September 30, 2010 Issue


Former appraiser upset over termination

Dear Editor:

In response to help wanted in the tax assessor’s office. I must reply to this one!

What a slap in the face. Seems the BOA with the chief tax appraiser are looking to hire a new tax appraiser one position. I was hired in that position, took all required training, but failed my state exam. With that said, I was to retake it six months later, right? Wrong. Instead I got terminated. Why? Someone please tell me why, when county requirements said I could retake the test over. I even offered to pay my own expense for this.



You would think end of story, right? Wrong. As for one who was, I think wrongfully terminated, I must speak out!

Now, I want to say to the Jefferson County taxpayers, here is what you will be picking up the bill for: When she or he is hired 1. A physical must be done, a criminal background check (if hired) then they will work some and draw a paycheck until mandated training occurs. If they pass (as I did) then on to state certification test (which I did fail) and if they pass great!

Well, if they don’t, hmm, what then? Will the chief appraiser give them another chance (as I didn’t get to)?

Taypayers, beware! All I have to do is go and retake my state certification. As being terminated, now I’m not allowed to!

I am Mike Todd and I approve this message.

Mike Todd

County has pollution problems

Dear Editor:

Beautiful Jefferson County has lots of pollution problems with rivers, streams, groundwater, and contamination from land applied toxic Augusta sewage sludge as well as landfill leakage, and at least five industrial hazardous waste sites. This letter is to the students, their parents, and the Jefferson County School Board because you are the hope for change and the force for cleanup of your land, your waterways, and hopefully—you may be able to eat fresh fish caught in the Upper Ogeechee without ingesting deadly mercury.

The Ogeechee River is one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever seen and it is considered polluted or impaired by the US EPA and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The US Geological Survey just released a report showing that since 1990, rivers and streams in the Southeast have become more toxic with nitrogen and phosphorus. Data produced by Dr. Lynton Land states that sewage sludge applications have over 40 percent more phosphorus than needed for crops—not the commercial fertilizer most farmers use. Another source of over nutrient pollution is discharges of municipal waste water effluent directly into the rivers and streams. The excess nutrients cause algae growth (some extremely toxic to humans) as well as becoming part of the ground water withdrawn for some city water and home usage. Excess nitrogen could be toxic to you and especially for infants.

It is apparent that most adults have not shown an interest in protecting your environment, your heritage, or your precious rivers and streams. Georgia, like other Southeastern states, must protect its water sources (both groundwater and surface waters) from toxins from discharged industrial heavy metals, bacteria, chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides-or you will find your well water so contaminated—your family will be at risk from drinking this water or using water to irrigate food crops from rivers and streams that may contaminate the human food crops you want to grow.

Middle and High School students are stepping up and making a difference in communities nationwide and they get listened to by local and state governments, the EPA, and by state environmental protection departments. High School athletes found out that the county was planning to use the treated sewage water to irrigate all their athletic fields. When they found out that the water would not be tested for bacteria at the application site and that almost all waste water effluent contained antibiotic resistant bacteria (superbugs)—they went into action. By making posters listing all the names and phone numbers of the county commissioners and the county school board members as well as showing the EPA’s listing of the known bacteria in the waste water to be used for irrigation, the plan to call all school and county commissioners was put in place. The students asked parents, grandparents and relatives to call to prevent this action because they knew of students with the Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA and the damage this infection could do to athletes with scrapes or cuts and exposure to this type flesh eating bacteria. When they changed classes, all students called their assigned board or commissioners asking them to stop the irrigation plans and to protect student health. Within two days, the school board and the county commissioners issued a statement that they would never apply recycled sewage water effluent to playing fields at any county school.

