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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
February 6, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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February 6, 2019

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& EDITORIALS "Declare among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not." - Jeremiah 50:2 2018, 2017, 2016 winner:. Editorial Page exceltence 20111 winner:. Best Heodfine Writing 20|8, 2017 ~ Best News Photography 2018 winner. Best Sports Pages 2018 wlm'len Best Serious Column - On the Porch 2018, 2017 ~ Best Humorous Column- On the Porch ON THE PORCH by Will Davis [orsyth's city council met on Monday for the first time since this newspaper reported that two coun- cil members want the city to pay for their families to accompany them on city trips. The blowback around town and on social media over the proposal prompted reporter Diane Glidewell, who first broke the story, to predict that council wouldn't bring up the idea ever again, publicly at least. As of Monday, her prediction has thus far proven right. It was like it never happened. Good. I hope a lesson was learned -- by all sides. When Ben Franklin emerged from Independence Hall in 1787 after the Founders fin- ished writing the constitution, a woman asked: "What kind of government have you given us, Dr. Franklin?" He replied: republic, if you can keep it: It's a point we've largely forgot- ten today. Our govemment will be to us and do to us whatever we permit. The apathy that per- meates today excites wannabe tyrants and dictators who would violate our rights and freedoms, and abuse their office, even in small things. This newspaper will always aim to keep a sharp eye on public officials on behalf of our read- ers. But we require engaged and informed readers to make self-government work. When bad policies are defeated, it's a sign of health for local government. For another example, Glidewell reports that our local school board members on Saturday voted 4-3 to begin the process of giving themselves a raise from $75 per meeting to $250 per month. Apparently local leaders are feeling pretty good about their performance. The county com- missioners are looking to increase their pay as well. Board members Eva Bilderback proposed the pay in- crease, and she joined Priscilla Doster, Judy Pettigrew and Greg Head voting in favor. Board chair Nolen Howard, vice chair I.P. Evans and board member Stuart Pippin voted against it. The measure would next go to the state legislature for approval. Assistant superintendent Jackson Danid noted that board members were actually only supposed to be getting $75 for regular meetings and $25 for meetings like budget hearings and committees but have been getting $75 for all meetings. "We all ,knew what we were going to get when we ran for office, said Evans, who has served on the school board for almost 40 years. Where is this money going to come from?" "It's not really going to come from taxpayers" said Doster. "It's already in our budget" "Basically we're making that [$250/month]" said Bilder- back. "We're just making it monthly [instead of by the meeting]" Superintendent Dr. Mike Hickman noted that Georgia sets a minimum of $50 per meeting for county school boards, which is what board members in Upson and Bleckley counties are paid. School boards in the cities of Buford and Chickamauga do not pay board members. Forsyth County pays board members $75 per meet- ing, and Pike County and leffersonviUe city pay $100 per meeting. Oconee County pays $150 per month, and Houston County pays $300 per month. Bibb, Jones, Twiggs and Liberty counties pay $500 per month. Hick- man said that many of the school systems pay an addi- tional stipend to the chair and vice chair, usually about $50, but in Liberty County, the chair is paid $710. Hickman said that last week Butts County board of edu- cation members asked to increase their pay from $400 per month to $700 per month. Board members said their pay is significantly below that of similar government bodies in Butts County. Should Monroe County pay our school board more? I don't know. But I do know that should be up to you, and not them. Let your local governments hear from you -- often. ~nroc County www. is published every week by The Monroe County Reporter Inc. Will Davis, President Robert M. Williams Jr Vice President Cheryl S. Williams, Secretary-Treasurer Will Davis Publisher/Editor Richard Dumas News Editor ~ Trellis Grant Business Manager Community Editor Carolyn Martel Advertising Manager Brandon Park Creative Director Of~cial Organ of Monroe County and the City of Forsyth 50 N. Jackson St. - Forsyth, GA 31029 Periodicals Postage Paid at Forsyth, GA 31029 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: THE MONROE COUNTY REPORTER P.O. Box 795, Forsyth, GA 31029 SUBSCRIPTION RATE: In (ountF $40 Out of County: $48 Single Copy: $1 Deadlines noon on Friday pdor to issue. Comments featured on opinion pages are the creation of the wdters, the do not necessanly reflect the Opinions of]he Reporter management. Publication