The Jackson Herald
March 8, 2000
need to walk
Now that Jefferson voters have approved
a bond referendum for a new middle school, City of Jefferson
leaders need to take a walk.
We'd like for members of the Jefferson City Council to walk up
along Lynn Avenue to Hoschton Street and then turn left on Old
Pendergrass Road for about one-half mile. After that, we'd like
them to proceed back down Old Pendergrass to Hoschton Street
going north and out Holder Siding Road.
If there are any city council members left who don't get run
over by a vehicle, we'd like them to explain to us how elementary
and middle school children are supposed to get around the growing
school complex without being hit by a car.
Most of that area doesn't have any sidewalks, yet it is booming
with new houses. Dozens of children already walk to school along
those dangerous roads, but many more could safely walk to school
if the city would invest in some sidewalk construction.
We realize that the city can't put sidewalks along every street
in town, nor should it attempt to do so. But at the very minimum,
it should provide for safe walking areas around the city schools.
Not only is that good for children who might walk to school,
but it is also good for students who may need to get from one
school to another.
The recently approved special purpose local option sales tax
will allow road funds to also be used for sidewalk construction.
We believe Jefferson should allocate a large part of those funds
for new sidewalks in the city, starting at the school complex
and later extending into other areas of the city.
Jefferson has a lot of small town charm. But it does not have
a good network of walking paths or sidewalks.
City leaders should get off the dime and go to work on that.
The Commerce News
March 8, 2000
Could Be Asset To Community
The Nicholson City Council put some attention
Monday night on an issue that really needs attention the
Harold S. Swindle Public Library.
A library should be a community center, but the Nicholson library
has not proven to be an important public institution. Its inventory
of books is apparently stale, its reference materials out of
date, its programs very limited and the traffic through the building
hardly justifies it's being open.
That can be changed; it must be changed, and it appears that
the city council wants the library to be a viable, interesting
and useful place to visit.
There are several things the town council can do to help the
First, it can embrace technology. The city and its library have
been hesitant to support moves to bring in computers and access
the Internet in the past, partly due to fiscal concerns. That,
apparently, is no longer the case. The town council realizes
that Internet access is important to the library.
The city and its librarian can talk to the Piedmont Regional
Library about what can be done to increase the number of books
and to update reference materials. With the Internet available,
a library need not carry as much of that on its shelves as in
past years, but up-to-date encyclopedias, atlases and other materials
The library can also actively promote reading through such programs
as Story Hour and the summer reading programs. It can build its
inventory by appealing to area residents to donate books. It
can build a network of support through the creation of a Friends
of the Library chapter.
Nicholson has a good library building, the foundation upon which
a strong library can be built. Hopefully, the city council will
continue to seek improvements, and the community will rally behind
it to make the Harold S. Swindle Public Library the institution
it should be.
Spread Out Primaries
While the buildup to Super Tuesday has
been interesting, a day in which more than a dozen states all
over the country select delegates does more to harm than help
the election process.
By Wednesday, in all likelihood, the races for the Democratic
and Republican nominations for president will be all but over.
Voters in states with upcoming primaries will have been essentially
eliminated from the process.
For yesterday's primaries, the four viable candidates left had
to conduct campaigns on opposite sides of the country, finance
advertising in a multitude of markets and had to try to get their
messages out in states where time prohibited them from visiting.
It isn't fair to the candidates or to the voters.
A more reasonable process would be to stage caucuses and primaries
so they fall regularly and in manageable numbers so candidates
can prepare for each. Primaries and caucuses could be staged
weekly, every two weeks or in small groups every month, creating
a nomination process that is viable for months. That process
would allow candidates to visit each state and to have the time
to conduct meaningful debate, hold informed discussions and mix
with the electorate. We've seen in the preparation for Super
Tuesday that the campaign is conducted by press release, by polished
commercials and by a few visits to states where the most delegates
It is a rare circumstance when after Super Tuesday there are
two competitive candidates remaining in either party. Thus, voters
in states who hold primaries and caucuses after the first Tuesday
in March are essentially eliminated from the process. A longer
primary process would give voters more time to see what each
candidate offered, to make judgments about character, record
and capabilities and would bring more people into the selection
The Jackson Herald
March 8, 2000
Says educational reform would come at high
As you are aware, Governor Barnes has been pushing education
reform. While I am a supporter of smaller classrooms and teacher
accountability, I wonder if parents realize the ultimate price
we and our children are going to pay?
I have done some asking and here is what I have found:
·Elementary schools may lose all parapros with the exception
of special education.
·Middle schools may lose all parapros and band, chorus,
art, ag tech. and computer courses.
While decreasing class size, more teachers will need to be hired.
We will need more classrooms and more schools. Where is all the
money going to come from for this?
While all the "extras" may be cut from the middle school,
no athletic programs are being cut. What message does this send
the children who do not excel in sports?
Music, band and art are all a part of education. Not every child
excels in sports.
I urge the parents in this county to call your elected representatives
and the governor. Let them know how you feel.
The Jackson Herald
March 8, 2000
make independent decisions
Tell me it ain't so.
There's a political rumor going around that some of the current
three county commissioners (no one names names, of course) have
offered to "help" the five new county commissioners
who will be elected later this year. It's an offer that may seem
reasonable, but is really outrageous.
