Town hall fosters productive discussion

Published 11:46 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

For more than two hours, lively discussion filled the halls of Lomax-Hannon Bible College as dozens of community members gathered for the Butler County Concerned Citizens organization’s first town hall meeting.

The event served not only as an opportunity for the organization to present itself to the general public and make their mission statement known, but also for attendees to air grievances, raise concerns and also to highlight the good works occurring throughout Butler County.

Among the topics discussed Thursday night were recurring bullying incidents in schools, missed trash pickups, noise ordinances and a litany of other issues.

Prior to the two-hour community discussion, Butler County Concerned Citizens president Kenneth Crum introduced Paul Mitchell, senior officer with the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, who served as guest speaker. 

Mitchell delivered information detailing the process by which a convicted felon could be granted a pardon and have his or her voting rights restored.

On Aug. 1, 2017, the Moral Turpitude Act, or House Bill 282, went into effect. The bill established a comprehensive list of 42 felonies that involve moral turpitude, which lawmakers consider worthy of voter disqualification.

“We have to become a part of the political process,” Mitchell said.

“And in order to do that, you need to be able to cast your vote.”

Also in attendance was Linda Hamilton, Butler County Board of Education member and representative of District 4.

Hamilton’s message to parents in attendance was loud and clear—have higher expectations for your children’s scholastic performance.

“I happen to be a person who believes that athletics is important, but academics are more important,” Hamilton said. “A C is fair, and a D is poor.  So if your child is skating through schools making Cs so they can run that football and you can sit in that stadium, I’m going to be real—then you are the problem. 

“You can’t get into a college with Cs and Ds. If you want your child to go on beyond high school, then you’d better demand some As and Bs.”

Hamilton also outlined several steps that parents could follow beginning when their children enter ninth grade.  Chief among those was the importance of tracking all activities both academic and extracurricular, no matter how mundane, for the purpose of obtaining scholarships.

“They need to know what GPA they need to have to apply to the particular institution that they are interested in. You don’t need to wait until the last minute and then find out,” Hamilton said.

“Parents, it’s our responsibility—we are the first teacher of our children.  Don’t let the school system be responsible for what’s happening with your child.”

Local attorney Ashley Smith delivered an equally impassioned plea on the importance of taking initiative and combating apathy.

Smith’s closing thoughts focused on the task lying ahead of the organization. 

“Because everybody in here has some kind of talent or something that they can bring to the table.  You have to be willing to stand up and put some action behind your words. The Bible says that the harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few. So you need the people willing to work in the community to get the job done.”