Jackson County Opinions...

 June 14, 2000

Letter To The Editor
The Commere News
June 14, 2000

Nicholson library needs
support from council

As a native Nicholsonian and branch manager of the Jefferson Public Library, I was very interested in your editorial about the Harold S. Swindle Public Library.
Libraries are very important to my family, and I have always been very proud to have my maiden name on the memorial plaque in the lobby of the Swindle library. Libraries should be a vital part of the communities in which they are located. The Swindle library is a lovely facility, and with Ms. Pearre's dynamic interest and community spirit, it stands ready to be a great asset to its citizens.
Over the years, the staff of the Jefferson Public Library has welcomed many Nicholson citizens in the search of books, programs and services. And while we are certainly pleased to have them, we rejoiced when Ms. Pearre appeared ready to serve the citizens of Nicholson so enthusiastically.
The Swindle library, like the Jefferson library, is located across the street from a school. And like our staff, Ms. Pearre stands ready to make the Nicholson library as much a part of the lives of the Benton students and parents as the Jefferson library is to the students and parents of the schools on this side of the county. And while she will do a wonderful job of opening the world of books to children and adults alike, she cannot do it totally on her own. She must have financial as well as human resources.
The members of the Nicholson City Council are in the position of making the Swindle library the vital and active heart of their community. They shouldn't miss this chance to help themselves and the citizens of Nicholson.

Sincerely, Donna Butler, Jefferson

Letter To The Editor
The Jackson Herald
June 14, 2000

New fire station a joint effort
Dear Editor:
True to your skills as a journalist, you have vividly sought out a focal point in our community to express a viewpoint which concerns the Jefferson city taxpayers. Let me request a point of personal privilege to address the citizens on the new fire stations, on which you have so eloquently editorialized in your previous column. Without question, your praise on my behalf as fire chief of the Jefferson Fire Department was beyond my expectations, and most flattering. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the mayor, Byrd Bruce, and the city council members who made this project possible with their complete support.
I am just a small part of this project, and could not have achieved the success you so eloquently described without the entire support and work of the mayor, city council, firemen and, most importantly, the taxpayers of Jefferson. All of whom have given the fire department the encouragement and the tax dollars to help us maintain our coveted Class 4, all volunteer fire rating. As you most graciously pointed out, I have been at the forefront of several major projects, the EMS system in 1973, the rescue set up in 1978, the 911 system in 1990, the county police/fire/sheriff communication system in 1992-1993, and the severe weather warning system in 1999. All of these projects involved city and county officials who gave their support, both verbally and financially. This allowed us to successfully implement these projects for the citizens of every community in Jackson County. Many officials throughout the county came forth to ensure the completion of these projects.
Plans for the Jefferson Fire Department began in 1988, and were put in place long after I left the city council and became fire chief. I feel compelled to share with you the dedication and determination of the firemen who made these buildings and equipment what they are today. These firemen spent hundreds of hours of planning toward the design, specification and budget work to complete our fire department. I give special thanks to assistant chief Don Elrod, battalion chief Mark Duke, captain Donald Petering, lieutenant Bobby Gooch, lieutenant David Wilbanks and training officer Clark Waters and every member of the Jefferson Fire Department. These men spent hundreds of hours, including weekends and evenings after work at the fire station, to meet the budget we felt the mayor and council could adopt to make the project affordable. The Jefferson mayor and city council gave 100 percent total support to our department. Without every member of this team and the support of our citizens, we could not have completed this project at the high level that was our goal.
On behalf of all of the Jefferson volunteer firemen, we thank all of you. We are all proud we can serve you, and hope each of you will take pride in what we have accomplished. It is something every person can look at with pride and know fire protection will always be our first priority.

Sincerely, Douglas C. Waters Sr., Jefferson Fire Chief

The Commerce News
June 14, 2000

City moving toward broadband system
The Commerce City Council took another step Monday night toward providing a new and crucial service to Commerce and other parts of Jackson County. The move toward providing a broadband system is critical to the city's future.
The high-speed transmission of voice, data, video and audio is becoming essential for many existing businesses and is already almost a prerequisite for major firms interested in relocating. Any community lacking that service is at a competitive disadvantage, as are the companies in that community.
The market is already making broadband available in metropolitan areas, but more rural areas like Commerce are on no one's priority list. That situation led cities in the Georgia Municipal Association to create a consortium to bring that service to Georgia cities, and it is under this mantle that Commerce is operating.
The move puts the city in a conflict with Alltel, the telephone provider, but Alltel has yet to advertise any plans for making that service available systemwide in this area. High-volume transmission lines are available, but the cost is beyond the means of all but the largest companies.
The transmission of information is growing rapidly, creating the need for larger capacity lines. Standard telephone lines are becoming more inadequate for just routine business and even for residential use of the Internet. For about double what citizens now pay for cable TV service, they could have both cable TV and the high-speed Internet capability.
It is difficult to see exactly what the telecommunications future holds, but it is clear that the high-speed transmission of data will be as necessary in 10 years as telephone service has been for the past 40. It's good to see the city's leaders recognizing how important it is that citizens and businesses here have the same communication ability as those in metropolitan areas.

