Jackson County Opinions...

 June 28, 2000


Column
Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
June 28, 2000

Crime, Like Water,
To Be Rationed Here

The odd-even watering restrictions imposed by the state have been so easy to understand and so popular, that the Jackson County Sheriff's Department has decided to institute a similar rationing of criminal activity. Effective Monday:
·Assaults and murders shall be restricted to odd-even days. If you live at an odd-numbered address, you are prohibited from assaulting people at even-numbered addresses and those with odd-numbered addresses on even-numbered dates and during even-numbered hours. Violation of these rules is a felony. Those who live at even-numbered addresses may not conduct assaults or murders at odd-numbered addresses, and are restricted from assaulting people in odd-numbered addresses on odd-numbered days and odd-numbered hours.
·Armed robberies are prohibited from 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays and are prohibited on the first and third weekends of each month altogether. Robberies on the second and fourth weekends are by appointment only. Call 367-8718 to make an appointment.
·The sale of cocaine in any form, marijuana, heroin and speed is expressly prohibited on the east side of the county on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and on the west side on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sunday is set aside for church activities. The sale of illegal prescription drugs is prohibited on the west side of the county on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and on the east side on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Again, Sunday sales are prohibited.
·Domestic disputes are also governed. There is now a mandatory five-day waiting period for domestic violence. Those wishing to commit domestic violence must submit their intentions in writing to the office of the district attorney a minimum of five (5) working days before conducting the violence. This provision will allow for the efficient allocation of personnel at the jail and at the sheriff's office.
·The commission of disorderly conduct is also limited. Those planning this activity must avoid the hours of midnight to 11:48 p.m. Those whose last names start with vowels are prohibited from disorderly conduct on days of the week containing the letter N, while those whose last name begins with a consonant are prohibited from disorderly conduct in days ending with the letter Y.
·A moratorium has been declared on the theft of political signs from private property. If that proves ineffective, the theft of political signs from public rights of way and utility poles may be further prohibited on an odd-even schedule.
These changes affect unincorporated areas of Jackson County and those municipalities without police forces. However, the municipal governments of the other communities have the option of adopting or modifying the restrictions to suit their own personnel and facility requirements.
"We call on our law-abiding criminals to help us ration crime to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity," said Sheriff Stan Evans. "A shortage of jail space means we'll all have to sacrifice a little, but with the cooperation of the people, we'll get through this."



Editorial
The Commerce
June 28, 2000

Day Care Plan Shows
What Volunteers Can Do

It isn't a done deal yet, but the proposed industry-based child care center being planned in Commerce is an example of what civic-minded volunteers can do and what can come out of a chamber of commerce.
A group, which started under the auspices of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, discussed the problems of employee recruitment, retention and absenteeism, analyzed the elements, envisioned a solution, and created a plan to solve the problems. The result could be a boon to not only the parents of small children, but also to the companies who invest in the facility for their employees.
The chamber's involvement includes facilitating the meeting of those in need and assisting with fact-finding and leadership. In the end, though, any investments made in what is likely to be a $1.3 million project will come from the companies whose employees would use the service. There may also be grants to help build the facility and there are tax credits to reimburse investors for part of the construction and operational costs.
In the end, the chamber will have served as a vehicle used by the employers to help attract and retain workers and to reduce the absenteeism that occurs when parents of small children run into child care problems. The companies will have helped stabilize their work forces, the employees will have the security of quality, available and affordable child care and the employees' children will have a safe, dependable child care provider.
It is possible that a group of industries could have come to a similar conclusion completely independent of the chamber, but it is not likely. The chamber brought together individuals whose companies happened to share a common problem. Those leaders, with support and encouragement from the chamber and with commitment from their companies, came up with what at this point appears to be a viable and exciting solution. When the child care center opens, the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce may not have a dime invested in bricks and mortar or in the operational costs, but that will not diminish the importance of the role it played in bringing business leaders together to find a solution to a common problem.



Editorial
The Commerce
June 28, 2000

So Does 'Lights' Festival
This week's City Lights Festival is another example of what volunteers can accomplish. What was once just a concert has grown to live up to its name.
Bill Anderson has again generously used his time and influence to put on not only a concert, but also a second evening of entertainment. Singers Brad Paisley, Connie Smith and Jim Ed Brown have donated their time and talent to benefit the city. The Commerce Area Business Association and Downtown Development Authority have jump-started a festival Saturday in the downtown.
It may be that you don't like country music, but you would enjoy a festival for the craft booths, food and the activity it generates. If so, the 2000 City Lights Festival offers a lot more than the 1999 version. The idea is to bring folks together for fun in Commerce and to raise money to build a performing arts center to be named in Anderson's honor. There are no strings attached, no hidden costs to the events of the weekend.
Where else could you see a world-renowned performing artist live for $5? At this concert, you'll see Anderson, one of the music industry's best songwriters, Brad Paisley, a highly acclaimed young star with one Country Music Association award under his belt, and Connie Smith, a veteran country artist. There's not a better entertainment value anywhere.
It all happens because of volunteers. This is not your tax dollars at work; what's working here are good-hearted people from Nashville, TN, and Commerce, GA.

