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Voice of the people: Residents concerned about county’s education, safety and cleanliness

— Are Clayton County schools safe?

Has the county’s school board taken steps to make sure it doesn’t follow the path of neighboring embattled school boards?

Should the county invest in street sweepers?

Is the Clayton County NAACP chapter loved enough?

Those were the questions raised at school board and county commission meetings last week. The following citizens addressed their elected leaders during the week of April 1:

Clayton County Board of Education, April 1 

Mary Dewberry spoke Monday about the Clayton County Board of Education's decision to hire a firm to help provide additional school security.

“Since Sheriff Hill has been back in office, he has not changed anything,” said Dewberry. “We haven't done any investigation on the firm that is protecting our children.”

Shanda Ross questioned if the board has done enough to set itself apart from the DeKalb County Board of Education, which has been under scrutiny for misconduct.  

“What removes Clayton County from being next?” Ross asked. “How long will we be in a quandary? When will the public forum start?”

Rico Smith made an appeal to the board to investigate the outside contractor that will provide additional school security this spring.  

“With third-party vendors a lot of issues come up, if they aren't properly vetted,” said Smith.  

Clayton County Board of Commissioners, April 2

Dr. Henry Anderson beseeched commissioners to buy street and sidewalk sweepers with SPLOST money to clean up trash and debris left on roadsides after car accidents. He said 11 intersections on Tara Boulevard need cleaning, including Tara Road, South Main Street, Mundy’s Mill Road, Flint River Road, North Avenue, Ga. Hwy. 138, North Carter Drive, Battle Creek Road, Sherwood Drive, Mt. Zion Road and Old Dixie Highway.

“SPLOST money is already designated to buy machines of this nature, so what I’m asking you to do is to please expedite this,” Anderson said. “It’s within our SPLOST money and there is a whole lot of SPLOST money that needs to be spent. It makes sense and it can get up the particles [of trash and debris].”

Joseph Ector asked commissioners to help the Pinetrace and Pebbles Creek subdivision deal with rising crime in the area around a school bus stop at the intersection of Country Club Road and Thomas Road. He said residents in the subdivision are in the process of gathering signatures on a petition to have street lights erected in the area, but they need the county to also do something to deter criminals.

“Just help us out because we don’t want to see our kids raped, robbed or killed,” Ector said.

Vickie Warren praised Clayton County NAACP President Synamon Baldwin for her efforts to help raise awareness about House Bill 399, which would have stripped Clayton County of its ability to collect ad valorem taxes from businesses leasing space at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The bill stalled in the state Senate.

“I just want to thank her and keep up the good work Synamon,” Warren said as she turned to face Baldwin.

Synamon Baldwin thanked Commissioners Sonna Singleton and Gail Hambrick for being active members of the Clayton County NAACP. She asked commissioners to support the chapter, explaining the group does several community service activities, including a Back to School and stay-in-school initiative, the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, a law review program and a partnership with Magic Johnson’s Bridgescape program.

“The NAACP does more than hold our elected officials accountable,” she said.

Compiled by Curt Yeomans