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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
June 14, 2000

View from the air offers perspective
I've always liked the view from the air. Especially in a small airplane, you see the world from a different perspective - the "big picture" rather than the limited view from a fixed point on the ground.
So a couple of weeks ago, I tagged along with photographer Travis Hatfield and pilot Max Allen as they shot some aerial photos around Jackson County. It felt good to be in the air again, to look at where we live, work and play free from the restraints of a terrestrial vantage point.
From 2,000 feet, you can see the contrast of past, present and future. Our goal was to photograph some of the major construction projects in Jackson County and to see how those projects are impacting the county.
Down in South Jackson, we circled the massive Bear Creek Reservoir site, a huge expanse of dirt that will soon begin to fill with water. Within a few years, that mega-project will touch the lives and livelihood of nearly everyone in Jackson County. Because of that project, we will have a secure water supply. That, in turn, will continue to generate development projects as more people and businesses move into the area.
Heading north toward Arcade and Jefferson, you can see the unmistakable path of the Jefferson bypass. A huge swath of land is being carved for that project as well; from Hwy. 129 near I-85 south to just below Arcade. The bypass will cross a half-dozen roads as it snakes its way around Jefferson, opening new land for development and altering the commuting habits for thousands of people.
Near where the bypass crosses the Old Pendergrass Road, grading has begun on the new Jefferson Middle School. It is a major project for that small school system, which has just recently begun to feel the impact of the county's residential development. Although grading has not begun, next to the new school will be a major subdivision project.
Turning southwest down I-85, we found the graded land below Braselton that signals the start of a major industrial warehouse project by the Duke-Weeks company. That grading is just inside Gwinnett County, but the bulk of the firm's land is in Jackson County. From the air, it's easy to see the potential for a proposed Hwy. 53 alternate that would cross I-85 near Mayfield Dairies and the Duke-Weeks land and bypass both Braselton and Hoschton.
Between the two towns, we saw the early stages of a new elementary school being built by the Jackson County School System. That system has faced the growth problem for the last decade, opening new schools at a rapid clip to keep just slightly ahead of demand.
Heading back north up I-85 we flew over dozens of new subdivisions, many with houses in various stages of construction. At I-85 and Hwy. 129, we note the huge impact Jefferson's aggressive industrial recruitment has had on the area. Between that interchange and the Dry Pond interchange, we flew over the Valentine Farms land which is slated to be another major development in the coming years. At Dry Pond, the massive construction site of the Freightliner company become obvious. There's little doubt that the area along I-85 between Hwy. 129 and Dry Pond is going to be a major industrial and commercial site in the coming years.
Near Commerce, we flew over the 1,000 acres of land that the state has billed as a "mega" industrial site. Several large firms have already looked at the site and one way or another, it will likely host a major development in the coming decade.
Of course, the sprawling retail center of Banks Crossing is obvious from the air. We circle that area, noting the beginning of construction for an access road between Hwy. 441 and Hwy. 98.
These projects, and others we didn't fly over, portray a county undergoing a major transition. We see these sites from the ground, of course, and we know intellectually all about the county's growth. Yet from the air the massive changes come into focus, like a giant puzzle where the various pieces begin to fall into place.
The landscape is changing, both physically and psychologically. The old ties that bound the various parts of Jackson County are being broken by a steady stream of development. New bonds are being created as new roads, new schools and new communities are beginning to form.
From the air, the physical patterns become obvious.
What is much more subtle, however, are the social, cultural and political patterns that are changing as well.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
June 14, 2000

There's hope for peace between city, Banks Co.
If the Hatfield and McCoy clans in Kentucky and West Virginia can get together for a fun-filled reunion without violence, it raises the possibility that one day Banks County and Commerce officials might be able to meet without coming to political blows.
The Hatfields and McCoys attracted nationwide attention with a feud some people say started over the ownership of a pig. Actually, there was a whole lot more involved, including land and power, and a lot of Hatfields and McCoys who got along just fine, but years of fighting and many deaths over a pig made a much more interesting story.
As far as I know, no one has been physically assaulted, much less killed, in the Banks County-Commerce feud. The battle is fought behind the scenes, but it's there.
Like the Hatfields and McCoys, however, although the bad blood exists, the two groups get along in other areas. Banks County residents marry Commerce residents. Commerce people buy homes in Banks County and many of Commerce's leading merchants live in Banks County. They worship together, socialize together and send their children to school together.
But then, there's politics.
I may be wrong, but the "stolen pig" in this dispute is the city reservoir up in Banks County. A lot of Banks County folks view that as nothing less than theft. Throw in a plot in the 70s by which Holiday Inn would be annexed into Commerce following the successful passage of a mixed drink referendum, and the grounds for feuding were set.
For their part, folks in Commerce like to look down on their Banks County neighbors, just like Georgians like to look down on Alabambians (to coin a word) and vice versa. They like to point out that without Commerce investment in water and natural gas lines, Banks Crossing would be empty today. That attitude also ignores the reality that about half the stalwart citizens from Commerce were born in Banks County and overlooks the fact that Commerce's investments at Banks Crossing were based less on altruism than on a chance to make money.
There are those who like to exploit the feud. Chief among them is Rep. Jeannette Jamieson, who has gotten a lot of political mileage by citing a need to "protect" Banks Crossing against annexation by Commerce. Even otherwise rational people like James Dumas have bought into the theory that Commerce officials spend most of their time thinking how they can move the city limits signs up to the interstate.
It is reminiscent of the former bad blood between Commerce and Jefferson over "the river," a dividing line that still exists today, though to a lesser degree. The prominence of the county school system and Commerce domination on the football field have reduced that tension which, by the way, made for some exciting football games and more than one fistfight and arrest at the stadium.
It took the Hatfields and McCoys over 100 years to officially make peace. With any luck, Commerce and Banks County could do it in, say, 60 years.
By 2100 at the latest

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