listened very patiently to them while they gave their thoughts, grievances, concerns etc. and while he might not always agree, he heard all sides of the story and he did listen. Mr. Simmons has not been receptive to some of the citizens' views and questions of western Newton County, and on at least one occasion became very hostile and hung up the phone on a citizen in his district. We are looking forward to a commissioner that wishes to work with the whole district and not just a few citizens."

"We have always tried very hard to make sure our children never miss school and our trips and appointments are scheduled on days off. Since Newton County has made it clear that they can no longer be held accountable to the published school calendar, I assume they won't hold us accountable when our children miss because plans are made far ahead of the five days notice the school system gives us of changes."

"This is in regard to the list of sexual offenders in Newton County. My understanding that they cannot live within X number of feet to children. The recent list -- and I also get updates online -- show numerous addresses as a motel on City Pond Road. How is this legal? Children live there also. Just wondering."

"I've read the comments about Clements Theme School and the PTO. I've been around many Newton County schools, and none of them are perfect. What made the difference is that fact that I formulated relationships with my children's teachers and administration. I didn't try to run the school or get my way. We did not always agree. As a matter of fact, there were times when we had to agree to disagree. But I was always involved in their education. In this case, I think everyone involved needs to put personal agendas aside. Before saying or doing anything negative about the school, teachers or PTO ask the question, 'Does this benefit the children and teachers of Clements?' The children and teachers of Clements have worked hard this school year. And I think they deserve much more than they are being given. And all they need is a chance. It is my prayer that all adults involved will put their personal feelings to the side and do what's in the best interest of the children. It's not in the best interest of the children to bash their school simply because disagreements arise. If we say that we care about the education of Newton County students, then let's grow up, stop bickering, and serve our students and teachers. Every time we allow our personal agendas to get in the way, we fail to make the necessary investment into our future. Bottom line ... let's grow up."

"I am greatly disturbed by all the cuts being made in our school system. While I realize that during these economic times hard decisions have to be made, what I don't understand is why none of these cuts are coming from the Board of Education office. I'm sure there must be some 'fluff' that could be eliminated from the great 'Taj Mahal' on Newton Drive. Anyone over there losing their jobs or taking cuts?"

Editor's note: The latest information the Citizen has been given indicates there will be reorganization and reduction of administrative/clerical staff in the Curriculum Department and the Operations Department, as well as cuts in retirement plans and insurance programs.

"I just saw that Newton County School Superintendent Dr. Steve Whatley has announced the first round of personnel-related cuts. These cuts include but are not limited to: 1) Reduction in the NCSS contribution to the 403b retirement plan from 3 percent to .5 percent and 2) Elimination of the NCSS contribution to health insurance employee premium. How are teachers supposed to survive on their pay if they have to pay their entire health insurance premium? Something must be done to stop this!"

"If you live on Ram Drive or in Porterdale city limits, you might have noticed a cow running wild through your neighborhood this past weekend. My son is in Newton High School's FFA program, and his new temperamental cow got loose during training Thursday afternoon. We had no idea that a cow could disappear so quickly and stay on the run for so long. After three sleepless nights, lots of calls from Animal Control and the Porterdale Police Department to advise of cow sightings, and finally hiring professional ropers, our cow was finally caught and returned to his home at Newton's barn. My family and I just want to say a very big thank you to all the kind folks in the area who helped lasso this wild guy. Residents of Ram Drive -- thank you so much for your patience and understanding with the FFA program. Many thanks to Porterdale Police for all the help during those few days. Everyone tells me that we will look back on this one day and laugh, which is probably true. I just hope the residents of Porterdale and Ram Drive are laughing with us!"

"Newton County is already about 20 years behind in their special education services in the school system. The system is graduating young adults who have zero job skills, zero life skills, and zero chance of finding or holding a job. I noticed that the superintendent chose to further cut special education services, by eliminating teachers and parapros, and left the gifted program untouched."

"After reading the NCSS superintendent's educational cuts for next year, I can understand why there are waiting lists for the quality home school academies in our area. Now, more than ever, it is time for parents to step out of their comfort zone and stop settling for mediocre -- take charge of your child's education and help them meet their potential."

