Jackson County Opinions...

December 19, 2001

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
December 19, 2001

Last-Minute Gifts For Your Favorite
Public Servants
OK, it is a little late for the annual Gift Guide For Public Officials, my annual Christmas public service column, but most of you haven't started your Christmas shopping yet anyway, so don't blow a fuse.
The purpose of this column is to enable taxpayers and other grateful citizens to show their appreciation to public figures with appropriate Christmas gifts. I've spent a considerable number of seconds giving deep thought to this, so take note.
First on the list is Al Crace, the new county manager. Some would argue that a $95,000 per year job is gift enough, but keeping Harold Fletcher, Stacey Britt, Emil Beshara, Sammy Thomason and Tony Beatty happy is probably worth a lot more. The best gift you could give Crace would be a two-month cruise to anywhere for Harold Fletcher, Stacey Britt, Emil Beshara, Sammy Thomason and Tony Beatty starting Jan. 2.
I know that is more than many people want to spend for a gift, but this gift would make the five commissioners happy too, not to mention members of the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, several members of the planning commission and numerous county department heads. Our county government reporter, Angela Gary, would have to go too, but she's up to the challenge.
Gifts for other officials are as follows:
New Commerce Police Chief John Gaissert would like former chief George Grimes resurrected, so he could prosecute him for embezzlement. Actually, the entire Commerce government would consider that a wonderful Christmas gift.
Nonetheless, you should get Mayor Charles L. Hardy Jr. a separate gift. He would like the new Jackson County Courthouse built at the site now housing Pardueıs Mobile Home Park.
If you live in Ward 4, youıll want to buy Commerce Councilman Bob Sosebee something. Heıs been looking for a low-income apartment complex for months now.
For Pepe Cummings, president of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, I suggest a copy of the book ³A Speakerıs Guide To Brevity & Concise Speech.² Or liquor.
Elton Collins, chairman of the Jackson County Water & Sewerage Authority, would like six million gallons of water a day from Bear Creek Reservoir. Treated and delivered.
Commerce city manager Clarence Bryant wants another 12 months of delay in the reservoir so he can keep selling water to Jackson County.
Many Banks County readers are looking for a gift for Bonnie Johnson, former chamber president and now head of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Sheıd like a compilation of editorials and columns from The Banks County News.
The Nicholson City Council wants a new city charter, expanding its city limits to I-85 on the north and Athens on the south. Grandfathered in, of course.
State Sen. Mike Beatty wants a new job. Heıd like to be governor, but would settle for lieutenant governor.
There you have it. Some of these gifts will be hard to find, but I know you all will look hard to find the perfect gifts for our public servants.


The Commerce News
December 19, 2001

Message Of Christmas A Timely Reminder
Christmas couldn't come too soon this year.
As America recovers from the terrorist acts of Sept. 11, its armed forces are engaged with Islamic terrorists and much of how we think about life now revolves around the possibility of further terrorist attacks, we very much need to hear the message of Christmas.
At the time of Christ's birth, the army of Rome occupied Israel. The Jewish residents chafed under Roman rule and awaited the expected Messiah to lead a military and political overthrow of this army of occupation. Several attempts at revolt had been put down.
But the messiah didn't come to bring peace through military supremacy. The plan that evolved into Christianity centered on Jesus, whose primary message was that we should love God and love one another. This was the man who advised us to turn the other cheek in reaction to assault and who meekly went onto a cross to die for our sins. Christ may have been the "prince of peace," but he made it plain to his disciples that following him would be neither easy nor peaceful.
Since that time, millions have died in wars or actions taken in the name of Christianity, from the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition to conflicts all over the globe. Even Adolf Hitler managed to justify the slaughter of millions of Jews, Gypsies and other non-Aryan people by perverting Christianity. Today, the name of Islam is similarly used by fanatics to kill, not just in Afghanistan and the Middle East, but as of Sept. 11, in the United States. The hijacking of a religion for political or personal purposes is hardly new.
Compared to most of the world, Americans have been insulated from the most extreme consequences of governmental instability. Rich, powerful and stable, America has not been quite so fertile a breeding ground for religious and political fanaticism as less stable areas of the world, but that security was shattered at 8:46 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11.
As Christmas 2001 approaches, the fear from Sept. 11 has drifted into the background, but millions of people have come to realize that they need the kind of peace promised by the birth of Christ. Reminded of the uncertainties of life, people want something they can count on and are turning or returning to religion. Christ's peace is eternal and not subject to the events that occur in this world.
Jesus also taught on a more earthly level about the need for loving one another, for forgiveness and about anger management, practices, tactics and tools that, if employed by all Christians, would reduce greatly the conflict and stress in this world. Alas, they are too often ignored. Christians observing the birth of Christ this year should find Jesus' plans for peace on earth and eternal life more appealing and more relevant than ever. It is to be hoped that God's great love and Christ's teachings and sacrifice will resonate with all of us this year like never before. May your Christmas bring peace and joy that lasts forever.

