Banks County Opinions...

February 7, 2001


Column
By C.W. Crawford
The Banks County News
February 7, 2001


Time for asparagus patch
It is still sort of cold here on the knob on the ridge overlooking the Hudson River. But the sun's rays have a different slant to them that is teasing the grass to begin greening up and coax the crocuses and daffodils to push up out of the ground. We have a few up-about four inches or so. I heard from Pat Crane and some of the ladies at church Sunday of similar sightings. It won't be long until the pretty yellow and off-white blooms will be dazzling us.
With spring approaching, we need to be thinking about our gardening-both vegetable and flower. One project you might think about if you are not already growing it, is an asparagus patch. It is one of our favorite vegetables and a very practical one to grow. It takes a little doing, physically, to get started, but the tender spears keep coming back year after year.
Select a sunny location. You may want to put in about three rows next to a fence. The fronds make an attractive border when you have finished your eight to 10 weeks harvest and allow the plants to grow and feed the roots for another spring and early summer harvest. Make sure it is well drained. A soil test is advised. Lime and fertilizer requirements are high. Amend the soil with heavy additions of compost, bone meal, leaf mold, rotted manure or combinations of these. A high degree of tilth is beneficial.
Purchase two-year-old crowns. They are usually purchased and shipped for planting in March or April. Dig a trench about 12 inches deep and 15 inches wide. Leave about a foot between the trenches. Pile the dirt to the side and mix in the above organic matter. Take a shovel or spading fork and push it into the clay at the bottom of the trench. Rock the tool back and forth about eight inches deep every six inches to loosen the heavy soil. Spread about two inches of the soil you have mixed into the bottom of the trench. Set the crowns, mounding the soil slightly under them so the crown is slightly above the roots. Spread the roots out over the mound and firm about three inches of soil over the crown. As the plants grow, firm another three inches of the soil mixture over them-about every two weeks, until the trench is filled. Water as you go. When the trench is two-thirds full, place a band of fertilizer well to the side of the crowns.
Spears will appear the first year. If you have used two-year-old crowns, limit the harvest to none at all, or, as we did, being very impatient, a very very few spears. Fertilize in late winter or very early spring with nitrogen fertilizer and a side dressing after a harvest of an eight to 10 week duration. A mulch of compost each year is very beneficial. After harvest, allow the fronds to grow till frost and then cut back to the ground and mulch.
C.W. Crawford is a master gardener.

 

 

 

 

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Column
By Adam Fouche
The Banks County News
February 7, 2001

Officials' image is becoming tarnished
Since the very infancy of modern sports, officials have been criticized. Either they make the wrong calls, don't make enough calls or need to have their eyes checked. Sports fans, coaches and players alike have all been guilty of disagreeing with officials.
The majority of the time, officials handle such "constructive criticism" with relative elegance.
Indeed, officials have a tough job. For several years, my Dad was an American Softball Association certified umpire. And he's spent countless Saturday mornings as an official for the Banks County, Jackson County and Commerce recreation departments.
I understand the stress put on officials and I sympathize with the duty they bravely execute. Usually, officials act professionally and judge a contest with discreet impartiality.
However, the sports seasons this year have fostered a rise in inept and seemingly incompetent officiating, from Banks County's football against Dawson County to the Leopards' contest against GAC on the court.
An official's job is serious. His decisions have real and immediate impacts. And the seriousness of an official's duty warrants tight performance evaluation and strict consequences for wrongdoing.
But such has not been the case this year.
In December, the officiating crew for the Banks County boys' basketball game against GAC committed several intolerable acts. An official made a biased remark to BCHS principal Jan Bertrang and even interacted unprofessionally with the crowd. Both facts were attested not only by Bertrang and BCHS basketball coach Mike Ruth, but also by Tim Vick, the coach of the opposing team.
Such acts, in my mind, reveal an official who is unable to truly execute his duty as an unbiased judge, the essential attribute of any official at any athletic level. Blatant and inappropriate bias on an official's part should result in termination.
But instead, the Peach State Basketball Officials Association chose a different route with its crew that officiated the GAC game.
A letter authored by PSBOA president Mike Alexander states that after an "extensive investigation," the PSBOA board of directors determined that the officiating crew didn't manage the game as well as the association "hoped or expected" but that "at no time was the integrity of the officials or the game ever compromised."
The letter also claims that the problem at the game resulted from poor sportsmanship on the part of the fans from both schools and that the officials cannot "make coaches, players or fans act properly."
However, a fact Alexander fails to mention is that Bertrang attempted to rectify the situation during the game but, instead, ended up having her school insulted by an official. I assume, from Alexander's letter, that Bertrang's display of exceptional sportsmanship and the official's lack of integrity had no bearing whatsoever.
Alexander later states that the PSBOA board of directors reprimanded the officials involved and will continue to monitor their performance. Further, the officials agreed "to do what they can to prevent anything like this from happening again."
The PSBOA's actions amount to nothing more than a playful slap on the hand-an "It's OK, just don't do it again" speech.
Their decision undermines the intentions and purpose of officiating. If officials are not duly and appropriately punished for acts of bias, then they begin to lose their credibility. Their impartiality is compromised and soon their authority will diminish.
Alexander says in his letter that the original complaint, filed by GAC coach Vick, "raised serious concerns about the officiating in the contest." Unfortunately, Alexander's letter also raises serious concerns.
The board of directors' decision has sent a loud and clear message from the PSBOA-the message that they will allow their officials to officiate with bias and act unprofessionally.
Sadly, I lost a great deal of respect for the PSBOA the day I read that letter. I can only hope that their actions will not tarnish the reputation of their officials in the future.
I think, though, that the damage has already been done.
But they brought it all upon themselves by failing to impartially officiate within their own organization.
Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. His email address is fouche@nbank.net.


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