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MARCH 26, 2003


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OPINIONS
Frank Gillespie
Freedom of speech is vital to all other freedoms
Everyone has a right to free speech. No matter how wrong you are, you are free to say almost anything you wish. At the same time, everyone else has the right to refuse to listen to you, or the right to object to what you say.

Margie Richards
A view of war from the
‘fence line’

Until Sept. 11 we, meaning my generation of 40 something’s and younger, were pretty lucky, maybe more lucky than we knew.


SPORTS

Directions to Area Schools

Clutch performers
It might be too early in the year to dub the diamond Raiders the “comeback kids” but Madison County has certainly shown it has a penchant for the dramatic so far.
Through Monday, the team was riding a three-game winning streak, staging sixth-inning comebacks in each of those victories, two of which culminated in walk-off homeruns.


Neighboorhood News ..
JACKSON COUNTY
Courthouse Plan Calls For Grand Architecture
While they don't know how much it will cost yet, the county commissioners do know one thing about the proposed courthouse—it'll be the most "majestic" building in Jackson County.

School Board, City Council Head To Hiawassee For Retreat
The Commerce Board of Education and Commerce City Council will travel to Hiawassee this weekend in the hopes of forging a partnership to deal with the city's future.

‘Pro troops’ rally planned in Braselton
A “pro troops” rally will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in downtown Braselton.

War Hits Close To Home For Family Of Marine Combat Engineer
The Iraq War hits close to home for Keith and Sandy Massey of Commerce.
Their son, Kyle, is a combat engineer with the Seventh Regimental Combat Team of the First Marine Division. It's an occupation that, while making the family proud, also puts Kyle on the front lines.

Commerce shooting Wed. injures minister
A Wednesday morning shooting in Commerce apparently left a local minister seriously wounded.

County ranks fourth in conservation use
Jackson County is ranked fourth in the state in the amount of local tax dollars lost due to the conservation use program. That is according to the Georgia Department of Revenue ranking for 2001.


Neighborhood News...
BANKS COUNTY
‘Water, water everywhere’

Heavy rains and high waters flooded a portion of Banks Crossing and left some campers stranded last Thursday morning.

Commerce watershed closed
A popular fishing spot in southern Banks County has been closed indefinitely.
On Friday, the city of Commerce put up gates blocking access to the reservoir at both entrances off Grove Level Road as a homeland security precaution.

A whiz at business math
Jessica Lewis has done a first for Banks County FBLA students.
The junior finished high enough in state FBLA competitions to move to nationals, representing Georgia in the business math category.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Lewis said. “I’m very proud.”

Baldwin names Betty Harper as city manager
Baldwin city clerk Betty Harper was officially appointed Monday night to the position of city manager.

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Soldier sibling

Pepper Jones sits in the county’s Sept. 11 memorial garden in Danielsville holding a photo of her brother, George Thompson, Jr., a member of the National Guard who’s soon to be deployed to Iraq. “He’s so handsome and I’m so proud of him,” she says emotionally. Jones calls their last meeting “bittersweet.”

