The Madison County Journal
May 15, 2002
We the people need to hold govt accountable
Ours is a nation of the people. All government agencies are answerable directly to us, but only to the extent that we force the issue. Unfortunately, once they are in place, most government agencies appear to have the attitude that they can do as they wish. We the People have no right to demand information or question how they conduct our business.
The areas governments are most likely to keep hidden are their mistakes, and it is the mistakes that We the People most need to know about. We make our political decisions based on how well our elected and appointed officials are performing. If we do not know of their mistakes, we are likely to keep returning the mistake makers to positions of power.
We have several resources we can use to obtain information. The media, of course, do as much as they can. But in a small market like Madison County, the capacity of media to explore government actions is limited. We simply dont have enough income to hire investigative reporters.
Open records laws help. Any citizen with the time and energy can demand information from governments, explore that information and let his or her neighbors know what was found.
One little used resource is the Grand Jury. One of the assigned duties of the Grand Jury is to inspect and oversee government activity. But too often, the real problems are ignored by this body in favor of looking for worn carpets and broken windows.
In Madison County, we have a serious problem with the new jail. Millions of dollars have been collected from We the People in the form of a sales tax to build the new jail. But construction is halted. Major flaws in the portion completed have been found.We dont know where the problems lie or when, if ever, the new jail will be completed.
I believe that a special Grand Jury should be called to look into every aspect of the jail, starting with the need for the facility, financing, engineering, contracts, who was responsible to see that specifications were followed, why construction is at a standstill, how much it will cost to finish the job and who will pay the additional money.
Madison County has often become the laughing stock of Georgia over government goof-ups. The new jail is the latest example of this. As long as We the People are indifferent to these problems, they will never cease. Government will be only as good as We the People demand it be.
It is time We the People start using all resources available to us to keep a close eye on our government officials. The best of them will respond by making every effort to meet our expectations. The others need to be replaced.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
May 15, 2002
A Moment with Margie
Animal shelter now more than
Its like a dream come true for many of us whove waited so long to see our county make progress in caring for stray and unwanted animals. After years of battling the mentality of those who treat pets as if they were no more than disposable items to be kept for a little while and thrown away when no longer wanted, there is finally another solution to offer them besides a shotgun or poison hot dogs.
The beginnings of the dream are now going up on Colbert Danielsville Road in the form of an animal shelter that will not only take in unwanted dogs and cats, puppies and kittens, but will help educate the public on being good stewards of the these domesticated animals.
Construction is underway on land leased to the Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter (MOAS) group, a non-profit humane society formed almost five years ago with this main goal in mind. I am proud to serve on the board of directors of this organization.
If anyone had told me in 1997 that we would be to this point less than five years later, I would not have believed it possible. But thanks to the overwhelming support of most of the community, the diligence and hard work of a number of individuals, and the generosity of one benefactor in particular, were finally on our way.
Although many have voiced the need for an animal shelter - the groundwork for it began in earnest in late 1997 when Danielsville resident Patsy Akins came before the board of commissioners and asked for help with people dropping off stray dogs and cats near her home. Patsy and her family were overwhelmed with the responsibility of trying to take care of what others would not.
Her words were merely an echo of cries officials were hearing all over the county.
When commissioner Nash asked Patsy if she would accept the responsibility of forming a committee to help find solutions to the countys animals problems, Patsy agreed.
And although Patsy eventually relinquished her seat on the animal shelter board, what began with her that night has continued.
And what MOAS has envisioned all along is no dog pound.
It is a modern facility that will not only help the animals left dumped on our roadsides by individuals who are ignorant, uninformed or just plain cruel, but a place to educate the community on how we can make our area a better place for all of us - ourselves and the animals we have taken in and domesticated to live with us.
The facility we have designed will be spacious, pleasing to the eye, and multi-functional. We want you to feel comfortable coming there to choose a pet, attend an educational program, or volunteer your services. If you have a dog or cat that has been dropped off on your doorstep, or one that you feel you can no longer provide a home for, we hope you will bring that animal to the shelter before you consider abandoning it.
Animals that must come there will be treated with kindness and dignity. If no home can be found, their lives will be ended in as painless and humane a way possible.
They will not go hungry or breed more unwanted animals. They will not kill livestock to sustain their lives, nor will they spread disease to humans or other animals.
But make no mistake - this is a beg-