Banks County Opinions...

April 17, 2002


Editorial

The Banks County News
April 17, 2002

Clean reservoir is everyone’s business
Not everyone in Banks County uses the Commerce Watershed near Banks Crossing.
Not everyone fishes there. Not everyone picnics there. And not everyone drinks the water that comes from the lake.
But enough people do use the lake to cause concern for its cleanliness.
For years, officials in both Banks County and Commerce have had trouble keeping trash out of the water and off the shore. Water department officials in Commerce have closed some access to the lake and have put out trash containers for visitors to use.
But a few lazy fisherman and inconsiderate visitors might ruin the lake’s recreational opportunities.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has been pressuring Commerce officials to completely close the lake off to public access. After all, the lake was built as a drinking water reservoir, and that is its first and foremost purpose.
Efforts to clean up the lake have been successful. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Grove Level Christian Sportsmen Fellowship annual lake clean up has taken away tons of garbage from around the reservoir.
However, the lake still has trash around it and in its waters. A Banks County News photographer found a computer screen in the lake last weekend.
Worm and bait containers around the lake are expected—not excusable, but expected. No one, however, can justify putting a computer screen in a lake.
Such blatant disregard for the safety of our wildlife and our people is a serious matter that we cannot overlook.
While everyone in Banks County may not think the litter problem at the lake is their problem, we believe otherwise.
Many people in the south end of the county drink water that comes from that lake. Anyone who eats at the restaurants at Banks Crossing is likely being exposed to water from that lake. And many people throughout the county visit the lake to relax and have fun. Remember, the lake is in Banks County.
It’s time the citizens of the county and the visitors to the lake take a stance against littering and move to keep the reservoir cleaned up, ensuring its future as a recreation source.
Saturday, several groups are sponsoring an annual lake clean-up day at the watershed. We encourage the citizens of the county to get behind the event and help clean up the reservoir.
And though Saturday’s clean up will definitely be a good thing, we can’t let it stop there. Everyone who visits the lake must be aware of the consequences of their actions and should encourage fellow visitors not to litter.
If we don’t move now to ensure the lake’s future, we may lose it forever.

Column

By: Shar Porier
T
he Banks County News
April 17, 2002

Saying ‘Goodbye’
The breeze wove in and out of the chimes. Their soft tinkling tones were comforting.
The little gold finches squeaked and the warblers were singing.
I gently stroked the beautiful silver and cream coat that was heaving from her labored breathing. Her ears perked up from her massive head as I tickled down her muzzle. She looked up at me with weary eyes that begged for help. That sweet face now held such agony. She was dying.
It was hard to hold back the tears and finally I just gave in to the grief.
For 13 years, she had been an important member of our family, giving so much love and joy.
Once she ran and roamed our little valley. She splashed in the river and the creeks chasing fish. She dug holes in the yard searching for mice, voles, and gophers. She kept watch over everything and was our trusted guard, our best friend.
But now, she suffered from diabetes, arthritis and just old age. Everything hurt her - getting up, walking, sitting down. It was time to let her go.
In the midst of utter despair, I began to smile. So many memories began rushing back and the movie of our lives together began to play.
She was four months old when we brought her to our Atlanta home. A 35-pound half-wolf/half-Malamute. She named herself the second day. I had walked outside to work in the garden and there she was eating the rosehips off the rose bush.
“Rosie” became her name.
She and Tom Cat always went with us when we started to build up here in Banks County. She never wanted to go home. Rosie loved it up here. I laughed as I remembered dragging her into the car.
At eight months old, a car hit her and we nearly lost her. Her pelvis was broken and she had suffered a slight skull fracture. After much care and coddling, she was back to normal in no time.
Of course after all that attention, she decided she was a lap dog and as she grew, it didn’t make a difference that she was now 120 pounds of muscle.
I took her everywhere with me. Even to Ohio to visit my family. On one of our visits, I took her to one of my favorite places, a riverside park where I had spent many, many hours as a kid. We were walking along, suddenly her ears perked up. The chipmunks were chirping and racing from burrow to burrow.
Rosie’s head was jerking back and forth, she’d start to jump in one direction and then see another chipmunk and turn toward that one. Then her head was just jerking back and forth; she couldn’t decide which one she should go for. Then it was like her brain hit “Tilt” and she just sat down and looked up at me. There were just too many — more than her instincts could handle. I laughed and grabbed her round the neck for hugs.
She had brought many hours of joy and companionship to my life. There were so many “Rosie stories” and I think every one ran through my mind that afternoon.
She’d give friends “hickeys” - little love bites.
And she had the prettiest smile. One of those special doggy ear-to-ear grins that if you didn’t know the dog you’d probably think she was snarling at you.
Soon, the vet would be here.
I left her for a moment and ran into the house. I grabbed a few of her favorite snacks that she hadn’t been able to have since the diabetes.
“Rosie, look.”
She raised her head slowly and sniffed my hand. A spark grew in her eyes. She took the treats one by one and slowly chewed them. Cookies. It had been over three years since a cookie had crossed those lips. When she finished, I gave her some water.
She seemed calmer now. Her breathing had settled into a more normal pattern. She looked out over the field in front of the house. And then looked at me.
When I heard the vet’s car coming up the drive, my heart stopped. I wished there were another way.
Dr. Linda Brooks and her husband, Phillip, got out of the car. Rosie liked Dr. Brooks, she’d been going to her for many years.
In minutes, Rosie was at peace. And, so was I. It was finally over.
As we laid her to rest in my flower garden, joining her old buddies Taz and Peaches, the tree frogs started to sing. It was like a chorus just for her.
The sun was setting and the sky was ablaze with color. That surreal pink glow enveloped us as tears welled in our eyes. It was a beautiful ending to a most heart-wrenching day.
As I turned, I saw my two other dogs, Sweet Pea and Jax, watching. They seemed to know what was going on. They came up and sniffed at Rosie’s grave.
Sweet Pea nuzzled my hand. Then she took it gently in her teeth and started walking me toward home.
She was right, it was time to go home, time to start mending a broken heart.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.

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