BOC adopts plan to help non-English speakers

COVINGTON -- Commissioners recently approved a federally mandated program to assist those doing business with the county who speak, write or understand limited English.

As a recipient of federal funds, the county is required to adopt a Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Plan under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Newton is required to provide these services for Spanish language speakers, based on estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008-2010 American Community Survey indicating that 3.6 percent of the county's population speak Spanish or Spanish-Creole, which is considered a significant proportion of the population. Of those, 49 percent are reported as speaking English less than very well.

The extent of the county's obligations to provide LEP services is determined by four factors: the number or proportion of LEP persons eligible or likely to be served by the departments of the BOC; the frequency with which LEP persons come in contact with county departments; importance of the activities of the BOC to people's lives; and the county's resources and expected costs to implement the plan.

Because contact with LEP persons is currently infrequent and due to budget restrictions, the county will implement the LEP plan in phases, starting with providing access to Language Line Services, an over-the-phone interpretation service. The line will be used on an as-needed basis at a cost of $3.29 per minute. Department heads will be trained on how to use the service.

The county will also post notices on its website and in county departments alerting Spanish speakers of LEP services and have language assistance cards available in each department. As funding is available or the need arises, key documents will be translated into Spanish.

"As we go forward with the implementation of the program, we do have county staff that will be helping with special language needs, such as Spanish notices and translation as needed," said County Manager John Middleton.

Commissioner Tim Fleming said the mandate "gives me a little heartburn."

Fleming said that even though people like to call federal grants free money "it's not -- it's taxpayers (money). There are so many strings attached it ends up costing states and local governments more money in the end."

Fleming said that given that English is the official language of the state of Georgia, it should be the same for the county.

"It gives me heartburn to think the federal government is going to push these regulations on us ... I don't think it's fair to the citizens of this state or this county," he said.

The LEP plan was approved 3 to 1 with Fleming opposed. Commissioner Mort Ewing was absent.


Frustrated 3 years, 3 months ago

Fleming gets a little heartburn? Seriously? Thats the best you can come up with? Mort wasnt there to put words in your mouth like a ventriloquist I guess. And JC..guess you had to vote with the majority since Mort wasnt there to tell you how to vote.


dennistay53 3 years, 3 months ago

Any in the county illegal should be taught only a few words in english- you are under arrest- or you must go home.


MarkB 3 years, 3 months ago

Citizens of Newton County, Our problem is not the limited number of latins in our county learning english, it is the tsunami of American thugs invaiding us from Rockdale and DeKalb Counties. Read the news! Pizza Hut, Waffle House, Kay's... Come on! These thugs are not Mexicans!


HonestAbe 3 years, 3 months ago

The thug problem will only get worse as good homeowners begin to see that there home values are not comming back and begin to short sale and move out of the county. Good citizens will move away and more and more thugs will move in. They already out number law enforcement, and it will be a long, long, time before Newton County tax base will allow for hiring more law enforcement. These thugs already have their guns that they poke in the face of our businsess owners and home owners. There is a way to combat this. All law abiding citizens need to get their own guns and learn the proper way to use them. When these thugs point their guns in your face you need to be able to point back. I even believe the board of commissioners should pass an ordinance requiring all law abiding citizens to own a gun.


56vick 3 years, 3 months ago

We must teach them to say u wanna sum METH senor ????


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