I was elected, like all district commissioners, by voters from their particular district. I am the senior member serving on the Newton County Board of Commissioners and I have learned much over these 13 years. The most important thing I have learned is to listen to my constituents. I believe you should not only listen to your constituents, but you should hold public information meetings, walk the streets and talk to the people in the district. Once all the information is put together, I believe you should do the will of the people you represent.
Regarding the Nelson Heights Community Center, I was asked by my constituents to work to get a tutorial program started for the children, a soup kitchen (to be opened from noon to 2 p.m. daily) to feed the people in the county who may not have anything to eat, to have a safe place where the children could go and have fun, for example, an adult chaperoned dance. Also, to offer affordable rental fees so that the citizens could use the building.
I serve as the liaison from the commissioners to the recreation commission and I know that the 2005 Recreation Master Plan was to move the City Park from Jefferson Street because when it rains the park becomes a pond, which is very dangerous.
At our regular commission meeting on Sept. 15, 2009, I made a motion to request the recreation commission look at running the community center. At the next recreation commission meeting this was supposed to be considered. At that meeting a PowerPoint presentation was made and along with higher rental fees, it was stated/written that the recreation commission, of which I have been a member for 13 years, said that they did not want the Nelson Heights, Green Acres Community, the 501c3 or J.C. Henderson, the district four commissioner, to have anything to do with the community center.
At the next board of commissioners meeting (you mentioned in your editorial) I asked that my motion be rescinded because I was not going to be a part of something that did not include the people of the community. These people, along with their elected leadership, should be a part of making decisions for something in their own community.
Gaither Plantation, 100+ acres, paid for with SPLOST funds, has a county employee living on the grounds to help keep up the plantation. There is also a Friends of Gaither's committee that is set-up to run Gaither's. Some of the members live in the first district and they serve on the committee along with the district one commissioner, allowing the leadership of district one and residents of the district to help run Gaither Plantation.
So the question we must ask ourselves is why is it the board of commissioners does not want the people who live in district four and the district four commissioner to be a part of the committee to help run the Nelson Heights Community Center?
Before I close, I would like to mention the Fairview Community located in district three. The Fairview Community is being worked with to form a Home Owners Association to build a community public park within a subdivision. This park will be maintained by the recreation department and run by the Home Owners Association which will be made up of Fairview citizens. So, again, why is it that in district four the same rights are not being offered to the community? It feels like these rights have been taken away in district four.
In closing, The Newton County Board of Commissioners along with the Recreation Commission, should be working together to make sure that all people are treated equally and fairly.