Barrow discusses rural issues
By Bonnie K. Sargent
Congressman John Barrow (D-12) visited the area on Tuesday, Feb. 22, as part of his 2011 Rural Listening Tour.
The Rural Listening Tour is something Barrow said he tries to do every year to hear the issues that face the rural areas and the opinions of the constituents who live there.
“Most of the folks I represent come from counties like Jefferson County,” he said.
Barrow said at least 60 percent of the people he represents live in rural areas.
More than 30 citizens attended the meeting in Jefferson County, which was held at the Agriculture Extension Office on U.S. Highway 1 in Louisville. The meeting lasted from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. It was the seventh stop on Barrow’s tour which consisted of nine counties, with stops in Candler, Emanuel, Evans, Glascock, Jefferson, Screven, Tattnall, Treutlen and Warren. Barrow also visited farms and other facilities during the tour.
Barrow started the meeting in Louisville by introducing himself to each person and shaking hands with every individual. He thanked everyone for taking the time to come out and caring enough to do so.
Barrow said rural areas face some of the same issues that he hears about everywhere and some that are unique to rural areas. He invited everyone to come forth and present their questions or concerns.
The first citizen to pose a question asked if Barrow knew anything about a radical Muslim cleric who was planning to come to the United States to hold a rally in front of the White House.
Barrow said he hadn’t heard anything about this. The citizen said it had been all over the news and the internet. He also said the cleric did not have permission to hold a rally in front of the White House. Another citizen confirmed that it had been on Fox News that morning. The first citizen said that the Muslim cleric had been imprisoned in the United Kingdom and was now planning to come to America.
“He wants to kill Americans and put a Muslim flag on the White House,” said the citizen.
“You can’t have a rally in front of the White House without permission,” Barrow said. “We have people with guns who are good at what they do.”
Another citizen stood up to thank Barrow on the behalf of the City of Wrens for Barrow’s help and his office’s help. Barrow then introduced some of his staff members who were present at the meeting, Cynthia Ross Owens, Cris Cashman and Hill Thomas.
The citizen then asked Barrow about the price increase of crude oil and gasoline and inquired if there were any plans being discussed in Washington regarding this. Barrow said that real interruptions in the oil supply would affect the price of gasoline, but what is happening now is that people are speculating on the future impacts of today’s trouble and that is what is causing the price spikes.
Barrow said he is optimistic that the unrest in the Middle East won’t affect our nation’s supply and demand too greatly, but he does think we should cut ourselves off of the world’s oil supply.
“It makes us depend upon the kindness of strangers for something that is vital to our economy,” he said.
Barrow said that people have to realize that there is such a thing as peak oil and that the earth’s oil supply will run out eventually and we will need to create new sources of energy.
Barrow said he thinks that when the speculators realize that it is not as bad as they thought it was going to be, the prices will go back down. He also said he thinks there needs to be brakes, or regulations, on the price increases of oil. He said there used to be regulations for it but there aren’t anymore.
Another citizen then posed a question about Barrow’s stance on the health care bill. Barrow said he thinks it is constitutional but unwise.
“I think that it is constitutional,” he said. “I think the founding fathers gave us permission to do stupid things and make mistakes.”
One citizen asked Barrow why he changed his vote regarding the bill, saying that first he did not vote for it but the second time did not vote to repeal it.
Barrow said he changed his vote because a lot changed in the nine months between the first vote and the vote to repeal. Barrow said that not all parts of the bill are wrong.
“There are some good things in the bill,” he said. “There are sweeteners to make people want to vote for it.
“I thought we could have gotten a better deal,” Barrow said. “A lot of members just saw the sweeteners.”
Barrow said he thinks they are stuck with the bill for at least another two years.
“We have time to fix it, fight it, repeal it,” he said.
One citizen inquired why things are pushed through when no one really understands them. Barrow said he was on one of the committees that did the homework for the bill and explained the process behind it. Barrow said he thought the citizen did have a good point. He said if the public doesn’t understand it enough to support it, then what is the point of passing it?
Another citizen then brought up the subject of Medicare and Medicaid, wanting to know why good doctors with private practices were going out of business and how many more they are going to lose. Barrow said one of his number one beefs he had was how Medicare providers in different states were affected differently. He said providers in Georgia were affected differently than the ones in California.
Barrow discussed different issues about Medicare. He said there is no budget for Medicare.
“I don’t think we can micromanage that from Washington and that’s our problem,” he said.
He said he thinks privatizing Medicare is a bad way to put it on a budget.
On his website Barrow said that as they continue to work on health reform he will fight for a bill that ends the practice of denying health insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions, vote to prohibit insurance companies from raising premiums when someone gets sick, make sure that folks in rural communities get access to the same quality health care as folks in the city and fight for affordable, quality health care for all Georgians. More information on Barrow’s stance on health care and other issues can be found on his website at http://barrow.house.gov.
One citizen posed a question about retirement. Barrow said the Georgia’s retirement system is better than some of the others but it is not in tiptop shape. Barrow said Georgia’s retirement fund is about 85 percent funded while some others are only around 55 percent funded.
Barrow said that his staff members are the problem solvers, the fixers, and for anyone with a specific problem to sign up with them and hopefully they could make some calls and help people.
Barrow said that Congress is out for a week and that is what gave him the opportunity to do the 2011 Rural Listening Tour. He said that every time they get a break he tries to visit rural areas to hear from the people he represents and will continue to do so.
