The Madison County Journal
May 2, 2001
Dam on Broad River is
a bad idea
In a search for water, some Madison County officials have suggested
that a dam be constructed on Broad River to provide water Madison
and several bordering counties. I think this is a bad idea.
The Broad River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in this
area. It is a popular stream for canoeing and other river-borne
sports. It provides natural areas that allow native wildlife
a chance to survive.
Most of the land in the Broad River basin is privately owned,
and contributes substantially to the tax base of the affected
counties. There are other sources of water that can be used.
Most of the rivers in Northeast Georgia contain dams. There are
three major impoundments on the Savannah River, Lake Hartwell,
Lake Russell and Lake Thurmond (Clarke Hill). Lake Oconee disrupts
the flow of water in the Oconee River. Only the Ogechee River
that rises south of Athens joins the Broad as an unobstructed
stream. Broad River is recognized by numerous ecology organizations
as a valuable resource because it is unrestricted.
The Broad River contains a number of rapids that are ideal for
beginning canoeist. The water is strong enough to give a thrill
to whitewater enthusiasts, without being overly hazardous. Various
clubs and church groups use the river for outdoor adventures.
The river provides a greenway that protects various animal and
plant species. Each spring, a number of young black bears are
seen along the Broad. These animals often go exploring before
establishing a permanent territory in the mountains. Wildlife
officials are using the Broad to reestablish an endangered fish,
the Robust Redhorse, which requires clean, free-flowing water.
It will take a substantial amount of land to contain a water
supply lake large enough to supply three or more counties. A
large area of private land would have to be purchased or taken
if the landowners refuse to sell. The cost of the land would
be in the millions. Construction and maintenance of a dam would
add millions more. The loss of property tax revenue would add
to the cost of the project. The cost of damage to the quality
of the river cannot be determined.
Before we spend the kind of money it would take to build and
maintain a lake of this size, we should explore the construction
of a water plant on one of the major lakes on the Savannah. I
suspect that we could construct a water plant and pipelines to
the various cities and counties for less than the cost of a new
Before we disrupt the natural flow of the Broad River, let's
make sure we tap all other available sources of water. A free-flowing
river is far too valuable to lose unnecessarily.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net.
The Madison County Journal
May 2, 2001
A travel story
As the world turned its eyes to the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996,
I crossed the Atlantic to see six countries in 30 days.
I saw Van Gogh's art in Amsterdam, the Vatican, the Acropolis
in Athens, the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps outside
Krakow, Poland. I walked the streets of Venice, Prague and Budapest.
I stepped off the plane in Atlanta after the trip, not such a
changed man as I had anticipated, but certainly a tired one.
"Oh, it was neat," I muttered to my parents, who were
eager to hear something other than the sighs and grunts I offered.
"What did you see?"
"Oh, you know. Buildings, art, a lot of stuff."
I had traveled by plane, train, boat and bus over the previous
30 days. Now I had a 90-minute ride in a car that I wasn't too
The air-conditioner finally kicked in as I rested my head back
on the seat, ready to sleep. Several minutes passed before I
opened my eyes, seeing my parents staring straight ahead, silent.
Shoot, I owed them more than yawns and grunts. I was fresh out
of college and home from a long trip - and my parents had paid
for both of these luxuries.
"There were these goats that about ran me off a mountain,"
They both craned their necks to look at me. So I started my story
and began to see it all again, the mountains spread endless against
the horizon, land covered with green bushes, which - at a distance
- seemed to invite a barefoot run, but up close the plants were
prickly and dry, only beckoning for cuts and blood.
There were four of us and we stopped walking to note how lost
we were as we looked out at the barren landscape of the Greek
island Andros. Stomping over the dusty earth and dried goat pellets,
which were scattered over the island like a well-peppered potato,
I had imagined myself in a space suit with big white boots moving
slow and weightless, leading the three friends of mine away from
a spacecraft to the other side of a hill to view something spectacular
and new to man. I pretended the old, abandoned shepherds' huts
we passed were evidence of something not human.
After changing directions and nearly giving up for being lost,
we finally arrived at our destination - the monastery of St.
Nicholas. A large monk with a bushy, black beard who spoke no
English led us inside where we met Bartholemeau, an Australian
monk who had been at the 1,100-year-old monastery for five years.
He told us that the man who greeted us had lived at the monastery
alone for over 20 years, but the monk didn't seem too excited
about company, nodding off at the table where we sat drinking
the bitter coffee they gave us.
Bartholemeau led us through several rooms in the monastery. He
took us to the back of the structure to show us the skulls of
the monastery's monks stored beneath the building.
Icons hung on the stone walls and the monk paused at one, forming
the sign of the cross on his chest and telling us about how the
icon cried real tears, but no tears were falling.
We were invited to stay for a service. The others accepted, but
I was confused by what I saw and very hungry. So I set out on
my own, back to the hotel.
I was moving fast, feeling sure I knew my way back. Then as I
rounded a curve, I looked at a slope to my right where several
feet away, at least 30 goats, some horned, stood perfectly still,
all looking back at me. I turned to my left to see the water
and the rocks far below. One goat appeared agitated with me,
his head motioning as if to lead a charge. I thought of goats
bumping me off a cliff and wondered what sort of word my parents
would get about my demise. Would they think I jumped?
But the goats stayed put. And I made my way back to the hotel,
where I enjoyed a drink in the company of several locals.
And two weeks later I was home again and glad to be there.
I finished my story and looked at my mother and father, wishing
I had been a better note taker during my travels, wishing I could
pay them back with something better than a goat tale.
It's been five years since that trip. I reflect on it often,
realizing better now than then, what a special gift it was.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.