War on our minds
For Pepper Jones, the war in Iraq is a family matter.
Her “little” brother, George Thompson, Jr., a career member of the National Guard, is currently stationed at Fort Benning awaiting orders to ship out in the next few weeks.
“I’ve just put him in God’s hands and asked Him to watch over him,” she said.
“I’m so proud of him. My mom and I went to visit him last weekend, the last time we’ll see him before he goes,” she said. “It was bittersweet to be with him at this time.”
Military service runs in her family - her dad was a World War II veteran. “My dad would be proud of him too,” she said of her late father.
Jones’ mom, Wilma Chandler of Homer, is having an especially hard time. “They have a special mother/son bond...She looks for him on TV all the time,” she said.
Jones says she expects her brother to be in Iraq for about a year, helping with the reconstruction of that country before he can return to his wife, Jeanelle, and their home in Stockbridge.
“This has really hit home for me; the impact of what’s going on is so much stronger and I find that I’m more aware of the feelings of others with family members over there,” Jones said. “It’s that much harder because we don’t know what to expect in the days to come.”
A MATTER OF HISTORY
Veteran Gary Locke, of Danielsville, says he looks back on history to gain an understanding of Saddam Hussein and the situation in Iraq.
“If the international community had stood up sooner when Germany and Japan were flexing their muscles, there would have been far fewer lives lost in World War II,” he said.
“I strongly support the president.”
“America cannot be held hostage by the fact that a terrorist attack might happen here again,” he added. “We must stem the flow of terrorist activity and not set a precedent by submitting to a threat, or the next battleground won’t be thousands of miles away, it’ll be here.”
“No one wants peace more than those of us who are willing to give our lives to maintain it,” Locke emphasized.
Locke maintains that the war protesters of today can thank God for men and women of past days who fought for them to have the right to do what they are doing.
JUST CAUSE
“This war is unique in that we can see what’s going on and hear of events almost immediately - it’s amazing,” Pastor Wayne Douglas, of Ila, said. “And this also gives us the unique opportunity to pray for people as soon as something happens.”
Douglas has some very strong opinions about the war as well - he boils it down to basic Biblical principles.
“When there is a just cause, such as where tyranny exists, we are obligated to do something,” Douglas said.
He understands the fear many Americans have about this conflict.
“It’s understandable, this is a hard thing,” he said. “But any decision based on fear is a bad decision. Decisions must be made on what you know, to the best of your knowledge, to be right. That works for everything from our relationships to our country.”
“I support what we’re doing, I think it’s necessary,” he added. “Sanctions imposed since 1991 have only served to punish the innocent. More people have suffered and died of starvation than will be killed in this war.”
“I think inaction is more irresponsible than action in most cases,” he added.
He also believes President Bush has put his whole career on the line to do this because he feels it to be right. “Stands are always difficult to take,” Douglas said.
As for the United Nations, Douglas feels the organization is “pretty ineffective” as it stands now.
“If we can get through the politics of it and just look at what needs to be done, there are numerous human rights violations and that alone should prompt us to take some action,” he said of the situation in Iraq.
Douglas likens the situation with Saddam to that of Hitler prior to World War II.
“People didn’t think he (Hitler) was a threat to surrounding countries. Only one man, Winston Churchill, spoke out against him and he was ignored, until first thing you know, Hitler began to overrun Europe,” he said.
“Most people say, that can’t happen now, but that’s what they said then too. I believe we’re doomed to repeat history if we don’t understand it.”
Douglas also believes that a country such as Iraq, believed to have weapons of mass destruction but who deny it, may well be a greater threat than those who boast of them, such as North Korea.
“We can agree to disagree,” Douglas said of those who consider themselves “for” or “against” the conflict. “But once a decision has been made, and we have men and women putting their lives on the line, it’s time to come together and let them know we are behind them 100 percent.”
A COMMON
UNDERSTANDING
A table set up in the dining hall of Jubilee Partners in Comer displays pictures of American soldiers and their families as well as Iraqi soldiers and children.
“We look at the names and pictures and pray for them every day,” Will Winterfeld, a resident of Jubilee says.
“No matter what our opinion is on the war effort, we all have a common understanding of what this war can do to us,” Winterfeld said.
And he believes there is some good to be found in the stress facing each of us. “Something happens to people during stressful times. They start trying to communicate with each other,” he said. “And especially if we can do that without being defensive about how we feel.”
And he also offered some of his own beliefs, based on his Christian perspective, concerning the conflict in Iraq.
“Our faith doesn’t leave us any ambiguity in regards to war - we can’t go to war as Christians...and that’s based directly on Jesus’s teachings.”
Winterfeld adds that it’s been a real struggle for him seeing most all main line churches speaking out against the war with Iraq at leadership levels, with the exception of a few, saying that it’s been different at many local levels, with many speaking out in favor of using force in Iraq.
Winterfeld, who’s visited Iraq and other countries in the area, says there’s not much of a culture left in the country after more than a decade of conflict and he’s afraid this war will finish off what’s left of it.
“I’m not sure that a democratic government is workable in that region,” he said. “Iraq has been pretty much a secular culture, not tied to radical Islamic tendencies under Saddam.”
A visit to children in Iraqi hospitals to deliver food and supplies in 1998 left him shaken by what he saw.
“That was a broken country then and I’m afraid war will not change anything except perhaps make the people there more resentful against western culture,” he said.
Winterfeld related an incident where he and others were crossing the desert one night between Jordan and Iraq and had the opportunity to talk with their driver, who was Palestinian.
“He (the driver) said that after the Iraqi military moved into Kuwait (prior to the Gulf War) Arabs nations were not given enough time to deal with an errant ‘renegade’ country or ‘brother...mainly because of the oil industry,’” Winterfeld said.
“It seems we (America) have not done a good job of listening and befriending the Arab nations,” he said.
Winterfeld also suggests we think about the what-ifs, such as what if weapons of mass destruction are not found inside Iraq, as the coalition strongly believes them to be.
“How do we, as a country, deal with that on our conscience?” he said. “What if the inspectors weren’t given enough time? What will be the response to that and how can we justify our actions after the fact?”
Winterfeld believes this is just a sample of the dialogue citizens need to be sharing with each other during this time.
“I think we all have a great sense that this is about more than just the war in Iraq,” he said. “We know inside that something is changing, and that that something may be different than we ever imagined.”
FAMILY SUPPORT
NEEDED
Linda Fortson, whose son David was in the Marines until earlier this year is naturally relieved her son won’t be a part of this conflict, but she’s concerned and sympathetic of those who do have family members in Iraq.
“Personally, I think there needs to be a support group of some type in the county. When David was in the service, I knew one other mother whose son was in the service, but it would have been nice to have had a network of others to talk to and share concerns with. I think that would be particularly helpful during this time,” she said. “Then families wouldn’t feel so isolated and would have someone else available who knows just how they feel.”


