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Newton Citizen Poll for March 10, 2013

"Did the Newton County (School) Board members who were present for a 'public matter' -- that is ESPLOST -- on Tuesday night, March 5, violate the Open Meetings Act of the state of Georgia? There was a quorum present at the meeting and they spoke out on a 'public matter.' Did they plan this? Did they know there would be a quorum? Here is what the law defines as a meeting and it requires notice to the public: 'Meeting means: (i) The gathering of a quorum of the members of the governing body of an agency at which any official business, policy, or public matter of the agency is formulated, presented, discussed, or voted upon; or (ii) The gathering of a quorum of any committee of the members of the governing body of an agency or a quorum of any committee created by the governing body at which any official business, policy, or public matter of the committee is formulated, presented, discussed, or voted upon.'"----"A few weeks ago a person who visited Madison commented favorably about the appearance of Madison. Last week I went there and drove up their main drag, 441. I used to drive there regularly from 2002 until 2007. And I must say what a pleasant transformation has taken place in the last six years and made a very nice impression on me and my wife. A lot of well-kept 'greenery' (grass and trees) between the highway and stand-alone businesses and strip centers), business facades with a consistent look, business signage controls, the downtown area (square) seemed very welcoming and seemed to be busy. Madison is now projecting a very warm and friendly image compared to what I recall from '02 to '07. I asked a business owner in Madison when did this transformation take place. He said it started slowly in 2005 as the city based codes for new businesses and existing businesses to follow when they did any remodeling or expansion. And I noticed that there were a couple businesses in Madison that relocated there from Covington -- one was a customer of mine but now much larger. Today, I drove on 278 from 142 to Turner Lake area and took notice of what image Covington might be projecting to first-time visitors, as first impressions are often very lasting. Here is what I saw, at the intersection of 278 and Covington Bypass -- a large empty building (old Walmart) and four closed business on the other side; on the southeast corner a viable business that the grass needs cutting (maybe 6" high); on the northwest corner an empty lot with a lot of trash and it has been awhile since someone used a lawn mower on that lot; a little further down at the intersection of Hazelbrand and 278 a couple of businesses on each side of Hazelbrand need to fire up a lawnmower. As you drive up further on 278 one gets the impression they have found the 'Whitman's Sampler' of fast food restaurants; and a mecca of predatory-type lending businesses, used tire dealers and 'We Tote the Note' used car/truck dealers, some tacky" advertising signage (those triangle shaped ones) and almost a drug store on every corner etc. My reason is not to put down Newton County or the city of Covington but the city, county and chamber need to get their act together to improve the image. There is a lot of talk and concern about all those Baxter International execs moving in the area and they might not come to Newton County or the city of Covington. Well, I ask how many big dollar execs are projected to come? And if the competition is coming from surrounding areas (Conyers, Social Circle, Madison or beyond), how does Covington stack up to the competition. Remember first impressions are important and convenience of living (shopping, eating out -- other than fast food and Waffle Houses) is important. And, hopefully, there will be other companies like Baxter looking at Newton County for a potential home. Remember perception is everything. I worked for a company here in Covington that employed 250, only one of the top level execs lived in Covington, four lived in Atlanta (Buckhead), the other in Conyers. When we had sales meetings with corporate field sales staff (usually once a quarter) and training programs for dealer sales staff (again once per quarter) we always went to Conyers or Atlanta for group dinners -- once we went to the Blue Willow in Social Circle. FYI: this company relocated after 12 years of being in Covington to a neighboring state -- South Carolina."----"Has anybody but me noticed that since the completion of the '278 road improvement project' that all the speed limit signs on 278 from the Covington Bypass Road intersection to Highway 11 have been removed? There used to be limits of 45 mph (near the old Wal-Mart area) and 55 mph the rest of the way. And the rules of the road say that if you don't see a speed limit sign, the speed limit is based on the last sign you saw. That is fine if you were traveling on 278 which is posted 45 through the main drag. But for someone turning off the Bypass Road to go eastbound on 278 it becomes a SWAG. Hmmm! Guess GDOT and/or Newton County forgot something (this was a jointly funded project) and there are a number of accidents and many skid marks left in this area especially near Peachtree Academy."----"The timing is wrong for an education SPLOST. Our schools are not performing even at state levels in some cases and the state is at the bottom in the country. This is not an attack or blame on teachers. If SPLOST can be redone by lawmakers to use SPLOST to support classroom teachers and their salaries and benefits, then I think I can support that and our students will learn more. Teachers are stressed to the max and that does not make the best situation for student achievement. Newton County is in the top five of highest millage rates in the state and has some of the lowest graduation rates so common sense says you don't add money to that mix especially when that money cannot support classroom instruction. Look at the millions of dollars our schools get for being so high on free/reduced lunch. Millions of dollars for technology and Smart Boards and iPads for assistant principals and what is the result? Not an improvement that we can see in student achievement on a large scale, so at this time I think the timing is wrong and the school board should go back to the drawing board."----"Obama's attitude of 'my way or the highway' proves he is a narcissist. He is not open to any ideas that are not his. How sad that those Americans who voted him in for a second term were so blind to his true agenda. Anyone who believes that he honestly cares about each and every American is not rational. Another four years of the same or worse is disheartening. The 'take care of me for doing nothing' mentality is what Obama has instilled in so many people's minds. When the money finally runs out -- and it will -- these same people are not going to know how to cope. They are like little children, who expect Daddy (Obama) to take care of their every needs. Wake up people and smell the real roses! Learn how to take care of yourselves for a change. Stop being takers!"

