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Hartselle Enquirer

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By Staff
Danville class thanks sponsors
The Danville High School junior class and its sponsors would like to thank L&S Imports of Decatur, Burger King of Hartselle, Pepsi Cola Bottlers of Decatur, the high school faculty and the administration for all of their contributions to the 2002 junior/senior prom. The sponsors would also like to thank the junior class prom committee for all of their hard work.
Kristy Black
Erika Cox
Gary Linderman
Bob Turner
Poll shows
community trend
In response to Councilmen Jones, Carter and Stoner calling for Dr. Hartsell to resign. Have Jones, Carter and Stoner seen the Enquirer's online poll? Close to 90 percent want Dr. Hartsell not to resign. Over 80 percent disagreed with the council's handling of the school controversy.
Some people have compared Jones, Carter and Stoner to Larry, Curley and Moe. I personally think that is an insult to the Stooges.
John Stephenson
School board doing good job
I have held the Hartselle School System up as and example to my community leaders numerous times. The Hartselle system has put it all together. They have excellent academic credentials, recognized sporting programs for all age levels and sexes, highly regarded technical programs and a community that has supported the programs since the days of J. C. Pettey. Hartselle and its school system have for years prepare their students for continued education or to become an immediate productive member of society.
From my distance and only outside reading in, the current City Council appears to want to micromanage the city's support systems. Before the school system trauma it was the utilities board. The reports read in the Hartselle Enquirer lead in the same direction.
Both those boards were made independent and appointed for a reason. That reason is so that they would not have to be concerned with their own political agenda or that of the current city government. Boards should focus on the task assigned to them without worrying about political repercussions for making a hard decision. If the citizens allow the council to put a member of the council on the board or decide to elect a school board, the focus now becomes, "what do I have to do to be reelected," not "this was a hard and unpopular decision, but it was the right one."
Dr. Hartsell and the school board made the correct decision regarding the two students that passed out. The only people needed to be involved were the students, their parents, medical personnel, and school administrators if the students broke school rules or there was a danger to other students.
I am in agreement with the council pressing the school board for clear and appropriate policies and procedures regarding drugs and emergency situations. That's not micromanagement. That's voicing general concern and an expectation for the board to act accordingly. I am also in agreement with members of the council that wanted to call a "no confidence vote," but question the body the vote should be applied to.
Lee Weinman
Editor's note: Due to the overwhelming number of letters to the Editor received this week, space limitations prevented the Enquirer from publishing all the letters. The remainder of the letters will be published next week.
Councilman defends position
My name is Allen Stoner. I am a city councilman for Hartselle, citizen of Hartselle, and a parent of two children, one of whom is already a student in the Hartselle school system and another who will be entering the Hartselle school system in August 2002. My mother's family has resided in the Hartselle area since the founding of this city in the late 1800s.
My father, Richard Stoner, served on the local school board in Hartselle during the 1960s, while it was still a part of the Morgan County school system. He was chairman of the school board when Hartselle made the difficult and controversial decision to separate from the county school system in the 1970s. I am certainly proud of my family heritage in Hartselle and honored to stand on their shoulders in my efforts to make a contribution to Hartselle's progress. I also happen to love this town and am not afraid to question its most "sacred cow," particularly when I sincerely believe it will result in positive change for the administration of the school system.
In regard to the current debate about our school system I have considered every step I have taken with careful thought and prayer. Unlike others in this city who think that every disagreement is "negative" and every argument "strife", there are many times when open discussion is good. That is called the democratic process – open and free debate about the issues that affect our lives.
Referring to our current debate as "war" is an overstatement. Asking questions about who, what, where, when, how and why is not creating strife or being negative, it is called seeking the truth
There are many in this city who want to keep Hartselle's debates "in the family" and away from the eyes of the public. Too many Southern stories have been written about dirty little family secrets that eventually destroy the family from within because no one wants to discuss the problem openly and fix it. The same thing is happening in Hartselle today.
The dirty little secret? The collapse of two students at Hartselle High School and the manner in which the superintendent, principal/athletic director, and a well-known athletic coach handled it. These are the facts: a positive drug test by a student athlete, the suppression of that positive drug test by the school superintendent by telling the public one thing and the mayor another; the failure to take any steps to punish (or help) the student/athlete; and the refusal (or failure) of four school board members (Tom McHugh, Kathy Goodwin, Joe Berry, and Susan Puckett) to see any problem worthy of their investigation into any of this. How to fix it, when private efforts are not successful? That good old American democratic process – open discussion and public debate.
The only real victim in this debate has been the "truth." I know what Mayor Knight, Councilman Carter, Councilman Jones, and I have done during this whole debate – an honest investigation and search for the truth. I am a firm believer that knowing the truth will set you free (and not just in spiritual matters).
