Jackson County Opinions...

February 21, 2001



Column
By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
February 21, 2001

Maybe There's Too Much 'Honor' In Sports
Hopefully, by now all of the words have been said about the great competitive cheerleading controversies in both this newspaper and in The Jackson Herald. We can move on.
I'm of the opinion that we give our kids too much recognition for athletic achievement. More than most of the kids would want.
Can't any team compete and succeed without someone deciding they need to be "honored?" Isn't the joy of competition sufficient reward on its own?
Apparently not. And it's not the coaches or the athletic department or the recreation department that are recognition happy. It's the fans and the parents who insist that every child receive a certificate if not a trophy and that winning teams get resolutions from everyone from the town council to the General Assembly.
Athletics give the kids recreational activities in a competitive environment. Whether it's Mite League baseball or varsity football, athletics is for recreation. It offers a lot more of course. We hope kids learn teamwork, responsibility, sportsmanship and the work ethic. It offers recognition in a society where sports is of keen interest. And the kids who excel often provide wonderful publicity for our communities.
But somehow, the adults have the notion that kids must always be publicly honored for their achievements. It's not enough that they have fun; they must be publicly honored for having fun.
I assure you that the 2000 Commerce Tigers got enough satisfaction and honor out of winning the state football championship that they couldn't care less about signs at the city limits noting that accomplishment. They might get a kick out of seeing them, but if it hadn't been put up no Tiger would have retained a lawyer.
Nothing written in this paper, placed on a resolution by the mayor and council or put on certificates by the board of education can come close to the joy the Tigers got out of big wins in the Georgia Dome and in the final game; they'll remember the thrills of the game long after they've tossed their copies of certificates and resolutions into the trash and put the trophies in the attic.
Perhaps no one is more guilty of laying on the honors than we in the newspaper business. The victories and losses of the Tigers and Dragons, Braves and Falcons, are played up as though they were of great importance. We name our own all-star teams, pick "players of the week" We elevate athletics to the level of world affairs. It sells newspapers and it provides a diversion from the sometimes dismal news of the real world.
My observation is that the kids' egos are not as tender as we think. They don't need to be constantly told how wonderful they are or presented with honors at every turn. They get the satisfaction of playing well, of beating someone they were supposed to lose to, of contributing to a team's victory. They enjoy the fellowship unique to team sports and the pride of workmanship.
The kids recognize what's important. It's how you play the game, not how many trumped up awards you receive. The real honors are won on the field, not at the banquet, board meeting or on an editorial page.



Editorial
The Jackson Herald
February 21, 2001

Jefferson rezoning request needs another look
Opposition from area residents caused a commercial rezoning request in Jefferson to be withdrawn last week. The request to rezone six acres at Storey Lane and Hwy. 129 for an office building was opposed because some area residents didn't want to allow access off Storey Lane to the site.
While we understand people living in residential areas wish to resist the encroachment of commercial projects, in this case such opposition appears to be misguided.
For one thing, the property faces a major highway. It is in a natural location for commercial development. And although residents may believe having access to the property off Hwy. 129 would be better, in reality it would be much worse. The proximity of another turning point close to the entrance of Storey Lane would create more of a traffic hazard, not less of one.
Moreover, if the access were to be off Hwy. 129, there could not be restrictions over the nature of the commercial business located on that six acres. It would open the property for a high-traffic business, such as a convenience store, which would have much more of an impact on the community than a small office building.
Frankly, we believe the use of that corner lot for an office building is much preferable to its being developed in other ways. Agreeing to Storey Lane access in return for limiting future commercial development of the property seems to us a fair trade that would benefit, not hurt, area residents.
Those living along Storey Lane may not like the idea of an office building at the end of their road. But at some point, that corner will be developed - if not with the proposed office building, then with something which could have a much more negative impact.
The proposal deserves another look by the city and by residents along Storey Lane. If this opportunity is lost, residents will have won a battle, but very likely lost the war.

 

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Column
By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
February 21, 2001

Heart-to-heart with newcomers
OK, newcomers, let's have a heart-to-heart talk. This newspaper covers a lot of growth-related issues in Jackson County and more and more new residents are attending public meetings to air gripes about rezonings or infrastructure issues.
That's fine. I applaud your interest in making Jackson County a better place.
But there's a couple of things you might consider that would make your voices stronger.
First, please don't tell us that you moved to Jackson County to "get away from growth." Frankly, it makes you sound foolish. After all, you moved here and in doing so, are part of the "growth" which you now protest. Take a guess about what your neighbors said when you moved here.
For some reason, many new residents seem to believe that their arrival in Jackson County was special, but that everyone else's arrival is due to "sprawl." Local governments cannot slam the door shut to other newcomers any more than they could to you.
Second, don't constantly compare the local institutions to other places you've lived. One of the tradeoffs in living in a rural area is that services you are accustomed to often aren't close by. The size and scope of existing institutions often don't measure up to those in other places either. Part of that is perhaps due to inattention on the part of local leaders, but many times it's simply due to having fewer resources. When you compare the services, also consider the resources before you castigate the local leadership. (There's plenty of things to scold local leaders about; just make sure you're being fair in those comparisons.)
Third, don't tell local leaders you don't want Jackson County to become "another Gwinnett." That line is starting to become a meaningless cliché. All too often, those who shout the loudest about the evils of "becoming another Gwinnett" are themselves being disingenuous. They get in their cars every morning and drive to work in Gwinnett County. They eat in the evenings at restaurants in Gwinnett County. They shop and entertain on the weekends in Gwinnett County. So it sounds foolish to demonize Gwinnett County when you are so entangled in what it offers. If you want Jackson County to avoid the infrastructure problems of Gwinnett County, then support local leaders as they attempt to put infrastructure in place here to handle the area's growth.

