News from Madison County...

 July 5, 2000


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OPINIONS
Madison County Letter
You can't fight the DOT'

Dear editor:
We feel it is our duty to let the people of Madison County know what they are up against if they have to deal with the Department of Transportation. As most of you know, we challenged the DOT in a condemnation...

Zach Mitcham
Facts about the Journal

The Madison County Journal is fortunate to have a loyal readership in the county. Some are very familiar with the paper. Others may be less aware of how the paper was founded and how it is operated.


SPORTS
Raiders tie with Marist to end summer season

In the last week of play, the Madison County Red Raider Summer League team continued their winning ways with a victory against Stephens County, 6 - 5.
The 2000 Raiders finished summer league play with a record of 17-8-3.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
BCN wins 10 state GPA awards
The Banks County News won 10 awards in the annual Georgia Press Association's "Better Newspaper Contest," including placing among the top three newspapers in the state in its category.


News from...
JACKSON COUNTY
Rabid Dog Bites Commerce Man
A Commerce man is receiving treatment to protect against rabies after being bitten by a rabid dog last week in Banks County. Charles Vickery of Wood Street said he was...

Jury finds local man guilty of sixth DUI
Convicted drunk driver Jeffrey Stinchcomb was sentenced to one year in jail and given a $1,000 fine by Judge Jerry Gray in Jackson County State...


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FIRST PARADE

Nicholson's Tyler Keenan, who will celebrate his first birthday July 15, watches his first parade Tuesday during the Colbert Fourth of July festival. He is pictured with his father, Stacy. The annual event drew thousands of people to the Madison County town.


Korean War hero recalls famous
battle at Chosin Reservoir

Korean War veteran John House of Madison County's Neese Community still has nightmares about the days and nights he and fellow soldiers spent fighting Communist forces in China's Chosin Reservoir.
It was a subzero winter night when machine gunner House, stationed on watch while the rest of his Marine battalion bedded down for the night, suddenly began firing his weapon.
"Everyone was dead tired and yelled at him to cut it out," his wife Gloria House related. "But he kept firing and screaming, 'They're coming, they're coming!' No one could see what all the excitement was about."
So House fired tracer rounds into a straw building at the other end of the valley. The resulting blaze showed his fellow Marines what he had already seen - thousands of Chinese soldiers pouring down the mountain like ants.
It was that heroic action which saved many of his comrades that night, and for which a fellow Marine, retired Lt. Col. Ray Jorz, finally had the chance to commend him for publicly. Jorz, whom House had not seen in almost 50 years, related the story to a group of young Marines last spring at King's Bay Naval Base in south Georgia.
A former Marine private first class, and recipient of three bronze stars and a Purple Heart, House was 18 when he landed on North Korean soil in late 1950 in the second wave of troops ordered there during the war.
"We had hook ladders to go over the sea wall," he said. "And the guy in front of me was shot right between the eyes - he slid back down right through my arms."
House said there was no way left to go but over the wall, so he and the others behind him forged on, being sprayed all the while with sand kicked up from machine gun fire.
"Sometimes, it doesn't seem like it's been that long ago," he said.
A BATTLE REMEMBERED
"We were completely cut off," House remembers, shaking his head. "We were left to wither on the vine like a bunch of grapes.
Next to Iwo Jima, the Korean War battle of the Chosin Reservoir is likely the most famous campaign in Marine Corps history.
The 20,000 Allied troops were sent deep into North Korea, across the Yellow River and into China, where they were soon surrounded by an estimated 120,000 Chinese communist troops in 10 divisions.
Just surviving the harsh winter climate and subzero degree was challenge enough for the Americans, some of whom were World War II veterans. Many of those soldiers, including House, who survived the constant onslaught of enemy fire were left with permanent damage from frostbite.
"I was so cold and tired and hungry I didn't care whether I got shot or not," he remembers.
House said he wasn't able to really get to know anyone, because those around him were constantly being killed or wounded.
Once a man stationed in a fox hole next to him was blown to bits - House was blown out of the hole and suffered shrapnel wounds. Medics patched him up, and with his ears still ringing, sent him back into battle.
The Marines were soon forced to retreat, stopping only to fight. Sleepless for four nights, freezing in the sub zero weather, the soldiers marched in a state of numbing exhaustion. Food stored in tins froze, making it impossible to eat, and when they tried to warm it, it burned before it thawed.
House's company reached Hugaru, South Korea on Dec. 1. He was flown from there to Japan that same day and spent the next 26 days in a hospital before being flown to the Naval hospital in Camp Lejeune, N.C. for further treatment of his frostbitten feet and left hand.
He still retains some numbness from his injuries, but this father of four, stepfather of four more, and grandfather of 22, says he is one of the lucky ones.
THE CHOSIN FEW
So profound were the experiences of those that fought and lived through the battle that some of them formed an association that meets each year to share memories and honor their comrades who did not return.
The Houses found out about the group a couple of years ago and have been attending meetings ever since. Mr. House is a Georgia native and the couple returned here from Michigan in 1996 and have since been involved in the state chapter of the organization.
Mrs. House was astounded at the group's last meeting to learn that by a single act, her husband was responsible for saving hundreds of lives.
"I sat in an auditorium full of young Marines while a retired colonel (Jorz) related this story about how John saved not only his life, but hundreds of others that night. Then he thanked him in front of all those people and I cried," she said.
"He never told me," she added, "he never spoke about it."
These veterans call themselves the "Chosin Few," based on the fact that so few survived.
Founded in April, 1983, the Chosin Few has more than 5,000 members from all U.S. Services divisions, plus South Koreans, former British Marine Commandos, and former Royal Australian Air Force members.
The creed of the "Chosin Few," posted on the back of he non-profit group's news digest is this: "Whatever we were in that frozen long ago and whatever we are now, we are bound as one for life in an exclusive fraternity of honor. The only way into our ranks is to have paid the dues of duty, sacrifice and valor by being there. The cost of joining, in short, is beyond all earthly wealth."
(Anyone interested in more information about the Chosin Few, and were a member of any branch of the armed forces that fought in the conflict, should contact Nicholas J. Retza Jr., at NRETZA@surfsouth.com.)