BOC focuses on furnishing new jail
With Madison County’s jail expected to open this summer, county leaders are focused on more than just construction work.
There’s also the issue of furnishing the facility.
County commissioners have asked government advisor Leo Smith to work with the sheriff’s department to determine what is needed for the new jail, which is expected to open by July.
On Monday, Smith outlined items that must be purchased for the facility, including office furniture, computer hardware and software, a fingerprinting system (which will be financed with sales tax funds), a filing system, a copying machine, kitchen equipment and inmates’ clothing and personal care items.
Smith said he did not yet have a total price estimate on furnishing the jail, noting that he is still working on obtaining bids for various items.
But he said the county will not have a problem furnishing the jail before its opening.
“Everything is on track,” said Smith.
In other business Monday, the commissioners heard from county accounts payable coordinator Charlotte Kesler about the need for a sign to identify the county government complex.
The commissioners agreed to place 18-inch, black lettering on the side of the building, though no contract was approved Monday. The lettering will be visible from 360 to 500 feet.
Also Monday, the commissioners approved a contract for grass cutting at county facilities with Darrell Scoggins for $195 per cutting. And the BOC agreed to adopt Millbrook Circle as a county-maintained road.


Couple charged with robbery of elderly woman
The sheriff’s office arrested two people Monday for allegedly robbing an elderly woman last week.
Loretta A. Conn, 24, of Danielsville, and Keith Bales, 32, of Colbert, were arrested on one count each of burglary and financial transaction card fraud.
The pair allegedly stole a 95-year-old woman’s wallet last week from her home on Lloyd Nelms Road and then tried to use her credit cards at various locations around the county.
The woman reported that the pair pulled up behind her in a blue pickup truck when she arrived home from Ingles grocery store and asked if they could use the phone as she was unloading her groceries. The woman then entered the victim’s home, used the phone and said she “couldn’t get an answer” and then left. The victim later noticed that her wallet was missing. She soon received information that someone was attempting to use her credit cards at Ingles, and ATMs in Hull and Danielsville.

