Showing signs of support for the education bonds

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This fall marks historic first. I have an election sign in my front yard.

That’s right, I’m visibly supporting something. It was the easiest decision I’ve ever made.

But this is still uncharted territory. Because I worked in newspapers I always felt such preferential expressions were personally wrong. So I never had a sign endorsing one candidate over another — or taking sides in a bond referendum or amendment or anything else. After my first 10 years in the business I stopped having much interest in who won or lost anyway. Either way, the outcome would be a story. The better the story, the better I liked it.

And we never had political signs in our yard when I was a kid, mainly by virtue of geography. My parents had serious interest in politics and very strong opinions about it, but they lived so far off any public road that putting up a sign was pointless. Anyone who might see it had taken a wrong turn and were probably not from around their area anyway.

The sign now in my front yard endorses the $150 million bond referendum for Alamance-Burlington Schools, Alamance Community College and the sales tax that would help pay for both. I’m all in for the bond and told Cindy Brady, who is leading the public information campaign to gain widespread support for it, that I would help as much as I could. Last week she delivered the sign — yes, it miraculously survived the brutal wind from Tropical Storm Michael — and it’s proudly displayed on my lawn. I also volunteered to help at the polls a few times during the early voting period, which starts this week (Wednesday, Oct. 17). So if you see me at Holly Hill Mall occasionally over the next few weeks, stop and say “hello.” Election Day for those counting is Nov. 6.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone in the community that I strongly support the effort to upgrade education facilities. I have written about school needs multiple times over the past several months, most recently in this post about the age of some of our schools — nearly all are old and far out of date. One dates to before World War I. The last high school constructed in the county was during the Nixon Administration. I have also and often implored the Alamance County Board of Commissioners to budget more for education on an annual basis. I have criticized some commissioners for their lack of support. Of particular note was this one concerning “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Lashley.” Two commissioners who are strong  annual backers of education are Bob Byrd and Eddie Boswell. I probably don’t praise those two enough.

While some commissioners have been tepid to absent in their budget support, four of the five current board members say they will vote for the bond referendum. Only Lashley is against it. And I was heartened to read in a story about the candidate forum last week sponsored by the Times-News that all of the candidates for seats on the Alamance County Board of Commissioners say they plan to vote for the bond package. I was particularly struck by something Republican candidate Steve Carter said at the forum. I’ve known Steve for several years, he’s one of our community’s leading fiscal conservatives. He would never be confused with a big spender, not in a million years. But Steve said at the forum he sees the need and urged skeptics to see for themselves. This is the best quote from the Times-News story about the forum.

“You need to take a hard look,” Carter said. “If you have got a question about it, ask somebody and get out and take a tour of the schools yourself. If you don’t know, take a look. I think you will feel the same way I did after I finished.”

ABSS is offering its own information sessions this week about this referendum that is critical to the future of our community. Better education is the best way to gain and keep industry and jobs here. It’s the best way to equip our children to compete here and elsewhere for careers and it’s the only way to develop the leaders of tomorrow for our county, cities and towns. Representatives from the ABSS Facilities and Maintenance Division will be available to answer questions from the public and discuss the reasons for and the scope of nine projects that will be funded with bond proceeds. Bond projects include construction of a new high school and specified improvements at all 6 current high schools, South Mebane and Pleasant Grove elementary schools. Citizens may arrive at any time during the scheduled bond information sessions as follows:

Monday, October 15 South Mebane Elementary 5:30 to 7:00 pm
600 S. Third Street, Mebane

Tuesday, October 16 Southern Alamance High 5:30 to 7:00 pm
631 Southern High School Road, Graham

Monday, October 22 District Administrative Office 5:00 to 6:00 pm
1712 Vaughn Road, Burlington.

In addition, go to the Times-News website to view multiple stories about this issue. The newspaper and reporter Jessica Williams have done an outstanding job of covering all aspects of this referendum.

And the pro-bond forces also have an information site.To read more facts about the bond referendum and sales tax go here.

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