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SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2006
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Smoke-free Applebee's welcome
THE DECATUR DAILY:

Many of your editorials are quite illuminating, not always a picture of Decatur, but of what Decatur can be.

I like it particularly when you write about the good deeds of a fine restaurant such as Applebee's. People can go there and breathe clean air. No smoking anywhere in the building.

What a healthier day it will be when all of the city and county have no smoking. I, as one of the many who are allergic to tobacco smoke, am truly thankful for your public support of an enforced clean air act.

To almost quote an East Coast man speaking to his little girl: "If you see it in THE DAILY, you can believe it."

Jane Bradford

Decatur

Blame Jackson for Decatur's lack of growth
THE DECATUR DAILY:

Martin Burkey continues to compare Decatur with Macon, Ga. It is like comparing apples to oranges. His articles failed to mention the following facts.

According to the 2000 census:

Population: Macon — 97,255, Decatur — 53,929

Macon has 38,444 households compared to Decatur's 21,8247.

Macon has 24,219 families; Decatur — 14,753.

Macon is 35.5 percent white; Decatur — 75.5 percent white.

Macon is 75.5 percent black; Decatur — 19.56 percent black.

Macon is 1.2 percent Hispanic; Decatur — 5.64 percent.

Median annual household income: Macon — $27,405; Decatur — $37,192.

High schools: Macon — 12; Decatur — 3

Colleges: Macon — 5; Decatur — 1

Macon is divided into five council districts (three members per district for a total of 15 members); Decatur has 5 districts.

Each council member represents: Macon — 6,483, Decatur — 10,786.

So, it's clear that not only is Macon much bigger than Decatur is, it has less money per household. However, they can do much better things for their community because they have better leadership. I would bet they don't squander money on frivolous, nonessential items like the current Decatur administration does.

It's obvious that they will go out and get new businesses, unlike the city of Decatur that runs them out of town. As I recall, it was the one dissenting vote that prevented a new shopping center from being constructed at Interstate 565 and Interstate 65. Consequently, this explains the April 23 front page article, that Athens has fewer people yet their town is growing faster and has a better tax structure than Decatur.

It all boils down to government leadership, or lack thereof. We could have had the same growth in Decatur as Athens and Priceville, but Billy Jackson, the current president of the Decatur City Council, in a work session voted for the complex, then tried a power play and voted no. This would have provided a bigger tax structure and jobs. This is leadership?

Aaron Potts

Decatur

Close gender wage gap
THE DECATUR DAILY:

April 25 was Equal Pay Day. To match men's earnings for 2005, women must work from January 2005 to April 2006 — an extra four months. Equal Pay Day occurs each year on a Tuesday in April, symbolizing the point in the next week and year to which a woman must work to achieve pay equity. Women continue to earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts.

While educational gains for women are often credited with helping to shrink the gender gap in earnings, research conducted by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation reveals that women with four-year degrees typically earn 71.5 cents for every $1 that their male counterparts earn, or $44,200 compared with $61,800 for men — a gap of $17,600 per year.

Inequity in pay is not limited to one career or demographic. Pay disparities affect women of all ages, races and education levels.

A lifetime of lower wages means women have less income they can save for retirement, and less income that counts in a Social Security or pension benefit formula.

Because women live longer than men do, they will have to stretch their retirement savings — which are less to begin with — over a longer period of time.

The members of our state's congressional delegation should support legislation to close the gender wage gap, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 74/ H.R. 2397) and the Fair Pay Act (S. 841/ H.R. 1697).

Among issues identified as priorities for women, 90 percent say that equal pay for equal work is a priority. I hope our elected officials remember this as we approach the fall elections.

June Taylor Wilson

Huntsville

Cheerleader selection a fraud in Hartselle
THE DECATUR DAILY:

Basketball/football cheerleader selections for Hartselle High School were unethical this year. Hartselle board policy for cheerleader selections states "all tabulation of scores and the posting will be done by the CPA selected by the board" and "all candidates trying out will do so by a number and at no time a name."

