The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

September 30, 2012

Letters to the Editor 9/30/12


The News Courier



The News Courier encourages letters to the editor. Submissions should be no more than 400 words and should include a name, address and telephone number for verification. Submissions that do not meet requirements are subject to editing. Send letters by noon on Thursdays to P.O. Box 670, Athens, AL, 35613, or email to kelly@athensnews-courier.com.

City needs performance reporting

Dear Editor:


I have taken the opportunity to attend City Council meetings and work sessions and have learned firsthand, as a tax-paying citizen, that the city of Athens provides very cost-effective and excellent service. To support an expanded visibility of this performance, I suggest the city provide a regularly scheduled report to its citizens on a semi-annual basis. Reporting would be developed and defined by district — 1 through 5 — and published, including a summary rollup at the city level.

The report would contain status regarding past and current performance on a variety of subject areas. Reporting could include such areas as: planned expenditures vs. current operating budgets; status regarding future planned and current significant projects; the type and volume of services provided plus future projections; operational and administrative cost savings and efficiencies, current and future economic development plans as applicable and available, and miscellaneous items such as plans and progress toward future disaster recovery planning.

Last, but not least, reporting on specific community needs and the city’s activities in association with teaming with the Limestone County Commission and our state congressional representatives. Reporting would reflect current operations as well as future plans, goals and objectives and provide a status regarding each of them.

Reports would have a standard format and include a predetermined set of subject areas and items and, as applicable, be directly related to each specific district. A separate section would report on the Athens citywide actions and services.

Based upon a set schedule, the reporting process would start within each city department, administrative area, commission, board, etc. Individuals assigned to the task would generate their report, which would then be reviewed, edited and rolled up to the next higher level and include the citywide services section leading to an integration for review and approval.

A final inclusion and integration of each district write-up along with the mayor’s executive summary would require a formal review for concurrence of the entire report by each district city councilman and the mayor.

The final report would be compiled and published out of the city clerk’s office with an initial distribution to the public by the Athens News Courier, followed by the city’s website and other media as desired.

If the city chooses to take on the task, I would be more than happy to provide my 20-plus years of professional experience in support of its development.

Sincerely,

Ralph Diggins

Athens

Hine Street needs sidewalks

Dear Editor:


My husband Greg and I live on Wilburn Street. We live less than a quarter of a mile north of Market Street, and 1.2 miles from the Square. We have lived in this section of Athens for eight years. We enjoy living walking distance from downtown.

Most of us who live in Corum subdivision are older citizens who walk for exercise. I am sure you are familiar with the danger that Hine Street presents for pedestrians. I would like to thank the City Council for extending sidewalks from the hospital to the post office. That was helpful.

But I travel on this section of road nearly every day and I see men, women and children struggling to walk along the side of the road. I have seen one woman several times pushing a baby stroller in the grass and holding another child’s hand. Once, I saw a little boy going from one driveway to the next on a Big Wheel out into the street at the crest of a small hill. As recently as this past Sunday afternoon, two people had the northbound traffic almost stopped because they were so close to the side of the road where there is a drop-off.

So to this City Council I want to say: Thank you from the people who live in older neighborhoods who would like to walk to the Square, the post office or the hospital. Thank you from the men, the women and the children who walk out of necessity along North Hine Street. And to the next City Council, I ask that you continue with this project to extend the sidewalk the rest of the way down Hine Street before what was begun with good intentions ends in tragedy.

Sincerely,

Wanda Adams

Athens

City should do the math

Dear Editor:


Council President Gill, I understand that you didn’t understand how I got my numbers I spoke of at Monday night’s council meeting regarding Mac Martin’s preposterous wage increase. You raised him from $42,498 per year to a new wage classification in which the high salary is $86,129 and the minimum salary per year is $15,000, or 35 percent, higher overnight.

This is simple math. Most taxpayers and their families would beg for such an income increase. I regret that the majority of the old council membership is going to be outgoing with such ludicrous action and not in the citizen’s best interests. Messrs. Wales and Hickman are to be complimented for their more considered judgment.

When will you and the mayor consider the police and fire personnel for compensation adjustment before any other selected individuals or special interests for funding allocations? Increasing police salaries across the board is long overdue and should take priority over a single city planner.

This is why the city can’t hire African-Americans for law enforcement. Can you visualize what a police officer is thinking on patrol, alone at night, risking his life for citizens whose leaders consider them second-class citizens when it comes to compensation for them and their families?

How about paving the streets? Mr. Gill, are your district’s streets paved?

The mayor and you are proposing a sales tax increase. Dream on. We will expend every effort to defeat it. The County Commission is in no hurry to increase property taxes, or are the property owners. 

You had better get prepared for the revenue problems I have talked about for years, which you, the mayor and his lackeys seem to want to palm off on the taxpayers rather than taking constructive action regarding items such as additional costs related to the library and its operation, City Hall construction cost increases, etc. 

Madison just extended its current budget to accommodate the new incoming council members and allow them to make the final decision on the proposed 2013 budget. Now that’s the American way, not the Marks/Gill way. Yours is to squeeze in all the budgets and special deals before the new council members are seated and can express their opinions, which may not agree with you and the mayor.  

They will influence the next four years.

Your actions are reminiscent of the old backroom political deals of yore.

Sincerely,

Quentin D. Anderson Sr.

Athens

No disrespect intended

Dear Mystery Caller:


I am sorry that our light-hearted approach for today’s Athens Cemetery Walk upset you.  I hope that is not due to the fact that you lost a loved one recently and you would naturally be much more sensitive. 

I assure you that we mean no disrespect. On the contrary, the reason for the Cemetery Walk is to remember those who have gone before us and helped create the wonderful town we now know as Athens.

One of the main supporters of this is the Hobbs Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The camp has a “cemetery work crew” that works one day a month on cemetery repairs. We work both in Athens City Cemetery and in rural cemeteries.  Some are quite overgrown.

The red numbers on the picture refer to repairs done the summer of 2009. We do this out of respect for our Confederate ancestors and their families. The red 1 for the Hobbs family plot represents many man-hours and several hundred dollars to refurbish the family plot and add a stone to commemorate Thomas Hubbard Hobbs, who is buried in Virginia.  The Hobbs descendants help us with donations that helped pay for the fence and flagpoles and the sod was donated.

We just finished landscaping the Keyes (No. 2 in the picture) and putting a curb around it.  The grass is just now emerging. John Wade Keyes was a Revolutionary War soldier instead of a Confederate soldier, but our camp felt like he and his family deserved this token of our respect. Come out for the cemetery walk and listen to one of his descendents tell you why he was special.

The Athens City Cemetery work is charged with the basic upkeep, which mainly means keeping the grass cut, broken limbs and fallen trees removed, and maintaining the roads.  They do not have the manpower, budget, or expertise to do some of the repairs we do.  They have been very good for us to work with.

Another motive of the Cemetery Walk is to make more people aware of the repairs that are needed. Do come on out between 2 and 5 this afternoon, Sept. 30, and see for yourself the evidence of our respect for those buried here.  What have you done to help the cemetery, besides an anonymous phone call?

Sincerely,

Buzz Estes

Athens