Dear Editor: Thank you to The Covington News for their investigative reporting on group homes in Newton County. The Covington News provided more answers than we have ever been able to acquire from either county commissioners or the Zoning Office. It appears that Newton County has opened a Pandora's box in regard to group homes.
Unless you have been personally affected by students living in a group home, you would not know that so many group homes exist in Newton County. When the first group home was started in our neighborhood, we were told that students would only be using the facility during the school day. Not only do students attend school there, but they also sleep and live in the group home for months.
These students are in group homes because of crimes they have committed. This, of course, is the reason of concern from neighbors. Now, three group homes later, questions are being answered.
In the meantime, my husband's truck was stolen by one of the students. It was later found abandoned in a ditch in DeKalb County. Numerous students have wandered into our yard and asked to use the telephone or have thrown out book bags and duffle bags while running away. Some students even followed our daughter home when she went for a jog. The purchase of these group homes has caused surrounding homes to depreciate in value. Citizens, who would have been an asset to Newton County, have moved to avoid these problems.
Children deserve a second chance in order to amend their behavior and learn how to make good choices. However, my suggestion for housing would be a dormitory with appropriate supervision by trained counselors, not in the middle of a neighborhood. Use appropriate zoning and the federal dollars currently being used to accomplish this.
Why do six juveniles need to live in a $350,000 home? Why do counselors require homes of their own to be built? Why don't these students, who have committed crimes, have to do community service?
I appreciate the efforts of The Covington News to answer some of these questions