Jackson County Opinions...

December 13, 2000

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
December 13, 2000

It's Here: Your Long-Awaited Gift-Buying Guide
In the continuation of a long-standing tradition at The Commerce News, as a public service, to help you shower your public servants with the affection they deserve and, most importantly, to fill this space, I offer the 2000 version of Mark's Gift-Buying Guide For Public Officials and other people of notoriety.
Tops on the list is Harold Fletcher, soon to be the commander in chief of Jackson County. Fletcher will have the authority to order the Jackson County Militia into service and to demand the records of the probate judge, but he has other needs.
If you want to make his Christmas a happy one, get him four "yea" votes to use at the time of his choosing during the upcoming year. Representing a vote from each of his fellow commissioners, the gift could be used on four separate votes or all at once. He'd also like the continued support of The Commerce News Editorial Board of Review.
Other folks and gift ideas to make their Christmases better:
·The four other county commissioners would like a public uprising in demand of higher taxes.
·Current county commission chairman Jerry Waddell would like a job. Oh, never mind. The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority already got that gift.
·Rep. Scott Tolbert would like a vote recount ­ done in Florida.
·For state senator-to-be-Mike Beatty, give him a favorable reapportionment that puts Jackson County in a new congressional district so Mike can relocate to Capitol Hill.
·Tax commissioner Don Elrod and the governments of the county would like a tax digest that is completed on time ­ for a change ­ and accurate.
·Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. and the Commerce City Council would like some angry citizens to liven up monthly council meetings with complaints about utility bills or taxes.
·Pepe Cummings, president of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, would like a big, capitalintensive, non-polluting, good-paying industry that makes no extraordinary demands on the county's infrastructure and donates money, time and personnel to the chamber. But the chamber's getting new digs for Christmas, so you don't have to buy anything.
·A crown, throne, scepter and coronation ceremony would delight King Roy Barnes.
·The Commerce Board of Education would appreciate a handful of high SAT scores from this year's seniors or a certificate of completion for the CHS renovation.
·If there's a Georgia Tech fan on your list, give him Jim Donnan.
·For the UGA fans, the only coach that would make them happy is Moses, providing he's got a plague left to bring to Steve Spurrier.
·CHS football coach Steve Savage would love to have Monté Williams and Michael Collins back next year.
·Is Al Gore on your Christmas list? A recount of Georgia's vote is a great gag gift.
·For Dubya, give him lots of luck and a copy of Gore's upcoming book, Presidential Leadership For Dummies.
·And finally, for your favorite editor. Don't go to a lot of trouble. Cash, or even a check would be just fine.

The Jackson Herald
December 13, 2000

Nicholson mayor acts cowardly
Go figure: While Al Gore and "Dubya" are fighting to become president, the newly elected mayor of Nicholson runs away from his job.
Two times now, newly elected Nicholson Mayor Ronnie Maxwell has refused to attend a Nicholson City Council meeting in an obvious effort to thwart a quorum. In doing so, Mr. Maxwell hopes to stall an effort to have zoning codes established in the town. The new mayor hopes a March election will bring two new anti-zoning council members to the table.
The first time Mr. Maxwell ignored a city council meeting was last week when shortly after being sworn in, he left the room and never returned. This week, he refused to attend a called meeting, saying he wasn't notified in time and that the agenda wasn't specific. Then he had the audacity to say, "I don't feel like they (the other council members) should treat my office like that."
But it is Mr. Maxwell who has mistreated the responsibility to his office. By not attending the city council meetings, he has, in effect, abandoned his office.
Some might just call that politics.
We call it cowardly. If Mr. Maxwell didn't want to fulfill the duties of mayor, he shouldn't have put his name on the ballot. If he doesn't have the courage to argue his position, win or lose, he shouldn't be a public official.
Nicholson hasn't been able to conduct business since September and Mr. Maxwell obviously doesn't intend to do business until after the March elections.
If Nicholson can go six months without a functioning city government, then perhaps the citizens of the town don't need an incorporated government.
We've seen a lot of public officials come and go over the years, but we've never seen one who dashed for the door as soon as he was sworn in.
Mr. Maxwell should do his job, or step aside and let some more qualified person fill his seat.