The sponsors posted the cheerleaders names online (no small thing). Also, "judges are to sign a statement showing they are not from within 30 miles of Hartselle and have no connection with anyone in Hartselle." No one in authority required documentation of impartiality prior to tryouts. Several candidates admitted they took dance from at least two of the judges. If UCA "sent" judges without requiring impartiality statements, policy wasn't followed. This was an outcome-altering deviation. Every candidate was put in a compromising position because of this flagrancy, including the girls who made cheerleader.

Sponsors announced new lower tumbling standards the night before the clinic. JV, tumbling-optional; Varsity, back handspring — required to make cheerleader. In both squads, non-tumblers made cheerleader over girls who did back handsprings and back tucks. Sponsors said back handsprings were "required to be attempted" for varsity. These were UCA standards? Administrators say they took all girls in equal ability range. Daughters of the principal, assistant principal, athletic director, JV sponsor, girls' basketball coach and numerous teachers made cheerleader and several of them are non-tumblers. If standards hadn't been lowered, 70 percent of parents of non-selected girls wouldn't have asked for investigation by an impartial party.

The board should take actions or selections will never be fair again. Saying policy was followed doesn't make it so. Ethically, lowered standards qualified every candidate. Written policies to protect students and the board were violated. Can someone impartial investigate and respond?

Janie Grammer

Hartselle

School board at fault for faulty implementation
THE DECATUR DAILY:

One cheerleader candidate was allowed to submit a video, one wasn't. Several of the candidates knew one of the judges by first name. Every daughter of anyone in administration was chosen. Sworn statements of non-affiliation or knowledge of candidates by judges were not allowed to be viewed by parents. Scores were posted on the Internet by someone who shouldn't have been in the equation. Some chosen candidates were not able to do the requirements of the policy. Names, not numbers, were readily available for everyone to see with a star or stars beside them. One candidate was allowed to go home to "fix up" before tryouts. Candidates who had competed and won on national levels were not chosen.

These are some of the allegations regarding the process of the selection of the varsity and junior varsity cheerleaders in Hartselle. For the past two years, there hasn't been one complaint on this issue. Now, it's becoming the talk of the town again.

There's nothing wrong with the policy, it's the implementation of it. Is it a failure of the school board to allow these things to "slip" through the cracks? Is it another failure that the board has not "properly" addressed this? There again, is the lack of leadership on the Hartselle Board of Education. Sometimes, whom you know and whom you owe are no different. My advice: an ethics complaint and a good lawyer. Stop the insanity!

Mike Dowdy

Hartselle

Brief history of Central Baptist
THE DECATUR DAILY:

Decatur went through a drastic change in 1887 that was more destructive than the yellow fever epidemic. People left the old city, being closest to the river, from the fear of this disease. By the time the epidemic was over, the old city was dying from population loss. People thought yellow fever was in the water and buried in the ground with the dead. It stifled growth in Old Decatur, which drove the people to the south to form a new city, New Decatur.

By 1889, the membership at First Baptist Church in Old Decatur also stopped growing from this fear of yellow fever. In New Decatur, another church on 16th Avenue formed a charter called The First Baptist Church of New Decatur.

By 1890, old First Baptist members decided the fear of the epidemic was too strong. The pastor, Rev. W.M. Blackwelder, and 70 out of the 103 members, left without a vote and without selling any property that belonged to First Baptist.

By 1892, only 64 people decided to organize a new church charter. They rented and met in a store building on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Sherman Street. The minutes of the first meeting recorded the acceptance of these 64 members into the original charter and made five of the men deacons.

The next order of business was to decide on a location. They paid $1 down on four lots at the corner of Grant Street and Fourth Avenue. By 1894, they had paid off the lots, plus the probate file records, which came to $5.

The last order of business was to decide on a name. Since there was already a First Baptist Church in old and New Decatur, and their land was between the two, they chose the name Central Baptist Church.

Phillip M. Chenault

Decatur

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