Jackson County Opinions...

June 27, 2001

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
June 27, 2001

Great Concert In Store For Friday Night
Except to set the record straight, I'm going to pass on writing about the George Grimes caper this week. The exception is to note that contrary to what you read in this space last week, Clarence Bryant did not hire Grimes.
Grimes was hired years before Bryant came to Commerce. Hey, what do you expect for 50 cents a week, entertainment and accuracy? Of course, I should have remembered that, and I did - when Bryant mentioned it last Wednesday morning, but it was too late to change my column.
OK, having cleared that up, let's move on to something more uplifting, and that's the City Lights events upcoming.
As one who is not a country music fan, in the years since Bill Anderson has hosted this event, I've gotten a little bit of education about Anderson. I've come to appreciate that he is both a talented songwriter and a genuine nice guy, and I'm not sure which is the greater gift.
Anderson has a lot of friends in Commerce, and it's amazing how many people he met during his brief stint here he still remembers. Shoot, he was 19 or 20 then, but it doesn't appear that he's forgotten many names.
I listened to country music from the early 70s to the mid 80s, when I tired of the way it was heading. I well remember listening to Anderson, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Conway Twitty, George Jones, Dolly Parton and Porter Waggoner (I absolutely hated their music), Hank Snow and all the other artists popular at the time. I was not overly impressed to learn that Anderson wrote "City Lights" in Commerce. "What city lights?" I wondered.
Until the first City Lights Concert, Anderson to me was just another country music performer. But then I was made aware that Anderson's real talent was in songwriting, and the list of songs he's written that have been recorded by others is huge. Then, of course, as the festival evolved, I've come to understand that, unlike many who find fame and success, Anderson remains a down-to-earth, humble, immensely likeable guy. He clearly enjoyed his time in Commerce, cherishes the memories and loves the friends he made here. How could I not like him?
In my ignorance of country music, I had no idea who Steve Wariner was, even though he'd cranked out 10 or 11 consecutive chart toppers; ditto with Brad Paisley, who apparently is now living up to the billing Anderson gave him when introducing him to Commerce last year.
But I know Charley Pride, whose "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone?" is one of my all-time favorite country songs. He's a legend, and it's phenomenal that he's coming to Commerce to do a concert ­ as a favor to Anderson.
This will be the best City Lights Concert yet. Anderson always does an enjoyable set and few artists are more well-known than Pride. Add Little Jimmy Dickens and you've got a stage full of talent second to none.
Some of the greatest country music stars in history have been and are coming to Commerce to perform, for free.
Thanks to Bill Anderson.

The Jackson Herald
June 27, 2001

Animal control deserves debate
One of the key issues in Jackson County that has come to the forefront is that of animal control. All local governments continue to get numerous complaints from citizens about stray dogs.
Several years ago, a local Humane Society was organized and a county-built shelter to house stray dogs was discussed by the board of commissioners. For a variety of reasons, that project was not done at that time.
Monday night, commissioner Emil Beshara plans to again launch a public discussion over a proposed animal control ordinance. That debate should be welcomed by everyone who has an interest in this issue.
But the adoption of an animal control ordinance would be just the first step in a long, difficult process. For such an ordinance to work, it would need three things: First, it would have to be a county-wide plan, which means the nine towns in Jackson County would have to concur with the ordinance. That will not be an easy or quick process.
If the local governments do reach an agreement, the second step would be to find a way to enforce the provisions of the ordinance. That would likely mean hiring animal control officers to patrol the county and respond to incidents.
Finally, the adoption and enforcement of an ordinance would require some physical space to house animals picked up by officials. That would require building a facility and staffing it.
Obviously, doing any of these things will require funding and that will perhaps mean shifting funds from other areas to make it work. With so many other pressing needs, finding those funds won't be easy.
Still, it's obvious that animal control problems are here to stay. As the county grows and the housing density increases, the problems of people coming into contact with neighboring animals will also increase. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not responsible pet owners and don't care if their animals cause problems for a neighbor.
We don't have all the answers to this issue. But we do welcome the debate and hope that county leaders can find a way to make animal control a reality for Jackson County.



Jackson County Opinion Index



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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
June 27, 2001

