OPINION: Don’t come back, good advice to those young enough to leave

Special to The TelegraphJune 27, 2014 

As I read Telegraph Executive Editor Sherrie Marshall’s column Sunday about her 19-year-old college student daughter’s decision not to return to Macon after graduation, I was reminded of similar discussions with my grandchildren years ago.

It was during the Mayor C. Jack Ellis years when we collected college catalogs and visited campuses and talked about career objectives.

Local politics were race-driven, crime was on the increase and education was so marginal we had to use retirement dollars for private middle and high school tuition.

I was no soothsayer, but I did see as John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival did a “Bad Moon Rising,” and that lunar happening was right here in Macon. Everyone in the family agreed out-of-town colleges and occupations should be sought, and the future of each grandchild should be someplace outside of our city.

My training and background in vocational rehabilitation and the teaching experiences of my wife led us to believe it would be two or three generations before our community was on par with others in the state in regard to good government, schools and crime reduction. We believe that forecast holds true on the first day of summer, 2014.

There are a lot of good people in Macon and kids galore who can do anything they want to do, but the hooks of racism, poor schools and rampant crime are so prevalent here they can’t escape its effect.

Some of the recent decisions by our board of education makes a rational person want go into the woods and holler. Forest Gump and Bubba Blue could make better decisions on a wonderful Wednesday.

Fast forward: Two of our grandchildren are career military and away from Macon, and two have finished college and are working in the Athens and Atlanta areas. The last grandchild has one more year at Georgia Tech, but he has been accepted into the master’s program there and spoken on occasion of exploring the Silicone Valley in California after graduation. I trust Marshall’s daughter will make good decisions on where she will live and work and enjoy life at its fullest.

Perhaps our new countywide government will improve the community in the future, but their first budget of funding museums and faith-based projects over road improvements causes me to ponder. And perhaps our board of education won’t continue on its paraphrased Robert Frost journey: “The woods here are dark and deep, but I have promises to keep.”

John G. Kelley Jr., is a resident of Macon.

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