With “Belles” on
The Schoolhouse Players will open the 2011 season at the Bartow Community Center with the classic comedy “Belles on Their Toes,” the sequel to “Cheaper by the Dozen,” an audience favorite when presented by The Schoolhouse Players in 2009.
This play follows the tale of the real-life Gilbreth family, of Montclair, N.J., in the 1920s. A myriad of mix-ups occur when Mother has to go to Europe for six weeks, attempting to carry on her late husband’s business in order to earn enough money to keep the family together.
The oldest three Gilbreth girls take a no-date pledge, the kids brew their own root beer, the boys get wholesale haircuts, and a room is rented, all to help conserve family finances.
What could possibly go wrong with the children trying to run the house along with a handyman who cooks lamb “rangoon” and diagnoses chicken pox as the hives? Meanwhile a meddling cousin Leora seems to be an agent for the devil, bent on splitting up the family. It’s all good-hearted fun, and is appropriate for audiences of all ages.
Charles Lewis is the director for this play that is appropriate for audiences of all ages. Playing the Gilbreth children are Lindsey Siegel of Augusta and Jefferson County High School, Averi Davis of Bartow, Rachel Watson of Louisville, Zeb Weeks of Wrens, Sam Walters of Louisville, Skylar Holt of Louisville, Evans Hodges of Louisville, Mary Harrison of Louisville, Wallee Kersey of Swainsboro, and Mary Will Hodges of Louisville.
Several familiar and some new performers to the Bartow stage, all gifted actors, complete the cast of characters in the Gilbreth saga. Rosie Burge of Bartow is the matriarch of the clan. Other cast members are Jodi Jarvis and Jim Jarvis of Swainsboro, Jerry Cofer of Louisville, Richard Deitrich of Wrightsville, Matt Hodges of Louisville, A.J. Oglesby of Wadley, and Matthew Hobbs of Avera.
The BookWorm on Broad Street in Louisville is the sponsor for this production. Sponsorship allows this regional performing arts group to stage entertainment that few small town theaters can achieve. The support of local businesses helps make it possible for the Schoolhouse Players to bring quality plays to this area.
The six performances of “Belles on Their Toes” will show at the Bartow Community Center on March 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20. For reservations, call (478) 364-3340. Individual tickets are $10 for each adult and $5 for children 12 and under. Prepaid groups of 12 or more are discounted $1 per ticket. The Schoolhouse Players invite everyone to support your local hometown favorite actors and enjoy this evening of family fun at the best little playhouse in Georgia.
Polls open Tuesday for BOE SPLOST, Wrens council
By Carol McLeod
Voters throughout Jefferson County will go to the polls Tuesday, March 15, to vote for or against a referendum for a 1-percent Special Projects Local Option Sales Tax to be used solely for education in the county.
If passed, this SPLOST, brought before the voters by the county’s board of education, will pick up when the current education SPLOST expires next July.
“This is not an additional tax,” Jefferson County School Board Superintendent Molly Howard said in an interview last month.
“This is not another 1 cent on top of what we’re already doing,” she said.
The school system has relied on state and federal funding in the past but much of that revenue has been cut in the past year.
Howard has said the board will use funds from the SPLOST, if it passes, to continue with capital improvements and to keep the roofs on the schools maintained and in good order.
“The first thing we do is the bond indebtedness. That’s first and foremost,” she said.
In a statement issued Tuesday, March 8, Howard stressed the importance that taxpayers in the area know this SPLOST is not an additional tax but an extension of the current 1-cent sales tax.
“Also, ESPLOST allows everyone to share the cost of maintaining our buildings and not allowing this expense to rest on the backs of property owners alone,” she stated.
“Everyone who buys in Jefferson County, citizens and visitors, will contribute the same,” she said.
In Wrens, voters will be selecting from among four candidates who qualified to fill the unexpired term of Willie Huntley, who resigned recently.
Candidates for Huntley’s seat are Bill Newsome, Miriam E. Jenkins, Michelle Weatherford and Herman Wright. The person elected will serve until Dec. 31, 2013, when Huntley’s term expires, said Wrens City Administrator Arty Thrift.
Thrift said only registered voters in the city limits of Wrens are eligible to vote in the council election. They will also be eligible to vote in the SPLOST referendum; but, the voters who live outside the city limits and vote at the Wrens polling station will vote only on the SPLOST, he said.
“There will be polling workers there to limit confusion,” Thrift said.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
“We want to encourage every registered voter to vote,” Thrift said.
County to hold Clean-Up Day
The Jefferson County Commissioners/Landfill Department and the Jefferson County Library System are sponsoring the annual Spring Clean-Up Day for the county on Saturday, March 26.
All residential waste can be taken to the Jefferson County Landfill between 8 a.m.-3 p.m. The landfill is located at 1691 Mennonite Church Road, Stapleton. There will be no charge for items with the exception of tires. The charge per tire ranges from $2 per tire to $150 per ton. For questions, contact the landfill at (478) 625-1221.
At the same time electronic items will be accepted for recycling in the parking lot of the Hillcrest Fire Rescue Department, 2655 Mennonite Church Road, Stapleton.
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This is an opportunity to clean out all the old electronic equipment that is being stored. There is no charge for items such as computers, computer parts, printer, scanners, copy machines, fax machines, radios, tape players, telephones, power cables, routers, etc. Televisions may also be recycled, but there is a charge of $10 for each television.
For information about other items, contact the landfill at (478) 625-1221 or the library at (478) 625-3751.