No. USPS 997-840 PEACH STATE POLITICS by Kyle Wingfield Georgia's elections last yearrise even to $13 an hour has lowered took on an unusual, per- the take-home pay of many hourly unprecedented, na- workers. Those who werent working onal tinge as Brian Kemp many hours before the increase have and Stacey Abrams tried to rally seen their hours cut, or their work supporters based on their respective affinity or repulsion for President Donald Trump. It should come as no surprise, then, that some of that national- ization is showing up in this year's legislative ses- sion. Already, Georgia Democrats are staging their biggest effort yet to demand an expan- sion of Medicaid as allowed under Obam- acare. I've explained in previous columns why that's the wrong way to help lower-income Georgians get meaning- ful access to health care, I'll do so again soon. But another progressivist idea that's made its way to Georgia is the notion of raising the state's minimum wage. Today, Georgia's minimum wage in certain cases is only $5.15, below the federal level of $7.25 set in 2009. Democrats in both the House and the Senate have filed bills to raise it immediately to $15. Examples such as Seattle illustrate why this is a bad idea. There, even though the cost ofliving is already 51 percent higher than in Atlanta, not to mention rural parts of Georgia, a opportunities disappear altogether, according to researchers at the Uni- versity of Washington. But we need not look that far. Georgia's own experience demonstrates the folly here. It's important to understand a couple of key facts. First, the real minimum wage is zero: Ira job doesn't exist, it doesn't matter how much the employer would have to pay if it did exist. Second, the minimum wage is a relative non- factor in the labor mar- ket when the economy is growing. Only when the economy is struggling does it affect many people - and then, the result may well be to keep them out of work. Consider data from the federal Bu- reau of Labor Statistics. In 2008, just as the Great Recession was begin- ning, only 1.8 percent of all Geor- gia workers (about 76,000 people) earned the minimum wage or less. That proportion grew to 3.6 percent in 2009, 4.2 percent in 2010, and 5 percent in 2011 as the economy strained to recover. It has trended downward since then, hitting 1.6 percent in 2017, the latest year for which data are available. From 2008 to 2011, the number of Georgians working at or below the minimum wage rose by about 120,000. If that sounds bad, consider the 221,000 Georgians who stopped working at all. For them, the mini- mum wage truly was zero. Since the trough of2011, Georgia has added more than half a million jobs - despite shedding 123,000 jobs at or below the minimum wage. A growing economy is the best way to address low wages and inequality. It's also worth noting who holds minimum-wage jobs. Nationally, the BLS reports that in 2017 workers ages 16 to 19 were six times likelier than those 20 and older to have min- imum-wage jobs. Despite making up less than 6 percent of all hourly workers, these teenagers represented more than 21 percent of minimum- wage earners. Less than 2 percent of workers at least 30 years old worked at or below the minimum wage. All of this points to a simple but dear truth: Minimum-wage jobs are the first, temporary rung of the economic ladder. We want to make it easy for people to get on the lad- der and then climb, not boost a few people up a rung by bumping others off the ladder entirely. The president and CEO of the Geor- gia Public Policy Foundation, Kyle Wingfield's column runs in papers around the state of Georgia. TAKING A LIKENS TO YOU by Dale Likens EotVery comedian has at least one mother- -hw joke. I'm a comedian; so I dodt have one. But I remember my mother-in- law very well. Sometimes she was hulTlorous enough to make me laugh even When I wasn't inthemoo& I remember one day When my wife and I went to her house she was sitting in her favorite chair star- ing under her television and smiling. ' /hat's so funny, Mom?" Karen asked. 'Tve been watching that mouse down there for a few days. He comes and eats the cheese offthat trap and I just sit here and watch him." "Mom, your trap isn't even set. I don't think you're go ing to catch him" I said with a smile on my face. "I know it's not setl He's too cute to catch! I just enjoy watchi him!" Karen's mom was known as the town's best cook. Whenever someone in our town was sick, Karen's mom was the first to send food. Every time a church meal was planned, it was Karen mom Who led the march. Why not? Karen was the second of seven children and was often standing at her mores feet each meal that she prepared. She remembers those days welL Karen still laughs when she tells me of the many town women who would ask for her monks recipes but would later call and explain how the recipe didn't turn out as well as her mother's. "Oh shucks! I remember I told her four eggs instead of two!" her morn would smile when Karen hung up. One day I was sitting at the kitchen table with one of Kareds brothers eating some mUs a