Jackson County Opinions...

October 4, 2000



By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
October 4, 2000

Stop At Stop Signs? Don't Be Ridiculous
The Georgia Department of Transportation seemed surprised to find out that most motorists approaching the bypass on Georgia 326 don't stop at the stop signs.
A study found that in the morning, 76 percent of motorists don't stop there, while in the evening, 64 percent disregard the stop signs.
Gee, no kidding.
I have no evidence aside from personal experience, but I'd wager a small sum that the only reason the motorists who stopped there did so because they had to.
Stop signs in Georgia don't mean stop. They mean slow down a little to see if anyone else is coming and, if not, just go right ahead. In effect, they are yield signs.
This is particularly true at railroad grade crossings. I'd been in Georgia only a few days back in 1971 when I made the mistake of stopping at a grade crossing on a state highway near Athens. I thought stop signs meant stop. I heard this screeching sound, looked in my rear-view mirror and was horrified to see about 20 feet behind my vehicle a skidding car swerving around me to the left side to avoid crashing into me from the rear. As the driver drew even with me, he gave me the one-finger salute.
I've been treating stop signs as yield signs ever since.
Aside from students in driver education classes or motorists who see police nearby, nobody comes to a full stop at a stop sign unless another motorist has the right of way. That is not to say that they ignore the signs, though some do. Watch traffic at any intersection with a stop sign and my words will be proven. Even the police don't stop at stop signs.
Most of us come pretty close. We get down to one or two mph as we near the sign, and if there is no one coming, we go on through. Should a police officer ever pull us over for that offense, we'd be indignant and insist that we'd stopped.
The reason people get into wrecks on Georgia 326 at the bypass is that they don't look real closely to see if anyone is coming on the bypass. They rush across after a near-stop, during which they quickly glanced both ways, and some of them fail to see oncoming traffic. If there were stop lights at the intersection, these same people would stop, wait until the light turned green, then proceed.
Except for those turning right on red.
A right turn on red is the same as a stop sign, which around here appears to mean very little.
The DOT thinks the intersection would be safer if the Commerce Police Department enforced the stop signs there. If the police ever start writing tickets for stop sign violations, they'd better order more ticket books and the town council had best prepare for an onslaught of complaints.
People here call it a "speed trap" when the police write speeding tickets to motorists traveling 15 or more mph above the speed limit. If people start getting ticketed for not coming to a complete stop at stop signs, there will be charges that Commerce is a police state.
Stop at stop signs? Don't be ridiculous. We'd rather merge our school systems.
Want us to stop? Install a traffic light and we'll consider it. Maybe.

The Jackson Herald
October 4, 2000

Return Stan Evans as sheriff
For those who've not lived in Jackson County very long, it's difficult to explain just how far this community has come in dealing with crime. Certainly, Jackson County continues to have its share of criminal activity, especially with thefts and domestic disputes.
But those problems are a far cry from the era when organized crime was a dominant force here. From organized car thefts to major bootlegging operations, Jackson County was at one time a haven for criminals.
That began to change after the murder of district attorney (then called solicitor) Floyd Hoard in 1969. But progress was slow and criminal elements still had a hold in some parts of the county.
In 1984, however, a young man was elected as sheriff of Jackson County who changed all of that. The election of Stan Evans was a cry by county citizens for help, and Evans not only took the office, but also lived up to his promise to clean up those criminal elements in Jackson County.
Since that time, Stan Evans has been returned to the sheriff's office three times and this November, he is standing for his fourth term in office.
This newspaper has a lot of contact with the sheriff's department each week. Although Evans faces some challenges in that department, a lack of funding to hire and retain staff being the major problem, the department is stronger today than it's ever been. That's due to the strong leadership Evans continues to give that organization.
We believe Stan Evans has earned the trust and confidence of the citizens in Jackson County and should once again be elected as our sheriff.



