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Voter turnout dismal for Jones County ESPLOST decision

On March 21, Jones County residents will decide whether to extend a penny tax that helps to fund local schools / Matt Thielke (WGXA)

GRAY, Ga. -- On Tuesday, Jones County residents will decide whether to extend a penny tax that helps to fund local schools.

The one percent Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) totals about $15 million and will go to fund more renovations at Jones County High School along with new additions to the building. The ESPLOST is already in place; this vote will be for a continuation of that tax for the next five years.

Despite the importance of the tax, only 660 votes have been cast as of Monday, including absentee and early voting ballots. That number represents only about a four percent voter turnout, according to Jones County Election Superintendent Marion Hatton. She said she only expect about a 10 percent total voter turnout after Tuesday.

Hatton, who has worked as election superintendent for 18 years, said that voter turnout in Jones County is typically very good, but that it is usually not very good for special elections, especially in the Spring.

Chuck Gibson, Jones County Schools Superintendent, said one of the main projects that would result from ESPLOST funds should it be extended is the relocation of the Ninth Grade Academy to the high school. The ballot also states that there will be a multipurpose facility built at the high school and renovations to the Old Gray Elementary School, among other items.

All polling precincts will be open Tuesday and will close at 7 p.m.

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