More Jackson County Opinions...

 August 9, 2000

By Tim Thomas
The Jackson Herald
August 9, 2000

Greenspace ideas
You've probably heard about Governor Barnes' greenspace initiative. An article in last week's edition of The Jackson Herald indicated that our newly-formed 12-member greenspace steering committee is seeking public input concerning their "visioning process."
As with most issues, this writer has some strong opinions about the governor's program. But let's set the pros and cons of the overall program aside for now, and concentrate on some of the things our committee should look in to.
Here for the committee's consideration are a few areas that should have easily accessible greenspace:
The Bear Creek reservoir. Properly managed, the Bear Creek area could not only accomplish its main goal of meeting water needs, it could also become Jackson County's most utilized recreation area. The Department of Natural Resources (which will also oversee the greenspace initiative) has already indicated it will stock the reservoir for fishermen. Camping, picnicking and swimming areas should also be built and maintained, and walking trails could easily be added.
Hurricane Shoals Park. One of the county's most visited sites, the park could become a much bigger attraction with a significant monetary investment. Since it is situated on the Oconee River watershed, the park could be expanded along the waterway to allow for nature trails.
The US 129 bypass. With the bypass paralleling the North Oconee River, it would provide easy access to this tremendous resource. Rest and picnic areas accentuated by a connecting trail would be a cost-effective means of helping meet the committee's goals. Such a trail could also connect to a bike trail extending to the nearby West Jackson Middle School area, making the greenspace easily accessible to the huge number of families that will soon inhabit that area.
In addition, the committee should consider projects that include surrounding counties. Such projects would be mutually beneficial, and cost less to bring about. The Mulberry River area provides an excellent opportunity for such a cost-effective cooperative, particularly since it serves as such a large portion of the county's boundary. The Sandy Creek watershed could also be home to a substantial cooperative site.
The program should also include parks in or near our major cities. The entire length of Curry Creek in the City of Jefferson begs a park, and though talk has come up of creating one, it still doesn't exist. Commerce has its share of opportunities, as well.
If there happens to be a free thinker on the committee, here's a really wild proposal for you. What about a joint effort with the state to acquire land for a Wildlife Management Area? Jackson County's deer population is quite large, and the populations of other game animals could easily support a WMA. Our area was once known for its excellent quail hunting. The DNR's Bobwite Quail Initiative, concentrating on south Georgia, could find a quality North Georgia environment in a Jackson County WMA.
Additionally, since there are no WMAs in the immediate area, a significant amount of land could be preserved, while bringing in retail sales from non-residents. The governor and his advisors have said green space areas should be separate from WMAs, but failed to provide an adequate reason why.
The toughest part of the committee's job will be coordination with other groups. In accumulating greenspace, the county will have to work together with city governments, the DOT, the EPA, wildlife groups, landowners and the proverbial host of others in order to be successful. That level of cooperation won't come easily.
And then there's the question of funding. That's another column altogether.
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson Herald.

By Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
August 9, 2000

Puppy vs. House, 8-0
In February, I contracted to buy a house in Winder that was barely under construction. I spent hours with my husband choosing colors for walls, carpets, vinyl and cabinets. We spent an entire morning choosing lighting. Every weekend we drove up from Gwinnett and watched the progress that had taken place during the week. We closed on the morning of April 28 and moved in that afternoon. I was so in love with being in the house. Because it was brand new, I fought to keep it that way. I think I washed my white cabinets five times in that first weekend and I mopped the floors before Sunday night. I washed every dish, every pot, every pan, before I would put it in the cabinets.
But I had a curious notion. I believed that every house is never a home until it has a dog. Less than a week after we closed, I dragged my husband to Winder's animal shelter and we chose to take home the little ball of fur that was in cage #1. From her coloring I could tell that she was part Rottweiler, but she was all hair­thick, puffy black hair that stood two inches away from her body. At 8 weeks old, she weighed eight pounds. The first thing I noticed when we got home was her utter lack of respect for my new carpet. She peed more than any dog I've ever known. I would take her out, she would pee, we'd come back in. She would run quickly to her water dish, lap up several mouths full, then walk off the easy-to-clean linoleum onto my carpet and squat, right in front of my eyes. She often looked right at me with a happy look on her face. It took a month before she figured out how bathroom time was supposed to work. And she still makes mistakes. If we're upstairs, she hasn't quite figured out how to tell us she needs to go downstairs to the bathroom. She'll just find a convenient spot, do her business, and then hide. It amazes me that she knows to hide, but not to whine until someone takes her out. I can't figure it out.
The first time I had to leave her at home, I placed her in the basement with her food and water and all of her toys. I was gone four hours. I came home, opened the door and found that she had managed to rip up the carpet on the landing for the basement steps. There was a nearly invisible seam there, but I discovered that the carpet was now peeled back and the fibers had been chewed off of the carpet strings. She threw herself at my feet, licking and wiggling all over. The wiggling must have upset her stomach because she threw up all of her breakfast mixed with carpet fibers. I scolded her and went out and bought a baby gate.
The next time I left, I put the baby gate up on the basement stairs. She chewed a hole in the gate and again attacked the carpet. So, I blocked the hole. She managed to climb over the gate like a little squirrel. I gave up. I just started to leave the basement door open so that she could go to the bathroom down there while I'm gone, but she has the run of the house. I open the front door praying every night that she hasn't damaged something that can't be fixed. She throws herself at my feet, licking and wiggling, so glad that I'm home and I'm ready to forgive her anything. Several pair of shoes have fallen victim to her. She chewed through a baseboard that we'll have to replace and, in her pursuit of a cricket, she pulled the carpet away from one of the stairs going to the second floor. My husband vacuums daily to rid our carpet of all of her furry black hair. Soon, I'll have to rent a rug doctor to deep-clean all of our carpets. My yard, though bereft of grass, boasts six rather large and oddly shaped holes. But I was right. A house isn't a home until it gains that lived-in look. Addie has sure helped us attain that.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for MainStreet News.

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