Comments

FishyFishy 1 year, 1 month ago

Well, this is just a big mess! Spaces please?

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dennistay53 1 year, 1 month ago

The quorum of school board members may have also broke election laws. By law you can't extend resourses to push SPLOST. I consider School Board members school resourses. When they got up and made comments about items in SPLOST that were debated for an hour and half- this may be a problem- that is why the law requires them to get citizen to push their agenda. It's not right for a citzen to debate against this for and hour and a half then have a quorum of school board try to shoot him down at the tail end of the meeting when it can't be rebutted. If they are going to allow this then put them in the forum so they can be rebutted . The secretary of state election division will have to make a decision on whether any election laws were violated. I don''t believe they have the right to attempt to sway votes in this manner and possibly an election.

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momofone 1 year, 1 month ago

There are speed limits signs coming from Highway 11 to the Covington Bypass area and they are listed at 55, so I guess one side of the road is one speed and the other side of the road is the other speed? It has been a mess for a long time now.

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

momofone, Here is an update for your as of today, 03.11, there is exactly one 55 mph speed sign posted from on 278 from Hwy 11 traveling west & it is posted about 150 yards from Hwy 11. The next speed limit sign (45 mph) is near Mill Street just before the stop light. Here are the issues with this 1.) Prior to the construction there used to be a 45 mph sign near the City of Covington City Limit sign just prior to the Covington By Pass to slow folks down as the are coming into a congested area , now they can rock 'n roll up to Mill street. So per the DDS manual - if you haven't seen a Speed Limit sign for a while then you are to travel the speed of the last posted sign or 55 mph up to Mill street 2. ) anyone entering 278 and going west after that one lonely sign, say off of Dixie Road or 142 have no clue as to what the speed limit is.

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Shart15 1 year, 1 month ago

@Dennistay - you need to contact the attorney general Sam Olens to see if one of his lawyers can give you his ideas on this. If a quorum meets like this and public matters are discussed then I think you may be right but I do not know that Brian Kemp's office handles this - try AG Sam Olens. The school system will tell you until they are blue in the face that they do not break laws but they have had illegal meetings in the last year as we know.

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dennistay53 1 year, 1 month ago

shart15 some of us met today to discuss this as well as what else we could do to push a no on the SPLOST. We will get the attorney generals office involved. What concerns us the most is this. We could get the votes to win but lose the election. There want be poll watchers because neither party has a candidate running. We're trying to address this as well as how to organize a taxpayer group for future issues which will come in Newton County.

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sweetpotato 1 year, 1 month ago

Im still trying to figure out why people think that the City Council & Board of Commissioners have something to do with the type restaurants and stores we have. People ......the demographics, household incomes, crime rate etc , will determine who comes here. These restaurants and stores have people that find places for them and they know what they are looking for. The City Council and BOC cannot be held responsible for that. Theres a time when people felt like we might be the next Gwinnett but were most likley going to become the next Clayton. Until the west side of the county is brought under control, crime wise, and the people here start electing qualified people to serve on boards and commissions and not voting for somebody just because they "seem like a nice person". Until things like that happen were headed downhill.

