Banks County Opinions...

MARCH 5, 2003


Column

By: Angela Gary
The Banks County News
March 5, 2003

A weekend with Jake
Reading the same book over and over and laughing each time as if it was the first time I had heard it.
Kneeling down and looking out the window at the ducks swimming in the lake and quacking at us.
Putting on a CD, picking up the almost-30 pound little boy and holding him close, with his head on my shoulder, as I dance across the room.
Putting him down to catch my breath when the song ends, only to have him reach up for me to get him when another song starts.
Wrapping up and going out on the front porch to rock in the white chairs, the small one for him and the big one for me.
It was an exhausting, but wonderful, weekend I had with my nephew, Jake, recently. His parents were out of town and he stayed at my parents’ house for the weekend.
We all took a three-hour nap when he left that Sunday afternoon, but we missed him as soon as he was gone and we wouldn’t trade our precious time together for anything—despite the aches and pains from our out-of-shape bodies.
If only we had his energy....
As Jake gets older, I’m sure he will want to spend fewer time with the me and more with the men in the family. I know it’s only time before fishing and hanging out the guys become more fun than dancing with Aunt Angie.
At least I will have my wonderful memories to treasure. Some of my favorites are:
•calling him Jakie-poo and hearing him repeat it over and over. “Jakie-poo, Jakie-poo, Jakie-poo....” When he’s 18, I’m sure he won’t like to hear Jakie-poo, but I plan to yell it out at his graduation.
•picking him up and have him lay his head on my shoulder and wrap both arms around me.
•asking him to say “Aunt Angie” and hear him say “Gee Gee.”
•asking him if he loves me and see him shake his head no and laugh because he knows that’s the wrong answer. He actually shakes his head no regardless of what the question is. It makes us laugh every time. I’m sure he knows this.
•having him chase me all over the house, running as fast as those little legs can go, with a huge smile on his face.
•laughing along with him for no reason except for the joy of it.
•watching him do everything I do in the morning, including taking the blush brush and dabbing it on his cheeks and running his hands through his hair like I do when I fix mine.
•asking him whose little boy he is and hearing him say “Papa.” We all want our name to be the answer to this question and can’t figure out how daddy taught him to say “Papa.”
•calling him “Jee bee” because that is what the gibberish he is continuously babbling sounds like. “Jee Bee, jee bee, jee bee, jee bee,” he will say with a serious expression or big smile on his face. If only we knew what he was saying. I’m sure it’s brilliant.
•having him take a bite or drink of whatever I have. I’m afraid he has already developed a love for dill pickles and sweet tea, two of my favorites,
Enjoy every moment you have with the child in your life. They are precious and they really do grow up before you know it.
Read to them, hug them, laugh with them, tell them you love them over and over, take them to church and love them with all of your heart.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.

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Editorial

By: Adam Fouche
The Banks County News
March 5, 2003

Proposed government has too many flaws
Changing Banks County’s form of government could be a good idea, but not under the current proposal.
Foremost, the new plan doesn’t seem to be about making Banks County’s government better. Instead, the last-minute meeting held Thursday about the proposed new government shed light on some of the reasons behind the plan.
Commissioner Pat Westmoreland loudly expressed his feelings regarding chairman Kenneth Brady. He accused Brady of going behind the BOC to give a large raise to a county employee, despite Brady’s claims that the raise was budgeted and approved.
Westmoreland also made it clear that he doesn’t approve of Brady’s power in Banks County. And as some of this power tension has recently surfaced, magically, so has the new form of government.
The proposed form of government takes the power away from Brady and gives it to none other than two commissioners, of which Westmoreland is part.
The new form would give the three-man BOC the power to select a county administrator to run the day-to-day operations. But since only two votes are needed to make any decision official, then two commissioners could make a pact to choose the leader.
The leader would answer to those two commissioners, because their vote could also fire him if he goes against their will.
Are the citizens of Banks County incapable of choosing their own leader? Apparently.
You see, this new government takes the decision away from voters and gives it to the BOC. You’ll no longer be choosing a county leader. This new commission board will do it for you.
And if you don’t like the new administrator, too bad. He won’t answer to the voters. In fact, he won’t even have to care what you want. Because you won’t have a say in the status of his job. The commissioners will have the sole power to hire and fire at will.
Second, the plan is faulty because the public was never involved. True, the voters will decide next year whether or not this new form of government gets approved.
But why weren’t the voters involved up front?
The last-minute meeting called Thursday would never have happened if Brady hadn’t objected. In fact, commissioner Rickey Cain, the plan’s primary proponent, commented during the meeting that it wasn’t necessary to meet.
The public was never intended to be involved until the referendum comes up next year. How can such a process—a process that will change government in Banks County—even be started without the citizens’ input?
Further, who decided that this proposed form would be the best form? The government change would affect Banks County from now on. Why not hold a series of public hearings asking the citizens for suggestions about a new form of government?
There are other governments out there besides the current form in Banks County and the proposed form. The public should have been given the opportunity to choose between five or six different forms, not just two.
Third, Westmoreland and Cain claim the new form would give Banks County a more qualified county leader. Not so fast.
Actually, the new form will give Banks County a leader that Westmoreland and Cain will help pick and have the power to control. They’ll both still be on the BOC when the decision gets made to hire an administrator in 2005.
No minimum qualifications have been set. And the only way to ensure their claims of a qualified administrator would be to put together a list of education and experience requirements that must be met to apply for the job.
Otherwise, the county could get anyone who satisfies the “good ole boy” requirements.
Further, the claims that Banks County will get a qualified leader is a clouded slap in the face of current and past commission chairmen. And the claims imply that Banks County voters don’t know what they are doing when they pick the county’s leader.
Westmoreland also made the argument at last week’s meeting that the new form of government would take the politics out of running the county. I don’t buy that.
The new county administrator will answer to none other than a board full of politicians. In order to keep his job, the administrator must satisfy the politicians that compose the BOC.
He’ll have political pressure to do as they wish or risk losing his job.
The new form of government won’t take the politics out of running Banks County. Indeed, it will put more political pressure on the position.
And last, a concerned citizen at the meeting Thursday asked what would happen if the voters didn’t like the new system once it was approved. A commissioner told her they could switch back.
True, but the county can’t switch back without the approval of at least two commissioners. Just as in the current process, changing Banks County’s government can’t get started unless at least two commissioners sign a letter asking the General Assembly to initiate the process.
And if two commissioners enjoy holding the power too much, then the process to change the government back might never happen.
For these multitude of reasons, support for the decision Westmoreland and Cain made to initiate the government change falls through.
Lack of public involvement in the process so far, clouded motives behind the switch and some faulty reasons for its support leave me with more questions than sureties that this is the best move for Banks County.
Indeed, changing Banks County’s government could be a big positive. But proceeding with the current plan will lead to more problems than it will ever solve.
Adam Fouche is a reporter for The Banks County News. He can be reached at 706-367-2348 or fouche@nbank.net.


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