The Commerce News
March 7, 2001
For The Fourth
Year Of Drought
In spite of the rain last week, all of the experts say we're
in for yet another year of the drought that is already three
years in duration.
Even should that come true, it won't exactly measure up to those
Old Testament droughts, like where it didn't rain a drop for
years until Elijah had the prophets of Baal executed. Were I
a prophet of Baal, however, I'd keep a low profile just the same.
People will want to blame someone.
Many a Georgia stream is at or near a record low right now. Lakes
Lanier and Hartwell in this area are down so much that lake-front
property owners, in some cases, have doubled their real estate.
Their boat docks are now halfway between their second homes and
the lake, a small price to pay, I should think.
Locally, we should have plenty of water. The Bear Creek Reservoir
should start filling in April and be providing water July 1.
Commerce's reservoir is full and its permit for pumping has been
Just because we have the water doesn't mean we'll be able to
use it. The entire state is still on an even-odd watering schedule.
If the rest of the state is thirsty, the Department of Natural
Resources isn't going to let us water our yards every day just
because our supplies are intact.
Georgia is running out of water. We're nowhere near the point
where we won't have water to drink, but we're hurtling pell mell
toward a day when traditional uses of water will be permitted
or prohibited outright.
I'm recommending the following steps for you to conserve water:
·Wean your children from drinking water. We converted
ours to Cokes (avoid Pepsi - it's bad for you). Coca-Cola will
always be available.
·Low-maintenance plants are a must. I seldom water my
centipede grass and never water my hollies, juniper and the plastic
flowers in my garden.
·Arrange rain barrels under your down spouts. The flaw
in this proposal is that it assumes that there will actually
be some rain.
·Eliminate the bird bath. Birds can fly somewhere else
·Reduce the washing of cars, windows and children to the
minimum. They all tend to get dirty again anyway.
·Next time you make a "bourbon and branch,"
conserve water by increasing the percentage of bourbon. That
will give you a good, warm feeling, I promise.
·If you must water your yard, wait until your neighbor
is gone and use his hose (and water). After all, how do you think
he keeps his grass green? Right, with your water.
·Move the kiddie pool inside next summer to reduce evaporation.
(Kiddie pools will also be on an odd-even schedule, as per the
order of Gov. Roy Barnes, who is said to be planning next to
restrict use by fire departments to odd-even days.)
·Use fewer ice cubes. If everyone put one less ice cube
per day in a beverage, the state would save an estimated, well
a whole lot of water.
·Reroute the condensation drain line from your air conditioner
to your icemaker and the drain from the kitchen sink to the tank
of the commode.
If we all follow these steps, there will be more water to go
around and we may not have to execute anyone.
The Jackson Herald
March 7, 2001
hot issue this year
The Internet Age has brought a lot of changes to our society.
Nowhere is that more true than in the business world where e-commerce
has been all the rage.
But one of the concerns to come out of this new wired world is
that of the potential loss of personal privacy. Some programs
use hidden software to track an individual's access to a web
site. Other programs claim to "mine" a user's computer
for various tidbits of information about the user.
A related concern is that because of the massive amount of data
available on the Internet, businesses can amass a huge amount
of data on an individual. How that information may be used is
of concern to many people.
All of these problems have echoed in the political world where
both at the state and national levels, laws are being introduced
that are intended to protect privacy. Some of those laws are
justified, such as in limiting access to Social Security data.
Other laws are knee-jerk reactions to the issue that seek to
shut off records where general public access is important.
But lost in all of these concerns is an even bigger and more
threatening problem - government access to private data. Indeed,
for a nation that hated government so much it threw tea in the
Boston Harbor over a minor tax, we have become a nation that
loves for government to protect us from each other.
But who is going to protect us from the government? While the
assimilation of data available on the Interment may be misused
for commercial gain, that usually creates only an inconvenience
- additional telemarketers or more junk mail.
In government hands, however, such data could become a dangerous
weapon used to manipulate, harass or harm private individuals.
From tax records to criminal files to medical records, an array
of government agencies have reams of data on each of us. What
happens if governments decide to "share" such information
in ways that may erode our fundamental rights?
So even though we are turning to government to protect us from
invasive collections of private data, perhaps we should ask who'll
protect us from the fox we stationed to guard the hen house?
The Jackson Herald
March 7, 2001
more than just an 'it'
In newspaper reporting, the board of directors of a public agency
is referred to as "it," as in "When the board
met Monday, it decided to vote down the rezoning."
Grammatically, "it" is correct. But the unintended
consequence of this is the public stops thinking of these agencies
as a collection of individuals.