···

Talking about infrastructure, the opposition to the county's sewer line along the Middle Oconee River and Doster Creek basins is an example of some people being misguided and uninformed. The sewer line is a main trunk line and therefore needs to be gravity flow. Since water runs downhill, the lowest elevation for such a line will usually be along stream and river drainage areas. The suggestion by some that the line should be along Hwy. 124, which runs along a ridge, is untenable.
But even more disturbing were some comments that suggested the developers of Mulberry Plantation somehow got special treatment. That is not the case. It is true that the initial client base for the line will come from that project, but it's also true that Mulberry's participation with the county in the project allowed the county to enter the sewerage business in a cost-effective way. It was, in short, a good deal for both parties.
Admittedly, the communications from the water and sewerage authority to landowners affected by the line should have been better, but that lack of communication skills doesn't mean the project itself is bad.
No matter how you feel about growth, it's going to happen anyway. If you want to avoid "becoming another Gwinnett," then local leaders need your support in building the infrastructure to support the weight of that growth.
The problems in Gwinnett County are due to a lack of infrastructure - roads, water, school buildings, etc. Shutting down infrastructure won't shut down growth, it will only magnify the problems growth creates.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.


Editorial
The Commerce News
February 21, 2001

Better Ways To Curb Teen Driving Deaths
The tendency of government to solve every problem by passing a new law is aptly demonstrated by the General Assembly's discourse on teen driving.
That debate is in response to the highly publicized deaths of scores of Metro area teenagers in cars over the past couple of years. Gov. Roy Barnes thinks age is the problem; more likely, it's driving experience. The governor proposes to prohibit 16-year-olds from driving without adult supervision in 16 Metro Atlanta counties.
A better proposal would be to allow 16-year-olds to drive statewide but to curtail after-dark driving (unless a licensed adult is present). One legislator even pointed out that with "away" athletic events ending at 10:00 at night, a 10:00 curfew might encourage students to speed as they drove home from such games.
Sixteen-year-old drivers shouldn't be driving home from "away" games at night, except under the supervision of experienced adults. That's exactly the kind of situation that causes many of the problems with young people on the highways. Their parents let them do too much too soon. Because parents allow their children to drive without restriction, because parents hand over the keys to a car on a child's 16th birthday, a lot of kids are driving without sufficient experience.
Learning to be a safe driver takes time. Some legislators think all it requires is passage of a driver education course. Whether kids start driving solo at 16 or 17, experience is a crucial factor. Maturity is another. Some teens are mature enough to drive at 16, some at 17, some at 18, and responsible parents will treat their teenagers accordingly.
If safety is the issue, there are other things that would have a greater effect statewide:
·Georgia is ignoring a group of drivers far more likely than teenagers to cause fatal accidents. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently published an excellent analysis of the state's failure to keep dangerous drivers off the road. Typically males between 20 and 30, these drivers have lost their licenses for multiple traffic offenses including drunk driving, reckless driving, speeding and other offenses. Most have also had multiple accidents. Yet they're back on the road, utilizing so-called "DUI school" courses to get their licenses back quickly, and then go through the same process again. Statistically, they are much more dangerous than 16-year-old drivers.
·The State Patrol and most Georgia law enforcement agencies do not have the personnel to adequately enforce speeding laws designed to promote public safety. It would seem prudent that before the state passes new laws it enforce those already on the books. That approach will enrage some voters ticketed for doing 65 in a 50 mph zone, but posted speed limits are virtually ignored.
·Georgia again wants to lower its threshold for DUI. Before the state creates more drunk drivers, it should determine why offenders under the current law keep driving, conviction after conviction. Don't pour more water into a leaky cup; fix the cup first.
·Parents must be responsible. Many of the parents now lobbying for tighter restrictions on young drivers are doing so out of guilt for letting their own kids drive before they were ready. A lot of those children who died would be alive if the drivers' parents had been responsible.
We delude ourselves if we turn to the legislature to solve problems whose cause is in our own communities. The solution is for parents to be more responsible and for government to make enforcment of existing laws a priority.


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