Jackson County Opinions...

March 7, 2001



Column
By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
March 7, 2001

Survival Strategies 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 increased.
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 for water.
·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.



Editorial
The Jackson Herald
March 7, 2001

Privacy a 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?

 

Column
By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
March 7, 2001

Water authority 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 County.
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 services.
·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 as well.
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 dollars.
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 certainly will.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.


Editorial
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.

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