"As I watched the news tonight, I see that Newton County is going to cut teachers and anything else they can. They should start at the BOE from the top paid salaries to the least paid. Who is approving these raises they are getting, expenses to move here and run the show -- come on. I'm sure there's a lot of dead wood up there we could do without. This is getting out of hand. I haven't had a raise in two years, why should they? Times are still hard. I hope the board looks in the mirror to see whose jobs they are going to cut. People it starts at the top!"

"As a concerned citizen of Newton County and seeing our school system going through so much, I am appalled at some of the situations. I understand that cuts have to made and I think the citizens know this. We may not like it, but it's happening. I know that our superintendent Dr. Whatley as well as three board members are leaving, so in turn they really don't have to worry about it so much. The new board will have to field the complaints of decisions which were not theirs. ... I do have one problem -- Why or how can we bring in a new superintendent who may be great for our county but before even working a single day, he gets over $20,000 raise. That's not right to the others in the system. He should have to take what Dr. Whatley is making ... If everyone else has to take cuts he should also. This is no means any disrespect to Dr. Mathews who I haven't met but right is right and we have no right giving raises when people are losing their jobs and benefits and struggling to make it. Let's do the right thing."

"A big thank you to both Keith Dalton and Chris Smith for leading the way to close the long-standing discussion about the rails to trails purchase. Mayor Kim Carter needs to open her eyes and quit letting her (and her husband's) personal agenda get in the way. It's a well known fact that her husband is pushing for the trails project and clearly she is trying to get it done from her position as mayor. Newton County has bigger and much, much more important issues to address than this project, including jobs, retail growth, and NC school system issues."

"What a cowardly move by Keith Dalton and Chris Smith to sneak a surprise vote on the railroad into Monday nights City Council agenda and push for a vote with no discussion over a week before the planned public information meeting. Your lack of courage is surpassed only by the depths of your ignorance and the extremes of your arrogance in feeling you need no facts and owe no allegiance to those who have labored for years to bring our community to an opportunity like this. By the time you're done with our city, you'll have set us back decades. But, then, that's probably part of the plan."

"I am so tired of hearing complaints about the PTO Board at Clements. The PTO board has tried all year to be quiet about the issues going on there, but enough is enough! Has anyone wondered why the school lost 100 students by mid-year, and why a lot of students aren't coming back next year? It sure isn't because of the PTO board! ... All of this because (the administration) wants to spend the fund raiser money on operating items for the school, while the PTO board is trying to use the money for the children. Are you aware that the school has now taken over fund raisers? ... "

"I suspect people will go off this week via the Citizen Poll on the dismal situation painted by the Newton County School System, the outgoing superintendent and the BOE. Well, what are they supposed to do? Oh, here's a concept -- trim the fat at the central office. There are people over there who basically get paid to watch others work and there are a lot of folks who likely cannot remember the last time they taught in a classroom. Of course, there are a lot of important jobs being done at the BOE offices, but these are trying times. I like an idea I read somewhere recently -- the school system could reduce the number of assistant principals. ... Let's go back to the days of Instructional Lead Teachers. Teachers are capable of helping out with administrative duties. Let's face it, the fine teachers we do have in the schools will do a great job weathering the storm, but at the rate we are going we will have trouble replacing them when they die of total exhaustion!"

"The civil discussion and debate on whether or not a rails-to-trail project would be good for Covington seems to have been brought to its knees by the back-door politics of Dalton and Smith. A meeting was scheduled for next week so that the public and representatives alike could learn facts about the proposed project as well as check out similar projects already implemented statewide. Rather than allow this meeting to happen so that all of the public could learn what is at stake, Dalton and Smith cut short the process by calling for a vote to end the discussion without the item even being on the council agenda. This made it so that the public would not be aware of the vote and could not give public comments prior to the vote. The fact that Dalton and Smith were willing o vote 'no' without even allowing the meeting for the public to learn about the trails lends a lot of credence to the rumors going through town that Dalton and Smith are so concerned with voting against the mayor's agenda that they will not even consider the ideas on the agenda to see if they are wanted by the citizens or good for the city. Almost all studies of rails-to-trails show that they are positive economic and quality of life improvements; however it seems that Dalton and Smith are more concerned with embarrassing the mayor rather than improving the current economic and quality of life levels in Covington. Unless they become more worried about their constituents and less worried about one-upping the mayor, this voter within their district will do everything he can to ensure that neither is re-elected."

