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By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
January 5, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Turning point coming in fight to save culture
Saturday, January 8, 2000, will be a turning point in the battle to save Southern culture from it enemies. A giant rally is scheduled for Columbia, S.C., in support of the Confederate Flag that flies above the state capitol. On that day, the South Carolina Heritage Coalition, a group formed to fight the NAACP's boycott of South Carolina, will sponsor a gathering of pro-South groups, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy, the new Southern Party and many others in an effort to convince South Carolina legislators to keep the flag flying.
The flag, styled after the Southern Cross, one of the more popular battle flags used by the Confederate army, flies below the U.S. and South Carolina flags above the dome of the South Carolina Statehouse. It was placed there to honor Confederate soldiers and sailors on the 100th anniversary of the end of the War for Southern Independence. (There was nothing "civil" about it!)
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has, in recent years, become the kind of organization that it was originally formed to defeat. It regularly expresses bigotry, racism and hate toward all things Southern. Its boycott against South Carolina is a prime example of that bigotry. Here are some of the hate-filled quotes from the NAACP's 1991 resolution about Southern symbols: "tyrannical" "evil," "vile" and "idiotic." How do you think those practitioners of political correctness would react to the same terms applied to the NAACP, or the Black Muslims? Currently, they are making an effort to drive Atlanta pitcher John Rocker out of baseball for making far less inflammatory comments about New York Mets fans. Yet, the media not only backs the NAACP in it bigotry against the South, it is joining in. One commentator, when told of the devastation suffered by South Carolina at the hands of Northern soldiers said, "They got what they deserved." One commentator after another decrees Southern symbols as representing a war to preserve slavery - a totally false reading of history.
It will be interesting to see if this giant rally receives any significant coverage in the national media. Will C-Span send a camera crew? Will FOX news be fair and balanced in reporting the event? Will CNN even notice that it takes place? Will the Sunday talk shows interview speakers from the event? Do I have to give you the answer? In order to win coverage by these organizations, the turnout will have to be massive.
A dozen NAACP protesters can draw national coverage. But it will take thousands of Southern supporters to get their attention. Everyone who loves the South, its culture and symbols and heroes should make every effort to be in Columbia on Jan. 8. Don't limit your visits to the rally. Make South Carolina your vacation and convention center for as long as the NAACP continues its boycott. If they see their bigotry backfiring, perhaps the leaders of the NAACP will return it to its original purpose, promoting tolerance and unity among all Americans.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.

By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
January 5, 2000

Zach Mitcham
Five headlines for 2000
While political mayhem drew a lot of attention last year, 1999 included some noteworthy positives for Madison County.
A 911 system was established. The county finally took action on constructing a new jail. Construction began on a Hull water system to serve the county's commercial hotbed, as well as a new elementary school which was nearly completed in 1999. Meanwhile, doors opened to new wings of the high school and middle school. Renovations to the historic Madison County courthouse began. And a change to the county's legal fee policy marked a major step toward county commissioners gaining the trust of their constituents.
Madison County enters a new century with reason to smile. But county leaders and citizens must maintain "2020 vision," looking at how actions now will affect the quality of life in 20 years.
Here are five headlines I'd like to write over the next year - news that would certainly bode well for the future.
·'County jail nears completion' - Madison County's existing seven-bed prison consistently ranks as the most overcrowded county detainment facility in the state. County leaders have chosen a jail site behind Fine Finish off Hwy. 98 and have taken steps to finance the project. But the action followed a long lull in public discussions on the matter. It was nearly a year and a half after the passage of a county sales tax for the jail that leaders finalized a site. Hopefully, the jail project will now proceed at a quicker pace.
·'Construction of animal shelter under way' - Like many rural communities, Madison County has a dreadful problem with stray cats and dogs. Dog attacks have been frequent and homeowners have sometimes been trapped in their houses, afraid to leave because of wild dogs outside. Madison County needs a place to put these animals, as well as an officer who spends at least half of his time focusing on animal control in the county.
·'Hull sewage project planned' - With a water system in the works in the Hull/Dogsboro area, Madison County can expect more commercial growth and more tax revenue. But many businesses, such as restaurants, want sewage services too. The county industrial authority is looking at the feasibility of providing such services in the area. Sewage would certainly prove costly. But more infrastructure improvements will be the best way to ensure long term commercial growth in the Dogsboro area, something many county residents would appreciate 20 years from now.
·'County divorce rate dwindles' - Between 1995 and 1997 Madison County's divorce rate was the 14th worst out of 159 Georgia counties. According to the Georgia County Guide, there were 71 more divorces than marriages (511 to 440) in the county in this three-year period. Consequently, a lot of kids are growing up in broken homes in Madison County. Hopefully, this trend won't carry over into the new century.
·'No fatalities on county roads in 2000' - Madison County has had some of the highest road fatality totals of any county in the area in recent years. Eight people died on Madison County roads in 1999, down from 11 in 1998 and 15 in 1997. Many county roads are not clearly marked with road side lines and center lines. However, the county government began a road-striping project this past year in hopes of making county roads safer. Hopefully, this will eliminate some of the tragedies that have been painfully frequent. But for this to happen, motorists, including me, should slow down.
Good news is much more satisfying to print. Let's all hope there will be plenty for Madison County in 2000.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

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