Banks County Opinions...

November 29, 2000

By Shar Porier
The Banks County News
November 29, 2000

Christmas shopping
Christmas is coming!
Actually, in our family, we fondly call it "Chaosmas."
That fun time of year when 21 of us rush back home to cram in the family gathering.
I'll be winging my way to northern Ohio, while other family members fight it out on the roads­some from Cincinnati, others down from Holland, Mich.
Normally, I have all my shopping done by now. This year, I decided I would join the gazillions of happy holiday shoppers on that supposedly best shopping day of the year, the Day After Thanksgiving.
I'm not exactly sure why I chose to do this. Maybe I thought it would jump-start my holiday spirit. Maybe I figured it was one way to work off some of that Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe I didn't want to have presents for 33 people lying around the house for months.
I have been having second thoughts as to the wisdom of it all. It feels a bit overwhelming when I look at the calendar and see just how few days there are to get it all done. And I have to mail it up there because it's too much to carry on the plane. I began to worry...
Off I went Friday morning at 10 a.m.. No, I couldn't make those 7 and 8 a.m. sales.
Parking was my first hurdle. Cruising the lot at Tanger, I checked out the stores and made a game plan. Which ones to start at first for the smaller things and work my way up to the heavier items. Try to keep trips to the car to a minimum.
A spot finally opened and I parked. And this time, I made a note as to where my car was. Do you have any idea of how many teal vans and SUVs there are?
The stores were full of people and full of bargains.
In my first store, I scored four gifts in 30 minutes. Pretty good, I thought. This isn't so bad!
While I was there, I thought I should really try to find those shoes I'd been looking for. Here at the holidays, I was sure to have a good shot at those dress shoes I've been imaging existed somewhere.
So I stopped in a shoe store to check things out. No luck.
Next, I went to a book store. The youngest kids love those pop-up books. Actually, I do, too. Another 30 minutes, another three people checked off my list.
Then I got into the tougher names­teenagers! What to get them? I'm one of those people who doesn't ask for a Christmas list. The whole challenge is finding something they like that they hadn't asked for. And in the past, I've done pretty well with my surprises.
I was now feeling panic setting in. Well, I'll just ask some teenagers and get their opinions. I questioned several. They ticked off a long list of designer/name brand clothing as the top gifts. Then there was CD players, pagers, cell phones, DVD players, stereo systems and CDs of bands I never heard of and couldn't even spell. (A victim of the generation gap). I began to think I had made a big mistake. Is this what 13 -and 15-year-olds expect under the tree?
I sympathized with parents. Well, that was a lost hour.
Then I saw the Old Navy store and knew I could really score big there. Some 45 minutes later, I checked off five more names.
The toy store served a dual purpose. First, I could find more gifts and, second, I could play with the toys. A diversion from all this stress!
The place was packed, shoulder to shoulder, kids running everywhere, yelling "Mom, come see this! Dad, you got to get me this!" Though my playing time was now canceled, I did find more presents.
But, whoa! It was now almost 4 p.m. Where did the time go? Those darn shoe stores? The long lines at the check-outs? Shouldering my way through crowded aisles? Talking to the body-pierced, orange-haired, black-fingernail-polished teenagers? All of the above?
I was just barely through a third of my list. My feet hurt, my back hurt. I was hungry and tired. Time to call it a day, like it or not; finished or not. The rest would have to wait.
I got in the car to head for home, and it felt so goooood to sit down. It took about three seconds for me to decide I wasn't going to do this next year. I was feeling pretty low.
Now, I not only had the deadline to meet, but also had to figure a way to get my fun-holiday spirit back.
So, I closed my eyes and remembered Christmases past. Smiling faces, laughs of joy, hugs, the corny jokes, my uncle pickin' his guitar singing "Silver Bells," warmth of family, and unconditional love.
Ah, that's much better! I'm ready for another round now!
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.

By Angela Gary
The Banks County News
November 29, 2000

Riding the rails on Thanksgiving
Enjoying a meal of the traditional turkey and dressing and vegetables, along with new dishes such as sauerkraut salad and pumpkin cheesecake, as we rode the rails through the North Carolina mountains.
Heading out with my mother before dawn to find bargains at a huge outlet mall in Tennessee.
These are among the memories I have of my long Thanksgiving weekend. Instead of staying home, with my mom cooking all day and then the family stuffing our faces, we decided to try something new this year. We left early Thanksgiving morning, made a quick stop for breakfast, and continued on to the North Carolina mountains. We had reservations for Thanksgiving lunch on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.
The meal was great, including the new treats that I had never tried before. Who would have thought pumpkin cheese cake would be so tasty. The four-hour trip was a little long, but we enjoyed it. Announcements are made throughout the trip on the history of the railroad and the Fontana Dam, which was our destination. It was interesting to see the dam, which has been drained. It is drained every five years for required testing.
After our lunch train trip, we went on to Sevierville, Tenn., where we stayed through Sunday. My mother and I always head out early on the day after Thanksgiving to look for bargains and this year was no exception. We left my dad sleeping in the room and went to one of the many malls in the area. There were already a lot of people there, but we had no problem finding a parking spot. We went into all of the stores that we wanted to and only one was really crowded. After standing in line 45 minutes in this store, my mother decided she didn't want the skirt she had that much­even with the 40 percent off coupon she had. We walked over to another store and found a black skirt with no waiting in line to pay for it.
Our weekend getaway also included a drive to Knoxville, which is approximately 30 miles from Pigeon Forge. We have visited Pigeon Forge many times over the years, but have never made the short drive to Knoxville. We decided it would be a good weekend trip. There is a zoo, riverboat cruise and other attractions in the downtown area. We were there for only a short time, but we did walk through the area where the World's Fair was held in 1982. Much of it has not been used in a while and has become somewhat run-down, but a $10.5 million renovation was scheduled to begin this week. In a little over a year, the amphitheater and sunsphere will be restored to their former glory. It will be a great spot for concerts, festivals and other events.
The weekend didn't last long enough for me, but I have lots of great memories of a new holiday experience.
Angela Gary is associate editor of The Jackson Herald and editor of The Banks County News. She can be reached at

The Banks County News
November 29, 2000

Baldwin right on property tax issue
Maybe the never-ending debate over property taxes in Baldwin will finally come to an end following action by the city council Monday night. All residents of the town, regardless of whether they live in Banks County or Baldwin, should pay property taxes. The city council was right in their vote to not refund property taxes to those Baldwin residents residing in Banks County.
It doesn't matter that two decades ago a deal was made that sales tax from Banks County would be used in lieu of property taxes from residents in that county. The deal wasn't made to last an eternity. It was made because it seemed the best thing to do by the council at that time. That is no longer the case.
The Habersham County residents of the town should no longer pay taxes while other city residents are exempt. This isn't fair. It should be tax all or tax no one. It was time for the council to take a final, definite vote on this and move forward.


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The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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