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Thumbs up, thumbs down
Denise Etheridge
Denise Etheridge, a University of Georgia graduate, has been named editor of the Coastal courier.

From time to time, I’d like to stand on my soapbox – anything to make my 5-foot frame taller – and offer my take on who should be given a thumbs up or a thumbs down. 

A thumbs up means giving well deserved praise to decent people doing the right thing, and a thumbs down to what doesn’t serve the community well.

So here goes…

A thumbs up to the Hinesville Police Department, as a whole, and a special thumbs up and best wishes to Maj. Chris Reid, who retired from the Hinesville Police Department this week. We also congratulate Lloyd Slater, who was named assistant chief of police on Monday.

 Any time we can promote our first responders – our law enforcers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel – we will. They don’t risk their lives for the money, that’s for sure. They enter these fields to help others and make a difference in their communities. 

By the way, check out the HPD’s lip sync battle video, “Beyond the Badge.” Our own staff videographer, Lawrence Dorsey, did a fabulous job filming the video. And our men and women in blue were such good sports. You can find it on our website, on the HPD Facebook page and on the city of Hinesville’s Facebook page. 

Kudos also goes to Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes, who reached out to us with a letter to the editor explaining the county’s new payroll process. His letter was in response to a Sound Off caller who was critical of the new pay procedures. Sikes should also be commended for being transparent over the firing and arrest of a former Liberty County Jail employee suspected of stealing.

A thumbs up to Hinesville City Manager Ken Howard for responding to a resident’s letter to the editor, with an editorial explaining the millage rate and property taxes. The city graciously sent us the response following a letter from a resident who questioned, in her view, high taxes in the city of Hinesville. She, too, is commended for asking the question and for putting her name out there publicly about the issue.

Which brings me to a thumbs down. Is it me, or are people becoming impatient, discourteous and unable to listen to opinions different than their own? Has social media turned us into whiners and unreasonable critics, unwilling to hear two sides to a story? I know I’ve been guilty of jumping to conclusions at times, in my rush to judgement before receiving all the facts. But, geez, folks… our Sound Off alone makes one wonder – what’s up with us today? People seem more than willing to be critical of others, even nasty or bullying, when they can withhold their identities.

Sound Off is a popular feature we run in the print paper and the online product. Residents can phone in or email their views anonymously. We don’t verify these calls. Now, if you write a letter to the editor, and put your name to it, include a phone number. Those, we verify.

We get some interesting calls and emails to Sound Off. One gentleman, who routinely refers to the Courier as the “fish wrap,” tells us at least once a week what he doesn’t care to see in the paper. We will take his advice under consideration. Except for Patty Leon’s Liberty Foodie columns. I enjoy her reminiscences and her family recipes. 

For the record, she’s American born. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba before Castro came to power. Patty said her mom and dad “saw the handwriting on the wall” and left while they were still free to do so.

Other folks often call out elected officials, or express concerns about taxes, schools, roads and numerous other topics that impact their everyday lives.

Now, I’m all for free expression. And we will continue running Sound Off. However, I won’t publish Sound Off messages that advance personal attacks on private citizens. One Sound Off message I chose not to run criticized students almost by name – meaning, our children.  I won’t run profanity in the Courier. I won’t run hate-filled language, be it racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, or whatever. Neither will we run threatening language. 

I’ve also noticed an inordinate number of calls related to alleged incidents in our public schools. Please, folks, if you have an issue at your child’s school, contact your child’s teacher or school counselor. If you’re not satisfied with the result, go to the principal. If you’re not satisfied with that result, approach the school superintendent. Both Dr. Franklin Perry with the Liberty County School System, and Dr. Robert Waters, with the Long County School System, are more than willing to engage with parents. Do that first, before picking up the phone to dial Sound Off.

The number for Sound Off is 876-3733 or you can submit a comment online at 

We also welcome letters to the editor. Send them to

Etheridge is the editor of the Coastal Courier. She and her husband have two grown children, a grandchild on the way, a teddy bear of a rescue dog, and a grumpy cat that guards the house.

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