 
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Drought hits county cattle farmers hard
The summertime blues have hit Madison County farmers once again - ponds are low, pastures are dying and some wells are starting to run dry.
Take a ride to some drought-stricken county farms during these hot months and these will be common hardships among those who have been deprived of life-giving rain to fuel their agricultural operations.
While showers have been scarce in Madison County this summer, a lack of precipitation is hardly a new obstacle for the county's farmers.
The county and state are now in the third year of a drought that has seen rain levels fall 22 inches below the normal level. However, it is this past year of the drought that has hit farmers the hardest, as the rain level is reportedly down by 10 inches so far.
And this serious shortfall has left some major dents in the agricultural industry.
"I'm not a believer in panic," Danielsville farmer Terry Chandler said. "But there is definitely a cause for concern.".
Cattle farming has received the major blow from the drought as the lack of rain has presented a two-fold problem for farmers.
"We're primarily seeing an effect on cattle producers dealing with hay and pastures," Chandler said. "Pastures in most areas of the counties are just almost non-existent."
Given the drastically decreased amounts of moisture in the soil, pastures are dying, forcing farmers to feed their herds hay prematurely as an emergency source of food.
According to Chandler, many cattle producers began hay feeding as early as late May, while most farmers don't start feeding hay to their herd until October.
Not only is the food supply decreasing for the summer, but the hay supplies stored for the winter are having to be used now which could lead to a major food shortage when the colder seasons arrive, posing a potentially serious problem.
"Unless something changes dramatically, we may not have hay reserves to get through the winter," Chandler said. "That could be a tremendous economic problem."
Furthermore, there might not be much hay around to sell, as the drought has taken a substantial bite into those who produce it for the public.
According to Keith Lord, who has a hay farming operation in Danielsville, hay production has seen a drastic decrease in the year 2000, down two-thirds from normal numbers.
"We've only run about 1,800 rolls of hay this year," he said. "Normally we run between 5,000 or 6,000 rolls."
A lack of food sources could create even more potential headaches for farmers because a mass sellout of cattle may result if there is not enough food to feed to cows.
In other areas of farming, the lack of water could also pose a serious immediate threat to poultry operations if wells begin to run dry.
But just how much precipitation would it take to remedy this serious situation?
Recent rains of last week have made some pastures a little bit greener, but the showers hardly scratch the surface in resolving the drought problem.
In fact, a University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences web site suggests a period of two to three years of above-average rainfall levels would be need to fully recharge the groundwater and deep soils in the state.
(See this week's Madison County Journal for the complete story.)