Jackson County Opinion Index

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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
December 13, 2000

Landfill solution: Go to Nicholson
OK, I've got the solution to the North Jackson landfill issue: Put it in Nicholson. It's the perfect answer to two controversial issues. The residents of North Jackson don't want a landfill. They've made that clear.
But Nicholson residents say they do want a landfill. By electing a mayor who opposes zoning and who avoids council meetings to make sure there isn't a vote on zoning, the citizens of Nicholson have, in effect, endorsed hosting a landfill.
As the only place left in Jackson County without zoning, Nicholson is ripe for all kinds of dumps. The town's slogan may soon be, "Dumps-R-Us."
Landfills are a big issue in Jackson County. The proposed Arcade landfill was a never-ending controversy that makes the presidential election debate look tame. Then came the Hwy. 53 effort in West Jackson. That, too, was eventually stopped by county efforts.
Now the focus is in North Jackson where an old industrial zoning tract is apparently open for landfill development. But that effort won't happen without a fight. North Jackson residents are well organized and plan to throw roadblocks in the way of the developers. Smart developers know that mad neighbors can cause a boatload of trouble and cost them thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
All of that could be averted, however, if area landfill folks would just focus their efforts in Nicholson. Here's a town that has no controls over property. It is a town where proponents of zoning codes get labeled as "communists." A town where the new mayor welcomes unfettered and unregulated growth projects by abandoning his position. A town where city leaders can't even meet to oppose a landfill because the mayor fears a zoning vote.
So here's the tip, landfill developers: go to Nicholson. They'll not fuss about your projects like all those other picky people in Jackson County.
It came as no surprise last week when the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority hired outgoing county commission chairman Jerry Waddell as its water superintendent. It is a controversial move, given that Waddell himself has been controversial during his tenure as the county's top elected official.
The issue over Waddell's hiring wasn't his technical abilities. Having dealt with water and sewer issues for seven years as county commission chairman, he knows what has to be done. No one quibbled over that.
What was of concern, however, was the question over his ability to put county politics in the past and focus only on his water/sewer duties. Waddell does, after all, bring some baggage to the position. Moreover, there were concerns over whether other political leaders in the county could put aside past differences with Waddell and work with him in his new role.
Although it sometimes gets beaten up by thirsty citizens, the county's water authority has a pretty good track record. It is led by those committed to seeing the county's water and sewer infrastructure grow. They are honest people, community leaders who spend a lot of time and effort for all our benefit.
If that group believes Waddell is the best person for the job, then the rest of us shouldn't be too quick to criticize. Just as the new board of commissioners deserves a fair chance to show us what they're capable of doing, so too does Waddell deserve a chance to prove himself in this new post.
If his hiring proves to be a mistake, that will be apparent soon enough and the authority can move to find someone else. (One supposes that the authority had a heart-to-heart conversation with Waddell on that point before he was hired.)
The development of the county's water and sewer resources is too vital to be sidetracked by focusing on one individual. The system is much bigger than that.
If Jerry Waddell makes himself an issue and commits employment hari-kari, that's one thing.
But the rest of Jackson County shouldn't rush to be his lynch mob just because of past political battles.
Everyone in Jackson County will be a Commerce Tiger Friday night. For the first time in 19 years, the Tigers are vying for the state football championship and the game will pull thousands from all across the county.
How special is this? Consider that today's high school students weren't even born when Commerce won its only state title in 1981. All today's team has are stories and legends.
This team's parents were teenagers themselves during two earlier efforts by the Tigers at a state crown in 1973 and 1976. Commerce lost those games, to Mt. de Sales in 1973 and Turner County in 1976.
And this year's team's grandparents were in their youth when the Tigers went to state in 1965.
What a year the Tigers have had! All of Jackson County is pulling for you this week.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

The Commerce News
December 13, 2000

They're Champions, Regardless Of Score
Win or lose Friday night, our Commerce Tigers are champions. A last-quarter come-from-behind victory over a previous nemesis was the crowing achievement (so far) in a great high school grid season.
The Tigers are champions not so much because they beat Lincoln County, Johnson County, etc., but because of the way they play and the spirit they carry onto the field. Win or lose this Friday against Buford, they are champions.
It is part of the Commerce High School football tradition that the Tigers never give up. Down by a touchdown or down by two, the players continue to give the maximum effort, believing something good will happen. If ever a game seemed hopeless going into the fourth quarter, it was Saturday's state semifinal match against the Red Devils. The Tigers were trailing 14-3 and had not earned a single first down.
But Commerce teams don't give up. The Tigers quickly got that first first down and followed it with a touchdown, then another and suddenly they were seemingly-improbable victors.
Saturday's victory was a result of character and athletic ability. The Tigers overcame a huge miscue early in the second quarter. They prevailed even after two Red Devil turnovers were negated by the officials. They persevered against a defense that had been unyielding.
It was only a football game, but the Tigers' example applies elsewhere. In the face of adversity, hard work, team work and faith paid off with a victory. There will be other uphill struggles for these young men to face, other times when continuing seems pointless, but perseverance, faith and diligence will see them through.
This Friday night, the Tigers play Buford for the state Class A football championship. We know they'll play hard, perform well and never give up. That's what makes them champions. Good luck to the Tigers.



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