More Jackson County Opinions...

March 20, 2002


Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
March 20, 2002

Jackson County Think Tank available
Enough of this courthouse foolishness! It’s time to get serious.
You want alternate sites? We’ve got alternate sites.
You want options? We’ve got options.
First, though, let’s look at the site/option that is being discussed and cussed ‘round the clock. That would be the 157 acres off Darnell Road.
This location is occupying so much time of Byrd University personnel that they are unable to plan the next move in the war on terrorism. That is why we need to get on with this local issue and start tackling world problems again. Not to mention who’ll be playing in the Final Four next Saturday.
Let me hasten to add, however, that the attention being paid the Darnell Road acreage is not without positive results. Not to mention fodder for the rumor mill. The Jackson County Think Tank has come up with potentials for that location that district 2 commissioner Sammy Thomason hasn’t even thought of. Let’s look at some of them.
(Note from the group’s recording secretary: Contributors of these ideas wish to remain anonymous. It’s not that they don’t want any credit. It’s that one of their bright ideas might be approved and adopted, and later turn out to be another boondoggle. Their motivation to avoid blame is greater than their desire for praise.)
These planners, some of Jackson County’s deepest and most intelligent thinkers, agree that 37 acres are sufficient for the new courthouse. That leaves 120 acres.
One conservation-minded sportsman, who sports a “give wildlife a chance” tag on his beat-up pickup, suggested turning the 120 acres into a hunting preserve.
A thoughtful citizen chided the sportsman for his shortsightedness. He said he would go along with 100 acres for raccoon, deer, opossum, rabbit, rat, rattlesnake and skunk habitat. But he added, rather emphatically, that 20 acres must be reserved for employee parking.
When someone mentioned that there is a two-acre lake (a pond, really) on the property, you could just see the wheels turning. What a windfall for the county!
“We’ll bring in 100,000 Canadian geese,” said one excited participant.
His associates sent him home to do the math. “Come back tomorrow with how many geese that will be per square foot,” the leader suggested.
The group continued the discussion and agreed that 100,000 geese could produce enough manure to fertilize every garden in Jackson County. Just come and scoop it. First come, first served.
That reminded one Think Tank member to suggest a gourmet seafood restaurant on the bank of the lake (pond). Old geese that have outlived their usefulness will be roasted and featured on the menu. Other entrees include catfish, frog legs and turtle stew.
Smokers and heavy perfume and cologne users will be welcomed. In fact, they will receive a 25 percent discount for helping mask the stench. Excuse me, aroma.
As for alternate sites, several were mentioned. The group really liked the proposal submitted by commissioner Stacy Britt on March 4. That would be the 18.5 acres on the south side of Peach Hill.
Although the board “elected not to pursue this site for several reasons,” it is still a viable option. The Think Tank hopes the board will reconsider.
But there is one small problem. The 18.5 acres, including Peach Hill, will have to be moved a quarter mile up the Maysville Highway and dumped in the swamp north of the Jefferson City Reservoir.
One of the local professionals said he could arrange the transfer. He knows Maynard Jackson and Bill Campbell, and they will - for a small fee - send the Hartsfield Airport dirt movers out here to take care of our dirt. Our man said Jackson and Campbell have had a lot of experience with dirt. Once the swamp is filled and the dirt packed, what a beautiful site for our new courthouse!
But there’s always someone to throw cold water on a great idea. “You know the tree-hugging, bed-wetting, liberal environmentalists ain’t gonna let us destroy that wetland. A pair of wood ducks mate there every year. And the poor beavers would be homeless.”
“No problem,” said a politically-savvy thinker. “We’ll get Pat Bell and Mike Beatty to introduce a bill. Or amend the constitution. Whatever it takes.” We aren’t just talking about a new courthouse here. We are talking about a new courthouse looking out over a sandy beach, a deck with comfortable lounges and picnic tables, and a launching ramp to accommodate everything from johnboats to houseboats. You can step right out of the courthouse into a miniature Hawaii.
Several islands, complete with palm trees and flowers, will be constructed at strategic areas in the reservoir. Government officials and county employees can get away from maddening constituents, enjoy mid-morning and mid-afternoon coffee breaks, have lunch in a restful atmosphere, discuss matters important to the peace, tranquillity, happiness and well-being of taxpayers, and paddle back to the office by quitting time.
Other alternate sites and options were put on the table. The thinkers need more time to fine-tune these proposals before sharing them with you, the general public.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. The new Jackson County courthouse will take a little while, too.
By the way, you may have an alternate site or option in mind. Come join the thinkers. We begin gathering at Byrd University on Athens Street every morning at 6 a.m. If you can’t come, write: The Recording Secretary, Jackson County Think Tank, c/o Mainstreet Newspapers, P.O. Box 908, Jefferson, GA, 30549.
Just be sure your proposal is a serious one. Our serious-minded county commissioners aren’t in any mood right now to put up with any foolishness. We can’t help Byrd run the city any more, but we are available to help the commissioners run the county.
Virgil Adams is former editor and owner of The Jackson Herald.

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Column
By:Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
March 20, 2002

Atheists should have freedom of religion
Atheist — a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.
An Atlanta TV station reported Friday that the Department of Motor Vehicles had blacklisted another word—ATHEIST. The DMV had reportedly received numerous complaints about a vanity plate that was originally issued three years ago. Now ATHEIST is blacklisted.
It’s a pretty distinctive list which includes AHOLE and other words the newspaper would never print. But ATHEIST is the only word on the list that could be considered a religion or at the very least a religious choice as the lack of religion would involve some religious thought or denial as the case may be.
Having atheist printed on a license plate should be protected by the Constitution at least twice. Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Expression (Speech).
Did someone protest thinking that by having the license plate made by the state then the state was advocating atheism? That would be taking it too far. People have CHICKEN printed on their plate. That doesn’t mean the state believes this person to be a chicken or that being a chicken is advisable. It’s a license plate. Vanity plates bring in extra revenue for the state so I say keep applying for those customized plates and keep your checks rolling in.
There’s a flip side to this whole story, too. If this man can’t have ATHEIST on his plate, what’s to say CHRISTIAN or JEW won’t be the next term blacklisted? The news of the repealed plate made national news. There are enough atheists and agnostics in the United States to log in calls to DMVs across the country. I feel I have the right to have CHRISTIAN or CATHOLIC printed across my tag. I wouldn’t want my rights infringed upon and I don’t feel atheists’ rights should be infringed upon either.
What is an atheist after all? Some have called atheists non-citizens since they refuse to acknowledge God. Their reasoning is that since this is one nation under God, you must believe in God. But I don’t believe this to be true. Treat all people with the love and respect God advocates and they might just possibly revise their beliefs.
Atheists lack faith. According to the religious tolerance website (religioustolerance.org), most atheists “have analyzed the available material evidence for the existence of one or more deities and have concluded that there is no real evidence of the existence of gods or goddesses.” Thomas, one of Jesus’ own apostles, denied that Jesus had indeed been resurrected until he himself had felt Jesus’ wounds with his fingers. And Jesus said blessed be he who believes and does not see (John 20: 25-30). He did not say to castigate all who do not believe in me.
I just ask for religious tolerance for all people. Tolerance has become harder in recent months because of the religious fanaticism of a few has led to so many deaths. But, just as I’m unwilling to compromise my freedoms to terrorism, I’m equally unwilling to compromise the freedoms of others to close-mindedness and fear. If it means taking up arms to protect the rights of nonbelievers to profess it on their cars, then so be it.

Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.


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