That's a shame, because when you get right down to it, these
boards are really just people attempting to work together for
the public good. As their individual identities become overshadowed
by their collective actions, we forget that these public officials
often make huge personal sacrifices to do what they do for Jackson
That's certainly the case right now with the Jackson County Water
and Sewerage Authority. That board has been attacked by angry
landowners over a sewer line route, battered by cheap politics
held over from last year's elections that questions the board's
integrity in a land transaction, and until a couple of weeks
ago, was the target of some who wanted to politicize the authority.
But none of the members on that authority's board deserve such
treatment. The water and sewerage authority has what many observers
believe is the most experienced and strongest leadership team
of any agency in Jackson County. They are responsible for nearly
$40 million in long-term debt and are thinking about the county's
long-term infrastructure needs. And for the most part, they have
done that job well.
But the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority isn't just
some unknown group of people who make these important decisions.
The group's board of directors is made up of local businessmen
who have made a tremendous effort to keep the focus on Jackson
County's future as the paramount concern.
Here's who they are:
·As chairman is Alex Bryan, a Jackson County native and
farmer. But Alex and his family also owned Jefferson Mills until
the 1980s, and his business experience with the textile industry
gives him a tremendous insight on the issues of water needs and
wastewater treatment. At one time, Alex would have been considered
as an "anti-growth" advocate, but after a lot of soul-searching
decided that since growth was going to happen here anyway, he
would work to make it quality growth. Part of his efforts have
been to work on the water authority to see that the county's
water and sewer infrastructure is allocated wisely.
·Also on the authority is Elton Collins, president of
Community Bank & Trust in Commerce and a long-time community
leader. Elton is a former chairman of the water authority, and
has been chairman of the Commerce Board of Education, served
as president of the Chamber of Commerce and has taken on a huge
number of other leadership roles in Jackson County over the last
two decades. Currently Elton also sits on the Bear Creek board
in addition to the county water board. His financial expertise
has been critical to the authority, both in dealing with the
Bear Creek Reservoir project and now with the entry into sewage
·Keith Ariail, a Commerce businessman and long-time civic
volunteer, is also on the water authority board. His background
in business and his sincere interest in the county's future make
him a strong asset in the decision-making process.
·Tom Crowe, a Jefferson agribusiness leader, has also
been a long-time community and civic volunteer. Tom brings a
perspective to the water board of the potential impact on the
agribusiness community of its decisions. Tom is also involved
in the county's fire departments and has been a liaison with
those groups as the county began putting water lines in place.
·Larry Joe Wood of Talmo rounds out the water and sewerage
board. Larry Joe is a business leader, having built the Etcon
employment agency into a large company, and he also has interests
in agribusiness in Jackson County. In addition, he serves as
mayor of Talmo and brings that political experience to the table
I've not always agreed with every decision this board has made
over the years and have on occasion said so in this space. But
I have never questioned the honesty and integrity of the men
who sit in the decision-making chairs. All five have strong track
records of public service and of putting the interests of Jackson
County above their own self-interest. They are doing a difficult
task and are at a critical point in the process. Their job is
tough and it requires a lot of time and expertise. A major mistake
could set the county back years and cost taxpayers millions of
It's time to give these guys credit for all that they do for
Jackson County and to end the political backbiting that has been
evident in recent weeks.
This board isn't some anonymous group sitting in an ivory tower
- they are neighbors working to make Jackson County a better
place for all of us.
We may not recognize that today, but in the future our children
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
March 7, 2001
Savage Well Deserving
Of Coach Of Year Award
Commerce High School head football coach
Steve Savage got some well-deserved recognition this past weekend
from the Atlanta Touchdown Club.
Savage, whose Tigers won the state football title in Class A,
was named the all-classification High School Football Coach of
the Year. Two of his players, quarterback and defensive back
Michael Collins and Georgia high school rushing leader Monté
Williams, were also honored.
The mark of Savage's football team might be better measured by
its demeanor on the football field than even by its skill. The
group of Tigers that won the state championship had just as much
character as athletic skill. They played with skill, of course,
but with selflessness and dedication to team. That trait comes
from the top, and while Savage has an excellent coaching staff
to help him, he sets the tone for the squad.
Savage probably earned the top honor with less than eight seconds
left in the first half of the Johnson County playoff game and
the ball at the 42. In an obvious passing situation, the Tigers
ran a dive play to Williams, who ran 41 yards for the touchdown.
Nobody else would have called that play at that time!
The Commerce Tigers may not win the state or even the region
next year, but Savage will make sure they play hard and
with character. He exhibits the traits that led the Atlanta Touchdown
Club to name him All-Classification High School Football Coach
of the Year each and every year.