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The North Hall Community Center, a long-delayed and apparently necessary project, appears in jeopardy because of a deal made to build a skateboard park in the Cool Springs community. I have lived most of my life in Cool Springs and I don't think I've ever seen a skateboard out here; tractors and pickup trucks, perhaps, but no skateboards.
The first thought I had when I noticed that the cash-strapped owners of the Marina Bay development had donated 70 acres to Hall County was that they could no longer afford to pay their property taxes. The reduced revenue from 70 acres of privately held land being transferred to the county government means that the remaining landowners will be forced to make up the difference.
Thanks a lot. If my property taxes continue to increase, maybe I can donate my home to the county and enjoy a windfall tax write-off.
What is even more astounding is that this deal was not coordinated with the Hall County Parks and Leisure Board. If it is not a demonstrated need, one evaluated and supported by the very body that exists for that purpose, then where did it come from?
The assistant county manager asserted that the Cool Springs skateboard park would be partially paid for by impact fees. Perhaps that was a joke.
Surely he does not seriously think that the county will accumulate any significant revenue from impact fees in the next 12-18 months. Collapsing sales tax collections are only exceeded by the even steeper decline in new housing starts. Without new homes being built in the county, there will be no impact fees collected.
Planning to pay for a previously unplanned and unbudgeted skateboard park with disappearing revenue streams in the midst of a recession is foolish at best.
Be an advocate to help teens avoid pregnancy
It's "the merry month of May" as the song from the movie "Camelot" reminds us. And in May we observe National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.
The sad news? It's not so "merry." Three out of 10 American teens will get pregnant this year. That's 750,000. And 80 percent won't marry the fathers. Sex has become the most discussed, but least understood, aspect of life. Making wise choices can be even more difficult for teens, as the brain does not fully develop until age 25. And they feel an onslaught of pressure, from the media to their peers.
Self-confidence is the best defense against peer pressure. When teens know who they are and what they stand for, it becomes easier to stand up for what they believe. Unfortunately, a teen's life can seem like a puzzle with a myriad of pieces and little focus. It's not surprising that few teenagers have high self-esteem.
But there's good news. The majority of unmarried young adults are not having sex. By saying "no" to the pressures of the world, they are saying "yes" to their future.
Gainesville Care Center speaks throughout the city and county school systems in the sixth-, seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade health classes. When teens tell me that it's difficult not to have sex, I respond with this: "It is, indeed, tough not having sex. But even more difficult is dealing with STDs, pregnancy and a broken heart from having sex."
Then I remind them that they get to choose their choices. They just don't get to choose the consequences of those choices.
So your homework as adults is this: What youth in your sphere of influence can you share that quote with today? Let young people know you have confidence that they will make wise choices. It is impossible for any of us to accomplish anything that we believe we can't and that no one else believes we can either.
Be some teen's biggest cheerleader. For as Shakespeare said, "Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt."
Ann B. Gainey
executive director, Gainesville Care Center