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We have been pleased that in these tough economic times that our locally elected officials in Covington, Social Circle and Newton County have tried their best to keep their budgets balanced without raising taxes and putting a further burden on the tax payers in those communities.

This week members of the Newton County Board of Education made one of those decisions that elected officials hope they never have to make. They approved more non-paid furlough days, requiring teachers to pay more of a deductible for some insurance benefits and decreasing the percent the system pays into the supplemental retirement plan beginning in October.

Also, summer school has been eliminated this year.

There was a concern by one of the board members that these cuts would hurt future recruitment. We doubt that would pose a problem because most school districts across the state are in the same predicament and have had to make even larger cuts.

These cuts and adjustments hurt, but teachers and other county and city officials are paid with tax revenue paid by local citizens. Some of our readers and neighbors are not as fortunate and many of the private companies they worked for — just as diligently as teachers and municipal employees — have downsized or boarded their doors leaving many without any income.

We are in the toughest economic times since the Great Depression. In Newton County alone this past year more than 4,000 homes have undergone foreclosure. It is imperative that we look out for each other; when we can, we should support our food banks, go through closets and donate unwanted items to the Salvation Army or any other group that collects such things.

We believe we can and we will make it through these times and just as what happened to our parents and grandparents, we will become stronger because of our experiences.

There may be even more cuts in store for our public servants before things improve, so prepare now. Save your money and do what people did in the good old days — enjoy your family, your neighbors and your community. If you do, you might find as Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz" did that there’s no place like home.