The Banks County News
August 9, 2000
Need for officials
This past weekend I upgraded my cable to get more channels. It
is fun to get 40 kinds of HBO.
But I also get the ESPN Classic channel. I never thought it would
be fun to watch games that I knew the outcome of already, but
it is. This weekend I saw Mike Scott pitch a no-hitter for the
Houston Astros to clinch the 1986 NL West Division.
That game was followed by the legendary 1969 college football
matchup of number one Texas and number two Arkansas. Watching
a game that happened before I was born was interesting enough
to watch. While the stands were filled with people in clothes
that are now back in style, the game on the field was not that
much different from one that might come on this year. There were
fewer passes, though there were many more than I thought there
One big difference on the field was evident at the coin toss.
Before the referee tossed the coin into the air, he introduced
the two teams' captains to the rest of the crew. That act is
not so interesting. What struck me as odd was that besides the
referee, there were just three other officials. Even though Arkansas
would put the ball in the air several times in the game, Texas
Four referees could not handle a college game in today's game.
I thought about current high schools games that now feature at
least five and sometimes six officials. With more teams throwing
the ball more often, a larger crew is a necessity.
That fact reminded me of a recent story about a growing shortage
of high school officials in Georgia and across the nation.
A recent article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution stated that
the number of football officials is steadily declining. While
most football people agree that we have plenty of linesmen, umpires
and back judges for the upcoming season, they also say that the
near future could be very different.
Apparently fewer younger people get into officiating. And those
that do get in don't stick around.
Mike O'Neil is the secretary of the Blue Ridge Officials Association,
which provides Banks County and several Northeast Georgia high
schools with football referees.
While O'Neil said that his numbers are up from last year, he
said that it is harder to keep officials. In three years, Blue
Ridge had lost 18 officials. Of those 18, 10 had quit because
of lack of interest.
In a letter sent to GHSA deputy executive director Ralph Swearngin,
O'Neil said that most of those 10 had said "it's just not
worth it." O'Neil also cited that area recreation departments
can offer more money and less travel than high school games can.
Adding in clinics, travel, and study to actual game time, the
$60 or so available for varsity games does not work out to much
incentive, O'Neil said.
Officials are often taken for granted. But unlike the other people
involved in a high school football game, officials have to be
there. Without officials there could be no game.
Fans, coaches and players may complain about how the officials'
calls cost them a game here or there. But the truth is that we
need them. If it means that schools have to pay more money, that
may be the only alternative.
O'Neil suggested doubling the pay scale to $100 and $120 per
varsity game. Schools must use booster club money to pay the
officials. Putting more burden on those pools of money would
not be welcomed joyously. Smaller crews or full crews of less
experienced officials are not the answer either.
It may be time to suffer a little, rather than be faced with
officials altering the game not by their calls, but by their
inability to call the best game they can.
Drew Brantley is the sports editor for The Commerce News and
The Banks County News.
The Banks County News
August 9, 2000
Fire dept. is in
need of SPLOST funds
As the Banks County Board of Commissioners
works to divide the proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales
Tax (SPLOST), it must remember to keep the county's fire department
as a priority.
Yes, water expansion is important. A significant percentage of
the multi-purpose SPLOST should be dedicated to water system
improvements and expansion, including the construction of a new
Water expansion will attract future commercial and industrial
growth. And, in times of drought, many residents will need the
water lines when their wells run dry.
Road paving and other road and bridge improvements are also a
necessity to help the county handle healthy growth.
Yet, the upgrading of the county's fire department will undoubtedly
be beneficial to each citizen living in Banks County.
Certainly, the fire department's "wish list" may be
lavish in some areas. A $200,000 aerial ladder truck may be hard
for the department to justify, especially since the county has
just one or two buildings which really require such equipment.
Department leaders must be careful not to ask for too much.
But with reports of old fire engines catching fire en route to
emergencies, the department's need for new engines and tankers
cannot be denied.
Fire trucks that never make it to a fire are a waste to the county
and could end up costing thousands of dollars in property damage,
or even loss of human lives.
