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Letters to the Editor

By Staff
Mentoring program helps students
Editor:
I would like to make the community aware of our Friend 2 Friend Mentoring Program. The Volunteer Center of Morgan County partners with Decatur and Hartselle City Schools to match adult role models with students who would benefit from having a mentor. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade may be referred to this program by a parent, teacher, guidance counselor, principal, or an agency. The parent must sign a consent form for their child to be a part of this program.
Before they are matched with a student, mentors are fingerprinted, complete a background check and also attend a training session.
The mentor meets the student at the school during school hours for one hour each week, or three hours each month. School counselors work with the teachers to set up a meeting time for the student and the mentor.
If you would be interested in becoming a mentor, I would be happy to meet with you. Please call me at 355-8628 to set up an appointment, or I can mail you an application.
Marsha Burchfield
Friend 2 Friend Mentoring Coordinator
Volunteer Center of Morgan County
Writer wants alcohol sales, school changes
Editor:
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the forum for candidates for the Hartselle City Council as well as for Mayor of Hartselle. It was not at all what I thought it would be because the citizens of Hartselle were not allowed to ask any questions of the candidates as well as follow up questions. A moderator, asked by the Hartselle Chamber of Commerce, presented the candidates all the same questions and they were given so long to state their answers. There was never any follow-up on any of the questions asked even though many of the questions were never answered at all.
It seems the two main topics that are being discussed and debated are should the Hartselle Board of Education be appointed by the council or should it be elected by the people and should Hartselle have a new high school out on Bethel Road by the elementary school? Traffic is already horrible in that area and no plans for new roads were discussed. I found that any of the current councilmen that were present and running or any that have been on the council previously favor the council appointing the board. This is a power they have that they do not want to give up. One current councilman said that if someone would bring him a petition with 800 voters signatures he would consider taking it to Montgomery. Well, this cannot be done, of course. All of the councilmen have to vote yes and refer this matter to the local legislative delegation so that they can let it be put on a ballot for the people to vote. The current mayor and other candidates said they felt we have a good board that is doing a good job. This may be true in some or most cases. However, if they are doing a good job and the people know about it then they would probably get elected by the people. The council is no more intelligent that most of the voters of Hartselle but they evidently think that they are. Now a few years ago 83 percent of the voters of Hartselle let the council know that they wanted an elected school board but nothing was done about it because of giving up power and not being able to appoint the good old boys to the board. Now, nationwide, 96 percent of all school boards are elected, including Decatur. That should give our council just a little idea of how people feel. The mayor wants a cross section of the voters of Hartselle to come to the Council meetings and speak on how they feel about this issue. This is on the point of being totally absurd. The people are more than capable of electing the best school board possible if ever given the chance. Why are we not given a chance?
Now on to the other main topic of discussion in Hartselle. The question was asked of all the candidates if they favored building a new Hartselle High School with a cost of about $35 million and if so where would they get the funding. Also explain why you think a new high school is needed? Again most, but not all, of the current council felt that Hartselle needed a new high school. Most were not able to explain where the money was coming from but it had to be build. The mayor has spent his entire first term attempting to get a new high school built but the people have turned down a property tax three times since 1999. This last time the council stated that if the property tax passed they would add on to the Hartselle sales tax. That really made a lot of people feel good about this tax increase.
The only decent proposal that really made sense, whether or not it goes for a new high school, is to allow alcoholic beverages to be sold in Hartselle at various places but to not have any bars or anything like that. Just allow the sales inside the city as people only go to the Hartselle city limits up Highway 31 and spend all of their money in Decatur. Whether or not you believe in drinking alcohol this proposal is a high producing tax and would put a lot of dollars in the Hartselle treasury for whatever they decide is the best use of this money. No property tax increase, no sales tax increase, no tax increases at all. Just let alcoholic beverages be sold here. It would also bring in more good restaurants and other businesses.
Not one candidate or sitting council member, along with the mayor, ever said why we need this new expensive high school. I did talk to one councilman before the meeting that said that “it would just make Hartselle look good.” I pass by the school almost every day and see a good building that may need some work and may need an extension added on but I see no need for spending all of this money for a new school. Buildings do not make a good high school. Teachers and students make a good high school. Let’s start putting more money into the classrooms so that we can hire better teachers in math, science, chemistry, physics, etc. so that we can really have advanced subjects for the gifted students.
The schools sent instructions home this year as to what parents were to furnish. Along with the normal notebooks, pencils, etc. they want parents to send bleach and wipes! I also know that students have to go out and sell merchants cards for $20 to $25 dollars for various activities.
Here is a fact that was also of great interest to me. At the end of the last school year, 2007-2008, Hartselle High School had an enrollment of 887 students. Of this amount 123 current student are from outside the city limits of Hartselle or even outside of Morgan County. They pay a paltry $200 per student a year for up to a maximum of three children. After that the rest of their children get to come for free. The people of Hartselle pay for this school with their property tax, sales tax, tax on automobiles and other taxes that are paid only inside the city of Hartselle. If we remove these students from our high school then we only have an enrollment estimated at 714. This would free up almost five classrooms for Hartselle students or for other purposes. The only exception that should be allowed is if the child’s parent or parents teach at Hartselle High School. They should then be able to pay a reasonable fee to the school system and attend.
Hartselle just cannot afford to build a new high school at a huge cost of an estimated $35 million. Three times the people have spoken and three time the Hartselle City Councils have not listened.
As a closing point, the council is now proposing a rate increase for our garbage and recycling. The contractor did a much better job and we did not have all of these huge barrels sitting in our yard or wherever we can find to put them. The contractor gave us weekly garbage and recycling pickup but wanted a small increase for a new contract. The city said that they could do it cheaper and spent all of this great amount of money buying an automated truck and garbage, trash, and recycling cans by the thousands. They announced that we would not get weekly garbage or recycle pickup but did not lower the price. Now they propose an increase when we get about half the service we did with the contractor.
Beats me.
R.J. White
Hartselle
Express your thoughts in a Letter to the Editor. Send your thoughts to P.O. Box 929, Hartselle, AL 35640
or email to news@hartselleenquirer.com. Signed comments can be included as Letters to the Editor; unsigned ones in our
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