Your opinions: May 5, 2018

Published 1:38 pm Saturday, May 5, 2018

Candidate owed delinquent taxes
At Thursday’s Chamber forum, comments were made by (state) school board member Cheokas about my service in Atlanta. Since I was only a member of the audience I honored the rules of the forum and made no response. I guess he thinks I am still in the race! For the record I strongly refute his comments. I did send in a written question, (as the rules allowed) for all of the candidates and I understand many in the audience had the same question, “Have you paid your local, state, and federal taxes?”
The Chamber official chose not to ask these questions. I understand (state) school board member Cheokas has unpaid taxes to our city, county and school system that amount to thousands of dollars in delinquent taxes. If true we cannot have someone in positions of trust elected or appointed that talk of tax matters when they refuse to pay themselves.
State Rep. Bill McGowan, D, Americus

EDITOR’S NOTE: On May 2, Cheokas paid his delinquent county taxes.

An Open Letter to Mr. Steve L. Kennedy:
Mr. Kennedy,
I have sent my gratitude to you on several previous occasions. It saddens and angers me beyond comprehension I am unable to send a quick note to your city email address to express the gratitude I am so abundantly aware of at this moment. However, perhaps it is fitting you receive my gratitude in this manner, perhaps it will also serve as a sweet reminder for my fellow villagers what a gift we had in you as our city manager. Perhaps it will serve as a call to provide the appropriate oversight we called upon as citizens to provide.
So, thank you once again for befriending me after my “unfortunate porch incident” of 2015. You were brand new to the job and being asked to provide impossible answers to an incomprehensible situation. Even young to us, you made your leadership skills so very apparent. When you didn’t know our village well your core values took over to provide a good and perfect Americus answer. You arranged simple things like special trash pick ups so my daddy could remove overgrowth from my yard in an effort to eliminate cover for bad guys. You had brighter lighting installed on my corner. You gave us every resource available to begin a Neighborhood Watch. You introduced me to other city workers so they knew my face. You made sure I knew who and where to call when I had any thoughts of something the city could do for me. You, in a very real way, helped me turn my crime scene back into my home. But most importantly you gave me the awesome strength of a police department I never knew how to ask for. They are my heart.
In 2015 we had burned through several chiefs and we only were holding our most dedicated officers. We were no where near recruiting the numbers needed and we were losing fast the numbers we had. Yet you were steady. You made our department more attractive so we could benefit from the best in police work. You were loyal on the course to bring us a police chief, and you asked our input on such a decision. Did we like him? Would we want to put our lives into his hands? Is he the type of neighbor we wanted? You brought us a match like none other and hand in hand you and Chief Scott turned it around and gave us historically low crime numbers and within one more academy graduation, we will be 1 or 2 shy of fully staffed. How does a girl say thank you for such a gift? How does a girl show appreciation for restoring her to her home?
Are there big enough words to say I appreciate you for making me the type of village I would run back to over and over again, no matter what fears I would have to face? No one has ever given me “home” before, my words are fragile and weak, my gratitude is anything but. To achieve building our phenomenal police department in less than 3 years deserves the loyalty and gratitude of every citizen in this county. But you went further. You made my home into a way of celebrating life. A safe home we expect, a thriving village is the stuff of our dreams.
Our empty store fronts became a thing of the past. You worked to get our land bank full, giving us potential while eliminating blighted property. You brought us professionals of excellent caliber, changed the way our tourism is driven and gave our downtown new life, both of which have been recognized nationally. You made us smoother in so many ways from procedures to pot holes. You brought us awesome new additions like the Jackson Street Depot. You were diligent in cleaning up our dangerous spots and bringing us new parks. Just weeks ago, public works knocked out a gorgeous traffic median on Taylor Street and Rees Street — a median of garden quality! What village gets to say that of their medians? You worked hard in our overlooked and tired neighborhoods. You gave us Christmas everyday when you lit up the Windsor every night. You made our village financially secure. But you didn’t stop with just the city, you loaned some very strong effort to the county at large as well, working hand and hand with economic development and school professionals. When the nation’s eye was on us, you ensured our beloved officers received the funeral rituals they so rightfully deserved. You allowed us a stage to prove to any city losing an officer how to behave in a loving, respectful and connected manner. I’ve yet to see a city do it better, we set the standard. We enjoy new neighbors who bring warmth to our once lonely and empty houses because they could so clearly see how amazing Americus is. And on everyday you would answer the silly questions of residents like me who had a wild idea or needed an answer to a crazy predicament that is indigenous to the condition known as Tracy K. Hall. Mr. Kennedy, you deserve to be honored for your work. I hope you know while I put pen to paper, I represent so many who know we enjoy a totally different Americus than we did 3 years ago. We might not have seen the work you put in, because you never advertised it, but we know we have seen real progressive changes that matter. We know. We see. We are incredibly saddened to lose someone of your skill, kindness and devotion. We are heartsick over decisions not ours. We are broken over our inadequacy to halt those poor decisions. This one bruises to our bones. Please forgive me my silence and apathy, sometimes I became numb to the unique excellence surrounding me. Sometimes I was pompus enough to think I was entitled to the goodness. Sometimes I was so puffed up I didn’t even notice you were a fellow neighbor busy at the work of making stronger neighborhoods. I hope on those days of selfishness my neighbors made up for me. I’m sorry for some vile reason there was a vote chosing to sacrifice my village.
I hope you will consider giving this community a chance to be heard publicly. Let it be a chance for the people who know what you did, and some who aren’t quite aware but know we are better for it, to stand beside you for all the times you have stood by us. I have never had a negative word to say about this village. I adore her, I adore my fellow villagers, but over the past days it has been hard to feel her enchantment. It is hard for many of us to feel her enchantment. This loss is particularly painful. Please know how vital your place here was and is. Please know we are dedicated to the professionals you brought us. We stand beside you, and I hope you will let us literally stand beside you by gathering us together as you so often have over the past three years. We wish you the very best, we will suffer the loss of you as our top administrator, but you remain one of our top neighbors. You are ours now, please know this village will forever bare your signature and we are better for having Steve L. Kennedy written on our most precious belonging, our enchanted little home.
With so many reasons for thanksgiving and greatest of Hopes for our future, I remain, Your neighbor.
Tracy Kathleen Hall