Column
By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
June 28, 2000

Races to watch:
Chairman, District 3
The differences between the three men running for chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners began to come into focus during last week's Republican political forum. While there was no great winner or loser during that forum, all three began to stake out their positions on a variety of issues.
Not surprisingly, growth was the key issue during the discussion. Candidate Roy Grubbs was by far the most anti-growth of the three, saying at one point that people really don't own their property, only the rights to property. He suggested that the county's planning commission should "reinterpret" some of the zoning codes and act to slow development.
Candidates Tommy Stephenson and Harold Fletcher also discussed the problems of growth, but said it was impossible to halt or slow growth. Their comments focused more on ways to deal with the growth.
Grubbs and Stephenson did appear in agreement on the potential value of impact fees, saying the idea needed to be considered. Fletcher said traditional impact fees were not a "panacea" for the county's growth problems and suggested that some other kind of fees might be more appropriate.
But the area where there was the largest divergence of views concerned the hiring of a county manager. While the three agreed that hiring a county manager was important, they differed on how the county should operate in the interim. Both Stephenson and Fletcher indicated they thought someone should be named as an interim manager to run the county until a manager was hired. Grubbs, on the other hand, said he would "roll up my sleeves" and work 25-30 hours per week to help run the county.
A subtext to the manager issue was a reoccurring question surrounding current BOC chairman Jerry Waddell. Several candidates in the various BOC races said Waddell should not be considered for an interim manager position or as a long-term county manager. During the manager discussion, Stephenson said Waddell had "offered" to be an interim manager, but he also threw out the name of county executive assistant David Bohanan as a potential interim manager.
While the chairman's race got a lot of attention last week, the race for BOC District 3 was also an interesting group of candidates. For one thing, watching candidate Geraldine "Jeri" Smith cast aside her title as chief county critic and talk like a politician was almost humorous. Over the last 20 years, Smith has been involved in numerous lawsuits against a variety of local public officials. Until the courts eventually put a stop to her filings, Smith would act as her own lawyer in those suits. This "outsider" running to become an "insider" creates an interesting dynamic in that race.
Also in District 3 is Pendergrass mayor Mark Tolbert. Tolbert's involvement with the Water Wise firm and the lawsuits against the county government make him an obvious critic of the county's plans to get into the sewage business. The real question here, however, is if elected, would Tolbert attempt to have the county turn over its new sewage facility to Water Wise? During last week's forum, Tolbert said that if the county prevailed in the final lawsuit with Water Wise, it would cost a lot of money. It wasn't' clear if his comments were merely an observation, or a veiled threat.
Another interesting candidate in District 3 is the one with perhaps the lowest name recognition - Emil Bashara. A political newbie, Bashara was the most aggressive last week of the four candidates in that race. He differed with several candidates on the hiring of a county manager, saying it should not drag on and take months and months. He was also the only District 3 candidate to strongly support the county's move into the sewage business, saying the county government should have acted to do that long ago. He was also adamant against the idea of hiring Waddell either as an interim manager or as a long-term manager.
In an exchange of emails with Smith, which were copied to this newspaper, Bashara was also critical of the idea that any of the commissioners would attempt to have any role in the day-to-day operation of county government. "The more they are at the administrative building, the more trouble they stir up," he said of some part-time board members. In her email, Smith had said that there was nothing to prevent a board member from "giving 100% or as much time as they have to the task of working for the people..."
Smith at the administrative building full-time? Grubbs "helping" run the county for several months until a manager is hired?
Hmmmm. I thought we voted to put an end to amateur politicians running our county.
Was it real, or just a dream?
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.


Editorial
The Jackson Herald
June 28, 2000

Candidates should be prepared
One of the signs that our political system is in trouble is the apathetic views of many citizens. Low voter turnout and a lack of basic civic knowledge by many people does not bode well for our government.
But even more appalling is the apparent lack of knowledge by some of our local candidates who are running for office. While most of the candidates who participated in last week's Republican Party forum were prepared, several had obviously not given any serious thought to the important issues facing Jackson County.
The issues discussed at the forum were ones that any candidate should be familiar with. For a candidate to display ignorance on these issues is a dangerous sign that our political culture is indeed slipping.
What really astounds us, however, is that even some of the candidates well-versed in the issues don't seem to know what the responsibilities are of the office they're running for. Several candidates for board of commissioners seats, for example, seem to believe they are running for a school board position. One candidate during last week's forum said he wanted to "cut school taxes 50 percent." Another candidate outlines in his campaign brochure his desire to reduce class sizes.
But those decisions aren't controlled by the board of commissioners - those decisions are made by the boards of education in Jackson County.
We wonder if these candidates are really ignorant about that, or if they're attempting to confuse voters by tossing around a couple of hot-button education issues?
Come on, candidates, be prepared for the job you're running for. Know the issues and know the duties of the office you're seeking.
That's the least we should expect of those wanting to be our county's leaders.

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