The Madison County Journal
October 10, 2001
A look at Madison County redistricting It is Madison County's turn. Now that the Georgia
legislature has finished their fiasco of redistricting, city
and county governments have to do the same.
Every 10 years, following the census, all political entities
must draw new district lines in order to ensure that all voters
will have the same representation. State and federal laws require
that each district have approximately the same population. With
one area of Madison County growing faster than the remainder
of the county, the district populations are no longer within
those population limits.
In drawing these district lines, politicians often take into
consideration purely political factors, giving us the absurd
districts newly approved for state House, Senate and U.S. Congress
districts. I hope we in Madison County can do the job right!
Madison County has five commissioners and five school board members.
Thus the county is divided into five districts. Our current district
design is adequate, although the actual borders reflect past
political and social shenanigans. All we need to do is redraw
lines between the districts to yield equal populations and smooth
out some of the absurdities.
Currently, we have four districts drawn around the four corners
of the county, and a central district around the county seat
District 3 in Hull contains the area most subject to business
and economic growth.
District 1 in the Neese/Sanford area is rapidly filling with
low-density housing, typical of the rural/residential zone.
In order to come into compliance with new census figures, these
districts will have to shrink.
District 5, covering the Hwy 72 corridor including Colbert, Comer
and Carlton contains the largest concentration of minorities
in Madison County. However, minority population growth has not
kept up with overall changes, reducing the minority influence
in the district. Necessary enlargement of the district will further
reduce minority influence.
District 4, located around Danielsville, contains most of the
county government infrastructure. With the shrinking of the southern
districts, it will have to extend further south toward Diamond
District 2, stretching from Ila to Harrison will continue to
be the most agricultural of our districts. It will likely enlarge
to take in even more of the county's northern area.
As you can see, each of these districts has a distinctive character.
They do not need to be tampered with beyond balancing out the
populations and correcting past gerrymandering.
Let's show the rest of Georgia how it should be done. No gimmicks,
no politics, just plain good sense. We deserve it.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His email address
The Madison County Journal
October 10, 2001
Walking among the 'spirits' of Savannah My husband Charles and I decided to "get away
from it all" last weekend, so we packed a few clothes, a
couple of lounge chairs and our bikes and headed for Tybee Island.
After a Saturday spent window shopping, watching dolphins frolic
in the surf and a glorious afternoon nap on the beach, we drove
into nearby Savannah for some supper and a walk on the spooky
Since it is October and Savannah with its colorful history, old
buildings and cemeteries, is said to be one of the spookiest
places around, we couldn't resist one of the many ghost tours.
As anyone who's been to Savannah knows, there are any number
of ways to "tour" the city, in groups or on your own.
We opted for a walking tour and what is billed as "the Original
Hauntings Tour" that follows Savannahan Margaret Wayt Debolt's
book "Savannah Spectres."
Although I'm sorry to report that we didn't see any ghosts, we
did see plenty of spirits - in the hands of our fellow tourists.
(Personally I think the ghosts were too afraid to come out among
the living, especially on a Saturday night during Octoberfest.)
Taking a walking ghost tour (or tour of any kind) with a bunch
of drunks is not my idea of a "fun time," but it did
make for some interesting happenings.
All those signed up for the tour met at the foot of Savannah
founder James Oglethorpe's statue in Chippewa Square promptly
at 9 p.m.
We should have been warned when several on the tour asked our
guide Mitch where they could go to the bathroom. Mitch pointed
to a "haunted" bar down the street and most came back
a few minutes later, spirits in hand.
Mitch himself wasn't the greatest as he seemed more interested
in collecting the cash for the tour than in giving out information
about local haunts. Since he didn't give out tickets or receipts,
he kept asking if everyone had paid, sometimes interrupting himself
in the middle of a ghost story (I began to wonder if Mitch had
had a few too many himself).
But the tour, which was supposed to last 90 minutes but ended
up lasting more than two hours (mostly thanks to the drunks,
who giggled incessantly) did have some interesting moments.
One of the most interesting stops on our walk was Colonial Cemetery
in the heart of the town. Mitch informed us we couldn't enter
the cemetery because recent events have caused the gates to have
to be closed and locked after dark.
Seems a dead goat and rabbit were found one morning inside the
cemetery, their legs bound and their hearts removed and placed
The practice of voodoo, including bizarre rituals of animal sacrifice,
is still pretty common in Savannah (read "Midnight in the
Garden of Good and Evil") and was probably the reason for
this episode of animal cruelty, according to Mitch.
To try to thwart further episodes, city officials were forced
to bar the entrances to the burial ground, which contains the
remains of the likes of Revolutionary General Nathaniel Greene,
Declaration of Independence signer Button Gwinnett and others,
including many, many unmarked graves.
Gwinnett is said to have been mortally wounded in a duel just
outside the cemetery by a political rival, Lachlan McIntosh,
who was also later buried in the cemetery.
But Gwinnett is not the only one who resides there as the result
of the practice of dueling. A famous marker in the cemetery tells
the story of the death of James Wilde, an Army paymaster who
died in a duel with another officer on the South Carolina side
of the Savannah River at the age of 23. According to his eloquent
epitaph, "He fell by the hand of a man who a short time
before, would have been friendless but for him."
Approximately 700 of the Colonial's inhabitants were laid to
rest in 1820 as a result of a Yellow Fever epidemic, including
two physicians who became ill caring for the afflicted.
With such a colorful history, it's no wonder this second oldest
cemetery in Savannah is said to be haunted.
We also spent a lot of time at the Owens-Thomas House on Oglethorpe
Square, which was built in 1819 for cotton merchant and banker
Richard Richardson and his wife Frances Bolton.
After Richardson lost the home, it changed hands several times
before being purchased by Congressman George Owens. It is his
granddaughter Margaret Thomas whose ghost is said to reside there
Thomas, who designated the home to be preserved as a museum after
her death, is said to move things around at night, occasionally
play the piano, and her veiled figure has reportedly been spotted
walking through the back garden.
It was also interesting to see how many of the upper floors of
buildings in the historic district appear to be deserted. According
to Mitch, this is because the antics of departed spirits repeatedly
drive tenants away.
Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Lowe's childhood home, another
stop on the tour, is said to be haunted by her parents.
A small girl and a yellow cat is said to haunt the attic of another
nearby home, the Davenport Home on State Street. A former funeral
home, now an inn (I can't recall the name), is said to be haunted
by a woman who once lived there. One of her favorite pastimes
during the house's funeral home days was supposedly to remove
bodies from coffins and arrange them in amusing poses.
Sometime during these stories, one member of our tour was almost
hit by a car as he staggered behind it while it was backing up.
Mitch calmly suggested that he would have to charge extra for
the excitement if anyone were run over.
Ah, beautiful old Savannah, where the only thing to fear is the
living - certainly not the dead.
Margie Richards is office manager and a reporter for the Madison