Nation's heart in wilderness
YELLOWSTONE PARK, Wyo. - Here, in the nation's first national park, one's faith in this country is renewed. This wilderness, teeming with wildlife and geologic wonders, has been mostly preserved since the late 1800s when it was first discovered.
Government does not do very many things well, but in this park and the neighboring Grand Tetons National Park, government has managed to save areas of scenic beauty from what could have been massive exploitation. It isn't difficult to imagine that without protection, some company would have put pipes into the steaming pools of Yellowstone's waters to generate steam for electricity.
That's not to say that the area isn't without controversy. There are accommodations in the parks that purists no doubt find abhorrent. And the recent release of wolves into Yellowstone has area ranchers up in arms over the potential of losing sheep and cattle.
Down in the town of Jackson, the main gateway to both parks, zoning and growth disputes make our local zoning issues look like a day in kindergarten. Balancing preservation interests against the housing and tourism needs of the community has been a battle in that town since the 1920s when "dude" ranches first lured visitors to the area. Today, Jackson is a small town of high-dollar shopping and slow-moving traffic during the summer and winter tourist seasons; and it's a town where the lack of housing has pushed home prices to unbelievable levels, a situation which has stratified the community and created even more problems.
Still, for all its flaws, the Yellowstone-Teton area is the crown jewel of the nation's park system. Nowhere else in this country can you find the unique combination of animals, geology and scenic beauty that are found in this small corner of Wyoming.
On the surface, the management of these parks also appears to be one of the better-run agencies of government. While Georgians stand in line for hours to get a driver's license, and watch workers close the door to take long lunches with dozens of people still in line, no such ineptness could be seen at the National Park offices we visited. Rangers were prompt and friendly and most locations offered dozens of ranger-led talks, hikes and slide programs that catered to tourists of all interests.
Even in the parks' privately managed hotels and restaurants, service was far above the norm. Fresh-faced college students took orders and served food with a smile in restaurants while pleasant seasonal workers, mostly retired men and women, ran the gift shops and small stores. There was nary a slouch among them.
But it was the visitors to these parks which spoke the most about our nation. Here to this wilderness came people by the thousands, in cars, RVs, by motorcycle and bus to share in an experience not found anywhere else in the world. From the large buses came groups of retired senior citizens who were traveling across Rocky Mountain parks. They came from all walks of life and from every state.
In cars and RVs were families loaded up with kids and Kool-Aid, making the trip of a lifetime. Up and down the roads of Yellowstone the vehicles traversed a path looking for bears, moose, elk, bison and other animals. At the geyser basins, they walked amid the smell of sulfur to admire these wonders of nature. Even in the early morning, dozens of people gathered around "Old Faithful" geyser to experience one of the signature moments of Americana.
It is here that the best of America is discovered. Our national will to preserve these places of natural beauty speaks much about our values as a nation. And that so many people are today still awed by these works of nature speaks to a part of our society often overlooked. In a culture dominated by special effects and gee-whiz gadgets, the untamed power of nature is still a powerful draw to people of all ages and all backgrounds.
Whatever our problems as a country, it's refreshing to know that after 225 years, you can still find our national heartbeat. And it isn't in the pulsating madness of our cities, but rather in the quite repose of these natural wonders that keep pulling us back to our roots.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

The Commerce News
June 27, 2001

Good Nursing Home Report Worth A Notice
It won't attract near the attention that a damning report got two years ago, but residents of Banks and Jackson counties should note that the State Office of Regulatory Services gave good marks to BJC Nursing Home in its 2001 annual survey.
Two years ago, that was not the case. The agency came down hard ­ local officials felt much too hard ­ on the nursing home, threatening fines and suggesting that problems contributed to patients' deaths. Although most of the worst citations were eventually mitigated and the report toned down somewhat, the damage was done. Morale at the facility suffered and its census dropped.
Now the same office has little negative to say about BJC Nursing Home. The facility has fully recovered from the 1999 report. It has replaced staff, including the administrator, and is in compliance with all state standards.
That does not mean it is a favored place to live out the remaining years of one's life. Nursing homes, by their very nature, are dismal, sad places, but good and attentive staff can do a lot to ease the pain and suffering and to return some quality to residents' lives. The latest report from the State Office of Regulatory Services suggests that staff and management are doing all they can.
Recovering from the 1999 findings has been difficult. The public needs to understand, however, that BJC Nursing Home has recovered, that its care is good and, as far as the state is concerned, there were fewer problems at BJC than at the average Georgia nursing home.

Nicholson Needs More Than New City Hall
Does Nicholson need a new city hall?
Some of its officials apparently believe it does, and they've expressed an interest in spending $135,000 to acquire a building from BJC Medical Center to do just that.
For its part, BJC Medical Center has made the offer. It remains to be seen what Nicholson's government will do, but its mayor and two of the three city council members have expressed support for acquiring the building.
To what ends? we might ask. What is it that Nicholson does that requires more space?
Nicholson provides three services. It provides a library, picks up garbage and it cuts grass. In addition, it charges for business licenses, though it would be a stretch to call that a service. It's hard to see a need for more space for the city government.
The current city hall has an office for the mayor, one for the city clerk, a large open area for meetings and a restroom.
Its new mayor and two councilmen are anxious to get a new building, and the BJC Medical Center Authority is just as anxious to unload an albatross. But citizens perhaps ought to ask their elected officials what else could be done with $135,000 that would improve life in Nicholson. A nicer building in which to pay monthly garbage fees might be a source of pride, but the purchase of a like amount of road resurfacing would probably be more appreciated, and the shortage of books at the library has been mentioned many times.
Nicholson, compared to most communities, does not collect a lot of money, but it spends almost none to improve the quality of life. Its current city hall may be in disrepair, but it has plenty of space and could be improved for a lot less than the cost of replacing it. Money spent to improve the library and the city streets would be a much wiser investment.

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