The Commerce News
August 23, 2000
After 23 Years
The Beardsley Nest Is Empty
The last fledgling has flown; the Beardsley
nest is empty.
With Steven's departure to the University of Georgia, Barbara
and I are adjusting to a household without kids for the first
time in almost 23 years. The quiet is sometimes overwhelming.
There were no tears shed as we left Steven in his UGA dorm room,
but the absence of children is manifesting itself daily in a
variety of small ways.
For example, Barbara doesn't know how to shop for groceries anymore.
Steven required vast quantities of "snack" foods, those
fattening (for older folks) morsels from Little Debbie cakes
to Jell-O pudding cups to pecan twirls, and a variety of beverages
to wash them down, from juices to soft drinks to "sports"
Milk, which used to disappear at an astounding rate thanks to
Steven's concept of cereal as a snack food, may actually go bad
in the refrigerator before we can use it. A pack of Klondike
Bars could last for days before it is consumed.
When Laura went to college, Steven's presence in the house kept
us feeling like a family. Now that he's gone, we're suddenly
a couple at least until the kids visit and we're
in a period of adjustment.
Now I come home to an empty house. There is no teenager to harass
about making a mess, with whom to discuss the news or who can
keep me current with the culture of youth. The TV is not on,
nor the CD player, but the quiet is not always welcome. Where
there was once life, there is stillness.
It is not all bad. It's nice not to have to fight for the paper
or the remote control and to find the study available if I want
to use the computer or take a nap. The house is also less disorderly.
But more than turning 30, 40 or even 50, the empty house validates
my advancing age. I no longer have day-to-day responsibility
for children; I'm a last-resort call if there's a problem and
one of the people who still pays the education bills. Mostly,
I am older.
For 23 years, our lives have revolved around our children, but
now that center is removed and we have to fill up the hours with
For Barbara, who works 60 hours a week, that's not a large problem.
But for me, well, some adjustments will have to be made. I suspect
it's along the same lines as coping with retirement, though not
It really hits on Saturdays. My Saturdays usually involved fishing
in the morning and doing things with Steven in the afternoon.
That might be working on our two hives of bees or driving to
Athens or Atlanta to some store, trips that will be remembered
more for the time spent together than for whatever was acquired.
He'll have new friends, probably a job and the University of
Georgia to fill that time. Me, well, I've got to come up with
I don't begrudge the change. It's good to see the kids grow and
mature. Laura is enjoying college at Georgia State; Steven will
thrive at UGA. Barbara and I will readjust to living as man and
wife, not Mom and Dad, and we're looking forward to having more
time for each other.
Life goes on. Faster, it seems.
The Jackson Herald
August 23, 2000
stop hiding behind committees
Is the Hoschton City Council trying to
hide something from its local citizens?
Maybe not, but a recent trend toward holding "committee"
meetings to discuss important city issues appears to be an effort
to keep these discussions out of the public eye.
When a majority of the council is present, the public, and the
press, must be allowed to attend meetings. But when a committee
meeting is held without a majority of the council present, the
sessions can be held behind closed doors.
At a recent council meeting, there was tension among the members
of the council over a planned committee meeting to talk about
city water and sewage matters. That issue has long been controversial
in the city due to the Panther Creek situation. The mayor even
suggested that because water and sewer is such a big issue for
the city, the full council attend the meeting.
But council member Paul Turman, who has pushed the committee
meeting system, insisted that it not be discussed before the
full council until after the committee had first met on the matter.
At another recent meeting, Turman told a reporter to leave the
council meeting because it was about to go into a committee meeting.
A majority of the council stayed for that meeting, which meant
the reporter, or any member of the public, should not have been
asked to leave.
It is time for Hoschton to quit hiding behind closed doors to
discuss issues that impact all of its citizens.
The city council should have fewer committee meetings and more
meetings open to the public.
The legacy of Jesse Ventura?
We realize that ex-wrassler and current
Minnesota governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura redefined
the meaning of a "political body slam," but we didn't
know others would seek to follow in his unusual path.
But last week, a Jackson County politician did just that, only
in reverse - a politician became a wrassler.
Rep. Scott Tolbert entered a staged ring in Atlanta early Friday
morning to take down a disc jockey in a publicity stunt for 96
Rock radio station.
Frankly, we'd prefer that our public officials spend their time
wrestling issues, not DJs.
Jackson County Opinion Index
The Jackson Herald
August 23, 2000
Could you be a
Wednesday night, millions of people will
tune in to see which of four remaining "tribe" members
will get the $1 million jackpot on the popular TV show, "Survivor."
By the time you read this column, you'll know the answer.
I'm not sure why we've tuned into this show during the last two
months. It is an obvious gimmick - putting a bunch of people
on an island in the Pacific for a month under primitive conditions
and filming them isn't exactly high culture.
