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School board candidates spar over experience

From left: Candidates Dwight Crews, Patricia Weeks and Clayton Griffis.Two school boards members up for re-election defended their oversight of the district and its budget, while their challengers chided them for poor performing schools during the candidate forum July 28 at the BCHS auditorium.

The current composition of the school board — three long-time members and two newcomers elected in 2010 — could shift to one in which the majority of members are relatively inexperienced in K-12 education, depending on the results of the August 14 primary election.

Dissenting votes are a rare occurrence on the school board these days, but should an incumbent, Dwight Crews or Patricia Weeks, fail to retain their post, the panel will have three members installed within the last two years.

The conflict between the status quo and a new, albeit vague, direction was apparent during the nearly hour-long segment of the forum allotted for school board candidates.

They answered questions on the school district’s budget, standardized testing and student performance, among other topics.

Mr. Crews’ opponent Clayton Griffis, a corrections officer who has family members who are teachers and students, advocated looking to higher-rated districts for ways to improve locally.

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Commission hopefuls address budget, hot issues

County commission candidates.Six county commission candidates, two of whom will be on the primary ballot on August 14, fielded a host of questions during a forum held at the high school on July 28 before a crowd of more than 100 civic-minded constituents.

Lucy and David Hudson traveled from Olustee to attend the more than two-hour forum, which also included candidates for school board and sheriff [see related article on school board forum here].

The couple said prior to the start they wanted to become more informed voters and hoped to hear more about the candidate’s budget priorities.

“We have so little money in the county budget and so many things that need to be done, how are they going to set the priorities?” Mr. Hudson asked rhetorically. “It’s going to be very, very hard.”

Soon after delivering their opening statements,  the candidate were asked about the county’s budget woes.

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Local dialogue mirrors national, state

After last weekend’s candidate forum, voters should have a good sense of where the candidates stand on classic issues like taxes and spending as well as more recent hot-button ones like sand mining, medical waste incinerators or the closure of Barber Road.

What struck me about the forum were its parallels to the intense political battles at the state and national level. As Theresa Rhoden points out in her letter this week, the local candidates’ messages sound very similar to those emanating from the campaigns of Mitt Romney and President Obama; and I don’t think that’s coincidental.

“The incumbents are failing us,” all the challengers say. “We’re improving, not as much as we’d all like, but things are progressing and the sky’s not falling,” seems to be the call of those in office.

It’s like we’ve become so politically polarized, and there’s so many ways to be exposed to the propaganda of the right and the left, that realistic solutions to the day-t0-day challenges of local government get lost in this giant echo chamber we’re all stuck inside thanks to the Internet, social media, cable television and supped-up smart phones.

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‘Nanny’ Barber funeral July 24th

Rhoda Mizell (Nanny) Barber, 92, originally of Waycross, GA, died surrounded by her loved ones the night of Thursday, July 19, 2012 at her son’s home in Sanderson after a lengthy illness. She was born in Hopkins, GA in Ware County and raised in the Okefeenokee Swamp by her parents, the late Maggie Hendrix Mizell and the late Hamp Mizell, co-author of “The History of the Okefeenokee.”

She lived her life in Manor and Waycross, married to the late Robert Leo Barber. Mrs. Barber was a graduate of Manor High School and Ware County Vocational School. She was a licensed practical nurse and touched many lives at both Homerville Hospital as well as Ware Manor Nursing Home until her retirement.

In addition to her parents and husband, Mrs. Barber was preceded in death by her daughters Sylvia Barber Howell Caswell and Barbara Ann Barber Ferrante.

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