More Jackson County Opinions...

SEPTEMBER 4, 2002


Column
By:Emil Beshara
The Jackson Herald
September 4, 2002

Beshara comments on courthouse selection process
When I told the editor of The Jackson Herald that the article in last week’s paper (“BOC affirms courthouse will be on Darnell Road”) was misleading, he offered me the opportunity to try and set the record straight.
On August 27, 2002, the BOC did not vote to build a courthouse on Darnell Road. The motion was to retain the services of professional planners/architects to evaluate the site and to develop a concept plan for a centralized government campus, nothing more. I know because I made the motion.
Local governments have a responsibility to provide financial support and facilities for the judicial branch of government. This BOC is obviously willing to take on this responsibility. We have known for some time that the historic courthouse has outlived it’s useful life, and it is our duty to provide a new facility.
The process of building a new courthouse will occur in stages. The first stage is to select a site that will serve the intended purpose. The second stage is to prepare a concept plan for the property and the buildings. The third stage is preparation of the construction drawings. The fourth stage is the actual construction of the campus and the buildings. Only after entering the fourth stage will the BOC have committed to build a courthouse on Darnell Road.
The first stage is only partially complete. A property has been identified as possibly being suitable for the site of a centralized government campus.
The remainder of this stage is an evaluation by professional planners and architects as to whether the site selected is capable of effectively supporting the proposed government campus. An assessment to determine departmental space needs will be performed, and a square footage requirement will be produced which will dictate the overall size of the new courthouse.
A campus layout will be developed to show where future facilities will locate in relation to the other buildings. Traffic studies will be performed to determine what modifications to the existing road network, if any, are needed to improve traffic flow in the area. Geotechnical studies will be performed to assure that the site soils are capable of supporting the buildings and roads proposed. There is much work that must be performed before a final decision to build a courthouse on Darnell Road can be made.
I voted against purchasing the Darnell Road property not because I think it is a bad location for a courthouse, but because I thought that some of the tasks in the first stage of the process should have been performed before any property was acquired. I had offered another property (on the new Jefferson bypass) for consideration, and I wanted to have professional planners give their opinions as to which of the two properties would be more desirable from a long-rage planning perspective.
There is no question in my mind that centralization of government services and facilities is the most efficient method available. There is no question that this cannot be done in downtown Jefferson. There is no question that if a courthouse were built in downtown Jefferson, that the taxpayers would have to pay to build another one in about 20 years. Centralization leads to efficiency through savings on infrastructure, personnel, and administrative costs. The citizens of Jackson County deserve efficient delivery of government services.
There are only a few places within the city limits of
continued on page 5A
Jefferson where a centralized government campus can be located. These areas are east of town near Darnell Road, north of town along 129, and west of town along the new bypass. The site that I proposed is north of town, and has frontage on both U.S. 129 and the new bypass. There are a number of reasons I like this area, but the
main reason is probably the fact that major roadways are already in place to serve the property. It is also a more high-profile area, and it is closer to the coming population center of the county.
Having said all this, I’ll point out the disadvantage to this area. The
main benefit of centralization is efficiency. If a courthouse were built on the property I offered, it would commit the taxpayers to building (at least) a new jail in the next few years, and probably several other new facilities.
We need new correctional facilities, but it may be more prudent to not unilaterally commit to replacing everything in the short term. By building on Darnell Road, we would have the luxury of having the existing correctional facilities right next door. The new facilities could be built anywhere on the campus at some time in the future. We would not have to increase inmate transportation costs for ay period of time. In fact, we would see an immediate reduction of these costs as soon as the courthouse on Darnell opened it’s doors.
The process that will bring a new courthouse to Jackson County has begun and it will continue to move forward. As citizens of Jackson County, you have the opportunity to participate by attending the meetings where the decisions are made or by contacting your commissioner individually. If you disagree with the decisions or the process, you have the right and obligation to attend and/or make your thoughts known to those who will make the decision.
Emil Beshara represents District 3 on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

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Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
September 4, 2002

