Opinion

June 14, 2014

Jamie Jones: Musings from around town

A real, honest-to-goodness public hearing broke out in Dalton this past Monday.

The Dalton Board of Education held its last of three public hearings for its proposed property tax increase.

A total of five citizens spoke during the evening, and board members seemed appreciative of the people who chose to attend and have their voices heard.

Although the citizens did not change the board’s ultimate decision — members voted unanimously to raise taxes later that night — it was refreshing to see the wheels of small town government in motion.

People spoke.

The board listened.

People spoke some more.

The board replied.

Everyone kept the debate civil. No one raised their voice. Both sides were respectful.

The anti-property tax contingent thanked the board members for their service to the community. Board members thanked the taxpayers for speaking.

The five people who spoke were not given a limit on how long they could talk. Nor did board members rush the speakers away from the microphone.

The scheduled one-hour public hearing even went over its allotted time by about 15 minutes. A meeting overrun is a reporter’s worst fear, but at least this overrun had purpose.

I wouldn’t mind seeing more public meetings exceed their set time — as long as the citizenry is being heard.

—————

Love is heavy.

In a figurative sense, love can weigh on your heart and mind.

But in a literal sense, love is also sometimes heavy.

Take the Pont des Arts footbridge over the Seine River in central Paris.

The bridge is adorned with thousands of padlocks attached to its metal grills, placed there by amorous couples who signify their unyielding affection by snapping these “love locks” to the bridge and throwing the key into the river.

Their love is locked away. (Unless a scorned partner takes bolt cutters to their lock after a breakup.)

Earlier this month, the footbridge was shut down after one of those metal grills — burdened by the collective weight of metal locks — fell onto the walkway.

No one was injured, but city officials are keeping an eye on the mounting problem. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo stopped short of outlawing the hulking symbols of love, asking to “open a debate around the phenomenon of ‘love locks’ with a view to finding alternatives.”

One lock doesn’t weigh much. Several thousand locks, that’s another story. Some news outlets estimate there are more than 700,000 love locks throughout the City of Love.

Dalton has its own “Locks of Love.” Hanging on the safety fence along the Tibbs Road bridge spanning I-75 are some 50 padlocks and combination locks. (Sure, a padlock isn’t exactly permanent, but a combination lock is so unromantic.)

The cynics among us (including Mr. Editor) view the padlocks as a cheesy display of love. Are flowers just not good enough anymore?

City officials have thus far allowed the locks to stay. But in light of the mishap in Europe, will public safety outweigh love?

————

There’s an old joke in our newsroom about how interns always come back to work at the newspaper.

Sometimes those interns who become full-time employees leave for a second time.

Misty Watson, a Daily Citizen reporter, photographer and columnist, has taken at job in the marketing and communications department at Dalton State College. Her last day at the paper is Wednesday.

Misty, a Murray County native (and proud of it!), came to us as a full-time employee in May 2003. She previously worked as a summer intern.

Through the years, she has been a reporter, a photographer and most recently a reporter/photographer.

She has a great photography eye and deft writing touch, evidenced by her skill with feature stories.

We will miss Misty. At the same time, we’re looking forward to seeing her writing and photography work with the Roadrunners.

Jamie Jones is managing editor of The Daily Citizen. Reach him at (706) 272-7723.

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