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Focus on communication this spring
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Today is the first day of spring, marking a period of rebirth and renewal.

Tulips, dogwoods, azaleas, and Bradford Pears provide bursts of colors to the backdrop of green lawns sprinkled throughout Newton County. The natural artistry is a wonderful site to see.

All of that emerging beauty, though, comes with the price of pollen. That pollen is vital for the growth needed throughout the spring and summer. But it’s irritating to the eyes, leaves a stain of yellow everywhere and causes headaches (figuratively and literally).

Currently Newton County is in its own spring. It is going through a rebirth of its form of government, as the board of commissioners is trying to pass a new charter through the Georgia legislature.

A new form of government will set Newton County on a track to be led by a county manager following years of dealing with uncertain and unclear leadership. In 2011, the county switched from having its day-to-day operations run by the chair to run by a county manager.

However, that switch was based on job descriptions and appointments and never put into law.

The board of commissioners set things in motion for this rebirth when they sent a proposed enabling bill off to the Georgia legislature in early January.

Now, with change and renewal in site, some pollen has set in.

The bill for a new charter — Senate Bill 423 —was passed by the State Senate March 11 and was amended by the State House before being approved on Wednesday.

Those amendments have many in our community wondering “what now?” There are only two days remaining in the state legislature and the majority of Newton County’s five commissioners are not happy with the substitute bill.

The board of commissioners worked for months to finalize a document that was agreed upon by four of the five commissioners, a document that a citizen’s committee spent months developing recommendations for and that the county’s legal team spent months revising. This was a difficult but thorough process, a process that we believe should be honored.

Do not give up just because the pollen has made things messy.

The people of Newton County need to know that its governing body is moving forward with its renewal. Too long have the citizens (and employees) been clouded by pollen on the clear line of leadership in the county.

To get to that point, however, more communication and work is needed. Our local officials need to communicate with those at the state level. Officials need to communicate with each other to make sure everyone is on the same page – and the only acceptable page is that which is deemed best for the residents of Newton County by the majority consensus of the board of commissioners.

Several of our commissioners were surprised by the substitute bill. Why is that? Modifications to a bill is one thing – that’s somewhat to be expected when it comes to the legislative process. But the surprise to our officials here at home makes some question where the ones for this bill came from.

We need to learn from this to clear out the pollen from all lines of communication. Renewal and rebirth are not simple processes because they are based on change.

Change is going to happen, just as it does with each season. How we prepare for and respond to such change will either make us stronger in the end or just keep giving us headaches.