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Our Thoughts: Prom-on-the-square concerns are valid
Our Thoughts - OPINON

In our social media-driven culture, too often people read only a headline or the comments of others before forming their own opinions.

That seems to have happened int he wake of Mystic Grill owner Angie Beszborn taking concerns to the Covington City Council about promgoers and their parents clogging the streets around the downtown square.

Beszborn’s motives were questioned on The News’ Facebook page and elsewhere, which is unfair.

In case you missed the story online or on the front page, Beszborn visited the council on Monday to express concerns about the crowds filling the square in the hours before the Newton High School prom.

Parking was scarce — so scarce so that some people resorted to just stopping their cars in the streets around the square. That created a real public safety hazard. Also, it was a detraction from the businesses on what surely is the busiest night of the week for many.

City Council members, for the most part, seemed to understand.

Councilman Michael Whatley called it “almost a total disaster.”

Councilman Josh McKelvey agreed. He said Beszborn was describing something like a formal event, which would require a permit. We happen to agree the professional photographers who set up their large equipment definitely should pay some kind of day-use fee, just as a vendor setting up on the square during a festival would.

But no one has suggested making the students leave or depriving them of their special night.

We agree, this needs to be well planned out for 2019 proms of all three of the public schools in the Newton County School System.

Students deserve the right to be safe as they celebrate the big night, and the businesses should be able to stay open without the streets around them being blocked.

And if everyone — the school system, the businesses and the Police Department — works together between now and next prom season, it will ensure an event that is memorable for all the right reasons.

“We’re going to have to find a way to have a meeting of the minds with the school system,” Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams said. “If not, it’s going to look like we’re picking on one school. It’s going to have to be fair, just and equitable. And we need to look at that as soon as possible.”

We agree.

Beszborn did exactly what more citizens should. She saw an issue in the community and she brought it to the attention of our elected officials. Now, hopefully, next year will be a little smoother and safer for everyone concerned.

Our Thoughts is the opinion of The Covington News’ editorial board, which includes Editor and Publisher David Clemons and Managing Editor Jackie Gutknecht.