Roses and thorns 10-30-10




A rose to voters who have already cast an absentee ballot or plan to vote in Tuesday''s general election.  


The midterm ballots are a little sleepy, with only a few judgeships and school board races. But the main event in these parts is the 1st District congressional race, between Travis Childers, the Democratic incumbent, and Alan Nunnelee, the Republican challenger. Polls show the race too close to call, though experts see the seat as leaning Republican. 


This newspaper endorsed Childers last week. Many of our readers have written in, supporting both candidates. 


Whatever your preference in the 1st District, the most important thing is you exercise your right to vote. A strong turnout reflects a strong democracy. 




A thorn to West Point Mayor Scott Ross, who abruptly announced a leave of absence, for an undetermined amount of time, this week without explaining why. 


Ward 4 Selectman and Vice Mayor Keith McBrayer said in a statement that Ross has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his duties. City government will function "as normal" while Ross is absent, McBrayer said. 


We''re not unsympathetic if Ross, who was elected to his second term as mayor last year, is facing some personal hardship. We wish him well if that''s the case. However, he owes an explanation to the taxpayers and citizens of West Point. 




A rose to Caledonia Elementary School, which celebrated its status as Lowndes County''s only star school on Friday with a parade. 


The star rating is the highest given by the state, which ranks schools on a seven-level system. Ratings go from star, down to high performing, successful, academic watch, low performing, at risk of failing, and failing. 


Overall as a district, Lowndes County improved this year, meeting growth standards and rating as successful, up one spot from the academic watch in 2009. Only one school in the district, New Hope High School, slipped in the rankings, moving from successful to academic watch. 


The system is based on achievement rates on assessment tests, student growth and graduation rates. It also measures districts and individual schools against the rest of the nation. 


School Principal Roger Hill touted great teachers and students for the school''s success. 


For those schools who hope to attain star status, Hill says, "You''ve got to diagnose where your kids are. You''ve got to teach, and you have to intercede when they are failing and reach out to every child. When you do that, you can be successful." 




A thorn to the Columbus Light and Water Department board, which voted to pay nearly $1 million for a 118-acre plot of land on which to spread sludge, or treated sewage. 


We believe the price was too high -- the board voted to make its offer even though it had another one on the table for half the price. Also, there was no reason for the board to act so hastily. In 2009, CL&W raised the levees on its three storage lagoons just south of Columbus, at a cost of $368,000. The work was supposed to take care of sewage treatment and storage for the next 20 years. (We have more to say on the subject in the editorial above.) 


Last week, the board voted to buy the land from Russell Sheffield, of Sheffield Construction. Board members David Shelton, Brandy Gardner and Jabari O. Edwards voted for the land purchase, with Tom Sneed and Jimmy Graham voting against it. 


Watching the board make an unnecessary land purchase -- and paying twice as much for it as they could have -- doesn''t make sense.



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