The Commere News
June 14, 2000
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
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
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
To The Editor
The Jackson Herald
June 14, 2000
New fire station
a joint effort
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
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.
The Jackson Herald
June 14, 2000
View from the air
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
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
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.
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
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