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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
December 19, 2001

The first gift of Christmas was a child
There are several hundred smiling faces in this weekıs newspaper, faces which mute the cynics and renew the faithless.
Each Christmas, our newspapers collect hundreds of photos of area children and compile them in a special section. It is a Christmas card to our readers signed by the hundreds in whose hands rest all of our dreams.
Where but in the eyes of a child can you see both the past — little Tommy has granddadıs eyes, sister Suzie has her motherıs hair — and the future — Blake wants to be a fireman, Jane a doctor.
Tomorrow is a memory of today by the children, youngsters whose innocence is our joy, whose faces light up our homes and whose wonder keeps tradition alive.
Many cultures believe that it is the old who keep traditions, who pass down the wisdom of years and the touchstones of life. But it is the young who are the torchbearers. Without a new generation to teach, traditions mean very little.
It is that faith in the future and our collective desire to pass the cultural torch which makes Christmas a special season. It is a season of faith, not only of religion, but also in our humanity. Even with the kitsch and commercialism being blared around us, the fundamental desire for ³peace on earth, good will to men² rings through. Our social conventions may sometimes be shallow, but somehow generation after generation will touch the core of the Christmas spirit and be renewed.
For some, it is a season of mixed emotions. Amid all the gaiety, there are the memories of friends and family who are gone. The music, the smell of a Christmas tree and the annual nesting of families bring back the bittersweet thoughts.
For others, it will be the last Christmas together. There are those who face the inevitable end and even having lived a good and long life is little consolation to the families who will miss them.
But in the faces of their offspring, of the great-grandchildren who laugh and play around them, is the faith that pulls life forward. Without the laughter of children, there would be an emptiness in their wake.
And so, the torch is passed and the traditions continue, someday to be in the hands of those who now play around the Christmas tree and peek up the chimney.
The past and the future come together at Christmas — the memories of our own childhoods mixed with the new memories now being formed by our children. They will someday look back at this special time and smile just as we do at our own childhood memories.
And someday our childrenıs children will tug at the Christmas tree ornaments and be amazed by the shimmering Christmas lights along city streets.
They will sing in church plays and perform in school concerts.
They will sit on Santaıs knee and promise to be good so they can get that new bike.
They will look at the nativity set and rearrange the pieces, always making a special place for the Baby Jesus.
They will want to see the tape of Rudolph until they know every line by heart.
They will ask 1,000 questions about the sleigh and reindeer.
They will leave milk and cookies because Santaıs sure to be hungry.
They will check the stockings every day, just in case.
They will eat too much candy and be happy about it.
They will hope.
They will dream.
And they, too, will someday know that the first gift of Christmas was a child.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald. This is a reprint of his favorite Christmas column from several years ago.

The Jackson Herald
December 19, 2001

One solitary life
An Annual Christmas Message From The Jackson Herald

The imagery of the Christ Child being born in a stable beneath a bright star surrounded by both learned Wise Men and humble shepherds is one of the most powerful pictures in human history. Humble by birth, He became a shepherd of men, a king of kings and the light of humankind.
Yet, for all His impact on this world, little is known about the man we call Jesus. Relative to others of his era, his known words are few. And virtually nothing is known of His childhood after the birth in Bethlehem.
Many of Jesusı parables revolve around the common things He observed, and it isnıt too much to imagine that those well-known stories may have come from the things he saw as a child, say scholars who wish to study the area.
Perhaps it is by design that we know so little about His childhood. But what we know of His later life was destined to change the world.
One unknown writer said it best:
He was born in an obscure village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30.
He then became an itinerant preacher.
He never held an office.
He never had a family or owned a house.
He didnıt go to college.
He had no credentials but himself.
He was only 33 when the public turned against him.
His friends ran away.
He was turned over to enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.
He was laid in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that One Solitary Life.

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