The Commerce News
August 15, 2001
But The Company Good
The annual Beardsley fishing excursion to Land Between The Lakes,
TN, was a success, in that no one was seriously injured and we
did not require the services of an automobile mechanic.
For the third year, I met my cousin Bruce of St. Louis at a Dover,
TN, "cabin," and if I printed the pictures, you'd understand
why the quote marks surround "cabin." It was the third
year we've scheduled this trip in the first week of August, which
is generally among the worst weeks of the year for fishing anywhere
north of Cuba and south of Vermont.
But timing was subject to meshing schedules. It was his fault,
not mine, so we met with low expectations of angling success
and more optimistic views of conversation. Both, it seems, measured
up to expectations.
The highlights of the trip were a photo op in front of Paris,
TN's, miniature Eiffel Tower and the lack of contact with the
auto repair fraternity of Dover, with whom we'd become acquainted
on our first two trips. The photo of me in front of the Eiffel
(Dover) Tower is something I will cherish for days, maybe even
weeks, to come.
It is Bruce who got me obsessed with fishing when we were teenagers,
but it was also Bruce who taught me to fish within my means.
If the smallmouth bass aren't biting due to heat stroke, catch
bluegill and sunfish; if they're unwilling to cooperate, enjoy
the hot coffee or the cold beer. We used ultra-light tackle as
mayflies shaken from trees on shore created a feeding frenzy
among little fish as we waded, rather than tossing casting gear
from my boat.
So, rather than catching the prey we were after, we settled for
what could be had, catching a few smallmouth, one or two largemouth
and spotted bass supplemented by numerous yellow bass, bluegill,
longear sunfish, a channel catfish, a lone warmouth bass, a couple
of shellcrackers, a pair of threadfin shad and a fish to be named
later (we could not identify it). We fished both Kentucky Lake
and Lake Barkley, the latter right under the guns that defended
Fort Donaldson valiantly but unsuccessfully from federal troops
in the Civil War of Northern Aggression Between the States.
We killed time, not fish. In the process, we observed that "resort"
in Tennessee can mean a floating shack on a weed-filled cove
at the end of a long dirt road where the restrooms are portable
toilets but the beer is cold, and marveled over being able to
get but one channel on the TV in our cabin. We found an "elk
farm" for sale, but did not buy, and accepted Dover hospitality
in the form of four homegrown tomatoes from the proprietress
of the LBL Big Piney Woods Campground. It was too hot not to
take it easy; loafing came naturally.
Since we see each other but twice a year, most of what little
energy was expended was dedicated to catching up with each others'
lives, two grandsons of a woman long dead, first cousins, best
We plan the next trip for early June, when though it may be warm,
it won't be hell-hot. Maybe the fish will be active; maybe our
schedules will again sentence us to the first week of August.
Either way, we'll go.
The Jackson Herald
August 15, 2001
need not be politically correct
We pity the Oconee County community. The sensitivity police are
working overtime there and have decided that the local high school
should abandon its mascot, the "Warriors," because
it is insensitive to Native American Indians.
The suggestion to change the mascot came from a group called
the "Cultural Awareness Task Force" which was created
a few years ago to push for more minority representation in the
Oconee County school system.
While this issue may be new in Oconee County, it is just one
part of a growing national movement to eradicate all school mascots
that reflect Indian names. Along with Warriors, these groups
want to stop the use of "Indians," "Braves,"
and any other mascot that they believe to be insensitive. Dozens
of web sites are devoted to that cause. In North Carolina, the
issue has been especially heated in recent years.
While the Indian mascot issue won't directly affect Jackson County
since our local schools use other names, it does affect all of
With all the pressing issues facing public schools today, the
community debate should be more substantive than a discussion
over mascot names.
We are all for recognizing the ethnic heritage or diversity of
a community, but when political correctness becomes more important
than education, we wonder where our community priorities have
We suggest that Oconee county citizens bury the tomahawk on this
issue and put their efforts into matters that aren't so superficial.
The Jackson Herald
August 15, 2001
look at 'quality of life' issues
There's no doubt that "quality of life" issues are
hot in Jackson County. Old-timers and newcomers alike are keenly
aware that the county is going through unprecedented changes.
Naturally, no one wants the side effects of those changes to
lower the local standard of living or to be detrimental to local
Yet to define "quality of life" is difficult. One person's
idea of convenience is another person's idea of "sprawl."
It's impossible to really get your hands around such a slippery
In addition, there are a lot of ideas floating around that on
a close examination don't hold much water. Buzzwords and populist
fads may make some people feel good, but they don't really contribute
to a clear understanding of those quality of life issues everyone
Let's take a critical look at some of these ideas and weigh them
on the scale of reality:
· "Jackson County is historically agricultural and
we should preserve that heritage."
It's difficult to know exactly what people mean when they say
they want to "preserve" the agricultural past. I suspect,
however, that most people mean the aesthetics of rural life,
such as large open fields with cattle and old weathered barns.