But first, a little background. As most people know, this is
the last year of the current three-member board of commissioners.
A new county government made up of five commissioners will take
office Jan. 1, 2001. The law that created this new board also
created the formal position of a county manager. It will be the
hired county manager, not the elected commissioners, who will
run the county on a day-to-day basis.
For those unfamiliar with the details, it is a "strong"
county manager government. The legislation creating the new government
details the powers of the manager and of the elected board of
commissioners. The manager will have broad powers to run the
county and the board will be a policy-making group rather than
a hands-on group.
It will be a dramatic, and perhaps unsettling, change for a county
accustomed to having elected commissioners running the day-to-day
Maybe the thought of losing power to an appointed official is
so upsetting that at least one, if not more, of the current three
commissioners (no one names names, of course) has offered to
"help" the newly elected board by going ahead this
year and hiring a county manager.
The idea was told to me something like this: After the elections
are concluded for the five new commission seats later this year,
the current three commissioners would meet with the five soon-to-be
commissioners. Together, that group would hire a county manager
in late 2000 so that he would be in place when the new board
took office Jan. 1, 2001.
The reasoning behind the idea, so I was told, was to effect a
smooth transition from the current government to the new government.
Sounds good, but is total baloney. What is really at play is
an effort by some of the current board to control what happens
long after they have left office. Knowing that the county manager
will be the county CEO, they want to have a say in who that person
If the five newly elected board members go along with this scheme,
they will have betrayed the trust of the voters who created the
new government structure and put them in office. The overwhelming
approval of a new government came because of a deep-seated mistrust
of the existing system. The public clearly wants to break with
the past, both in system and personalities.
There is no valid reason for allowing the current county government
to participate in the hiring of a county manager. When the new
board takes office Jan. 1, it can appoint an interim manager
to operate the county's business until that group has time to
go through a formal search and hiring of a county manager.
Of all the decisions the new board will make in 2001, the hiring
of a county manager will be the most important. That process
needs a lot of thought and foresight. More importantly, it needs
to be done independently of those with ties to the past system
of government whose views may cloud the real issues at stake.
So far, only two candidates, Sammy Thomason and Stacey Britt,
have announced for the new commission seats. In the coming weeks,
others will be tossing their hats into those races as well.
One question voters should ask all those candidates is this:
Will you be able to make decisions independently, or will you
allow the politics of the past to make those decisions for you?
(Note: Commissioner Pat Bell called Tuesday, saying she had heard
about this same idea and was opposed to having the current board
play a role in the hiring of a county manager.)
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
March 8, 2000
Confessions Of A Would-Be
I confess. I tried to hijack the Republican
There wasn't anything going on in the Democratic Primary. C'mon,
why waste a vote on Al Gore or Bill Bradley when you know what
the outcome of that contest will be?
I like the George W. Bush-John McCain contest. It's been nasty,
of course, but there's enough difference between the two candidates
to give Republicans something to think about. Why should they
have all the fun? After all, we've suffered through Clintonia
for eight years too. I like Bill Bradley, because it's about
time we put a power forward in the White House, but Bradley's
been running like a beaten man for a month. Tuesday was his last,
faint hurrah. McCain, on the other hand, with a few wins Tuesday,
might stay around awhile. Not that I was expecting him to fare
well in Georgia.
Hijack is such a harsh word. Pat Robertson used it first as a
way of trying to make George W's loss in Michigan look less embarrassing.
I still don't follow. The party opens its primary to all comers,
then complains when people accept the invitation. Will Pat complain
in November if Independents and Democrats put marks beside the
names of Republican candidates?
Probably. You know Pat.
What should start really scaring the Republicans after the results
of Tuesday's primary is the possibility that all of those Independents
and Democrats who voted for McCain really liked him and would
have supported him in November against Boring Al Gore. You see,
some of us hijackers see McCain as a good alternative to both
Gore and Bush, but if it comes down to a Gore-Bush race in November,
it's going to be a lot harder to go Republican.
The polls say McCain could beat Gore, but not Bush. Likewise,
the polls say Bush could beat McCain, but not Gore. Since the
whole point is to win the last race, the polling data seems to
suggest that we hijackers are the swing votes in the presidential
Voting in the Republican Primary was an unsettling experience.
The ballots for the Democrats were white. Those for Republicans
were blue. There I was, a Yellow Dog Democrat, trying to conceal
my blue ballot. I've never voted so quickly in my life.
As I walked out of the polling place, I expected to be interviewed
by FOX News, CNN or one of the many organizations conducting
exit polls so they can announce primary winners before the polls
close. I was disappointed, so as the local media, I conducted
a brief exit poll of my own. I interviewed myself, found I had
voted for McCain, and called the election for the Arizona senator.
That may be as close as he comes to victory.
There would be some good to come from this if Alan Keyes would
go ahead and drop out. Keyes' politics are not so bad, but he's
the most annoying candidate to run for president since Ross Perot.
With nary a chance of getting as much as 10 percent of the vote,
all Keyes managed to do was dilute the few face-to-face Republican
debates. But Keyes will probably keep plugging, just so he can
be introduced and announced as "the next president"
at the GOP convention.
As for us hijackers, if our voting Republican now makes the GOP
mad, they shouldn't ask for our votes in November.