By Christopher Smith
CHATSWORTH — When Frank Adams moved back to Murray County in 2004 after a 40-year absence, he came back to “make the county a better place.”
That’s why he says he stepped up to fill the vacant District 1 seat on the Murray County Board of Education. Adams, a Republican, was sworn in at the courthouse Friday afternoon.
“I graduated high school from here and didn’t turn out too badly,” Adams joked. “And after being gone so long and coming back, I’ve dedicated my life to improving the conditions in the county and making the community a better place.”
District 1 (Ramhurst) covers most of the southern part of the county and was represented by Alan Kendrick until Jan. 1. Kendrick was appointed to the position last March when Rick Mallett resigned because he moved out of the district.
Colvard Joe Park was expected to succeed Kendrick because he was the only Republican to qualify for the position for November’s election, and no Democrat qualified. But Park withdrew in October after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The vacant seat was on its way to a March 13 special election.
“But no one really wanted the job,” Adams said. “I work with the Republican Party in Murray County. They said they needed someone to run for that position and it had to be a Republican (since no Democrat qualified) and it had to be District 1 … I said I would run if no one else wanted the position. I qualified on Tuesday. And since there is no one else who qualified, the election was canceled.”
What makes Adams qualified to make decisions concerning schools? He says starting Keep Chatsworth-Murray Beautiful — a nonprofit organization that helps clean roads, preserve the environment and increase environmental awareness — gives him experience he will take to the school board.
“The thing is, you don’t get a date if you’re not attractive,” Adams joked. “When I started Keep Chatsworth-Murray Beautiful, I wanted people to drive through here and say ‘What a cute little town, what a clean little town. Let’s stay.’ I hope to do something similar to schools. If I get in there and learn it’s being handled as best as it can be handled, one term will do me.
“But what I will do while I’m in there is answer people openly and honestly and not hide behind closed door meetings. If someone has a question, I’ll answer it or go get the answer or explain why I can’t answer it. I’m here for the people, not the education system.”
Adams said he believes the school system and the community need improvement to keep high school graduates in town.
“When I grew up, there was a movie theater … now there’s not much to do,” he said. “There’s no bowling alley, no theater, no pool. There’s no real community recreation going on. The majority of people are not sports-inclined. We need some kind of recreational things to keep kids out of trouble. A bored kid finds something to do and it’s not always a good thing.
“I left town for a reason and if you want kids to stick around after school you have to offer them a reason to stay. Not just their mom and dad. And right now we just don’t have that. We don’t just need good education, we need opportunities. Education is very important, though.”
But investing in a good educational system shouldn’t let school officials use taxpayer money like a “blank check,” Adams said.
“It seems to me that some people think you get a free pass in how you spend as long as you mention it’s for education and the future … well, that doesn’t work,” he said. “When it comes to money decisions, I need something concrete. I know I’m not that close to the situation, but I’m just speaking as a citizen looking in. I really have to get in there and learn what’s going on with education in our state and our districts. Frankly, I want to see where the money is going.”
Adams said he is “very opposed to the idea” of a school-based health clinic. School officials are considering a community health hub at Chatsworth Elementary to centralize student health care and cut down on students’ absences for doctor’s visits.
“I’m removed from the situation for now, but I don’t think it is the place of education to also offer health services,” Adams said. “I think it’s a big liability … I’ll be voicing my opinion at the next meeting.”
The next public hearing to discuss the possible school-based health clinic is Tuesday, March 12, at 5:30 p.m. at Chatsworth Elementary School, 500 Green Road.