Georgia Environmental Protection Division has a wonderful program called Georgia Project Water Education for Teachers or WET. This program includes Adopt-A-Stream (none in Jefferson County now for the Upper Ogeechee), Rivers Alive (for waterway cleanup events) and River of Words a K-12 Art and Poetry Program. With the known pollution of Jefferson County’s waterways, the most effective may be the Adopt-A-Stream program. Go to http://www.gaprojectwet.org/ to read all about the programs. Funding is available (most fund requests have to be submitted by December) from the EPA, US Fish & Wildlife Grants, EPA Environmental Education Grants at http:www.epa.gov/enviroed/grants/ga01.htm and the Captain Planet Foundation Grants (lots of Georgia schools have already received Captain Planet Grants ) see http://captainplanetfoundation.org/ for more information on funding. These programs are specifically for K-12 grades.

If you students are willing to monitor the bacteria, chemicals, biologicals, the wetlands, amphibians, report foam or other obvious water pollutions (by sight) in the Ogeechee or Rocky Comfort or other significant county waters and report the data to the Georgia EPD, you will take big steps to protect your future and sustainability of your water supply. The board of education and science teachers can participate in training sessions conducted by the University of Georgia-Athens (UGA) an associate sponsor of the program. The GA-EPD will make a visit to your school to help with the start-up of this program---and funding is available for this cause!

Want to find out if the air around your school or community is safe? Should there be a landfill, hazardous waste site, polluting industry, or land applied sewage sludge within two miles, you probably would want to become a member of the “Bucket Brigade.” By taking a five gallon plastic bucket lined with plastic and placing it around schools or in the neighborhood, you can find out if you are breathing in toxic chemicals or toxic metals. Again, funding is available for testing the air captured in the plastic bags and for the cost of the buckets (about $50 each). Read an article called “Passing the Bucket” or How The Five-Gallon Plastic Bucket Came To The Aid of Grassroots Environmentalists at http://wwwgrist.org/article/the19/PALL/

The results of these tests are accepted by the US-EPA and it is a powerful tool to get changes made within a community. Denny Larson, the inventor of the “Bucket” says, “People get so excited when they build the bucket, get the test results, and find out what they are breathing for the first time. Man, when they go after companies or regulators, you’d better not be in their way.”

Whether you know it or not—you have a powerful voice and YOU can make a difference in your health, the health of your family, and help bring back safe waterways and drinking water to your county. If you want to know more, please email me at fg325@aol.com Your beautiful county needs your voice and action now! More Georgia pollution information available on www.thewatchers.us

Nancy Holt
Mebane, NC

Write-in Dr. Howard Miller for state school superintendent

Dear Editor:

As an educator, I have not heard one candidate for state school superintendent express any strategies for achieving educational change and reform until I heard Dr. Howard Miller, Ph.D. speak at a press conference in Savannah. The day of the press conference was Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 2 pm. This event was held in Calhoun Square, across from the Massie School; historically, one of the first public schools built in Georgia. Dr. Miller announced his plans as write-in candidate to seek the office of state school superintendent of Georgia in the upcoming general election set for Tuesday, Nov. 2. He described himself as a “life-long educator” committed to educational excellence. Howard stated that his plan to improve the quality of education provided by our public schools to our student calls for the use of public referendums to be used to allow voters to vote to: 1. “de-monopolize” the Georgia Power Company, in order to ensure that the company does not maintain its monopoly on electricity production and the pricing of utility rates in Georgia, so to encourage competition between utility companies leading to reduced cost for electricity by individual consumers and small businesses;

2. “de-legalize” any proposed or existing laws that require balancing the state budget, where it involves cutting state funding to the state’s public schools;

3. “de-authorize” the use of different agencies or processes for granting approval for establishing charter schools, in order to allow school district voters to vote to approve charter schools; and

4. “de-politicize” the selection of members to the state board of education, in order to allow voters to elect such members in a non-partisan election.

After responding to series of questions, he encouraged voters to go to www.google.com review his website at www.millerforstateschoolsuperintendent.org for more about his plans to ensure that our public schools provide a quality, second to none, 21st Century public school education to all students across the state.

Ruth Falls


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