New equipment will no doubt help the fire department do a better
job and will eventually help to lower the county's fire insurance
The BOC will have to walk a fine line over the next few months
between what is desired and what is really needed from the upcoming
SPLOST. The board should be both generous and cautious in its
But if the fire department's requested 18 percent of the expected
SPLOST buys much-needed equipment that improves response time
and makes Banks County a safer place to live, it will be worth
The Banks County News
August 9, 2000
A day in the life...
Having some free time is a wonderful thing! You get to do what
you want or take care of some needed chores or go shopping!
Well, I chose shopping. That seemed to be the thing to do. After
all, I had a good excuse, I needed a new pair of shoes. Just
a simple pair of black dress shoesnot too high (because
I'm sort of tall), not too low (because I'm too lazy to hem my
I say pants because that is what I wear most of the time. As
a photographer, I often have to dress up for wedding and various
gala-type shoots. And, it's far more comfortable to be in some
I had a pair that had lasted me for years, still lookin' brand
new. That is, until one night this past June, when a dear friend
of mine got married.
The ceremony was held at a picturesque bed and breakfast in Acworth
with beautiful grounds and gardens. One couldn't have asked for
a more romantic setting in which to have an outdoor weddingset
amidst flowering pathways, lovely old oaks and the setting sun.
I was so happy for him!
I got out of the car and saw the gravelthe big chunky stuff
that just doesn't make for solid footing in heels. But, I thought
nothing of it.
After a couple of trips to the car and many photos later, I sat
down to relax a bit. I crossed my legs and ...gasped! The gravel
had literally eaten the leather off my heels and scratched up
the sides of my shoes. Good grief! How embarrassing! Here I was
in this expensive, elegant pantsuit with ratty shoes on!
After getting over the urge to "soundly smite" the
owner for putting down such an inappropriate groundcover, I glanced
around at the other ladies. Whew! I wasn't alone. And quite a
few of them were keeping their shoes as hidden as much as possible.
They were tucked under their husband's/boyfriend's legs or as
far under chairs as they could get them. There was not a whole
lot of walking around that night by the ladies.
Well, anyway, so here I am at the outlet malls on I-85. Hey,
I should have no trouble finding a pair here, I thought.
As I made my way from store to store, (and there sure are a lot
of them), I was getting down right depressed. Most were too high
or too pointy or too square-toed. Where had all the nice, classic,
dressy little heels gone?
To liven things up, I tried on some of the "platform"
(Is that what they call them now or am I dating myself?) shoes.
After looking in the little shoe mirror, I decided these were
better looking on Minnie Mouse than on me.
Then there were the shoes with nothing to cradle one's heels.
Besides being clunky, they made a slapping sound with every step.
Hmmmmm...this shoe-thing is beginning to be a bummerbig
After three hours, and trying on at least 50 pairs of shoes,
I still hadn't found what I wanted. A wasted afternoon was not
what I had intended at all.
Dejected, I walked to my car. Well, not exactly. You see, I had
forgotten where I had parked my car. Yes, I could not find my
car. I looked over here; I looked over there; I looked everywhere
I thought I had parked my car.
As I walked back and forth across the parking lot, covering acres,
I kept passing this old gentleman sitting on a bench watching
me. He must think I've really lost it, I thought. I've only passed
him four times now.
Ok. This was getting serious now. I'd just spent three hours
looking for shoes that apparently don't exist and now I've spent
30 minutes looking for a car that seemingly doesn't exist.
Then, an idea burst through the fog! What about looking where
I wouldn't park my car!?! In a matter of minutes and half an
acre later, I found my van. I was so glad to see it! Overjoyed!
Mainly because by now my feet were killing me, not just from
walking from store to store, but from walking across the hot
asphalt for the past 45 minutes. All I wanted to do was sit down
in my van, turn on the air, stick in a tape and let the futility
of the day wash out of me.
The tape I played was "Dire Straits." The first line
that played was "sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes
you're the bug." It made me laugh at the ridiculousness
of it all. Knopler was right. Today, I was the bug. SPLAT!
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.