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May 21, 2008

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By Chris Bridges

Follow the party line or get lost
Items compiled from my political notebook as the summer months approach:
•I found it interesting to read the accounts of Georgia’s Republican state convention this past weekend.
A rather vocal group of Ron Paul supporters were at the convention in Columbus and did everything within their power to get recognized by those who run the state party. Their efforts were in vain, however, as the state party decided on a “united” front for John McCain.
I didn’t find these actions suprising given past actions by state Republican leaders. In 2006, state party officials refused to even recognize that Ray McBerry was running against Sonny Perdue in the Republican primary for governor. They went as far to not even list McBerry on the state party’s official website even though every other statewide candidate was listed.
I called the state Republican party headquarters to voice my objection. I called as an average Georgia voter, not as a journalist.
The woman who answered the phone basically said — in a somewhat condescending manner — McBerry had no right to run against Perdue and that since Perdue was the incumbent that he was going to receive the support of the state party.
“But can’t you even list his opponent on the state party website?” I asked. “Ignoring a candidate doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.”
The woman on the other end of the line then hung up on me.
The message is clear when it comes to the Republican Party in Georgia: follow the party line or get lost.
•The race for governor in our great state is officially underway for 2010. State insurance commissioner John Oxendine has declared his intentions to seek the office.
Oxendine, a Republican, has received high marks from many (myself included) for his work through the years as state insurance commissioner. Oxendine has proven to be a thorn in the side of the big insurance companies, who often don’t look out for the best interest of paying consumers.
With no incumbent running in 2010, the governor’s race will be wide open, but Oxendine certainly is worthy of consideration.
•Speaking of the Governor’s office, will Sonny Perdue go down as the least effective one our state has had? I mean what has he accomplished during his time in office?
Give up? I give up too. Perdue has overseen a rising unemployment rate for Georgia with numerous large companies closing their doors. I guess he will be remembered for that if nothing else.
•I must admit I was surprised Saxy Chambliss did not draw a primary challenger for his U.S Senate seat. If ever an incumbent was worthy of a primary challenge, it would be Saxy.
Chambliss has been nothing but a rub ber stamp for President Bush’s failed policies, both domestic and foreign. Like a captain who refuses to give up the sinking boat, the loyalty Chambliss has shown to Bush, arguably one of the worst presidents in our country’s history, is disgraceful.
Here’s hoping for his ouster in November.
•Bob Barr’s bid for president as a member of the Libertarian Party has gained a great deal of national press. Our state’s largest newspaper attempted to drag Barr through the mud with a front page story Sunday, but the growth of his support continues to grow.
Barr’s first step will be to secure the Libertarian Party bid and then set his sights on John McCain and Barack Obama. The Libertarian candidate for President, whoever it may be, will be on Georgia’s ballot.
Chris Bridges is a reporter for The Banks County News. Contact him at 706-367-2745 or e-mail comments to

By Jana A. Mitcham

Treasure hunt technology
It’s like hide and seek or, better yet, a treasure hunt via technology.
I hadn’t heard of it — shows you how up on the latest technology trends I am — but I got a call the other day from someone asking me if I had tried out Geocaching.
This person — let’s call him “Skinny Sasquatch,” since that’s his Geocaching name — was telling me how much fun he and his young son have been having using their Global Positioning System (GPS) to take part in a great outdoor treasure hunt.
“It’s a way to remotely get in touch with like-minded people,” Skinny said. “It’s creativity through the sky.”
So, Geocaching.
From what I understand, those who have GPS or other similar navigating tools can log on to with a call name — “Skinny Sasquatch,” for example. An online “clue” is left for locating a cache, or “treasure,” or sometimes another clue.
“You can rate if it’s hard, say climbing a ladder, going to the top of a barn, fighting a raging bull,” Skinny joked. While he and his son recently tracked down a dud — a note at the end of the rope in a river that said basically said, “No prize here,” most of the treasure hunts end happily.
Sometimes the prize is a gift certificate, or some other smaller find.
Geocaching has apparently been going on since 2000 and is all across the globe. Now it is in this area, although gas prices these days might curb the enthusiasm somewhat.
The idea of Geocaching is similar to that of letterboxing, which dates back to the moors of Southwest England in 1854.
Letterboxing, similar to orienteering, involves solving clues, walking the outdoors and finding hidden boxes with a visitors book and rubber stamp.
In 1854, James Perrott left a bottle with his calling card in it along the fairly inaccessible banks of Cranmere Pool so future visitors could contact him.
Off to a very slow start, letterboxing evolved somewhat in 1888 with the addition of a tin box and self-addressed postcards to be mailed. In 1905, a zinc box was added, along with a logbook. In 1907, a rubber stamp was added to the box so visitors could stamp proof of their finding.
After 122 years, 15 letterboxes dotted Dartmoor. A guidebook was developed in 1976, and the hobby took off, with letterboxes numbering in the thousands within just a few years. It was 2001 before letterboxing made its way to North America, and there is even an online log to mark findings.
Although it is unlikely the Geocachers developed their idea based on that British hobby, the concept is much the same: Find the cache, take something from it, leave something in it and write about it in the logbook. All ages seek them, so participants are, of course, urged to use common sense.
Letterboxing. Geocaching. Treasure Hunting. So it seems there is nothing new under the sun in this case, just the technology to make it happen.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor of The Jackson Herald, a sister publication of The Banks County News. E-mail comments about this column to


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