Dr. Hartsell did not tell the truth about the positive drug test and everybody knows it but nobody wants to talk about it openly and fix the problem because they do not want to be accused of causing strife or being negative about the school system. (See the children's story, The Emperor's New Clothes) The same can be said about the appearance of unequal enforcement of the school drug policy and the appearance of a complete and utter failure by the four school board members to diligently investigate any of the above questions until after an open discussion and public debate (not war) brought the issue to a head.
As the superintendent of the school system Dr. Lee Hartsell is head of the school system, but he works at the pleasure of the school board. It is not any different than a corporation, where there is a president and a board of directors. In a corporation the president runs the daily operations and the board of directors sets policy and makes sure the president is doing his job effectively. The same applies to the Hartselle school system – Dr. Hartsell oversees the daily operations and the school board sets policy and oversees the superintendent. Since the school board hires the superintendent he is their responsibility.
If the board is unhappy with the superintendent, they can rightfully demand that he account for his actions. Since the city council appoints the school board members they are our responsibility. If the council is unhappy with the school board, the council can rightfully demand that the board members account for their actions (or lack thereof.)
For those of you who will immediately remind me that the school board is independent and beyond the control of the city council I would respectfully remind you that these school board members are appointed by elected officials (your city council) who place great trust in the persons they appoint. The boards that carry the greatest weight and bear the most responsibility/controversy are the Hartselle City School Board and the Hartselle Utilities Board. When we city council members are dissatisfied with the actions/inactions of these boards we, as elected officials, have a responsibility and obligation to ask who, what, where, when, how and why.
If you, the citizens of Hartselle, are dissatisfied with this arrangement, then you can either elect city council members who will never question the school system (even when the truth screams for someone to shine the light on it) or you can … elect your school board members and forever remove them from any "pressure" by the city council.
By electing school board members you solve all of the above problems and make the board members answerable only to the public (that means you.) I am personally opposed to an elected school board system because I still believe that an appointed school board is the best way to ensure that the best interests of the school children are always the primary goal of our school system. How to avoid this? By not forgetting that citizens in a free society will abandon the appointment system in favor of an elected system, when they believe appointed school board members no longer listen to their concerns or are otherwise not answerable to the public.
To put it more bluntly: when citizens get that bad feeling that the fix is in, the truth is being suppressed, and their intelligence is being insulted by a school superintendent and "appointed" school board, whether these perceptions are real or not.
Finally, I should do a little house keeping before I close this, my very first letter to the editor.
I did not ask for the resignation of school board chairwoman Susan Puckett or any other board member. Even though I have only been in politics for 18 months I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually claim I had been misquoted. I did state, however, that Dr. Hartsell ought to consider retirement because I questioned his continued effectiveness (but then I have made suggestions to other people in the past and they ignored those, too). I still want to know what Coach William Booth knew and when he knew it concerning the positive drug test, when he came to a council work session on March 25, with the baseball team in tow and demanded an apology from us. Contrary to one recent opinion writer my skin is not so thin to take criticism, but I am irritated when an entire city council is forced to listen and watch the currently-popular Booth pound the podium and lecture the council without being able to respond with the truth due to laws governing juveniles and student confidentiality. What did he know and when did he know it? That question just continues to nag me.
Allen Stoner
City must address its problems
I just finished reading Jack Greenhill's April 25 column on "How Hartselle can be different." I was born and raised in Hartselle and while I now live in Texas, my home has continued to be in Alabama.
Hartselle is not the only small town to try to pretend that the problems they hear about in the evening news do not happen in their town, but it was good to see your willingness to bring some of those problems to the light of day.
I am 46 years old, so I too was a child of the late '60s and early '70s. While it is true that we were tainted by the morality of that time period, it is also true that we as a community need to get away from the blame assessment and selfishness of that time period.
We, as a generation were taught that our failures, mistakes and even crimes were the fault of our parents, the color of our skin, our gender or because we were poor. Well, it's time for that to end. The mistakes have been made, but assigning blame will not correct those errors.
Once Hartselle was a community where no one locked their doors and a child was raised and a responsibility of his whole community. Lord knows that I couldn't ride my bike a different way home from school without my parents knowing about it. But I was also taught to accept responsibility for my actions. Was I taught this by society? No. Even then the "blame game" had begun.
I was taught to accept responsibilities by a Christian mother. More so, by her actions than by anything she told me. So why do we expect our children to do as we say and not as we do?
I applaud your willingness to "air dirty laundry" and I applaud the Hartselle Enquirer's willingness to print the real cure – a return to Christian standards and a godly life.
And maybe just as importantly, to do it as an editorial instead of being politically correct or burying it in the religious section.
Alan Nethery
Beeville, Texas