We’re in this together
The other morning I heard Shirley say, “Thank you, God, for this oatmeal that Virgil prepared.”
That got me to thinking.
I did get out the pan. I put water in the pan and put the pan on the stove. I turned on the burner, and when the water started boiling, I dumped in the oatmeal. Next I dumped the cooked oatmeal in a bowl and put it in front of Shirley.
That’s when Shirley mentioned God and me in the same breath. Wow!
(Hey, fellows, if you’ve never prepared breakfast for your wife, do it. Do it in the morning. You’ll be amazed, what it does for you.)
That’s all I did — got out the pan. Sort of like when I used to garden. All I did was plant seed.
I had a lot of help growing stuff out there in the back yard. And I had a lot of help with that oatmeal that Shirley said I prepared. Anyway, she told God that I prepared it.
This morning I want to share a little of the credit. Excuse me, a lot of the credit.
A bunch of folks made that bowl of oatmeal possible. Too often I take them for granted. I don’t know their names, but they are out there, doing their thing — just for me. And just for you.
They have more than jobs. They have callings.
Whatever you had for breakfast this morning, you owe a lot of people other than your wife, husband, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother or whoever got out the pan.
Had Shirley set out to tell God about everybody who helped Virgil prepare her oatmeal, she’d still be talking to Him. Never would get around to eating breakfast.
For one thing, she’d be thankful for whoever made the bowl. Without the bowl, she’d be eating out of the pan.
I have no earthly idea how many people and processes were involved in making the stainless steel and shaping it into cookware. However many there were, we need to thank ’em.
Let’s hear it for the cow. She contributed the butter atop the oatmeal. But somebody had to milk her, and process the milk, and wrap the stick of butter in the fancy wrapper and put the stick of butter in the fancy box.
The fancy wrapper and fancy box were made of paper. So somebody had to cut down a tree and haul it to the mill. Somebody else did all sorts of things to that tree before it became paper.
You think I’m being ridiculous, don’t you? No way! I’ve never been more serious in my life.
Now, let us consider the oatmeal.
Somewhere in Iowa a farmer grew the grain.
First he plowed the field — with a tractor powered by oil that somebody refined into gasoline.
He irrigated his crop with pumps, pipes and sprinklers manufactured in Nebraska. (Guess who provided the water.)
He harvested the oats with a combine made in Michigan.
With a truck manufactured in Georgia, he hauled the oats to a grain elevator in Sioux City.
From there the grain was shipped by rail to The Quaker Oats Company in Chicago.
And there the raw grain was processed into oatmeal. Not the old fashioned kind that used to take 15 minutes to cook, but the quick 1-minute kind that removes cholesterol from the body and contributes to a healthy heart.
I’m sure that nutritionists and food scientists are working still to improve the oatmeal that Virgil — all by himself — prepares for Shirley. Now I am being ridiculous.
Hey, it’s a long way from Chicago to Bell’s, Food Lions and Tabo’s in Jefferson. But processed and packaged, the finished product is on its way — again by truck or rail.
Somebody’s got to unload it at the dock, reload it onto local transportation, and get it to the store. Unload it again. Price it. Stock it on the shelves.
Pick it up and take it home? No, pick it up and put it in the cart which somebody, somewhere, manufactured.
Roll the cart to the cashier. The bag person helps you unload the box of oatmeal and a million other blessings onto the conveyor.
“Paper or plastic?” he asks.
Oh, the choices we have in this country. Choices a zillion other people made possible. Choices we are free to make.
Anybody like to hazard a guess as to how many people were involved in the oatmeal that “Virgil prepared.”
If I were a fourth or fifth grade teacher, I’d assign the task to my students. Just name (by occupation) and number the people who made a contribution. I sure would love to see some of the papers the kids turn in.
This might not be a bad excuse for mama and daddy. Do a little brainstorming. Find a pad and pencil and start writing down all the people who had a hand in your breakfast this morning.
Don’t pick up just any pad. Pick up a big legal pad. You are going to need lots of room.
If this epistle has a purpose, I guess it’s to remind me, you and all the other “independent” characters out there that we ain’t all that independent. If we didn’t have a hoard of people helping us, we’d go out into the world this morning naked and hungry — and on foot.
We need to stop taking people and the products they produce for granted. Whoever you are, and whatever you do, thanks for contributing to my abundant life.
We are in this thing together. And without us being here together, we are almost alone.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.


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