The Jackson Herald
January 24, 2001
Atlanta suburbs: The tidal wave of the future
When people ask me where I'm from, I say Jackson County. I wasn't
born there. I didn't start school there. But it is the place
where my life started over and the place I call home.
I was born in Athens. I started kindergarten in a green dress
with my name pinned to it in Gwinnett County and I lived for
a time in Cherokee County. Yet I don't consider any of those
When my parents separated, Mom loaded us into her station wagon
and we trucked up Interstate 85 to Braselton, where my grandparents
had lived for several years. And there began the rest of my life.
We thought we were only going to be here temporarily. I taunted
a neighborhood boy that my Daddy was going to come and get us
any day. Ignoring my taunts and the snobby attitude I know I
must have had, he asked me if I wanted to come over and play
kickball and he introduced me to the whole neighborhood gang.
I was a bit resentful (my mother would probably say a lot resentful)
and I complained a lot. Everyone talked funny. School was boring.
I couldn't bicycle to the library. And I wanted my own room back.
But, as I attended school that year at Jackson County Middle
School, I found myself softening. The kids were nice and they
didn't ask me a lot of questions. Both at school and at home
playing in the neighborhood with my new friends, I forgot about
mentioning that I would probably only be at school for another
week before my Dad came to get me.
Then the day that I forgot about came-Dad arrived with a moving
truck. I filled an address book with names and addresses and
cried when the neighborhood boy rode his bike over just before
the truck pulled out with his name and address scribbled across
the top of a note. I didn't care about my room or riding my bike
to the library and I certainly didn't care about all those snobby
people at that other school. The only thing that seemed to matter
there was what kind of house you lived in or what kind of car
your parents drove. No one had ever bothered to ask me anything
about my house in Jackson County.
My story does have a happy ending, sort of. By the time seventh
grade started, I was right back at Jackson County Middle School
and I could ride my bike to the neighborhood I used to play in.
It was like I had never left.
Six years later, I married the neighborhood boy and we moved
to Gwinnett County so that I could be near my college. As we
crammed all of our things into a one-bedroom apartment, we plotted
and planned for the day we would go home. Five months before
my graduation, we began looking for a house. We thought we'd
have no problem finding something within our budget since both
of us worked. Our real estate agent found us several broken-down
homes that we could afford. No heating, no air, holes in the
wall that would need to be patched, broken windows. Homes our
mortgage company wouldn't approve. We relented to our agent's
advice and broadened our search to include any area within a
25-minute drive from Braselton. Jackpot.
I'm now a resident of Barrow County, a true expatriate of Jackson
County. And though both Eric and I are happy with our home, I
can't help but dream about a house in Jackson County where our
daughter could attend the same schools we did, maybe have a few
teachers who will ask her if she's related to Eric Beckstine,
that sweet boy she taught so many years ago.
It doesn't seem right to me that homes are so expensive in Jackson
County that two people who work hard and pay their bills can't
afford to live there. A sense of community is lost when this
happens. I know why I can't afford to live there-Jackson County
is earmarked as the next little Atlanta. It's destined to be
a suburb of Gwinnett. My father says that "Where there is
no growth, there is only stagnation." I don't want to hear
about rising land values being good for the county, true or not.
I liked the forests and fields that lined Hwy. 124 and 332 and
numerous other roads in Jackson County, whether they were stagnated
or not. And like that whiney child I was, I just want to go home.
No county is safe from the way suburbs replace farm land as Atlanta
swallows whole communities. Not Jackson, not Banks, not Madison.
Interstate 85 and Hwy. 316 are the tentacles of the city. That
access makes them easy prey for the developers ready to capitalize
on unused land. City councils and county officials can try to
limit growth, but what's the point when your children can't afford
to buy a house because of outrageous land values and a skyrocketing
cost of living? Isn't that who you're trying to preserve the
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.
The Jackson Herald
January 24, 2001
Make way for Dodge
Looking for signs of spring? Try looking south, specifically
toward Daytona Beach, Florida. That's where the good old boys
of NASCAR are readying for the start of the 2001 racing season.
As with any, the 2001 season brings with it a host of changes,
the most notable being the re-entry of Dodge into the Winston
Much has changed at Dodge since we last saw them on the track
for a WC event in 1985. Back then, U.S. parent company Chrysler
was trying desperately to recover from hard financial times.
Today, Dodge could be considered at least partially a foreign
car company, now part of international mega-corporate Daimler-Chrysler.
The obvious question is, how competitive can the new Intrepids
NASCAR is still trying to work the kinks out of Ford's switch
from the Thunderbird to the Taurus. To expect the powers-that-be
to make an Intrepid competitive right off the bat might be too
much to ask.
Ten drivers who are planning on getting behind the wheel of an
Intrepid this season gathered recently at Daytona with 41 other
drivers for a series of track tests. Everyone expected good things,
given that wind tunnel tests had already shown the Intrepid to
be aerodynamically competitive with the Monte Carlo and Taurus.
Something got lost between the tunnel and the track.
Of the 51 cars that took to the track, the fastest Dodge ran
26th. That means that of the slowest 26 cars, 10 were Intrepids.
Not a good start.
The point man in the Intrepid camp is NASCAR genius Ray Evernham,
who helped make Jeff Gordon a superstar. Evernham has a personal
stake in Dodge, fielding a two-car team for the upcoming season.
Driving for Evernham will be Casey Atwood and Wild Bill from
Dawsonville Georgia's own Bill Elliott.
Petty Enterprises also has a big chunk of time and money invested
in the Intrepid. PE will feature a three-car team in 2001, with
John Andretti still behind the wheel of the 43, Kyle Petty moving
into late son Adam's 45, and another Georgia boy, Buckshot Jones,
taking the helm in number 44.
The other five drivers climbing into Intrepids this season will
be Stacey Compton, Ward Burton, Dave Blaney, Sterling Marlin
and Jason Leffler.
The early Daytona tests not withstanding, don't count out these
Dodge guys just yet. With names like those listed above involved
in the program, the bugs will eventually be worked out.
If an Intrepid can't finish in the top 20 at Daytona, look for
NASCAR to break out the wind tunnel again and make some aerodynamic
changes to the Intrepid and possibly even the Taurus and Monte
Carlo to help even things out.
Once that happens, look for veteran drivers in Fords and Chevys
to complain about the unfair advantages enjoyed in the Dodge
camps, and look for an Intrepid in the winner's circle.
Soon after, start looking for them all to have big, black donuts
on the side, courtesy of the black No. 3, because some things
will never change.
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson Herald.
Jackson County Opinion Index