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Lucy30016 1 year, 1 month ago

100% on the money. We need a school board who uses proper grammar badly.

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

Shouldn't your sentence be written - We badly need a school board that uses grammar properly or .......board members who use proper grammar.

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Lucy30016 1 year, 1 month ago

You got me there John! I went to Newton High as you can tell.

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

LOL, but I do agree certain people do use "proper grammar badly" . And some times I let my slip show too - I am actually a very good speller but can't type worth a flip. I always persuaded my girlfiends into typing any required type written paper for school.

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will 1 year, 1 month ago

sweetpotato you hit the nail on the head with your comment. Look at the demographics in this county would you invest here? The city council is a joke, it votes along racial lines most of the time. Stop looking at race when you make a vote and I almost forgot Mike who is better known as flip flop, always flips on his vote. Then there is Chris and Keith, have they ever not voted the same. Then we have the 3 ladies that only worry about race. The mayor has done a good job, best mayor we've had in years. Please vote for what is best for the city not just a group of people. You are correct on the western side, its a war zone ghetto. I would like to see a City council and BOC that has the nerve to see and say where this area is headed and get their heads out of the sand. This county also needs to stop letting one or two families, that are related, run this county. Its time to take our county back!!!

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

The Council & Commissions have a whole lot to do about what type of restaurants that come here. The voters of NC said we want to have liqour by the glasses. BUT with all the restrictions place by the City Fathers & Commissioners, no business could qualify except for a couple on the west end of the county thsi was clearly reported by the Newton Citiszen on this site. Isn't that strange???. The job, for the City & County now is to yet "again" review these restrictions and the "overlays" (what every that might be) to relax the these restrictions. From here, it looks like someone(s) might be dragging their feet slower that buggy pushers at Krogers on Wednesdays.

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shawty 1 year ago

Uhh those two entity's are SUPPOSED to entice and make comfortable potential new businesses. Nice job to both of them, they never seem to succeed at that....

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RetiredGuy 1 year, 1 month ago

For the sake of my eyes, use paragraphs!

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Covingtonian 1 year, 1 month ago

The paper will not put readers comments in paragraphs to save space and cost I guess. The citizen poll is another matter, I have seen comments in paragraphs in the past.

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

This happens periodically. Someone feel asleep at the wheel or it was just too close to go home time & didn't want to double check their work before they left for the weekend.

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GetInvolved 1 year, 1 month ago

I too noticed the lack of property maintenance and excessive number of signs at numerous businesses along Hwy. 278. It is really disappointing to see so many unsightly properties & temporary signs along a major entry in to our community. I encourage everyone to drive along Hwy. 278 and to view each business as if you are a vistor to our community. Inform the City Council of your thoughts and suggestions for improvement to this area. Remember... First impressions are very important!

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SaveEastsideHigh 1 year, 1 month ago

SAVE EASTSIDE HIGH SCHOOL. IF YOU CARE ABOUT EASTSIDE HIGH SCHOOL YOU WILL VOTE NO NO NO NO NO ON SPLOST. SEND THIS BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD BUT KEEP EASTSIDE HIGH OUT OF IT. IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE AT EASTSIDE WHO IS REGISTERED TO VOTE BEG THEM TO GET TO THE POLLS EARLY THIS WEEK THROUGH FRIDAY AND KILL THIS SPLOST.

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fiddlegal 1 year, 1 month ago

If you vote NO on ESPLOST, then you will NOT be supporting teachers and instruction. The ESPLOST money will be used for maintaining/improving technology and facilities. If you vote NO, the money will come from the general budget severely impacting classrooms.

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shawty 1 year ago

take the money out of your administrators salary. leave the public wallets alone for a change!

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dennistay53 1 year, 1 month ago

Voting NO on March 19th takes nothing from the school or teachers. It's kinda like this. We gave them a test by letting them write the referendrum. They failed the test. We are telling them to do better by rewriting it and send it back to us Nov 2014 for another vote. Current SPLOST doesn't run out until Dec 31 2014 midnight. SPLOST can and does lead to Teacher layoffs if it is not used right. This is the 3rd 5 year run of SPLOST and teachers have been laid off during this time. SPLOST can only be used to build facilities. General funds have to be used for maintenance and staffing such as teachers as well as taking care of the facility being replaced. So if we replace Eastside before we have to additional staffing will come out of the General Fund.

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