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Pay coroner more money

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2008

If there is a place where people line up to seek raises for public officials, I won't be in it.

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But if there's a place to call for a raise for the Columbia County coroner, count me in.

Don't know if you noticed the story the other day about Vernon Collins on his first anniversary of taking over from the late Tommy King.

King made an annual trek to the county's legislative delegation to seek more money for his position. He had a little success, but not much.

The position is, in theory, a part-time job. The coroner isn't expected to sit in an office every day. Instead, most of his work and that of his assistants are carried out on call, as needed.

But that is the same thing as being on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nights. Weekends. Holidays. Grandma die in bed on Christmas morning? The coroner is there. Uncle Joe wrap a car around a tree on the way home from a New Year's party at 3 in the morning? The coroner is there.

And then he's at your house later, breaking the sad news.

For all that, what is Collins paid?

Just $16,000 a year. Amazing.

The office comes up for re-election in November. It would be nice if the legislative delegation could see to it that whomever is elected receives pay at least somewhat related to that level of commitment.

Grovetown High

While we're talking about dead issues (sorry; bad pun), it probably wouldn't hurt to make another point about the name of the new Grovetown High School.

A handful of people still seem to be griping about that name. As one of the people who suggested it, naturally I'm pretty happy with the outcome. But what about those who aren't?

The anti-Grovetown High folks seem to fit into two camps: Those who feel the name isn't "inclusive" enough, and those who for whatever reason think ill of Grovetown.

The latter group doesn't deserve a hearing. They're stuck on an outdated image of Grovetown as a city racked with political turmoil and uglied up with trailers. They aren't inclined to check out the city of today to change their minds, so they aren't reachable.

The ones who feel the name isn't "inclusive" certainly have a valid point. But any school name based on geography or history is, necessarily, going to have some degree of exclusivity.

For example, I graduated from Harlem High School. As a Winfield resident, I attended the school along with residents not just of Harlem, but with those from Appling, Leah, Phinizy, Sawdust, Campania - and Grovetown.

It stands to reason that unless school attendance zones are restricted very narrowly to the neighborhood around a specific school, geographically based school names will encompass an attendance zone larger than that of a single neighborhood.

Students from Martinez attend Evans High. Students in Evans and Appling - and some with Grovetown addresses - attend Greenbrier.

In the case of Grovetown High School, however, the school's geographical base encompasses not just the city of Grovetown, but the vast 30813 ZIP code. Yes, it can be confusing, and many of the people who live in 30813 don't like to say they live in Grovetown - some of them because they are physically so far removed from the city, and others because they have that outdated view of Grovetown.

Give it a few years, though, and once the last vestiges of that outdated stigma are erased, and once Grovetown High School is fielding a football team, I firmly believe those folks will be happy to say they live in Grovetown. And if that team wins big, they'll all swear they were fans from the beginning.

Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.



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