Grist for the Mill: Goats on the payroll, police standoffs and a bunch of people drinking green beer

Grist for the mill: A summary of what’s on the local news Web sites

Greetings, kind readers. Here is our weekly feature on The Yeast called “Grist for the mill,” which is a rundown of the what the local news media. I will look for the most interesting and newsworthy stories across the three-county area and deliver them with commentary. I am aware these newspapers have small staffs with people dedicated to the craft, so my hope is that whatever analysis I provide is offered as constructive feedback and not intended to tear people down.

Your tax dollars at work:

The most compelling government story this week came from Rockdale Water Resources which is looking at getting a herd of goats to keep grass and weeds down around Jack Turner Dam at the county’s water reservoir. The story link from the Citizen is here.

Local governments using farm animals may sound odd given that we’re living in an age with gas-powered mowers and such. However, it is not as far-fetched an idea as you would think. PBS’s News Hour co-opted a Pew Charitable Trust story on goat herds on the government payroll. The story link is here.

On Common Ground is becoming the go-to publication to follow politics of Georgia’s newest city, Stonecrest. This week? Mayoral candidate Jason Lary releases his tax records. The story link is here.

Folks running for public office are sometimes challenged to present their financial records for the public, so this story is not uncommon. OCG could help the public more in providing some context as to why Lary is publicizing his tax records with a little back story.Who is challenging Lary to do this? What are the charges being alleged that Lary is trying to refute? Who else is running for mayor? When is the election? To me, and I admit to being cynical, this story reads like a free ad for Lary.


The most interesting person of the week:

St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, and it is double exciting for falling on a Friday! The Citizen provides a nice round-up of what to do and where to go this weekend. The story link is here.

Covington News entertainment columnist Marshall McCart has the lowdown on entertainment venues in Newton County with his column, Marshall’s Music Minute.

Oxford Youth Singers will present “Hairspray,” the musical based on the John Waters movie that provides plenty of teen angst and fighting racism in 1960’s Baltimore with songs and dance numbers. The Covington News has a good preview story here.

Public Enemy No. 317:

Quite a bit of crime was reported this past week. The News had a story too big to hid behind its paywall. Authorities arrested an Oxford man following a standoff with police. The man’s arrest led to two others taken into custody. The story link is here.

The Citizen had a disturbing story of a Conyers man charged with ten counts of cruelty to animals after authorities found dogs and cats in bad condition. All crime stories are disturbing, but one wonders how people can mistreat animals. The story link is here.

The Citizen also followed up a drive-by shooter suspect taken into custody. The story link is here.

For the News police standoffs in Oxford is big news for everyone, but knife fights in Covington, not so much. The story resides behind a paywall. If you have a subscription, the link is here.

Local media pet peeve of the week:

Some elected officials do not like the newspapers that cover them. This statement has been a truism since the days of the Founding Fathers. The Citizen’s newest feature, “The Constitutional Corner” offers a new twist to this long American tradition with the press. From what I have read, I’ve determined that the county’s probate judge, clerk of courts, tax commissioner and sheriff really, really do not like having the Citizen as the county’s legal organ. Here’s a sample from the first installment, as they speak about the state’s law requiring each county to designated a legal organ publication:

Significant taxpayer and other public funds accrue to the Rockdale Citizen under this law. There are several types of transactions and notices that must be published in the legal organ as required by statute. The public has no choice in this.

We recognize that the readership of print publications has been in a steady decline over the last several decades, but the law has not changed to reflect advances in technology or the well-documented mobility preferences of the public. We will turn these legal lemons into lemonade.

What it sounds like to me is at the least a free publicity platform for public officials and at the worst a veiled threat against a free and unfettered press by bullying the Citizen into adjusting its coverage of county government to keep being the legal organ.

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