I am somewhat dismayed by the efforts of Newton County’s leadership to change the mailing address of Baxter International.
Why would Newton County leaders go to all that trouble and cause so much inconvenience for so many households to change their zip code to avoid the name of what we consider as “Georgia’s Greatest Little Town?”
The name “Social Circle” connotes a charming, historic city and it is unique in many ways. The National Geographic “Atlas of the World” lists nine other states with a city named “Covington,” but there’s only one “Social Circle.”
When we travel abroad, we are often taken back by foreign travel agents who recall Social Circle as the home of the Blue Willow Inn.
In fact, a number of years ago the Chancellor of Germany actually went out of his way to eat there!
We’ve had inquiries from newly hired and prospective Baxter employees interested in our community, for one thing because of our independent school system.
Social Circle City Schools has a student population of only about 1,800 students and only one each of primary, elementary, middle and high schools. Children are likely to receive more individualized attention in a smaller school system than in one with thousands of students.
In the most recent comparison of graduation rates, even under the new cohort calculation method, Social Circle percentages exceed both the state’s and Newton County’s.
Social Circle also has a strong economic base with such major industries as Standridge Color, Dart/Solo Cup and General Mills to name a few.
Our progressive city government allows us to enjoy lower taxes and a lower crime rate, contributing greatly to our quality of life.
We also have many opportunities for our citizens to get involved as volunteers or participants in our many community activities and events.
Why is it necessary to cause so many people the inconvenience of changing their mailing addresses and risk the loss of personal mail, billing and bank statements, and even payroll checks that may go astray?
Because our addresses are electronically recorded in so many places, a change of address may disrupt or postpone the receipt of medications, catalogue orders, magazines and newsletters or other items we count on receiving through the mail.
It may adversely affect post office personnel having to reroute or return items of personal mail.
An address change may also seriously impact small businesses and medical providers in getting their payments on time.
The unintended consequences of this are horrendous. As a former elected official, I cannot understand the logic in creating such problems for Newton County residents.
We believe Baxter International is more a part of the Social Circle community than Covington. Geographically, the Baxter plant is much closer to Social Circle than to Covington — it’s just across the highway from our city boundary.
Even more significant is the fact that Walton County, including Social Circle, is, has been and will be a full partner in investing, attracting and supporting Baxter’s location at Stanton Springs and this support will continue into the future.
So we are not asking for something for nothing.
Finally, I fail to see how anyone would benefit from this address change, including Baxter International, except to satisfy the parochial interests of a few.
Furthermore, those of us initially involved in the formation of the four-county Stanton Springs industrial park, which was a collaborative effort, would never have envisioned such a conflict over an address or a grab for prominence by one of its members.
Jim Burgess is the former mayor of Social Circle.