More Jackson County Opinions...

February 7, 2001

By Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
February 7, 2001

Cottonwood for national symbol
I never got the chance to vote for the national bird. If I had, I don't know that I would have voted for the bald eagle. After all, he's not really bald, is he? I can see some Brits laughing at the silly Americans with the "bald" eagle who is not really bald. I would have voted for the woodpecker, I think.
Since I didn't get to vote for the national bird, I jumped at the opportunity the National Arbor Day Society is giving to all Americans to vote for the national tree. The other night, I logged onto their website,, and did some research on the 21 trees that are in the running. When I go to a restaurant, I read the entire menu. The appetizers, the main dishes, all of the descriptions underneath the names, not a word goes unread or unconsidered. Even at the Waffle House, where I always order the same thing, I read the menu. So you can imagine what kind of attention 21 choices of real national importance should warrant.
To narrow it down quickly, I established two criteria: first, the tree had to grow throughout the United States (because I've never seen a bald eagle outside of a cage), and, second, I wanted a hardy tree. If it's going to be a national symbol, I didn't want a tree that would keel over after 15 years or one that only grows to be 30 feet tall.
The Dogwood was knocked out of the running because of the blight, dogwood anthracnose, which has reduced the number of trees in the country. A tree that can be taken down by disease shouldn't be the national symbol. The Elm was discounted for the same reason as the Dogwood. Dutch Elm Disease has reduced its number.
The Douglas fir's size was admirable with a record height of 329 feet and a crown spread of 60 feet, but, as the most favored Christmas tree, millions are chopped down yearly. Not good either.
I'd never heard of the Kukui tree, which grows only in Hawaii, or the Tulip tree, so I crossed them off the list.
If the tree only grew in one area of the country like the Palm tree, which grows on the coast, then I decided it wouldn't be appropriate either.
The Pecan tree had a lot to recommend it, including being described by Western explorers in 1541 when Hernando DeSoto came upon it, but it grows in only half of the country. Reluctantly, I marked it off my list of finalists.
The Redbud was the prettiest on the list, which is why I crossed it off too.
Georgians might get a kick out of this one: the Pine tree made the list of finalists. I'm still laughing. They're ugly and sticky. Not to mention being the most feared tree that I know of thanks to their spindly height and icy Georgia winters. Besides, my Grandma says they attract ticks.
After about an hour, I had it narrowed down to four: the Cottonwood, the Hemlock, the Magnolia and the Oak. Because of the magnitude of the decision, I decided to sleep on it.
In the morning, I considered their good points. The Oak can live for centuries (a big plus), it's described as "impressive in stature," and it's damage-resistant. The Magnolia isn't only a finalist because it's my favorite tree and it decorates my kitchen; it is the oldest of all flowering plant trees and its grows in all but two of the ten hardiness zones of the United States. The Hemlock was a favorite because of its "ability to thrive in the densest shade and so overtake trees requiring more light." I thought this was a good image for the U.S. and one it could carry well. Then, the Cottonwood (or Poplar tree). It boasts the widest range of any North American tree and grows up to 100 feet tall.
I chose the Cottonwood because of the number of zones it grows in, nine, which is the most of all of the trees on the list.
Now I'll watch to see how the rest of the country votes between now and Arbor Day. Maybe my tree will win and I'll have taken part in its victory, but I'm quietly praying that the Magnolia wins it in a sweep.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for Mainstreet Newspapers.

By Tim Thomas
The Jackson Herald
February 7, 2001

One super cheerleader
Her varsity counterparts may have been in Savannah for the state competitive cheerleading meet, but Jefferson seventh grader SarahBeth Rogers nearly stole the show during Saturday's Jefferson-Greater Atlanta Christian varsity basketball games.
The word nearly is appropriate simply because Rogers picked the most competitive home games of the season during which to strut her stuff. On any other night, she'd have been the main attraction.
With the visiting Lady Spartans carrying the state's No. 1 Class AA ranking, the fans were treated to an amazing show as the Lady Dragons downed GAC by a mere two points.
The girls' game turned out to be only a preliminary, as the Dragon boys recovered from a 19-point deficit to win by two in double overtime.
As if the crowd wasn't revved up enough due to the games, Rogers' performance during timeouts consistently brought standing ovations, even from visiting fans.
As cheering goes, she didn't really do anything spectacular, just a set of handstands. The amazing part was that she did them for the length of the court. About 20 times. The last two with a fractured arm.
Very impressive.
Support cheerleading, although not a sporting event of itself, is a vital part of sporting events, particularly basketball.
A support cheerleader is on the floor to pep up the crowd, and to encourage fans to get involved in the game.
More than any other this writer has witnessed, Rogers' efforts represented what cheering should be. There was no pumping music to guide her, and no hip gyrations bordering on the obscene. Just a simple set of handstands and plenty of enthusiasm.
Regardless of who won or placed Saturday in Savannah, Rogers is a state champion in my book.
Thanks, SarahBeth, for a great show.
While we're on the subject, it should be noted that this writer is of the opinion that competitive cheerleading should not be considered a sport. The GHSA disagrees, according to its 2000-2001 Constitution and By-Laws, which states "Cheerleading is a state championship sport . . .[emphasis added]," but we all know from past experience that all the lights aren't on in the GHSA cranial gymnasium.
Before all you cheer-moms out there in Readerland pull out your Pentels and fire off a bunch of critical letters, hear my reasoning.
Competitive cheerleading is basically a mix of cheering, dance and gymnastics. Cheering itself is not a sport. Dance is not a sport. Gymnastics is a borderline sport. Even the aforementioned GHSA evidently doesn't consider it a sport, saying, "Girls gymnastics is a state championship event . . . [again, emphasis added]."
So, if none of the three major components of competitive cheerleading is considered a sport, why should competitive cheerleading itself be considered a sport?
Competitive cheerleading should be grouped with band and gymnastics as a interpretive events.
That's not meant to take away at all from the accomplishments of our local competitive cheerleading teams. We are abundantly blessed with talent on both competitive and support cheerleading squads, and the participants should be rewarded accordingly.
Just don't call it a sport.
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index


Send us a letter
MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.
PO Box 908, 33 Lee Street, Jefferson, Georgia 30549
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

® Copyright 2000 MainStreet Newspapers, Inc. All rights reserved.
Copyright / Terms / Privacy

Home / Job Market / Real Estate / Automotive / Classifieds
News from Jackson / News from Madison / News from Banks / Sports
Jackson Community / Banks Community / Madison Community

Archives / Advertising / Printing / History / Links / Search Site
Send a Letter / Subscribe / Place a Classified Ad / Online Rates