Yet those who say this the most are usually those who don't work
in agriculture themselves. And therein lies a conundrum: We may
value the aesthetics of an agricultural life, but few of us make
our living doing it. Indeed, only a very small percentage of
people living in Jackson County actually live off agricultural
income. Manufacturing, retail jobs and service industries dominate
our employment base today. Agriculture simply doesn't employ
many people, nor will it in the future of today's graduates.
In addition to that, agriculture does not pay local governments
a lot of tax dollars. Special tax breaks for agriculture, such
as the conservation use program and making farm equipment tax
exempt, means that residential, industrial and commercial property
make up a larger percentage of government tax income. Because
of that, there is virtually no incentive for a local government
to "preserve" agricultural land when industrial or
commercial development will reap more tax benefits.
But the biggest problem with attempting to preserve open land
as a part of agricultural heritage in Jackson County is that
the free market rules. There is far more money to be made by
selling or developing raw land than there is in keeping it in
agriculture. And because that land is privately owned, the rest
of us have no standing to tell a farmer he can't sell his land
just so we can have a pretty field to look at. That landowner
has the right to profit from his land even if that means he doesn't
keep it in agriculture.
· "We should build communities where people can live
and work close to home and that will curb sprawl."
In theory, that sounds great. But the reality is that people
work where they want to work and none of us can force people
to abandon their commute and walk to work nearby. No place is
a blank slate where planned communities change the way people
will live. While local governments have been successful in attracting
more local jobs during the last 15 years, people will still commute
to other areas to work. That is their right and we should not
waste our time on utopian ideas that simply don't mesh with human
· "We should oppose commercial development and limit
the sprawl effect of those big-box mega-stores."
Everyone who lives in the suburbs complains about the traffic
around malls and commercial centers - then they get in their
cars and go there anyway. We can complain about the megastores
all we want, but the truth is they appeal to a large number of
people. That's how the marketplace votes and if people didn't
like the stores, they wouldn't exist. Again, human nature will
rule over all other considerations.
So what should we do in Jackson County?
Accept the fact that change is coming and make plans now to accommodate
Build enough roads with enough lanes to carry the projected traffic
around schools and commercial centers.
Build the other infrastructure, such as water and sewer, to make
sure we don't create an environmental problem.
Strengthen the planning and development branches of local governments
so that building and zoning codes are enforced.
In short, let's talk less about how we want to make other people
live and talk more about how we can lessen the impact of change
on all of us.
That, in a nutshell, is the main way we can build a quality of
life for the future.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
August 15, 2001
A Disaster For Georgia
The state's Democratic leaders and Gov. Roy Barnes are approaching
reapportionment with all the vision for the future of a suicide
bomber. With a redistricting plan so skewed to protect their
hold on state government, Barnes and other leaders of the Democratic
Party seem destined to prove to the public that all the bad things
the Republicans have been saying are true.
The theory is that redistricting is done after every census to
guarantee equal representation throughout the state. In the process,
however, the party in power has the capability of drawing districts
that fit the numerical criteria but which deny all logic, save
political logic. In this case, the Senate Democrats have drawn
districts favorable to the election of more Democrats and which
will force 10 of the 24 Senate Republican incumbents into districts
where they must run against other incumbents.
Now it is very likely that were the shoe reversed and the Republicans
in charge of government, they would attempt the same thing. But
the Democrats occupy the governor's office and control both houses
of the legislature and while one might speculate about what the
Republicans would do, one can see what the Democrats are doing.
And it isn't pretty.
Assuming the gerrymandering is approved, it will not escape public
notice and when the 2002 elections roll around, it won't be lost
on the voters that the Democrats resorted to grossly convoluted
district lines to protect their own. It may well turn out that
the Senate Democrats' desperate attempt to stay in power will
be the catalyst for their loss of that power as Republicans take
over the Senate or, if the gerrymandering is successful, assume
control of the governor's office two years later.
Case Finally ClosesNow maybe we can close the George Grimes embezzlement
case with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's finding that
the late police chief, acting alone, stole more than $269,000
in public money.
Since it has been determined that the city will get back all
but $5,000 of that money, the case doesn't have quite the urgency
it did before that fact was made public. The city was harmed,
certainly, but the damage is more to the public trust than to
the public's money. It is still tough to swallow the fact that
one of the city's top officials was apparently a crook, but not
near as tough as it would be if the damage was uninsured. In
the scheme of things, the financial loss was minimal.
Perhaps now we can close the case, a little wiser for the experience.
New accounting procedures are in place to prevent the same sort
of theft from occurring again, the hiring of a new police chief
is a matter of a couple of weeks away and the GBI has confirmed
the prevailing suspicion that Grimes alone was responsible
for the theft. He is dead and beyond prosecution, so this case
is closed. The city can learn from this experience and move on.