(Editor’s Note: Due to a large number of responses to this past week’s Feedback question, “What’s on Your Mind?” those responses that were received before the deadline and not printed today will be printed on Thursday’s Editorial Page.)
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There were several responses to the question: What’s on your mind?
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What’s on my mind are the blanket assertions made by Sheriff Bobby May about the effectiveness of the I-40 ‘Interdiction Team.’ They are made repeatedly (indeed ballyhooed) without any substantiation and the Stooges on the Quorum Court accept it as gospel. Where are the facts, figures and statistics to support these assertions? The team was originally formed to prevent all those thieving out-of-state motorists from using I-40 to enter St. Francis County and steal copper. What a laugh! People from out-of-state (Dallas, Phoenix, Nashville, Orlando; take your pick) don’t lie awake at night plotting to steal copper in this county! To believe Bobby May requires a ‘willful suspension of disbelief.’
The copper thieves are local residents who know their victims and where the copper is located. Motorists come off I-40 to buy gas and hamburgers Bobby, not steal copper. The only plot is the one hatched by Bobby to enhance county coffers, through fines, by fleecing unsuspecting motorists by stopping them for no seat belt, speeding, changing lanes without signaling, one headlight, etc. He’s made St. Francis County a ‘Speed Trap,’ pure and simple, to exact money from unsuspecting motorists.
Questions the Quorum Court and this newspaper need to ask Bobby are these: Has anyone, be they from out of state, or locally, been arrested by this team for copper theft? In over two years of existence (with the exception of last week) how much drugs has this team confiscated? One joint? Two joints? a pill? There’s been nothing in the media about any major busts by this ‘Cracker Jack’ team. How many drug arrests have been made? How many tickets have been issued and what was the violation for? What is the racial makeup of the offenders?
All this information should be readily available at Municipal Court. Bobby has never divulged this information and no one has pressed him on the issue. The reality is that he cannot justify this unwarranted expenditure of time, money and manpower. This team would be better utilized in Hughes and Widener, where county taxpaying citizens live, who are without police protection. While their houses are being broken into, this team is sitting on I-40, behind bridge overpass, waiting for someone with a busted fender. Ask yourself this questions, “Do you know anyone who lives on I-40 who needs protecting?”
Lastly, Hughes should not have to “pay” Bobby for police protection. He is mandated by state law to provide it anyway. The Sheriff’s primary duty and responsibility is to maintain and operate the county jail and provide police services to towns without a police department; pure and simple. What is he going to do, refuse to provide it? I don’t think so!
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What the heck was this bus driver thinking? Oh, that’s right, he wasn’t. I wonder if he’ll understand these words? Abandonment, Hypothermia, Abduction, Death. Maybe the school districts should give a 10 question test of ‘What if?’ type questions to bus drivers and other school workers to evaluate the way they would handle certain situations. If they can’t figure it out on paper, that should be a red flag. Don’t hire them. Simple enough.
There are always options on what to do in a situation. If the bus was out of gas then the children should have simply been kept in the bus. At least they would have been dry and under the care of an adult. If the driver was afraid of the road conditions to the point where they would not continue on the route for fear of losing control of the bus, I don’t believe a single person would have criticized the driver for stopping and waiting for help. I’m sure the FCPD, Sheriff’s Dept, or even the fire departments would have assisted in getting these few children home safely. Okay, let’s say the driver didn’t have a cell phone. Then the driver could have simply flagged down some driver for help. Wouldn’t you stop for a distressed school bus?
Now let me say that I appreciate those who do their jobs and do them well. I appreciate the bus drivers and teachers that have to put up with unruly children.
A very large part of our population seems to think that their children are perfect and never do anything wrong and even if they do you better not say a thing to them. Well, folks, my kids are far from perfect and so are yours.
To the parents of those abandoned; STAND YOUR GROUND! In a heartbeat.... your lives could have been changed forever. Give thanks that all went well.
— Common Sense Guy
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Thank you for allowing me to speak “What’s on my mind.” I have to really wonder if our school district will recover from the lack of leadership that currently exists. The current situation the Forrest City School District is faced with cannot be properly handled under the current administration. I have found the superintendent to not return phone calls, not answer his district paid cell phone, and stay behind closed doors most of his work day. I would have a better chance at getting an appointment with the president than I can with him. From this type of behavior, I can see why the district is in Fiscal Distress. Looks as if to me that this is the way he handles everything dealing with the day to day operations – total neglect. No business can function in this type of environment. Where is the line of communication? Board members should demand better leadership!! What can the superintendent do to help with the current financial situation? Take this into consideration – if teachers and staff are going to have their pay cut 3%, then why can’t his be cut 6%? It looks like to me that the highest paid administrators should be the ones to take the biggest cut. I, as a taxpayer, would like to have some answers:
1) Why can’t the superintendent get our buildings cleaned like they should be — isn’t he where the buck stops?
2) Why does the district pay for a cell phone for him when he doesn’t answer?
3) Do we honestly need an “Expect More” theme when it means absolutely nothing?
I honestly hope the shallow leadership can be replaced with a superintendent who lives in Forrest City, 7 days a week, pays taxes in Forrest City, and actually cares about its employees. Is this too much to ask for? Let’s get real, don’t expect to “Expect More” when we are actually getting a lot less!
Thank you for your time.
— Forrest City Parent,
Taxpayer & Citizen
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I am very concerned about the future of the Forrest City School District. There is absolutely no communication between the Superintendent and other administrators at the district level, and the school employees. I’m referring to the facts concerning fiscal distress and the probability of reduction in force being implemented, and let’s not forget that there will probably be a decrease in salary for all employees next school year. The superintendent’s salary tops out at well over $100,000 a year, so why doesn’t he step forward and commit to taking a larger cut than those at the bottom of the pay scale? As a leader, he should say, “start with me.” The school employees should not have had to learn this information by way of the local newspaper. Employees have been told that we are in fiscal distress but all the facts have never been presented to them in a way they could understand. Most teachers and other employees have no idea of all the restrictions put on the money the district receives from the state, grants, federal money and other sources. This should have been explained to them early on. Also, the district’s fiscal distress plan that has to be sent to the ADE in Little Rock and approved by the ADE should have been made available to everyone. Have any of those plans been implemented?
At the school board meetings, sometimes when asked questions, our superintendent seems vague with his answers or he chooses not to answer at all. How can our school board do their job when they can’t get answers to their questions? They have to take his word on things and sometimes I don’t think he has a clue. As far as the superintendent having an open door policy, that’s a joke. He sits behind closed doors all the time, does not want to deal with parents and is reluctant to answer his phone. He may be considered by some to be a good public relations person, and I think that is beginning to wear thin, but this district needs a whole lot more than that.
I do wonder why the school board hired him. I was under the impression that one of the requirements for superintendent was to have knowledge of Arkansas State Law. He seemed to have none when hired.
While this is by far not all of what is on my mind, it certainly weighs quite heavily.
Thank you for allowing me to express my concerns in public.
— Just another uninformed
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This week’s question: Of the three proposed sites for a regional jail facility, which do you think is best and why?