ne' hbor had sent over. Karen and her morn were preparing sup- per for the family when I commented how wonderful the rolls were. "Too much flour!" She snapped softly to Karerr "She aways puts too much flour into her mils!" When Karen and I first mar- fled we lived in a small house neat her family. I enjoyed plant- ing a garden, but her mom knewknew more than I did about garden- ing. She and I would plant a garden near our house and each day she would walk to our garden with her hoe and together we prepared the garden. "No! You're planting those tomato plants too dosed' she would say. Then we would talk about the gardens she and her step-dad would plant when she was a child. I loved to fish and she loved to fish. Usuallyher fish sto- ries were better than mine. Karen would laugh at our stories and continue hoe- ing at the other end of the garden. When harvest time came we aways had the law est potatoes, the best beets and carrots and the sweetest tomatoes! One day when Kare mom was in high school, her mom and step-dad decided to go on a small trip. "Take care of your younger brothers and sisters while we're gone!" they said as they pulled down the road. Not long after they left for their smaU trip one of the farm heifers got caught in a barbed wire fence and strangled itself. Karer s mom quickly hung the heifer up on the lift out back and butchered the heifer like she remembered her step-dad doing. Then she personally canned all the meat like her mother had taught her. "Not bad!" Her step-dad said when he returned from the trip. "Not bad at all!" Since Karen was the first of the three daughters to marry she was also the first to become pregnant When the time came to deliver our daughter we quietly rushed to the nearest hospital in our 1949 Chevrolet. When Karina was bom Karen sug- gested I call her mother to let her know before we in- formed anyone else. When I called her from the hospital there was a long silence at the other end. Finally, she began to cry. "Why diddt you come and take me with you? I'm the grandmother! I should have been with Karen in her delivery!" Mis- take number one! I think the rolls I ate from that day on had too much flour! Each Fourth of July Karen:s large family of cousins, aunts and undes always met at Karen's unde's house for our family picnic and a few rounds of softball games. Karen and I always loved the food and especial- ly the fellowship with all the cousins, aunts and undes. Kareffs mother was a great softball player and always managed to play in one or two of the daily games. I remember one of those games in particular. As her mom was rounding third base she knew the play was going be dose so she threw her body to the ground and slid into home head first. She was safe. My mother-in-hw learned to play the piano when she was a young girl in school so a piano was always sitting in her house waiting to be phyed. As talented as she was, I believe the town folks never knew she could play a piano. She knew music weU and always sang in the church choir. Kareffs father couldn't carry a note in a bushd basket, he always kidded about himself "But your mother could sing! That's for sure!" he would boast. One day Karen and I were singing a duet in church while I provided the background with my guitar. While we were singing, I noticed that Karen's mom would not look at me. After church she walked up to Karen and me. "It wasn't bad!" She commented to Karen. "But you need to sing louder. All I could hear was Dale!" Then she turned and walked away. IfI remember well, I think my rolls had too much flour that evening. A number ofyears ago my father-in-law went to his doctor and had a cyst re- moved from his back. Two years later the cyst returned. My mother-in-law told my father-in-law to remove his shirt. She then walked to her knife drawer in her kitchen and pulled out her sharp- est small knife and boiled it in steaming hot water. She then turned to my father- in-law and cut that new cyst from his back. In the years to follow that cyst never returned. My mother-in-law was a true Christian woman who never spoke of her personal belief in God but very sel- dom spoke ill of others. She never preached to others. She simply lived her life as a person full of love for all I'll always remember her stand- ing in her kitchen preparing for another family meal. She reared her children to love others and help those in need. A few short years ago she lay in her bed taking her very last breaths of life on this earth as Karen and her two s'tsters sat at her bedside singing her very favorite Christian songs. When she took her last breath my wife turned to me with tears flowing down her cheeks, ' Are sang her into heaven!" Her three daughters cried tears of joy and held her hands. I have no jokes to say about my mother-in-law. To her I simply sa) "Thank you for passing your love to me through your wonder- ful daughter, Karen. She's so much like you in so many ways. When we meet in heaven for supper, I think the rolls will be just fine. You were a great mother-in- law!" God bless. Dale Likens is an author who lives in Monroe County.