I suppose I read "Lord of the Flies" too many times
as a kid. That book, you may recall, has shipwrecked boys stranded
on an island. It isn't long before the savage nature of humankind
emerges as the boys shed any aspect of civilization.
Those on the "Survivor" show didn't have it quite so
rough. Although they suffered some physical problems, and ate
a few bugs, they were never in any real danger. At its core,
the show was just a game to see who would win the money.
Still, the dynamics of the personalities on the show turned out
to be far more compelling than any scriptwriter could have created:
Sue, the tough and smart truck driver; Rudy, the crusty old man
with an independent streak; Kelly, the sassy gal who has developed
an "attitude"; and Rich, the star of the show with
his Machiavellian scheming. Not since J.R. Ewing has a television
show had a star that viewers love to hate more than Survivor's
Although the show is pure mindless entertainment, it does say
something about the dynamics that exist within institutions.
Every business, school, church and community has some of the
same characters as Survivor. The difference is that most of our
institutions don't exist as an island. The influence of others,
both individually and collectively, moderates our behavior.
It's that idea that will be the theme of Wednesday's final Survivor
show. Some of those already voted off the island will return
to vote for the final winner. That decision will no doubt be
affected by the experience those individuals had with the four
remaining members. The actions of those four during the month
on the island was no doubt moderated by the knowledge that their
winning or losing would be determined by others.
I'm not sure that I would have survived on the island for more
than a few days. The older I get, the more my taste for adventure
Unless, of course, you put me on a deserted island with Kim Basinger
for a month....
Speaking of survivors, the November election contests will soon
be getting warmed up in Jackson County. We have 10 local races
on the November ballot and four or five of those could become
fairly intense during the coming weeks.
Two of the hottest races will be between incumbent Democratic
Sen. Eddie Madden and challenger Republican Mike Beatty and between
incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tolbert and challenger Pat Bell.
There's a lot of money being spent in those two races and the
stakes are high for the overall state party politics.
Who will the survivors be?
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
August 23, 2000
Mean Closer Scrutiny Of City
Perhaps it is a good thing that the city of Commerce has taken
a stand on being "a city of ethics," but passing an
ordinance doesn't necessarily make government or government officials
In fact, the ordinance has no provision for enforcement and no
penalties should it be violated. That leaves it up to the city
government to see that officials abide by the terms of the ordinance.
As a statement of principle for individual office holders and
employees, the resolution passed at the August city council meeting
is just fine. Participation in government should be about service,
about professionalism and about treating people fairly.
Voters and taxpayers should expect that government officials
serve the public not themselves, that they use the city resources
with efficiency, that they treat all people fairly, that they
use the power of their positions for the well-being of their
constituents and that they operate in an environment of openness
Passage of the ordinance doesn't raise the bar of ethical expectations
one bit, but a city's declaration of ethical intent does raise
the public consciousness. Having seen the city council vote unanimously
to accept this standard, citizens will be more sensitive than
ever to conflicts of interest and other lapses that could be
called into question.
That's good. There may be no criminal penalties for violation
of the ordinance, but every council member's action is subject
to review by the court of public opinion. Voters have always
expected their government to be honest and ethical. Now they
will demand it, and rightly so.
Jackson County seeks public input on a state proposal to set
aside 20 percent of its land for "gree n space." Commerce
has a subdivision moratorium in place while it ponders an ordinance
that will require as much as 50 percent green space set aside
in each subdivision.
Clearly, both governments are trying to come to grips with the
increasing development and corresponding decreasing of open space
and trying to preserve rural qualities as the city and county
grow. They should work together.
The goal is the same: to protect the community against rapid
and ill-advised growth and to preserve its character.
As the county and its municipalities try to plan how best the
growth can be managed, they need to present a united front in
some broad areas. With Nicholson about to approve a zoning ordinance,
soon all of the county will at least have zoning. But not all
areas will require curb and gutters in subdivisions, or the setting
aside of open areas. Not all will develop impact fees or proportionate
share fees to offset some of the costs of providing water and
sewer services and other amenities. Provisions regarding telecommunications
towers or billboards will differ.
Our land use regulations cannot be effective if they vary greatly
from one jurisdiction to the next and our county will be less
attractive in 20 years if the careful protection devised by one
jurisdiction is undermined by much less restrictive regulations
of the next. The varying zoning and subdivision regulations need
Our three school systems communicate through regular meetings
among the superintendents; the county as a whole could profit
if our elected leaders and planning and building inspection officials
had similar sessions. Right now, while growth is at the top of
every government's list of concerns, the efforts to manage it
are being made piecemeal. Jackson County and its municipalities
could better deal with growth if they worked together and coordinated
efforts wherever possible.