by Gail Marsh
ASSISTANT CITY EDITOR
A Harrison County citizens' committee has been formed to drum up support for the upcoming school excess levy renewal.
The levy has been in place for the last 45 years, and generates more than $11 million per year for such things as textbooks, technology, maintenance and salary supplements. The election to renew the levy for a five-year period will take place on Dec. 16.
The levy is extremely important to maintaining the viability and excellence of the school system, according to Robert Stemple, chair of the committee.
Stemple said the committee, made up of several business leaders, elected officials and former county educators, has three main purposes -- to let the public know how important the passage of the levy is, to let residents know that the continuation of the levy would not increase taxes, and to stress the importance of voting.
"We want people, no matter what their stance, to get out and vote. We don't want to have a repeat of the Florida election here," Stemple told the crowd gathered at the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce office on Wednesday afternoon.
Roger Diaz, Harrison County Commission president, is serving as treasurer of the grass roots committee. He said the levy is important to the county's economic development.
"As a commission member, when I am talking with people who are considering locating a business here, the very first question they ask is about the quality of the school system. They then may ask about medical facilities and recreational opportunities, but education is always first on the list," he said.
Garrett Snyder, a former school board member, said he has no children or grandchildren currently in the school system, but still supports the renewal of the excess levy.
"There are a lot of different programs that benefit the children that wouldn't be possible without the money generated by the levy," he said.
Assistant City Editor Gail Marsh can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.