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To read more about the local events in Madison County, including births, weddings, sports news and school news, see this week's Madison County Journal.


Woman charged with car-jacking
A 23-year-old homeless woman was arrested last week on multiple charges, including armed robbery, car jacking and aggravated assault.
Starlite Taylor was also charged on one count each of driving while license suspended, possession of a knife during the commission of a crime, fleeing and attempting to elude and reckless driving.
According to an incident report on file at the sheriff’s office this week, Taylor jumped into the passenger seat of a car and pointed a gun at the driver of a 1995 Dodge Stratus as she pulled up in front of Tiny Town Grocery Store on Hwy. 72 East outside Carlton, forcing her out of the vehicle and driving away.
She was apprehended by sheriff’s deputies soon after on Holly Creek Church Road.
She is currently housed in the Banks County jail.


Commissioners approve Brickyard Road rezoning
Commissioners approved a request by Ken and Dale Ross to rezone two lots to provide homes for family members Monday. The action followed a large show of support from the Ross’s neighbors at the meeting.
The commissioners approved the couple’s request to rezone two lots (one lot 7.87 acres and one lot two acres) on Brickyard Road from A-1 to R-R.
They want to subdivide the 7.87-acre parcel into three equal lots, with two lots accessible from Brickyard Road and one accessible by an easement.
Mrs. Ross noted that she has had a number of health problems and that she wants to have family members nearby on the property.
One neighbor of the couple opposed the request, saying that the rezoning would be detrimental to the rural character of the area.
But eight people took the podium to support the couple, noting that Mr. and Mrs. Ross have lived in the area longer than most anyone on Brickyard Road and that their request would cause no hardship on their neighbors.
Commissioner Bruce Scogin told the audience that he was impressed with the show of support for Mr. and Mrs. Ross and that he approved of the rezoning because it is in a growing residential area.
In other zoning matters Monday, the board approved a request by Amanda Morgan-Buice for a conditional use permit for a group home day care of up to 12 children.
The commissioners approved a request by Ethan Baird to rezone a 2.5-acre portion of a 7.5-acre parcel from A-2 to R-R, with the remaining acreage to remain A-2. Baird, whose home is on the proposed 2.5 acre parcel, wants to provide a home for his brother on the five-acre parcel, which is between his home and his dad’s home.
REQUESTS TABLED
Two zoning requests were put on hold Monday night after commissioners questioned whether the requests had been correctly advertised by the county zoning office.
One request on the agenda was from Dale Ledford for Wilbur Ledford, to rezone a 4.85 parcel from A-2 to A-1. Ledford wants to place two poultry houses on the property. The agenda advertised the rezoning as 4.85 acres, but commission chairman Wesley Nash said the rezoning is actually for 14.8 acres.
The other tabled request was by Steve Grogan, who applied to rezone 1.42 acres of a 6.42-acre parcel on Hwy. 98 from A-2 to B-2. The commissioners questioned whether the property is actually A-1 or A-2.
Grogan wants to operate a transmission shop adjacent to his home on Loop Road. He said that he would not keep many cars on the property and that there would be no oil runoff from the site, as some had suggested.
Several neighbors spoke against the request, saying that approval of the business classification would be unsuitable for the area. They voiced fear of what kind of business might locate on the site if Grogan’s shop fails.
SIGN APPROVED
In a separate matter, the commissioners agreed to allow the Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter on Colbert-Danielsville Road to place a sign larger and higher than the zoning ordinance allows. The animal shelter wants to place a 4’ by 6’ sign at the shelter entrance.