TIFTON - After hearing neighbors' complaints, the Tift County Board of Education decided Tuesday to rescind its objections to construction of a noise wall on I-75 in front of the Northeast Campus of Tift County High School.

The board voted last month to ask the Georgia Department of Transportation to alter its original plans and build the wall to the north of the school.

Neighborhood residents collected signatures for a petition asking the board to reverse its decision, saying that locating the wall to the north would leave out residents south of the school.

"The noise on the south side is just as bad and is sometimes unbearable," the letter said. "...The residents live here 24 hours a day - please consider the families in this area as well."

Board member Joseph Carter said he went out to the school to hear noise levels for himself and found that there was "considerable noise."

"I walked through the parking lot and up to the neighborhood north of the school," Carter said. "I don't know how those folks stand it."

Carter said he thought the decision on where to locate the wall "might not be our call" and suggested telling the DOT the board would not stand in its way. Members voted to rescind the first letter mailed to the DOT and send another one withdrawing the board's objections.

In other action, the board:

Voted to extend dress code requirements at Tift County High and Northeast to Eighth Street Middle School. The dress code at Eighth Street was already similar to the TCHS code but did not require boys to tuck in their shirts and wear belts. The dress code for all three schools was also modified to allow girls to wear sleeveless clothing as long as it has at least a two-inch strap and fits closely around the arm.

Approved out-of-state trip requests for students at TCHS and Northeast.

Approved fund-raiser requests from Northeast and the school nutrition program.

Declared used computer equipment surplus.

Heard a Special Local Option Sales Tax projects report from projects manager Patrick Atwater. Atwater said progress on the new elementary school is moving rapidly, with half of the building completely blocked and gas lines and curb and gutter being installed now. Other projects under way include a new roof at G.O. Bailey, a field house at Northeast and renovations at Charles Spencer.

Approved the annual Regional Educational Service Area membership contract for fiscal 2003. Membership in the RESA will cost $27,196 and is required by the state. The RESA provides staff development and research for all of the counties in its area.

Named Martha Massey to replace Stuart Adams as business partner for the Annie Belle Clark local council. Adams is retiring from First Community Bank.

Approved a tentative budget for fiscal 2003.

Accepted the low bid of $152,600 from Herrin for new copiers for the school system. Abbott said Tift County schools make about 14 million copies in a year.

Named board President Richard Golden a delegate to the GBSA summer conference and delegate assembly.

Recognized state and international DECA finalists Alvin Okongwu, Chase Nickelson, Christina Winters, Amber Day, Kyle McClusky, Brittany Rowe, Donnie Purvis, Rhett Pritchett, Tony Cella, J.P. Petsch and Meghaan Jarrell.

Recognized Future Farmers of America students for regional and state proficiencies and awards. The students were Trisha Stephens, Lindsey Towson, Michael Maw, Eve Felton, Jake Jernigan, Jonathan Markham, Jennifer Sapp, Jeffery McClendon, Leah Shiver, Tad Harper, Marshall Musgrove, Michelle Burgess, Holly Tawzer and Melissa Cleary.

Recognized Tift County High School student Eduardo Gonzales for winning first place in the state VICA Skills USA contest in carpentry.

Recognized Michael Scott and Jay Young, students at the Northeast Campus of TCHS, for winning first place at the Georgia Technology Student Association Convention in the area of computer construction and troubleshooting.

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