Madison County Opinion...

JANUARY 1, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
January 1, 2003

Frankly Speaking
County needs teamwork on important projects
One of my teenage friends became a great football player. You may have heard of him. His name is Frances Tarkenton. Frances had amazing talents. When he was scrambling with the ball, he could change directions without breaking his stride. He could throw the football nearly the length of the field while at a dead run. He set many pro records as a quarterback. Yet he never played in a super bowl.
Why did that happen? Everywhere he went, the coaches and managers gave him the ball and said, “Go win us some games.” Not once did they build a quality team around him. Without a strong supporting team, quality players working together, his talent was not enough to win.
Now, it looks as if the Atlanta Falcons are doing the same thing with Michael Vick. They turned to him with the hopes that he could win games on his talent alone. For a few weeks it worked. Atlanta had a series of wins.
Then the opposing teams figured him out and that was that.
A lot of things work that way. Communities need teamwork to successfully complete important projects. No matter how talented the individuals involved in the effort are, they will have one problem after another unless they work as a team.
Here in Madison County, we have two major projects under way. We are trying to build a water system in the Hull-Dogsboro area. And we are trying to build a new jail. Both projects have hit snag after snag. Both projects have a number of talented people working on them. But for some reason, the government agencies and associated committees have not gelled as a team.
It appears to me that our community leaders are trying to go all directions at the same time. In both cases, we have had to back up and start over because things did not go as planned or major mistakes were made. As a result, we have been confronted with major waste of energy and money, and both projects are far behind schedule.
Both projects are now scheduled for completion some time this summer. Given the past history of the efforts, I am not holding my breath.
Someone needs to step forward and take on the role of quarterback. He or she needs to set a course of action that will get these jobs finished in a timely and efficient manner. The rest of those involved needs to respond to his or her leadership by forming an effective team. They need to demonstrate their teamwork by all going in the same direction.
Madison County needs these two projects completed. We have needed them for several years. I hope they will be completed in 2003, but don’t count on it.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
January 1, 2003

A Moment with Margie
2002 - gone but never forgotten
Can you believe it - another year has gone by. Isn’t that what we always say? But it truly does seem like the years go by faster and faster.
And although there was no event like “September 11” (thank God) in 2002, a lot of “stuff” did happen last year.
The Journal, as usual, focused primarily on the home front, trying to do our job by telling the news stories of the day, while taking some time to showcase some of the people, places and events that make our county so special.
As I’ve said often enough before, those kinds of stories are my favorite to read and to write. I love meeting people, listening to their stories and then facing the challenge of telling those stories in print in a way readers can appreciate. And despite the fact that I’ve been doing this for a number of years now, I never seem to lack for story material. This county is just chock full of interesting folks who have made an impact on their community and sometimes even further afield.
One feature that comes to mind immediately when thinking of stories from this past year is an article I wrote about Mr. Howard Sims, who built his own observatory in a field next to his home. Mr. Sims is a fascinating individual who is a self-taught expert on astronomy. From the time he was a small child he was fascinated by what he saw in the southern night time sky. As a man living and working in the north, he let his fascination lead him to learn to build his own telescopes and to hold on to the dream of building and designing his own observatory one day. He did just that when he retired and returned to his Madison County roots. Now he enjoys his “own special view of the heavens” and loves to share that view with friends and neighbors. What a great story and what a nice man.
Then there was the story of Mrs. Azalee Murry, fondly known as the “lunchroom lady.” Barbarianne Gaulding-Russell mentioned her to me one day, talking about how this wonderful lady had made such an impression on her and other students who attended the old school in Colbert as they were growing up. Mrs. Murry still lives in the same community and still receives visits from many of those she served lunch to with a smile and a kind word or two each day.
A special couple, Morris and Alice Bullock, made quite an impression on me too. Neighbors and schoolmates, they went from teasing each other on the school bus and in the classroom to high school sweethearts to husband and wife and valued members of the community who believe in giving something back. They may travel and have friends all over the country, but they never forget they are Madison Countians first and foremost.
Then of course there is last week’s story about George Nale. Here is a man who moved into our community only a few years ago and immediately threw himself into community service of various types. One of the most important things he did was chair a committee to bring an enhanced 911 service to the county. In the three years it’s been operating, it’s paid off for residents all around the county. And it paid off for Mr. Nale earlier this month when he suffered a severe heart attack and had to utilize the service himself. That phone call saved his life. Hats off to a community service volunteer who was able to reap the benefits of his own volunteerism.
Then of course, I cannot talk about this past year without mentioning the completion of a project close to my own heart. Madison and Oglethorpe counties now have an animal shelter. It’s meant a lot of long years of hard work for a lot of people but it’s worth it to see the finished project. That in itself is an amazing example of community service. A dedicated group of volunteers got together, saw a need and worked to fulfill it. In my own experience with this project I have met some of my closest friends - people of amazing character and selflessness, who not only love animals and believe in our innate responsiblity to them as humans, but who also feel a responsibility to their communties to make life a little better for all of us.
Of course there are many more stories and many more examples of people who work to make life better in our little corner of the world that I simply don’t have the space to mention. But you get the idea.
That’s what it’s all about folks. That’s what makes us a community. You never know how what you do or even what you say will impact others, or even yourself. A smile and a kind word can make a person’s day - and might even change their life in some way.
Keep up the good work and keep sending us those story ideas.
Happy New Year from all of us at The Madison County Journal.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.

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