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Not in my back yard, but it's fine in yours

Posted: December 4, 2011 - 12:00am

Wherever you or I live, next door is a bad place for a lighted football field. Or a landfill. Or a low-income rental housing project.

We don’t so much mind those things somewhere else. In fact, we kind of like them. Somewhere else, that is.

We like that Richmond County has a big landfill. That gives us a convenient place to dump garbage since Columbia County’s landfill closed. We love lighted football fields, happily drive to them for Friday night games and enjoy them even more afterward the farther away they are in our rear-view mirrors.

And we love low-income rental housing, somewhere else, because that means scary people who don’t look like us can be warehoused elsewhere, presumably procreating like rabbits, ingesting drugs and listening to booming primal sounds erroneously referred to as “music.”

I’m admittedly a snob about such things, and have said so. I don’t want more low-rent housing or apartment complexes in Columbia County. My reaction isn’t an aversion to having such things next door; I don’t live where that’s an issue. I suppose if it were, I’d raise NIMBY cain, too.

Instead, I don’t like low-rent housing or apartment complexes specifically because they lower the entry cost for people moving to Columbia County and putting their kids in public schools. Period.

Let’s face it: The single greatest attraction of Columbia County, especially to lower- and middle-income residents of Richmond County who have children, is its public school system. The more expensive it is to live here, the higher the “entry” fee to people who would like to escape Richmond County and send their kids to school in Columbia County.

So whenever an apartment complex opens, or people who can’t sell their older homes instead rent them out, or low-income projects are built, it lowers the price for those who’d like to move here. That’s why, for example, Lakeside Middle School long ago became a Title 1 school: get enough kids on the lunch rolls who qualify for free- or reduced-priced lunch, and there you are.

Statistically, those lower-income kids generally also score lower academically. Like it or not, that’s reality. The result is that parts of Columbia County over the past few years have been fighting a rising tide of declining family incomes, a result of the higher availability of lower rent.

That, alone, to me, is plenty of reason to dislike such things as Magnolia Trace. And not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it just strikes me that the main opponents of the project would not give two hoots in hell about the proposal if it were somewhere else – preferably, far enough away that they would never have to worry about inadvertently seeing any scary people who don’t look like them.

The scary people to me, though, are the families who move to the county on the cheap, increasing demand for services and raising my taxes because we have to build more schools to make room for their kids and hire more cops to keep an eye on them when they aren’t in school.

Why in the world should we encourage that next door to me, or you, or anybody?

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher The Columbia County News-Times. Email comments to barry.paschal@newstimesonline.com, or call (706) 863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)

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Comments (4)

Craig Spinks

Magnolia Trace: What about those who want "to move on up?"

How farfetched is the position that those who want to move to Magnolia Trace might want to escape the crime, overcrowding, decay and poor schools of our southeastern neighbor? How farfetched is the position that most of these folks want to share in The American Dream and are folks who work for their money? How farfetched is the position that a minority of these folks will not be law-abiding? How farfetched is the position that most of the complainers opposing the Magnolia Trace project don't have the coyones to stand with Clay and his people in foursquare opposition to any criminality any minority of law-breakers might bring to their area?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence


Major Impact on Local Schools

Ask anyone that works at Lakeside Middle, or Lakeside High what impact section 8 housing has had on those schools. Lakeside Middle is now a Title I school and LHS is not far behind. Wedgewood Apartments-alone-has droves of unsupervised kids that wreak havoc on each other and the neighborhood. They bring all that drama to the schools they attend. Ask the people at Evans High about the impact Westwood Apartments had on their school. Wake up Columbia County parents! The difference between Richmond county schools and ours is not as great as you think. We just do a better job of keeping it under the radar. Go stand in the lobby or Commons of your child's school one morning and see what I mean. Ron Cross is clueless if he thinks there will be no impact locally due to this new development. It's time for him to go and he can take his son-in-law with him. They have their head stuck in the sand and have lost touch with the reality that surrounds them in Columbia County.

Craig Spinks

Major Impact on Local Schools


Your point about parents' needing to visit their children's schools is a valid one. Today's schools do not exhibit the same level of adult control, order and respect as the ones in which I - and probably you- matriculated. The blame for the deterioration in school climate should be placed at the feet of frazzled parents; overwhelmed teachers; self-serving educrats; effete, indolent, greedy school board attorneys; other power-hungry politicos; as welll as an apathetic citizenry.

Things in our public schools won't improve until parents, teachers and other citizens provide full support to school leaders who demand that adult control, order and respect are restored to our schools.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence


Major Impact

It is hard to believe that we live in a county that judges people by their income status. My daughter is divorced and a single mom with two boys 3 and 6. She works 36 hours a week and she is one of the people that is trying to make her and her boys life better. Yes there is people out there that are trying to raise up. Before you judge anyone look around your neighborhood to see how many of your neighbors are struggling to make ends meat. By the way she is paying rent of almost $1000 dollars a month.

I agree the schools are over crowed, but that is going to occur no matter what is being built. Also the 6 year old is in that top of his class. So do not say they score low in schools. It is up to their parents on how kids do in school.

So before you say anything get all of the facts. Not everyone is a 50 cent Millioniare. Yes I do live in Columbia County and love being here. Let's move ahead instead of moving backwards. When election time comes again VOTE instead of complaining.