The Commerce News
September 13, 2000
Fall Is The Most
Disappointing Of The Seasons
I hereby declare it fall. I base that
on three things - school has started, prep football is under
way and the ragweed plants are spewing pollen.
Fall is the season of the greatest disappointment.
I eagerly await the cooler weather, thinking that it will make
me more energetic about yard work I've neglected under the it's-too-hot
excuse. Second, I always expect fishing to improve as water temperatures
fall. Finally, I look forward to a bit of a fall garden.
Since most of my anticipation takes place during the dog days
of summer, I tend to overlook the twin curses of fall ragweed
I'm not sure if it's the allergic reaction or the medicine I
take to combat it that robs me of energy in this season. I come
home from work on a cool, crisp evening, then collapse for two
hours on the sofa. I feel drugged from a week after Labor Day
to at least the first of December. In fact, I am drugged.
Yard work sounds invigorating in the fall, but when you're allergic
to ragweed, raking leaves brings red eyes and heavy congestion.
Mowing, even with a pollen mask, can be terminal. Besides, you
just don't feel like doing anything in a drugged stupor.
The fishing never lives up to expectations either. Half of the
time, your lure comes back with leaves attached, and if fish
are supposed to be more aggressive in the fall, fish around here
have not been informed. It's like they all migrate to Florida.
Whoever came up with the concept of a fall garden should be sued
for spreading misinformation and generating false enthusiasm.
Some people allegedly plant squash, cucumbers, beans and even
tomato plants for fall production.
It doesn't work. The seeds germinate poorly, and the plants that
do arise just sit there as if they know they're supposed to be
in decline. Fall gardening in Georgia is a concept created by
the seed companies and nurseries. Plants like lettuce and spinach
that do grow will be consumed by deer or matted with leaves.
All garden pests are now at maximum populations, and they pounce
on young plants with the vigor of a bass dining on minnows in
shallow water. Disease sets in. Your time would be better spent
mulching the garden for next year.
Leaves on the grass are OK. Wet leaves matted in the flower beds,
gutters and on the patio are a nuisance. Leaves that attach themselves
to fishing hooks are a major cause of fall cursing.
Raking the yard is a ritual of autumn, but removing successive
falls of leaves every two weeks to keep the grass from suffocating
is madness, particularly after one shower turns them into a mushy
It's during fall that the Braves are swept in the World Series,
when the Falcons eliminate all fantasies of playoffs and the
Bulldogs lose to Georgia Tech on a referee's bad call.
Fall is nature's false advertisement setting us up for winter.
It is a warning of cold and dreary days to come, when the ground
stays wet and the flu will strike.
You can have fall. Give me winter when nothing is promised and
nothing delivered. At least the leaves and ragweed are long gone.
The Jackson Herald
September 13, 2000
settlement a good deal for county
After a year of legal maneuvering, the controversial Water Wise
sewage issue ended late last week after the county government
accepted an out-of-court settlement offer from the firm. Despite
the fact that the county will pay an additional $1.2 million
for the old Texfi sewage plant, that is still a deal for the
taxpayers of Jackson County.
At issue in the Water Wise case was what entity would control
the county's future growth: A private sewage firm, accountable
to no one, or a local government accountable to all the citizens?
There's no doubt that growth will happen where sewage is available.
But it would not have been wise to allow a private sewage firm
to have unregulated control of county sewage services. Public
interest, not just private profit, should decide where sewage
lines are laid in the county and who gets access to that service.
That was the conclusion reached by an overwhelming consensus
of local leaders last year, a group which included the board
of commissioners, the county water authority and the City of
Jefferson, and led the county to condemn the old Texfi plant
after it had been purchased by Water Wise. Of course, the sewage
firm appealed the condemnation, but lost in court.
Last week's settlement was the conclusion of an appeal of that
earlier court decision. At issue was the amount the county should
pay for the old Texfi plant. The county initially paid $1.5 million,
but Water Wise owner Jerry Wickliffe claimed the plant was worth
$8-$10 million. (He bought it for $1.3 million.)
So last week's settlement of $2.7 million was much less than
Water Wise had claimed, but it was well within what county officials
believe the site is really worth. (It's important to note that
Water Wise didn't put up any expert witnesses in the earlier
court proceedings, thus the county initially got the plant at
$1.5 million by default. At the time, the county was prepared
to settle at $2.5 million had Water Wise lawyers brought in expert
witnesses to contest the $1.5 million.)
In addition to the price, there were three main reasons the county
agreed to the offer last week:
1. Lawyers for the county say that jury verdicts on condemnation
suits generally fall at about 40 to 50 percent of the asking
price. At that rate, a jury verdict could have been over $3 million,
not counting additional legal costs to the county. With a settlement
offer on the table of $2.7 million, and no previous case law
on Georgia sewer plant condemnations (this is the first one in
the state), lawyers advised the county not to gamble on a jury
outcome when that verdict might have been higher than $2.7 million.
2. County leaders were hesitant to saddle the incoming new county
board of commissioners with such a major lawsuit. That board
already has a heavy agenda and this lawsuit would have further
complicated the new board's task.
