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Humility for the greater good
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Leadership is easy when everyone agrees with you, when money is abundant, and when the decisions you face have simple answers. Real life, however, is seldom that easy. Newton County voters elected five commissioners and me as chairman to serve as the Board of Commissioners to work together as a group to set the policy to lead this great county. My job is to follow that policy in the day-to-day administration.

You expect us to check our egos at the door and to work as a team, educating ourselves, finding the facts and making the decisions that serve the best interests of all Newton County. You did not elect us to bring our personal agendas into the board room to benefit only a chosen few.

This year, we have heard rhetoric about communication, respect and trust with fingers pointed at each other. But the truth is we must first point the finger at ourselves. Before we can blame others, we must first be accountable for our own actions. We are only human. I am as guilty as anyone. All of us have made missteps, and none are perfect.

Communication is a two-way street. It requires effort from all parties involved. One must be willing to listen and to share openly and honestly his or her thoughts and concerns. Respect will be given on faith, but it will be earned and maintained by the actions we take and the respect we give to those around us.

Trust is earned by building strong relationships with one another. This is determined not only by our words, but our daily actions. We must keep the promises we make and honor our commitments.

Last but not least, we must be willing to turn over control and to compromise to achieve the greater good. These are not easy tasks for anyone, and extremely difficult for six strong-minded, self-confident individuals to achieve. We must be less concerned with who receives the credit and more concerned with achieving the best result for our county. The Board of Commissioners is a great team when we work together. Once a decision has been made, the entire team must support that decision to be successful. The voters had faith that each of us would work together as a team to lead our county forward.

We have faced many challenges this year, and the decisions have been difficult, but we have hammered out solutions by working together so that the citizens of this county become the winners, not us. When we allowed personal agendas to influence our actions, it has created division and invited chaos, and no one was served. The citizens of Newton County have been watching carefully.

Leadership, honesty, trust, respect, faith, integrity, communication, compromise…. these are all qualities that build a good team. As elected officials, we are held to a higher standard. We must all strive to obtain these traits and work together to serve you, the citizens of Newton County.

P.S.: A Nov. 6, 2009, Letter to the Editor of this publication contained several incorrect statements regarding county policy and business. Gaithers Plantation is a county facility managed and maintained through the chairman’s office per county policy, as are all county-owned facilities unless otherwise specified by the BOC. The BOC votes on major decisions. The "Friends of Gaithers Committee" is a volunteer committee, not a 501(c)3 with members countywide. They work to help maintain the facility and preserve our agricultural heritage. They also raise funds to help the BOC pay for maintenance costs. Due to his integrity, Commissioner Mort Ewing and his wife, Faye, resigned from this committee when he was elected to office to avoid any conflict of interest.

The proposed Neighborhood Stabilization Project proposed at Fairview Estates does comply with the federal and state guidelines as outlined for this grant program. The passive community park (green space) will be managed and maintained by the Newton County Recreation Department.

We have requested input from the homeowners of this neighborhood as to the design of the park within the budget allowed. Newton County will enforce the zoning regulations which require land to be provided to the Homeowners Association per the development plan. Newton County will not provide the construction of any amenities for the Homeowners Association.

Kathy Morgan is the chairman of the Newton County Board of Commissioners