Madison County Opinion...

March 6, 2002

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
March 6, 2002

Frankly Speaking

Madison County needs retail businesses
Did you know that Madison County shoppers are helping finance wasteful spending in Athens-Clarke County? Our neighbor receives $87 million for each one-cent special sales tax they collect. Madison County gets less than $5 million per one cent of tax. Why?
Madison County has so little retail business that our citizens are forced to go to Athens to find basic needs. Every dollar we spend in Athens adds to their sales tax collections and reduces taxes available to the Madison County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education.
It makes sense to me that economic development in Madison County should be concentrated in retail sales. Manufacturing facilities are good, when we can get them. They yield better paying jobs and help hold down property taxes on homes and farms. But they do not generate sales taxes.
Somewhere in my past, a business professor said that the best way to build a successful business is to find a need and fill it. That makes sense. Madison County has a long list of retail “needs” that give any businessman a clear opportunity to make money.
There are no electronics outlets in Madison County. We have no shoe stores, no bookstores, no copy center, only limited clothing stores and the list continues. When I need office supplies, I have to go to the Atlanta Highway area on the other side of Athens to find a wide selection. The same is true for computers, stereo equipment or music.
With 25,000 or more potential customers, any of these businesses would have a golden opportunity in Madison County. Yet we hear of few efforts to bring stores like these to our area.
Another thing that my business professor suggested is “make the best use of existing resources.” We have an untapped resource in Madison County that could be the basis of a successful business, arts and crafts. We have glass blowers, potters, cabinetmakers, quilters and other artisans who produce works of art for the home. Many of these people are widely recognized for the quality of their work.
I think someone ought to set up a facility where artisans can come together for mutual support, to obtain supplies and marketing of their products. This facility would provide services to artisans much like the Farm Bureau provides for farmers. Perhaps that would be a good use to make for the Hwy. 72 property currently in dispute.
Where we have an opportunity to make our purchases in Madison County, we should make a special effort to do so. Meanwhile, we all need to make it clear to our Planning and Zoning committee and the Board of Commissioners that they need to start working with the Industrial Authority to promote business in Madison County, not block every effort at economic development.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

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B y Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
March 6, 2002

A Moment With Margie

Beach Music
The Eagles, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, The Bee Gees, Elton John, John Lennon, (...even David Gates and Bread)
The music of the 70s for me has always invoked the memory of a special time of growing up, of school dances (we called them sock hops), and goofing off with friends — and now it will invoke another — the memory of a rainy weekend by the sea with four good friends, listening to some of that same music.
With my kids finally all grown up (or almost) and with my husband Charles’ blessing, I set out to enjoy a rare “weekend with the girls” by celebrating my 43rd birthday at a small beach house in northern Florida.
Although the wind howled and the rain poured down most of the time we were there, we didn’t care because we were warm and cozy inside Denise’s little cottage by the sea.
We talked (a lot), we shopped a little, walked on the beach a little (when there were breaks in the rain), we snacked, watched movies and enjoyed meals together.
One night we sat up until 3 a.m. in deep discussions about everything from racial prejudice to world peace.
The conversations were stimulating, often humorous and sometimes even a little argumentative. But we all agreed we could only be strengthened by our views and the circle of our friendship gave us the confidence to share those views unafraid.
Saturday night brought in heavy rain and winds. Our last night there, we lingered together over a supper of Denise’s homecooked shrimp pasta, listening to the ocean roar and the rain come down.
But of all the bonding we did, it was the music that I will remember most from last weekend. We played the songs we grew up to, the songs we danced and sang to as we found our way from girlhood to womanhood.
And as we listened, it was the 1970s again and we were young, with our whole futures stretching before us.
Each song brought at least one of us a bittersweet memory, and the connection of a shared past undiluted by the fact that we come from different backgrounds and different parts of the country.
We might all be strong-willed, independent, women who know our own minds, we might even agree to disagree on a lot of things, but we all found a common bond in the lyrics of a time when we were leaving our girlhood behind on the path to where we are now.
Each song could bring us to tears, make us dance or laugh with a memory of the time in which we came of age.
Delightful and surprising Denise, glamorous and glorious Marisu, wise and wonderful Paula, and lovely, funny Susan — thank you for a weekend of friendship, of bonding, of beach music.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.
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