"I would like to know what the meaning of roadside memorials are. I mean, they are against the law in the state of Georgia and they are disturbing, disgusting and distracting. Why would anybody want to memorialize a place where somebody got killed? Where you know someone took their last breath and build a shrine to them. If anybody knows the answer to this I really would like to know."

"My comment today is, first of all, anything that has to do with the AJC is a mistake in the first place. We just don't know what to do about our paper anymore. Whether we should cancel it or what do you suggest? Tuesday late delivery, Wednesday OK, got it at 6:30. I leave for work at 7 had a chance to glance. Thursday no delivery, my wife called and said we got our paper after 10, Friday no delivery at all. called. left message. Saturday about a 7:15 delivery. You have to realize that you have made a mistake combining delivery service. Someone is not thinking about continuing success of your paper. It is not acceptable. You say call the delivery department, tell me why that does not work. Remember Internet is available at no charge. Please publish this."

Editor's note: We understand your frustration with erratic delivery and thank you for your patience as we work through this transition. Service is improving and will continue to improve as we go forward. Prior to the change in delivery service, the Citizen promised delivery by 6:30 a.m. weekdays. That is also our contractual agreement with the AJC. Please call publisher Alice Queen at 770-483-7108, ext. 226, if your delivery does not improve.

"I am outraged at the recent decision of the Covington City Council to try and squash any hopes of purchasing the Norfolk Railroad and transform it into a highly beneficial walking/cycling trail. A trail of such magnitude would be a boon to this area by bringing in much-needed business as well as offering a safe way for citizens to participate in aerobic activity. Not all walkers, runners, roller bladers and cyclists enjoy riding on 55 mph roads with no sidewalk, bike lane or shoulder."

"I fully support the drive to acquire rail trails!"

"The Covington City Council by a 5-1 vote has inexplicably reversed itself after calling for a public hearing to gather more information about the possible purchase of railroad right of way with federal grant funds. Now they simply don't want to hear anything more about it. Next the apparent leader of the Posse of No, Keith Dalton, doesn't want to spend agreed-upon money to continue the strategic planning process undertaken at their recent retreat. I can think of "no" group more in need of facilitated planning than this council."

"The action by the Covington City Council on the railroad right of way is an embarrassment to the community. I support trails and most of my friends do as well, but yet the City Council members do not want to know the facts. Most said they will not attend an informational meeting to learn the facts about the railroad right of way project on April 29. This a classic case of let's don't confuse the issue with facts because I already have my mind made up. It is my understanding that the railroad line can be purchased with funding that Congressman Jim Marshall made available to our community. There is also a company that will remove the rail, crossties, grade the line, top with gravel, pave the road crossings and provide an environmental insurance policy at no cost to the city or county. They will do it for the rails and crossties. This would mean that the city or county would not have spent any money on this project. Is this a no-brainer or what? Yet the City Council votes 5 to 1 against discussing the railroad line. What are they thinking?"

"It has been about a month since the change in carriers for the Citizen, and I am still having problems getting my paper delivered every day. I went two weeks without getting my paper and then finally got one. Some days I get it and other days no paper. This has started to get a little ridiculous and hopefully sometimes in the future I will get my paper that I pay for every day."

Editor's note: Please call publisher Alice Queen at 770-483-7108, ext. 226 so we can address your problem specifically.

"It is disappointing to know that when teachers/parapro positions are cut in Newton County, they will be basing it on seniority. Wouldn't it be more comforting to know that only the best teachers and paras will be working with our children and not just those who have been in the system the longest?"

"I made a pass to the dump or the recycling center over the weekend and to my surprise I couldn't dump anything I had. (yard waste) 'Quote' -- Heckel and Jeckel said it was full and we ain't gonna lose our job cause it gets too full. So let me get this straight: If the dump or recycle center is full, why is it still open and Heckel and Jeckel are still getting paid. This is the McGibbony Road center. I have problems every time I go there. If the county can't get enough Dumpsters, they should close the ... thing. I'm not the only one who has problems there, either. Most people I encounter have the same issues I have. Newton County please do something. This has been going on for years!"