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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
October 4, 2000

Comments on the passing scene...
Let me see if I get this right: A Cobb County teen is arrested for being a party to a crime, stealing a car and bashing in mailboxes; is suspended from his school's football team, but his dad then threatens to sue the school so the boy can play. Dad even writes a long letter to an Atlanta newspaper defending his actions and complains that his son is getting a raw deal from that mean ol'school.
MEMO TO DAD: Deal with it. Your son would be better served by your explaining to him that actions have consequences. He has to pay a price for his misdeeds. Maybe if he learns that, he'll grow up to be a wiser man than his dad.
Also in a Cobb County school, officials declare that a 10-inch chain on a key ring is a dangerous weapon and suspend an 11-year-old girl for 10 days. This isn't the first time some school administrative yo-yo has overreacted to the so-called "no tolerance" with weapons policy. Why is it so difficult to have commonsense decision-making in our public schools? Based on decisions like this, you'd think some of our school leaders have lost touch with reality. MEMO TO YO-YO ADMINISTRATOR: Don't complain about Gov. Roy Barnes' efforts to reform public schools when you make dumb decisions like this. No wonder public confidence in public education has waned.
NEW JOKE: The Atlanta City Council called a meeting next week.
It'll be held in Biloxi.
More teenagers have been hurt and killed in the last few weeks in car wrecks. But even as the teen death toll mounts, state legislators complain that raising the age limit for driving might "hurt" kids who have after-school jobs.
MEMO TO LEGISLATORS: Tell us that after some speeding 16-year-old kills your son or daughter. In an ideal world, parents would keep a tighter rein on their 16-year-old kids. But that isn't happening. For the protection of the rest of us, raise the driving age to 17.
Last week, I took candidate Mike Beatty to task for mischaracterizing a 1997 vote made by incumbent Eddie Madden. But Madden isn't totally innocent of political games. A radio ad from Madden says that Beatty voted against "children" when he was a legislator in the early 1990s because he voted against the state budget.
Please, Sen. Madden, don't drag the "we're-doing-it-for-the-children" theme into your campaign ads. Everything we do is for our children.
A recent study of Georgia's pre-K students found that disruptive kids take a teacher's time away from other children, slowing their development. That's news? Do we really need a study to tell us that disruptive kids are hell for teachers to handle and that they hurt the education of their peers?
MEMO TO STATE SCHOOL LEADERS: So when are you guys going to admit that "mainstreaming" disruptive kids into regular classrooms is an educational flop? Parents have been trying to tell you that for years. Now that some researcher has concluded the same thing, will you please do something about it?
Some teachers have been up in arms over the governor's school reform legislation. They claim that the governor unfairly painted teachers as the problem and that he didn't give them the "respect" they deserve.
So what does the GAE, the state's largest teacher union, ask for in the upcoming legislative session? That group wants a 10 percent pay hike, retirement after 25 years, a reinstating of teacher tenure and more "sabbatical leave opportunities" for teachers.
MEMO TO GAE: You had the governor on the defensive by painting him as a cruel, heartless thug out to get teachers. But with this legislative agenda, you tossed that political advantage out the window by making teachers look like a self-serving bunch of bureaucrats intent on getting more, more, more for themselves.
I don't think teachers are so self-serving, at least not the ones I know. But with this political stand by the GAE, don't be surprised if public opinion doesn't swing again in favor of the governor's efforts to reform education.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

The Commerce News
October 4, 2000

County Should Take Over W&S Systems
With a growing water system and a developing sewerage system, the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority has outgrown its ability to effectively manage the utility systems under its jurisdiction.
The authority has very successfully built a water system over the past decade and a half that serves most parts of unincorporated Jackson County. The county's recent acquisition of the old Texfi waste treatment plant and the deal with Mulberry Plantation put the authority into the sewerage business. And growth throughout the county has sharply increased the demand for both services.
Those demands are more taxing than a board of volunteers can adequately manage. With a new county government taking the reins Jan. 1, it is time to consider transferring the water and sewerage operations from the authority to a county water and sewer department.
As it is, the water authority can barely move without the consent of the board of commissioners, whose backing it needs in everything from road crossing permits to revenue bonds. It takes intergovernmental agreements between the county and the authority to finance the county's portion of construction of the Bear Creek Reservoir and to sell the county's water. It takes intergovernmental agreements on bond financing, which runs up legal costs for both groups. Equally importantly, the details of operating two utility systems have become too complex to expect unpaid laymen to keep up with all that is going on.
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority has already done what it set out to do. Now that a countywide water system is operational and a sewerage system is being built, it's time to create a county water and sewerage department that answers directly to the board of commissioners. The volunteers have done their job. Since the major decisions of the authority require county acquiescence anyway and because operations have grown beyond the ability of a voluntary board to administer, the most efficient means of operating the systems is with a new county department.

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