3. Finally, and most importantly, the lawsuit appeal had held
up an expansion of the plant and the laying of sewage lines.
As long as the lawsuit was alive, no bonds for new lines could
be issued. That meant that the Mulberry Plantation project and
several other major developments were on hold. Those are the
projects that will pay the bulk of the cost in getting the system
up and running. The suit and attendant appeals might have gone
on for an additional two years before a final decision was reached.
In the meantime, the county would have lost untold thousands
of dollars it could have been generating with the facility.
The road to last week's settlement was long and hard. The Water
Wise issue became extremely complex, controversial and at times,
difficult to explain to the public.
But through those stormy times, county leaders held their course,
never backing down and never wavering from their commitment that
the county's major infrastructure decisions should be made by
those who answer to all the citizens, not just to the bottom
line of a private sewage developer.
It may not seem very important today, but 50 years from now,
people will look back and realize that the county's entry into
the sewage business was a major turning point.
And that it was done with the constraints of public accountability
in place will be remembered as a very smart decision.
The Jackson Herald
September 13, 2000
Bohanan will be
When David Bohanan came to work at this
newspaper 15 years ago, he still had all his hair.
Fresh out of college, David began his newspaper career by writing
local sports. One of his first articles was in the summer of
1985 about the Babe Ruth tournament being hosted in Commerce.
Over the next eight years, David expanded his professional life
here, eventually moving into government news coverage and taking
on our most difficult news beat of covering the Jackson County
On a personal note, David somehow found time to get married and
father the first of two strapping sons while he was writing for
the paper. From the life of a bachelor reporter, David became
a husband and father, a life transition that no doubt changed
his view of the world.
After those eight years reporting on government, David got the
itch to actually become a part of government when he was offered
the position of county clerk and personnel director for the Jackson
We tried to talk him out of it. We pleaded with him to think
carefully about the fire he was about to jump into. Being a reporter
is hard. Being the "reportee" is even harder.
But David's mind was made up, and so he left the insane world
of writing about politicians to the inane world of working for
politicians. We hated to see him go, but wished him well.
For the last seven years, David has made his professional work
that of public service. In the background of many county government
decisions was David Bohanan. At times, his employers were swirling
about in a frenzy of political upheavals. It often appeared as
if the county government was standing still.
It wasn't. Even as the politicians fussed and fumed at each other,
David kept the machinery of county government moving. He did
that without crossing swords with his employers or his subordinates,
a feat that says a lot about his ability to get along with people.
Because of that finesse, David was often mentioned as a potential
candidate for the new county manager position. Opinions varied
on that. Some believed bringing in someone with no previous connection
to Jackson County would be better. Others thought having David's
experience at the helm would help the transition to a new government
Whatever the view, that question is now moot. David is moving
on to another new challenge as city manager of Dahlonaga. No
one can blame him for removing himself from what might be a difficult
transition in county government.
But David's professional gain is the county's great loss. David
is one of only a few people in the Jackson County government
who's been involved in a huge number of issues. Most department
heads know what's going on with their own department, but they
seldom get the larger picture of how it all fits into the county
government as a whole.
David is one of the few who does have the big picture. He knows
the background on a wide variety of issues. He knows why certain
decisions were made. He knows the dynamics both internally and
externally in county government. One has to wonder if the loss
of such knowledge can be replaced.
David Bohanan came to Jackson County as a young man with a full
head of hair. He pulled a lot of it out during the last 15 years,
but he is far wiser than when he came. In his wake is a body
of work spanning two careers that contributed greatly to the
betterment of Jackson County.
And David, once again, we hate to see you go, but wish you well.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
September 13, 2000
Input On Greenspace Plan
Citizens concerned about or interested
in Jackson County's future as it endures rapid growth should
attend the meeting Thursday night at which a "greenspace
plan" will be discussed.
Under Gov. Roy Barnes' legislation, counties and cities must
develop plans to permanently protect from development 20 percent
of their land. The meeting, at 7:30 at the Jackson County Administrative
Building, is being held so citizens can offer ideas about how
this can best be done.
The idea is to preserve a high quality of life by protecting
a fifth of the county's land from development. Decisions are
yet to be made as to what areas should be preserved, how the
land can be acquired or what incentives can be offered to private
property owners to give or sell development rights to counties
and cities. Because Jackson County is among the 40 fastest-growing
counties in Georgia, it is among the first to address the issue
so it can qualify for state funds that could help acquire the
The protection of so much land can neither be done quickly nor
cheaply, and it probably cannot be done without much discussion
and some controversy. It can be done with much less confusion,
however, if the public has a chance in advance to voice its concerns
and opinions and to learn what is being done and why it is being
done. That is why Thursday's meeting is important.
The plan that will eventually be put into action will have a
lasting effect on how the county develops. It can affect property
values, tax rates and overall quality of life. County officials
and developers will be present to make sure their ideas are considered.
Citizens should attend this important meeting to make sure theirs
Jackson County Opinion Index